A couple of problems that continue to plague regions of Africa, where elephants roam the wilderness, are the constant threats of illegal animal poaching and the habitat loss that occurs from land development.
Elephants there and in surrounding countries are commonly killed for their valuable ivory tusks, which are then traded to foreign countries to be used in building “classy” objects that are used as status symbols for the wealthy.
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Over the years, elephant populations have been driven down to dangerously-low numbers, and yet the dangers continue to highlight that more needs to be done to save the creatures. Some countries are taking more active anti-poaching stances than others to help conserve elephants, but many argue that it’s not enough to protect elephant populations from the brink of extinction overall.
Fortunately, Liberia appears to be taking an active role once again in this sector. The country’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has signed a new National Elephant African Plan that will help protect elephants and lead the way for neighboring countries to follow.
"This action plan is an essential step in coordinating efforts at a national level," said Michelle Klailova, FFI's Liberia Program Manager. "It will allow us to obtain a better understanding of the issues surrounding the distribution and conservation of Liberia's elephants, identify the key threats and establish a program of measures to ensure the survival of the species in Liberia.
With as little as 300 wild forest elephants roaming the wild today, the new plan will help the country search for and identify ways to help ensure the survival of wild elephants, whether by taking a stronger stance against poaching or helping to preserve the forests in which they live so that they don’t succumb to habitat loss.
"The Liberian President's signature will ensure the ideas and objectives towards elephant conservation are not just theoretical but actually implemented through the action plan," Klailova continued.
The new plan helps on a much larger scale than meets the eye initially. Although it sounds like just a plan and not much else for now, the efforts also make Liberia eligible for additional funding to support their initiatives to protect elephants, and so more can be done.
As anyone in the animal conservation industry would tell you, every ounce of energy that gets put into helping an animal species survive the dangers that threaten its existence are worth it. There are quite a few miraculous success stories out there, such as the case with giant pandas, that show how these efforts are more than just a display of concern.
If more neighboring countries could collaborate with Liberia, there’s a good change elephant populations could rebound.