The Future of the Endangered: Elephants and Lions to Face Extinction?
Since being placed on the list of the most endangered species in 1989, the elephant population has faced a steady and detrimental decline. According to the Humane Society, the number of elephants decreased by thirty percent from 2007 to 2014; this means that the population fell by 144,000 elephants. Just this past year, the elephant population totaled 21,000. 2016 is also the year that lions became protected by the Endangered Species Act as their population dropped to a startling 30,000.
Now in 2017, the trophy hunting ban on elephants and lions, put in place by the Obama administration to protect the dwindling numbers of those species, will be revoked. This will allow for the imports of “trophies” from Zimbabwe and Zambia to the United States. These two countries are, as stated by the U.S. in the past, unfit to control their own protection of the elephant population due to the dictatorships that have blatantly slaughtered both elephants and lions – this includes the shooting of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe. In the hands of such leaders, one must wonder what the future will look like for the elephant and lion populations.
If the elephant population dropped by 144,000 in seven years, then the world lost about 20,500 elephants a year from 2007 to 2014. If this trend continues once the ban lifts, elephants will be entirely extinct by the year 2020. If there were also only 30,000 African lions left as of 2016, the lion’s extinction may not be far behind that of the elephants. The Humane Society claims, “American trophy hunters are directly responsible for slaughtering at least 5,647 lions in the last 10 years.” At this rate, the next generation could be born into a world where these animals do not exist.
Upon the announcement of the trophy hunting ban being lifted, many celebrities have been in an uproar. Ellen DeGeneres stated on Twitter, “I’m determined to do something about this. #BeKindToElephants.” Chelsea Clinton joined in, saying, “Infuriating. Will increase poaching, make communities more vulnerable & hurt conservation efforts.” Many others have mentioned their dislike of the ban, including Russell Crowe, Ricky Gervais, John Cusack, and Henry Winkler. The reversal of the ban is not going unnoticed on social media, so one can only hope the internet’s disapproval is enough to stop the retraction.
It is impossible to tell what the future has in store for these endangered species, but the decreasing population does not look promising. Will the last of the elephants be hanging in the White House?