Elephants, in theory, are among the longest-living animals, outliving all other land mammals except humans. Unfortunately, elephants’ lives, like those of most endangered species, are cut short due to human actions in their environments. This is true for elephants both in the wild and in captivity.
According to science, despite the ages we know elephants can live to in the wild, African elephants now have an expected lifespan of around 56 years. Let us investigate why elephants are living to a younger age:
Why are Wild Elephant Lifespans declining?
Although wild elephants live longer than captive elephants on average, their lives are usually cut short due to poaching or illegal hunting. Profiteering has driven these animals to the brink of extinction. The lives of elephants are also made more difficult by habitat destruction and drought (an effect of climate change).
The Illegal Ivory Trade
The illegal ivory trade has been extremely harmful to elephant populations, and their numbers have declined significantly during the twentieth century as a result. Elephant populations are more stable today than in previous decades, but poaching remains a concern.
Natural Environment Destruction
Human encroachment on elephant habitat is a lesser-known but important factor to consider when studying an elephant’s life and habits. According to National Geographic, African elephant habitat has shrunk by more than half since 1979, and Asian elephants now have access to only 15% of their original range.
Lack of Socialization
Another factor that scientists believe contributes to elephants’ short lives in captivity is their inability to socialize, which is essential for these highly social animals. Elephants are accustomed to migrating hundreds of miles each year, spending time with relatives, going wild during musth, and generally living a free and unrestricted life. When these fundamentals are removed, their stress levels increase exponentially.
Finally, to address the aforementioned elephant lifespan issues, we must continue to spread anti-poaching messages while also focusing more on habitat restoration programs in the wild.
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