An endangered African forest elephant named “Valentine” is alive and well after being glimpsed only once in the past year. The youngster, born Feb. 15, 2012, recently returned to the clearing where he was born, just in time for this year’s Valentine’s Day. Because of unceasing demand for their high-quality ivory tusks, the population of African forest elephants has plummeted from a peak of about 1 million to only 100,000 today.Peter Wrege, who leads the Elephant Listening Project at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, says adopting an elephant family for Valentine’s Day is one way we can help this species survive:
“Seeing 1-year-old Valentine return to the clearing where he was born in Central Africa is a ray of hope within a bleak landscape. Last year alone, 10 percent of the African forest elephant population was lost to ivory poachers. Poaching is at a 30-year high, and increasing.
“The happy return of Valentine on his first birthday inspired our campaign to raise funds to increase and sustain protection for the elephants at forest clearings across Central Africa. We’re asking people to consider adopting a forest elephant family for someone they love this Valentine’s Day. Adoption will give you a glimpse into the lives of forest elephant families and you’ll be able to see exclusive video of the family chosen.”
“Valentine is the seventh calf born to Equinox who, at 37 years old, clearly has learned how to survive and elude the poachers. Positive commitments have been made by governments in Central Africa, notably Gabon, Republic of Congo, and Cameroon, to increase efforts to protect elephants and apprehend poachers. There are still huge tracts of good forest and low human population densities in parts of these countries, offering hope that elephant populations can survive this onslaught if given a chance.”
NOTE: For more information on the Elephant Adoption Program, see www.birds.cornell.edu/brp/elephant/adoption/adoption.html