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November 9th, 2014
08:44 AM ET

Using art to save the Asian elephant

Call it the elephant in the room. It may be a cliché, but the fact that elephant populations are dwindling around the world is a growing problem that can’t be ignored.

Africa has seen its elephant population decline from 1.3 million several decades ago to an estimated 419,000 now. Poaching still goes unchecked in some parts of the continent.

The Environmental Investigation Agency’s latest report says the situation is especially grim in Tanzania.

Tanzania lost 10,000 elephants to poaching last year alone – more than any other country in Africa.

And the EIA makes damning allegations about China, the world's largest ivory market. It links some smuggling to Chinese officials who have accompanied the president to Africa. Beijing has denied the claims.

But it’s not just African elephants facing a perilous future. Their Asian cousins are also in a battle for survival.

The Asian Elephant Foundation estimates the region’s numbers have dropped by at least 90% over the past century to fewer than 50,000. But unlike in Africa, their plight is mostly a result of habitat loss.

CEO and founder of Elephant Parade, Mike Spits, says the Asian species is on the road to extinction if nothing is done soon to intervene.

Watch the video above to see how the organization is using art to raise awareness and funding to save the big, beautiful creatures.

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Filed under: Art & Science • China • General
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