The race is on to save wild elephants from extinction. According to the 2016 Great Elephant Census, one elephant is killed every 20 minutes. This is due in large part to poaching, with most of it in connection to the illegal ivory market. Sadly, China, the U.S. and Thailand, in that order, are the top purveyors of illegal goods made from ivory. Hopefully, Tufts University can halt that, or at least slow their demise.
Illegal Ivory Trade
With roughly 74 deaths a day, there is no time to lose in their conservation efforts. The saddest part about these unnecessary deaths is most of the ivory is going toward the production of jewelry and trinkets or Asian "medicines" that have repeatedly been proven to be non-beneficial. But there is no dissuading people when they want it, regardless of the carnage it yields.
Tufts Elephant Conservation Alliance
In conjunction with Tufts University, Ellen McDonald, a Fletcher School librarian, helped found the Alliance. “Saving these magnificent creatures will take untangling a web of social, political, economic and cultural forces—such a nuanced dynamic that it will require an intellectual army. Fortunately, we have that army right here at Tufts,” stated McDonald.
Science & Compassion
Basically using a three-pronged attack, Tufts researchers are approaching the growing problem by conducting conservation field research, studying acoustic equipment that is able to detect and protect elephant herds in distress, and by ensuring that the importance of biodiversity is reflected in the university's varied curriculum.
Education in Conservation Efforts
This spring, Felicia Nutter, V93, the director of Cummings School’s international vet program, and Allen Rutberg, the director of the facility's Center for Animals and Public Policy, are going to be teaching a new course for undergraduates called “A Jumbo Imperative: On Elephants and Elephant Conservation.” They will be assisted by colleagues in both the schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering.
If you'd like to learn more about this project or maybe even make a donation toward their efforts, you can visit Tufts University's website to support the cause.