How many muscles does an elephant’s trunk have? And 6 other elephant facts

Elephants, found in both Africa and Asia, are vital to maintaining the rich biodiversity of the ecosystems that they share with other species.

WWF focuses its conservation efforts on saving the world’s largest mammal in sites across both continents. We work with wildlife managers, governments and local communities to stop poaching, reduce human-wildlife conflict and improve monitoring and research.

Here’s a look at some interesting elephant facts.

1. How many muscles does an elephant trunk have?

An elephant trunk has up to 40,000 muscles in it. A human has more than 600 muscles in his/her entire body. Elephants use their trunks to pick up objects, trumpet warnings and greet one another.

2. What’s the difference between Asian and African elephants?

There are more than 10 physical characteristics that differentiate Asian and African elephants. For example, Asian elephants are smaller than their African brethren, and their ears are straight at the bottom, distinct from the large fan-shaped ears of the African species. Only some male Asian elephants have tusks, while African elephants—both male and female—grow tusks.

3. Do elephants have a dominant tusk?

Elephants are either left- or right-tusked, and the dominant tusk is generally smaller because of wear and tear from frequent use.

4. How often do elephants give birth?

Elephants have the longest gestation period of any mammal—22 months. Females give birth every four to five years. Matriarchs also dominate the complex social structure of elephants and calves, while male elephants tend to live in isolation or in small bachelor groups.

5. How do elephants help their ecosystem thrive?

Elephants are important ecosystem engineers. Many tree species in central African and Asian forests rely on seeds passing through an elephant’s digestive tract before they can germinate.

6. What’s the most urgent threat to elephants?

Today, the greatest threat to African elephants is wildlife crime, primarily poaching for the illegal ivory trade, while the greatest threat to Asian elephants is habitat loss and resulting human-elephant conflict. WWF uses our expertise in policy, wildlife trade, advocacy, and communications in an effort to stop wildlife crime and illegal ivory trade, reduce human-elephant conflict, and protect elephant habitats. You can help, too, by signing on to stop wildlife crime.

7. How does WWF help humans and elephants peacefully coexist?

As wild spaces shrink, elephants and humans are forced into contact and often clash. WWF helps prevent and mitigate elephant-human conflict through various programs, including electric fences to protect crops and trained response teams to safely drive wild elephants away from farms and human habitation.

New Survey Finds One in Seven Wildlife Rangers Have Been Seriously Injured in the Line of Duty Over the Past Year

New results released by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to mark World Ranger Day reveal that one in seven wildlife rangers (14 percent) surveyed across Asia and Central Africa have been seriously injured at work within the last 12 months. The results, part of the largest ever survey on ranger employment conditions and welfare, come as the official death toll from July 2017-18 has been confirmed by the International Ranger Federation (IRF) & Thin Green Line Foundation (TGLF) as 107 – up from 101 last year.

This brings the total number of reported rangers who have lost their lives in the line of duty to 871* since 2009, which is when IRF and TGLF started to officially record the incidents. However, experts believe the actual number of deaths to be much higher than the reported number.

“The stats this year, 48 rangers of the 107 lost this year, were murdered at their place of work whilst protecting wildlife that we all care about. Another 50 died in work place accidents due to the dangerous nature of a ranger’s life.  But these are not just statistics, these are men and women, rangers, who leave families behind, often with little support except for what we can provide. As a world community we need to do more and we have to do better in training and equipping rangers so that they have a greater chance of returning home to their families after a patrol,” said Sean Willmore, President of the IRF and Founder of its charity arm, TGLF.

WWF’s survey, which will be published later this year, has been completed by rangers working in Asia and Central Africa. WWF is also currently conducting the survey in East Africa. These regions are renowned as the most dangerous for the profession due to high levels of poaching to feed the demand for illegal wildlife trade products, largely coming from China and neighboring countries.

World-over, we’re facing a rapid decline in nature, including some of our most beloved species. Rangers are on the front line of protecting much of this iconic wildlife and due to the very nature of their job, it comes as little or no surprise that they risk facing life-threatening situations. What is shocking is that despite their willingness to bear these grave risks to help save our shared wildlife, few are receiving fair pay, insurance and adequate training,” said Rohit Singh, WWF’s Zero Poaching Lead & President, Ranger Federation of Asia.

An overwhelming majority (86 percent) of rangers think their job is dangerous due to the grave risks associated with encountering or confronting poachers. Recent tragic incidents show that these concerns are not unfounded.

This year saw the murder of, Rachel Katumwa, the first female ranger thought to be killed while on duty in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Just a month prior to Rachel’s murder in the same area, suspected members of an armed militia group that were involved in poaching activity gunned down five wildlife rangers and their driver. It was the worst attack in Virunga’s history and the latest in a long line of tragic incidents in which rangers have lost their lives defending the planet’s natural heritage.

Despite high risks from armed poachers, dangerous encounters with wildlife and exposure to infectious diseases like malaria, only 15 percent of the rangers surveyed had been trained in first aid within the last year and almost six out of ten (58 percent) felt that when most in need of medical treatment, the services they received were not sufficient.

In Asia, on average a ranger gets paid $292 USD per month, and in Central Africa $150 USD per month– most often this is the main (or only) source of income for their families. The survey also highlights the concerning lack of insurance for rangers and their dependents. Despite life-changing injuries and death so commonplace within the profession, just 36 percent indicated that they had insurance coverage for such situations. Should rangers become injured and are no longer able to work – or worse yet, are killed – in the line of duty, the entire family are left vulnerable to a life of poverty.

“Nothing can compensate those that have sacrificed their lives and livelihoods to protect our wildlife, but we hope that by bringing to light these challenges, urgent steps will be taken to address them and in turn, improve the lives and working conditions of rangers and their families,” said  Drew McVey,  East Africa Wildlife Crime Technical Advisor, WWF.

WWF is calling upon governments to urgently review and improve shortcomings that are endangering the lives of wildlife rangers. Adequate training, including widely-adopted first aid training for rangers, strong emergency medical treatment plans, as well as equipment and communications devices appropriate for field conditions should be among the matters most urgently needing a review. Additionally, 100% insurance coverage for serious injuries and loss of life is a critical next step for rangers and their families.

At the upcoming London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade, taking place in October this year, we must see commitments from world leaders in countries where wildlife poaching occurs to ensure they have adequate numbers of properly equipped, trained and insured rangers. WWF hopes to work closely with these governments and other concerned partners to ensure rangers are recognized and supported with the same respect as other public service professions putting their lives on the line to work towards providing us all with a better world.

Rare footage shows successful tiger breeding

Rare and never-before-seen footage of a Sumatran tiger family offers exciting proof of tigers breeding successfully in the wild. The video shows a female tigress – named Rima – and her 3 cubs growing up in Central Sumatra. Rima then meets Uma, a male Sumatra tiger, and breeds successfully to have four more tiger cubs.

Yet, tigers are endangered, facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. Today, there are only around 3,900 wild tigers worldwide. That’s more than a 95% decline from perhaps 100,000 just over a century ago.

Top predators in the food chain, wild tigers play a crucial role in maintaining balanced ecosystems that support thousands of other species and millions of people.

“If left to their own devices with enough habitat, prey and protection, tigers will breed,” said Ginette Hemley, senior vice president for wildlife conservation, WWF. “This video shows progress toward tiger population recovery in Indonesia and demonstrates what’s possible when governments, businesses and local communities work together toward a conservation goal.”

WWF works closely with partners around the world to achieve the TX2 goal—to double the number of tigers in the wild. This includes supporting rangers with proper training and equipment, collaborating with governments to strengthen protected areas management, and ensuring that local communities benefit from tiger conservation.

WWF also works with supporters worldwide to urge their local governments to prioritize tiger conservation, buy sustainably-sourced products that do not contribute to habitat destruction and ensure that they do not visit tiger farms or buy illegal tiger parts.

Proposed Revisions to Edangered Species Act Put Wildlife at Riskn

In response to proposed revisions to regulations listed on the Endangered Species Act announced today by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, World Wildlife Fund issued the following statement from Ginette Hemley, senior vice president, wildlife conservation:

“Any effort to weaken the Endangered Species Act is of grave concern. Its effectiveness is proven – 99 percent of species listed on it have avoided extinction. The steps proposed today by the Administration, including removing the Blanket Section 4(d) Rule, would weaken important protections for threatened and endangered species and put our planet’s imperiled wildlife further at risk. By keeping these precautionary measures under the ESA intact, we can ensure the survival of America’s remarkable wildlife while also doing our part to stem the sweeping loss of biodiversity we are seeing globally.”