The love of family along with the Albuquerque BioPark Zoo is helping one mother elephant preserve her species that has become endangered due to habitat loss and the extreme poaching for ivory tusks.
Rozie is an Asian elephant that was born to the Albuquerque BioPark Zoo in 1993 for the purpose of maintaining the species. Since then Rozie has mothered two of her own offspring and is helping ensure a future for the Asian elephant species, not just a memory.
Currently the BioPark has seven Asian elephants two of them being young males and five females counting the newest edition, Rozie’s very young calf Jazmine. The park is one of the few United States facilities to have success in breeding and raising elephants in captivity. This is very beneficial to maintaining the species since the Asian elephant population is constantly threatened by human activities in the wild.
Before Rozie’s birth the park didn’t have what it has today in the herd. Female Asian elephants are very social and often form groups that become herds; these groups are lead by the matriarch. The matriarch is the oldest female of the group. By creating the herd the park is able to allow the elephants to have the natural dynamic and social structure seen in the wild. This also helps the zookeepers understand and care for the elephant’s physical and psychological wellbeing.
Currently there are five species of elephants that are endangered and other elephant species like the African elephant are vulnerable to this threat. The biggest threat to elephants in the wild is the shrinking habitat, poaching and illegal sale of ivory. The loss of habitat means elephants are living closer to human society and a struggle for food can cause the devastation of a farmer’s crop. This puts elephants at risk for retaliation from a farmer to insure crop loss or damage doesn’t happen again. The majority of the time elephants are poached specifically for the ivory in their tusks and then sold on illegal markets, aiding to the dwindling population. The United States Congress recognized this struggle in 1997 and introduced the Asian Elephant Conservation Act, which allows funding for the conservation of Asian elephants.
On February 11th, 2014 the Press Secretary for The White House released a fact sheet on the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. The goal is to establish principles for the United States to combat illegal wildlife trade and ban the commercial trade of elephant ivory. This is to ensure that the United States is not a contributing factor to the diminishing numbers of endangered species due to illegal trade or poaching.