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World Elephant Day warning – our daily food choices are pushing elephants to extinction

Press Release   •   Aug 11, 2017 14:30 BST

Extinction and Livestock Conference: 5 and 6 October 2017 Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London #extinction17

How global food systems are forcing animals into extinction

It’s widely known that elephants are at threat from poachers and the ivory trade, but most people are unaware that their own daily food choices may also be driving elephants and other wild animals to extinction.

That’s the warning from international charities Compassion in World Farming and WWF on World Elephant Day (Saturday 12th August) who say that demand for cheap meat is fuelling habitat loss and dramatic declines in many much-loved wild animal species, including the critically endangered Sumatran elephant.

There are now estimated to be just 2,500 Sumatran elephants left in the wild, 100 times fewer than their also endangered cousins, the African elephant. This is because their natural habitat, the forests of Sumatra, is being destroyed to make way for uninhabitable palm tree plantations to provide palm oil and kernels for global food systems.

As well as being used in the human food industry, palm kernels and palm oil are both extensively used as cheap animal feed for cattle and pigs farmed in indoor systems. The European Union is one of the largest importers of palm-feed, with 3.6 million tonnes of palm-feed kernel imported in 2012. As a high protein and low-cost way to feed livestock, demand from factory farms all over the world has boomed in recent years, leading to the expansion of palm plantations and the loss of more forest land.

CEO of Compassion in World Farming and author of ‘Dead Zone: Where they wild things were’ which details the impact of livestock production on wildlife, Philip Lymbery, said: “So few people are aware that their own daily food choices have such an impact on animals thousands of miles away. Every time people choose intensively reared meat over pasture fed, organic or free-range they’re helping to fuel the destruction of forests and causing the loss of wildlife, including the Sumatran elephant.

World Elephant Day provides the perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight on the plight these majestic creatures are facing because of industrial farming. We must act before it’s too late which is why Compassion has joined forces with WWF to organise the world’s first conference exploring the impact of livestock production on animals, people and the planet.”

Dr Glyn Davies, Executive Director of Global Programmes at WWF, said: “The decline of species is reaching a critical point and we cannot ignore the role of unsustainable livestock production. If nature is to recover we need to work together and encourage sustainable farming systems which will limit pollution, reduce habitat loss and restore species numbers. The Extinction and Livestock Conference is a launch pad for action on this global issue.”

The Extinction Conference – which is taking place on the 5th and 6th October 2017 at the QEII Centre, London – will bring together diverse interests such as conservation, biodiversity, agriculture, land and water use, environment, climate change, forests, ethics, food policy, production, security and business, and act as a catalyst for future collaboration and solution development.

Key speakers include: award-winning academic, activist and author, Raj Patel; World Food Prize winner, Hans Herren; Dr Hilal Elver, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Senior Adviser for the Sustainable Development in the European Policy Strategy Center (EPSC) and former EC Director General for Environment (2009-2014), Karl Falkenberg; bee expert, Professor Dave Goulson, of the University of Sussex; Britain’s best-loved environmentalist Jonathan Porritt; award-winning author and professor of Nature and Humanity at Stony Brook University, Carl Safina; and Professor Frank Hu of Harvard University’s School of Public Health.

To find out more about the conference and to register visit www.extinctionconference.com

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Media contact - for further information or to interview a spokesperson please contact the Compassion in World Farming media team on 01483 521618 – mediateam@ciwf.org.uk

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