Category: Environmental issues

Get your FREE ‘Butterflies and Moths Matter’ Eco-Poster

Get your FREE ‘Butterflies and Moths Matter’ Eco-Poster

Butterflies and Moths are very important pollinators and invertebrates. If we don’t start looking after the little things like Butterflies and Moths, we humans won’t survive on Earth.

Find out why Butterflies and Moths matter in this blog post.

The main information is summarised in a colourful poster I created for you. Download and print it, then put it up somewhere to remind you to save Butterflies and Moths…

Get your Poster Now!

Your poster can be printed in A4- or A3-size (depending on your printer settings) and is suitable for school classrooms, clubs, groups or even your bedroom wall.

Have fun saving little creatures! 🙂


Butterflies and Moths Matter! Here’s How You Can Help Them…

Butterflies and Moths Matter! Here’s How You Can Help Them…

Butterflies and Moths are fascinating, other-worldly, fluttery creatures. As it’s now summer in the Northern Hemisphere, you should be seeing them around flowers on sunny days, particularly butterflies. If you’re lucky.

I say ‘lucky’, because butterfly and moth populations, like many invertebrates and other species on this Earth, are in serious decline.

Besides being pretty reminders of summer and flowers, what do they do?

If you’re seeing butterflies or moths in your garden, it’s a key indicator that your garden is a fairly healthy mini-ecosystem, because if they’re around, it means there are food sources for them. And where there is food for them, there is food for others too.

So the presence of butterflies and moths usually means there are also other ecologically-important invertebrates like bugs, beetles, spiders, worms and bees, which in turn provide welcoming food for other animals like birds, bats, mice, hedgehogs, frogs and so on.

Collectively invertebrates (including insects, spiders, flies and worms) contribute hugely to life on Earth, doing extremely important and very specific jobs like pollinating plants, improving soil quality, providing natural pest control, and serving as food sources for other animals in the food chain.

Besides being part of the great web of life on Earth, butterflies and moths are intriguing. The idea that they go from leaf-bound caterpillars to flying beauties in one short life is amazing and should be celebrated.

What are the differences between butterflies and moths?

Often people think butterflies are more colourful, but while this may be generally true, there are many monochrome butterflies and many multi-coloured moths. Moths are also often more furry or fuzzy, but butterflies can be too.

The main differences are:

Butterflies are generally awake and seen in the daytime (preferring sunny weather), while moths are nocturnal and will often be seen fluttering around lights at night or resting on walls or trees.

Butterflies rest with their wings closed together vertically, whilst moths will rest with their wings wide open and flat against a surface.

Butterflies have longer, thinner antennae, while moths usually have shorter, feathery ones.

Butterflies create hard chrysalises to grow in from their caterpillar stage, while moths create soft, silky cocoons.

Are there any dangerous butterflies or moths?

The vast majority of butterflies and moths are not dangerous to humans, and none can bite.

However eating some species such as the Monarch Butterfly can be toxic because they eat toxic plants and the toxin remains in their bodies. And a few species of caterpillar can cause pain and swelling from touching their stinging spines or hairs on their bodies.

What about clothes-eating moths? Of the thousands of species of moths, only a few will attack clothes and they prefer dirty and undisturbed clothes.

How can we encourage butterflies and moths?

Make sure you encourage pollinator- and caterpillar-loving plants in your garden or plant pots. Do some research to find which plants and flowers they like, then plant them in your garden.

Try not to cut back bushes, trees and hedgerows. Plants not only provide food for butterflies and moths (and their caterpillars), but are their homes and nesting places too.

Do not kill, chop or pull out weeds. Many common weeds are essential food for butterflies, moths and other invertebrates, and weeds are plants too, so have a right to life like anything else.

Reduce or completely stop using weedkillers, herbicides, pesticides, slug pellets, moth balls, bug sprays and other garden poisons. These not only kill off food sources for invertebrates including bees, butterflies and moths, but often small creatures will be poisoned too, even if the poison wasn’t aimed at them. Remember: Any substance which is meant to kill some life will be dangerous in some way to all forms of life.

Visit and support public gardens, places and sanctuaries that actively encourage butterflies and moths. You can find out more here: North American Butterfly Association, USA  or Top 10 National Trust gardens to see butterflies, UK.

Take part in bee, butterfly and moth counts to help scientists monitor their numbers, such as these ones:

The Big Butterfly Count (July-August, UK):

The Great British Bee Count (May-June, UK):

Blooms for Bees (Bumblebees count, UK):

National Moth Recording Scheme (UK): 

Please get in touch! How often do you see butterflies and moths? Which are your favourite species and why? Which plants do they like? Do you feel their numbers have declined since your childhood? Please comment below this post. 🙂

Get this printable A4-size companion poster summarising why Butterflies and Moths are important and how to save them.


Sources and further reading


10 Great Nectar Plants For Butterflies and Moths


What is the difference between a moth and a butterfly?

Photos thanks to


Climate Change isn’t everything: We’re talking Planetary Collapse. Let’s fix it.

Climate Change isn’t everything: We’re talking Planetary Collapse. Let’s fix it.

The phrase “Climate Change” gets bandied about a lot. But what does Climate Change mean?

As a result of human activity on this planet, we’re seeing increased storms, floods and droughts – and they are bigger and more devastating. Global temperatures, especially in the oceans, are increasing, and polar ice caps are melting, which means sea levels will permanently rise.

Most people understand that burning fossil-fuels such as coal, oil, petrol, diesel and natural gas, cause untold amounts of pollution. This impacts air quality, water supplies, cloud formation and the oceans, which in turns causes climate change.

But the phrase ‘Climate Change’ implies the worst effect of human activity on Earth is widespread, significant change of weather.

And where there’s a crisis, there’s often a money-making opportunity. Enter the ‘Zero Carbon Footprint’ or ‘Carbon Tax’ industry, which enables polluting, fossil-fuel burning, profit-chasing corporations to offset their continued planetary destruction by funding tree-planting or paying subsidies to less carbon-producing, ‘greener’ companies.

Climate Change isn’t everything.

While discussion of problems and solutions for Climate Change is important, all the hype can sometimes take the focus off other problematic environmental issues.

Burning fossil fuels is serious. But these ecological issues are also killing the Earth: Deforestation, Plastics and Waste, and Loss of Biodiversity.

Put together, the cumulative and fast-increasing effect of all of these, including burning fossil fuels, is agonisingly simple:

We’re losing all of Earth’s life-sustaining forces – air, fresh water, the oceans, soil, plants, and the living creatures who keep those in good condition, animals.

Let’s look at these in a little more detail.

Deforestation is the widespread destruction of forests. Almost a fifth of the world’s most important large forest, the Amazon, has been destroyed in 50 years. Forests are cleared for wood, but also to make space for mining/drilling, crops for humans, and feed crops and grazing for meat animals.

Deforestation, waste and loss of biodiversity have a number of drivers.

One of the biggest cause of these is intensive farming for meat-eating by humans. The amount of animals we have to keep and feed worldwide, to feed those people who choose to eat meat, and the substantial pollution (including methane gas) generated from farming animals intensively is crippling the planet’s ecosystems and causing human starvation. We are feeding crops to animals we will kill, while humans don’t have enough food.

Studies have found that it’s cheaper, healthier, more ecologically-sustainable, and more calorie-efficient for humans to eat plants. Why not commit now to decreasing your meat intake and eating more plant-based meals?

Plastics, as we all know, are clogging up our planet and especially the oceans. Much of the billions of tons of plastic litter in the oceans is from sewerage, ships including fishing vessels, and poorly managed waste collection and disposal. Millions of ocean wildlife and seabirds are killed by plastic and litter, and we are digesting micro-plastics in fish. Start today – refuse to use plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic containers; and choose to reuse items more.

Loss of biodiversity and species extinction are also closely tied to other factors. Whilst humans bulldoze vast tracts of land to farm, mine or build factories or houses on (resulting in habitat loss for countless animal species who used to live there), we also relentlessly hunt, trap, kill, poach and poison animals for money, entertainment, convenience, or unsustainable food sources.

The Earth has a very intricate web of ecosystems created over millions of years, where everything relies on everything else to survive.

This arrogance – that humans are the only life form worth saving – has to stop. Speak up against this madness – educate yourself, donate to charities, petition for nature conservation protections and laws, do what you can. Start today!

We also need to consider our actions closer to home.

While Earth’s enormous forests are invaluable to life on Earth, including for humans, smaller forests and individual trees are keeping us alive too. So the continual tree chopping that occurs by town councils, railway companies and people in their own gardens is also a significant threat to our survival. It’s simple – stop cutting back and chopping down trees and plants! We need every tree.

Pesticides, herbicides, weedkillers and other crop and garden chemicals and poisons are killing insects and micros-organisms and damaging and killing other plants and animals in the food chain, including animals and plants they weren’t intended for, and humans. We have to get back to more natural farming methods and wildlife-friendly gardening if we are to survive, and start appreciating and celebrating nature, including so-called weeds and pests, not killing it.

What about you? How are you helping or hindering survival of our planet? What are you going to change, or maybe you’re already making changes? What ideas can you share? Write a comment below this post.

Sources and Further Reading

Animal feed crops are destroying the planet:


Glyphosate herbicides:

Myths about Climate Change:

Plastic pollution facts:

Save the Earth in your own garden:

Useful edible weeds:

Vegan statistics:

Images from and

5 Ways to Save the Earth in Your Own Back Garden

5 Ways to Save the Earth in Your Own Back Garden

There’s a lot of talk lately about climate change, environmental destruction and ecological collapse, and how we’re all doomed if we don’t change our lifestyles.

Have you noticed how much of this protest is directed at governments and leaders? Sure, their views and actions are important, because they make the laws which protect natural habitats, enforce reduction and recycling of plastics, or require corporations to clean up their mess.

But individuals, like you and me, are able to accept and enact changes more easily and quickly than bureaucratic governments or profit-chasing corporations.

So we’re an essential part of the solution. How about we start changing our habits today?

A good place to start is in your own garden.

Why? Well, not only is it easier to start small, but it’s a good idea to make changes directly where we live, because that’s where we have the most impact on the planet’s health…

In our own homes and gardens, our places of work, how we travel, what we consume, and where we buy food and other products from…

Let’s start.

Here are 5 ways you can save the Earth in your own front, back or container garden.

1. Gardens should be natural havens for wildlife.

So often, our gardens are not natural – instead they are trimmed and poisoned geometric blocks of human-controlled or ‘fake’ nature.

All this does is discourage the small creatures and bugs which are so important for soil quality.

If mini-beasts are allowed to thrive, this brings biodiversity with lots of different plants and animals living there, which in turn encourages birds, small mammals and amphibians like hedgehogs, frogs and mice. And they’re all important to ensure nature is balanced.

Encourage all sorts of wildlife by planting bee-friendly and insect-encouraging plants, providing nesting places for them like sheltered and undisturbed areas with lots of hidey-holes and/or insect and bird boxes, and not using pesticides or herbicides of any sort.

Why’s this important? Because humans are killing off so much biodiversity everywhere – and in doing so, eventually we won’t be able to grow crops to feed humans or to feed the animals humans like to eat, and we won’t have enough insect pollinators which are essential for most crops.

2. Bees, insects and spiders are good.

They’re the ‘canaries’ of the garden world.

If you have lots of bugs, worms, invertebrates like snails and slugs, spiders, bees and other mini-beasts, it’s a sign of a healthy ecosystem.

Stop using slug pellets, rat traps and bug sprays. Not only do these poisons kill off essential wildlife, but they increase the amount of life-killing chemicals in the air, water and soil.

Snails and mice and other so-called ‘pests’ are living beings too. And they have to eat. Think of creative ways of giving them food they like to eat so they don’t need to eat up your favourite plants.

3. Nurture and keep every tree, bush, branch and leaf.

Thinking about chopping that tree down because it spoils your view, or drops too many leaves?

Think again. Everywhere we are losing more trees and foliage than are planted. And although we should encourage and celebrate planting more trees, new trees take decades if not centuries to contribute significantly to cleaning our air and soil. So we need to keep all the older trees too!

Fallen leaves and branches not only provide havens for small wildlife, but they help to add essential nutrients back into the soil.

And trees and bushes are the homes of wildlife. Chopping back or cutting down plants means you’re taking their homes.

4. Weeds are plants too.

We need to look at nature in a different way. Instead of viewing it as inconvenient, messy or ugly, we need to allow it to thrive. All of it. Even so-called ‘ugly’ weeds.

Which, when you really look at them, aren’t so ugly after all. Some of them have thorns or grow aggressively, but they’re just trying to survive. Most so-called weeds are the first foods of the season or the favourite foods for insects, bees and invertebrates, and weeds are part of the wonderful natural diversity our natural spaces need more of. 

Weeds can be useful – not only as important indicators of your soil quality but many have health benefits too when consumed. Allowing weeds between other plants means you’ll have contributed to better soil, less pollution, and your garden will be full of nature and diversity!

Your garden might be considered ‘untidy’ by some, but more importantly, it will be life-giving instead of life-taking.

5. Banish those Earth-killing poisons.

Bug sprays, slug pellets, insecticides, pesticides, weedkillers and herbicides, especially Glyphosate-based ones, are a very significant and serious cause of environmental problems.

We’ve got to stop use life-destroying chemicals in our gardens, parks, public spaces and on our crops if we are to survive ourselves.

There are plenty of natural methods of removing the odd weed (but see point 4) or discouraging certain wildlife (but see points 1 and 2).

It’s also impossible to ensure poisonous chemicals only affect the plants or animals you were intending them for. Invariably others will be injured or die too, and the poisons will enter our air, soil and water.

And most garden chemicals are not only dangerous to plants and small animals, but very dangerous to humans too.

Every person has the power to change the world.

Your power is multiplied by all the actions other individuals take.

Here’s to gardens, and our planet, full of life. Let’s do it! 🙂

What do you think?

What are you doing in your garden to encourage wildlife? What do you think we should do about weeds, slugs, rats and spiders? Do you think messy, natural gardens can be beautiful?

Sources and Further Research

An entomologist explains why NOT to kill spiders –

Organic weed management –

Save bees and pollinators –

Understanding the dangers of Glyphosate –

Weeds in your garden have many uses – 

Image credits: Thanks to artists and photographers of

52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: How to Save Hedgehogs

52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: How to Save Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs. Those cute little spiky animals we all love, which we are inadvertently driving to extinction.

It’s “Hedgehog Awareness Week” in the UK from 5th to 11th May 2019.

But hedgehog populations are suffering and we may lose these little critters if we don’t all start doing something about it now.

Basically hedgehogs are dying because humans are taking away their living space and their food, and since they’re nocturnal creatures, we’re killing them on the roads too.

So what can we do to help hedgehogs survive?

We need to make our gardens and parks and common spaces hedgehog-friendly.

Keep your garden and other natural areas litter-free. Hedgehogs and other wildlife can easily get caught in plastic, netting or packaging left lying around.
More than anything, we must actively keep plants, hedgerows, bushes and fallen leaves intact. We need to start encouraging nature and plant life, not cutting it back or clearing it away.
Hedgehogs eat bugs so we need to ensure the hedgehogs, and the bugs, have somewhere safe to live. That means NO weedkillers, pesticides or herbicides!

Remember that so-called ‘weeds’ are plants too, and these are usually important food sources for insects, bees and small mammals.

No matter how safe the manufacturers claim their biological poisons are, chemicals like Roundup, other glyphosate-based herbicides and other toxic garden sprays and pest pellets are designed to KILL life.
Despite the fact that they are designed to kill only some life, the target plants and small animals are always part of an ecosystem with other life, which means if we use chemicals at the bottom of the food chain, we are poisoning and negatively affecting ALL life up the food chain too.
For example, if we spray weedkiller, and a hedgehog eats insects which were on or around that plant, the hedgehog will be poisoned too.

Hedgehogs often struggle to move around to find food sources.

Where possible we should be adding holes for them in the bottom of garden fences, using lower borders around plant beds (maximum 15cm high), or using plants as borders instead of fences.
It’s a good idea to talk to your neighbours and each make a hedgehog-sized hole in your fences, so hedgehogs can move unhindered through all your gardens.
You can put out water in a shallow bowl, and some specialist hedgehog food for them too. But if your garden is a safe haven, full of life, and they can move around safely, hedgehogs will probably be able to find enough food and moisture without you feeding them. The only time it may become an emergency is in hot summer spells, when they will benefit from you putting water out.

Hedgehogs sleep and hibernate under hedges, bushes and in piles of leaves and vegetation.

Never clear leaves away, and don’t prepare or light a bonfire, without first gently checking for hedgehogs which may be resting or sleeping underneath. Be careful when gardening, as hedgehogs can be injured or killed by hedge-trimmers, lawnmowers, strimmers and even handheld garden tools.
You can place a hedgehog box or hedgehog house under plants or in areas with lots of leaves and vegetation for hedgehogs to live in. Put some leaves, moss and twigs in it to encourage them in. They may well hibernate in it all winter, and even make a nest for their babies there!

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, so they sleep in the day and roam around feeding at night.

Try to not disturb hedgehogs who you know may be sleeping nearby in the day. Also do be aware that hedgehogs may be hibernating for a few months in the winter, so again, do not disturb places where they might be.
Unfortunately it’s not always possible to avoid them on the roads. But where you can, do drive slowly and look out for little creatures crossing the road at night.

Find out more.

Have you ever seen a hedgehog? What are you doing to save them? What do you feed it? I’d love to hear from you. Write your reply below this post.

Information sources and further reading:

British Hedgehog Preservation Society:
St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital:

Photo credits:

Hedgehog photos and images from and

Environmental Fiction: Can Stories Really Save Planet Earth?

Environmental Fiction: Can Stories Really Save Planet Earth?

Environmental Fiction isn’t new.

Environmental Fiction” also known as “Eco-Fiction“, and its sub-genre “Climate Fiction” or “Cli-Fi”, is a relatively new distinct genre of literary fiction, focusing on stories of human beings interacting with the natural world and causing environmental problems and ecological crises on planet Earth (and sometimes beyond).

I say ‘relatively new’, but novels in this genre have been around for decades. For example, Mosquito Point by Chris Barry was first published in 1996 and tells the story of a character whose daughter was an environmentalist protesting the use of DDT (a now mostly banned insecticide), and an Eco-Fiction anthology published in 1971 contains environmentally-themed stories from as far back as 1839!

Fiction activism.

Right now, Eco-Fiction is gaining popularity because it’s hard to escape the sense of urgency brought to our attention by environmental and climate activists, protesters and movements such as Greta Thunberg (, the School Friday Strikes (#StrikeForClimate, #SchoolsStrike4Climate), Extinction Rebellion, and the like.

Even the latest winner of the very respectable “Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2019” was the Environmental Fiction novel The Overstory by Richard Powers, which explores the power of trees in the lives of nine fictional characters over time, and how they come together to save our world from a natural catastrophe.

Can a story really save the planet?

Most authors who write fiction focusing on natural disasters, ecological crises and mass species extinctions want to bring these issues to the attention of readers.

As an Environmental Fiction author myself, I feel strongly that Eco-Fiction has an important educational place in our culture, perhaps even highlighting green issues like habitat destruction, pollution and animal rights to people who might not otherwise have engaged with them.

“But if Environmental Fiction is just that – fiction, then why would readers take it seriously?” you might ask.

I’d like to think that having read a fictional story, readers ‘get it’ that the issues are real or could be, even if the characters or settings might not be. Hopefully readers come away more aware, perhaps even inspired to do some research, join an activist group, protest human-caused ecological catastrophe, volunteer their skills to wildlife charities, recycle more, or stop eating meat.

Even if all they do immediately after finishing the novel is think and feel more about an issue, that’s a good result, as far as I’m concerned. Spending time mulling over something in their minds which touched, angered or frightened them, and discussing it with others, is bound to affect their actions and behaviour down the line.

Change is needed.

After all, it’s humans who need to take action to save ourselves and the Earth. The planet cannot heal itself if we’re still here.

Science-Fiction meets Eco-Fiction.

For some readers, the time setting in the novels might matter as to whether they feel a novel is ‘realistic’ or not. Some Eco-Fiction focuses on important ecological issues which are happening now and are perhaps more urgent, like fracking, plastic pollution or climate change; these will reflect what readers can see around them.

Other authors present imagined dystopian or post-apocalyptic futures where humans didn’t take action in time and the remaining survivors struggle to live in barren, difficult environments. These novels serve as warnings to us to take action, otherwise our futures may be as bleak as described in the novels.

Now and then.

BookRiot classifies these two distinct types of Environmental Fiction as “What is” (novels focusing on now) and “What might be” (the future). Read their “A Reading List to Save the World” here.

Either way, Environmental Fiction, as a genre, is growing. In fact, I’d argue it’s already more than a genre – it’s part of the Ecological Collapse and Climate Crisis sub-culture or social movement fuelled by panic about the survival of our planet and human race.

We’re going to see more of it, be it in bookstores, Hollywood blockbusters like Avatar, and even in research and education seminars.

Do you think Environmental Fiction can save the planet? Have you ever read an Eco-Fiction novel? If so, which one, and how did it change your life? Write your comments below this post.

Eco-Fiction: Can Stories Really Save Planet Earth?

Author Interview with

Author Interview with, a general interest website based on authors and their expertise, began as a place dedicated to learning. Always a good reason to start anything!

It now contains a wealth of author interviews and articles about all sorts of topics, across 20 categories, including:

  • Sylvia Engdahl – Multi-award winning science fiction author, early Cold War air defense system programmer and space colonization advocate
  • Bill Bennett – Two-time Cannes official selected film director, two-time Logie award-winning Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalist and author of best-selling travel memoir about his 500-mile Camino de Santiago hike across Spain
  • Julie Daniluk – Co-host of Oprah Winfrey Network’s Healthy Gourmet that has aired in 78 countries, resident nutrition expert on The Marylin Denis Show in Canada and author of award-winning and best-selling nutrition books
  • Michael Schlossberg – Pennsylvania state representative and multi-award winning advocate for the mentally ill who works on suicide prevention and mental health legislation, and writes mental health-themed science fiction novels

… and recently, also an interview with me!

In this interview I explain how and why I was drawn to writing Environmental Fiction novels (also known as Eco-Fiction).

View the NFReads “Interview With Author Kathryn Rose Newey” here.

Let me know what you think 🙂


Write a Story to Save Elephants – Kids’ Writing Workshops at Waterstones

Write a Story to Save Elephants – Kids’ Writing Workshops at Waterstones

If you’re wondering what to do with the kids this April, why not bring them along to Waterstones in Welwyn Garden City on Wednesday 17th April?

I will be running more of my popular Kid’s Writing Workshops – this time “Write a Story to Save Elephants“.

We’ll be looking at all the situations where elephants interact with humans, how their numbers are plummeting, and what we can do about it.

The kids will be writing a story around this theme, and finding out more about self-publishing their own novels.

There are still spaces in the 11am-12noon workshop. Book in-store or email (ages 9-14 years).

Find out more about this event on the Waterstones website:


Get Your Free ‘Elephants Matter’ Environmental Worksheet

Get Your Free ‘Elephants Matter’ Environmental Worksheet

Elephants – an important part of the great web of life – do matter!

But they’re having a tough time, thanks to humans. Poached for ivory, culled, hunted, suffering from habitat loss, captured for zoos and circuses, to caged and confined as working animals…

Find out more about the environmental concerns in this blog post: “Elephant Extinction – Does it Matter?

You can explore lots of issues and activities around the topics of elephants in the free 2-page Elephants Matter Environmental Worksheet, including:

  • Design a mind map on the reasons elephant populations are declining (with a cool video link explaining mind maps)
  • Find out how we can all get involved in saving elephants
  • Investigate what World Elephant Day is all about
  • Research and have discussions about how elephants occur in our myths and legends
  • Explore etymology of the word ‘poach’
  • Learn fun facts and watch videos about unique elephant relationships
  • …and more!

Get your FREE Elephants Matter Worksheet!

Enjoy researching, reading, writing, talking and saving elephants! 🙂

I’d love to know how you get on. Write a reply below this post.


Make 1 Change a Week – 52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: Elephant Extinction – Does it Matter?

Make 1 Change a Week – 52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: Elephant Extinction – Does it Matter?

I love elephants. I’m in awe of their huge size, their intelligence, their community spirit, their fierceness, their grace, their extreme care for each other, their strength, their resolve, their beauty, their elephant-ness.

But I’m also very scared. Scared that one day, soon, too soon, there will be only a handful of elephants left… And that those last few elephants will then be killed by humans or die off without their population recovering…

And then there will be no more elephants. Ever.

Get your free Elephants Matter worksheet

No elephants? How could that be?

The statistics on elephant deaths, mainly due to poaching for their tusks and habitat loss, are terrifying. For example, in the 9 years up to 2011, around 62% of the world’s elephant population was lost.

From 2003 onwards, elephants have been killed faster than they can reproduce (in other words, fewer animals are being born than are dying). In fact, on average poachers kill African Elephants every 15 minutes.

Mathematically and tragically, this means elephants will one day be no more. Except perhaps for some sad individuals behind bars in zoos.

That is, unless the poaching, habitat loss, hunting and kidnapping reduces or stops altogether.

But first, why do elephants matter?

Elephants matter because they are part of the great web of life. Okay, so people natter on about ecology etc, but what have elephants actually got to do with anything?

Elephants are essential ‘processors’ in forest and savannah landscapes, consuming, moving and producing organic matter (for example, leaves, grasses, roots and branches are eaten, moved and eventually turned into poo, which in turn, provides food and nourishment for others). Read more about how essential they are to nature (scroll down to the ‘Why They Matter’ section).

Think of it like this. Your body is an ecosystem, in the sense that there are lots of parts and organic material which interact in a very finely tuned, complex way to keep you alive. If we were to remove your liver tomorrow, you might survive for a short while with the help of doctors, but you would be very unhealthy and ultimately you would probably die.

Like your liver is essential for your body to be alive and thrive, elephants are a necessary part of the vast eco-web of life across this planet. If they are killed off, the important jobs they do in keeping life ticking along can’t really be filled by anything else.

And so the plants and other animals that rely on elephants in their environment will also suffer and some will probably die off. The intricate balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide between plants and animals, and on which you rely in order to be able to take every breath, will also be affected. As will the chemistry of the soil and water, and the symbiotic proportions of plants and animals.

Elephants alone are not responsible for all of this. We are all part of it and all necessary for life together.

Elephants also matter because they’re living beings on this planet.

Because they’re alive. Because they’re amazing and wonderful. And because all living things matter. Like you and me.

What can you do to help elephants?

Even if you live far away from any elephants, there are lots of things you can do to help:

  • Donate to environmental charities which take action to save elephants from poaching, hunting and habitat loss.

  • Sign petitions to governments and environmental authorities to do more to stop ivory trade, poaching and hunting. Speak up for elephants by speaking out against poaching, hunting and animal cruelty whenever you can.
  • Share information, videos and pictures about elephants online. Make people aware, so that they in turn also take action to help elephants.

  • Don’t support tourist attractions like zoos, elephant rides and circuses, where elephants are exploited and kept confined. Elephants are usually beaten and tortured from a young age in these situations to make them ‘tame’ enough for interactions with humans. Did you know that over 70% of elephants in zoos in Europe were caught as babies in the wild and taken away from their mothers and herds to live the rest of their lives in captivity?
  • Support, visit and donate to wild animal sanctuaries, who are committed to providing better lives for ophaned elephants and elephants rescued from zoos or circuses, as well as wildlife reserves who let elephants and other animals roam free in natural landscapes, as they are meant to.
  • Explore lots of elephant-related topics in my free ‘Elephant Matters’ eco-worksheet, yours to download and print as you need:

Get your free Elephants Matter worksheet

What do elephants mean to you? I’d love to know what you think. Reply under this post.

Information sources and further reading: 


Photo credits:

Most elephant photos and images from, except for:

Elephant standing to eat tree photo by Johanneke Kroesbergen-Kamps on Unsplash

Baby elephant swimming photo by Simson Petrol on Unsplash

Mother and baby elephant photo by Chen Hu on Unsplash