World Elephant Day: Tips for a self-drive elephant safari

Not only is the elephant the biggest land animal on this green planet of ours, but they are also one of the most-loved for their intelligence, familial bonds and strength in the face of adversity.

And they have much to fight against - poaching, habitat encroachment and overpopulation puts them in a constant fight against human's destructive nature.

WATCH: #MadeFromAfrica: Meet the face of Amarula in the Limpopo bush

While there are many protections in place for them and their habitats, it's never a certainty that these protections will last forever. Recently Botswana - one of the key pillars of elephant conservation in the world - has reversed their elephant hunting ban, citing human-animal conflict and economic incentives as the justification for the reversal.

Zoos in the US are also buying many controversial wild-caught baby elephants from Zimbabwe, trying to supplement their shrinking captive elephant population in America. 

ALSO WATCH: Keeping wildlife wild and humans tame at Shamwari Game Reserve 

According to the WWF statistics,  it is critical to conserve both the African and Asian elephants as they play vital roles within their ecosystem. 

With an estimated 415 000 elephants left on the African continent, the species "is regarded as vulnerable, although certain populations are being poached towards extinction". 

Alarmingly there is only an estimated 40 000 and 50 000 Asian elephants left in the wild. 

But it's not all bad news - there's also been a growing voice against elephant rides in the tourism industry, and next year Vietnam's total ban on ivory products will come into effect. 

World Elephant Day will be taking place on 12 August and is a time to consolidate efforts to protect the majestic species and celebrate their vital footprint on our world.

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Here's how you can take part:

Visit them in their own home

We are very lucky in South Africa that you don't have to travel too far to see elephants and their families roaming freely in the wild. The most famous spot to see them is in Addo Elephant National Park, or you can head to our crown jewel Kruger National Park.

There are also many opportunities to spot them in various other national parks and private game reserves - all you need is a car and some keen eyes!

Watch family drama on TV

If you can't head off to one of our many national parks and game reserves to see the giants in person, you can also tune into National Geographic Wild on World Elephant Day for a stunning line-up of heartache, triumph and survival in the world of giants. 

You can watch the Elephant Queen lead her herd through treacherous lands, tumultuous battles for resources in Elephant King of the Kalahari, learn about their daily lives in An Elephant's World and discover whether an orphaned calf will live to see another day in Baby Elephant RescueCheck the schedule to find out more. 

SEE: The 5-star lodge where elephants drink out of the pool 

Don't forget about our Asian elephants

We might be super focused on our massive African giants, but a spotlight also needs to be put on their Asian cousins and their plight. How you can help is by making sure to buy sustainable palm oil - these elephants are prone to losing their habitats like many other animals to the expansion of palm plantations.

Donate to conservation agencies

Looking after elephants doesn't come cheap - rehabilitation facilities, vets, anti-poaching rangers and initiatives that help ease human-elephant conflicts are all important cogs in the conservation machine that unfortunately costs money.

You can either donate to your favourite conservation organisation or local nature authority, or check out the World Elephant Day website for more charity options.

WATCH: Maputo Special Reserve: Where elephants learn to trust humans again 

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