World Animal Day was started in 1931 by ecologists in Italy to raise awareness of endangered species, with the current emphasis on the welfare of animals around the world. October 4 was chosen as the feast day of Francis of Assisi who is the patron saint of animals, though the organization has no religious affiliation. It now involves 1000 events in 100 countries, growing every year.
I took this photo many years ago while studying monkeys in Kenya, camping in Samburu National Reserve. At the time there were huge herds of elephants. I sometimes saw hundreds in a day, though they were starting to decline. Today, African elephants are threatened by poaching, and with most of their range outside protected areas they face the loss and degradation of their habitat.
When I first took this picture it seemed humorous, a herd of elephants headed for a campsite with humongous tents, and in fact they often shared the river near our campground. But over the years it has taken on more poignancy for me. Now they must search for a place to live in our world. I hope this day dedicated to animals reminds us of their value, and that we find ways to share our crowded planet with them in the future.