Prized for their majestic ivory tusks, elephant populations across much of Africa and Asia have been decimated by poaching. It's estimated that a hundred African elephants are killed each day for their ivory, meat, and body parts. And despite an international ban on the trade of ivory, prices are rising and the slaughter is worsening; in 2013 more than 20,000 elephants were killed for their ivory.
To commemorate the third annual World Elephant Day, National Geographic presents some of our most powerful images of the endangered animal over the past century.
In this photo, an elephant in Samburu National Reserve in Kenya stands tall among her herd.
Text by Gloria Dickie, Photo Editing by Kathy Moran
Pictures: World Elephant Day
Our relationship with elephants—from circus entertainers to loggers to black market bounties—is often complex, if not cruel.