World Elephant Day August 12th

World Elephant Day is a reminder of our moral duty to care for nature

Paula Kahumbu: Ending ivory trafficking should be at the heart of a new vision for Africa’s development

African elephants socialising in Amboseli National Park, Kenya.
 African elephants socialising in Amboseli National Park, Kenya.
Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Today a life-sized ice sculpture of an African elephant will be placed in Union Square in Downtown Manhattan. Over the course of the day, this massive ice sculpture will gradually melt, symbolizing the alarming rate in which African elephants are continuing to disappear at the hands of poachers.

The event is one of many being organised across the world on 12 August to celebrate World Elephant Day. It is part of the campaign #DontLetThemDisappearlaunched by Amarula Trust in partnership with the Kenyan NGO WildlifeDirect to raise global awareness of the plight of Africa’s elephants.

To reinforce the message, bottles of Amarula liqueur will be released for sale without the iconic elephant on the label. The trust will donate $1 for every bottle sold between now and the end of the year to support anti-poaching efforts.

Initiatives like this are vital to focus the world’s attention on elephants. Across Africa, it is estimated that one elephant is killed by poachers every 15 minutes. The global demand for ivory is still the principal driving force that is pushing elephants to the brink of extinction.

As recently expressed by one of Kenya’s foremost supporters of elephants, the First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta, only a sustained global effort can save them:

Elephants have lived in coexistence with human beings in Africa for millions of years. They are part of our natural environment our culture, our identity and our heritage. We are alarmed that trade in ivory in other parts of the world threaten the very existence of this majestic species and we call on all citizens of the world to celebrate World Elephant Day on 12th August, by renewing their commitment to end trade in ivory. The only place that it belongs is on the elephant. Let’s play our part in keeping them alive.

The event in Union Square is intended to highlight the critical role that America and other consuming countries have to play, both by reducing its own ivory consumption and by building pressure for a global ban on ivory trade.

On an African level, poachers can only be defeated by adopting a continent-wide approach. Otherwise, when controls are tightened up in one country, poachers will simply relocate to neighbouring countries to continue their gruesome work.

Anti-poaching efforts, like other actions to protect the environment, will have to be sustained on a timescale that is much longer than the election cycles in democratic countries. Elections are a reminder to defenders of wildlife of just how fragile our ‘victories’ can turn out to be.

Americans will not need to be reminded how, in just a few weeks, Donald Trump has not only reneged on the global climate change treaty but also set about dismantling domestic environmental protection measures that took decades to put in place.

Here in Africa, it is not only the outcome but also the process of elections that gives cause for concern. All too often elections take place in a climate of uncertainty that allows unscrupulous people to plunder the natural environment, without fear of redress, with dire consequences for elephants and other wildlife.

During the current election campaign in Kenya, armed invaders have wreaked havoc in some parts of Laikipia, undoing years of patient wildlife conservation work. Not a single arrest has been made.

African elephants are the largest terrestrial animal left on the planet. They live in close-knit families, and develop lasting friendships. They mourn their dead, meet up for reunions, and go to extraordinary lengths to protect other, young and vulnerable elephants from harm. To know elephants is to fall in love with them.

It seems unthinkable that wild elephants should disappear. How can we make sure it doesn’t happen?

Care for the natural environment should be understood as a moral duty, as it was in the past by cultures with close bonds with nature. Our ancestors recognized springs, trees, animals, forests, reefs and caves as sacred and considered desecrating them to be a sin.

Most people in the modern world are only dimly aware of how our destinies are intertwined with those of wild creatures and natural resources. But science has revealed that modern humans are no less dependent on the natural world than ‘primitive’ societies. It has debunked the delusion of ‘human exceptionalism’: the idea that humans can somehow escape the constraints that nature imposes on other species.

Once we acknowledge that our natural heritage should be protected at all costs it is obvious that this truth should transcend politics and differences among political parties. Non-political organisations such as businesses and civil society organisations have a key role to play in maintaining this long-term vision in the face of political short-termism.

In Africa, this understanding should inform our vision of national development. People in developed countries are rich in many ways. But visitors from developed countries who spend large amounts of money for a few moments in the company of elephants are searching for something that their societies, for all their material wealth, cannot provide.

We in Africa have the opportunity to map out a different path. We can devise ways of creating wealth that leave our natural environment intact, as a continuing source of wonder and inspiration for future generations.

Support for this vision came last month from an unlikely quarter. Speaking in Nairobi on his first visit to Africa, Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire, argued passionately that Africa should not try to be like China.

The founder of the e-commerce giant Ali Baba might have been expected to argue that Africa should go for growth at any cost. Instead, he urged Africa to learn from the mistakes of developed economies and develop its own model of development, using technology to protect our unique wildlife and the environment:

Where else can you find elephants roaming around except in Africa? Where else can you find fresh air that is not polluted except here? When I landed here and I was hit by fresh air, I understood why people come here. It’s a business opportunity, so leverage that.

This statement from one of the world’s most successful businessmen underlines what a terrible mistake it would be to allow development to destroy our natural heritage. It should also remind us that Africa has a unique role to play in solving global conservation challenges.

This is one reason why the collaboration on World Elephant Day between two African organizations, Amarula and WildlifeDirect, is significant. We, as Africans, must be ready to assume responsibility for mobilising global support to protect our elephants and defeat the illegal wildlife trade.

Hub Cycling “Bike the Night”

Look for us at ‘Bike the Night’ on September 16th, 2017 in Vancouver:

We are teaming up with HUB Cycling and their “Bike the Night” event on Saturday September 16. Over 5000 riders will be decorating their bikes with neon colours and celebrating Vancouver’s only official night ride on city streets with music, games, giveaways and free bike maintenance. The Elephanatics tent will be giving fluorescent temporary tattoos and body art, educating the cyclists and selling the Ride A Bike – Not An Elephant t-shirts.

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A life saver for elephants?

Elephants are capable of detecting an approaching rainstorm up to 150 miles away.

The elephants’ abilities are rooted in their excellent hearing skills. Elephants can hear sounds at very low frequencies, even those below the human range of hearing. It’s one of the ways they communicate with each other.

“If we’re better able to determine where the elephants are and where they might go, wildlife officials can monitor the elephants better and make them safe from poaching.”

The magic of clouds and elephants.

May there be light at the end of the ‘funnel’ for these iconic animals.



Ride A Bike – Not An Elephant

Elephanatics at Khatsahlano Street Party

Saturday at 11 AM – 9 PM
West 4th Avenue from Burrard to Macdonald
Come join the fun at the annual Khatsahlano Street Party. Local bands, artisans, food trucks, give aways and more! Look for the Elephanatics tent where we will unveil the new “Ride A Bike Not An Elephant” campaign to protect elephants from the tourism industry. There will be new campaign T-shirts & elephant-themed items for sale, free temporary tattoos and lots of elephant information! Hope to see you there 🙂

GMFER 2017

Elephanatics will be hosting the Annual Global March for Elephants and Rhinos 2017 in Vancouver again!
Mark your calendars!
Date: Saturday September 30th, 2017
Time: 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Location: Creekside Park – behind Science World – 1455 Quebec St, Vancouver, BC V6A 3Z7

Why Join:
Every year people in over 130 cities around the world organize events to raise awareness of the critical issues facing the African elephant and the rhino. These events serve to keep political pressure on governments to provide solutions today and in the longterm for the survival of these two species.
Every 15 minutes an elephant is poached for its ivory and every 8 hours a rhino is killed for its horn. Ivory and rhino horn are sold illegaly to markets the world over including China, Vietnam, America and many more. Without intervention these amazing wildlife will disappear in the wild within our lifetime..

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Killarney Secondary School Fundraises for Elephanatics

#KillarneySecondaySchool is planning a fundraiser for #Elephants next Wednesday, May 31st, at lunch hour, to bring awareness to the crisis facing both the African and Asian #elephant. We thank Tess Elia, their teacher and Elephanatics club sponsor, for all her hard work and the students for the creative and imaginative display they built that is featured in the schools hallway. Be sure to check it out after purchasing a gelato #SupportHelpingElephants



Young Professionals Summit

The Young Professional’s Summit presented by Rotary International on May 13, 2017 was an event with the aim to help young people realize that you can have a career but to also expose them to the opportunities to contribute back to community.

The primary goal and objective was twofold:

  • To engage young professionals and hopefully get a small dedicated group to start up a unique and organic chapter of Rotary in this district
  • To provide an engaging environment and opportunity for young professionals to get together and meet each other but to also actively work together on a community project

The participants were separated into two large groups where they were each given a live case to work on, one was Education Without Borders and the other, Elephanatics. These large groups were subdivided into two smaller teams. The teams were asked to work on a challenge currently being faced by the non-profits and come up with a feasible solution based on their experiences and their learnings from the Summit workshops. They then were asked to present their solutions to the different organizations.

It was an honour and a privilege to be asked to be one of the organizations to take part in the summit. The different groups brainstormed some critical and innovative solutions to our problem which we will be implementing into our strategic planning and operations.

We would like to thank Cassie Betman, an honours student at SFU and Elephanatics education facilitator, for facilitating this event. A huge thank you also goes to Sam Thiara, speaker, author, coach, educator and entrepreneur, for his guidance and compassion to helping with community causes.

Elephanatics Spring 2017 Newsletter!