During the week of March 14-20th 2016, Elephanatics took part in one of the most extraordinary fashion shows ever brought to Vancouver. Ava Holmes, producer of Elephantasia, exemplified her passion and commitment to spotlight the elephant poaching crisis through 12 fashion designers who showcased their elephant eco couture. We would like to thank her, for the opportunity given us, to work on such a dynamic show, and for her desire to help one of the most iconic animals on earth.
Attached is a summary of the fashion show and media coverage.
Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) was a huge success showcasing talented emerging designers from 25 countries. I was able to get to know some of the designers and found out that most of them got their inspirations from their own stories! No wonder they created such exceptional designs! Throughout the fashion week, fashionistas around the world and those at home were able to watched the shows via live streaming as if they were at the front row. The event attendees were fashion journalists including the fashion bloggers, elite fashionistas, buyers, scouts, politicians and Miss World organization committee. Six designers featured menswear in case you are wondering, hair styling by Revlon was fabulous as always and thank you to the official VFW photographers; Harry Leonard, Aziz Dhamani, Dale Rollings, Ed Ng Photography, Jerry Lum, Mike Wu Photography and Simon Lau (Monday & Wednesday); because of them I was able to sit back, took fashion notes and enjoy the show! The 7 days of wine tasting was a treat byMeiomi Coastal Capital Wine and After parties were hosted at the Republic, Bar None and Cabana.
Fall/Winter 2016-17 HIGHLIGHTS
Two important highlights of the event I believe was the elephant advocacy by Elephanatics and the other one was showcasing aspiring fashion designers and students of LaSalle College and JCI Institute Fashion Design graduates.
Elephanatics is the voice of hope for the Asian and African elephants with its mission to raise awareness and disseminating information with the challenges that they are facing right now leading them to extinction: poaching in Africa and tourist trade in Asia; please let us be responsible with our co-existing species.
Please DO NOT buy ivory and when in Asia DO NOT engage in taking pictures with these animals riding on their back and trunk, also cuddle-free any wildlife animals anywhere in the world. This causes emotional damage to the animals, it is probably cute and ‘selfie” worthy to us but it is a lifetime threat in their behavior. Only WE can help them survive and only WE can lead them into extinction! What will you choose? To gather more information about this advocacy, visit them online or follow them on instagram at @elephanaticsbc.
In partnership with David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust; Ava J Holmes, a wildlife researcher for conservation, non-profits and runway producer for her company, A-DOT Productions L.L.C. focusing on bringing mentorship, collaboration and sustainability into fashion through exhibitions like Elephantasia. A collaboration with the following fantastic designers namely Anna Fora, Amit Ayalon, Alex S. Yu, Brigid Ko, Danny Reinke, Dawson & Deveraux, Devonation, Eria Lamarque, Jacqui Bennet, Katherine Soucie, Mila Hermanovski and Tatiana Shebelnick made it possible to VFW. Check and follow the collab-collection from the said designers at @elephantasia2016.
Date: Sunday, March 13, 2016 – 3:00 pm
Event: 11th Annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival
Venue: Vancouver International Film Festival’s Vancity Theatre
Run Time: 1:18:00
Director/Producer: Leslie Griffith
Studio: Matriarch Films
Cast: Jane Goodall, Daphne Sheldrick, Iain & Saba Douglas-Hamilton
Description: A penetrating look at endangered African elephants, the criminals who hunt them, and the dedicated rangers using military technology to try and save them. Caught between bloody civil wars and a lust for money, Africa’s elephants struggle to survive a seemingly insatiable worldwide demand for their ivory.
Official Selection: Ashland Independent Film Festival, Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, Sedona International Film Festival, Awareness Festival
Winner: Best Documentary – Rainier Independent Film Festival
Best Documentary – Vancouver International Women in Film Festival
A discussion panel followed the film, moderated by Christina Toms, Director of WIFTV’s board and Director of Communications for Elephanatics. Participants were:
Leslie Griffith – Director, “When Giants Fall”
Dr. Jake Wall – Chief Geospatial Scientist, Save The Elephants
Ernie Cooper – Environmental Consultant/SFU Professor
Ernie Cooper stated that when African elephants were put on Appendix 1 by CITES in the late 80’s, commercial trade in ivory was prohibited worldwide. After that world trade plummeted. But then trade went back up to similar levels, following CITES’ approval of one-off sales.
Ernie said that interestingly, Canada’s trade has not increased substantially since the late 80’s. With Canada’s population being roughly 10% of USA’s, one would expect illegal ivory trade in Canada to also be 10% of trade in the USA. He didn’t know why, but Canada’s trade is significantly lower than 10%.
When questions were invited from the audience, Brian Kunimoto (a recent Elephanatics’ volunteer) was upset and incredulous about the recent Able Auction’s sale of hunting trophies and ivory. He thought that all ivory should be shredded. Ernie commented that trophy hunting was not a significant cause of elephant population decline. Some audience members were shocked by this and when Leslie said that she disagreed with Ernie, the crowd cheered enthusiastically.
Leslie Griffith explained what inspired her to make the film. Being a witness at the Ringling Brothers Circus trials was shocking and life-changing for her. She realized her Christian upbringing that taught man had dominion over the animals, was the same view as the Ringling Bros staff, and that this resulted in untold suffering of their elephants. This led her to research the African elephant crisis and eventually to “When Giants Fall”.
Jake Wall answered questions about the elephant GPS tracking collars and subsequent data collection of their movements. He explained how “Mountain Bull” was a real elephant “character” who would consistently march through fences and refuse to use the underpass route, but when he eventually accepted it, hundreds of elephants followed him through, safely making it to the other side. He also shared how new mines dramatically effect elephants and other wildlife due to the new roads that are made in previously wilderness territory to service the mine sites.
Another question from the audience was: What education is happening in top ivory consumption countries such as the US and China to counteract the high consumption?
An audience member commented how it would be good if the world’s largest auction houses, Sotheby’s and Christie’s, made a joint public statement that they would not sell ivory. This would have a positive ripple effect on many other auction companies that do market ivory, such as Able Auctions.
Leslie mentioned how important it was that the audience bring their friends and family members to the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos in Vancouver this year. Christina confirmed the date as September 24 and that the venue was currently undecided but it would be downtown. Elephanatics was mentioned and the audience was given the website address and Facebook page so they could check for event confirmations.
By: Leanne Fogarty – Director of Education, Elephanatics BC
Photo: One-year-old Ngilai at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant orphanage will be available for adoption at the Elephanatics table at VFW on Sunday (March 20). © David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
In an industry that regularly garners criticism from animal advocates, Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) is showing the world that animals do in fact matter. On Saturday (March 19) VFW will feature Elephantasia, a pachyderm-inspired, eco-couture collection by a collaboration of 12 different designers globally. This travelling exhibition will raise awareness and funds for African elephants who are killed for their ivory. In Africa an elephant dies every 15 minutes. Ninety-six elephants die from poaching per day and at this rate, African elephants will be extinct within our generation.
Elephantasia is enlisting the support of BC’s only elephant advocacy organization – Elephanatics. Based in Vancouver, the group helps the long-term survival of elephants by raising awareness, organizing events such as the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, and providing education on the enormous challenges elephants face in Africa’s poaching crisis and in Asia’s tourist trade.
The fashion show on Saturday (March 19) will also include guest speaker, Dr. Jake Wall, Chief Scientific Research Advisor for Elephanatics. He will speak at 4:30 pm about the current poaching crisis in Africa. Dr. Wall developed a real-time monitoring system using high-tech GPS tracking technology inside collars that were put on wild elephants. The system helps counter elephant poaching in Kenya and South Africa. Dr. Walls technology was instrumental in capturing iconic footage of a one-hundred-plus elephant herd for National Geographic’s documentary, Great Migrations.
On Sunday (March 20), Elephanatics will host an information booth at VFW’s show at the Chinese Cultural Centre at 4:00 pm. The booth will be collecting donations for the African Wildlife Foundation and encouraging baby elephant “adoptions” with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s elephant orphanage in Kenya. The orphanage cares for the young elephants orphaned by poaching, until they are ready to be introduced to the wild again.
Elephantasia at Vancouver Fashion Week
March 19, 2016 at 4:30 pm
Elephanatics Information Booth at Vancouver Fashion Week
March 20, 2016 at 4:00 pm
Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver
50 East Pender Street, Vancouver, BC
Written by: Leanne Fogarty – Director of Education, Elephanatics BC
March 2, 2016 – The news story above appeared in the New Zealand Herald on February 25, 2016 (http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11595445). The Sri Lankan government will be “gifting” the Auckland Zoo a second baby Asian elephant in mid-2016. The first one was “gifted” in June 2015. However, the truth is it wasn’t a gift – it was a $3.2 million transaction. Should a 5 year old baby elephant be shipped to the other side of the world? Why would the zoo lie about the $3.2 million?
The answers are “No” and “Because a gift sounds more innocent”. Female elephants spend their whole lives with their mothers and aunts, learning survival skills and helping them rear the next generation. Plucking babies them from the wild, sending them to a foreign environment, and keeping them in a confined space is not acceptable. No wonder they don’t want the public to know it will cost a small fortune. But the Auckland Zoo has long term plans for an elephant herd breeding program. This despite the fact that breeding elephants in captivity has been particularly unsuccessful and that zoo elephants live less than half the age of wild ones.
When I posted about this on my personal Facebook page, a friend who worked at Auckland Zoo assured me that the zoo had very high animal welfare standards and were breeding elephants to highlight their endangered status. Only 30,000 to 40,000 Asian elephants are left. If the decline continues at this rate, they will be extinct by 2025. My friend added that most global conservation organizations could not exist without zoos, due to the significant funding zoos provide them. Does he have a good point?
I am an animal conservationist, but I like to think a scientific and practical one. So please understand when I say that not all zoos are “bad”, per se. Some have large enclosures with moats instead of bars and varied enrichment activities. But here is the problem – no zoo enclosure in the world can allow an elephant to even mimic its natural behaviors.
The accrediting body for zoos – the Association of Zoos and Aquariums – mandates the minimum area for 1 elephant to be 1800 square feet or 13 metres x 13 metres. My very small apartment is 9 metres x 9 metres. Would anyone consider it acceptable to keep an elephant in a medium sized city apartment, when in the wild they walk 10-20 kilometres a day? They do this to forage extensively and consume up to 100 different kinds of plants that are necessary for an optimally balanced diet. To compare, zoo elephants walk 1-3 kilometres a day (if they are lucky) and get maybe 10 different food sources (if very lucky).
As we all know by now, elephants are extremely intelligent, social and emotional creatures. In the wild, males stay in their herd (of approximately 10 elephants) for 10-15 years, then spend at least part of their time in the company of other “bachelors”. Auckland Zoo’s male elephant “Burma” was totally alone for 6 years, ending just last year. Can you imagine being in solitary confinement for 6 years? These are mammals who are self-aware and can recognize up to 200 other elephants by sight and smell.
To cast the captivity of elephants into even further contempt,”Burma” was born in the wilds of Myanmar in 1982. He was captured and most probably tortured for 3-5 days to “tame” him. (Go to http://www.phajaan.webs.com to see what it involves and how Myanmar has done it for over 100 years. Warning: the video is disturbing.) Elephants can not be domesticated as this process takes many generations of breeding carefully selected animals with non-violent traits. This would literally require several hundred years.
National Geographic says wild Asian elephants live up to 70 years on average and zoo elephants average just 19 years. Less than one third their natural life! Diseases like tuberculosis, health problems and dietary issues that are largely unseen in the wild, manifest themselves in captive environments. In 1930, Auckland Zoo welcomed 13 year old elephant “Rajah”. Just 6 years later they euthanized him as he was “too difficult to control”. (Zoos now know that males go thru “musth” when testosterone levels are up to 60 times greater than normal. This allows them to fight other strong males to mate with the healthiest females.) In 1961, Auckland Zoo euthanized female elephant “Malini” due to a skin ailment. Just 6 years ago, “Kashin” was euthanized by the zoo due to arthritis. In their natural surroundings elephants walk long distances on soft earth. Arthritis results from them standing on concrete for long periods, especially in winter. Sri Lanka’s coolest average temperature is 22 degrees celsius. Auckland’s is 11 degrees celsius. They are going to be inside concrete-floored barns for a considerable amount of time.
Do not misunderstand me. Auckland Zoo has an above average enclosure. Called the “ASB Elephant Clearing” (after the sponsor, Auckland Savings Bank), it is a large, moated enclosure with a modern elephant house, mud wallow and pool which allows the 2 elephants to completely submerge. The mud and pool are crucial for enriched animal welfare. They keep them cool when they overheat and elephants love to swim, squirm and play in them as part of their natural social bonding behaviour. I know the Auckland Zoo keepers love their wild animals. But ironically, the keepers (and us as visitors) are loving them to death. In each fatal case above, the zoo just could not sufficiently mimic an elephant’s natural environment to keep them alive.
Auckland Zoo has spent a grand total of $131,746 on overseas projects that benefit elephants. The funding was provided to the Centre for Conservation and Research, and the Biodiversity and Elephant Conservation Trust, both in Sri Lanka. Although this is most probably a greater conservation investment than most zoos, it is a drop in the bucket compared to the $3.2 million spent on acquiring the 2 Sri Lankan elephants. Add the purchase price of “Burma”, the cost of the Elephant Clearing, and the cost of keeping 3 elephants in room and board, and you have a multi-million dollar enterprise.
True conservation only exists when captive-bred elephants are released into the wild. Zoos have never done this. If Auckland Zoo’s true motivation is to expose the encroaching extinction of elephants, would not those millions be better spent on conservation projects in the countries housing the last remaining elephants? Or why don’t they donate the zoo’s bred elephants to these countries? Well, you say, captive-born wildlife can’t be returned to the wild, right? The Elephant Reintroduction Foundation (founded by Her Majesty, the Queen of Thailand); the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya and the Patara Elephant Camp in Thailand, have all proven it can be done very successfully. The truth is the zoo wants more visitors and to sell∕trade babies to other zoos (they have admitted this), which we all know is to make more money. Which brings us back to why they called it a gift when it actually cost $3.2 million. Some things are better left unsaid.
By Leanne Fogarty
January 27, 2016
We would like to thank Diana and her sister for sharing their lovely remembrance of their father and his love of elephants.
“Our father collected elephants. Ever since we can remember there were elephants in the house. Dad started collecting long before we were born, so for at least 60 years or more. He told us that he liked elephants because they brought good luck, but they all had to be facing east toward Mecca for this to work. Birthdays, Christmas and Father’s day were all easy gift giving occasions for us, as all we had to do was buy our dad an elephant. Over the years, our parents collected elephants on their travels, and as we grew up and started travelling on our own, we too would buy elephants. We could not come home from a trip without producing an elephant. This was sometimes challenging, depending on the destination. Regardless, we would trudge around markets and gift stores until we found an elephant. Elephant shopping also became harder as the herd grew. Then we had the added pressure of producing a new and original elephant that our father did not already have. Our father organized the elephants by colour and composition. There was a glass section, a brass section, a black (ebony) section and a multicultural section. As the elephants increased, Dad had to buy a shelf to accommodate the growing numbers. Our parents also found a large elephant table that holds about 50 elephants. The table is also facing east which makes it a little awkward entering the elephant room as the room faces west. At one point in time our mother declared a moratorium on new elephant purchases as she felt they were taking over the house. However, after she passed away, the herd continued to grow. My father found a large elephant at a garage sale and spent days “rehabilitating” him (painstakingly repairing a broken tusk and retouching paint that had scraped away) At last count we have approximately 260 elephants. Our father passed away a year ago and although he is gone his elephants will always remain with us. The only problem is that they need their own room!”
I (Diana) chose to volunteer with Elephanatics to continue the family tradition and to honour our father’s memory. Below are a couple of pictures from his collection.
In memory of Edmund Hartel
Dr. Diana Hartel
For immediate release: BC advocacy group Elephanatics raises $4000 for families of killed Conservation Rangers in Garamba National Park in DRC Africa
January 21, 2016
Vancouver, BC – BC based elephant advocacy group, Elephanatics, has raised $4000 to go to the families of Rangers killed in the battle to save Africa’s remaining elephants in the Congo.
Rangers on the front lines of the elephant ivory war risk their lives daily to protect Africa’s rapidly dwindling elephant population. The horrors of the senseless slaughter of elephants for their tusks is magnified by the tragedy of rangers and conservationists losing their lives in what has become a war to save this critical keystone species from extinction.
In October 2015, a 10-person African Parks led ranger patrol team were engaged in a gun fight with poachers operating within Garamba Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo – one of the most beautiful parks in Africa and home to a rapidly dwindling number of elephants.
An African Parks helicopter was dispatched to rescue the team. Although 6 were rescued, 4 Rangers – Anselme Kimbesa Muhindo, Andre Gada Migifuloyo, Djuma Adalu Uweko, and Colonel Jacques Sukamate Lusengo – were shot by poachers and now leave behind their wives and 14 children.
The donation has been sent to Garamba National Park’s Ranger Fund, where it will go to support the families, school fees, and basic living allowances for the children of the deceased rangers.
Money was raised through the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos 2015 march and Christmas calendar campaign. Credit: Earl Hirtz @earlhirtzphotography.ca for calendar pictures.
January 15, 2016
In October of 2014, my daughter and myself, had the privilege of spending a weekend at PAWS elephant sanctuary, in San Andreas California. People who are familiar with issues surrounding captive and abused elephants from the exotic and preforming trades, will recognize the name Ed Stewart. Ed has worked tirelessly since 1984 to alleviate the suffering of captive wildlife. PAWS ARK 2000 sanctuary, is a testament to his hard work and devotion to elephants and other wildlife he has taken in and rescued. We were welcomed by himself and his wonderful team.
At PAWS, they use “non-dominance” methods to train their elephants. Their elephants are always positively rewarded (aka given a treat) for doing a behavior, but never negatively reinforced. The keepers need the elephants to rest their feet on an elevated bar so they can shave their toes and clean their feet to avoid infections. See photo below as one of PAWS elephants gets a pedicure.
Below is Thika. She was transferred from the Toronto Zoo along with two other elephants, Iringa and Toka, on October of 2013, to PAWS sanctuary. Both Iringa and Toka had been living at the Toronto Zoo since the 1970’s. Thika was born at the Zoo in 1980. They were lucky enough to be sent to live out the rest of their lives at PAWS. Unfortunately, Iringa has since passed away due to her many years of joint and foot disease. The picture on the right is Thika coming to say hi to us. Such a wonderful experience!
Below, Gypsy is enjoying her vegetation, and giving us some insight into her days in the circus (a place she surely does not miss) by balancing on the wire fence.
There were two male (bull) elephants at the sanctuary, one of which was Prince. I think he thought I had treats to give him.
In the picture below, you will see my daughter Andrea, and a big bull behind her. His name is Nicolas and he weighs 10,000 pounds – the largest bull in the sanctuary… and he is still growing! He was luckily saved from the circus industry at the age of five, where he was made to ride tricycles and do handstands.
Our two days were full of excitement and learning! We were taught the differences between African and Asian elephants, and the special handling required for a bull like Nicholas. Demonstrations on foot care, as in the picture above, and positive reinforcement techniques used to deal with medical problems were just some of the things we were taught. What resonated with us the most was the uniqueness of each elephant. Learning how to approach each elephant as an individual with respect to their needs and behaviours was an eye opening experience. How each and every one of them had suffered greatly from their life in captivity and the residual effects still haunting them from those captive years. We found an even deeper desire to fight for these majestic creatures along with Ed Stewart and many other organizations. What would life be without elephants?
We would highly suggest a visit to PAWS for an adventure into the life of an elephant and an adventure of a lifetime!
Fran and Andrea Duthie / Co-founders of Elephanatics