We’ve long appreciated the power of social media to open the world’s eyes to what is happening to elephants. When an elephant called Changila was killed by poachers in early 2013 it felt like a dam had broken and millions of people were moved about his death via our Facebook feed (the post was later removed by the company following complaints that the content was disturbing. It is, but ignoring it is even more so).
Elephants need support from people all around the world if they’re to survive in the wild. They are in the teeth of a terrible ivory poaching crisis that saw 100,000 killed across Africa in just three years. Public awareness is critical to push politicians to end the trade in ivory, but we also need to get support out to the organisations that are most effective in stopping the poachers, dismantling ivory smuggling networks and ending demand for ivory. Our Elephant Crisis Fund was established to do exactly that, getting 100% of all donations out to the best partners in the most urgent areas.
Enter Ivory Ella. Ivory Ella is a group of twenty-something year-old entrepreneurs who decided to make a difference. They have designed merchandise with one thing on their minds: to save elephants. Save the Elephants is honoured to be the beneficiary of a whooping 10% of the organisation’s proceeds. This is where things get extraordinary. Ivory Ella sales went through the roof. Just 4 weeks after launching, Jacob Castaldi (co-founder of Ivory Ella) presented Save the Elephants with a giant $30,000 cheque. Their secret weapon? You, via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!
Their name – “Ivory Ella” – sparks memories for us. Ella is an elephant from Amboseli from a famous elephant family that was once led by the famous Echo of the Elephants. We knew her when she was a feisty youngster. One time, during the filming of the IMAX movie Africa’s Elephant Kingdom, we watched her experience a dramatic change of emotion. Her brother, Ely, had been speared and was about to be treated by the Kenya Wildlife Service. Ella seemed furious with Ely as he began to fall asleep from the tranquilliser and gave him a sharp knock with her head. But then, as Ely collapsed, in a flash her mood changed and she ran up and broke his fall. Many years later, here’s Ella now.
As we watch Ivory Ella take off, Save the Elephants feels privileged to be at the centre of such powerful, positive forces in the maelstrom of social media.
Elephants need all the help they can get. Two thirds of the forest elephants of Central Africa have disappeared in the last decade, and Tanzania – until recently the world’s second largest elephant population – has just announced that they have lost 60 per cent of their elephants in just four years.
But the global coalition of those who refuse to see elephants disappear has reason for hope. Last week the Chinese government announced that they intend to close down the ivory trade. Without ending demand for ivory the battle for elephants can never be won, so this statement from the world’s largest consumer of ivory is hugely significant. The Elephant Crisis Fund has been working with many organisations to share awareness with the people of China.
The day before China’s announcement, renowned Chinese pianist Lang Lang urged travellers not to bring ivory back to China, launching a powerful 60-second film that’s part of our China outreach campaign with WildAid and the African Wildlife Foundation. On the other side of the world, California’s assembly passed a bill to ban ivory within the state, building critical momentum. All of this brings hope for the elephants and with Ivory Ella’s significant support into the future, we can bolster our efforts to stop the killing of elephants, thwart the traffickers and end demand for ivory.
Together we can make a difference – help save elephants one shirt at a time.