The Story of a GMFER
Every year, October 4 is World Animal Day. And this year over 130 cities around the world celebrated this special day by participating in the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos (GMFER). Thousands of people attended these events to raise awareness about the ivory trade. At Elephantopia’s event in Katy, TX, a few hundred people attended our event where they learned the facts:
- That 35,000 elephants were killed just in 2013 for their ivory tusks. That means on average 1 elephant is killed every 15 minutes. So during our 4 hour event, 16 elephants were killed.
- That every 9-11 a rhino is killed for their horn – which are mistakenly believed by many in Vietnam to cure cancer or acts like viagra. But the horn is the same substance as your fingernails. And just last year, the world lost the Western Black Rhino forever to extinction.
- That ivory tusks fuels terrorist organizations as one tusk can sell for as much as $300,000USD on the black market. Al Shabbab receives about 40% of their funding from this illegal wildlife trade.
- That as long as there is a legal ivory market, elephants will be extinct within the next 10 years.
- That over 1,000 rangers have lost their lives protecting Africa’s wildlife from poachers. Poachers do not distinguish between human and animal lives.
- That the sad reality of killing these animals are the baby elephants and rhinos left behind as orphans.
As children waited in line to get an elephant or rhino painted on their face, conversations like this were overheard:
“Did you know…that they are killing elephants for their tusks?”
“Just for their tusks? That is so wrong.”
“Yea, and did you know that they might go extinct if nothing is done?!”
“We can’t let this happen!”
“I want to help the baby elephants and rhinos that are orphans now.”
These young ele-advocates walked away from our event with a heart filled with love and passion for elephants, rhinos and protecting their future. They had the chance to build their own stuffed elephant while learning how important elephants are as a keystone species. They had the chance to play some elephant games and “meet” the 5 last species of rhinos left in the world. Parents were encouraged to sign a petition asking the US Fish and Wildlife Service to NOT create a piece of artwork from the 6 tons of crushed ivory (if you haven’t, PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION HERE). And everyone was invited to “Join the Herd” with Elephantopia to sponsor Kavala, an orphaned elephant victim of the ivory trade in Zambia at the GRI Elephant Orphanage.
The tone of the event was the perfect mixture of fun, somber learning, and opportunity for action. Mickey & the 40 Hands Band, The Frank Hart Blues Band donated their time and talent to the event performing from 10am-2pm and Shane Jones came down from Austin with Different Rhythm Foundation to debut his song No Time To Wait, dedicated to raising awareness for the ivory trade.
The best part? Seeing our motto in action: Save Elephants, Build Community. Those who came had the opportunity to learn, listen, and act to save elephants. We are always looking for more advocates. Interested to Join the Herd? Here’s two ways we need YOU:
- Volunteer Ele-Ambassadors. We are creating curriculum for volunteers to take into their community clubs, schools, churches, small groups, etc. If you would like to get involved with this, please fill out the Contact Us form below.
- Sponsors for Kavala. We have committed to support Kavala at the GRI Elephant Orphanage. It costs $12,000USD a year to cover her food, medications and keepers salaries. Please consider donating to her fund to help us reach this quarter’s goal of $3,000USD. Click on the photo below to donate today. And until the end of this week (October 11th) donations of $50USD or more will receive a Save Elephants Build Community limited edition handcrafted necklace.