How I Became an Elephant Advocate
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you love elephants. And you probably already know that they are a keystone species being hunted to extinction by poachers. Nearly 100 elephants are killed daily, and if nothing is done to stop the current poaching crisis, elephants in parts of Africa will be extinct by 2025.
If you’re still reading this, you probably feel overwhelmed with the enormity of this problem and wonder how “little ol’ you” can help make a difference.
We interviewed Nicole Rojas, a fellow dreamer, with the strength, patience and passion to save elephants and build community. May her story encourage you in your advocacy to know that each one of us CAN and DOES play a vital role in protecting elephants. Then send us a note and tell us your story!
- How did you first come to love elephants?
Since I was a child, I have always had a close connection with animals. I have always admired elephants for their gentle strength and the way they care for each other. I think they have just been a part of my soul for such a long time. I had the good fortune to visit the elephants at Performing Animals Welfare Society (PAWS) in California in 2010. I never forgot how absolutely brilliant the elephants were in the way they communicate and the close bonds they shared with one another.
- How did your passion for elephants turn into action?
Ever since I spent the day at PAWS, whenever I got a chance to stand up for elephants in the wild or being rescued from a circus, I would. Whether it would be signing a petition, writing a letter to a government official, or donating money to a cause. Because I get so many emails from different organizations, I began reading about the elephant crisis and I knew I couldn’t close my eyes and make it go away. I read an article from Town and County Magazine, The Philanthropy Issue about Kuki and Sveva Gallmann, a mother and daughter who live in Africa and are working to preserve the elephant population by protecting their migration routes. While researching more, I read about Elephantopia and it’s wonderful efforts to help save the elephants. I also read about an elephant advocate by the name of Ashley Prout-McAvey who is working for the ban on ivory and rhino horn in Vermont. I emailed her and asked how I could help. Ashely put me in contact with other people all working for this cause and introduced me to Allen Sandico, the founder of Tusk Task Force, a NGO working to mitigate the threat of terrorism on wildlife. Both Ashley and Allen have helped educate me about the crisis and supported me to begin a petition in Illinois. I then arranged a meeting with the senator here in Illinois who is sponsoring the bill. I was able to ask the senator what actions we can take as constituents to help her get the greatest results to help pass the bill. The senator suggested contacting my local state and house representatives to explain the crisis the elephants are facing and to voice my stance to ban ivory in Illinois through grassroots education as well as creating the petition.
- What words of wisdom do you have for other elephant lovers who may feel like there’s nothing they can do to save elephants since they are just one person?
If your passion is to help save the elephants, you can find ways to make a difference. Even if you tell one person about this cause, you have made one person aware. Awareness is the key. The more people find out about this crisis, the momentum to prevent the extinction of wild elephants will continue to grow. Then there will be a collective effort to help ban ivory and let the elephants roam freely and safely. Even when you look at the world and see horrible things, once you get past the anger and sadness, you realize there is nothing else to do but help.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE TODAY
Become a FOSTER PARENT for Kavala, an orphaned elephant victim of the ivory trade in Zambia. Her life depends on a community of elephant advocates like you! Sign up today! For as little as $5 a month, you will receive a magnet of Kavala and exclusive quarterly updates from the GRI Elephant Orphanage.
PHOTOGRAPHS SHARED WITH PERMISSION FROM ALISON LANGEVAD PHOTOGRAPHY.