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Thousands expected to join International March for Elephants

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Press Release 6 Sep 2013

Thousands across the globe expected to join International March for Elephants

On Friday October 4th thousands of people are to march in solidarity for elephants in 15 cities around the world, including Wellington, in the single largest demonstration of awareness for the species’ imminent extinction.

The International March for Elephants will raise global awareness of the illegal ivory trade and its dire impact on elephant populations. Organised by iworry, an awareness and advocacy campaign by Kenyan conservation charity The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), the organisers say preventing the slaughter of elephants for their ivory has never been more vitally important than it is today. Though laws ban the trade in ivory internationally, the continued demand in consumer countries has resulted in a thriving black market and elephant poaching. As a result of the illegal ivory and wildlife trade:

One elephant is killed every 15 minutes for their tusks and 36,000 elephants are slaughtered annually.

Criminal syndicates and terrorist groups, exploiters of the trade, threaten global and national security.

In countries and communities where tourism is the main earner, millions of people risk losing their livelihoods and face poverty and increased unemployment rates.

Any decline in tourism revenue for developing countries could lead to increased international aid spending, funded by tax payers, to redress a likely fall in income.

Over 1,000 wildlife rangers* have been killed in the course of protecting the elephants over the last decade, leaving families without fathers, husbands and income earners.

In Kenya where tourism supports approximately one in four jobs, just 30,000 elephants remain. In the first eight months of 2013 a reported 190 elephants and two forest rangers have been killed in the war against poaching. Founder of the DSWT Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick DBE, voices her concerns, “A world without elephants is hard to comprehend. Their extinction would not only bring heartbreak, but a substantial and severe strain on Africa’s political and economic stability.” Dame Daphne’s knowledge of elephants’ intelligence and human-like emotions is unrivalled, having successfully rescued and hand-reared more than 150 orphaned infant elephants.

The iWorry campaign has so far gathered the support of many including True Blood Star Kristin Bauer van Straten, Canadian TV personality Tanya Kim and award winning actress and DSWT Patron Kristin Davis who states, “We can make it stop but only if we act now.” She continues, “Don’t let these majestic animals be brutally killed for human greed.”

Wellington, New Zealand and its residents will join 14 other global cities in calling for worldwide action to protect elephants. Official Trade Data for both New Zealand imports and re-exports of Elephantine specimens show an increasing trend. Information received from the office of Hon Dr Nick Smith, Minister of Conservation New Zealand, shows that since the African elephant was listed on CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in 1976, New Zealand has imported specimens of this species from at least 50 different countries. The official information records 159 seizures of illegally imported ivory in New Zealand, and 12 seizures of illegally re-exported ivory from New Zealand.

UK Director of the DSWT, Rob Brandford, says governments, including New Zealand have a vital role to play, “Without international cooperation from world leaders and law enforcement officials, the survival of this species hangs in the balance.” He continues, “Ultimately, the decline of elephant populations affects us all, whether it be emotionally, economically or morally.”

Cities participating in the International March for Elephants include Arusha, Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Edinburgh, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Munich, Nairobi, New York City, Rome, Toronto, Washington DC and Wellington. Learn more at: www.iworry.org

ENDS

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