Check out pictures taken at Cavendish Square shopping centre, Cape Town, on 11 and 12 July where a two-day Artjamming paint-a-thon and help save our elephants event took place. The event saw celebrities, including Former Miss South Africa Cindy Nel, model Tanya Van Graan, professional soccer player Ryan Botha and more, team up with children between 5 and 12 from Reach for a Dream to create artworks which were later auctioned off at a cocktail party. The funds raised will be used by IFAW to protect elephants.
IFAW's Christina Pretorius provides insight into the ivory trade and the plight of the elephants.
How serious is the threat to elephants in SA?
2011 was the worst year in over 10 years for elephant poaching. A total of 26 tonnes of illegal ivory was seized worldwide, and between 3 000 and 5 000 elephants were killed for their tusks. Most of this ivory is sent to the Far East, usually China, to be turned into trinkets and ornaments. It has a huge value there. At the beginning of this year, 650 elephants were poached for their tusks in Cameroon – about 50% of the entire elephant population of one of their main national parks. The sale of the Cameroonian ivory, and that of much ivory in Central and West Africa, is used to fund regional conflicts. The ivory trade as a whole is linked to the drug and arms trafficking industries.
Please provide a brief picture of the ivory trade in this country and what damage it’s doing?
Elephants in South Africa are extremely well protected and poaching of our elephants is fortunately rare. But the same is not true further north where elephants are under extreme threat from poaching for their ivory. This is due to poor resources, training, management and lack of funds to support these in many places. Hence many elephant populations in Central and West Africa are under threat from local extinction. This includes forest elephants. We don't believe that well-resourced countries like South Africa, and other southern African countries which are able to safeguard their elephants, should ignore this. IFAW also believes that globally, countries need to support states where elephants are under threat. IFAW works to help poor-resourced countries by working with range states and organisations like Interpol to train rangers and conservation officials to combat poaching and to successfully investigate and prosecute illegal ivory smuggling.
Why are we hearing more about rhinos than elephants?
The rhino issue is a very recent one that has blown up very quickly and has received a huge amount of media coverage. Rhino horn is incredibly valuable–- media reports say that, on the black market, it is as valuable as gold. There are very few rhinos left, and the biggest population of rhinos is in South Africa – about 20 000 of an overall total of about 25 000. This makes them an easy target for poachers. It must be remembered though, that there is no difference between those who poach rhino and those who poach elephants – they are all linked to cruel illegal trade that kills rhinos and elephants for products that nobody needs.
What practical ways can the woman on the street help save elephants from the ivory trade?
Don't buy ivory – if we don't buy, they don't die. Write to your government officials and ask them to support a ban on ivory trade, until all poaching of elephants stops. As long as a legal trade in ivory exists, it encourages and supports an illegall trade in the poaching of elephants for their ivory. Send your support for elephants by signing IFAW's petitions on www.ifaw.org, on Twitter at #action4ifaw and like us on Facebook at International Fund for Animal Welfare – IFAW.
Tell us more about the paint-a-thon.
E-is-for-Elephants is part of IFAW's Animal Action iniative that reaches over 7-million young people in 15 countries around the world and gets them to take action for animals, and to become more animal welfare and conservation aware. This year's theme focuses on elephants and the need to protect them. We have joined up with ArtJamming at Cavendish Square in Cape Town, where young people, celebrities and artists are getting together for two days to paint for elephants. The event culminates in an auction of specially painted "elephant doors" which will raise funds for IFAW's work to protect elephants. We are hoping the doors will go up in public spaces and places as a permanent reminder of the dangers that threaten these incredible animals. More info on E-is-for-Elephants can be found at www.eisforelephant.co.za.