Elephants are facing some serious issues today, chief among them poaching and exploitation for entertainment. Not to be all doom and gloom, but the reality is, if something isn’t done we could see a world without them in just two decades. Can you imagine a world without elephants?! Neither can we!
African elephants are routinely hunted, despite laws forbidding it, for their ivory tusks in order to produce trinkets and jewelry on the black market. While many countries are doing their part to make the purchase of ivory products harder by outlawing their sale, the demand from consumers still allows for it to be a profitable business.
Which is why many people are taking a stand to help, including lots of very notable celebrities. Using their star-power to raise awareness on social media, speaking before Congress and urging consumers to stop purchasing ivory, these famous folk are doing what they can to make a difference for an animal that we might see vanish within our lifetimes. To us, and elephants, this is the most important role they could play.
A huge proponent for animals of all kinds, Ricky has been outspoken about the need to stop the ivory trade, calling on Londoners to hand in their ivory to authorities in an effort to remove it from circulation. He’s voiced his criticisms loud and clear saying, “Elephants could be extinct by 2030 if the ivory trade remains the same, and for what? For trinkets for morons to own? That’s f%$#ing mental!”
There are few celebrities as dedicated to ending ivory poaching than this former basketball star. Recently staring in a special for Animal Planet called, ‘Saving Africa’s Giants With Yao Ming,’ the larger than life animal lover has lobbied hard to impose a ban on ivory in China, delivering petitions to the government there in an effort to make a difference.
Using the platform of his ever popular Daily Show, Stewart raised awareness about the disproportionate numbers of elephants being killed versus elephants being born. Saying in only the way he can, “It’s clear we’ve got two options people. Either we as humans can decrease our consumption of ivory by no longer buying trinkets we don’t even need or elephants can lose this two year gestation thing and start shooting out pups like a t-shirt cannon.”
The CSI actress lobbied in 2011 for the US to join a growing list of nations that outlaw elephants from touring with circuses. A spokesperson for Animal Defenders International (ADI), she also produced a movie in 2013 called ‘How I Became An Elephant‘ about a young girl’s quest to save elephants from the exploitation they face at the hands of entertainment and trekking industries.
Founder of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and legendarily generous conservationist, the actor contributed $1 million to the Elephant Crisis Fund in an effort to eliminate ivory poaching and trafficking right at the source.
Her character on Sex and the City may have been prim and proper, but when it comes to elephant welfare, Kristin Davis isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and fight for the precious pachyderms. A Humane Society Wyler Award recipient in 2011 for the attention she brought to the plight of orphaned African elephants, Davis has worked with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and has even rescued a baby elephant. Saying of her passion, “Elephants are truly amazing animals and they need our protection, and what people in this country may not realize is that they can help by not buying ivory items.”
Often the face of many humanitarian efforts, Jolie is set to direct the movie ‘Africa’ (written by Eric Roth) about archeologist Richard Leakey’s fight against ivory poachers in Kenya. Saying of the project, “I’ve felt a deep connection to Africa and its culture for much of my life, and was taken with Eric’s beautiful script about a man drawn into the violent conflict with elephant poachers who emerged with a deeper understanding of man’s footprint and a profound sense of responsibility for the world around him,”
Known in the acting world for his parts on Lost and The Vampire Diaries, Somerhalder is also the founder of the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, which focuses on animal rights and environmental initiatives. He recently went before Congress to urge tightening a domestic ban on ivory and very publicly morned the poaching of the african elephant Satao, tweeting, “YOUNG PEOPLE! TELL YOUR PARENTS THIS IS BULLS—T! A MAGNIFICENT CREATURE KILLED?! FOR WHAT?! RIP YOU AMAZING CREATURE!!”
We may know him as the star of films like Fight Club and American History X, but did you also know that Edward Norton serves as president of the US Board for the Massai Wilderness conservation trust? A dedicated conservationist, he filmed two PSAs for WildAid‘s “Say No to Ivory” campaign in an effort to bring awareness to the plight of elephants, saying, “Reducing the demand for ivory products is essential to the survival of Kenya’s elephants and directly impacts our on the ground community conservation efforts. By strengthening community stability in Kenya and shifting consumer behavior abroad, we can save elephants and improve the lives of Maasai.”
Yes, this man can play some mean soccer (or football if you’re from, well, everywhere outside the US), but he also likes to harness his energies for conservation too. Teaming up with Prince William, Beckham took part in the #WhoseSideAreYouOn initiative from United For Wildlife which asks social media users to pledge their allegiance to either exploited wildlife, or the poachers themselves. Saying of his participation, “When I learned of the current poaching levels in Africa, I immediately agreed to help get this message out. It is shocking to think that we could lose these animals from the wild in our lifetimes,”
- Don’t purchase ivory. Refusing to continue the demand for this product will make poaching elephants for it useless. After China, the United States is the world’s second largest consumer of Ivory. If we stop buying, poachers will be out of a job.
- Avoid the zoo. The poaching industry and zoos go hand in hand as many animals are wild caught and placed in captivity at zoos internationally.
- Refuse to patronize places that use elephants for attractions such as rides or shows. This includes elephant trekking excursions, circuses and baby elephant encounters. In order for an elephant to be docile enough for human interaction like this, they were removed from their mothers at a very young age and subjected to cruel training.
- Donate! There are a variety of organizations that work to help elephants. Supporting them helps them continue their mission to save these magnificent creatures.
Lead image source: Risewall