Children see and understand with innocent clarity what adults have grown to pay less attention to — obvious changes needing to made in the world. When we open our mouths to stand up for what it right, the result is sometimes more than we could have hoped for. For a group of schoolchildren in Hong Kong, a change must happen to save the lives, and very existence, of the wondrous and beautiful elephant.

The ivory trade is violent, acts involving tusks being ripped from the faces of still breathing elephants, and Hong Kong is at the heart of the ivory black market, a gateway for smuggling ivory from Africa to Asia.

After 12-year-old Nellie Shute learned of the horrors of how ivory is obtained, the Hong Kong International School student went on a mission to educate her fellow students and their parents about it. She donated the money she made from crafted elephant cards to the David Sheldrick Woldlife Trust in Kenya, started a successful petition to take “educational tusks” out of her school, and suggested the government destroy its entire ivory stockpile.

Alex Hofford via National Geographic

Christina Seigrist, a nine-year-old student at the Chinese International School in Hong Kong, and Lucy Skrine, an 11-year-old at the Independent Schools Foundation Academy, rallied together with Nellie to form the Elephant Angels. One project, petition and protest at a time, these awesome kids are working together to raise awareness of the toll brought about by the illegal ivory trade … and they got results!

“Children around the world can lend their support to this cause,” said Christina Seigrist. “I would ask them to share this with many of their friends, and also do a presentation at their school.”

The Elephant Angels delivered an 18,000 signature petition advocating for the destruction of the Hong Kong government’s ivory stockpile. Then on January 23, the government announced they would destroy 95 percent of its stockpile, that’s 28 tons!

“Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in,” Nellie advised. “If you do nothing, nothing will change. Our young voices can be very powerful, and people will listen. You just have to speak up!”

Nellie, Christina, Lucy, and other kids fighting for the rights of animals prove you are never too young to make a difference in the world.

Lead image source: Alex Hofford via National Geographic