Supporters make all the difference for elephants

Robbie Marsland, Director IFAW UK – Elephant* - Richard Benyon MP, Minister for Natural EnvironmentThank you!

Thanks to the action of International Fund for Animal Welfare supporters the British Government has committed to protecting elephants around the world.

In lending your support to our campaign to protect elephants, by working to end the ivory trade and protecting elephants on the ground through stronger action against wildlife crime, you have made the crucial difference in ensuring the Government takes this issue seriously.

By adding your name to our petition calling for an end to the ivory trade, and by signing a postcard to the Government calling on them to take a lead in protecting elephants internationally, you have ensured this is an issue that the Government cannot ignore.

I know that when you sign a postcard or a petition it can be difficult to assess how much difference it really makes. But I can assure you it makes a tremendous difference!

We do everything we can to make the Government aware of the challenges facing elephants around the world, from the destruction of their habitat to the mass slaughter of entire herds for their tusks, but nothing brings home the message more clearly than the fact that IFAW supporters in their tens of thousands are prepared to take the time to voice their concern in such a direct way.

We live in a democracy after all, and nothing is more effective than people power.

Here is what the Government has said, in a message the Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (the department responsible for protecting wildlife) has asked me to relay to you, IFAW supporters:

“I can assure IFAW and its supporters that the UK Government remains committed to working with other countries to ensure the protection of elephants in the wild, including tackling the threat of them being killed for their ivory.

The UK took a firm line at the recent Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Standing Committee to ensure that work on an ivory Decision Making Mechanism takes account of a wide range of views and results in an outcome which does not encourage further poaching.

That work is continuing and we will continue to play our part. In addition, in the last financial year, the UK provided financial support to a variety of relevant initiatives and organisations, including the African Elephant Fund; the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s African Elephant Specialist Group and INTERPOL’s Operation Wisdom.”

Strong words from the Government: a message they repeat in international discussions to oppose any ivory trade that leads to increased poaching of elephants. With the challenges the Government is facing at home, it would be all too easy for them to wash their hands of the elephant crisis taking place in Central and West Africa, but you have made sure they don’t.

Not only this, but they are prepared to put their money where their mouth is. We are all aware of the Government’s financial constraints, and so we must welcome their willingness to contribute to important initiatives like the African Elephant Fund and INTERPOL’s Operation Wisdom, a frontline wildlife crime enforcement effort that IFAW also supports thanks to the generosity of our supporters.

The UK Government is taking a lead in supporting efforts that protect elephants around the world, but they will only continue to do so if they believe it is a priority for the British public. From speaking to you we know that it is, and with your help we will continue to remind the Government of this fact. Thank you again for your support.


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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Cynthia Moss, IFAW Elephant Expert
IFAW Elephant Expert
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Program Director, Elephants Regional Director, South Africa
Program Director, Elephants, Regional Director, South Africa
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy