Running out of time, a marathon struggle for elephants…

Jason Bell is running the Boston Marathon to raise awareness and money for elephants.As a keen runner, the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon for IFAW to raise awareness of the plight of elephants is a dream come true.  The Boston Marathon is the one event all marathoners want ticked off.  But, to be able to participate on behalf of the International Fund for Animal Welfare and raise money for elephant protection is a privilege.

With 62 days to race day, each week I will attempt to keep you updated on my training progress.  I will also keep you updated on what’s going on in the world of elephants, especially on the serious threats that populations in the wild face and what IFAW is doing to help.

Having just come back from China where an IFAW team met to discuss the growing demand for ivory in the Chinese marketplace and what this means for elephants in the wild, the severity of the ivory trade and its current impact on elephants is front of mind. 

In 2011, it is estimated that between 25,000 and 50,000 elephants were killed for their ivory.  It is said to be the worst year on record for large-scale ivory seizures, with 23 tones of ivory seized in illegal trade. 

As numbers are tallied for 2012, some suggest that it was an even worse year for elephants.  Today I read that over 11,000 elephants have been killed in Gabon’s Minkebe National Park in the last decade. 

Currently, poaching gangs are killing elephants in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Cameroon.  There are also reports, almost daily, of ongoing poaching in Kenya and Tanzania.  Basically, it doesn’t look at all good for elephants right now.

However, there is hope. 

Firstly, IFAW has been working with a number of governments around the world to draw attention to the crisis.  The elephant poaching crisis is now a matter of global concern and governments such as the US, through their State Department, have joined the march. 

Secondly, IFAW and others are hard at work to prevent poaching in key hotspots and to help governments stamp out the illicit trade in ivory through capacity building efforts for enhanced law enforcement.  We are working on the demand side, notably in China, to understand the dynamics of a seemingly ever-increasing market, with a view to reducing ivory consumption. 

The bottom line is that as long as there are markets for ivory, elephants will continue to be killed.  However, understanding market dynamics and greatly reducing large-scale voluminous consumption will result in fewer elephants killed.

My goal for the Boston Marathon is (1) to finish, (2) to raise awareness of the threats that elephants face and (3) to raise at least $5000 to help IFAW fight the fight for elephants.  Please join me on this journey and be a part of the solution.  Let’s not let time run out for elephants.

From a training perspective, Boston is a stepping stone for the Comrades Ultra-marathon in Durban, South Africa, in June.  My first marathon for the year was a lazy 3h43 for the Redhill Marathon in Cape Town, 20 January. 

My next marathon is less than a week away, the Peninsula Marathon on 17 February.  This weeks training will take me up to 50 miles for the week, total. 

All good so far, albeit slow progress…

More next week…


Help Jason & Patrick meet their fundraising goals by donating via their Crowdrise pages.

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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