£500,000 raised to help stop the elephant crisis

Thanks to help from celebrities, royalty and most of all our readers, a record amount will go to our partner charity Space For Giants to help change things for elephants now

Share

The Independent’s campaign to save the elephant has raised more than £500,000 for an East African-based charity dedicated to protecting the species, making it the most successful in this newspaper’s history.

The Elephant Appeal, which was launched in December, drew the world’s attention to a crisis. Some 100 elephants are slaughtered every day in Africa to satisfy the ivory market, driven largely by China.

Populations in the wild could be wiped out within a decade, but demand for ivory is booming: at least 45 tonnes were seized in 2013, believed to be the biggest annual haul in a quarter of a century. The murder of elephants all feeds into the £12bn illegal wildlife trade – the world’s fourth biggest illegal trade after narcotics, human trafficking and counterfeiting.

Yet there are tangible solutions. With the help of our readers, and some high-profile support, The Independent and its sister titles have raised £502,348 for our partner charity, Space for Giants.

The charity, based in Kenya, has signed a contract guaranteeing that all the money donated will be spent on conservation work to make an immediate difference, with not one penny going towards administrative costs.

But it’s not just about money. We have reported from across Africa on the criminal syndicates that control the illegal wildlife trade, the poachers who end up behind bars, the people who live among the elephants, and the countries that fear for their tourism industries.

The Independent on Sunday revealed that Prince William wants to destroy all of the ivory in Buckingham Palace and discovered that the crisis is not just about elephants: around 1,000 rangers have tragically lost their lives in the bid to stop their country’s wildlife being gunned down, while families across the continent have been torn apart by the trade. Terrorist groups, including al-Shabaab, are said to partly fund their activities through the sale of ivory.

Almost 1,500 people signed our petition which called on world leaders to commit to better training and resources for rangers; to provide education in places such as Asia; to stamp down on corruption and implement laws against those involved in the trade; to help communities develop sustainable livelihoods; and to uphold the ban on the trade.

Mary Rice, executive director of the Environmental Investigation Agency, said the campaign was “instrumental in helping the issues to achieve a huge public profile in the run-up to the watershed London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade”.

At that conference last week, delegates from 46 governments agreed to treat poaching and trafficking as “serious crimes”. They pledged for the first time to renounce the use of any products from species threatened by extinction; to support the commercial prohibition on the international trade in elephant ivory until the survival of elephants is no longer threatened by poaching; and to encourage countries to destroy their illegal stockpiles of wildlife products, such as rhino horn and ivory.

The governments of Botswana, Chad, Ethiopia, Gabon and Tanzania even signed the Elephant Protection Initiative – guaranteeing to put their ivory stockpiles beyond economic use and observe a moratorium on international trade for a minimum of 10 years.

We have many supporters. “The Independent deserves enormous credit for its campaigning journalism which has done so much to demonstrate why the illegal trade in wildlife products, including elephant ivory and rhino horn, is an issue we should all care about,” said Labour leader Ed Miliband, who along with celebrities including Sir Elton John, Clare Balding, Stephen Fry, and Damian Lewis, backed the campaign.

Artists such as Damien Hirst, the Chapman Brothers and Tracey Emin kindly donated artworks to be auctioned off for the appeal. The Gertler Family Foundation – the largest charitable organisation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – also backed the campaign.

Dr Max Graham, founder of Space for Giants, said the campaign has been “transformational”. He believes 2014 will “be the year the tide turned for elephants, forever.” Others agree. “Half a million pounds will have a huge impact,” said Dr Paula Kahumbu, executive director of Kenyan-based charity WildlifeDirect. “My hope is that it will also lead to local capacity building, so people will become champions for elephants; generating revenue so that it becomes an investment, not just a charitable donation.”

We hope so too. We’ll keep you informed.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Manager, London

£18000 - £22000 per annum, Benefits: Excellent Uncapped Commission Structure: ...

Sales Executive, London

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting entertainment comp...

Retail Business Analyst

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Ecommerce/Retail/E...

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz