Elephant Appeal: The continent I fell in love with may be changed forever

My two sons may never experience Africa and its wildlife like I had the chance to

Share
Related Topics

I have been travelling to Africa for many years to support the work conducted by the Elton John Aids Foundation, the charity I first established in 1992 to reduce the incidence of HIV/Aids worldwide.

While there, I have seen inspirational examples of human courage and fortitude, as we have helped fund projects across the continent to alleviate the impact of HIV and Aids and there have been wonderful examples of progress achieved.

Only this month the foundation, with the pharmaceutical company Mylan, pledged to donate $1m for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Nigeria. It will provide women who have tested HIV-positive with treatment so as to be able to prevent their children being born with the virus.

My time in Africa, however, allowed me more than just to witness the important work the foundation undertakes. It also enabled me to grow to understand, and fall in love with, the natural splendour which helps make the continent so very special.

I regularly visit to wallow in the beauty of the landscape and to witness the animals that live there in their natural habitat. My favourite spot is in the shadow of the Drakensberg Mountains in Southern Africa, which I try to visit most years. That spot is how I can only imagine a Garden of Eden would be.

In the winter months you can see elephants, lions, buffalo, leopards and all the other great African fauna set against the dry, golden-brown winter bush. In the summer, the  lush green foliage also brings with it migrant birds and  the wonder of newborn animals.

There is little as magical as waiting in the bush as dawn rises and seeing the landscape take shape as the newly rising sun illuminates the day and reveals the elephant grazing, impalas bouncing between the trees and – when fortunate – a lion or other big cat gearing itself up for the hunt. Approximately 450,000 elephants remain in Africa.

What I witnessed there and in other parts of Africa helped inspire me when I was asked to contribute songs to The Lion King. I wanted to try to capture the majesty of the African scenery and the animals that live within it so that people could feel what I do when I witness it first-hand, and therefore appreciate its emotional impact too.

This is why I am so shocked to understand how these wild animals, particularly elephants, are once again being depleted in such numbers by poachers, and why I am so delighted to give my support to The Independent’s campaign with Space for Giants to raise awareness of this issue and provide funds to try to help combat it.

The figures are indeed shocking. It is believed some 100 elephants a day are now being slaughtered in Africa to feed the demand for ivory. Those responsible are often in hock to criminal gangs, which as well as poaching are involved in human trafficking and drug smuggling.

Already this year more than 40 tonnes of tusks have been confiscated while being smuggled internationally, with China the top destination for the illegal trade.

I am fortunate enough to be the father of two young boys, Zachary and Elijah, who are aged two and 11 months. One of the aspects of their upbringing I have been particularly looking forward to is introducing them to Africa and its wildlife so they will hopefully grow to love it as much as I do.

With the wildlife crime epidemic having become so severe, I now realise it is possible that I may never be able to. Already it is likely that many of the animals being most actively hunted will no longer be living truly in the wild but limited to protected, highly managed populations in a limited number of wildlife sanctuaries.

By default player size is set to 460 x 412px. But you can resize player width and height once you get the player code using player params.

This is what has already happened to rhinoceroses and, without all our help, is what will next happen to our remaining elephants.

Yet, if action is not taken and poaching further escalates, then the situation could be even worse. This would mean that by the time my boys are old enough to appreciate many of these amazing species, they would only be able to do so by seeing them in zoos.

To donate now go here

 

React Now

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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The campaigning is over. So now we wait...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
In this handout provided by NASA from the the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, weather system Arthur travels up the east coast of the United States in the Atlantic Ocean near Florida in space. The robotic arm of the Space Station Remote Manipulator System or Canadarm2 is seen at upper right. According to reports, Arthur has begun moving steadily northward at around 5 kt. and the tropical storm is expected to strike the North Carolina Outer Banks  

Thanks to government investment, commercial space travel is becoming a reality

Richard Branson
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week