Our elephants are dying. The giant mammals could be extinct within decades as the world continues to lose them at an alarming rate – one dead every 15 minutes. Demand for tusks has decimated numbers of the august creatures, despite the hope fostered earlier this year when China banned the trade of ivory within its borders. Much of the fight is up to law enforcement and politicians. But what can the ordinary person contribute? A lot – and no specialist skills are required. According to conservation enthusiast Carla Geyser, it starts with being aware, spreading the right message and supporting wildlife organisations.
Which is why Geyser launched an awareness campaign driven by ordinary people in 2016. Along with 12 other women, she made a pilgrimage over land from South Africa to Kenya to garner support for elephants. The group put their lives on hold for 100 days to complete the 16 000 kilometre journey, one woman even resigning from her job to take part. Stopping in ten countries on the way, Geyser and company, who called themselves the Elephant Ignite crew, visited 37 different organisations that are committed to protecting the animals. Their campaign raised awareness and crucial financial support for these important relief programmes.
“It’s the most incredible feeling when you get up close and personal with an African elephant,” explains Geyser. “I think every single child deserves the right to see an elephant in the wild.” Today it’s a privilege. One day it could be a memory. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The war against poaching is fierce, but it isn’t over. What matters now is what we do next. Geyser’s mission has proven that help can come from anywhere, with a few hearts in the right place.