Founder Charles Knowles kicked off the 10th Annual Wildlife Conservation Expo with some humor, but then got straight to the point: One out of every 1,000 species are going extinct every year.
“It’s a man-made problem,” said Knowles, “so we need a man-made solution.”
Which is exactly why hundreds, consisting of scientists, conservationists and wildlife supporters, gathered in San Francisco, CA: to find solutions to the rapid decline of wildlife around the world.
Next, Dr. Colleen Begg of the Niassa Lion Project shared a proverb from Mozambique: “You can’t dance well on one leg”. While she was speaking of the synergy and creative problem solving that happens when groups of committed people get together, I couldn’t help but see the connections to Motala and Baby Mosha, two elephant landmine survivors featured in “The Eyes of Thailand” documentary. You can’t dance well on one leg or three legs. I thought. Elephants need all four!
Finally, the woman we’d all been waiting for, Dr. Jane Goodall, took the stage and mesmerized the crowd with her stories about scientists saving endangered species through innovative methods and young adults joining together around the world to lower their carbon footprints and prevent climate change.
The most inspirational story for me was when Dr. Goodall recounted that a group of children wanted to replant a sacred hill because their grandparents told them that without the trees, the hill could not be sacred any more. However, the hill was now a militarized zone and the government could not understand why the children wanted access to it—they couldn’t seriously just want to plant saplings—so they sent four soldiers with them. As the children carried their seeds, saplings and shovels up the hill, the soldiers guarded them with rifles. After about 30 minutes of watching the children dig and plant, one soldier put down his rifle and started to help a child plant a tree. Soon the remaining three also discarded their rifles and busied themselves digging and planting.
“Every single one of us makes a difference every day, and you decide what difference you want to make,” said Dr. Goodall. “Let’s learn to live in peace and harmony, not just between humans, but between all species and the environment.”
If I was a more religious person, I would have shouted “Amen!” but since I live in San Francisco, I took to Twitter and “tweeted”. (You can see all the tweets via Twitter).
After a lunch full of connecting, networking and brainstorming with other Elephant Friends, who we affectionately call “Ele-Friends”, I heard Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton of Save the Elephants speak. The thesis of his talk was the last two years have been bleak for African Elephants. Drought and an increase in ivory poaching have caused severe dips in Africa Elephant populations in Eastern Africa.
Even with the Ivory Ban, “every time the price of ivory rises, the rate of elephant poaching rises”, remarked Dr. Douglas-Hamilton, and he had the graphs to prove it.
But instead of chastising the emerging middle-class in China, which does little good to educate and empower people to make better decisions, Dr. Douglas-Hamilton visited China’s Asian Elephant education center. It was clear that China values their own elephants and he invited their delegates to join him in Kenya to see African Elephants in the wild. After seeing free-roaming elephants in Africa—as well as the skeleton of an elephant who was slaughtered for its tusks—all the delegates vowed to start cracking down on illegal ivory poaching.
Elephants need all the “Ele-friends” they can get. I hope they stand by their word, for the sake of African and Asian Elephants. It would be tragic is we lost either of these majestic species; I hate to think what the world would be like if we lost both of them…
HOW TO BECOME AN “ELE-FRIEND”
If you’d like to become an “Ele-Friend”, there are several ways you can help:
- Make a tax-deductible donation to“The Eyes of Thailand” elephant documentary through our IndieGoGo campaign, so we can share the plight of Asian Elephants with the world.
- Help spread the word by joining our Facebook Page, following us on Twitter and suggesting us to your friends. There are some handy “share” tools on IndieGoGo to make this easier, so please check them out.
- Become a Social Media Star, by promoting “The Eyes of Thailand” fundraising campaign to your network. Email friends, give us shout outs on Facebook and Twitter, mention us in your Newsletters and Blogs, add a Web banner or a link to the Film on your website.
Not feeling techie? No problem. You can also host a Party with a Purpose for your “Ele-Friends” in honor of “The Eyes of Thailand”.
- Host a dinner party, dance party, game night, etc.
- Play “The Eyes of Thailand” trailer, which you can find on our website and YouTube.
- Ask your friends to donate to “The Eyes of Thailand” film.
- Have people donate online via a laptop at the party or Gather the donations and make one large donation online. (Note: The donations need to come in online in order to move our IndieGoGo “thermometer” toward our goal).
In fact, if you donate $5,000 or more, you qualify for a Private Screening with me and 25 of your friends. (See Perk Description on IndieGoGo for more deatils).
Thank you for all your support! You are great “Ele-Friends”!
Director/Producer, “The Eyes of Thailand”