I’d like to say that the first time I saw elephants in the wild, the ground shook and the earth rumbled profoundly. It didn’t. In fact, it was the most natural feeling in the world, to see a small herd sweep through the bushes and thorny acacia trees.
It didn’t feel remotely surprising, to have these beautiful giants walk into my life — because, standing there in the Africa bush, it felt like it was I walking into their lives that was the surprising part. The earth beneath my feet, and the plants, and even the hot, dry, slightly dung-scented air, belonged to these creatures — not to me.
It was far more humbling than epic.
Elephants under fire
Back in 2008, when this incredible, life-changing scene unfolded, the number of elephants on this planet was an estimated 62% higher than it is today.
Over the last decade, elephants have been put under significant risk, with many being killed both legally and illegally for their ivory tusks, in cases of human-wildlife conflict, or simply hunted for ‘sport’.
Between 2010 and 2014, the price of ivory in China tripled, driving illicit poaching through the roof. Today, 96 African elephants are killed each day by poachers seeking ivory, meat and body parts.
That equates to one every 15 minutes; that’s 35,000 every year.
In the early 20th century there were thought to be 3-5 million wild elephants, compared to fewer than 400,000 African elephants alive today.
If levels of poaching continue at their current rate today, that would mean Africa’s elephants will be lost in the next 10 years.
As of 2018, there are still more African elephants being killed for ivory than there are being born.
How Many Elephants?
Now, more drastically than ever, this story needs to be changed.
How Many Elephants is a visual campaign that focuses on the conservation of African Elephants – by displaying these shocking elephant poaching statistics in a purely visual way.
Founder, Holly Budge is a passionate conservationist and artist using her design skills to inspire and educate a global audience about the devastating impacts of the elephant ivory trade.
By displaying 35,000 elephant graphics on a wall, she hopes to bridge the gap between scientific data and human connection through public awareness and education.
‘Part of the originality of this campaign is in my approach to avoid gruesome and shocking imagery to portray the facts. It is not about scaring people; it’s about sharing the sheer scale of the poaching crisis. To actually see and connect with this data visually is very impactful.’ Holly explains.
Design thinking has shown to be a powerful methodology in the public and private sector, yet it has not been widely utilised in the field of wildlife conservation.
How Many Elephants is using design as a powerful visual communication tool to raise awareness of the sheer scale of the poaching problem in Africa.
Money raised from the campaign is supporting the following direct action ‘on the ground’ initiatives, who are doing incredible, impactful work on the front line of conservation:
- The Black Mambas – South Africa’s first and only all-female front line anti-poaching team.
- Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust – a multifaceted organisation who rescue, rehabilitate and release wildlife harmed by people.
- National Park Rescue – a large-scale conservation operation taking place in a Zimbabwe national park which has lost all of its rhinos and 75% of elephants due to the poaching epidemic.
The Amarula Trust is striving to save Africa’s elephants
For the first time, the Amarula Trust are working alongside How Many Elephants, supporting them on their quest to raise awareness around the alarming rate at which the African Elephant is being poached.
The African elephant has been the symbol for Amarula Cream Liqueur since its inception, and Amarula takes its name from the Marula trees, which bear fruit once a year.
“The elephants are drawn by the exotic scent and travel for miles to get a taste of the sun-ripened Marulas. That’s when we know it’s time to hand-harvest the ripe, yellow fruit and begin the two-year process that brings the unique taste of Amarula to the world,” their labels read.
The Amarula Trust was started to safeguard the African elephant so that they can keep meeting them under the Marula trees, year after year.
They believe that sustainable environmental and educational projects are key to the preservation of their precious heritage, and such was the motivation behind Amarula Cream Liqueur launching its “Name Them, Save Them” campaign – an ambitious effort to give a name to every surviving African elephant in the wild.
This on-line effort allowed an international audience to visit a digital African Savannah on Amarula’s website, where they could design and name a virtual African elephant, with Amarula pledging to donate $1.00 (USD) to WildlifeDirect for every digital elephant created on the site.
The digitalized pachyderms created by the cream liqueur’s on-line audience are now being brought to life, with a named elephant and information regarding the animal on the labels of 400,000 individualised Amarula bottles – one bottle for each of the earth’s remaining African elephants.
Given their strong connection to the African Elephant, the Amarula Trust is also donating 50p from each special release bottle of Amarula sold, to protect elephants.
“Elephants are a keystone species, holding a community together as they have an enormous influence on our ecosystems. The impact of elephants becoming extinct would be catastrophic. This is why we are involved in protecting Africa’s elephants,” the labels on Amarula’s special release bottles explain.
Stories From The Frontline of Elephant Conservation in Africa…
Together, Amarula Trust and How Many Elephants are celebrating their unique campaigns to highlight the elephant’s cause with a special event at the Royal Geographical Society in London on the 6th June 2019.
Amarula Trust are supporters of the event, which will see a variety of speakers, including How Many Elephants Founder Holly Budge, sharing their stories from the frontline of Elephant conservation in Africa.
Main speaker Holly – named “one of the UK’s most accomplished female adventurers” by British Airways – will share personal stories, from reaching the summit of Everest to immersing herself with the Black Mambas, an all-female anti-poaching team in South Africa.
Joining Holly on the speakers’ podium will be:
• Niall McCann – National Geographic Explorer and Biologist. Niall is the Director of Conservation for National Park Rescue. He’ll tell you about the work they have done in Chizarira National Park in Zimbabwe to transform a poacher’s paradise into a thriving park, with well trained and motivated rangers.
• Beks Ndlovu – Professional Guide and Founder of African Bush Camps (Main sponsors of the event). Through African Bush Camps and its foundation, Beks became not only a tour operator but a social entrepreneur, promoting travel to Africa with conservation.
You can purchase tickets to the event yourself by visiting: https://www.howmanyelephants.co/events/
For more information on the Amarula Trust and their African elephant campaign, visit: https://amarula.com/trust/
*Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post.
Learn more about elephants
Want to know more about African elephants?
- Read about the plight of elephants during CITES 2016
- Discover the short film ‘The Elephant in the Room’
- Read more about ivory poaching
- Find out about my World of Wildlife Art Exhibition in support of elephants
- See what happened on World Elephant Day 2018
Want to know more about the illegal wildlife trade?