Elephants are pretty spectacular, aren’t they? From famous elephants, like Dumbo, to the familiar trunks you see at your local zoo, these larger-than-life animals are loved by many of us. However, elephants are in trouble as they’re experiencing the worst ivory poaching crisis ever. It’s a tough topic to talk about, especially with children, but there’s something we can to do to help. We can make an #Elegram to help raise awareness and money as we get ready to celebrate World Elephant Day on Aug. 12.
The Nature Conservancy, sponsor of World Elephant Day, estimates that 35 years ago there were 1.2 million elephants in Africa. That number is now down to 430,000, with 20,000 elephants killed last year alone. That’s why the conservancy is asking elephant lovers to create an elephant expression of their own to help remind the world that we’re in serious trouble of losing the elephants all together.
So what’s an #Elegram? Anything that’s DIY and made by you! Participants have been creating pictures, clothing and even kids’ craft projects as a sign of their support of elephants. Participants simply make their project, upload it to the #Elegram gallery or post on social media and a matching donation is funded to go straight toward helping elephants. Twenty thousand uploaded projects results in a donation of $150,000.
Misty Herrin, director of communications for the Africa Program and a Save the Elephants team lead, says the idea to make a piece of art to show support came from thinking of a traditional petition campaign for important cause. Instead of simply signing your name and providing an email address, you could share a piece of artwork that is meaningful to you and many others.
“We wanted to let people invest themselves beyond just adding their name,” Herrin says. “Elephants are so unique and have such unique personalities. If folks could put their own unique spin on signing their names, by creating a piece of art, it would be great.”
To date, more than 18,000 creations have been uploaded to the #Elegram gallery. The conservancy is hoping to collect 20,000 in time for World Elephant Day. So far some of Herrin’s favorite pieces have included an elephant portrait carved into an Oreo cookie, collages made with natural elements and items sculpted with wire. She says that whole classrooms around the world have been getting involved. One classroom from Ecuador submitted their works, as well as children in Africa.
Getting kids involved in the project is a great way to start to raise children who are compassionate to animals and our planet, but there are some very tough topics to potentially address, especially when it comes to younger children. Herrin says depending on the child’s age, the conservancy has different strategies for talking about why people are making #Elegrams. Here are just a few examples.
Why do we need to save elephants? What’s happening to them? (Suitable topic for young children)
As cities and towns in Africa get bigger, that means less room for elephants to live, so we have to help set aside some places to just be home for elephants and open trails to walk between these home areas so that they can stay away from cities and towns.
Questions about poaching. (Suitable topic for older children)
Why are people killing elephants? They want to take their tusks, which are beautiful and called ivory. People make things out of ivory like bracelets, necklaces, figurines or chopsticks. Some people don’t take the time to understand how special elephants are, so they think it’s ok to kill them for their tusks. We have to help everyone understand that elephants are very special and should be protected.
If you and your family feel moved to help show your support of the elephants, make your #Elegram today and share it with the world.
“People love elephants,” Herrin says. “They’re just special.”