Last week the David Sheldrick Wildlife and our work in the protection of elephants was the focus of a special event in Toronto, hosted by the Eric S. Margolis Family Foundation.
Attended by our Patron Kristin Davis and UK Director Rob Brandford, the evening at the Shangri-La Hotel marked the official launch of the Foundation, which is born out of a love of animals, humanity and nature. Long time friends and supporters of the DSWT, Eric and Dana Margolis used the event to shine a spotlight on African elephants, the illegal ivory trade and the DSWTs efforts in the preservation and conservation of these gentle giants.
With TV personality Tanya Kim effortlessly hosting the nights events, the eclectic mix of invited guests, from the worlds of finance, fashion, entertainment, design and the media, were introduced to the reality of the illegal ivory trade and elephant poaching.
Rob Brandford used his key note speech to paint a picture of where elephants are today and the harsh reality of the illegal ivory trade, which is resulting in the slaughter if up to 35,000 elephants a year for their tusks. Emphasising the need for governments from around the world to adopt illegal wildlife trafficking as a priority issue and to enhance law enforcement and security in the field and at ports of transit, to address a trade that is not only claiming the lives of elephants and the wildlife rangers that protect them, but funding criminal activities and terrorist organisations.
Focusing on Kenya, Rob presented the multi-faceted approach to conservation that the DSWT takes in its fight to save wildlife and secure habitats for the future; through the deployment of trained Anti-Poaching Teams, aerial surveillance, and Mobile Veterinary Units. The Trusts field level operations that take the fight to the poachers every day, while bringing heightened protection and care to elephants, rhinos and other wild species.
Kristin Davis, having recently returned from a visit to Kenya to spend time with the orphans, spoke passionately about the Trusts Orphans Project. Highlighting the stoic efforts of all those working for the DSWT on the ground to rescue and hand-rear infant elephant orphans so that they can be afforded a life back in the wild when grown. Kristin relayed her own personal experience of an elephant rescue, having played a direct role in the rescue of Chaimu in 2009 and allowed the audience to gain an understanding of the fragility of elephants and the physical and emotional trauma they experience when orphaned.
The Trusts film Ivory Victims was shown in the hotels screening room, affording guests an opportunity to witness the field teams in action and how their efforts are saving elephants.
Guests each received their own fostered elephant and a copy of Dame Daphne Sheldricks autobiography Love, Life and Elephants An African Love Story, courtesy of a generous donation by the Margolis Family Foundation, which along with the event sponsors, covered all costs associated with the event and the DSWTs participation.
We are extremely grateful to Eric and Dana Margolis for granting the Trust this opportunity to reach a new audience in Canada and to Mary Symons for the key role she played in organising the event and securing a significant media presence to help spread the word about elephants in Canada.
We are also grateful to British Airways for their continued support of our work and provision of complimentary flights to enable Rob Brandford to accept the invitation to be the key note speaker in Toronto.
All photographs featured copyright Ryan Emberley