Hearing the call and joining the herd SEE STORY ON PAGE 4

2016-04-26 06:00
Photo: graham barclay The Elephant Ignite crew in front of their soon-to-be mobile home (from left) Bronwyn Laing, Shannon Saunders, Penny Parker, Carla Geyser, Isabel Wolf-Gillespie, Yvette Taylor, Glenda Thompson and Yolande Kruger.

Photo: graham barclay The Elephant Ignite crew in front of their soon-to-be mobile home (from left) Bronwyn Laing, Shannon Saunders, Penny Parker, Carla Geyser, Isabel Wolf-Gillespie, Yvette Taylor, Glenda Thompson and Yolande Kruger.

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ONE African elephant is killed for its tusks every 15 minutes in Africa. In just three years, an unbelievable 100 000 elephants were killed across the continent, and now a group of ten brave and inspirational women are setting off on a mission of their own to tackle the issue of poaching head-on.

Led by Carla Geyser, the Elephant Ignite Expedition team will travel 10 000 kilometres through 10 African countries as they aim to raise awareness and funds in the fight against elephant poaching and the illegal trafficking and sale of ivory.

Elephant Ignite is the first ever all-female expedition through Africa and its originality has captured the imagination of international filmmakers, Earth Touch, who will be covering their gruelling 13-week expedition and publishing it as an online series.

Graeme Duane, creative director at Earth Touch, said that there was no more fitting expedition team than the Elephant Ignite ladies.

“How fitting indeed that this all-female expeditionary team is taking a stand for elephants, which is, itself; a matriarchal species and we wish them all the best as they embark on their incredible journey,” said Duane.

The team will set off from Sibaya Casino on national Women’s Day, 9 August, and make their way north; travelling through Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana to engage with conservation agencies, national parks and schools to understand the impact of elephant poaching around southern Africa and to share that message with local communities.

The ladies will then continue their mission as they travel through Namibia, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania before reaching their last stop in Kenya.

“The community upliftment work we will be doing is essential to the campaign for elephant conservation, as when people place value in their natural environment, they soon see a return on their investment; for themselves and their children,” said Geyser, who is also the founder of a non-profit organisation focused on conservation called the Blue Sky Society Trust.

Supporters of the expedition can donate to any of the six conservation projects selected by the Elephant Ignite team, with 100% of all funds to be entirely allocated to the fight against poaching and the education of local communities.

Each member of the team has also self-financed their place on the expedition so that all money raised can go to the people and elephants in desperate need of it. “Every day we lose an average of two rangers, three rhinos and 96 elephants in the war against poaching and we have now reached a tipping point, with the death rate of Africa’s mega-fauna outweighing the birth rate,” said Geyser.

The illegal trade in wildlife fetches $1.3 billion (R18.6 billion) around the world every year and it could mean that elephants, along with many other African species, will become extinct in our lifetimes.

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