Tens of thousands of people in 140 cities around the world will take to the streets on the opening day of the CITES conference in Johannesburg to send a powerful united message to the delegates, urging them to vote for the strongest measures of protection for elephants and rhinos.
In London this year, numerous conservation bodies will be coming together and marching at 11h00 from Cavendish Square Gardens to Downing street to deliver a letter to PM Theresa May calling for various actions.
The London march, organised by the grassroots group Action for Elephants UK, will call on the government to fulfil its 2010 and 2015 manifesto pledge for a total ban on ivory trade in the UK.
By allowing a legal ivory trade to flourish within its borders, the UK is also harbouring illegal trade, which drives the ongoing poaching and trafficking of ivory.
The Great Elephant Census revealed this month that 30% of Africa’s elephants have been wiped out between 2007 and 2014. That’s 144,000 elephants killed in 7 years. At the current rate of decline of 8% per year, African elephants are on the path to extinction.
Every year around 30,000 elephants and 1,100 rhinos are brutally killed by poachers. Their tusks and horns are hacked off and trafficked around the world, mainly to countries in Asia where demand is highest but also to Western countries.
They are brutally butchered by heavily armed criminal gangs using an arsenal of weapons, including AK-47s, helicopter gunships, snares, and poison. Terrorist groups are also involved in poaching and controlling transport routes for ivory.
In his statement of support given to the Global March, William Hague, chairman of a United for Wildlife task force, said: “I pay tribute to everyone involved in the vital cause of saving Africa’s elephants. We can win this battle if every country plays its part. Western countries, including the UK, should now close their ivory markets to ensure this evil trade is suppressed and to encourage China and others to follow our example. With clear campaigning and the right decisions, we must defeat the killing of some of the worlds’ most revered animals.”
London march co-organiser Denise Dresner of Action for Elephants said: “We have very little time left to save these magnificent, iconic species. How can we sit by and allow such a catastrophic loss to happen on our watch? These animals desperately need our help. We urge everyone to give a few hours of their time on Sept 24th to join the global call to save them – there won’t be a second chance.”
In the UK, there will be four events: marches in Edinburgh, London, and Manchester, and a smaller event in Lyndhurst. For more information, please visit www.march4elephantsandrhinos.org and Facebook event pages. The London FB event page is https://www.facebook.com/events/1003767319661645/1003767839661593/.
The London march will start at 11 AM in Cavendish Square W1 and will end at Whitehall around 1 PM. A letter signed by NGOs, conservationists, MPs and celebrities will be delivered to No. 10 at the end of the march (at approximately 2.30) by representatives from Action for Elephants UK and supporting NGOs.