My journey of eating a full plant-based diet and supporting cruelty-free brands rarely involves thinking about the various different and individual animals affected by humans in countless ways. Yesterday, 11th August 2018, gave a new light to “cruelty-free”. I was invited to Amarula and WildlifeDirect’s campaign on raising global awareness about elephant conservation on World Elephant Day, hosted at Melrose Arch.
Humans have poached animals into extinction throughout history with large mammals being the most affected. Elephants are one of Africa’s most iconic giants and the largest land mammals on Earth. They form part of the big five and are estimated to live for up to 70 years without human interference. Ironically, they face extinction due to poaching. With the last few remaining species of giant mammals, including elephants, largely confined to Africa, it’s up to us humans to know better and do better. World Elephant Day is an international annual event that takes place on 12 August. It is dedicated to raising awareness about the preservation and protection of elephants. Dr. Paula Kahumbu, a foremost authority on African elephants and CEO of WildlifeDirect says, “What many people don’t realise is that the future of the African elephant is at a tipping point, and this could have a far-reaching effect on the greater African habitat, because elephants are keystone species. This means that they play an indispensable role in the healthy functioning of the larger ecosystem.” In other words, if elephants were to disappear off the face of the earth, the ecosystem would change dramatically or cease to exist altogether. This might be a reality at the rate that things are going — around 96 African elephants are poached for their ivory every day, that’s one elephant every 15 minutes.
In a heartfelt attempt to raise awareness on World Elephant Day, Amarula in partnership with WildlifeDirect, launched their “Don’t Let Them Disappear” campaign in various markets across the globe, including Duty Free, the United States, South Africa, Canada, Brazil and Germany. Multiple life-size elephant ice sculptures appeared in key cities — Johannesburg, Toronto and Sao Paolo. As these massive elephant ice sculptures slowly melted, it dramatically symbolised the disappearance of elephants. This lead to mass awareness, as people from different cities around the world witnessed these elephant ice sculptures slowly disappearing before their eyes. Spectators were encouraged to join the experience and spread the message on social media by using the hashtags #DontLetThemDisappear and #WorldElephantDay. Global Brand Development Manager at Amarula, Saramien Dekker hoped the giant installation would be a captivating symbol to raise awareness.
“Amarula has been committed to elephant conservation since 2002, through our non-profit organisation, The Amarula Trust. We believe that collectively we can make a difference and that the biggest barrier is the lack of education and awareness around how important elephants are as a keystone species. We need the public to become aware of our future without elephants and understand that only if elephants thrive, so do we.”
Amarula also launched a limited edition bottle that features the elephant as an environmental custodian, as well as the various other plants and animals that rely on the elephant as a keystone species. These unique bottles will only be available for the month of August, when we celebrate World Elephant Day. Amarula shares a special bond with these magnificent creatures as the Marula tree and its fruit contribute enormously to the well-being of the elephant and the very existence of Amarula. Without this natural heritage, Amarula would not be able to distil the liquor which forms the base of all their liquors. This makes the elephant more than a just brand icon. The Amarula Trust, through its partnership with WildlifeDirect is committed to protecting Africa’s elephants and to make sure that for generations to come, they continue to meet the elephants beneath the Marula trees. The proudly African brand has launched various initiatives to raise awareness for the conservation of the African elephant and plans to continue their work in this field.