Thursday, 21 March 2013


One new message from Leonardo DiCaprio my inbox said. “What does he want?” I wondered aloud as if it was an everyday occurrence, quickly followed with “Oh My God, Leo's contacting me! Finally!” For a moment I got lost in the fantasy, instead of asking myself rationally: Why? How?
With trepidation, I hovered the cursor over his name and clicked to open it. A photo of Leo jumped up in the top right hand corner. On the left side, the message begun: 'Dear friends...' I let out a puff of disappointment, so it wasn't personal after all. In a stern voice, I reprimanded myself, “Get a grip, why would it be? Come back to reality!” I let my mind linger a bit in movie flashbacks of Romeo & Juliet, Titanic, Catch Me If You Can, Revolutionary Road, and The Aviator, which reminded me how much I can't wait to see him in The Great Gatsby. Well, if Leo's involved, it must be important I thought...
The message continued: 'Across Africa, elephants are being slaughtered by poachers in record numbers - and their tusks hacked off with chainsaws - to make luxury items, statues and trinkets in Asia. But in days, Thailand will host a key global summit on illegal trade in endangered species, giving us a rare chance to stop this futile massacre.'
Leo had teamed up with Avaaz, (it means 'Voice' in several languages), an organisation I befriended after my Aunt forwarded a link to me. Globally, they mobilise instant campaigns through community petitioning: asking people to sign an online register. A small action that only takes a minute, but makes a real difference worldwide. The first time I signed, it was a petition to save bees, as I believe every part of nature has a vital role and sometimes you have to act to protect it. But this time, I signed not because of Leo, but because I'm appalled by this trade. I'm nauseated by this premeditation, by the intention to harm. I cannot bear the thought of elephants being poached for their ivory. It's a waste of a magnificent beast that is both great-hearted and playful. An elephant in mourning is touching and dreadful. They do not forget; they're very respectful. Herds consist of a matriarch (the oldest female), daughters, aunties, and their calves, and are a demonstration of girl power. A protective matriarchal line, a tight bond strengthened by sisterhood. The males tend to lead a more solitary life.
This deep family attachment perhaps explains why so many people are drawn to them; their emotions are human-like: they display grief, anger and joy. Orphaned calves love to play a game of 5-a-side, ears flapping like Dumbo as they dribble the ball, or squealing when they inadvertently trunk-ball. Elephants have a long memory and, like a child, engaging in play is a sign of recovery. But the cause of this pain is inhumane and destructive. The illegal ivory trade has to be prevented.
On the 3rd of March, The Thai Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, pledged to end the ivory trade after nearly 1.4 million supporters joined in the campaign, but is this enough? It's a vocal promise that needs real action behind it. We need people power to keep the pressure up to save elephants and their tusks!