Hundreds of people joined in unison with bellows of “No ivory!” and “justice for elephants!” in the streets of San Francisco on October 4th.
The Elephant March in San Francisco is one of many all over the globe celebrating the majesty of elephants and the concurrent tragedy of the possible oncoming extinction of their species due to the ivory trade.
The march began near Chinatown at Portsmouth Square, an obvious and controversial move as China has been pinned as the number one contributor to the illegal ivory trade. Many of the signs, some provided by organizers of the event, showed the black and brooding word “IVORY” circled and crossed through in a bold and blood-reminiscent red. Some of the signs were also written with Chinese characters that shared the same resounding message which were read, spoken and felt throughout the event: No more ivory.
The march ended at Union Square where protestors congregated to listen to inspiring words from several different people involved in elephant preservation organizations and research.
For the three-hour duration of the event, Union Square was home to elephant enthusiasts trying to spread awareness about elephant extinction with petitions, support bracelets and even an elephant sculpture affectionately called “Mosha” and intended to be signed by elephant rights supporters for the grassroots movement called Elephant Parade.
J. Scott Gibbins, an artist that has used elephants as his muse for the last 30 years, was amongst the supporters. On hands and his knees working diligently on his latest piece he said, “When someone has to own something as bloody as diamonds or ivory where something has to die for it, the world is unbalanced.” Thirty percent of all his proceeds go to the organizers of the walk or other organizations dedicated to elephant preservation. “Maybe we can change the tides,” he concluded.
Cea T. Hearth, a San Francisco native and representative of the petition Save Endangered Elephants (SEE) shed some light on the misconceptions about the ivory trade and slaughter of elephants. “I was so surprised by how many people don’t know there is even an elephant problem,” she said. “If people could become aware they would help.”
Hearth said that many people are not educated about the difference between a tusk and a tooth. Animals can live without teeth but once an elephant’s tusk is stolen from them, they can no longer survive. Hearth has written to various governments here in the U.S. as well as in Thailand and China, but she explains that “it’s like pissing in the wind, they don’t come back with anything,” and that “the government won’t do it,” but that “the people can, we can boycott.”
According to activists, every 15 minutes an elephant is killed. If the salughter continues at that pace elephants will become extinct during the next decade.
Patrick Freeman, an African elephant researcher and speaker at the event, contends that “there is still hope,” and that the “sun continues to rise every day in the lands where elephants walk.”
Freeman said that events like the Elephant March are parts of a “movement of compassion” that is changing the “tides” for the endangerment of elephants. Freeman and other elephant supporters refuse to let the elephant species die out in the philosophy of preserving “wonder in the world that we can marvel at.”
Freeman and others like him will continue their crusade and their “movement of compassion,” until “we can live in a world that is safe for elephants.” As so eloquently reiterated throughout the event, “we mourn for the dead but we live for the living.”
If you would like to sign a petition, get more information or get involved with the elephant movement, the links below are useful sources. Some of these organizations took part in the Elephant March in San Francisco.