According to the Chinese zodiac, 2015 is the year of the Goat. But for us here on the Elephants Never Forget film project, it’s also the year of the Elephant!
This is a busy time for us as we are finally nearing the completion of our film. We’re thrilled to announce that William Shatner is the narrator. We recorded with him in LA before Christmas – here’s a photo from the session. It was an honour to work with such an incredible talent, his amazing voice really brought our story to life and we’re so grateful for his generous support of the elephants.
We’ll have more updates very soon about the upcoming release of “The Elephant Never Forgets” film, which we are very excited about!
But 2015 is the Year of the Elephant for more reasons than just the completion of our film. The demand for ivory products continues to accelerate the killing of African elephants. Thailand, which is one of the primary transit countries in the illegal smuggling of poached ivory from Africa to China – and one of the countries that drives the global ivory trade – must make important changes in its legislation this year. After a decision in 2014 by CITES, Thailand has been given until March 2015 to take action against the illegal ivory trade or it will face trade bans, costing the country over one and a half billion dollars per year.
In response to international pressure, Thailand has revised its National Ivory Action Plan and will introduce new laws to regulate the illegal ivory trade. But there is still a long way to go, and much more to be done. Thailand is challenged because it has a “legal” ivory trade, which allows the buying and selling of ivory from captive Thai elephants. Elephant owners are allowed to trim and sell the ivory from their elephants when they are alive, or to carve and sell the tusks after their elephant dies. This is weakly enforced and has enabled the smuggling of African ivory to come into Thailand. While some wildlife protection agencies have urged Thailand to close all its legal domestic ivory shops, others state that a complete ban would force the trade underground – allowing it to flourish, and causing the demand for ivory to increase.
The elephant conservation communities may be divided on this point. But one thing is for certain – ivory should only belong to elephants.
There is hope that new elephant-related legislation in Thailand will make a difference by bringing awareness to people about the realities of the ivory trade and what it means for the future survival of all elephants. Hopefully these milestones will be one of many positive turning points this year in the battle to save elephants around the world.