KNOWSLEY Safari Park bosses have joined forces with top politicians to highlight the horror of illegal ivory poaching.
A new drive to help save the elephant was launched by the Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) at the local safari park last week.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) estimates that in 2011 at least 17,000 elephants were killed illegally in Africa alone - but there are fears that the real figure may be even higher.
At the same time a YouGov poll suggested that more than a third of UK consumers are unaware that parts of elephants and other endangered species are popular ingredients in traditional alternative medicines.
Speaking at the launch of the If They’re Gone endangered species campaign, environment secretary Owen Paterson said: “Today, we are here to highlight the plight of this iconic and majestic animal, to ensure it’s still here for our children and for future generations.
“It’s totally unacceptable that elephants are being poached at such an alarming rate, fed by a high demand for traditional Asian medicine.
“We are calling on people never to buy ivory or products that contain it, as if we buy, elephants die.”
If you want to help protect the elephant there are a number of simple steps you can take.
First of all, don’t buy ivory. If you buy, elephants die.
People should also think before buying alternative traditional medicines and check where products have come from and whether they have been produced sustainably.
Those who are really passionate about the cause can also get involved with wildlife conservation programmes to help spread the word and report any suspicious activity concerning the buying and selling of wildlife products to the police.
Eveline De Wolf, the head of animal management at Knowsley Safari Park, added: “Many people will never see a herd of elephants in the wild, which is why safari parks have such an important role to play in helping communities understand the impact of poaching on this keystone species.
“At Knowsley Safari, we have the power to make a difference, and through conservation and education, we are working to make sure that our children’s children grow up in a world where an elephant is more than just a memory.”
To find out more about the year-long campaign, go online at: www.facebook.com/IfTheyreGone