Igniting a passion for elephant conservation

Niky Rutherford, Nikki Williamson, Glenda Thompson and Yvette Taylor will joining the all-female Elephant Ignite Expedition next month.

“THERE are still many people who believe that elephant tusks fall out the same way human teeth do. They don’t realise that these animals are being brutally slaughtered to a point of extinction,” said Yvette Taylor director of the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization.

It is for this reason that the local conservationist and three other crew members are preparing to join The Elephant Ignite Expedition (EIE) currently trekking across ten African continents to raise funds and awareness for the country’s gentle giants.

The group of 10-odd members will be swapping places throughout the 10 000 kilometre journey from South Africa to Kenya so that they can take turns to tend to their responsibilities at work and home.

Niky Rutherford and Nikki Williamson, who hail from Durban North, will be joining the team in Zambia on 11 September, and return on 25 August from Malawi.

Education is an incredibly important part of the expedition. As we visit all the organisations that are contributing to elephant protection we also want to connect with the community and its youth. Only through education and community outreach will we be able to prevent future generations living in impoverished communities from turning into poachers,” explained Rutherford. “As long as there is poverty there will be crime,” she added.

Fellow adventurer, Glenda Thompson, who will be joining the crew in Botswana said she was excited to learn from the country that has a zero tolerance to elephant poaching.

“They have so many regulations in place and as a result they have the most stable elephant population. With us losing 30 to 40 000 elephants a year, there is a lot to learn,” she said.

The team will also be visiting the South Luangwa Canine Unit, which was established in 2014 in Zambia to facilitate anti-poaching. Williamson said this would be the highlight of her journey.

Follow their journey on the Facebook page Elephant-Ignite Expedition 2016 or via Twitter on @elephantignite.


Mariclair Smit

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