It's been one year since I started this blog, and I'm so proud of the progress we've made toward saving elephants! Today marks one week before World Elephant Day 2016, so I've compiled a short list of ways you can support elephants this August 12.
1. Join the Herd
Ever seen a half-elephant, half-human? If you've followed Wild Aid, I'm sure you have! Earlier this year, Wild Aid launched its Join the Herd campaign, aimed at celebrating and protecting elephants and rhinos hunted for their tusks and horns in Africa. By ending the trade for ivory, they hope to initiate the world's first Year of the Elephant. By creating and sharing powerful and personal images, they hope to raise awareness and gather more signatures of those who pledge to be ivory free.
2. Make paper elephants
96 Elephants has issued the #ElephantOrigamiChallenge: help make the largest display of origami elephants in the world! The current record, according to Guinness, is 33,764. 96 Elephants is aiming to collect 35,000 from around the country, in honor of the elephants killed each year for ivory. My personal goal is 75, so join me in making a paper elephant army! But hurry, the deadline is Sept. 16.
3. Buy the latest ele-documentary
When Elephants Were Young, a story about a young Asian elephant and his human companion, follows their struggle to survive in Bangkok, Thailand. After years of begging on the streets, the duo finally has the chance to set the pachyderm free in the wild.
Narrated by William Shatner, this film is creating a buzz throughout the world, and you can download it online August 12, or watch it at one of the many screenings next weekend.
4. Color for elephants- or buy the book!
In honor of the ele-holiday, World Elephant Day is offering a free download for their #EleeDraw coloring challenge. So grab it, color, and share it on social media to promote elephants! Or, if you're a dedicated colorer, buy the book: Magical Henna Coloring Book is available, with proceeds toward elephant organizations.
5. Protect their habitat
Asian elephants are increasingly threatened by deforestation as plantations and farmers work to provide products used in the West. Be aware of your buying power and only purchase fair trade coffee. If possible, avoid palm oil products, which have taken away the homes of many Asian animals. Here's a good list of palm oil alternatives.
Wood that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council promotes responsible forest management, so look for that label. And avoid ivory at all costs, along with other wildlife products like shark fin and rhino horn!
6. Attend an elevent
Whether you're in Colorado, New York, Florida or Tennessee, the country is gathering to celebrate pachyderms in exciting ways. There are fundraisers, dinners, film screenings, lectures and more! As a special shout-out, New Jersey will be gathering for its first ivory crush on August 12. See a list of other events here.
7. Support an elephant organization
There are dozens of organizations, projects and nonprofits worldwide that are working to save and promote the well-being of elephants. And there are just as many fun ways to support them. World Elephant Day makes it easy, with special deals, great offers and rewards for giving to pachyderms. If you're looking for a place to give your dollar, here are some projects you can help fund in Africa and Asia.
Kerry Skiff is a conservation advocate and recent journalism graduate of Northern Kentucky University. She follows the ivory trade around the world, and uses her voice to educate Americans about their role in animal conservation.