The Wildlife Conservation Society is taking strides to help save elephants that are being poached in Africa.
The organization is hosting a 5K walk/run at the Bronx Zoo to raise funds for an advocacy group that works to protect elephants from hunters.
This event will be the sixth annual 5K walk/run at the Bronx Zoo to help endangered animals. In previous years money has been raised to support lions, tigers and penguins. According to the WCS, the 5K walk/run has cultivated $3.5 million since the annual event began in 2009.
Executives at the WCS chose to support the organization 96 Elephants, which is currently advocating for legislation to ban the ivory trade.
“This is the first time the WCS Run for the Wild has been dedicated to the same species two years in a row,” John Calvelli, WCS executive vice president of public affairs and director of the 96 Elephants Campaign, said.
“The decision to tie this year’s event to the 96 Elephants campaign was made out of necessity. The campaign is making great strides toward realization of its goal of eliminating the demand for ivory, but the work is not done and elephants are still being poached at an unprecedented rate,” he said.
The registration for the 5K walk/run costs $40 for adults and includes all-day access to the zoo. The Bronx Zoo also has fundraising goals, with prizes for participants who raise enough money. Some of the prizes include a backpack, an elephant plush and a hooded sweatshirt.
“By registering for the WCS Run for the Wild, supporting a runner or a team or making a donation, everyone participating will be helping WCS make real progress in the fight to save these majestic animals from the slaughter they are confronted with daily,” Calvelli said.
The campaign 96 Elephants is currently working on a variety of initiatives to help protect elephants. The group aims to use the money raised to buy drones and remote control cameras that will track poachers, to hire more park rangers to guard the animals and to visit public audiences to educate people on the issues surrounding elephants.
Louis Salaun, GSB ’15, is looking for sponsors and will be participating in the 5K walk/run. He said the elephant has always been an animal close to his heart.
“Elephants have always been my favorite animal and I think it’s terrible that they’re hunted for their ivory,” Salaun said. “I want to help [elephants] in any way that I can.” “Hopefully, one day, I can join a non-profit after I graduate that can help the elephant’s situation even further.”
According to 96 Elephants, the elephant population in Africa has dropped by 76 percent and roughly 35,000 were slaughtered in 2012. Poachers kill the elephants for their ivory which they then sell illegally around the world, including in the United States.
The New York State Legislature introduced a bill in late February which aims to close loopholes in ivory sale laws. John Calvelli released a statement after the legislation was introduced, praising lawmakers for the bill.
“The world is waking up to this issue,” he said. “There has been a growing rallying cry to save elephants, with the U.S., China, France, Chad and Hong Kong destroying, or announcing they will destroy, stockpiles of illegal ivory. But much more needs to be done, and we are hopeful that New York will be helping lead the charge to protect Africa’s elephants.”
The Bronx Zoo 5K walk/run is scheduled for the morning of April 26.