A herd of elephants will march through Manchester on Saturday 24th September to draw attention to the ever-increasing plight of endangered elephants and rhinos. It will be one of over 130 worldwide events taking place under the banner of Global March for Elephants and Rhinos (#GMFER) which aim to focus political pressure on world leaders to protect the species.
People are being urged to join the March, which begins at All Saints Park at noon (assemble 11:30am), before heading through Manchester city centre via Chinatown and Deansgate, to a rally at Cathedral Gardens.
It coincides with CoP17 (the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties), the world's largest and most influential meeting on international wildlife trade, taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa. Elephants and rhinos face the biggest crisis in their millions of years on Earth and are being pushed close to the brink of extinction by the worst poaching onslaught ever, fed by the brutal and illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn.
"With so few numbers left, and such a slow rate of reproduction, both elephants and rhinos are rapidly heading for extinction, unless action is taken to save them" says Tiffani Lewsley, who works at Salford MediaCityUK, and has been a campaigning for animals since 2008, after a gap year trip to Sri Lanka opened her eyes to the suffering of elephants.
"We want to send a message to say that every country should ban its domestic ivory trade and destroy its stockpile of ivory and rhino horn, destroying their commercial value" she adds "World leaders need to listen before it is too late and these beautiful creatures are gone forever."
As well as the danger from poaching for mainly African elephants, countless Asian elephants from Thailand to Bangladesh are victims of human-elephant conflict as their natural habitats are destroyed and they are forced to move closer to local populations. Many more live in misery in the tourism and logging trades where they are separated from their herds and brutally tortured into submission.
"I have never organised an event like this before but I feel so strongly that we should do something" says Tiffani who hopes to attract families and groups to be the voice of the endangered creatures "We need to make as much noise as possible in order to ensure their survival."
At the Cathedral Gardens rally there will be speeches and performances from both poet Tim Ellis, taking part as one of the 100,000 Poets for Change, and Angie Goody, who works with rhinoceroses at Thandi's Endangered Species Association on the Isle of Man.
The route is family friendly and easy enough for all abilities. There will be marchers dressed in elephant and rhino costumes, arts and crafts and origami elephants to give out to the crowds. The event is planned to be a peaceful, fun day – though with a very serious message.
Global March for Elephants and Rhinos
Saturday 24th September
11.30am All Saints Park with noon start.
Then through Manchester centre to rally at Cathedral Gardens
For further information see www.march4elephantsandrhinos.org/
See also the Facebook page: 2016 Global March for Elephants and Rhinos – Manchester – click here
See also www.iworry.org/campaign