Six years strong, $2 million donated, and an endless amount of gratitude.
April 18th marks the six-year anniversary of Ivory Ella. Since 2015, we have flourished in ways we could have never imagined or anticipated. Though much has changed, the two things that have stood unwavering throughout this entire journey have been the appreciation we hold for our supporters and our endless passion for saving the elephants.
To say Ivory Ella is a company based on love would be an understatement. Every task we complete, big or small, is fueled by our desire to make a positive impact in this world. In 2021 alone, we have supported charities including the American Heart Association, the NAACP, Autism Speaks, EarthDay.Org, and Pollinator Partnership, amongst others. But, the cause that started it all, and that remains at the forefront of our hearts, is Save The Elephants. With the help of our amazing customers, we have donated $2 million to this organization. We have no doubt that, with our supporters by our side, we can continue to deepen the impact we are making in this world.
This week, co-founder of Ivory Ella, Richard Henne, sat down with the Chief Executive Officer of Save The Elephants, Frank Pope, to give us an update on elephants in Africa. They discussed the progress that has been made over the last six years along with the status of ivory poaching today. Here is a recording of their interview:
Rather read than watch? Transcription below.
Rich: Alright. Hello Frank.
Frank: Rich! Hey, how are you, man?
Rich: Doing well, long time no see.
Frank: Ahh, good to see you.
Rich: Good to see you, too.
Frank: It's been too long since I've seen you, but, I'm calling to say
Rich: Much appreciated, thank you so much. It's hard to believe we're turning six
Frank: It's insane, it's insane. How's it feel, do you feel big and grown-up now?
Rich: Feel old and gray, we’re getting there.
Frank: *Laughs* Old and gray.
Rich: Yeah, it’s been a fun journey.
Frank: Yeah, it’s nuts to think of everything that’s happened in those last six
Rich: Yeah, yeah, it's been a lot. Why don't you give us an update on how things have
Frank: Yeah, I’m just thinking back to when you guys all came out, climbed hills with us
dressed as Samburu warriors, and you know, we were neck-deep in the poaching crisis that was raging across East Africa at that time. It's amazing to think how far we've come since then, really. Because really, the poaching has really dwindled, we've really got it under control across most of eastern Southern Africa now. The price, unfortunately, still remains high enough to incentivize criminal networks to smuggle ivory. The rule of law is weakest in those countries in central Africa where the forest elephants are. And that's where we still have a really terrible ivory crisis still ongoing. But at least in Samburu, where you guys came in northern Kenya, where it is we've had enormous success, and poaching is down by about 96 percent, I think. We have very very few cases of poaching now and thank you so much for your support in helping us make that happen because it’s really such a transformation.
Rich: Yeah, no problem at all. We know it's gonna be a long road to find a real
resolution, but we're, you know, just happy to be here along for the ride and help out as much as we can.
Frank: Yeah, I think you're right, Rich. It's a long road because what we're talking
about here is generational change. We’ve got a- this is not just a market, it's a,
it's a tradition, it's a culture of buying and owning ivory that still exists in backwaters in China and other areas of Southeast Asia and some other parts of the world. There is still a desire to earn ivory and as long as that exists, we're gonna have a problem that will flare up from time to time.
Frank: I guess the other thing that your assistance has been so powerful with is
engaging communities. Now, not just your communities and the people that know
and love Ivory Ella's products, but also the communities that live with elephants here in Africa. And these are the people that are really, really critical for the long-term future of Africa’s elephants. Because Africa is getting more and more crowded, it's getting more and more developed. If we can’t find a place in people's hearts for elephants then they really have no future. But thanks to the kind of support you guys been giving us, from everything from school infrastructure programs to boosted scholarship programs, all of the Mama Tembo’s, all of these kind-of community-oriented programs, is so important for catalyzing love for elephants and removing the downside of living with elephants because they’re big and scary and dangerous. And it’s okay for us to sit back in our armchairs here and go “oh yeah, elephants are great. We should have them around”. If you're, if you're living with them and you don't have a vehicle to watch them in, that you're bumping into them at night on foot, it's a different matter.
Rich: That could be a little scary.
Frank: We need to talk about those solutions, exactly.
Rich: Absolutely. Yeah, you guys have really taught us the importance of human and
elephant co-existence. And you know, that's why we believe that if we can just tell this story to as many people as we can, and really try to get rid of that desire for it to be a product or a market, that's where we can really do the most good. And that’s why we continue to tell the story to this day as much as we can. So Frank, while I have you. Can you clarify the recent news updates on elephants now being recognized as two different species and what that means for conservation and the network as a whole?
Frank: Yeah, yeah, it's a good question, Rich. This is no surprise for anyone in elephant
world. It’s been very obvious to people for a long time that we have two very different types of elephants. We have the Forest Elephants, which are much smaller. They’re darker, they’ve got straighter, downward-facing, tusks and smaller ears. They live in the forest where it’s cooler. They don’t need to cool down so much. They’ve got much quicker reaction times, much slower generation times, and generally much more vulnerable to high levels of poaching. Not only because they live in countries with poor rule of law but, also, because their ivory traditionally is being more valued. It’s kinda got a pinkish hue that's been more valued in some parts of Asia. That longer generation time also means they’re more vulnerable. So there is lots of things that make them more vulnerable and now this recognition, sort of official recognition, that these are two separate species has put a spotlight on just how endangered these Forest Elephants are. There is less than 100,000 left in the wild. And they are no longer playing the really critical role that forest elephants are supposed to play in the forest, and that's changing the nature and the biology of one of the great lungs of the planet. So this is a really big issue. Forest elephants are critically endangered, but actually, the split listing, that they were already critically endangered. The new announcement, the new decision by this big Conservation of Eurocracy called the International Union for the Conservation of Major - their decision basically shined the light on it says yes, the world’s got to pay more attention to the plight of the Forest Elephant. So basically it's good news that there is now recognition of that plight.
Rich: Yeah, I mean, I guess that's all we can ask for is recognition and more eyes and
ears on the stories so we can really get the message out there. I mean, I know you've explained and taught us how important elephants can be for the ecosystem as a Keystone species. And in Samburu, we've seen that first hand. I can't even imagine removing them from the forest, what that would cause the ecosystems there. It's pretty scary to think about, but hopefully, the new recognition really allows some new help to come to them, and hopefully, we can do some good there. So Frank, as you know, we’re turning six. So we really want to celebrate our relationship together again. It is the most important part of our company, it’s why we were founded. It is how we've been able to build such a big community is our give-back component and how much we've been able to do with you guys. And as we get older, we hope that only increases and does better. So as part of our anniversary gift to all of the elephants, this year we’re planning to do an extra donation from Friday to Sunday, where every order on our website will have an additional six dollar donation attached, regardless of what you buy. Feel free to get a sticker pack and we'll still be sending that donation. And of course, there will always be a link on our site directly to save the elephants. So we just want to say thank you and make sure that everybody hears your story and has an easy and accessible way to help you and tell others about what you're doing and everything that's going on on the ground. So, we just really wanted to say thank you. *Holds up hands in heart shape*
Frank: Thank you again, Ivory Ella. It's amazing what you guys do. *Holds up hands in
heart shape* Yeah, I haven’t got the hang of that one yet.
Rich: I love it! Love it!
Frank: We love you guys. You’re awesome, you've always been awesome. Whether it's
on the stage of conservation, expos in San Francisco, or climbing up the hills in Samburu, you’ve been amazing supporters for elephants, and really, we’re just, we so need companies like Ivory Ella to be out there not just spreading awareness, but building a community that gives back and creates a link between the savannas and forests of Africa and the good people of the United States and the rest of the World because we are one planet. We need to work on the stuff together and what happens here affects over there. So thank you.
Rich: Absolutely, and we hope to continue to be with you and continue to tell the story.
Obviously, we’re like family now, it's been a pretty, pretty long road to get here
and I am, you know, very excited to see what happens next and all the good we
continue to do. So Frank, before we wrap up here, is there anything you want to
say to the Ivory Ella community and any key call-outs for things they should be
thinking about as we move forward into 2021 in a post-pandemic world?
Frank: Well, I guess the big thing for me of this pandemic has been seeing the effect not
just on me and my family and of slowing down and spending time together, but I think everyone has been forced to pause and reconsider our relationship with nature. You know, here we are mighty humans, humbled by a tiny microbe that’s brought our civilization to a standstill. The biggest crisis since the Second World War. And it's not bullets, but biology. And it's really important that we take heed of this warning and think about the interconnectedness of life. And the importance of our cousins, these fellow creatures that we've been evolving with since the dawn of life four billion years or so ago on this planet. And everything from a slug to a butterfly to a tree, these are our cousins. And it's not just elephants, it's everything really.
Frank: We need to be together. We exist together, we depend on each other, and we
need to be, we need to model that approach to life in everything from our consumption to our behavior to our beliefs. We need to act as an interwoven society with the rest of life on this planet. And elephants are just one of the biggest, most visible, parts of that. The overwhelming and the intelligence and sentience, and the kind of glimpses of the majesty of nature when you spend time with them. but it's not just elephants, it's everything. And the wonder of investing in elephants, of course, is that by protecting elephants, you do tend to protect the whole of the ecosystem because elephants are such a big part. By protecting elephants, you do help entire ecosystems in connectivity and that connectivity provides biodiversity which provides resilience against climate change. So, through supporting Ivory Ella, I guess, good people of Ivory Ella, you're really helping the planet. You’re giving back and you’re being the change that we need, so thank you.
Rich: Thank you, Frank. And your story is always amazing and always inspiring and
we're gonna be sure to share with as many people as we can. Now, I think the biggest call out for me is empathy is the most important thing for all of us, right? Like you said, every creature, every person, we're all here together, we’re all sharing this space, and hopefully, after this very tough time we've all been through, we can all learn a little bit to be kind to one another and think about our planet, think about how we're going to make better change as we grow older. So thank you so much Frank, it's great to talk to you, as always. You know, this is perfectly aligned with our mission to teach people that any one person can make a difference. You don't have to have a big organization behind you, you just need to have a belief that you can do good and make change. And we're really glad you taught us that and hopefully, we can continue to inspire others to take on the same mission. So all that said Frank, you know, I know you've got a plane to catch, you’re gonna head back out there and do some work at the Save The Elephants Research Camp, so we’re so happy to have you here and again just thank you for hanging out with us today.
Frank: Thank you, Rich, for all of your leadership over the last six years with Ivory Ella.
Your whole team there, they’re fantastic. And the whole Ivory Ella crew, and that means every single one of you that wears an Ivory Ella t-shirt or has got an Ivory Ella sticker on their car, or their plane, like us. It's really been an honor, the last six years and we look forward to the next six and let's catch up before the 12th anniversary.
Rich: Absolutely, can't wait for it. I’ll talk to you soon
Frank: Good stuff, Rich. You as well. Thanks, everyone. Bye!
Rich: See you later.
We are so proud of all we have accomplished over the course of the last six years, and we couldn’t have done it without YOU. With our strong supporters by our side, we know we can conquer anything. We are eager to see what this next year has in store for us and Save The Elephants. To stay updated on elephant health and everything Ivory Ella, be sure to follow along on our journey!
The Ivory Ella Team