Speakers Corner resident animal advocate Paula Mahmassani – passionate, articulate and determined – is best placed to answer some questions about World Elephant Day, and what the organisation is hoping to achieve:
Q: What do you see as the aims and objectives of World Elephant Day on August 12th?
A: Elephants are under constant threat and I hope World Elephant Day can raise awareness for their plight. Between loss of habitat and illegal poaching, less and less Elephants remain in the wild. For example, in the early 1900’s, Africa’s elephant population stood at nearly 10 million; today it is less than 470,000. If things keep going this way, the Asian and African Elephant could be extinct in as little as 10 years. On that note, I hope World Elephant Day can help secure more funding for wildlife management authorities to protect these magnificent creatures from poachers and also educate people conservation.
Q: Why is it important that this organisation is highlighting the issues surrounding the future of elephants to the world?
A: It would be a very sad day is we had to tell future generations that there was “once such creatures called Elephants”. We have to do all we can to stop that happening and I think World Elephant Day can certainly get people thinking about the future and what dangers Elephants face. Please speak up for Elephants and pledge to support a world that protects elephants, wildlife and their habitat.
Q: Can you see anything in the character of elephants that could relate to businesses? Ie what can businesses learn from elephants?
A: In challenging situations, Elephants are known to gather in temporary groups of up to 200, travelling together until out of danger. Businesses could learn a lot from Elephant behaviours, especially their ability to work in a team when the going gets tough!
Q: Which speakers have you (Speakers Corner) worked with who are advocates of protecting animals, and why is their message important?
A: Brian Blessed is a real advocate for animal welfare and has an impressive resume working with many animal charities. Over the years, Brian has volunteered for the Millennium Elephant Foundation in Sri Lanka and even taken his protest against use of wild animals in circuses to Downing Street. Without compassionate people like Brian, the ban on using wild animals in circuses, which will come into force by the end of 2015, may not have had the exposure it did. Thanks Brian for helping Elephants and animals alike!