Silent Protest – 4th Global March for Elephants & Rhinos, London – Oct 2017
Silent Protest at Westminster commemorated the countless elephants and rhinos killed for their tusks and horns.
The 4th Global March for Elephants & Rhinos in London took place on 7 October 2017, when over 100 cities around the world joined again in one voice to demand that their governments ban all ivory and rhino horn trade and take concerted action to protect and save these two threatened species. In London we didn’t march that year; instead, we stood in silence outside Westminster as a tribute to the hundreds of thousands of elephants and rhinos massacred for their tusks and horns. The sombre mood and powerful emotions evoked by the event were extraordinary. After the event we delivered our letter to the prime minister.
To our astonishment, the day before the event the government announced it would pursue a full ban on all ivory trade in the UK – the best news we could have hoped for. The ban would include ivory of ALL ages, including antiques, with a few exemptions. A 12-week consultation period would take place, during which arguments could be put forth by all sides with an interest in the ban. The consultation received an overwhelming response from the public and conservationists alike, which led to the government formulating a bill for a very robust ban on ivory trade with minimal exemptions. After winning unprecedented support in both houses of Parliament, on 20 December 2018 the bill received Royal Assent and became law. (But it would take another four and a half years to be implemented.)
Delivering our letter to the prime minister, left to right: Rory Young (Chingeta Wildlife), Joanne Smith (AFE), John Stephenson (Stop Ivory), Will Travers (Born Free), Duncan McNair (Save the Asian Elephant), Rachael Hewish (IFAW)
The silent protest turned out to be a very powerful experience for all those present. Participants in the diamond formation stood in complete silence for 30 minutes. Many people told us afterwards that it had the greatest impact on them of all our events.
We were honoured to have at the event five speakers who spoke of their own efforts to improve the plight of elephants and rhinos: Sangita Iyer,founder of Voices for Asian Elephants and filmmaker of ‘Gods in Shackles’; Duncan McNair,founder of Save The Asian Elephants; Dan Richardson, actor, wildlife patron; Will Travers, president of Born Free Foundation; and Rory Young of Chengeta Wildlife.