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Our Team

When our group was founded in 2013, we each had busy lives with families, jobs, and other commitments. We weren’t sure how we’d find time for volunteer work, let alone setting up a new group from scratch, but we felt we absolutely had to do something to fight the slaughter of elephants for their tusks. Within weeks of our formation we held our first protest outside the Chinese embassy. Over the next six years we would hold some 14 public events denouncing the ivory trade and calling on governments to act, as well as events for other elephant causes.

Have-a-go heroes: the women saving elephants in their spare time

Maria Mossman

Maria Mossman

Maria has been involved in animal advocacy for a decade. A mother of two small children, and working for a large company on its technical team, she saw a poaching incident on the news in 2013 where 11 elephants were murdered. This moved her to look into the poaching crisis that was happening across Africa and pushing elephants towards extinction. With no grassroots advocacy groups in the UK dedicated to elephants, she founded Action for Elephants UK.

Maria believes that every voice counts and together we can achieve great things. She also co-founded Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, a movement whose marches and protests around the world led to law changes, bans, and greater protection for elephants.

Through her love of African elephants, she learned of the horrendous lives endured by Asian elephants used in tourism and religious ceremonies. She has travelled to Thailand several times, volunteered, and visited ethical sanctuaries, also raising funds for elephant rescues and to purchase more land for them to retire.

Together with the AFE team, she has led many protests and campaigns which contributed to the public call for Chinese and UK ivory bans.

Campaign Coordinator

Denise Dresner

A founding member of AFE, Denise is co-organiser of the group’s events and campaigns and its chief writer and editor.  She authored AFE’s open letters to heads of state, signed by NGOs and leading figures in the conservation world, which helped to increase awareness of the poaching crisis, trophy hunting, and the torture of captive elephants.

In 2013 she saw Nick Brandt’s iconic photo of the matriarch Qumquat and her daughters, and read that the following day they were butchered by poachers. That set her on the path to learning more about elephants’ plight and deciding to join the fight to save them.

As a founding member of Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, she helped organise its inaugural 2014 and subsequent annual marches. She wrote articles on the elephant crisis for The Dodo and The South African Times.

Joanne Ibbitson
Outreach & Liaison

Joanne Smith

Joanne coordinates AFE’s outreach campaigns to MPs, ministers, and other policymakers, as well as representing AFE in various stakeholder groups (such as the UK Ivory Engagement Group and the Elephant Protection Initiative). She is also a co-organiser of the group’s events, and holds fundraising events in her spare time to raise money for elephant charities.

Fundraising & Group Admin

Jane Russell

Jane plays a key role in AFE’s networking with MPs, NGOs, conservationists, and others. She also helps with fundraising activities, group admin, and editorial work.


Maria Harper

Maria’s interest in elephant conservation began in 2013 when she became aware of the crisis elephants were facing. She joined Action for Elephants at its formation, contributing her graphics skills to the group’s banners, pamphlets, and other material.

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