Blog 135

Save the African Elephant

Tom

Director and founder of 135

Overview:

The African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

IUCN Red List Category: Vulnerable

The population of African Elephants has decreased from a total of 1.3 million in 1979 to 400,00 today.  Over the past 5 years it is estimated that 150,000 elephants have been killed in the illegal ivory trade.  This has resulted in the virtual eradication of Western and Central African populations and is a severe threat on Southern and Eastern populations.  This coupled with the human infringement on elephant trails and the resulting habitat loss has left scientists to believe that within 15 years we could see the African Elephant extinct.  In the Tsavo National Park in Kenya and Tanzania alone, the population of elephants has decreased from 100,000 to 50,000 in the past 5 years and this is considered as one of the last strongholds of elephant populations in Africa.

The ivory trade is a multi-billion dollar industry, fronted by various organisations such as the triads and the mafia.  The majority of ivory exports find their way to China, through ports in Vietnam and Hong Kong. Proceeds from the sale of ivory help to fund terrorism, wars and worldwide crime.

Elephant Orphans - David Sheldrick

Elephants themselves are far more intelligent than often appreciated and show signs of empathy only rivalled by humans.  They are often famed for their intelligence and there are plenty of examples of elephants actively avoiding areas where they have seen family members killed, and those affiliated with lost elephants often try to hide and disguise their tusks when they sense human presence.  Elephants can often be seen mourning lost ones particularly when they pass areas where those close to them have been killed.  It is well documented that when they come across ivory that has been taken from a carcass they will actively retrieve and return it to the body.

There is a real war against the ivory trade in Africa.  In the past 10 years over a thousand rangers have been killed by poachers. The rangers face an impossible task of protecting elephants against human threats, and in some areas their operations are funded almost entirely by foreign charities and aid.

However, there is a bright side.  In July 2016 President Obama banned all trade in ivory in the US (the second biggest ivory market) and China promised to ban the trade by 2020.  However, despite this, China are yet to reveal any form of timetable for this ban and still remain the main threat to the elephants chance for survival.  In the same year Kenya burned 105 tonnes of stockpiled ivory, however there are still more than 600 tonnes of government stockpiles across Africa.  Unfortunately it is often from these stockpiles that illegally exported ivory comes from.  Luckily documentaries such as ‘The Ivory Game’ are bringing these issues to the forefront of Western peoples’ minds.  We implore you, if you have not already, to watch this to get a feel for the war against ivory.  Although it paints a relatively positive picture for the future, there is still a long way to go before this beautiful creature is safe. 

The UK on the other hand, the third biggest trader in the ivory market, and accounting for 31% of EU ivory exports, is not so positive.  Rather than taking the lead on banning the trade, it appears after February 6th, 2017 debate at the House of Commons that the Conservative government (despite pledging a ban in their 2010 and 2015 manifests) considers the UK antiques trade more valuable than the existence of elephants.  A complete ban has been ruled out, as this would ‘devalue those important ivory pieces in museums and in homes’ which are of historic value – I personally struggle to understand this as surely a complete ban would then make these items not only invaluable but also question our society if items of our past can only be valued in monetary terms.  They cited a lack of evidence supporting the idea that a ban would have a direct effect on poaching – why would anyone would poach ivory if there wasn’t a market?   It has taken 7 years to put into place something that 93% of the population supports (8% of which already think a ban is in place) and unfortunately their heightened protection of the antiques industry and ignorant belief that our customs are sufficiently effective in preventing new ivory products into the market – this despite companies such as Christies recently receiving a fine for trading post 1947 ivory – is clouding their judgement on what should be a morally straightforward decision.

An African Elephant is killed every 15 minutes for ivory, by people who receive only 6% of the market value for each kilo they sell.  The illegal wildlife trade is now the 4th biggest illicit trade industry after drugs, arms and human trafficking.  Every little bit of money given to charities such as the Big Life Foundation, Save the Elephant and David Sheldrick Trust is invaluable and is used efficiently and effectively in the fight to save one of the most iconic animals on the planet – and in doing so, protecting other creatures within their ecosystem.

How you can help:

Elephant Gin:

Elephant Gin

The founders of Elephant Gin have dedicated themselves to combining a great passion for gin with the love for the African wildlife. In 2013, they developed the award-winning Elephant London Dry Gin that uses rare African botanicals and focuses on resolutely artisan production methods. Since December 2015, the company has complemented its portfolio with an aromatic Elephant Sloe Gin. The botanicals are hand-selected to limit any impurities and ensure only the highest quality ingredients are used. Amongst the Elephant Gin botanicals are:

Buchu
Baobab
Lion’s Tail
Devil’s Claw
African Wormwood
Apple
Ginger
Mountain Pine
Orange Peel
Pimento

The gin’s nose yields a subtle juniper aroma with an undertone of mountain pine and other herbaceous notes. The taste is complex but strikingly smooth, encompassing floral, fruity and spicy flavours which can be enjoyed both straight and in a cocktail. 

Elephant Gin also gives back to the continent that inspired the brand in the first place: The company donates 15 percent of all proceeds from every bottle of Elephant London Dry Gin and Elephant Sloe Gin to two African foundations that are committed to save the African elephant from extinction:

BIG LIFE FOUNDATION is an anti-poaching organisation that employs over 280 rangers protecting 2 million acres of wilderness in the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem of East Africa.

SPACE FOR ELEPHANTS FOUNDATION is focussed on restoring the old migratory routes lost when game reserves were fenced in, isolating elephants in ‘pockets’, breaking up extended herds and adversely affecting biodiversity.

On top of this Bar 135 are giving £1 back to conservation charities for every cocktail bought from our Cocktails for Conservation menu.

How to drink:

In order to make the most of Elephant Gin and to give as much back as possible to the elephants, we’re going to use both the Elephant Gin and Elephant Sloe Gin in a delightful little drink.  You can make this at home or pop into Bar 135 to try it from our expert bartenders

Ingredients:

Wibble

Wibble - cocktails for conservation

 

25ml Elephant Gin

25ml Elephant Sloe Gin

25ml Grapefruit Juice

10ml Crème de Mure (or FAIR. Acai)

10ml Lemon Juice

Drizzle with sugar syrup

Add ingredients to a Boston Glass.  Shake with ice and fine strain into a Martini/Coupé glass and garnish with a lemon twist and blackberry

 

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From Aviation highs all the way down to a Dark and Stormy, the Bar 135 blog will guide you through the cocktail world and make sure you end up with the perfect drink in your hand.
Keep coming back for the latest food and drink fashions as well as expert advice on recreating your favourite drinks at home.

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