Filmmaker and conservationist Patricia Sims founded World Elephant Day to bring awareness to habitat destruction, unethical wildlife tourism and the ivory trade. (Submitted/Patricia Sims)

Victoria-based elephant advocate fighting to end ivory trade

Founder of World Elephant Day hopes to spread awareness, add political pressure

A Victoria-based elephant advocate hopes to end the legal trade of ivory across Canadian borders.

Patricia Sims, a conservationist and filmmaker, started her career mainly on the water, where she made films about marine life. But in 2008, her focus started to shift to one of the biggest mammals on earth.

“As I started to learn about elephants and learn about the issues, I just became mortified at what was happening to elephants. That was around the time when the ivory crisis was really starting to escalate.”

READ ALSO: Scientists tell Canada’s environment minister to speed up conservation

Sims has since made two elephant documentaries in Thailand and she founded World Elephant Day in 2012.

The annual day of action is hosted by a coalition of organizations including Elephanatics, the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, Humane Society International-Canada and Toronto-based Global March for Elephants and Rhinos.

“We started World Elephant Day in answer to this escalation of poaching of elephants in Africa,” Sims said. “There’s been quite a lot of organizations worldwide that have joined together in various forms to bring awareness to the issue and to stop poaching though a number of different strategies … like legislation and policies in different countries.”

Poaching hasn’t been the only topic of Sims’ advocacy. She also works with a number of organizations on reducing habitat loss and encouraging responsible wildlife tourism.

She says strides have been made, but there is more work to do.

“For the last 10 years there’s been so many different organizations involved in doing work in many different countries,” Sims said. “There’s still a lot of work to do, we’re not finished in terms of needing to bring awareness to the issues, but people are a lot more aware.”

READ ALSO: Botswana lifts ban on elephant hunting, to some anger

This year, World Elephant Day (Aug. 12) is focusing on the ivory trade – something Sims says people are often shocked to learn is still happening in Canada.

She said approximately 20,000 African elephants are killed for their tusks every year. In the ’90s, the population of elephants in Africa was estimated at 12 million – that number has been reduced to just 400,000.

“[Ivory trade] is an issue here. It’s been sort of quietly making its way into the country,” she said. “We’ve been seeing trophy elephants brought in, the trade of ivory artifacts in auctions across the country … People can come into Canada with ivory in their suitcases as personal effects.”

According to Sims, 83 trophy elephants, 434 elephant skulls and 260 elephant feet were imported to Canada between 2007 and 2016.

“Allowing the legal ivory market in Canada to continue creates demand for ivory and pathways to market illegal ivory,” she said.

READ ALSO: Education first step in Canada’s new southern resident killer whale conservation mandates

The coalition hosting World Elephant Day is running an Ivory-Free Canada campaign aimed at encouraging federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna to implement legislation ending the trade.

To learn more, go to worldelephantday.org.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dog dies, Victoria man arrested after incident in Oaklands

Police called to ‘incident between a man and a dog’ Monday afternoon

Booms go up in Gorge Creek after hydrocarbon spill

The source of the spill is being investigated

Prince Harry reunites with Meghan and Archie in Victoria

Buckingham Palace said Tuesday it would not comment on private matters

Put away the shovels, week of rain ahead for Greater Victoria

Environment Canada calling for wet weather until Sunday

Sooke Food Bank sends out call for help

Need continues as holiday season food drives are over

VIDEO: Bobcat infiltrates Shuswap couple’s coop, feasts on fowl

Police officers credited for attempting to assist with animal’s extraction

Skier dies at Fernie Alpine Resort

It’s the second person to die in a tree well at a ski resort in B.C. in the past week.

Power lines cut as thieves strike Vancouver Island veterinary hospital

‘Thankfully there weren’t any animals or staff in the clinic when this happened’

Vancouver Island home to one of Canada’s largest private skateboard collections

Eric Pinto owns hundreds of boards, spanning multiple decades

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

Surrey’s ‘Pink Palace’ being used for Stephen King horror shoot

New web series based on King’s The Stand novel

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Vancouver Island Pride weekend returns to Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Building on the success of last year’s family-friendly pride festival on Vancouver… Continue reading

Scarlett Point lighthouse keeper wins a million bucks playing the lottery

“I usually just get a quick pick, so I didn’t expect to win a big prize”

Most Read