ties that bind
In a campaign that transcends fashion, Tiffany & Co joins the fight against elephant poaching, Melissa Twigg writes
Tiffany and Co. joins the fight against elephant poaching
his is a particularly precarious time for the African elephant because of insatiable demand for ivory. Poaching figures across the continent continue to outpace natural population growth, and if the situation isn’t reversed within the next two decades, elephants may no longer exist in the wild. Some countries, such as South Africa and Botswana, have made strong commitments to conservation with government-led anti-poaching units. In poorer regions, however, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe, there are no national budgets for animal welfare, so nongovernmental organisations play a vital role in fighting for the future of the elephant—and they need financial help to sustain their work.
Step in Tiffany & Co. To help save the world’s largest land mammal, the New Yorkbased jewellery brand has developed the Knot On My Planet campaign. Created in
partnership with the Elephant Crisis Fund (ECF), the campaign aims to raise awareness about the devastating impact on the elephant of the demand for ivory. It is inspired by the idea that elephants never forget, asking people to never forget the pachyderm by donating to the Ecf—and by sharing a photo of themselves on social media symbolically tying a knot with the tag #Knotonmyplanet.
British-born conservationist Iain DouglasHamilton, the founder of one of the two organisations behind the ECF, Save the Elephants, has spoken at a number of Tiffanysponsored events about how elephant poaching is a ticking time bomb that needs to be addressed urgently.
“We [Save the Elephants] started a campaign back then [in the 1970s] to sensitise people to the terrible things that the ivory trade was doing, and it had a huge effect to turn people against ivory,” says Douglas-hamilton, who has dedicated his life to studying elephants. That work eventually resulted in a ban on the trading of ivory which brought about a ceasefire of sorts, but more recently “the growing ability of people to buy luxury items like ivory with little awareness of the consequences for the natural world” has seen a reversal of fortunes. “So a large part of what we’ve tried to do in the last 10 years has been to share our awareness with people about the consequences of buying ivory: that it actually destroys elephants and elephant lives.”
The Tiffany-sponsored events addressed by Douglas-hamilton, who has lived most of his life in South Africa and Kenya, are also attended by a range of internationally renowned celebrities who promote Knot On My Planet on their hugely influential social media platforms. The campaign features models such as Linda Evangelista, Doutzen Kroes, Christy Turlington Burns and Naomi Campbell tying a knot to never forget elephants. “The Knot On My Planet campaign is unlike any other that I have been a part of; it has passion and purpose,” says Kroes. “As a mother, I don’t want my children to live in a world without elephants, and as a model, I knew that we could rally the fashion community to save the elephants at a time when they need it the most.” Kroes, along with Cara Delevingne and Natalia Vodianova, attended a Tiffany & Co Save the Elephants party at Kensington Palace in London in June to raise awareness about the cause. She wore a limited edition Tiffany Save The Wild pavé diamond elephant brooch. Another pachyderm-related piece by Tiffany and Co, whose designers are frequently inspired by the animal world, is the Schlumberger elephant clip, which Kroes has worn on previous occasions.
But, ultimately, this is a campaign that transcends fashion. As anyone who has been on safari in Africa knows, elephants are wise, playful, loving creatures, with fierce tempers and powerful memories. And if we don’t fight to save them now, we will mourn them terribly once they are extinct. Or, as Douglas-hamilton says, “Elephants cannot be manufactured. Once they’re gone, they cannot be replaced.”