What if we could talk to elephants and have them talk back to us?

A film project currently in production, DO Elephants Go To Heaven?, will explore why elephants deserve the same rights as humans.

 

The team will film and work with renowned animal intuitive, Danielle MacKinnon, and safari guides in Africa to help understand what elephants are experiencing in captivity and in the wild. The film will document many different tales of elephant struggle and compassion, like the tragic journey of Zimbabwe’s kidnapped baby elephants, destined for zoos in China and 50-60 years of misery in captivity.

Academy Award winning Director and Producer Louise Hogarth of Dream Out Loud Films will explore the question from the elephants’ point of view in her new documentary. The film will examine how elephants and humans are not that different – and how in 2015 elephants need our protection and compassion more than ever. Unlike many films in this genre we will not focus on the horrors of poaching.

The rights of animals are making headlines around the world.  France’s Parliament just officially recognized animals as “living, sentient beings” rather than “furniture” in January 2015, formally updating a status which dated from Napoleonic times. If humans could show the same compassion for elephants as elephants show other species, we could save these sentient beasts from extinction.

For example, an animated short from the upcoming film, titled A True Tale of Elephant Compassion, shows an elephant bravely coming to the rescue of a baby hippo.

The project is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. A successful raise of $50,000 (or even better, reaching our $100,000 stretch goal) will allow Dream Out Loud Films to continue production on this important film. Learn more at www.dolfilms.org 

Contact Information

E: info@dolfilms.org

Twitter: @dolfilms

Facebook: www.facebook.com/doelephantsgotoheaven 

More Info

Visit our Kickstarter

Watch our short video filmed with the elephants at Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle. Renowned animal intuitive, Danielle MacKinnon, communicates with the elephants who express their despair at having “nowhere to go, nowhere to go”.

Director Louise Hogarth is also the founder of the DO Ubuntu Orphan Bracelet Campaign.

FB header, KS is live

(c) Pieter Ras

 

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5 Amazing Asian Conservation Stories

With all the negative press surrounding the treatment of and attitudes towards wildlife in Asia, it can be easy to overlook those countries, individuals and organizations that are making changes for the good.

Here are 5 handpicked stories of conservation in the last few months which shed light on those champions of change and show hope is not lost for wildlife in the orient!

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Tiger and Oryx populations are recovering thanks to committed conservationists. More needs to be done to help dwindling Asian elephant populations.

#1 Nepal is role model for rest of Asia with one year zero-poaching!

#2 Chinese actress Li Bingbing joins WildAid to speak up for elephants!

#3 Species once facing extinction are making a remarkable comeback on island off the coast of the United Arab Emirates!

#4 India’s Tiger population is on the rise!

#5 Volunteer cat-catchers on Ogasawara Islands, 1,000 km south of Tokyo, work to save endemic bird species.

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2, 4, 6, 8 Ban the trade it’s not too late!

On Saturday January 24 I was one of a huge herd which gathered to make some noise outside the Chinese Embassy in London and put pressure on the Chinese government to ban the ivory trade.

DEGTH? Harriet Croome with new elefriends Clara and Christine.

DEGTH? Harriet Croome (left) with new elefriends Clara and Christine.

Against a backdrop of iconic red London buses and grand regency buildings about 150 elephant lovers of all kinds gathered to urge the Chinese government to BAN THE IVORY TRADE. The demonstration was organised by Action For Elephants UK in conjunction with Care for the Wild. Action for Elephants UK is an inspirational grassroots activist organization headed up by Maria Mossman. I had the pleasure of speaking with Maria at length a few days before the demo and was astounded by the level of awareness and support she has been able to generate in just a short time. Her commitment and passion is infectious and though I was a little nervous about attending my first demonstration, she assured me that the crowd would be very welcoming – she was absolutely right!

“Latest developments in Zimbabwe are disgusting… we [are] seeing elephants being killed, [and] the Zimbabwe government has started to sell live ones, to our colleagues and friends in China.” Dominic Dyer, Care for the Wild

 

MY HIGHLIGHTS

Day Before Demo Day

I got my Dad to make me up a nice big A3 placard at his furniture shop – caused a bit of a talking point among his employees so that’s good – I think it looks great!! (Oh, I haven’t laminated it… I hope it won’t rain!?)

My four year old niece is staying with me and asks about my placard so I tell her all about why saving elephants is important – sowing the seeds for the next generation of elephant warriors!

Demo Day

Checked to see if my beautiful placard was destined to be a soggy mess, relieved to see it was clear and sunny! Wrapped up warm, not forgetting my gorgeous elephant scarf, which is especially special because it was a present from a very good friend who I lived with in South Africa and shared many magical elephant encounters with.

As soon as I arrived at Regent’s Street tube station I spotted a couple of ladies with what looked to be placards too, hmm… Went and said hello and made some new elefriends, Kenyan born Jackie and friend Clara, and their friend Christine whom they met at a previous demo… TRUMPET to them for taking me under their trunks!

A timely and creative placard following Zimbabwe's capture and sale of wild baby elephants to China.

A timely and creative placard following Zimbabwe’s capture and sale of wild baby elephants to China.

We had to demonstrate on the opposite site of the street to the Chinese Embassy which had police standing guard outside. The Embassy had also taken down its flag so it didn’t appear in any press reports taken on the day… a guilty conscience if ever I saw one!

We really were a sight to behold with our myriad placards, banners, elephant costumes and toys and a sight to be-HEARD thanks to the amazing chant we were given to shout – a feat of literary genius in itself!

Demonstrators hold their placards with pride outside the Chinese Embassy, London. Words taken from chant.

Demonstrators hold their placards with pride outside the Chinese Embassy, London. Words taken from chant.

In between chants I was lucky enough to speak at length with Denise Dresner, who organized the event jointly with Maria Mossman. She is a highly knowledgeable and committed activist and I would like to thank her for an extremely enjoyable and insightful conversation – TRUMPET for you to!

Time for our guest speakers, Dr Trevor Jones, Southern Tanzania Elephant Project & Dominic Dyer, Care for the Wild. Both gave incredibly powerful, impassioned and articulate speeches and together gave the crowd a brilliant feel for what’s happening on the ground in Africa, the broader issues relating to trafficking of ivory and live elephants and what we can do from the UK to put pressure on China to ban the ivory trade. A lady named Jocelyn, who had not planned to speak, made a heartfelt address which I felt echoed the thoughts and feelings of everyone in the crowd exceptionally well. The elephants need people like these, who are not afraid to speak up for what they believe in and motivate others to do the same.  Click their names to see the full speeches on YouTube.

Overall, it was an immensely enjoyable and meaningful day. Making a stand for something you feel passionately about, in the company of others who share that passion, is something that gives you a great sense of pride and achievement. I will not hesitate from joining again in the future! Check out the March For Elephants UK Facebook page to keep up to date on future protests in the UK and Global March for Elephants & Rhinos for worldwide activism.

Until next time… trump, trump, trumpety, trump… trump, trump, trump!

 

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Plans afoot for European elephant sanctuary

Born Free has recently announced its intentions to construct a captive elephant rescue facility in Europe. 

For elephants in zoos and circuses life is a miserable existence. In the wild African elephants will typically roam between 10-15km per day and their home range is infinitely bigger than this even, stretching up to 11,000 square kilometres in some cases. Elephants are highly sociable animals with close family ties. In the wild they live in matriarchal societies, raise their calves together and bond for life.

In Europe alone there are over 40 captive elephants living in solitary confinement.

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Tania, aged 39, pictured at T̢rgu Mures Zoo in Romania Рjust one of the 40 captive elephants in Europe that Born Free hopes to be able to relocate.

“Born Free intends not only to press ahead with our own plans for rescuing elephants and constructing a state-of-the art sanctuary facility in Europe , but also to coordinate our work with other facilities to ensure the best possible outcome for captive elephants worldwide”.

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Highly sociable and prolific roamers, elephants travel in large herds and can cover up to 15km a day.

Virginia McKenna OBE, founder and trustee of Born Free Foundation equates the cramped and filthy living conditions to which the majority of the world’s zoo elephants are subjected, to asking us to live in our bathroom!! These animals were not put on this earth for us to exhibit and exploit – elephants are emotionally complex and sentient beings with the capacity to feel grief and joy, sadness and elation. They are playful and inquisitive and in the wild, their lives are governed by interaction with others. A ball or swinging punchbag is not stimuli enough for any animal, let alone one as intellectually complex as an elephant. Of course, for many of these captive elephants, a return to the wild is just not feasible. But there is hope. Together we can help the Born Free Foundation provide a sanctuary where these victims of human greed can LEARN TO BE ELEPHANTS AGAIN!! Click here to find out more and donate to help build the sanctuary or watch the video, ‘An Elephant In The Room’.

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Research suggests that primitive elephants were semi-aquatic spending much of their time in water. Modern elephants spend much of their time cooling, bathing and swimming in water also.

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I’m Writing to you on Elephant Poo…

That’s right – you can make paper, and a whole range of great paper products, from elephant dung! Here’s how…

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Image credit: http://new.poopoopaper.com

What is it about elephant dung that makes it possible to turn into paper?

An elephant’s diet consists entirely of fibre, they also have somewhat inefficient digestive systems which means about 50% of what they eat comes straight out the other end. This makes their dung very fibrous, it also means they have to eat loads to get the nutrition they need – 200-250kg of food per day! Ordinary paper is made from natural wood fibres which have been mechanically processed to form a pulp – the only difference with poo paper fibres is that the elephants have part-processed them already!

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Non-fibrous material is removed. Image credit: http://new.poopoopaper.com

 

How is the poo turned into paper?

First the dung is cleaned and all non-fibrous materials, such as pebbles, leaves and mud, are removed. The fibres that remain are then boiled for 4-6 hours – this destroys any bacteria that may still be remaining and also softens the fibres into a palpable sludge. Often the poo pulp is mixed together with other fibre pulps to create a stronger paper base. Once adequately mixed, and now resembling a stew like consistency, colour can be added. Now the fibre mixture is ready to be ‘screened’ – this is where the real transformation happens!

 

What is screening?

Screening is the process used to make the  actual sheets of paper using a framed screen. This is the same basic method used in China in AD105 when paper was first invented! The pulp mixture is poured into a large container filled with water in which a screen is already submerged. The sinking pulp fibres are caught by the submerged screen and a papermaker then manually spreads the fibres evenly across the screen’s surface. Odd particles are removed by hand and the screen is lifted out of the basin –  excess water drains away through the screen. The screen is put in the bright sun to dry and once dry – hey presto.. Poo Paper!!

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Pulp is laid out evenly on screens to dry. Image credit: http://new.poopoopaper.com

 

What poo products are available?

All sorts – poo paper can be made into notecards, journals, photo frames and albums, packaging for other products and much more … Dream Out Loud Films have a few more great poo paper ideas up our sleeve but you will have to wait to hear those! You can use any herbivorous animal’s poo to make paper – horses, cows, donkeys, buffalos… all recycled and super eco-friendly!

We’ll even be offering personalised poo paper notecards as rewards in our Kickstarter campaign.

In the aftermath of DO Elephants Go To Heaven?, the film, Louise Hogarth (Director, D.O.L. Films) has dreams of setting up her own elephant dung paper production facility… watch this space!!

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