Action plan post the Global March for elephants and rhinos

This message below just hit my inbox from the Global March Organisers. Of course savingthewild is a huge supporter of GMFER, and it was truly inspiring to see so many people around the world come together on the 4th of October and march for justice! Lets never forget that the greatest superpower in the world is public opinion, and the greatest threat to wildlife is the believe that someone else will save it. Together we are stronger, a force for good. Be relentless. -Jamie Joseph.
SUMMARY: With the massive success of the #GMFER marches October 4th, our core GMFER team is now ANNOUNCING OUR PLANS for ambitious immediate and long-term future actions, our mission and vision, and what we intend to accomplish. Thank you for your patience as we and our 250+ city march organizers have debriefed, analyzed, discussed and planned since the October 4th marches. Following is our immediate, short- and long-term GMFER actions, GMFER’s Mission & Philosophy and GMFER’s Vision for the Future.
It’s our opinion that waiting almost a year for another GMFER march in 2015 is a fatalistic strategy that will not bear the fruit of what GMFER 2014 was about: an international people’s movement and media event to place the world’s focus on the potential extinction of iconic species, associated with GMFER’s Memorandums of Demand and PALSA documentation that were delivered by a certain amount of our 136 cities to the Gang of 19 embassies, as well as South African embassies and to South Africa’s Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa.
In a short 8 months GMFER built a platform of grassroots collaboration for protection of endangered species. Reading your comments on our Facebook page, plus the posts and thousands of emails and FB messages we’ve received, gave us valuable feedback to keep our finger on the pulse of public opinion. We’re encouraged to see the passion, commitment, drive and enthusiasm of so many people around the world who are already passionately engaged in GMFER’s work, our marches, our advocacy, and you want ACTION.
You want to march again and protest, ivory bans passed, for China’s carving factories to be shut down, you want more support on the ground in Africa and many more actions, and you want to see results from us. We will encompass all aspects of a global movement and we will act. Now and continuously, not a year from now.
Now is not the time to let GMFER fall by the wayside in anticipation of another march 12 months hence. The elephants and rhinos do not have another year to wait. The time is NOW to stop the poaching and trade. Here is what we will do.
1) Static actions including peaceful protests at Chinese and other nations’ embassies, at wildlife summits, and at the CITES Standing Committee and CoP17 meetings in early 2016. We intend to put strong pressure on China to close their 37 ivory carving factories licensed by their State Forestry Administration. We will also pressure CITES to impose sanctions against the ‘Gang of 19′ nations (and add South Africa to the Gang) for their failure to stop the poaching, trafficking and trade.
2) An emphasis on mass media outreach and collaboration: Illegal wildlife trafficking is now the 4th largest illegal trade globally after narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking, but is vastly under-reported by the mass media. If we are to save elephants and rhinos from extinction, millions more people need to be informed and engaged to help stop the poaching and trade. GMFER will work to secure more mass media coverage of these issues and of our work, and also collaborate with wildlife photographers and filmmakers to provide more exposure in media channels. To engage the media we need photographic and video images that speak any language. If we can collaborate to supply the material we will harness a broad audience on a weekly basis, as opposed to an annual basis with a march.
3) Letter-writing campaigns to CITES and government agencies in South Africa and the ‘Gang of 19′ nations, especially African nations, China, and Vietnam. Letters will demand more concrete actions to stop the poaching, legal and illegal trade, and ivory carving in China. We’ll be posting standard letters for downloading, and asking that you mail them along with our GMFER Memorandum of Demand (MOD). GMFER organizers have delivered our MOD to these nations’ embassies; now we need to directly contact those governments and we need to do it by the thousands. We need you to help us pressure our governments on local, state/provincial and national levels via phone calls, letters, in-person visits and attendance at meetings open to the public.
4) Engaging youth: The world’s youth have a wide influential sphere via social media and their parents and grandparents. We need to engage the youth from Asia specifically. This is where the demand is. To do this, we need the Asian youth to travel and participate in wildlife conservation on the ground, and post their travels to Africa. They need to be engaged in telling their stories back home. This has been part of the Youth 4 African wildlife program our GMFER core organizer and strategist Dex Kotze started nearly 3 years ago. In addition to Y4AW, we will seek many further opportunities to engage youth.
5) GMFER is exploring the idea of involving TEDx talks around the world. The concept is to spread the word online and through engaged audiences at TEDx talks that will be broadcast globally. This means getting a select group of eloquent conservationists to host the TEDx talks, which needs to be streamed online. They must include video and photographic footage.
6) Working to pass stringent ivory bans, particularly in California, Hawaii, and in all states and nations. We will also work to lobby for more funding, training and personnel for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and state agencies charged with inspections, monitoring and enforcement of laws. Currently the USFWS has fewer than 30 enforcement officers nationally, 7 enforcement officers on the border between Canada and U.S., and only 3 enforcement officers for California.
THE USFWS needs more resources to enforce the directives from the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking/USFWS. There is little point in setting up directives and passing laws to ban imports and trade if they cannot be enforced. We ask that our good advocates lobby powerful U.S. senators like Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and others to influence the appropriate appropriations committees to allocate sufficient resources toward the USFWS so they can get the job done. We’ll generate and create actions on this matter such as writing letters, calling and lobbying.
GMFER will also lobby for more U.S. and international aid to African nations for anti-poaching and enforcement efforts.
7) Defeating South Africa’s expected application to legalize trade in rhino horn during or after CITES’ CoP17 meeting in South Africa in 2016, and keeping a strong focus on South Africa’s failure to stop rhino poaching. GMFER will also target Vietnam’s massive intake of illegal rhino horn.
8) Establishing a Sina Weibo account in China, by bringing someone fluent in Chinese to come on board to translate all of GMFER’s posts on our FB page and post on Sina Weibo. (Sina Weibo is a hugely popular Chinese micro-blogging site; a hybrid of FB and Twitter.) Demand reduction in China is a necessary component to saving the elephants and rhinos. We need to reach, educate and influence the Chinese people about ivory and the poaching crisis largely due to China’s 70% intake of illegal ivory, and emphasize the need for China to SHUT DOWN its 37 licensed ivory carving factories and 145 retail outlets.
9) Engaging local communities in Africa to value and protect their own wildlife. The organization Kenyans United Against Poaching – KUAPO and others, and several of our city march organizers are actively involved in this work, and we will increase our engagement with advocates on the ground in Kenya and other African range nations.
10) Targeting online stores and auction sites to remove all ivory and rhino horn products for sale.
11) In terms of engaging with Asian youth, many large cities have high populations of Chinese students attending their universities. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York have the highest population of Chinese in the U.S. all with large prestigious universities. Engaging with international student groups in those cities or other major cities around the world, and/or holding a lecture series is a prime way to reach them.
12) We encourage and may plan smaller, more targeted actions to reach people, especially the Chinese. Many cities with large Asian populations celebrate the Chinese New Year with parades, events, and tabling. Having a presence at such events, including tabling, are prime opportunities to reach out to the Chinese people against buying or trading in ivory and rhino horn. Raising awareness/leafleting and possibly holding peaceful protests at airports with flights to and from China may also be organized (check the legality in your city or local airport).
13) GMFER may create one major petition addressed to all the world leaders to take a firm stand against China, demanding they close down their ivory carving factories.
14) Marching in 2015: We’re proud of the phenomenal work and successful GMFER marches organized by all our city march organizers across this planet. Many of our organizers have expressed interest in organizing another march in 2015. We will help and encourage all organizers. We need to agree on a date conducive to the most participation for all and will have more to come.
The Global March for Elephants and Rhinos is a pure grassroots advocacy movement focused on the issue of justice for animals (note, not merely survival, but justice), particularly charismatic mega fauna on the edge of extinction from poaching. GMFER’s primary focus is advocating for justice for elephants and rhinos and working to prevent their extinction, but the scope of our work may also encompass wildlife such as lions, giraffes, tigers, hippos, bears, primates, pangolins, and other species. We focus primarily on saving these species in the wild but will also continue to advocate for captive elephants and rhinos as we have in the past.
When we started organizing the global marches in March of this year, we adopted a simple yet effective philosophy that appears to have worked well for most of our marches. The GMFER philosophy on marches is an open and inclusive philosophy that encouraged people from all walks of life to come forward and take responsibility for leading/organizing marches in your city/state/country. We believed that those on the ground locally should decide what the parameters would be for leading, organizing and executing the marches.
We provided a great deal of visibility, installed a high profile global web site, provided graphics and advertised through social media (FB, Twitter, RebelMouse, Thunderclap) and guided cities new to advocacy on organizing and executing a march. We also actively campaigned for media attention, and the support of celebrities and NGOs for higher visibility, which we received. These are amongst the many supportive actions the GMFER core engaged in – along with responding to the myriad questions coming from leads, with advice and moral support. We also lobbied for and received the support of the United Nations, with the promise of continued support, and will continue to work for further cooperation with the UN in the future.
GMFER’s team envisions us embracing BOTH a community- and event-driven model. To truly be successful as a grassroots movement, certainly we need branding but it is PEOPLE – all of you who follow us and participate, and newcomers to this movement – who make up the heart and soul of our work and collective unity.
We’re committed to building a true and lasting movement to save the elephants, rhinos and all endangered wildlife. We need and value your input, knowledge, passion, ideas and creativity.
With time so short before the elephants and rhinos are extinct in the wild, we see us, as a whole, as the last generation with the potential to save them. It’s incumbent on us to halt the extinction of these animals. By ‘generation’ we include everyone on earth right now, from children to the elderly. And we need to reach out to all, young and old, and bring them into this movement. We must be inclusive of people of all ages, races, creeds, cultures, religions, and socioeconomic statuses. We will always be about grassroots and the people joining as one and having their voices heard on the streets, to continue to make a public outcry.
Our ultimate vision is stopping the poaching of elephants and rhinos, shutting down illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn, banning all trade worldwide, and ensuring a safe and peaceful future for these iconic keystone species.
We THANK YOU for marching with us and following the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos these many months. We thank our 250+ city march organizers around the world for their hard work, expense and personal sacrifices they made organizing 136+ marches for elephants and rhinos. We’re excited to announce our firm intention to continue growing this grassroots movement to save these keystone species, and hope you will join us. We invite you to grow with us, working in unity for the survival of the animals and the earth.
The Global March for Elephants and Rhinos Team
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In related news: World unites for the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos
All over the world across more than 130 cities, from Soweto to San Francisco, Nairobi to New York, people marched against extinction – they marched because criminal syndicates are slaughtering our natural heritage, and governments from Africa to Asia are allowing these atrocities to continue. On Saturday 4 October 2014, Global Citizens everywhere marched for justice.
Read full story.