Save the Elephants

I’ve been involved with Save the Elephants (STE) ever since my father, Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founded the NGO in 1993, and I am enormously proud of all that we do. In short, STE works to secure a future for elephants in a rapidly changing world.

A leader in elephant science, STE provides cutting-edge scientific insights into elephant behaviour, intelligence, and long-distance movement, and applies this knowledge to the modern day challenges of elephant conservation. Through detailed monitoring of a known population of over 1000 elephants in Samburu District, north Kenya, and decades of research on long-distance movement, STE’s data is crucial for effective landscape planning. The aim is to ensure the long-term sustainability and integrity of ecosystems as Africa modernises, and to conserve abundant populations of wildlife.

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Photo: Jane Wynyard / Save the Elephants

Elephants are highly intelligent sentient creatures with a form of consciousness that is parallel to our own. They are self-aware and have a strong sense of their own mortality. The similarities between our species are striking. Sadly, habitat loss and peaceful co-existence with humans is the greatest challenge elephants face today, hand in hand with surging cycles of ivory trade.

In response to the threat of ivory poaching, STE established the Elephant Crisis Fund with USA conservation partner, the Wildlife Conservation Network, to identify and support the most effective global partners to stop the illegal killing of elephants, thwart traffickers, and end demand for ivory worldwide.

The Elephant Crisis Fund (ECF) has one key goal: to end the ivory crisis and secure a future for elephants.  Eight years in, its impact is being felt across Africa and in nations where ivory is sold, and increasingly now also in areas of human/elephant conflict.

With 101 partners conducting 385 projects in 42 countries, we’re making progress funding some of the best-conceived interventions in the most critical poaching and wildlife trafficking hotspots.  Conservation organisations and communities, scientists and governments, have united behind a common strategy to stop the killing, the trafficking, and the demand for ivory to secure a future for elephants. The ECF exists to fuel this coalition, encourage collaboration, and deliver rapid impact on the ground.

Elephants are facing serious and urgent threats to their survival. African elephant numbers have plummeted from 1.2 million in the 1970’s to around < 500,000 alive today. This is a result of illegal hunting for their tusks and body parts, the trafficking and sale of ivory, and the sharp rise of conflict between humans and elephants through an escalation of competition for space and resources.

Such clear and present dangers to one of the most ecologically important and treasured species on earth require collaborative responses that are rapid, innovative, and – most importantly – effective.

Scientists, front-line conservation organisations, and governments are united behind a common strategy to secure a future for Africa’s elephants by ending the ivory crisis, promoting human-elephant coexistence and protecting elephant landscapes.

The Elephant Crisis Fund team has unrivalled continent-wide knowledge of the unique threats to African elephants and a vast network of collaborators. The ECF funds the best ideas and most urgent actions by trusted conservation organisations working to safeguard the future of elephants. The ECF fosters collaboration and delivers rapid impact on the ground, with 100% of every dollar deployed directly to the field

“The Elephant Crisis Fund is a game-changer and my foundation is pleased to support it. The ECF is also changing environmental philanthropy by eliminating bureaucracy and overheads and making sure funding can reach the very best elephant conservation projects.” – Leonardo DiCaprio

The retreat of the ivory trade is a rare good news story for the planet. I was thrilled to be able to bring it to life – and to discuss the challenge of forging harmonious coexistence between elephants and humans – in partnership with Yellow Zebra Safaris during my speaking tour in the UK in September & October 2022. 


Photo: Nick Nichols / National Geographic Society