We are saying goodbye...please take a moment to read all the projects we’ve been able to complete because of your generous support since 2014 to Save Elephants and Build Community:
Seasons Greetings from Elephantopia! We hope that the holidays have found you and your family in good spirits enjoying time spent with loved ones. We want to take this moment to thank you again for your continued support for Kavala and our other projects in Zambia that we have been working on this year because of your generous support.
However, it is with heavy hearts that we announce the closure of Elephantopia as a 501(c)3 nonprofit beginning in January 2020. It is our hope that you will continue to support all the great work going on to save elephants and build community in Zambia with our project partners, Game Rangers International (GRI). We encourage you to continue to support Kavala and other community development initiatives by directly donating to GRI. You can also receive future updates on Kavala’s progress and development by contacting Rachael Murton or Jeni Jack directly. Please note, that although our website will be formally deactivated in January, we will still be periodically maintaining our social media pages on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You will also be receiving your tax deduction letter in early 2020 for the 2019 year. Foster partners to Kavala will be receiving a final update on her 4th quarter of 2019 in early 2020.
We cannot reiterate enough how grateful we are of your support over the past six years. Elephantopia emerged from a blog started by Elizabeth Schrank in 2013. In October of that year, she led the Global March for Elephants Day in Houston where the mayor issued a proclamation that October 4 is World Elephant Day for the city. From that event, she met other dedicated elephant conservationists who worked alongside her to begin the process of her blog becoming a nonprofit. The blog received formal nonprofit status in 2014 and began a partnership with Game Rangers International in Zambia. Our original goal was to fundraise $12,000USD a year to care for Kavala and her keepers. Kavala is an orphaned elephant victim of the ivory trade whose family was slaughtered by poachers in 2011. She was rescued and rehabilitated by GRI and when Elephantopia began sponsorship of her, she was residing in the Lilayi Elephant Orphanage in Lusaka. She later graduated to the Kafue Release Facility in Kafue National Park where she still currently resides as the second female and matriarch in training for the orphan herd. She has survived the trauma of her past as well as battles with various illnesses and continues to grow healthy and strong. We are very hopeful that she will be successfully rehabilitated and reintroduced to a wild herd.
Over the past six years we are proud to say that we have successfully raised $69,000USD just for the care of Kavala and her keepers! Besides caring for Kavala, we have raised another $21,800USD amount for the following projects:
- In 2016 we began a partnership with the Mukambi School raising $2,295USD from 2016 to 2019 to sponsor children to cover their school fees, provide them with basic school utensils like pencils and paper as well as toiletry items for personal hygiene.
- In 2017 we partnered with the Rotary Club of South Tempe and raised $4,563USD for a water well project for the Mukambi school and community. We visited the school and community in 2018 and we were thrilled to see the project completed: the toilets were fully functional, there was running, filtered water to wash hands, and there was a filtered drinking pump at the school, as well as six others in the local village. Children and villagers were no longer required to go to the hippo and crocodile infested Kafue River to retrieve unfiltered water for daily cooking and drinking requirements.
- In 2018 we raised $1,000USD to donate 10 water barrels that we delivered to residents in rural villages with no close access to water. These water barrels allow elderly residents an easier way to collect water without having to carry the heavy barrels back to their home over vast distances. The barrels are set up on roller wheels so they can be filled and then pushed back to their homes. Oftentimes younger community members help fill and roll the barrels.
- In 2019 we raised $156 towards a soccer conservation initiative program for local students in a different region of Zambia, in South Luangwa. Conservation Conversation speaker Henry Mwape from the Zambian Carnivore Programme presented at the Phoenix Zoo, Arizona State University Conservation Department and the Tempe Rotary Club of South Tempe. He spoke about the importance of educating Zambian youth to conservation through a favorite sport and pastime, soccer. Students on the soccer team are taught the importance of proper waste disposal and encouraged to report wire snares, which are often used by locals to trap wildlife. These snares have unintended negative consequences on lions and elephants who find themselves entangled in them, which can lead to injuries and even death.
Besides these Zambian projects, Elephantopia has successfully participated in the Global March for Elephants and World Elephant Day here in the United States, raising awareness about elephants and the ivory trade in Virginia, Florida, Texas and Arizona. Below are a list of various events we hosted from 2013 to 2019:
- Participated in both World Elephant Day and the Global March for Elephants in the following cities: Houston, TX, Katy, TX, Gainesville, FL, Phoenix, AZ, Gilbert, AZ, and Alexandria, VA. Through these events we raised $1,500USD for community development projects in Zambia with GRI and $1,411 for the Global March for Elephants. The events included which raised these funds included:
- A children’s fair (Katy, TX)
- Activity booths with opportunities to write thank you letters to Zambian rangers protecting the wildlife in Kafue National Park (Phoenix Zoo)
- Wine and local bistro tastings (Alexandria, VA)
- City marches and protests against the ivory trade and trophy hunting (Houston, TX, Gainesville, FL, and Tucson, AZ)
- Local film showings of the film A Herd of Orphans (Houston, TX and at the Alamo Drafthouse in both Chandler and Tempe, AZ)
- Community painting events (Gilbert, AZ)
Besides events for World Elephant Day and the Global March for Elephants, we also hosted the following events:
- Hosted a virtual 5K “Can’t Tu5K This” in 2019 to raise awareness about poaching with participants in Minnesota, Texas, Arizona, and Virginia
- Founder and director Elizabeth Schrank volunteered as an elephant research assistant at GRI in May 2016
- Elizabeth Schrank led two photo safaris with 14 individuals to Zambia to visit our projects in Lusaka, Kafue and South Luangwa in 2016 and 2018
Overall, since 2014 Elephantopia has raised $90,800USD for the elephant orphanage project, Mukambi school and community, and the South Luangwa children’s community soccer program. Our administrative costs over the past six years was $10,305USD which means 90% of all contributions went directly to on-the-ground projects and aid. We have reached over 30,000 people via social media for raising awareness about elephants and the ivory trade. We have met hundreds of people across the United States through our events. Through these fundraisers and events, we believe our mission to Save Elephants and Build Community has been fully realized.
As we close our doors, we are thankful for the partnerships we have created with you over the years and the work that we have done as a fully volunteer-run 501(c)3 nonprofit. Thank you for joining the herd with us to make such a large impact on both a local and global scale.
For the Elephants,
Elizabeth Schrank & Elephantopia