By: Megan Willgoos|Herald Contributor
Photo: Megan Willgoos
While walking around Roger Williams University, students can almost certainly be spotted wearing Ivory Ella tank tops and long sleeves. Although these brightly patterned tees are a major clothing staple today, they are much more than just a cute elephant ironed on a shirt.
A few weeks ago, Robin Vinson, who works for Ivory Ella, visited Roger’s club, Rotaract, to discuss how the well-known brand was created and where they are today. Since April 2015, Ivory Ella has donated $810,914.58 to the organization, Help Save the Elephants’ Head of Awareness Resson Kantai Duff visited the university this past Friday, Oct. 20, along with her wildlife guide Bernard Lekaura Lesirin. Leserin told his audience intense stories about encountering elephants in Kenya.
Elephants are known to be wise and compassionate creatures, yet they can become quite frightened of a human that is not even a quarter of their size. Leserin told a story of the time he encountered an elephant at night in the wilderness and had to run though tree branches and bushes until his skin was ripped from head to toe to escape the frightened mammal. As Leserin recounted the story, the colorful garments that he wore jingled. He explained that the feathers of his headdress were used to show off to the ladies of his tribe in Kenya, like the feathers of a peacock. These decorative pieces of clothing also symbolize one who is a warrior who protects his cattle and farm not only from lions, but from elephants too, as the latter loves to eat the fruits and berries that farmers grow.
Although elephants can cause quite a disruption by eating gardens and getting in the ways of travel sometimes, the people of Africa have learned to coexist with these 10,000 pound animals. In order to do this, Resson told the audience about collaring elephants, which allows them to discover information on their travels, how to avoid conflict with farm land, and how to protect them.
“Elephants are called ecosystem engineers. They’re really smart and tricky,” Resson said.
Sadly, poachers are killing these intelligent creatures for the ivory that their tusks are made of. Some may wonder why poachers don’t simply cut off the tusks; however, almost half of the elephant’s tusks are actually inside their cheeks, Resson said.
Although we are 7,196 miles away from Kenya, we can do a lot to help save the elephants.
The first step is to join in on the fashion trend and look up IvoryElla.com. Sweatshirts, tanks, t-shirts, and long sleeves change for the season, and portions of the proceeds not only go to Save the Elephants, but the Elephant Crisis Fund, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the American Heart Association, and over more organizations. Then, on Saturday, Nov. 18, Ivory Ella and three other organizations will be holding “Run to Save Elephants” in Central Park. Whether you run or walk, proceeds will help raise funds for our world’s gentle giants. As Yao Ming, a retired professional basketball player that visited Bernard’s home states, “Only elephants should own ivory.”