Have-a-go heroes: the women saving elephants in their free time

Tireless campaigner Val Green. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/the Guardian Tireless campaigner Val Green. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/the Guardian

The team at DSWF could not achieve what it does without the support of its volunteers so we were delighted to see this great profile that included Val Green, our Volunteer Ambassador for Scotland, on The Guardian website recently as part of their ‘Share your encounters with elephants’ series. Here’s a snippet …

With one elephant killed every 25 minutes, the poaching crisis continues. But with the commitment and activism of a growing global network – dominated by women – laws and attitudes around the world are changing.

Val Green, 55, is another activist working a full-time job on top of multiple volunteer positions. As well as her civil service job, she is a fundraising ambassador for the conservation charity David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) in Scotland, and one of the core organisers of the Scotland for Elephants and Rhinos group. Somehow, at home in South Queensferry, Scotland, she still finds time for her 21-year-old daughter and their pets, a cavalier King Charles spaniel and two guinea pigs…

Val Green, meanwhile, has been pouring her energies into Auction Rangers, a crowd-sourced project whose members report suspicious-looking listings on auction websites that have policies banning the sale of ivory. The concept was roadtested in January by members of the Scotland for Elephants and Rhinos group, with encouraging results.

Over the course of two days, Green and her colleagues searched auction sites and reported 57 items that they strongly suspected of being ivory to sites including eBay, Preloved, Gumtree and Etsy. Of these, 19 items – with a combined value of £10,569 – were immediately taken down. Most auction sites have strict rules about ivory. eBay, for instance, does not allow bones from elephants, walruses and whales; carved and uncarved ivory; fossilised ivory or mammoth tusks; or manufactured items with 5% or more ivory.

According to Green, suspicious items can be identified by searching for terms such as “bovine bone”, “deeply carved Chinese antique”, “faux-ivory”, “cow bone” and “ivory-coloured”, and then sorting by the highest prices. In some cases, photos will make it clear that the rules are being breached; in others sellers will privately confirm that they are selling ivory.

You can read the full article here

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