A group of St. Louisans gathered in Brentwood Saturday to participate in the Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions. Local animal rights activist Christina Tenti organized the event, which began with a family-friendly gathering at the Brentwood Community Center.
Music played while kids drew signs and got their faces painted. Several tables manned by people armed with information lined the outskirts of the community room.
Tenti said she wanted to make sure children could be involved because they are the ones who will be making decisions in the future.
According to Tenti, advocates in more than 100 cities are holding similar marches around the world. The goal is bring attention to poaching in Africa and call on countries around the world to ban the trade of wildlife trophies, such as elephant husks and rhinoceros horns.
“There have been letters to embassies. There has been a list of demands in every single city that we will read today. In fact, we’ll have our children reading those lists of demands to President Obama, who has a task force, but we want stronger legislation and we need it now,” Tenti said.
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, the illegal ivory trade has more than doubled since 2007. The department announced a ban on commercial ivory trading earlier this year.
Adam Roberts, CEO of wildlife advocacy group Born Free USA, was the keynote speaker for the event. He said people need to get fired up and let government officials know they want change.
“Contact your local legislators, your national legislators, your representative and senators in Congress, and ask for immediate and unequivocal action to prohibit the trade in ivory or rhino horn, to stop American trophy hunters from bringing lion trophies back into the states,” Roberts said.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, rhino poaching has increased dramatically in recent years, raising concerns about extinction. Rhino horn is prized in parts of Asia as a traditional medical remedy.
Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille