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Trip & Andy + portland models & elephant activists

Adventurers of the Year Update: Trip Jennings’s Elephant Ivory Project Goes Local

Photograph by Rachel Meyer

We first met kayaker and filmmaker Trip Jennings after his expedition to find unrun rivers in Papua New Guinea made him a 2007 Adventurer of the Year. Since then, he has traveled the world over, from Tibet to Brazil, making adventure films about rivers in peril. His latest project, though, involves the grandest of terrestrial creatures—elephants. To follow up on his National Geogoraphic Channel-funded expedition last year, Jennings and his team will continue their work to combat elephant poaching in January 2011. Here, learn about a local event to support the cause.

The Elephant Ivory Project team got some homegrown support last Friday at Go Wild: A Night of Fashion + Celebration to Save Elephants. Portland’s fashion community joined forces with conservation groups and advocates to organize a wild couture fashion show featuring local, eco designers in an effort to save wild African elephants from the illegal ivory trade.

National Geographic Explorers Andy Maser and Trip Jennings of EP Films are embarking in January on a forensic biology expedition to the remote jungle of the Democratic Republic of Congo to help the Center for Conservation Biology complete their elephant DNA map of Africa. The goal: send resources to poaching hot spots and save wild elephants from the illegal ivory trade and capture provocative media to bring this important issue home.

"To make people care, you've got to give them a way to engage on a local level and this fashion show accomplished just that—local designers, models and members of the community came out in full force to support this project. It makes you realize that this isn't just about saving elephants, this is about building dynamic, conscious, and empowered communities here in Portland, in Congo and across the globe," said Emily Nuchols of Under Solen Media, a Portland-based firm that organized the event.

Poachers are killing elephants for their ivory at a rate of 10 percent per year—that means that in just a few years, wild elephant populations may not exist anymore.

“It’s shocking to realize that on average 105 elephants are killed by poachers every single day, but it’s not hopeless. Twenty years ago, with a global upwelling of support, the ivory trade was stopped—nearly overnight. We can do that again. And this event brought us one step closer to doing so," Trip Jennings of EP Films said. "Thanks to everyone who made this night a success.”