Attending the Ivory Crush
On November 14th of this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crushed six tons of seized elephant ivory at the Rocky Mountain National Wildlife Range outside of Denver. It was a very public move by various government agencies (e.g., the Department of Justice and the Department of State) and many non-government organizations. The goal was to highlight the increasing threat of the ivory trade around the world to communities and, most importantly, to the elephant species. Witnessing the event in person was particularly meaningful to me, given Viget’s work with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and WWF—both of which were among the event’s organizers— and given our launch last September of 96Elephants.org, an award-winning site we created in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to highlight this exact issue.
Working on the web, we can sometimes become divorced from what’s happening in the physical world, on the ground, beyond our computer screens. When we began creating 96Elephants.org, for instance, the team certainly appreciated the severity of the problem. But things snap into focus just a little bit more when your site launch is timed with an announcement by Hillary and Chelsea Clinton (specifically, the Clinton Global Initiative) at the United Nations, or you see, in-person, what six tons of ivory actually look like and realize the number of elephants slaughtered to amass such a collection.
At Viget, we’re adamant about looking for projects and clients that we find meaningful, and about which we’re passionate. It was a privilege to attend the ivory crush and see how our work can connect to a pressing, real-world issue. It was humbling to be a part of it and to feel that, in whatever small way, the digital work we create is contributing to a global movement to protect elephants from extinction.