Why the Creator of World Elephant Day Wants You to Care About Gentle Giants
On August 12, we’re celebrating World Elephant Day to honor these gentle giants and to bring awareness to the ways we can protect them. Conservation efforts are more important than ever given that elephant populations have dropped by 62 percent over the last decade. Poachers and ivory traders are the biggest threat, along with habitat destruction. The representatives at World Elephant Day predict that elephants could be mostly extinct by the end of the next decade if we don’t actively help them.
This year, World Elephant Day is collaborating with Moving Giants, the largest elephant rewilding effort ever attempted. More than 200 elephants will journey over 1,000 miles to their new home, from South Africa to Mozambique. Moving Giants, along with De Beers Group, Peace Parks Foundation, Conservation Solutions, and the governments of South Africa and Mozambique, will assist in the endeavor to create a happy ending for these animals.
Patricia Sims is a Canadian documentary filmmaker, writer, producer, photographer, and wildlife conservationist. She is also the co-founder of World Elephant Day, along with the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation of Thailand. CircleAround caught up with Sims to learn more about World Elephant Day and how people can help save the elephants.
CA: What inspired you to create World Elephant Day?
PS: Ever since I was young, I loved animals and nature. My passion to share stories about wildlife and the natural world became my focus as a filmmaker. For the past 25 years, I have been true to my passion and I have made films that tell stories about the interrelationships between humans and animals around the world.
CA: Why are elephants especially important to our ecosystems?
PS: Elephants have a very important role to play in climate change mitigation because of the job they do in their ecosystems to maintain biodiversity as a keystone species. We need elephants to be able to continue to do their job to maintain the health of these ecosystems for climate stability so that they — and we — can continue to survive here on Earth.
CA: How did you get to where you are today?
PS: I studied film and television at a university in Toronto. Shortly after I graduated, I began my career as a director of music videos and commercials, and as an assistant director on feature films. From there, I started producing factual television series for one of the Canadian television networks, which led me into documentary filmmaking.
Once I began to travel the world as a documentary filmmaker, I fell in love with that lifestyle and the excitement of discovering new places and people and their incredible stories and situations that I could share with the world as a filmmaker.
CA: What does World Elephant Day involve?
PS: Each year on World Elephant Day, we lead and manage the global campaign and work with numerous conservation organizations, sponsors, and individuals who are dedicated to protecting the world’s elephants to ensure their survival for the future. As an independent producer and documentary filmmaker, we create films and media projects that tell stories about wildlife, conservation, and the interrelationships between humans and animals
CA: What is World Elephant Day currently focused on?
PS: I am presently in the midst of preparing for our 9th annual #WorldElephantDay campaign. This year, we are working with some incredible partners on projects that are dedicated to protecting elephants and their habitat.
The biggest challenge in my work these days is that there are simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done that I wish to accomplish. The biggest rewards are when I accomplish what I set out to do — no matter how big or small the task is — I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I finish the job!
CA: What is the biggest takeaway from the work you’ve done?
PS: I have had countless incredible experiences living and working in beautiful and dynamic wilderness locations around the world, encountering wildlife and collaborating with inspiring individuals dedicated to protecting nature. These experiences have led me to recognize the beauty of our planet and the importance for us to respect her through our reciprocity for all the nurturing gifts of natural resources that she provides for us for our survival.