Zac Goldsmith MP met with Action for Elephants in the Houses of Parliament, ahead of the 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) Conference, for which Zac is the Government’s Conference Champion.

The meeting took place on October 9, where Zac was joined by Maria Mossman, Founder of Action for Elephants, Jane Ramsay, Headmistress of Burnside Primary School in Northumberland; and Poppy and Max Mossman.

Action for Elephants was founded in 2013 as a grass-roots non-profit group, following the worldwide iworry marches for elephants earlier that year. The organisation works to stop the killing of elephants by supporting and raising funds for elephant protection groups, including projects in Tanzania, Sri Lanka, and Zambia.

Poppy, aged 8, and Max, aged 7, presented Zac with two cards on behalf of Action for Elephants, to be presented to the delegates at the IWT Conference on October 11.

Poppy and Max were taught about endangered species in Year 2 and they were so inspired to save animals that they set about raising funds to adopt a gorilla, an elephant, and a pangolin.

The conference is the fourth to be held on the illegal wildlife trade. This year’s will be the biggest yet, with representatives from conservation organisations, the private sector and from over eighty countries coming together to take steps to end the illegal trade in animals and their products.

As a committed environmentalist and nature lover, Zac was asked by the government to be the “champion” for the conference and has been working closely with those organising the conference, to help set its focus and to make sure that the right steps are taken to protect wildlife.

Ms Ramsay, Headmistress of Burnside Primary School, was also in attendance at the meeting in Parliament. Ms Ramsay discussed with Zac Burnside Primary’s successful efforts to raise awareness and engage their pupils; the School has been working closely with Action for Elephants in their new venture, which aims to involve school children across the country in the campaign to save elephants.

In advance of the meeting, Joanne Ibbitson from Action for Elephants said: “We first started thinking about getting schools involved in the run-up to the UK ivory ban consultation and we contacted thousands of them in the hope that they would write to Michael Gove to urge him to impose a total ban. Though we were disappointed by the low response rate, some schools did step forward and many children wrote wonderful letters to the minister.”

Ms Mossman said of the visit: “We firmly believe that young people need to know what is happening to wildlife and the natural world in the hope that they will call on governments to ensure that the future of elephants and other endangered species is safeguarded.

"In the last 40 years we have lost almost 60% of our wildlife and we are running out of time to save what’s left. The fight to save all living creatures is more urgent than ever, and we would like to see schools all around the country getting involved and teaching children to care for their world and the animals they share it with; writing to their MPs for extra protection, and campaigning for stronger laws and enforcement by governments worldwide.

"This is also a great exercise for children to learn that they have a voice and they can make a difference. Will there be any wildlife left for their grandchildren, or indeed by the time they have left school?”

Zac Goldsmith MP said: “It was inspiring to meet Max and Poppy and hear of their classmates’ efforts to protect endangered species by raising funds to adopt engendered animals. Action for Elephants are doing a fantastic job of engaging schools across the country in the campaign to prevent the illegal trading of wildlife. I hope the efforts of these children and Action for Elephants, a grass-roots organisation of passionate campaigners, will stand as an example to the delegates at the IWT Conference. We all have a duty to get involved in the campaign to preserve our wildlife and I hope more schools will follow the lead of the passionate young campaigners I have had the privilege of meeting today.”