Ivory Free Vermont releases new youth-led film project

Staff report

Ivory Free Vermont, an all-volunteer organization working to outlaw the sale of elephant ivory and rhino horn in Vermont, announced the completion of a ten-minute film about the threat of extinction that these two iconic species face. Made by local youth, Vermont Battles for Elephants casts a poignant and compelling spotlight on this critically time-sensitive conservation issue.

Spearheaded by twelve-year-old Taegen Yardley of Charlotte, the film is a collaboration with Vermont Commons School, a college preparatory school located in South Burlington. Yardley is an integral member of Ivory Free Vermont and its efforts to pass H.297, a bill that would outlaw the sale of elephant ivory and rhino horn in the Green Mountain State.

Yardley and other students at the school, together with Mark Cline Lucey, the chair of the social studies department who is also a filmmaker, have created a powerful and heartfelt film that articulates why these gentle giants must be saved. Lucey said, “When my student Taegen came to me with the idea to make a short film in support of bill H.297, I was thrilled at the opportunity to combine my concern for wildlife with my love of filmmaking.”

A large pile of marked, unprocessed elephant tusks layed out into a single layer.
More than 35,000 elephants are killed every year—that’s one every fifteen minutes—for their ivory, Taegan Yardley of Charlotte said. Yardley is an integral member of Ivory Free Vermont and its efforts to pass H.297, a bill that would outlaw the sale of elephant ivory and rhino horn in the Green Mountain State.

Yardley said, “We have created this short film to help raise awareness about both the conservation and humanitarian reasons as to why it is so important to ban the sale of ivory. We will keep fighting until we have closed all of the loopholes in each and every state.”

More than 35,000 elephants are killed every year—that’s one every fifteen minutes—for their ivory. Between 2010 and 2012 alone, poachers slaughtered more than 100,000 African elephants (about a quarter of their entire population on earth). A rhino is slaughtered once every eight hours for its horn. Research has firmly established the links between terrorist organizations and the poaching of these wild and wonderful creatures, Yardley said.

This amazing film, Vermont Battles for Elephants, is gaining international traction and has been tweeted by the Embassy of the Republic of Gabon to the United States; and New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak, who successfully championed the first complete ivory and rhino horn sales ban in 2014. It has also been shared by Richard Ruggiero, chief of the Division of International Conservation at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya.

For more information visit www.ivoryfreevermont.org.