By Nicholas Hautman Staff Writer
Hofstra University students currently enrolled in Public Relations Tools (PR 106) – a class that introduces students to the digital world of public relations practitioners –started a campaign for elephant conservation awareness. The campaign, Big Hearts for Big Ears, utilizes social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share illuminating videos, photographs and links to promote awareness of the endangered species.
“Ultimately, we can’t collect money or fly to Thailand to save the elephants, but I don’t think that’s necessary to make a difference,” said Katherine Mateus, PR 106 senior. “People love elephants. We’re trying to drive them to connect with these animals in a productive way so that they’re still here to share our planet with us in the years to come.”
The population of African elephants dropped 62 percent in the last 10 years, according to a study published by the Wildlife Conservation Society. This decline is primarily due to both habitat loss and a high demand for ivory. Although the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) banned the illegal practice of international ivory trade in 1989, elephant poaching is still a prominent issue. Many countries do not provide enough funding for wildlife management and, therefore, cannot monitor ivory markets.
Big Hearts for Big Ears is encouraging Hofstra students to wear the color grey on Thursday, Dec. 4 – a day that students are calling Grey Day – to bring campus-wide awareness to the rapidly decreasing number of elephants. The campaign will feature Grey Day participants in posts on Instagram and Twitter (@BigHeartsBigEars, #DefendTheLongTrunks), in addition to providing links to non-profit organizations and conservation groups.
“It’s a really easy but poignant way to spread awareness to a cause that is close to many people’s hearts,” said Lora Gerulsky, senior public relations major and PR 106 student. “We want to get as many students to participate as possible because that’s what will drive serious consideration of our cause.”
Elephants are a keystone species that balance all of the other classes in their ecosystem. They are an essential part of the web of life in Africa. As an endangered species, their loss would have serious ecological consequences. Wear grey on Thursday to support your fellow Hofstra students, the Big Hearts for Big Ears campaign and, most importantly, the elephants.