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15 Oct 2018

BY Pippa Jacks

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Elephant campaigner to trek Great Wall and investigate ivory culture in China

Everest summiteer Holly Budge is to trek the Great Wall of China and meet local communities to investigate the demand for elephant-tusk ivory in Chinese culture.

Holly Budge How Many Elephants.jpg
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Everest summiteer to trek Great Wall during elephant ivory investigation

Budge runs the How Many Elephants charity and uses art to help people make an emotional connection with the elephant-poaching crisis in Africa. Her work includes an installation in a former chapel in Alresford with graphics depicting the 35,000 elephants which are currently poached in a year.

 

"I believe we’ve become desensitised to seeing gruesome photos of dead elephants," she explained. "But through art and design, I hope to bridge the gap between scientific data and human connection."

 

Budge has not only scaled Everest to raise awareness of her charity but was the first woman to skydive the mountain in 2008. She has also raced semi-wild horses 600 miles across Mongolia in nine days, and raised more than £300,000 for charities through her adventures so far.

 

She brought a 14-metre section of her installation to the Wildlife & Safari Travel Show in Harrogate and encouraged visitors to decorate their own elephant.

 

Budge’s next challenge is to trek the length of the Great Wall of China, and carry out research in rural communities into how elephant ivory fits into local culture.

 

"One of the problems is that the word for "tusk" translates as "elephant teeth" and many believe the elephant’s tusks grow back. When I have taken my exhibition to universities in Shanghai and Beijing, and explained that the elephant dies, I have had people in floods of tears because they simply didn’t realise," she said.

 

"I would love to work with airports in China and have them display my installation along the travelators; that could have a huge impact."

 

Budge has spoken at events including TedX in Brighton and the African Travel & Tourism Association conference, and is included in San Miguel’s Rich List 2018: "men and women devoted to finding a new kind of wealth in the world".

 

She is keen to work with travel and tourism companies who might be able to help her raise awareness and support.

 

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