African elephants are a threatened species. The biggest reason for declining numbers is elephant poaching. Elephant poaching is something that is difficult to hear about, but it is important that people know about poachers.
Many organizations work to spread the word about the threat of poachers to this important species to their ecosystem. I was compensated for my time to preview this movie. You may read my full disclosures, here.
The threat to the elephant population. Using movies to learn.
Different topics that involve humans being less than what we hope can be difficult to talk to our kids about. That is where things like zoos, wildlife reserves, and even movies can become great learning tools. We recently got the opportunity to preview the movie, Phoenix Wilder: And The Great Elephant Adventure.
This is a great story to get your kids more interested in African elephants and wildlife conservation. The lead character, Phoenix Wilder, befriends an elephant when he is separated from his group during a safari. Phoenix learns about the dangers that the elephants face and eventually ends up facing a band of poachers.
We used this movie as a science supplement to our homeschool studies. We have recently been discussing ecosystems and the human impact on our environment with our science fair projects. Moving into threatened and endangered species was a natural rabbit trail.
This film was a great way to introduce kids to African elephants and the impact of poachers on their population.
African elephant facts for kids. Follow up to the movie.
To help get my kids excited about the movie, we made an African donut called Mandazi for our movie snack. I also found a great information packet to explore after Phoenix Wilder: And the Great Elephant Adventure caught their attention.
We discussed the importance of elephants to their ecosystem (they are considered keystone species) and some of the characteristics of these majestic creatures (elephants have long memories and mourn). We also had a chance to compare African and Asian elephants. Additional factors impact these elephants such as habitat destruction and climate change. The kids completed a habitat destruction simulation.
Poaching is a major threat to this species so we spent time talking about poaching and its long-term effects.
Why are African elephants targets of poachers?
African elephants have ivory tusks. The value of ivory is what makes it desirable. It was formerly used to make cutlery handles, billiard balls, piano keys, Scottish bagpipes, buttons and a wide range of ornamental items.
The move by many governments to ban or near-ban ivory has seemed to help decrease poaching, but it still occurs and there are long-term effects. Poaching occurs at a higher rate in African elephants because both the males and females have tusks. Recently there has been an upswing in poaching in Asian elephant populations where only some males have tusks.
Phoenix Wilder: And The Great Elephant Adventure depicts poachers as organized and armed. It is a great way for kids to get a picture of how poachers operate, how dangerous it is for elephants, and the risk to people that choose to take these poachers on.
Long-term effects of poaching on elephant herds?
Poaching upsets the entire balance and social system of African elephants. Elephants live in groups around an older matriarch. These same older females are often the targets of poachers because of their larger tusks. Removal of the matriarch from an elephant herd results in chaos.
Youngest calves would often die as a result of direct injury from poachers or starvation. This creates large age gaps in elephant herds. This is an area of intense study because due to lifespan we are just now understanding the long-term effects of the increase in poaching in the 1980s. This information could be crucial to management and conservation of the species. Find out more.
My kids were excited to learn more about the elephants and ways that they could help.
What can you do to help the African Elephant?
Go see Phoenix Wilder: And The Great Elephant Adventure on Save the Elephant Day (April 16, 2018). Fathom Events will present ‘Phoenix Wilder: And The Great Elephant Adventure’ in movie theaters nationwide at 6:00 p.m. local time.
In addition to the feature content, audiences will enjoy two exclusive interviews featuring star Elizabeth Hurley (“Austin Powers,” “Bedazzled”) and renowned elephant conservationist Richard Leakey.
Tickets for ‘Phoenix Wilder: And The Great Elephant Adventure’ can be purchased online by visiting www.FathomEvents.com or at participating theater box offices. Fans throughout the U.S. will be able to enjoy the event in select movie theaters through Fathom’s Digital Broadcast Network (DBN).
For a complete list of theater locations, visit the Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change).
You can win tickets.
20 winners will get 5 passes to see the movie at the closest theater to them, so enter the giveaway below.
Education is Key
When we educate the public, then we increase the likelihood of action occurring that will prevent extinction. You will find this movie will inspire kids to want to do more. If you are interested in teaching kids more about African elephants, the threats that are placed on the species, and conservation please check out Elephants Never Forget. There are also lots of resources to help you explore the continent of Africa.