Amarula’s mission to protect the elephant

Welcome to Duty Calls. This regular feature aims to shine a light on some of the most laudable examples of altruism and sustainability within the travel retail industry by companies that go beyond the call of duty.

Amarula has committed to African elephant conservation and has long worked with WildlifeDirect and its CEO Paula Kahumbu, who has dedicated her life to protecting the species. At a recent event in London, she gave an inspiring talk and demonstrated why Amarula’s CSR mission is so important.

As well as being majestic and intelligent creatures, elephants play a critical role in the ecosystem , as this video demonstrates

Distell-owned Amarula is fiercely passionate about its CSR message. Few other brands are as dedicated to a particular cause as the African cream liqueur brand is.

That cause is elephant conservation, and the animal is tied into Amarula’s very identity. The elephant is a symbol of the brand and of Africa [and particularly South Africa], and features on Amarula’s packaging.

Non-profit organisation the Amarula Trust was set up in 2002 to protect elephants, help stop poaching and raise conservation awareness.

Amarula has a close association with WildlifeDirect and its CEO Paula Kahumbu, who has dedicated her life to protecting elephants.

A recent conservation event was held at Kew Gardens in London, UK, which celebrated Kahumbu’s “unrelenting mission” to help protect the African elephant. The event included a presentation by Kahumbu and a dinner, and there was a large travel retail presence. Crucially, Amarula donated £100 to elephant conservation on behalf of each person attending.

WildlifeDirect CEO Paula Kahumbu: “We have got to change the narrative; to connect people to nature and inspire them to treasure it and act to save it”

The event was part of Amarula’s ‘Don’t Let Them Disappear’ campaign. In one of the key elements of the campaign, life-size elephant ice sculptures were placed in Johannesburg, Toronto and Sao Paolo last year. As the sculptures melted, the disappearance of elephants was tragically symbolised – but awareness was of their plight was spread. Amarula also put out a new bottle without an elephant on its label, signifying that the world could lose the African elephant. The Moodie Davitt Report homepage also underwent a spectacular makeover as part of the campaign.

Speaking at the event in London, Kahumbu detailed her work with elephants and WildlifeDirect’s use of advocacy through Kenyan courtrooms to raise awareness about the crisis facing them and other endangered species. She also discussed her television work, including creating a nature series in Africa that aims to capture the imagination and gain the support of locals – and particularly the younger generation.

“I have been working with elephants since I was a teenager,” she told guests at the event. “It is hard to explain what it is like to be close to one. They are so smart and intelligent, and have complex brains. Neurons criss-cross their brain in a totally different way to ours. They have a great sense of smell and hearing. We’ll never understand all the mysteries of elephants.”

She noted that Kenya was the first country to destroy ivory in a grand event [in 1989] that deterred poaching and the ivory trade, which was “at its height” that year. The result was the introduction of global bans and crackdowns which led to a steady rebound in the African elephant population. Much work has been done since then, but much remains to do – both in Kenya and other African countries.

A ‘Hands off our Elephants’ campaign was launched in Kenya, and led to the first meeting between Kahumbu and Amarula many years ago. She explained: “At a meeting, a member of Amarula came up to me and simply said, ‘what can we do to help’. So thank you so much to Amarula for all of your support since then.”

The main challenge is education, Kahumbu said. “In the judiciary system, criminals were getting away with it; files were mysteriously ‘lost’. Judges did not understand the severity of the problem.”

That has changed over time. “There has been an improvement in documentation and we have agitated not for the arrest of the poachers, but for who they work for – the ivory dealers. Today there is a 95% conviction rate in Kenya, and a low rate of poaching.”

But government officials are not always that sympathetic to the cause, and it can even be hard to gain public support when many media reports centre on negative incidents. “There is no education or introduction to wildlife in Africa,” Kahumbu explained. “There are now hundreds of protected areas but only 10% of Kenyans have been to one.

The conservation event at Kew Gardens featured an inspiring talk from Paula Kahumbu and a dinner. Amarula donated £100 to elephant conservation on behalf of each person attending.

“Elephants are perceived as dangerous so we have got to change the narrative; to connect people to nature and inspire them to treasure it and act to save it.”

One key way in which Kahumbu is achieving this is to make her own television series, called ‘Wildlife Warriors’. She said: “We are the first African crew making a wildlife documentary. It is a series about the heroes on the front line.”

Africans do not get a chance to see Sir David Attenborough’s beautiful films, or other foreign nature programmes such as those produced by National Geographic. Wildlife Warriors plays a vital role in changing opinion, and is now seen by 4 million viewers per week in Kenya, and many more in the rest of Africa. “Why does it matter?” asked Kahumbu. “Because Africa’s population is very young, so they are ripe for falling in love with nature.”

Kahumbu’s own love for nature was crystal clear throughout the Amarula event, emphasising just why the brand has put so much passion and energy into elephant conservation – and will continue to do so. As Kahumbu concluded: “Elephants play a critical role in the ecosystem and it is important to tell that story.”

Fantastic cocktails and company: Amarula once more demonstrated its CSR credentials and passion for elephant conservation

The Moodie Davitt e-Zine Duty Calls feature highlights environmental and socially responsible initiatives around the globe where people and the planet are the priority. If you have CSR projects, big or small, that you would like featured in Duty Calls, please contact Jason Holland at

The Moodie Davitt eZine

Issue 272 | 26 November 2019

The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 20 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd).

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