Everyone Has the Power to Do Something

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Photo :: Gods in Shackles

Samantha Smith was unaware of the cruelty behind the elephant rides. However, once she realized what the poor elephants are subjected to, she began to raise awareness by disseminating posters and petitions outside stores trying to deter people from riding elephants. But after watching the Gods in Shackles movie trailer and she discovered that the fate of temple elephants was worse, she gained a deeper understanding of the plight of captive elephants. "I feel very sad, upset and cannot get the abuse out of my head. I think I have become obsessed with what I have learned. I think about these elephants every single day. I weep for them and very passionate regards my feelings."

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Samantha Smith has been diligently working to educate people about the temple elephants in the UK

Samantha says she feels a personal bond with elephants, as they were her grandmother's favorite animal; they are also intelligent, and supportive animals with feelings similar to humans. "They are the gentlest and caring (to me) in the animal kingdom. I also feel the elephant seems to have the world against them: Ivory; trophy hunting; poisoning; skin and meat now being used; tourism trade; circus tricks; temples and general day to day trying to survive against drought/everyday life/predators."

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Photo :: Gods in Shackles

Many people on social media feel overwhelmed, some vent their anger through facebook posts. Samantha chose to take concrete action. She feels everyone has a role to play and can do something. Here's her message "I believe people should stand up for what they believe in. If they see circus posters – that may have been put up illegally – ask the local councils to get them removed as they are upsetting. Discourage the circus show going ahead. Advise as many people as possible as what they know/have seen and make people more aware and tell them to spread the word. If the public attends any zoos – the conditions are appalling – they should make a stand there and then and say to the zoo, how upsetting it is to see the animals like this. Encourage other visitors at the zoo to complain and state they would not pay to see this sort of confinement etc."

In addition, creating awareness by referring to articles on animal cruelty, and whenever there are opportunities to leave leaflets on reception desks at work or a poster, use them to spread awareness. Samantha went the extra mile after visiting the West Midlands Safari, she phoned them to ask how their six rhinos are protected at night and what security is in place. She also suggested that they should post notices advising people not to post photos on facebook as the poachers are following facebook posts. Better to be safe than sorry.

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 Photo :: Gods in Shackles

In the meantime, Samantha has also been busy raising funds for Voice for Asian Elephants Society, "The first lot of monies raised: – A) For Lent (6 weeks) I wanted to give up drinking wine, eating chocolate and crisps. I would normally have failed! However, when I changed my own mind set – that if I failed – I would be letting the elephants down – it would really get to me, so I succeeded and collected £350.00. B) The second idea was down to talking to one of my friends. She works with the local church and was thinking of ways to get the youth club to actually do charity work as they would not want to do this normally. Until I gave a talk regards the poor elephants. It was then suggested by one of the youth leaders, if they picked up litter, for the elephants would they collect monies as a sponsor to help them. This was the only reason the children picked up the litter to help the elephants. (£300.00)"

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Children at a church youth club collected money and litter in order to raise funds for VFAES!  

Samantha has dedicated numerous hours petitioning, making presentations to colleagues, and lecturing youth clubs, whilst also raising money. "£650.00 raised in total. £350 personally and £300 Youth Club – Church. I am continuing with my petitions and am arranging with Coventry City Football Club a date in September to represent the elephants. They have the symbol in their emblem. I have lined up National Rail station leading to the NEC Arena as a potential date in October and Symphony Hall entrance (October). In the meantime, still pursuing the stores for permissions to stand outside."

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