A world without elephants seems too hard to imagine — but a national advocacy group says that will be a reality if people don’t take action.

On Friday, March for Elephants held a protest against elephant slaughter on the corner of State Street and North University Avenue, followed by a march to the Federal Building on Liberty Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets.

The group is concerned about the increased level of poaching of African elephants and fears that the species could be extinct within 10 years. According to the World Wildlife Fund, sporadic enforcement of poaching bans and increased land use have threatened elephant herds in many African nations.

About 40 protesters attended the march, holding signs declaring “all ivory is blood ivory,” “every tusk saves a life” and “let them live.” Protesters chanted, “Passing by you’ll let them die” and called out facts — including the claim that one elephant dies every 15 minutes.

The Ann Arbor event was one of 43 marches that occurred on six continents Friday, coordinated by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s “iWorry” campaign.

The issue has garnered national attention as the U.S. government plans to crush six tons of seized illegal ivory this month.

Looking at the rising demand for ivory in China, March for Elephants organizer Andrea Baltemento said iWorry blames a recent increase in coordinated slaughter of elephants, such as attacking entire herds and poisoning water supplies.

“The ivory black market in China is growing,” Batlemento said at the march. “Ivory is worth more than cocaine, diamonds and gold.”

Batlemento, a legal assistant in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., became involved in elephant advocacy after connecting with a wildlife photographer in Kenya through Facebook. She recruited others to join the cause through social media outlets, as well. Most of the march’s participants were adults who live outside of Ann Arbor.

During the event, approximately 400 people signed the March for Elephants petition calling for government action regarding poaching. March for Elephants also distributed more than 100 “say no to ivory” bracelets and informational packets.

Several students talked with her about forming a group on campus dedicated to the organization’s goals. Batlemento said she hopes the students will help work toward March for Elephant’s ultimate dream: to enact a complete global ban on ivory trade.

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