Last night, the historic, New York City landmark Guastavino’s was transformed into a momentary mysterious jungle to host the 27th anniversary gala. The Tusk Gala is a fundraiser to support Tusk’s mission to conserve African wildlife, while at the same time empowering local communities by alleviating poverty via sustainable development and education. Tusk provides promising solutions to the crisis facing Africa’s wildlife.
For over 25 years, Tusk has been funding Africa’s most effective and successful conservation initiatives. HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, has been the Royal Patron of Tusk since 2005 and has been a powerful advocate for Tusk’s work ever since. This year’s Tusk Wildlife Gala featured best-selling wildlife photographer, David Yarrow, honored renowned conservationist and Kenyan politician, Richard Leakey, award-winning Director Richard Ladkani, and Academy Award-nominated Director, Kief Davidson, for their production of the Netflix documentary, The Ivory Game.
Elephants are known to have tusks grow so large they almost touch the ground, yet, those beautiful tusks that makes them unique have also put them at serious risk. 100 elephants are slaughtered every day for their ivory. In fact, over the last 40 years, the world’s wildlife population has dwindled by more than half, and at the current poaching rates, elephants, rhinos, and other iconic African wildlife may be gone within our lifetime. The destruction of Africa’s natural resources have reached an unparalleled level due to the increase in illegal trades, rapid population growth. If this continues, the African wildlife will be in serious woe.
Tusk devotes resources in three areas to protect Africa’s wildlife. The first element provides the first line of defense by providing rangers on the ground to fight against poachers. The second element is an education program which have already reached over 350,000 children. By offering knowledge and new career paths, the next generation of kids will come to cherish the wildlife and become part of the solution. The third element is community development and income generating programs. Tusk’s programs provides employment to many people convincing local communities to realize the value of their natural resources.
The evening started off with a cocktail hour, and guests mingled while the silent auction offered up some great items to practice bidding before the live auction during dinner. After admiring some beautiful people arriving on the red carpet, we were ushered to take our seats for dinner. I was lucky enough to be placed at a wonderful table with the loveliest women. They shared with me so many wonderful stories and had me at all smiles the whole night. The ladies were even generous enough to donate a few of their jewelry pieces from their company, Gustav Manz, for the silent auction. I am so glad and honored to have been at the table with such extraordinary people.
The Legacy Award recipient and honoree of the night was Richard Leakey, who was recognized for his tireless conservation efforts that reduced poaching in Kenya. Leakey first gained worldwide fame for discovery of a nearly complete 1.6-million-year-old skeleton of a homo erectus youth, a pioneering contribution to the study of the evolutionary biology. In addition, this year’s Game Changer Award was also given to Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson in acknowledgment of their Oscar shortlisted Netflix film The Ivory Game. Leakey and Jane Goodall could not be there, but delivered their message by video, both offered their voices to better the world. Every speaker’s speech resonated with impact, but when Tusk founder and President Charlie Mayhew said “It’s now or never,” it really summed up the urgency of the issue.
From major pieces of art by David Yarrow to incredible Safari trips, the amazing auctioneer from Sotheby’s had the crowd raising their bids from table to table during the live auction. The dinner smoothly transitioned into a celebratory party, featuring a safari photo booth complete with binoculars and safari hats. The guests got on the dance floor and swayed the night away to the feel-good music courtesy of DJ Flo.
An evening of altruism and awareness, the night at the gala proved to be an eye-opening occasion of conversations about conservation and what we can do to change the lives of the people and endangered animals that call Africa home.
From the cocktail hour to the sit-down dinner to after party, Tusk's wildlife gala was packed with moments to reminisce and thought-provoking wisdom we'll never forget. African wildlife are a symbol of the natural world, yet only a fragment of that remains, and it is crucial that we all do our part to help. Congratulations to Tusk Gala for another extraordinary night. For more information and how to donate to Tusk, click here.
Photos courtesy of Annie Watt, and special thanks to Tusk