The largest living mammal on the planet, the elephant can reach 6,000kg in weight and 6.5 meters in length; however its intimidating size does not match the calm and loving creatures within. These gentle giants are emotionally intelligent, social creatures with evidence pointing to strong family bonds. With a lifespan of up to 70 years, elephants spend their lives with family members and grieve the dead.
With all this in mind, it is very hard to hear that these beautiful animals are under attack by illegal poachers, who kill the elephants foe their tusks. The demand for ivory has increased dramatically in recent year, with over 95% of African elephants killed during the last decade alone. The statistics are shocking; as it stands, one elephant is killed every 15 minutes. The majority of the world’s ivory trade takes place in China, where the material is considered a precious metal and is utilised in ornaments and some medicines. Despite a worldwide ban having been implemented in 1989, the ivory trade is as deadly as ever. But there’s a company that is standing up for these magnificent creatures: Elephant Gin.
Heading up the fight against illegal ivory poaching is Elephant Gin, the award-winning handcrafted London dry gin, which donates its profits to two African elephant conservation charities: Big Life Foundation and Space for Elephants. The team behind Elephant Gin strongly believes that this generation has a responsibility to support the African Elephant, so that they will be around for many years to come and can be appreciated by future generations.
“More has to be done to raise awareness of the plight of this endangered species, which without our support and at the continued rate of poaching, will be extinct in 12 years.” – Tessa Gerlach, founder if Elephant Gin.
Inspired by the beauty and spirit of the African continent, Robin and Tessa Gerlach, alongside their friend Henry Palmer, created Elephant Gin, “with a vision to conserve the wildlife that we feel so passionately about,” says Gerlach
During their time exploring the African continent, the Gerlachs were heavily involved with foundations in South Africa which shared their vision; to protect the African Elephant against illegal poaching. Taking inspiration from the traditional sundowner experience – a drink usually enjoyed after a day out in the Africa bush – Elephant Gin is a love letter to be continent – its product passionately rooted in the place where it was born. Each bottle of Elephant Gin is as unique as its namesake, “No elephant is like each other; and therefore no bottle of Elephant Gin should be identical to the rest,” says Gerlach.
“Everything is sourcing from the botanicals; determine the shape of the bottle, naming the company, and planning the production processes, reflects our passion for the beautiful continent,” says Gerlach.
“Since the very beginning, Elephant Gin has been identifying sustainable projects to benefit Africa’s elephants and their eco-systems in Kenya and South Africa,” says Gerlach. “Instead of contributors ending up scattered in various projects, we have concentrated on applying the funds to specific programmes that we believe in, are passionate about and meet certain criteria of traceability, leadership and people involved. For us to invest in and support a conservation project, it needs to be something tangible where we can work towards set targets and see real developments and successes. It is very important for us to never provide funding to a big corporation, where the money just disappears into a big black hole,” she says.
Made carefully with selected ingredients that capture the spirit of Africa, Elephant Gin is handcrafted in Hamburg, Germany, for wildlife adventures and urban explorers alike. Created using 14 carefully selected botanicals, five are distinctively African herbs which produce its distinct flavour: buchu, lion’s tail, devil’s claw, baobab and African woodworm. Taking time to import the freshest roots, herbs and fruit from across the African continent, Elephant Gin has created a product with a passion and a purpose.
Once created and distributed around the globe, 15% of Elephant Gin’s profits go to its two chosen foundations. “With Big Life and Space for Elephants, we have found partners that we can trust without a glimpse of doubt,” says Gerlach
Big Life Foundation is an anti-poaching organisation, which protects two million acres of wilderness in the Amboseli – Tsavo ecosystem of East Africa; and Space for Elephants is focused on restoring the old elephant migratory routes that were lost when game reserves were fenced. Elephant Gin’s contributions go toward one outpost to fund eight rangers’ salaries, rations & equipment – such as tents, rucksacks and sleeping bags – for three months at a time,” says Gerlach.
The work of Elephant Gin doesn’t end there, in South Africa, the Gerlach’s built a school and community hub that educates and provides jobs for people that would otherwise be lured into illegal activities, Gerlach expresses that, “While we make a difference for the lives of these people and the ultimately the African elephants, the outlook is still quite grim. More has to be done to raise awareness of the plight of this endangered species.”
In terms of next steps for Elephant Gin, the Gerlach’s are in the process of creating their newest product – Elephant Sloe Gin – profits of the Gin will continue to be given to elephant conservation foundations throughout the African continent.
“Our focus is to share the product with people from around the world and we therefore want to make it available in many more countries, our next stop: Kenya. I would like to imagine the gin being shipped in the African savannah or bush, in true sundowner spirit, back where it began.” – Tessa Gerlach.