WWF Christmas advert tugs on heart strings when an elephant looks poachers in the eye

A NEW commercial is entering the battle for most emotive Christmas advert of 2017 – and it comes not from a big retailer, but global conservation charity WWF.

The powerful one-minute film, titled ‘Just Like Us,’ reveals the devastating loss an elephant feels when it sees its herd attacked and killed by poachers for their tusks.

Debuting across national TV and online on Tuesday (21 November), the advert written and produced by All Mighty Pictures shows the entire tear-jerking scene through the reflection in an elephant’s eye – a flawless digital CGI rendering by Time Based Arts.

It’s the latest effort from WWF which is appealing for urgent donations this Christmas to help fund its work worldwide, including bringing down the illegal wildlife trade.

Last year the charity melted the hearts of animal lovers with its Christmas advert starring a CGI injured tiger that came to stay in a suburban family home.

The charity now warns that the global illegal wildlife trade, which is worth around £15 billion a year, is dangerously threatening some of the world’s most iconic animals including elephants.

Tanya Steele, chief executive of WWF explains: “Like all of us, elephants vary in many characteristics, emotions and personalities. The impact of poaching not only threatens the future of elephants, but it is strongly felt among them and leaves a lasting impression. Time and time again we see elephants grieve for those tragically killed.

“Carved into trinkets and ornaments and illegally sold for huge sums of money globally, their stolen tusks are in high demand and more African elephants are now being poached than born. This cannot go on and we’re dedicated to galvanising efforts to put a stop to the trade globally, but we can’t do it alone.

“Generous donations from the public make up the majority of our funds and we urgently need support to continue our work to help protect elephants and tackle the illegal wildlife trade wherever it takes place in the world. It’s our hope this Christmas that this striking film will move people enough to join us.”

During the advert, which is set to a poignant track by renowned stage and screen composer Max Richter (Taboo, Miss Sloane and Arrival), viewers see an elephant in the wild and the words ‘Like us, elephants feel complex emotions,’ appear on screen.

Next, reflected in the elephant’s eye, poachers are seen chasing across the savannah. Viewers watch as they aim their rifles directly at one of the herd.  Gunshots sound as the elephant’s eye blinks and a harrowing scene of a fallen elephant is then reflected in it. The eye blinks again.

After displaying the shocking fact that around 55 elephants are killed a day for their tusks, the advert follows a poacher walking away from the killing scene carrying a huge tusk. The viewer then sees money being counted and tusks piled high in a shipping container ready to be illegally sold for thousands of pounds worldwide and turned into objects like trinkets.

The words “we need your help” appear on screen before the mood shifts. That’s when dedicated and highly trained rangers are depicted as stepping in and apprehending a dangerous poacher, potentially helping to protect more elephants from further meaningless killings.

Working on the frontline, brave rangers risk their lives every day to protect threatened animals in the wild. As many as 740 rangers have been killed when working to protect wildlife since 2009, including trying to stop armed poachers in their tracks. This is according to figures from the International Ranger Federation.

WWF is working tirelessly to ensure rangers and community-based organisations, in some of the world’s poorest countries such as Kenya and Tanzania, receive the essential training and equipment they need to do their job effectively and stay safe from harm. WWF is also working to strengthen laws and enforcement, and reduce demand worldwide to combat the illegal trade in ivory. 



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