Perth Art Auction for the Animals

 

 

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Thanks to Perth woman Rebecca Tilbrook, some of the planet’s most endangered animals are still breathing. Rebecca, who founded charity For The Animals in 2011, works tirelessly to ensure that elephant, pangolins, gibbons, leopards and other precious creatures are rescued from traffickers and rehabilitated.
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This Thursday night Rebecca is holding a special fundraising event, Art For The Animals. It’s a chance to buy some great artworks and help save some of these magnificent animals at the same time. We chat to Rebecca:
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Art For The Animals sounds like a terrific event. Has it taken much organising?
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Yes, we have a small army of people on the art side as well as the logistics for everything but the art.  It’s a bit of an undertaking to move 170 works of art into a studio for 48 hours. The local art community has been amazing in their support. 
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What will money raised go towards?
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It will go towards community anti-poaching patrol units that protect animals from poaching and logging, and benefit local people working in eco-tourism, as well as the rangers.  We have had a successful program for several years in one village and we plan to expand the model to other locations, in areas where we’ve received requests for support. 
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The world already has lots of animal charities – what made you decide to start For The Animals?
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I started For the Animals in 2011 after working in Washington DC for several wildlife charities from 2002.   I have worked with our partner in  Cambodia, Wildlife Alliance,  for almost 20 years.  They are simply the most committed,  most effective group at addressing wildlife trafficking and habitat loss that I’ve been able to find.  They have rescued over 70,000 animals since 2002, are protecting over a million hectares of forest, part of which has just been acknowledged as a carbon sink by REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation)  and the accomplishments go on and on.  Our partners on the ground are very committed and care very deeply about all animals and of course forests.   A key part of our work is creating sustainable incomes for people living around protected areas.  Lasting solutions to the problem of environmental crime must include benefits for people, wildlife, and habitat.  There must be a holistic approach.   
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Since you founded the charity 15-16 years ago how has it evolved, and how many animals would your organisation have saved?
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We work closely with  Wildlife Alliance in Cambodia.  We started out raising money to seed projects including wildlife rescue, sustainable farming for vulnerable villagers, and forest protection. The sustainable agriculture project enabled 200 families to return to their village after evacuating during the Pol Pott era and living on slash and burn agriculture. 
We have begun linking our work with other like minded organisations, which is important to make a global impact.  COVID 19 led one of my former colleagues, Steve Galster of Freeland in Thailand, to organise a global alliance of people and organisations who want to prevent the next pandemic by changing the way we interact with the natural environment.  The group, called EndPandemics  is leading the way in changing the way policies are made and how  businesses view their role in environmental sustainability.  Interestingly, the preventative requirements for avoiding the next zoonotic pandemic is to end the commercial trade in all wild animals, maintain habitat for wildlife to live separately, moveto more sustainable agricultural practices and reduce demand for wildlife products.  We’re moving in the wrong direction in some areas of the world as large-scale farming of wild animals including tigers and bears is becoming more common. 
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What animals in particular are the most under threat in Asia?  
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All animals are being trafficked, and it’s horrible for all of them.  Certain charismatic species get a lot of attention, and therefore funding, but if we take any animal out of an ecosystem it has a negative impact.  I’d like to see us all adopt a more holistic approach to conservation, not species specific work.  
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What are some of the initiatives that have been made possible thanks to your charity?
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We’ve maintained an anti-poaching patrol unit around a Wildlife Release Station for the past 5 years, built eco-chalets on the site of the Wildlife Release Station so supporters can visit and see the process of wildlife retuning to the wild, and have funded several emergency projects involving the need for new enclosures and quarantine facilities when the rescue centres have been full.  This happened at the end of last year and we did a special campaign to build new enclosures for rescued animals on the large forested area called Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre. 
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How supportive has the Perth community been?
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The Perth community and the national community have been amazing.  We had never done many digital marketing campaigns until last year – we relied on taking visitors to the project sites as well as live events for fundraising.  When we put out the call through our newsletter that we needed support during the COVID lockdown period, we got a really good response.
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What are some of the treasures up for grab at Art For The Animals?
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We have works from five Archibald winners, Picasso, Banksy, and an amazing life size sculpture of one of our rescued elephants as a baby, with his prosthetic leg, the result of a snare wound early in life.  We have a few paintings by another rescued elephant, Lucky, whose work has been sold all over the world.  She paints occasionally, and only if her favourite fruit is offered as a reward. 
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How rewarding is it for you, knowing your efforts have helped save some of the world’s most endangered creatures?
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I really love visiting Cambodia and miss it terribly.  I have made some awesome friends over the past 19 years, both human and animal! I am incredibly happy when I  am with them and feel like part of that family.  It has been amazing to see wildlife return to areas that were previously completely empty forests and to know that the local ranger patrols and successful eco-tourism businesses made that possible. 
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Is Art For The Animals going to be an annual event?
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Possibly!  Let’s get through this one and check back!  We did have a donor come forth and offer to fund our costs to keep the exhibition running on Friday so we will be at Fridays Studio (13 Old Aberdeen Place West Perth)  from 10am to 3pm that day.
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Tickets for both events are on sale at https://fortheanimals.org.au/artfortheanimals
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Art up for grabs

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Azzure – Painted by Lucky the Elephant

 

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Chhouk sculpture

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