Conservation charity Save the Elephants’ founder and CEO, Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, has posted a plea to British voters going to the polls in today’s Referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union via their Facebook page.
In the open letter, which you can read below, he argues why British citizens should vote to remain in the EU.
To the British Public walking to the polls today:
Like many in Britain and Europe we lost family members in two world wars. My father and my maternal grandfather were both killed in action. Since 1945 my generation’s prospects were transformed by the unprecedented peace in Europe. When I was 23 instead of fighting in a war I came to work with elephants in Africa and have remained here for 50 years.
At the crucial debate of 1989 on the future of elephants I was an advisor to the European Union at the CITES treaty on whether or not to ban the international trade in ivory. As a Brit I took part in the morning planning sessions where representatives of European countries met and sought a consensus on how to save elephants through united action. I was hugely impressed by the persistence with which consensus was desired, how a reasoned debate took place and ended with the right decision to ban the trade in ivory. The EU vote was and is a powerful voting block. We Brits were and still are a vital voice that needs to be heard as part of the EU, where reason, experience and determination can prevail in a greater cause of saving the world’s wildlife and environment.
How can we contemplate quitting the councils of Europe after all that our ancestors have endured? How can we ignore the friendly voices of Germany and France, imploring us to remain in Europe, after all the unnecessary blood our ancestors have shed? Having resolved the blood enmities of the centuries, how can we now contemplate quitting the councils of Europe?
As an expatriate Brit and European living my working life in Africa I have no vote. I am utterly dismayed at the prospect of leaving Europe, which by every long term and sane criterion has been an enormous success in my lifetime. Millennia of trial and error have resulted in a tolerant, peaceful and prosperous continent. This cannot be taken for granted. Even if this means taking on a cumbersome, and at times interfering bureaucracy, it is far better to Remain and be part of the action, in one of the better experiments of mankind.
Europe has helped elephants in the past with hard-won consensus. If they are to endure into the future they need a strong, united Europe with Britain at its heart.
Iain Douglas-Hamilton D Phil CBE
CEO Save The Elephants