Ian Somerhalder‘s latest endeavor takes him off screens and instead puts him behind a very admirable cause.
The actor, known as bad boy vampire Damon Salvatore in the hit show The Vampire Diaries, is partnering with the organization WildAid for its Year of the Elephant campaign. The goal of the campaign is to make this year one where more elephants are born than slaughtered by poachers. It hopes to educate people on how ivory products are made and convince them to never purchase ivory in the future.
Ian first recognized his passion for the majestic creatures while on a visit to Africa several years ago.
In an interview with CNN, Ian explained, “I was staying in Zimbabwe in the bush at this incredible conservation institute. Every morning I got to wake up and have my coffee with a young, orphaned elephant named Dojiwae. Both of her parents were killed by poachers unfortunately.”
His interactions with Dojiwae spurred an urge to eradicate elephant poaching and squash the ivory trade.
The Louisiana-born actor added, “If people had the ability to make that connection, the physical connection of this beautiful intelligent animal…I think people would really feel differently about when they think about taking this tusk and what it means to kill these beautiful animals.”
WildAid estimates that approximately 33,000 elephants are killed yearly for the sole purpose of their ivory.
The 37-year-old actor said it’s important for people to become informed on the atrocity and added that education begins when questions are asked.
He said people “…don’t realize that that little piece of ivory in their bracelet or their necklace, that it came from an elephant. So, it’s about starting to question everything. Question where these things come from, why they’re even there and join the conversation. When the buying stops, the killing will stop.”