The Krewe of Tusk and Horn organized last year in New Orleans to help stop the illegal ivory trade and the crime of poaching, which is threatening the extinction of animals such as elephants and rhinos.
They have a creative approach to bring about greater public awareness of the problem, which has included the New Orleans March Against Extinction. Held last fall, the event featured the group parading with banners and a large photo of an elephant in the French Quarter as part of the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos. They also provide an elephant- and rhino-themed coloring page contest for children. The pages are created by New Orleans artist Max Bernardi.
The Krewe of Tusk and Horn encourages artists to help protect endangered species and will host an art exhibit and membership drive from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 9 at Ariodante gallery, 535 Julia St.
The Krewe also is looking for riders for its bike float unit to enter in the Krewe of Tucks parade at noon Feb. 14. The Tucks’ theme is “Tucks Saves the Day,” which Krewe of Tusk and Horn founder Charles Marsala thinks works well with their cause — to bring an end to the poaching of endangered species.
More than a dozen floats are available to ride, and more will be commissioned as the idea grows, Marsala said. Float artist Katrina Brees’ creativity shows her awareness of the need to save wildlife, he said.
Marsala is a New Orleans native who attended Jesuit High and Tulane, then ended up as a mayor of Atherton, California. There he learned about the problem, after he had his own “Teddy Roosevelt moment.” Marsala said he took a trip to Alaska to go bear hunting, hoping to end up with a bear rug. The hunt was not successful, but the time spent in the bear’s habitat caused him to take up a camera and realize “it was a stupid idea to want an animal’s skin.”
He began to show his photographs and host educational discussions on the Endangered Species Act. He’s helped introduce legislation to increase the penalties for wildlife trafficking to RICO levels for convictions through federal racketeering statutes. Changes in legislation are needed because wildlife trafficking is currently a low-risk and high-reward crime, Marsala said.
The group has also adopted a baby giraffe at the Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, a retired tiger from a circus, and a baby elephant and rhino in Kenya. It hopes to adopt more endangered animals at sanctuaries around the world, with supporters receiving updates on the animals via social media.
Marsala began the idea of creating awareness through Mardi Gras as friends and former residents of the town in California where he served wanted to come visit New Orleans.
The Krewe of Tusk and Horn offers a fundraising package Feb. 14-17 that includes riding in the bike unit in Krewe of Tucks, the Krewe of Tucks ball, the Bacchus Ball on Feb. 15 and dinner on Lundi Gras at Bayona’s restaurant.
For information and for a link to sign the petition to restrict trophy hunting of endangered species and make wildlife trafficking a RICO felony, visit www.facebook.com/pages/Krewe-of-Tusk-Horn/1479687115620084.