By Steve Graves
Hazel Jones is organising a march on October 4 through the city to highlight the plight of animals
A Liverpool grandmother is leading the fight to protect elephants and rhinos from exploitation.
Hazel Jones, 54, has organised the Liverpool March for Elephants and Rhinos next month as part of a global campaign.
It will see protesters joining together to show their concern over the treatment of the animals, and is supported by Chester Zoo and Knowsley Safari Park.
Hazel’s interest came about when she mentioned to a colleague that she was planning to visit Thailand and ride on an elephant.
The colleague told her about the plight of some elephants in the country, causing her to re-arrange her visit to take in the Elephant Nature Park, in Chiang Mai, where animals are protected from lives of misery as “entertainment” on the streets.
Armed with bulging suitcases full of donations, Hazel took cash and equipment for the animals and members of the community nearby.
She said: “My family were worried sick because I’d been so excited building it up all year they thought I might be disappointed.
"I wasn’t, though – it was incredible. We stayed overnight and washed and fed the elephants – one of which was newly rescued.
"It was a really special time and we are going back next year.”
Back in Liverpool, Hazel is determined to get Merseyside supporting the cause.
She said: “Going to Thailand was wonderful, but there is a lot to be done here on our doorstep.”
Hazel has already carried out a peaceful protest at the Chinese embassy, as China is the main market for the ivory trade, and written to museums and Bishops, among others.
The march she has organised, on October 4, is part of a co-ordinated global campaign to raise awareness.
Hazel said: “I am just an ordinary person, but I am not prepared to stand back and let elephants and rhinos die out.
“If we don’t act now to stop the slaughter, they will be gone in 15 years, and I refuse to be part of a world that just stands by to watch these magnificent creatures disappear.”
The march will cover a route from St Luke’s bombed-out church, on Leece Street, finishing at the Queen Victoria monument, in Derby Square.