University of Alabama students and fans are gearing up in great anticipation as the Alabama football team prepares to take on Clemson for the College Football National Championship in Glendale, AZ next Monday. This National Championship presents an opportunity to showcase the work that students, faculty, alumni, and fans of both universities are doing to protect their mascots. Both Big Al and The Tiger are hallmarks of the athletic programs at the University of Alabama and Clemson University, respectively.
Unfortunately, their wild counterparts are declining across their natural ranges. Habitat loss and a global poaching crisis are driving elephants and tigers toward extinction. However, Tide for Tusks and Tigers for Tigers are working to ensure their mascots continue to thrive in the wild. Although we may be rivals on the field, by channeling the passion of two of the most powerful fan bases in all of college football we can truly make a difference for the future of our wild mascots.
During the National Championship Game, Tide For Tusks and the National Tigers For Tigers Coalition are leading a joint social media campaign with the two student-led initiatives from the University of Alabama and Clemson University. With a stadium filled with an estimated 65,000 people, the two organizations will ask thousands of students and fans to show their solidarity for their wild mascots by using the hash-tag #ProtectOurMascots.
Our hope is that this effort will become much broader in scope to bring about an exchange of ideas and to develop new avenues for research and conservation. It is only with the conscientious support of the University of Alabama students, faculty, staff and alumni – who deeply believe in protecting a keystone species like the African elephant – that we can become a part of the solution to save a wildlife icon for future generations.
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