Conservation Influencers

The International Elephant Foundation


Established in 1999, the International Elephant Foundation (IEF) is credited with being inspired and created by Michael Fouraker, Executive Director of the Fort Worth Zoo in the USA. In its words, IEF ‘creates a sustainable future for elephants’. It claims to generate and effectively invest in resources to support elephant conservation, education, research, and management programs worldwide. It says that it puts most of its effort and money into programmes that combat poaching in Africa and Asia and into research designed to find the means to reconcile ‘communities and elephants’, so that they can live together without conflict.

The International Elephant Foundation is one of the leading bodies behind the publication of the Elephant Husbandry Resource Guide, which sets out the standards for managing elephants in circuses, non-AZA zoos, private individuals, sanctuaries, and corporations. In the USA, animal rights groups led by Humane Society US and Fund for Animals are hostile to IEF because of its support for keeping elephants in captivity. As part of their anti-captivity campaign, these militant animal rights NGOs were forced to pay Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus a total of USD25.2 million in damages for making false accusations (note: the circus’s Vice President for Government Relations Tom Albert is also vice president and secretary of IEF).


Dr. Barbara Baker is the current president and Tim Morrow is president-elect and treasurer.


The organisation is self-governing. The IEF’s board members are largely elephant management experts. Other board members include zoo directors, veterinarians, private owners, and circus business managers.  


According to its annual report, IEF raised $711,538 in revenue and spent $723,715 in 2019. Of which ten percent went on management and three percent on fundraising.

About the directory

Conservation Influencers is a searchable directory of the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby. It examines the history, mission, methodology and reputation of NGOs to assess their impact on the global conservation cause.


Franz Weber Foundation

From 1990 until 2015, Franz Weber Foundation (FFW) managed the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park in Togo, which was, according to an in-depth investigation by Duke University, ‘established by forcing the local communities off their land and without taking into consideration their point of view’. That same study cited convincing evidence from reports published in 1990, confirming that competition for land use was already ‘creating conflict between the local communities and park managers’. In 2015 Togo refused to renew FFW’s contract because, the report says, ‘local communities were still excluded from the management of the natural resources of their land’ and FFW had ‘failed to fulfil its contract’. Franz Weber Foundation plays a major role within CITES because it funds and manages from Switzerland the African Elephant Coalition (AEC), which represents 32 African range states, some of which have barely any elephants and others none at all. Contrary to the wishes of the range states in Southern Africa, which manage most of the world’s wild elephant populations, the AEC at CITES’ CoPs repeatedly tables proposals to put all of the world’s elephants in appendix I. And the AEC uses its voting power to keep in place prohibitions on ivory sales and all other trade in elephant-related derivatives, including skins and hair, which Southern African nations wish to legalise.