by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: KIM GRAHAM-NYE - Happy Graham-Nye, 9, and Tanzanian-based photographer Julien Polet have partnered to create Happy Tusk, which supports elephant conservation.As many as 35,000 African elephants — about 10 percent of the population — are poached each year, so they could disappear within the next decade, according to a charity supporting conservation, Tusk.

Poachers kill the elephants for their ivory tusks, which they break up, polish and hawk as trinkets. When Lake Oswego resident Harper “Happy” Graham-Nye learned of the elephants’ population devastation, he decided to take action. Happy, 9, emailed a photographer friend he met on a trip to Tanzania last year, Julien Polet, and asked him to partner on a new business, Happy Tusk. Happy, a third grader at Forest Hills Elementary School, is the REVIEW PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - Kim Graham-Nye encouraged her son, Happy, to get involved when he said he wanted to do something to help others.

Half of the Happy Tusk profits — products include T-shirts, onesies, silk pillow covers, art, cards and dish towels — support the Tusk charity.

Happy said he is taken with the “majesticness” of elephants and “how graceful they are.”

“They will all be gone,” he said, unless someone steps forward to save them.

With Polet’s presence in Africa, the company sells merchandise there, and Happy launched a web store last month through which U.S. residents can purchase T-shirts. Happy also hooks up people in the states with any of the store’s products if they email him.

What’s more, his website offers the chance for the next generation to add their name to a petition addressed to the leaders of the world that says “KIDS take ACTION to Protect African wildlife.” As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 250 signatures and 317 supporters.

Happy visited Forest Hills and Riverdale grade school (the school of his brother and Happy Tusk vice president of social media, Fynn, a sixth-grader) to deliver presentations about elephants struggling to survive and how he is trying to help.

Happy’s impetus to create a company came from his own desire to help. He wanted to support a cause and his mom said he should think about it and come back to her with his idea. He did. Soon after, Happy Tusks was born.

“There’s a lot of opportunities for kids who say they want to be involved,” said his mother, Kim Graham-Nye.
By Jillian Daley
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