To many people I’m sure, Leonard Joel’s association with IFAW, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, is a curious one. Typically, auction houses align with causes that in one way or another relate to the arts (we do that too with our meaningful association with Arts Project Australia) but the IFAW association is unique in the Australian auction landscape because it is not a “safe” one. I was not aware of IFAW until their Oceania office contacted me and advised me of a report that they had undertaken regarding the Australian auction trade in ivory objects. Leonard Joel was identified as the largest trader in this material and Rebecca Keeble, of IFAW, asked me if I wanted to discuss this with her. I did. Now more than 4 years later, we remain, sadly, the only auction house in Australia to have publicly developed and adopted a cessation policy that has almost completely eliminated our trade in this material and equally sadly, it would seem we remain the only auction house in the world to have done so. If a reader knows of another, please do let me know as I would dearly like to connect with that entity and expand my industry’s embrace of it.

In a nutshell that’s our IFAW story to date but it only tells a small chapter of IFAW’s work both in Australia and internationally, work that is focused on the dual tasks of rescue and conservation of threatened animal species, wherever that may be in the world. IFAW’s extraordinary work and global reach came into sharp focus when Australia was once again ravaged by unprecedented bushfires that visited a devastation on our native animals unlike anything Australians had ever witnessed before. IFAW, through the generosity of its local and international donors, was able to provide real, on-the-ground support with IFAW sponsored vets, search & rescue vehicles and critical support for the wildlife carers themselves, just to name a few areas.

But undoubtedly, IFAW’s commitment to rescue work after these fires, found its most poignant expression in Bear, their Koala rescue dog. Bear, in a previous life, was also a rescued animal and his extraordinary skill in locating injured koalas after the fires was made possible through a partnership between the University of Sunshine Coast (USC) and IFAW. Bear even has his own Instagram following and you can learn more about his extraordinary story, from rescued dog to rescue dog at @bearthekoaladog.

As a newly appointed global board member of IFAW, I will now introduce the Leonard Joel community to both the wider work of IFAW in Australia, under the extraordinary stewardship of Rebecca Keeble and IFAW’s critical work in Africa and beyond.

Managing Director / National Head of Collections
Australia Board Member, IFAW

December 2020