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Christina Russo

Christina Russo is a freelance journalist. For nearly 15 years, she has worked as a producer for a number of public radio programs, including NPR/WBUR’s "On Point" with Tom Ashbrook. Christina also freelances for Yale Environment 360, where her written work focuses mainly on wildlife conservation issues. She is the co-producer, with WBUR, of the nationally syndicated documentary on American zoos, From Cages to Conservation. She has written numerous articles about animals, including a story about caring for donkeys in Ethiopia; a veterinarian saving horses in Sonoma County, CA; an elephant sanctuary in northern Thailand; and the work of pre-eminent whale biologist Roger Payne for her hometown newspaper, The Gloucester Daily Times.

Zimbabwe’s Reported Plan to Export Baby Elephants Raises Outcry Against Animal Trade

News that Zimbabwe has captured dozens of baby elephants from the wild and plans to export them overseas ignited a firestorm of alarm in conservation circles, raising new questions about the policies that govern the trade of live elephants. The elephants are reportedly headed to China, where they would most likely be held in zoos.…

New Doubts About Whether Elephants Can Survive South Sudan’s Civil War

Southern Sudan knows violence. After being wracked by modern Africa’s longest civil war, from 1983 to 2005, in which millions of people were displaced or died, South Sudan gained independence in 2011. The region’s elephants, originally estimated after the war to number about 5,000, suffered extreme losses too—but amazingly some survived. As migratory animals, they…

INTERPOL Asks Public to Help Nab Environmental Crime Fugitives

On November 17, for the first time in its history, INTERPOL asked the public to assist in the capture of environmental crime fugitives. The landmark public appeal falls under INTERPOL’s Operation Infra Terra, launched in October and targeting 139 criminals from 36 nations. INTERPOL—the International Criminal Police Organization—is the world’s largest international police organization, with…

Q&A: Fighting Corruption and Wildlife Trafficking in Central Africa

  Naftali Honig is a 29-year old, Brooklyn-raised wildlife activist living in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. Since 2009 he has been the coordinator of the Project for the Application of Law for Fauna Republic of Congo (PALF).   According to Honig, PALF departs from the anti-poaching paradigm: a “cops and robbers” scenario, in which the…

Can Elephants Survive a Legal Ivory Trade? Debate Is Shifting Against It

It’s one of the more incendiary questions discussed in wildlife conservation circles: Should there be a legal trade in elephant ivory? This debate has been waxing and waning since at least 1989, when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted to “ban” the international trade in ivory after a ferocious wave of poaching in…

Q&A: Landmark Report Reveals Crucial Links in the Illegal Ivory Trade

While there are effectively unlimited numbers of poachers and consumers fueling the lucrative illegal ivory market, a new report suggests that nearly all the ivory shuttled from Africa to Asia—the biggest market—is confined to as few as 200 shipping containers a year.

Q&A: Elephant Conservation Challenges in Sri Lanka—A Conversation With Shermin de Silva

Shermin de Silva, 33, is president of the Asian elephant conservation organization Trunks & Leaves. A post-doctoral student at Colorado State University, de Silva was born and raised in Sri Lanka and has returned regularly to Udawalawe National Park since 2005 to study its elephants, which she believes number some 1,200. Conservationists estimate that Sri…

A Young Chinese Conservationist Discusses His Country’s Role in the Ivory Trade

Gao Yufang, 26, is a Chinese researcher and conservationist who graduated last month with a masters from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. At Yale, Gao focused his studies on the ivory trade, with emphasis on the varied, sometimes conflicting understanding about the Chinese role in it. This, he believes, creates obstacles to…

South Africa’s Kruger Park Loses its First Elephant; Kenya Loses an Icon

In recent years, Kruger, the jewel in the crown of South Africa’s national park system, has lost many rhinos to poachers, but its elephants have remained safe. Until now. For the first time in a decade, a bull elephant in the park has fallen to poachers, who hacked off his tusks. “This poaching incident really…

The Fate of the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe—A Conversation With Sharon Pincott

Since 2001, Australian Sharon Pincott has been monitoring and protecting a unique population of elephants in western Zimbabwe known as the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe. The herd was given this name after President Robert Mugabe awarded it a presidential decree in 1990. Symbolizing Zimbabwe’s commitment to responsible wildlife management, the decree was intended to protect…

Controversy Swirls Around the Recent U.S. Suspension of Sport-Hunted Elephant Trophies

Battle lines are being drawn after the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) announcement last month to suspend import of elephant trophies from Tanzania and Zimbabwe for the remainder of 2014. The decision was spurred by the catastrophic poaching of Africa’s elephants and the fact that in these two countries, according to FWS, “additional…

Gabon: Ground Zero for Forest Elephants

There’s simply no way other way to begin this story: The future for Africa’s forest elephant (Loxodonata cyclotis) is exceedingly dire. The battle to protect this “hidden elephant” from unremitting slaughter is being lost to a more aggressive and merciless demand for the animals’ ivory. Or as Richard Ruggiero, Africa branch chief at the US…

Mourning the Loss of a Great Elephant: Torn Ear

A beloved, venerable African elephant named Torn Ear was killed in Kenya on February 7 by poachers who shot him with poisoned arrows. Richard Bonham discovered Torn Ear’s fatal injury while observing him at a watering hole. Bonham is the co-founder and the African operations director of the wildlife conservation organization, Big Life Foundation. He…

Au Revoir: France Crushes its Ivory

France has now joined a growing number of other countries—including the United States and China—in destroying its stockpile of ivory. More than three tons of ivory was pulverized at Champs de Mar at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. The ivory stash was worth more than one million dollars, and was comprised of 698 individual…

The Fate of Forest Elephants: Andrea Turkalo Shares Her Experiences, Insights—and Concerns

Andrea Turkalo is Associate Conservation Scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and cofounder of Cornell University’s The Elephant Listening Project at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, in Ithaca, New York. Turkalo is considered the leading expert on Africa’s reclusive and lesser understood forest elephants. She’s been studying them for more than two decades at…