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How Kenya’s New Wildlife Forensic and Genetics Lab Will Help Save Wildlife

By Fredrick Nzwili

In Kenya, poaching of wildlife for bush meat, trophies such as rhino horns and elephant tusks, skins of animals, feathers of birds, as well as illegal trafficking in animals for the pet trade such as rare chameleons and parrots, has reached epic proportions.

While many suspects of these crimes have been arrested, they often elude punishment because concrete, scientific evidence that would result in prosecutions and convictions isn’t available.

This is bound to change following the launch of a forensic and genetic laboratory last month at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) headquarters in Nairobi.

Time For An Oil Change

By Annie Reisewitz and Sarah Martin It’s been calculated that a tanker leaking a drop of oil every 10 seconds releases 60 gallons of petroleum oil into the world’s oceans every year. Water, now more than ever, has become a precious resource in need of protection. We are facing a number of looming water-related crises…

Where Public Tap Water Begets Wilderness

New York City and Boston’s watershed management programs preserve rural landscapes while providing clean water to urban areas

You Could Go to Jail for Tweeting This in Tanzania

By Maraya Cornell Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete has signed into law a controversial “Cybercrimes Act,” it was announced Friday. Critics say the law gives police broad powers of search and seizure and makes it a crime to share information online that the government deems “false” or “misleading.” One piece of information that would likely fall…

In South Africa, Where Elephants Are Fenced In, Choosing Contraception Over Culling

In South Africa, 20 protected areas now use a contraceptive to control elephant birth rates, including nine of the country’s 25 parks and reserves with the largest elephant populations. Proven effective in trials funded by Humane Society International, PZP will slow population growth so that the habitats on which elephants and other species depend can be preserved.

Ivory Is Worthless, Elephants Are Invaluable: Why Malawi’s Ivory Is Not For Sale

By Jonathan Vaughan

On April 2, Malawi’s planned destruction of its ivory stockpile was postponed.

Despite clear assurances from President Peter Mutharika himself that the burn will go ahead following the conclusion of an outstanding court case, the decision caused heated debate. Social media and online chat forums set alight, with calls to cash in on the “millions” that Malawi could make from selling its ivory.

But the vast majority of commentators missed the point, because, quite simply, the ivory in question is worth nothing to Malawi. To be sold, it would have to be laundered illegally, breaking international law.

“Things R Elephant”: Heated Debate in Kenya Gets to the Heart of What It Will Take to Save the Species

By Paula Kahumbu

In Kenya, when you hear that “Things are Elephant,” it means there’s a major problem. That’s why we chose this as the title for the first ever debate of its kind, organized by WildlifeDirect, on the future of elephants.

What’s Behind Malawi’s Decision Not to Burn Its Ivory Stockpile?

By Michael Schwartz

Malawi president Peter Mutharika recently decided to postpone the burning of roughly four tons of stockpiled ivory, worth around seven million dollars. He claimed that at least 2.6 more tons are still being held as evidence in the upcoming trials of suspected elephant poachers.

While his initial decision to destroy the ivory is being lauded by some Malawians, others question whether a burn is the best possible recourse. Some see confiscated ivory as disposable remnants of barbarism that only carry intrinsic value when attached to their owners. Others see it as revenue to help the country’s poor or to augment conservation.

This also broaches the larger debate as to whether or not destroying contraband stockpiles really helps elephants in the long run.

Keeping the Wild Yampa Wild

By Nathan Fey, Colorado Stewardship Director for American Whitewater

Cutting through the steep canyons and arid sage lands of northwestern Colorado and northeastern Utah, the Yampa is the region’s lifeblood. A major tributary of the Colorado, which has been increasingly stretched as demand exceeds supply, and climate warms and dries, the river’s flows are eyed by downstream water-users in Utah, Arizona and California. That fact behooves all of us to take a closer look at how water is managed in the West.

Q&A: Walking for Elephants: One Man’s Journey Across Kenya

By Maraya Cornell

On March 14, Jim Justus Nyamu, a 39-year-old Kenyan conservationist and elephant research scientist, completed a 283-mile-walk (455 km) from Emali to Voi in Kenya. Nyamu passed through the Amboseli and Tsavo ecosystems, both critical refuges for Kenya’s elephant populations. By walking for elephants as part of his Ivory Belongs to Elephants campaign, Nyamu hopes to raise awareness and better involve rural Kenyan communities in wildlife conservation.

OPINION: Rhinos and Elephants Are in Trouble—So Why Adopt Contradictory Emergency Measures?

By Katarzyna Nowak

It’s entirely possible, even likely, that we humans will not coexist very much longer with ancient, thick-skinned megafauna weighing thousands of pounds. How to save them is a matter of ever greater urgency—and dispute.

OPINION: China Announces One-Year Ban on Imports of African Ivory Carvings

By Patrick Bergin

On February 26, China’s State Forestry Administration announced on its website it was imposing a one-year ban on all imports of African ivory carvings. According to an unnamed forestry official, the suspension of ivory imports would allow authorities to evaluate the ban’s effectiveness in stemming elephant poaching in Africa. Because the ban was limited in scope, too brief in its temporal application, and fell far short of banning all domestic ivory trade in China, it was largely viewed by the conservation community as a symbolic plaster applied to a gushing wound.

Kenya Burns 15 Tons of Stockpiled Ivory

By Fredrick Nzwili

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya today burned tons of stockpiled ivory, sending a strong message against elephant poaching and ivory trafficking.

The burning is the latest in a series of ivory stockpile destructions by nations across the world. During the past three years, Gabon, Belgium, Chad, China, Hong Kong, Czech Republic, Gabon, France, Philippines, and the USA have all destroyed contraband ivory and rhino horn.

6 Ways to Save the Salton Sea and Colorado Delta

By Benny Andrés With scientific modeling foreshadowing megadroughts in the Southwest and Great Plains, it is imperative policymakers implement freshwater projects along the lower Colorado River, in particular, the Salton Sea, a 376-square-mile freshwater agricultural sump in southeastern California, and in the Colorado River Delta where the waterway ends its journey in the Baja California desert.…

Using Science to Empower Communities and Improve Marine Protected Areas in East Africa

By Jennifer O’Leary and Arthur Tuda When you think about East Africa, probably the first images that emerge are of large terrestrial animals like elephants and lions. Many people don’t know that East Africa has vibrant marine fishing communities and hundreds of miles of coral reefs. In a typical morning, you watch the sun rise…