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Laurel Neme


Laurel Neme is the author of ANIMAL INVESTIGATORS: How the World’s First Wildlife Forensics Lab is Solving Crimes and Saving Endangered Species, a narrative non-fiction “CSI for wildlife” with a foreword by Richard Leakey and endorsed by Jane Goodall that's been featured on ABC News Nightline and NPR’s Science Friday. She is also the author of the children's book, ORANGUTAN HOUDINI, based on a true story of an ape who outwits his zookeeper. She has hosted The WildLife radio show and addressed a range of groups on wildlife forensics and trafficking, and animal intelligence, including INTERPOL’s Wildlife Crime Working Group, the St. Louis Zoo, American Museum of Natural History, universities, school groups and libraries. Previously, she worked on natural resource and wildlife management as both a government officer and international consultant in dozens of countries around the world, helping her understand the real-life tradeoffs between wildlife protection and human economic needs. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan and PhD from Princeton University. See Laurel Neme's website for more.

Three-Year Timeline of Ivory Milestones in Hong Kong and Mainland China

For years, the Hong Kong’s government rejected eliminating its huge retail ivory market, and mainland China has shown itself to be more forward thinking. Yet recent events—including evidence showing that Hong Kong’s ivory traders use the legal market as a conduit for illegal ivory, public protests against the trade, and moves in mainland China toward…

Ripple Effect: Saving Elephants One Kid at a Time

Children’s voices can be extremely powerful—a fact readily apparent on a recent Sunday when more than 325 people—most of them children—participated in Vermont’s first kid-driven Global March for Elephants and Rhinos. The event was initiated by 12-year-old Taegen Yardley, who organized a network of youngsters from across the state. Student “champions” at more than a…

Undercover Video Confirms Hong Kong’s Retail Market Is “Front” for Smuggled Ivory

By Laurel Neme and Maraya Cornell Hong Kong’s retail ivory market acts as both a cover for smuggled ivory and an incentive. A new report, The Hard Truth, released September 7 by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)–Hong Kong, reveals how fundamental flaws in the existing regulatory system help fuel the illegal trade. Hong Kong…

East African Smugglers Push Ivory Out of the Continent

Elephant poaching and ivory trafficking in East Africa is driven not only by foreign consumers but also by African nationals who actively “push” ivory to these markets. A recent report, Pushing Ivory Out of Africa: A Criminal Intelligence of Elephant Poaching and Ivory Trafficking in East Africa, released July 20 by Global Eye and the…

To Stem Thriving Online U.S. Ivory Market, Stronger Laws and Enforcement Needed, Says Author of New Report

In a new report, Elephant vs. Mouse, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) uncover a robust trade in ivory and related wildlife products on Craigslist, a classified advertising online platform. Craigslist is a massive site, with 50 billion page views and 80 million postings added each month.

Speaking up for Elephants: Reflections on Vermont’s Ivory Sales Ban Hearing

“In a world where everything feels like it is moving at the speed of light, slowing down and watching an elephant in its natural habitat is calming and shows us the importance of paying attention to the natural world.”

That opinion came from 12-year-old Taegen Yardley, a sixth grader at Endeavour Middle School in Shelburne, Vermont, on April 8 when she testified before Vermont’s House Committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources in support of a proposed state ban on ivory and rhino horn sales (H.297). Twenty of her classmates filled the ornate room to listen and show support.

Citizens Spur States to Ban Trade in Ivory and Rhino Horn

“When you think things need to change, you have the power to make it happen,” Ashley McAvey, homegrown elephant activist and mother of two, told students recently at Endeavour Middle School in Shelburne, Vermont. McAvey is the driving force behind Vermont’s proposed legislation (H. 297) to ban sales of elephant ivory and rhino horn in…

Ethiopia Burns Entire 6.1-Ton Ivory Stockpile

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — At a ceremony today in the capital, Ethiopia burned its entire 6.1-ton ivory stockpile. The event was held at the Gulele Botanical Garden, close to the headquarters of the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA), where the ivory had been stored. Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen and officials from the Ministries of…

Will Mobilization of Military Forces Stop Elephant Poaching in Cameroon?

Ten elephant carcasses discovered in mid-January in and around Cameroon’s Bouba Ndjida National Park are raising fears that poachers may again be targeting the park. But information remains sketchy. According to the Cameroon Tribune, a government newspaper, the military made several patrols following reports of gunfire and men on horseback searching for elephants. They found…

In Hong Kong, Kids Take Action to Stop the Illegal Ivory Trade

Hong Kong schoolchildren are transforming attitudes about elephant ivory through small actions that are having a big impact.

New WildLeaks Website Invites Whistle-Blowers on Wildlife Crime

Wildlife trafficking crimes often go undetected and unchallenged, even though they threaten many endangered species, including elephants, rhinos, and pangolins.

Elephant Foster Mom: A Conversation with Daphne Sheldrick

Orphaned elephants “can be fine one day and dead the next,” says Daphne Sheldrick, a Kenyan conservationist and expert in animal husbandry. She knows. To date, she has fostered over 250 calves, first in partnership with her husband, David Sheldrick, founding warden of Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park and a legendary naturalist, and later (following…

Ivory Mandala: A Fitting Memorial from the U.S. Ivory Crush

Tomorrow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will use an industrial rock crusher to destroy its six-ton stockpile of confiscated elephant ivory. The event is both a demonstration of the U.S.’s commitment to stop ivory trafficking and its belief that the legal ivory trade stimulates consumer demand and promotes elephant poaching. What it is not…

Al Shabaab and the Human Toll of the Illegal Ivory Trade

The real boon for Al Shabaab’s ivory business is soaring demand in consuming countries, which translates into high prices. Illicit raw ivory now fetches over U.S. $1,500 per kilogram in Asia; in China the “official” cost for raw ivory is supposedly more than $2,865 per kilogram. That means higher profits for Al Shabaab—and a treasury it can use to wreak chaos. Consumers can help break that lifeline by not buying ivory.

Destroying Elephant Ivory Stockpiles: No Easy Matter

When the Philippines destroyed its five-ton stockpile of seized elephant tusks on June 21, it marked not only the first time an ivory-consuming nation took such a public action but also the first time a country took key steps to guarantee that it could not re-enter the black market.