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Poaching of African Elephants Slows, but Serious Threats Remain, CITES Reports

The significant upward trends in elephant poaching have stabilized, but African elephants continue to face serious threats, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) said in a news statement today.

The report is being released in advance of the next major conference of the world’s wildlife trade regulating treaty, in September, when world governments will make crucial decisions on the conservation of elephants and trade in ivory.

Urgent Global Action Needed to Stop Extinction of Earth’s Last Megafauna

A swift and global conservation response is needed to prevent the world’s gorillas, lions, tigers, rhinos, and other iconic terrestrial megafauna from being lost forever, an influential group of international scientists reported today in the journal BioScience.

Their analysis, entitled Saving the World’s Terrestrial Megafauna, covers the precipitous loss of large animal populations around the globe. The report included a 13-point declaration by 43 scientists and conservationists calling for acknowledgement that a “business as usual” mentality will result in massive species extinction. Read the declaration and study the maps showing the global decline of big land animals.

Elephants Are Social, Like Humans, and Should Be Treated That Way, Expert Urges

When a comprehensive study released earlier this month showed that social bonding and enrichment activities were more important than enclosure size to elephants in North American zoos, we wondered what Professor Caitlin O’Connell would have to say about the research. One of the foremost authorities on social behavior of elephants in the wild, O’Connell, a National Geographic grantee, has written half a dozen books on this subject.

Justice for Elephants in Kenya: Ivory Smuggler Jailed for 20 Years

Feisal Mohamed Ali, described by the Kenya Wildlife Service as an ivory smuggling kingpin, has been jailed for 20 years and fined U.S. $200,000 (Ksh20 million) for illegal dealing in, and being in possession of, ivory. Four co-accused and Fuji Motor company were acquitted in the case adjudicated in Mombasa, last Friday, KWS said in a statement on its website. “The guilty…

How Hundreds of Elephants Are Being Relocated Across Malawi

In one of the largest undertakings of its kind, Malawi is moving 500 elephants from parks on one end of the small central African country to a sanctuary on the other end. This infographic shows how they are trying to do it.

Notes From Elephant Country, Part II: Ozzie’s Back!

Mushara Elephant Project, Etosha National Park, Namibia — Ozzie showed up Friday night after three large family groups had come and gone. I recognized the metallic rattling noise he makes with his trunk and turned on the night vision to see what he was up to. There he was, curling his trunk across his face, dribbling urine like…

Notes from Elephant Country (Mushara Elephant Project)

There’s a baby boom in Elephant Country. And while some happily greet the new additions to the family with a pig pile (photograph above) and a wallow (below), others appear to have trouble making room and are resistant to sharing mom’s side (below). Sometimes mom has to intervene with a poke of the tusk (below).…

Real-life “Tarzan” Lee White is on a Mission to Protect Gabon’s Forest Elephants

Moviegoers are headed for the Congo rainforest when the Warner Bros. film, The Legend of Tarzan, hits the big screen this July.  Most people are familiar with author Edgar Rice Burrough’s character—the orphan boy raised by apes who grew up to become lord of the jungle. However, few may know that much of the upcoming adventure film was shot on location in Gabon, a French-speaking…

Letter from Zimbabwe: How We Saved Pretty Boy

By Lisa Marabini Pretty Boy was number three on our list of wild elephants to assess and possibly treat in the Zambezi Valley that weekend. He had been reported on Facebook with a suppurating shoulder wound, and the Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust had been instrumental in getting permission for us to tranquilize him so…

How a 5-Ton African Elephant Crosses an Ocean

Zimbabwe just put its wildlife up for sale. What does that mean for the animals? By Nicola Payne, courtesy Outside Online Zimbabwe is selling off its wildlife in what officials there are calling a conservation solution to a devastating drought that is depleting food sources for both humans and animals. The announcement last month from Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (called Zimparks)…

Safari Tourists Witness Dramatic Elephant Rescue

It’s not often that guests on a safari will participate in a mission to rescue a wounded elephant. But then again; this is Africa. It was early morning at Kenya’s Ol Donyo Lodge in the Chyulu Hills when two guests spotted an injured elephant Tusker wandering in the thick bush near their lodge room. He…

Elephants and the Maasai Culture: Today’s Problems, Tomorrow’s Solutions

By Siranka Lesisa, Keruki Kairung, and Gini Cowell  The Maasai and the Elephant have lived on the same land for many centuries. They have shared the same resources and suffered similarly in times of scarcity. A mutual form of respect has existed between the two for a long time. This may partly be because elephants…

South Africa and Kenya Seek Consensus on Ivory Trade

South Africa and Kenya will hold talks with other African countries to find a common position on ivory trade ahead of the 17th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Johannesburg in September-October. Kenya, as part of a group of 27 African…

Will Keeping the Rhino Horn Trade Illegal Kill More Rhinos?

Many conservationists are lauding South Africa’s recent decision not to propose the reintroduction of trade in rhino horn, citing concerns that legitimizing it could reignite consumer demand. Other conservationists, however, fear that keeping the ban in place will paradoxically lead to an increase in the killing of rhinos throughout Africa. Pro-Trade Rationale South Africa’s private rhino owners host roughly 33% of the country’s black…