It is in the hearts and minds of people at the grass roots as much as with ministers in the corridors of power and poachers in the field that the battle against wildlife crime has to be fought – and won.
World elephant Day celebration in Samburu Reserve with 91 children from Kenya’s poor neighbourhoods, slums and rural areas was probably the most moving experience of my life. The children experienced a real safari, in a four-wheel-drive vehicle. They camped for the first time in their lives, and they met wild wild animals in the wilderness of Samburu. But it was also a first for my team of staff, interns and volunteers who put on an ambitious three-day program – something we have never done before. In our first meeting the group of 20 enthusiasts created a trip of discovery, play and learning for the children. My rule was that it must be the same for all the staff too.
Things have improved since the dark days of 2011 and 2012 when ivory poaching across Africa appeared to be spiralling out of control and conservations began to contemplate the unthinkable: the extinction of the African elephant. On World Elephant Day 2016 there are grounds for cautious optimism. Nevertheless, it is too soon to assert that Africa’s elephants are safe.
By Ami Vitale, National Geographic photographer
When I visited Loisaba Conservancy, 56,000 pristine acres in northern Kenya that had been protected by The Nature Conservancy and others, I became smitten with two fellows named Warrior and Machine. These bloodhounds are 200+ total pounds of loving, slobbery goodness. Not only are they adorable, but they are true heroes. These big lads are protecting a better-known group of gentle giants: elephants, in one of the most enchanting landscapes on earth. Shared on #WorldElephantDay
They are big, intelligent and have a complex, multi-tiered society. They are variously loved, revered, admired, feared and sometimes abused for our entertainment. But elephants are not just ornaments that we should preserve so our children can share the world with such wondrous non-human beings. On World Elephant Day, Ian Redmond, one of the original ELEFRIENDS (who was recently trampled by one of his study animals — just a misunderstanding, he insists) reflects on the relevance of elephants to climate change.
As night falls on the Greater Kruger conservation area in northeast South Africa, adventurous elephants investigate the edge of the lengthy fence that holds them out of neighboring croplands. Cleverly and meticulously they probe for weaknesses in the barrier and work their way out. Moving through rugged and unfamiliar territory, they quickly happen upon the R40, a busy arterial road where they encounter speeding traffic, unsuspecting motorists — and the potential threat of serious injury to people and elephants.
By Lindy Taverner An elite task force in Tanzania is making progress in the war against poaching, apprehending illegal traders and wildlife trafficking kingpins responsible for the deaths of thousands of animals. Tanzanian game scouts and law-enforcement officers operating near the Mozambique border on July 22, 2016, raided a poachers’ encampment after being tipped off about its existence. They apprehended two poachers in…
Until that point I was sitting atop the sandstone cliff in a funk. With a sinking feeling it was dawning on me that I could well have just made another U.S. $6,000 mistake. We had searched the Greater Mapungubwe TFCA for the calf three weeks previously to no avail. The 400-odd elephants that we had examined in a 20-kilometer radius from the waterhole it was reported at had been fit and healthy. It had been an expensive and devastating defeat.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
By Pat Bailey, University of California, Davis Given that elephants are the largest land mammals on the planet, one might expect that when it comes to enclosures for zoo elephants, size matters. However, a newly released study in which the University of California, Davis, played a key role reveals that social interactions and having an array…
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…