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Rafiki Emily Stephen Kisamo (1964-2015)

By Bill Clark We called each other rafiki, the Swahili word for friend. And we were friends, good friends. Rafiki Emily Stephen Kisamo has been laid to rest in the cemetery at his home village of Marangu, on the southern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania. (News story: Murdered Parks Official Remembered For Anti-Poaching Efforts) We…

Link Between Ivory Price Drop and China’s Trade Ban Questioned

By Michael Schwartz The conservation organization Save the Elephant’s recent claim of a strong association between the sharp decline in raw ivory prices and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s September pledge to close China’s domestic ivory markets may be inaccurate, says Daniel Stiles, a conservationist and veteran ivory researcher based in Kenya. According to Stiles, Save…

Bull Elephants Display ‘Mothering Behavior’ Toward Orphaned Calves

By Gini Cowell While we were watching a group of 13 bull elephants resting underneath an acacia tree just before midday last September, we noticed that in among their pillars of legs were much smaller, miniature legs and trunks. Two calves! Only when the bulls began to shift and spread out a little could the…

Why Rhino Poaching Isn’t High on the CITES Agenda

At the 66th meeting of the Standing Committee for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in Geneva, Switzerland, from the January 11 to 15, deliberation over the plight of rhinos was brushed over in less than an hour. Despite considerable efforts by range, transitional, and consumer states…

Tense Standoff With a Male Elephant in Mating Mode

National Geographic filmmaker Bob Poole encounters a giant bull elephant at the worst possible time … mating season. During this time male elephants are known for their aggressive and territorial nature, and Poole may be too close for comfort.

How to Offset Terrorism’s Damage to Funding for Pachyderms

By Michael Schwartz On the whole, tourism revenue is an optimal way of conserving Africa’s remaining elephant and rhino populations. But the current spike in global terrorist activities should serve as a sobering reminder that it can’t be relied on as a conservation panacea. The recent uptick in global terrorism in all likelihood will deter…

Zimbabwe’s Elephants Are Dying, But Its Rhinos Are Doing Better

By Oscar Nkala The number of rhinos killed by poachers in Zimbabwe spiked to 164 in 2008. In 2014, poachers killed 15 rhinos in Zimbabwe—including five black rhinos in Save Valley and one white rhino in Bubye Valley. This year, fewer than ten have been killed for their horns, sold illegally in Vietnam and other…

China Supports Malawi’s ‘Stop Wildlife Crime’ Campaign

By H.E. Zhang Qingyang, Chinese Ambassador to the Republic of Malawi The Chinese government has regarded ecological civilization as an important pillar for national development. We have attached great importance to the protection of iconic species such as the elephant, which is at risk of extinction as a result of the illegal ivory trade. This year,…

Witness an Epic Clash Between Wild Dogs and Elephants

It was a late afternoon in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park when Sabine Featherby of Baines’ River Camp came across a rare pack of wild dogs that had just brought five pups out of their den site. “The last time I saw wild dogs in the Zambezi Valley was in 2006,” remembers Featherby, “so seeing…

Searching for Orangutans but Finding Hope for Borneo’s Endangered Wildlife

“Hold it.” Hasri’s upheld hand tells us. He takes two soundless steps on the dried leaves of the lowland Borneo rainforest and listens. We pause for the strange sound to repeat itself among the jungle cicadas and morning calls of birds. From the dense undergrowth comes a cross between a moan and a hoot. The Orangutan…

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…

Homegrown African Solutions to Elephant Poaching

By Fred Nelson By most counts, 2015 has been a devastating year for Africa’s elephants. Census results have documented large-scale declines from poaching in a number of key countries and protected areas. In just five years, Tanzania’s elephant population, which was formerly the second-largest national herd in Africa, has declined from more than 110,000 elephants…

For Nations Lax About Ivory Smuggling, An Easy Pass

The Lao Peoples Democratic Republic recently became the latest of the countries most implicated in the illicit trafficking of elephant tusks to be let off the hook. Here’s the background. At the 16th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Conference of the Parties, in Bangkok, Thailand,…

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…

OPINION: Botswana’s Hunting Ban Deserves Better from the New York Times

By Maraya Cornell

A recent article in the New York Times casts Botswana’s hunting ban, enacted just under two years ago, as the disastrous move of a nation acting under the spell of Western animal rights activism.

The author, Norimitsu Onishi, who is the paper’s bureau chief for southern Africa, blames the ban for swelling the number of dangerous animals that terrorize villagers in Sankuyo, where his story is set. And he claims that Sankuyo’s land is “peripheral,” too remote for photo tourism to make up for the income the village lost when trophy hunting ceased.

Both of these conclusions are dubious at best.