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Category archives for Elephants

Using Technology to Combat Wildlife Crime

“Wildlife rangers now have the help they’ve desperately needed.” says Colby Loucks, WWF’s wildlife crime technology lead. “This groundbreaking technology allows them to search for poachers 24 hours a day, from up to a mile away, in pitch darkness. It’s upping the game in our fight to stop wildlife crime across the region.”

Illegal Ivory Almost All from Recent Killing, Study Finds

Researchers analyzing African elephant tusks seized by global law enforcement have confirmed what many suspect: the illegal ivory trade, now running in high gear, is being fueled almost exclusively by recently killed animals. In the first study of its kind, researchers showed that almost all tusks studied came from animals killed less than three years…

How One U.S. Zoo is Supporting African Wildlife Conservation

Despite the sensation of  tough gravel, I never expected a rhinoceros to feel so soft around the back of the ears and mouth.  Staff at the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, New York had graciously allowed me to come face to face with Bill, the resident southern white rhinoceros who, funnily enough, was more interested in being petted than…

World body that could protect elephants—decides not to

Acutely, an elephant’s problem is ivory. Chronically the problem is shrinking space. Rich or poor, humans seem too much of a good thing. One wonders where this trend of growing human numbers and appetites, afflicting elephants and humans alike, is headed.

A Big Day at CITES: No Ivory or Rhino Horn Trade

Today’s the day everyone at CITES CoP17 has been waiting for: elephants and rhinos. The debates were long, heated, and emotional. Here’s what happened: Elephants There were three proposals on the table. Two from Namibia and Zimbabwe proposed re-opening the ivory trade, and a third, from a coalition of African countries did the opposite—it wanted…

EU Fails to Lend Necessary Support to the African Elephant Coalition

By Katarzyna Nowak and Keith Lindsay The European Union (EU) – a regional economic integration organization of 28 member states – became the 181st party to the major wildlife treaty, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in July 2015. This month became the first time the EU votes…

Q&A: Extreme Drought in South Africa’s Kruger National Park: How is Wildlife Faring?

Bone-dry winds are blowing across South Africa’s Kruger National Park (KNP), uprooting savanna grasses and whirling them like tumbleweeds across a sere landscape. How is the park’s world-renowned wildlife faring in an extreme drought? To find out, I talked with Izak Smit, Science Manager for Systems Ecology at South African National Parks (SANParks), which oversees KNP.…

To save African elephants, scientists say ivory sales must stop

While that “regulated” ivory sale idea might sound nice on paper, experts say it has now been officially debunked.

How Forensic Technology Can Help Fight the Ivory Trade

Here at the CITES conference in Johannesburg, almost anyone can tell you that African elephants are being slaughtered at a rate of tens of thousands per year. There are lots of approaches on how to solve the problem: reducing demand for ivory, providing alternative livelihoods for would-be poachers, training anti-poaching units—and forensics.

Sam Wasser of the University of Washington uses DNA testing to identify where the ivory confiscated in major seizures comes from. This makes it easier to know where law enforcement and anti-poaching efforts should be concentrated.

How Fighting the Bushmeat Trade Protects Lions

Sometimes, when traveling through Maasai Mara, visitors may see elephants with half of their trunk missing. The poor creatures must kneel to pluck grasses, and they are unable to reach leaves from the canopies of trees at all. It is no mystery what maims these elephants. Over smoky fires, well hidden from passersby on the…

Tiny ants may pose a big threat for diversity in Laikipia

In the shadow of Mt. Kenya, everyone has a story about a small, shiny ant that steals their cooking oil and sugar. When the seasonal rains come, they retreat into their underground nests, but they strike with full force during the dry months. The “big-headed ants” (Pheidole megacephala, which literally means “big head”) don’t bite or…

NPS Centennial: Celebrating Conservation Worldwide

As we celebrate the centennial anniversary of the National Parks Service and look at the effect that protected lands and parks around the world have had on those who visit them, we see that protected lands are far more valuable than simply providing a place for a camping trip. The protected lands around the world enable people to wonder, to study, and to share their experiences with others through conservation and inspiration, though they may be a world apart.

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…

Poachers Aren’t All Evil: An Unconventional Conservation Film

Not all poachers are evil, nor are they as indifferent toward the environment as many activists make them out to be. That statement might elicit some negative reactions from many an online conservation dilettante. But similar to the way certain folks—including one rather objectionable presidential candidate—living in fear of terrorism will stereotype Muslims, so too can those…

Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit Snares Ivory Dealers and over 300 Poachers

Anti-poaching teams in Victoria Falls have had a bumper year in the field, having captured three prominent ivory dealers and more than 300 poachers in 2015.  The Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU), founded by conservationist Charles Brightman and hospitality group Africa Albida Tourism’s flagship property Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, were responsible for the busts. The unit, which employs 17…