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Category archives for Elephants

China bans ivory, offering new hope for elephants

Fingers crossed that China is serious, and will effectively enforce their announced ivory ban. We are all counting on it.

Year-End Honors for Our Cutting-Edge Explorers

2016 has been an incredible year for exploration, research, and conservation—and explorers supported by the National Geographic Society have been at the top of each of those fields.

Work Hazards: Bornean Pygmy Elephants

On the drive into Danum Valley Field Center in Sabah, Malaysia, I caught a glimpse of one of the most iconic species in the Bornean rainforest – the Bornean Pygmy Elephant. They had been walking on the road, but just as our van came around the bend they retreated by the forest. As we passed…

How Uganda’s Rural Communities Can Help Fight Wildlife Crime

Between its largest protected area, Murchison Falls National Park, and its most visited wildlife haven, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda ranks as one the most biologically diverse countries on the African continent.

But despite being a paragon of conservation success, the Pearl of Africa’s highly volatile parks remain susceptible to wildlife poaching, particularly in places where animals and rural communities meet.

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…