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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.…

Two Cheers on World Elephant Day 2016

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.

Tracker Dogs Are an Elephant’s Best Friend

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

For the Day of the Elephants, a Crash Course in Conservation

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.

Communities Seek Innovative Ways to Contain Elephants in Greater Kruger Park   

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.

Elsa the Lioness: The Spirit of Born Free on World Lion Day

There is a moving moment in the film Born Free, when Elsa the lioness walks across an African savannah towards the couple who hand-reared her.  She had spent a week trying to fend for herself in northern Kenya. As she approaches them, they see that their experiment hasn’t worked: She is thin, bloodied and limping.…

OPINION: Tourism Is Important, But It’s Not the Only Reason to Save Elephants

Those who believe that ecological and moral grounds aren’t sufficient justification to protect elephants and other wildlife in Africa often tout tourism as the most important reason to do so. Examined rationally, this is a narrow and risky premise, with a poor long-term prognosis for the survival of Africa’s wild animals.

Deep River and the African Elephant

One Connecticut community is honoring the 100,000 elephants that died for the town’s thriving ivory trade in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Marching to Save the Elephant on October 4

“Whoever has seen these giants marching across the last free open spaces of the world knows that this is something that must not be lost.” — Romain Gary, The Roots of Heaven Several years ago, Marie and I began to mourn the tragic dismembering of elephant society across Africa, an act that caused us to…

A Small Tale of Human-Elephant Conflict on Kenya’s Northern Border

One of my favorite zoo signs was created by the folks at the world famous San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park (AKA Wild Animal Park). If you’re a zoophile, you have probably seen this sign! For sale in the zoo shop and posted around the two wildlife campuses, the sign lists a whole bunch…

The Crucifix Moment – Slaughter of Innocence

  How does the slaughter of elephants happening now across Africa affect the innocence of children? For the makers of the film Lysander’s Song, they are inseparable. Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson’s five-year-old son Lysander was the inspiration for their project, a deeply-felt outcry against the illegal ivory trade. The rampant killing of these great…

Saving the African Elephant

2011 marked the worst year for elephant poaching and illegal ivory trading since the height of the trade in the 1980s, according to the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).  Following this lamentable news, both the British Parliament and the US Congress held hearings to address possible steps that the United Kingdom and the United States,…