Education Blog

Sunday, 27 July 2008 13:41

Letter Below you will find selected statements and testimonies in regard to elephant welfare. The facts and arguments presented are based on decades of scientific research.

You may also want to look through our Document Download Center, and visit The Elephant Charter.

Elephants in the wild

Elephants in sanctuaries

Elephants in zoos

Elephants in circuses

Monday, 10 March 2003 10:05
You may already have seen a more user-friendly and fully searchable ElephantVoices Photo Album.

We have also integrated this more functional news-publisher, so we can efficiently give subscribers news updates from the project. As you can see, the publisher gives you the opportunity to subscribe on ElephantVoices News and thereby receive news directly to your mailbox.

Welcome!

Cheers, Petter
Monday, 10 March 2003 12:57
An international workshop focused on ethical treatment of captive, domestic and wild elephants takes place in Washington DC 18 to 21 March. The workshop is being organized by the Smithsonian National Zoo's Conservation and Research Center, in collaboration with the American Zoo and Aquarium Association and Disney's Animal Kingdom. Joyce is among the participants at the workshop. Her talk has the title: Elephant Sociability and Complexity: The Scientific Evidence

You will find Conference program and registration forms at:
http://natzoo.si.edu/NeverForgetting/default.cfm

Cheers, Petter/SEVP
Monday, 17 March 2003 14:41
We are frequently improving and expanding the website, following the planned scope of work and progress in the Savanna Elephant Vocalization Project/ElephantVoices. A major expansion of the website was todays launch of a database driven collection of elephant visual and tactile signals, the most comprehensive overview of elephant body language so far available.

Through a common terminology and understanding of these signals we can collectively better understand and anticipate elephant behavior and gain a window into their state of mind - and, thus, find better ways to manage and protect them. The collection of 171 signals of African savanna elephants (most with still photos, some with several) can be found here.

The collection should be helpful to anyone whose work depends on understanding the behavior of elephants.

Cheers, Petter/SEVP
Monday, 05 April 2004 14:22

A major milestone for ElephantVoices is the completion of a tailor-made database for the project’s thousands of recordings of elephant vocalizations. The database has been developed in close collaboration with a Kenyan IT student from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Phillip Nyamwaya, whom we have engaged to work with us on the project. Phillip has done a fantastic job, finding solutions to all of Joyce’s complicated requests.

The main user interface on EV Audio DatabaseThe database works a treat! The database will be a vital tool in the ongoing and time-consuming process of analyzing elephant calls, which will continue through 2005. While the actual measurement of audio files takes place in programs like Signal and Raven, ELEPHANTVOICES AUDIO DATABASE will be the very productive storage bank for the huge amount of data collected. The database, which links field notes (e.g. location, group size, call type, caller, behavioral context), measurements, audio files, video files, image files and spectrograms, will form the basis for understanding the acoustic repertoire of African savanna elephants. As work progresses we will make some of these data available on http://www.elephantvoices.org. Eventually we plan to make the best quality data in the database available on the web. Our hope is that we will be able to combine our work on African savanna elephants with the work of the Elephant Listening Project on African forest elephants and a future study of Asian elephants.

The database is built in MS Access with a Visual Basic interface. Scripts have been developed for different purposes related to updates, export of sound files and analysis. For example, by linking the ELEPHANTVOICES DATABASE to AERP’s 32-year demography database, the age of an individual elephant at the time of calling is automatically entered for each record. Thus, for instance, the database now includes calls by Emma at age 1 and calls by her as a mother at age 16. And our research assistant can now easily do part of the analysis in Amboseli (her favorite work place…), and by mailing a temporary storage file back to Nairobi, Joyce can easily add these measurements to their already existing records in the database.

Cheers, Petter/ElephantVoices

Wednesday, 12 May 2004 09:51

Selengei's  class from Waldorf in Nairobi  visiting the elephant research camp.  (©ElephantVoices)We had a special reason to go to Amboseli last weekend, and for once our project was not the main focus. Our daughter Selengei celebrated her 11th birthday with our study elephants, bringing her 6 classmates along on an educational school trip. They observed and counted elephants and other animals, calculated average numbers of each species and graphed the results, they followed individual elephants and worked out activity budgets for different ages and they spent time sketching elephants. The main purpose of the trip was to utilize the skills they had learned in their maths lessons at Nairobi Walforf School in a “real life

Monday, 27 September 2004 08:40
You can now find an icon Glossary of Terms within the new ElephantVoices Resources section. The glossary is compiled and introduced by M. PHILIP KAHL and CHARLES SANTIAPILLAI.

We hope this elephant terms glossary will be useful to anyone reading about elephants, which encounters an unfamiliar term. You will have to download the glossary to your computer to see it, and to search in it.

Words have been collected from many sources, over a number of years. Please bear in mind that such a work will always be less-than-complete, very much a work-in-progress. It is an on-going project; many definitions will need modification, and Kahl and Santiapillai invite you to contribute your comments!

Cheers, Petter/ElephantVoices
Thursday, 16 December 2004 17:49

It has taken more time and energy to establish ourselves in Norway than we expected and for this reason ElephantVoices has been rather quiet lately when it comes to online activities. We are slowly getting there, and have high ambitions for activity on the site in 2005.

On 22 December Joyce will present her work and ElephantVoices in a public lecture in Ketchum, Idaho, at the nexStage Theatre at 7pm. A reception for interested people will follow. Then on 28 December Joyce will be at Iconoclast Books in Ketchum, Idaho to sign copies of her book, “Coming of Age With Elephants

Tuesday, 01 February 2005 22:09
National Geographic World Talk radio show recently presented a live 16 minute interview with Joyce about elephants and ElephantVoices. The show is sent from San Francisco, and included some elephant sounds from the ElephantVoices collection.

You may download the program from http://www.iciclenetworks.com/natlgeo_world.htm, show 18, segment 2. You can alternatively download a zipped version in lower quality http://www.elephantvoices.org/resources/show_18_seg_2_Jan_31_2005_11.15.20.zip

A program on the Norwegian national broadcaster NRK1 (Schrødingers Katt) Thursday 3 February at 7.30 pm will include an interview with Joyce. The program is about animals and their potential to perceive or foresee natural disasters. Check http://www.nrk.no/programoversikt/?p_otr_prog_id=PRTY11000505&p_otr_sendedato=20050203&p_otr_anntid=19.30&p_otr_kanal=NRK1&p_knapp=Omtale&p_artikkel_id=0

Cheers, Petter/ElephantVoices
Thursday, 24 February 2005 08:56

You might like to read this paper in Nature 433, 807, 24 February 2005; doi:10.1038/433807a

CONCEPTS: Elephant breakdown. (G. A. BRADSHAW, ALLAN N. SCHORE, JANINE L. BROWN, JOYCE H. POOLE & CYNTHIA J. MOSS
Social trauma: early disruption of attachment can affect the physiology,
behaviour and culture of animals and humans over generations.

You can download paper through this link: icon Bradshaw et al. 2005. Elephant breakdown. (98.13 kB)

Greetings, Petter/ElephantVoices

Thursday, 24 March 2005 07:37

The featured Nature article icon Elephants are capable of vocal learning. (289.43 kB) has created huge media interest. Journalists from all over the world have been in contact with ElephantVoices' Joyce Poole and colleagues Peter Tyack and Stephanie Watwood (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute) and Angela Stoeger-Horwath (Vienna Zoo).

Media interest has included several BBC radio programs: The World Service (Wednesday evening/Thursday morning), The Leading Edge (Radio 4 Broadcast Thursday 9:00 pm London time), Science in Action, Radio Five Live. Other radio programs include: Science Update, American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Public Radio and Campus, of German Public Radio.

Newspapers interest so far: The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, NewsDay, Asahi Shimbun, and Kyodo News. We have spoken with Journals: Science, Sciences et Avenir and Science News. Online news: National Geographic News, BBC News Online, Spektrumdirekt. News Agencies: Agence France Presse. TV: Daily Planet.

Greetings, Petter/ElephantVoices

Monday, 13 August 2007 10:51

National Geographic Channel has this weekend shown the Explorer Program "Revenge of the Elephants", where Joyce Poole and ATE's project manager Soila Sayialel has contributed and is interviewed. Part of the footage is from Amboseli National Park in Kenya, our research homeground.  Read more here.

The program was shown August 11 and 12th, and will also be aired Monday August 13 at 12pm Eastern Time (9AM Pacific Time).

Greetings, Petter/ElephantVoices

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Friday, 24 November 2006 17:12
Quite a few updates have recently been uploaded to ElephantVoices. Within the How YOU can help section the page Elephants are truly unique has replaced "Elephants are important". Other pages within this section has been updated as well.

We have now fully converted from the name Savanna Elephant Vocalization Project to ElephantVoices. The reason is simply that the double meaning covers both our study of elephants voices, as well as our intention to be an important voice for the interests of elephants.

In general elephant communication is our main focus the next few months, including during our month-long field trip to Kenya/Amboseli from 9 December. We plan to present some exciting material on ElephantVoices during 2007.

Greetings, Petter/ElephantVoices
Sunday, 28 January 2007 14:25
Joyce and Petter will be on an ATE/ElephantVoices lecture and fundraising tour in the US from 29th January to 12 February. During their stay they will give lectures and hold discussions with students at The Taft School and Vermont Academy, and have meetings with legislators, sponsors and the media.

On February 5th Joyce will give a lecture at The Explorers Club in New York.

Due to unexpected events the report from our month long field trip to Kenya ending 7. January will have to wait until the second half of February.

Greetings, Petter/ElephantVoices
Tuesday, 10 April 2007 13:31

Due to a family tragedy the ElephantVoices website has not been prioritized the last few months, but we are slowly getting back to speed. In this newsletter you will find some short notes from various activities and events since our last update.Amboseli tourists (©ElephantVoices)

Our field trip from 9. December to 6. January was a productive one despite heavy rain and flooding in Amboseli. A large lake developed next to our camp, and a pair of hippos moved in. Field work focused on acquiring additional sound recordings and photographs, in addition to various administrative tasks. The frequent downpours and the high number of tourists reduced our quality time with the elephants, though.ElephantVoices  field vehicle, Amboseli. (©ElephantVoices)

To celebrate Christmas in Amboseli's animal kingdom is a uniquely wonderous and peaceful event - quite far away from the commercial circus in more urban surroundings.

Petter put in substantial efforts preparing for a new high-end solar system in the research camp. We now receive 220 volt from a photovoltaic "power plant" by the dining tent, instead of drawing from individual, 12 volt systems. This development is certainly a milestone. The Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) under the direction of one of it's supporters, Stephen Gold, is behind this incredible donation. Gold has achieved this through corporate donations of solar components and private donations to acquire other hardware. Donors include British Petroleum, Outback Power Systems, Solar Depot, Deka Batteries and others. Gold, who lives in Noe Valley in San Francisco, is a passionate proponent of solar energy. You will find some photos from the installation here.

Joyce and  Petter discussing ethics regarding elephants at The Taft School. (Photo:  Taft)Joyce and Petters ATE/ElephantVoices lecture and fundraising tour to the US from 29th January to 12 February went according to plan. Lectures and discussions at The Taft School, Vermont Academy and The Explorers Club, New York, were among events along the way. Check out the Science & the City podcast (Webzine of The New York Academy of Sciences) from The Explorers Club lecture - "Speaking Truths About Elephants".

You may enjoy visiting the PBS website describing a recent film "Unforgettable Elephants", about filmmaker Martyn Colbecks work. In creating the three films about Echo's family, Martyn has been a frequent visitor to Amboseli over the last 15 years, and knows our study elephants extremely well!

You may also wish to visit the Amboseli Biosphere Reserve WikiProject, a collaborative workspace for stakeholders dedicated to improving knowledge and guiding natural resource conservation and management in and around the Amboseli Biosphere Reserve.

Joyce is in Amboseli from 12th. to 24th. April, mainly working on ATE's new digital elephant ID database and other important research issues.

Greetings, Petter/ElephantVoices

Friday, 24 August 2007 12:57
Joyce will be giving a talk at a seminar entitled
Comparative perspectives on the evolution of language
at University of
St Andrews
, Scotland, 28th and 29 August. The title of her talk is "Big talkers: Elephant communication
and sociality". The seminar is the last in a series called "Evolutionary Approaches to Culture, Cognition and Communication".

Greetings, Petter/ElephantVoices
Thursday, 13 September 2007 13:35
Joyce and Petter will be on an ATE/ElephantVoices lecture and fundraising tour in the US from 29th January to 12 February. Lectures, presentations and meetings in San Francisco (15/16), Bozeman - Museum of the Rockies (17), Big Sky - Ophir School (18), Jackson Hole (18 - 20, public lecture 20th at National Museum of Wildlife Art, San Francisco (24 - 26) and Los Angeles (27) are on their tight schedule. They will also visit PAWS.

Greetings, Petter/ElephantVoices
Saturday, 06 October 2007 10:00

Joyce Poole and Petter Granli met many people interested in and even passionate about elephants and the work of ATE and ElephantVoices during their two week lecture and fundraising tour. We are fully dependant on the generosity of individuals to continue our long-term research, conservation and welfare efforts. The good news is therefore that the lectures and meetings in Bozeman, Jackson Hole, San Francisco and Los Angeles led to substantial financial support.

We are all extremely grateful for the many generous donations - and warm thanks to the hosts, organizers and helpers who contributed so much along the way!

Ruby  (previously LA Zoo), Ed Stewart, Joyce, Pat Derby, Petter  During their tour Joyce and Petter also visited PAWS, to meet Pat Derby, Ed Stewart and their elephants. It is wonderful to see how quickly elephants begin to act like elephants once they have access to space and companions...

Greetings, Petter/ElephantVoices

Wednesday, 07 November 2007 12:03

Joyce is travelling to South Africa on 7th November to attend a workshop in Pretoria, South Africa, on 8th November to discuss the draft Norms and Standards that will set policy for future elephant management in the country. This workshop will be dealing solely with issues relating to captive elephants.

The workshop is being held by the Department of Environment and Tourism to provide the "elephant industry" (trainers and elephant back safari operators), animal welfare groups and elephant scientists a platform to present information and evidence to be considered in the setting of protocols. Joyce has been invited to participate as an elephant ethologist and will be presenting evidence as to why South Africa should outlaw the capture of wild elephants and put an end to the training of elephants for circuses and elephant back safaris.

Greetings, Petter/ElephantVoices

Wednesday, 23 January 2008 12:16

Our month long field trip was very productive, despite being in a country in turmoil. The situation in Amboseli was quiet, and even more so with fewer and fewer tourists visiting.

With so many of the western and Tanzanian elephant families visiting the central part of the park, we were able to accomplish all of the playbacks we had planned for in good time. Even though the current unrest in Kenya prevented us from completing ATE’s new Elephant ID database, we are very pleased with its development. We expect that it will be ready for field testing in the next few weeks.

During this field trip we used quite a few of our evenings writing and uploading updates from our field work and our activities to our new blog on WildlifeDirect. Photos, sounds and video-clips have been uploaded as part of our reports. WildlifeDirect is founded and chaired by Dr. Richard Leakey, and it's goal is to empower individuals and organizations to help save the worlds wild species by connecting likeminded people through blogging. Through our blog we have reached new people, and have received quite a few comments and questions. Do visit this blog if you want to read more about our playback experiments and other activities during our field trip.

1. Our last days in Amboseli saw more and more dust devils. Rain is much needed – it was flooding at this time last year. 2. Meeting Echo is always a treat and we look forward to seeing her next time. Her 2005 calf, Esprit, is doing fine, but we predict she was Echo’s last.

We continue to follow with deep concern and interest the political and humanitarian crisis in Kenya. A solution that provides the basis for a peaceful and prosperous future, rather than a quick fix, is vital for all. And even if such an agreement can be made, the trust and bonds between Kenyans as individuals and as communities must be rebuilt and strengthened. We are looking at a long process.

The next few months promise to be busy. Analysis of our playbacks (audio and video), writing papers, making additions to our photo library, updating our visual and tactile signals database, educational outreach and selected elephant welfare challenges, will fill our days in the months to come. You will also see some other expansions on ElephantVoices, especially related to sounds and video. In addition there is always a flow of incoming e-mails and elephant related requests that we do our best to respond to.

We hope that you will continue to visit ElephantVoices throughout the year - and might try to tempt you with elephant sounds like these:
{audio}thanks.mp3{/audio}

Best wishes, Petter and Joyce

Sunday, 30 December 2007 17:38

Hi all,

After a few days with very few elephants coming into Amboseli National Park due to the recent rainfall outside, larger numbers are back. This is good news for our playback experiments, since our methodology requires that we have to wait for quite a few days before we can expose the same elephants to new sounds.

During the morning we met the EB family, the group that we have studied for many years, and that has been made famous through 3 BBC productions. We always enjoy seeing our study elephants, but must admit we felt that the 65-year-old matriarch, Echo, looked thin and gaunt. Is the long drought taking its toll, or are her teeth so worn down that she cannot feed herself effectively? Or, perhaps, she has other health challenges that affect her condition? Her lack of energy was evident when Iris, matriarch of the IAIC family, tusked Echo’s calf, Esprit, knocking her off her feet and rolling her over, so that her legs were up in the air. She screamed loudly and Aunt Eliot ran over to the rescue, even seeing off the decades older, Iris. But, Echo, didn’t so much as lift her head – highly unusual for a mother elephant.

Echo, 65  year old Matriarch in the EB family. (©ElephantVoices)
Echo, 65 year old Matriarch in the EB family. (©ElephantVoices)

In between playbacks we encountered a rare interaction between a baby elephant and a young male – and felt privileged to see how patiently the big boy let the baby study his activities.

Amboseli  calf investigating big boy. (©ElephantVoices)
Amboseli calf investigating big boy. (©ElephantVoices)

We probably won’t be online tomorrow, and so we take the opportunity to wish all you and the elephants of Amboseli a peaceful 2008!

Greetings, Joyce and Petter
Tuesday, 01 January 2008 16:27

Dear All,

Some time ago I promised to upload another elephant sound, and here it is for you to play. This time my questions are, what kind of sound would you call it and what do you think the elephant is doing? I know that you want to have an answer from me about the other sound. I promise to give it very soon...
{audio}st_01.mp3{/audio}

Thanks and greetings, Joyce

Monday, 24 March 2008 14:47

Some of our contacts were very enthusiastic at the possibility of learning more about elephant behavior via our blog, so we are going to continue to share some elephant behavior with you.

As mentioned before, our new offline photo database means that we can easily search on a specific behavior and find all the images that we have of that behavior. This new system is essential for updating our Gestures Database. The other day a colleague sent me a photograph of elephants engaged in Floppy-Running. I knew that we had even better images in our database and found them with a quick entry of the behavior. The pictures taken in January this year are so lovely that I thought I would share them with you and take the opportunity to write a bit about Floppy-Running. The term was originally coined by Cynthia Moss to describe the loose, floppy running gait of a playful elephant. In Amboseli Floppy-Running is most often observed when elephants have had plenty to eat and are leaving the swamps at the end of the day. Playful behavior is often contagious, and though juveniles and calves are the most likely Floppy-Runners, adult females sometimes lose all sense of decorum and join in.

Elephant  Floppy-Run. (©ElephantVoices)I have laughed aloud as I watched several families Floppy-Run across the plains to the tune of a cacophony of pulsated play trumpets. The elephants go all loose and floppy, shaking their lowered heads from side-to-side, allowing their trunk to flop about, their ears to flap wildly against their necks and curling their tails up high. Have a look at the sequence of beautiful images taken by Petter as a family Floppy-Run across the open plain. A wonderful, funny sight...

Joyce
Wednesday, 02 April 2008 20:10

Learning through watching the behavior of others, or social learning, is an important component of the acquisition of behavior in elephants. For instance, young elephants learn what to eat by reaching up and sampling what is in the mouths of their mothers. And young females learn how to successfully raise their calves by watching adult females and through their own experience as allomothers. You can read more about this on Elephant learn from others.

I have often wondered how young males make the transition from their female dominated natal families to becoming an independent adult male. The two worlds are so very different. Are the changes necessary just programmed in, or do young males learn how to be a properly functioning adult by watching the behavior of older males? From watching elephants, I believe that, just like us, it’s a little of both, but having access to role models is very important for the acquisition of normal adult male (or female) behavior.

Many of you will have heard of the case where young male orphans from a cull were released into Pilanesberg National Park. Without older male role models they adopted aggressive and anti-social behavior, even making a habit of killing rhinos. Likewise, captive male elephants in zoos and circuses have no possibility of learning from normal adult males. Males are routinely separated from other elephants, so there simply aren’t any socialized males to learn from.

I have often watched the behavior of young males in the company of an older musth male, with a feeling of tenderness in my heart. These newly independent youngsters watch the older males so closely, doing their best to follow everything that the older males do, without drawing too much attention to their presence. For instance, when an older musth male moves through a group of females testing a series of urine spots on the ground, a young male can often be seen standing nearby paying close attention but trying to appear as unimposing as possible (his head low and facing slightly away). Once the older male moves on the younger male follows behind sniffing at all the same places.

In December we watched a very sweet interaction between two males, which shows just how early a young male can begin to learn social roles in the wild. In the series of photographs taken by Petter, a calf of less than a year watches as a teenage male tests some recently deposited urine. Social  learning  among elephants. (©ElephantVoices)The teenager approaches the urine spot, and stops to sniff carefully, placing his trunk tip over the urine, and blowing warm air out (so as to release volatile substances) and then breathing in. An infant male approaches him, and using his trunk and his eyes he follows closely what the older individual is doing. He reaches toward the tip of the older male’s trunk as he exhales and up toward the older male’s mouth as the male puts a sample of urine in his mouth against his vomeronasal organ for testing (Flehmen). The little male then tests the urine for himself. Having satisfied his curiosity, the infant male wanders back to his mother’s side.

Trumpets, Joyce

Friday, 06 June 2008 08:46

If an elephant or group of elephants decides to intimidate a predator they may do so by producing a range of terrifyingly powerful vocalizations. One of these calls is a particularly loud blasting trumpet, which sounds very different from the trumpets elephants make when they are playful or excited.

Elephants typically give this blasting trumpet as they are charging at their adversary, or as they come to a dramatic stop meters away, flinging their trunk toward, throwing debris at and/or kicking dust at the object of their fury. If you go to our Gestures Database on our website ElephantVoices you can find some photographs of these behaviors by searching for the words "Charge", "Mock-Charge", "Throw-Debris" and "Kick-Dust."

The primary function of the blasting trumpet appears to be to attempt to frighten. It usually works! Listen to how an elephant sounds when it is trumpeting at a predator or an animal that it is trying to scare away.

An adult male elephants trumpets at lions: {audio}z0403622.mp3{/audio}
An eight year old elephants trumpets at a Maasai dog: {audio}z1701525.mp3{/audio}
An adolescent female, Ebony, trumpets when bravely "seeing off" a hyena: {audio}c2000625.mp3{/audio}
Saturday, 11 October 2008 21:23

Despite the current turmoil in the world's financial markets we continue to prepare for our fund raising tour to the Bay Area and Los Angeles, California between 7-20th November. Elephants have amazing senses, but I doubt that they have picked up on the quaking stock markets :)

Arriving in San Francisco two days after the election of a new American President contributes towards the anticipation associated with this trip - we are keeping fingers crossed that the result brings about some new found optimism! Thanks to the incredibly hard work of good friends and supporters in California, there are going to be several events in the San Francisco area and Los Angeles. There are smaller, more intimate events and some for a larger crowd - the gathering at the Bollyhood Cafe in San Francisco on 13 November and the luncheon at The Elephant Habitat at ARK 2000 (PAWS, San Andreas) on 15 November should be very lively. An informal talk, images and elephant vocals will be among the ingredients of the events. Raising funds for our Minneriya-Kaudulla Elephant Project will be a main focus of our California 7 to 20 November tour. Come and learn more about it!

We would love to see anyone interested in our work at one or more of these quite different events - you can take a look at what's on offer by reading or downloading a .pdf file with an overview of San Francisco events and contact names here. We have two events in Los Angeles, on 16 and 19 November, contact us on info(at)elephantvoices.org for more info.

We look forward to seeing you!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008 09:30

Hi all,

Dionysus in  full musth in mid nineties. (©ElephantVoices)One of our readers, Amy Mayers, sent this to us: A Public Service Announcement put out by the US Government that uses lessons from elephant behavior (a paper on which I was an author from 2000) to argue for bettering fathering.

Well, the elephants in the clip are from Amboseli (some of my all time favorites, like Dionysus, in image to the right), not from South Africa, and while the behavior it describes is not actually what we see in the video, and it mostly gets the sexes of the elephants wrong, the message is a good one and true for both elephants and people. The youth of both species require good adult role models in their lives. Growing up without them spells trouble.

Joyce

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Tuesday, 30 September 2003 19:17

ElephantVoices’ Joyce Poole and Petter Granli had a very productive trip to Sri Lanka from the 8th to 21st September. The main objective was to discuss with Lalith Seneviratne and his team aspects of elephant communication and related tools that can be used to reduce human-elephant conflict. Our hope is to see a long-term communication study initiated on Asian elephants, and meetings with researchers from Sri Lanka and India give us reason to be optimistic that such a study will soon begin. The collaborative visit was made possible by a grant from the US Fish and Wildlife’s Asian Elephant Conservation Fund. At the end of our stay we participated in a three-day conference about Human-Elephant relationships and conflicts in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.

Lalith and his team took us on a comprehensive 1,200 km safari to some of Sri Lanka’s many beautiful national parks. Our schedule also included discussions with national park wardens and members of the local communities. Below follows a summary of our diary from those days. We are happy to say that we saw hundreds of elephants, in a variety of habitats, with very limited signs of elephant “damage

Friday, 10 December 2004 13:09

The third film in the trilogy, "Natural World: Echo of the Elephants

Tuesday, 01 February 2005 17:50

During my visit to Kenya 16th to 30th January I spent 6 days in our research camp in Amboseli. Work and meetings related to our challenging project “Mitigating Human-Elephant Conflict in the Amboseli Ecosystem

Sunday, 21 August 2005 12:07

Petter departs for Kenya and Amboseli for a two-week visit on 23rd August, mainly to work with the ongoing project, “Mitigating human-elephant conflict in the Amboseli Ecosystem

Thursday, 27 April 2006 10:15

Joyce was in Spain 3rd to 7th April, giving lectures in Barcelona and Madrid about elephant communication and the work of ElephantVoices. Television Espanola and BBC Spain was among the media covering her lecture. Others were Actualidad Terra, the Spanish news agency Agencia EFE, Garrafex News and mascotas.com.

Greetings, Petter/ElephantVoices

Thursday, 13 December 2007 11:25

THE CAPTURE OF ELEPHANT CALVES FOR ELEPHANT BACK SAFARIS AND CIRCUSES

Joyce flew to South Africa on 7/11 to attend a one day meeting on 8/11 organized by the Department of Environment and Tourism (DEAT) to discuss the capture from the wild and training of elephants for elephant back safaris and circuses. The object of the meeting was for DEAT to hear the differing opinions of the "Elephant Industy", animal welfare and elephant experts and to incorporate these into the revised Norms and Standards for the Management of South Africa's Elephants.

Joyce was invited to present her opinions as an elephant expert. This is the same process as the public discussions revolving around the culling (killing for population control) of elephants. Culling has received considerable international attention, but the public has been largely unaware of the inhumane treatment of elephants that goes on in the name of elephant back safaris. People have probably been unaware, too, that South Africa has circus elephants. On 12th November DEAT announced that it had decided that captive elephants don't come under their jurisdiction, rather they come under the Animal Protection Act. Unfortunately the APA is, apparently, notoriously weak.

At the moment the draft Norms and Standards will continue to allow the capture of elephants (calves taken from their families) and the training of these individuals for the "Elephant Industry". As yet the Minister is not aware of the negative impact that the continuation of these outdated practices may have on South Africa's image internationally. We're still trying to influence the final decision in this important matter. You will find our statements and letters related to this issue here.

EXPERT WITNESS IN CASE AGAINST CIRCUS

One example of the advocacy work Joyce does is her involvement as an expert witness in a lawsuit brought by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The Animal Welfare Institute, The Fund for Animals, The Animal Protection Institute, and a former Ringling Brothers’ employee, Tom Rider, who worked as a barn man with the elephants for two and a half years, against Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Feld Entertainment (Ringling Brothers) for violations of the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The Asian elephants used by the circus are endangered species and the consortium argues that by chaining elephants and using bullhooks on them Ringling Brothers is violating U.S. law, which prohibits any conduct that “takes

Tuesday, 23 September 2008 07:12

You may want to read a recent post - "How can you tell when an elephant is listening?"

We wish all our friends and contacts Happy Easter!

Greetings, Petter

Thursday, 10 July 2008 08:41

You have probably noticed that we have been rather quiet over the last few months - more quiet than we intended to be. But we have been extremely busy and are pleased to say that we will soon have some exciting achievements behind us. Some of you may visit our blog on WildlifeDirect and may follow part of our work through that channel. If you do you will know that one of our big tasks has been the preparations for a major overhaul of ElephantVoices which will offer a more flexible and user-friendly CMS-based website.

The expansion will also include a long-awaited Calls Database and a broader presentation of elephants and their communication. We do not dare to promise when "the new" ElephantVoices is on air, but in a couple of months most of the work should be done. We'll keep you informed. Have a great summer - and take care!

Greetings, Petter

Tuesday, 23 September 2008 07:09

Some of you may be able to visit our table at the World Conservation Networks 2008 wildlife conservation expo Saturday, October 4. The expo takes place at Mission Bay Conference Center, San Francisco. You'll find a flyer about the event here. Welcome!

Joyce left yesterday morning for Washington DC, where she Wednesday is going to participate in a panel discussion for National Geographic staff about elephant management and their future. She will also attend a public lecture Tuesday 9. September - where old friend and colleague Iain Douglas Hamilton and others will present the story in the September issue of National Geographic Magazine about the Samburu elephants and discuss future prospects of Africa’s majestic elephants.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008 10:59

Event  overview ElephantVoices in California Nov. 2008 As many of you have seen and know, Joyce and I will be visiting California from 6 to 20 November. Together with friends, supporters and collaborators we're holding several fundraisers, as you might have seen from the previously posted event overview. The timing is, admittedly, a bit more exciting than we planned - considering the global financial unrest. The election of a new US President a couple of days before our arrival may trigger some new optimism, though, which could be good for all of us, including elephants...

We lean towards a statement from one of our SF friends: At this stage it is much better to think about elephants than finances! And what we do know is that elephants need us more than ever - and even more so because of what may follow this economical downturn. If you would like more information about our work don't hesitate to get in touch. We're currently doing a major revision of elephantvoices.org, and hope to launch the new version during December after some unfortunate delays. During the next few months the site will be expanded in ways that we believe many of you will like and find interesting, especially if you enjoy the voices of elephants. It will also include interactive information about our new elephant conservation project in Sri Lanka. Another of our goals is to improve how you can access and subscribe to our news. Please be patient while we are preparing the changes!

We hope you will follow the work of ElephantVoices in the years to come - it would be great to see you in person during our upcoming fundraising tour!

Best wishes, Petter

Female  elephant in Minneriya, Sri Lanka. (©ElephantVoices)

Tuesday, 23 December 2008 14:24

We're getting very close to Christmas and the end of the year, and want to use this opportunity to send warm wishes and a heart felt thank you to all of you around the world who support elephants and our work financially or in other ways. Our best wishes and thanks also go to all those who work so hard to protect the many species in need - keep up the good work!

We had a good time during our hectic lecture and fundraising trip in California in November - and we are extremely grateful for all the warm hospitality, good friendship and generosity we experienced during our two week visit. The global financial crisis does not create the best atmosphere in which to raise funds, but the new American President (elect) and a newborn Obama in Amboseli keep us optimistic!

Cooking  party Sausalito. Photo: PartiesThatCook
Vegetarian cooking party at our friend Coco's house in Sausalito 8 November, a lively event to promote the interests of elephants and the work of ElephantVoices. (Photo: PartiesThatCook)

From ElephantVoices event in Pacific Palisades
For a second year in a row we enjoyed the warm hospitality of Patty and Doug (and their 6 dogs) during a vegan reception at their home in Pacific Palisades, 16 November. (Photo: Tim Stahl)

It's been a very busy year, as usual, which you can read more about in our End Year letter. In 2009 we intend to spend about half of our time on our new Sri Lankan project, a quarter on our Amboseli work and the remainder on advocacy. Petter and/or I will be in the field in Kenya in January, and part of February and March, and in Sri Lanka in June and again in September. Manori Gunawardena will be in Minneriya-Kaudulla throughout the year and Blake Murray will be helping us to collect and analyze data in Amboseli. Public awareness and education are elements that runs through all of our work, so you will continue to hear from us whether we are in the field or not.

Captive elephant
As advancements in science contribute to our growing understanding of elephants we continue to put substantial time and effort into influencing welfare policy so that elephant interests are met. The elephant Watoto (Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle) in the photo is blurred due to stereotypical swaying - a behavior that expresses the massive frustration caused by confinement. (Photo: Alyne Fortgang)

Elephant Sri Lanka

Amboseli elephants

During 2009 we look forward to being with our long-term elephant friends in Amboseli, Kenya, and with our new acquaintences in Minneriya-Kaudulla, Sri Lanka. And, of course, to working with our colleagues in Amboseli and with Manori and our many new colleagues in Sri Lanka. The survival of wild elephants depends on finding a balance between the needs of people and elephants - a task that requires the collaborative work of people all over the world. In order to find ways for people and elephants to co-exist in Minneriya-Kaudulla we must start by defining the basic needs of an elephant population that seems to number over 1,000 individuals rather than the previous estimate of 450 - we have our work for 2009 cut out for us!

We wish you all a festive holiday season and a peaceful 2009 for all creatures! Link to Christmas decoration

Warm Greetings, Joyce and Petter

Wednesday, 12 December 2007 17:40

Hi, it’s Joyce again

Last week I mentioned that I was making some MP3 sound files as stimuli for playback experiments that Petter and I will carry out when we are in Amboseli. I have just completed preparing them and I thought perhaps you might like to listen to one or two. Elephants produce quite a range of trumpeting sounds, but they trumpet only in specific circumstances. For instance, trumpets are associated with play, with social excitement, with anti-predator behavior, and with alarm or surprise.

Inexperienced filmmakers tend to overlay trumpets whenever they have an image of elephants doing anything. An elephant walking slowly along trumpeting is like a person calmly eating dinner while screaming; it looks so out of place!

What we have noticed is that not all trumpets are alike. Trumpets have a different tone and emphasis depending upon what the elephant is doing. Petter and I think that we are pretty good at telling what an elephant might be up to just by listening to the sound of its trumpet. Through the reactions of elephants to playbacks we are going to test whether elephants can tell the difference, too. We wonder how good you are at discriminating. Be aware that these short vocalizations may not play well on your system, and that we are having some technical challenges with audio files on the blog that we will have to look more into.

Elephant 1: {audio}playtrumpet.mp3{/audio}

Elephant 2: {audio}antipredator.mp3{/audio}

Which one of these elephants do you think was chasing a lion?
Which one was playing?

Tuesday, 26 February 2008 17:58

Many of you have seen or heard that the South African Government has taken some major decisions regarding the future management of the country's elephants. These are detailed in a document entitled the Norms and Standards for Elephant Management in South Africa. The good news is that from 1st May 2008 the capture of wild elephants for commercial exhibition purposes, such as elephant back safari industries or circuses, will be prohibited.

In his speech on TV the Environment Minister unequivocally stated that they were "putting the lid" on the elephant back safari industry and that although no existing operation would be shut down, all operators would have to abide by standards for the care of elephants. The Minister has included a provision for an appendix to be developed in 12 months for "Minimum Standards" for the existing 112 or so captive elephants. Furthermore, the Norms and Standards will also prohibit the import and export of elephants destined for captivity, and will prevent artificial breeding of elephants in captivity.

Joyce and ElephantVoices have been involved in the discussions surrounding culling and capture/training of elephants in South Africa over many years. In 2006 Joyce and Petter were among signatories on a statement on culling by the Amboseli Trust for Elephants. Joyce has also been closely involved in the debate surrounding the capture and training of wild calves - first in the Tuli case, for which Joyce appeared in court in 1998 on behalf of the elephants, then in the Selati case in 2006. Most recently, Joyce was invited as an expert to attend a workshop in November 2007 held by the Environment Ministry to discuss the development of the Norms and Standards. She followed up with an open letter to the Minister.

The Ministry of Environment has agreed to many of the recommendations made. That they have prohibited the capture of wild elephants for the captive market, have prohibited the import and export of wild elephants destined for captivity, and have prohibited the artificial breeding of elephants in captivity is certainly a positive step for elephants. Furthermore, the Ministry has said that culling will be a management tool of last resort. Although the media is focused on the reopening of culling, we believe that South Africa's approach to elephants has come a very long way from the early 1990s.

The open process of discussion and the genuine change in outlook and opinions is a positive development, despite the fact that some conclusions of the document go against our wishes. The bottom line, in our view, is that until we, human beings, accept to draw real limits on our own population expansion and consequent resource requirements (and emissions), we will be forced into unethical practices. The culling of elephants is only one of many. Are we ever going to accept any limits on our behavior and use of resources?

Rumblings, Petter and Joyce

Tuesday, 18 March 2008 11:42

To study elephant communication it is crucial to understand the body language of elephants - for these are clues to what might happen next. Petter and I are pretty good at anticipating what elephants are about to do and have built up a database where you can learn all about the signals, postures and gestures of elephants. We are currently updating this database so you may want to keep an eye out for new additions.

One of many important cues we use is watching for listening behavior. Since elephants can communicate over long distances, and since some of their communication is inaudible to us (but audible to the elephants), this behavior is a cue that the listening elephant has heard something, or someone, and might call in answer. So what are the cues we use to tell that an elephant is listening? An elephant rarely stands stock still except when listening or resting; usually some part of the body, ears, trunk, tail is in motion. A resting elephant relaxes it’s head and ears allowing its head to hang below its shoulders and its ears to flop forward. A listening elephant, on the other hand, stands with its head raised and its ears lifted and slightly extended. The body and extremities of a listening elephant suddenly stop moving, and it simultaneously raises its head and stiffens its ears. Sometimes an elephant may turn its head from side to side in an attempt to localize a sound.

Have a look at these photographs of listening elephants.

Three-Holes listens. (©ElephantVoices)
Three-Holes listens.

A juvenile female and two calves raise their heads suddenly as they hear a sound of interest. (©ElephantVoices)
A juvenile female and two calves raise their heads suddenly as they hear a sound of interest.

Beckwith listens after calling to her family. (©ElephantVoices)
Beckwith listens after calling to her family.

An adult female listens, and turns her head from side to side attempting to localize a distant call. (©ElephantVoices)
An adult female listens, and turns her head from side to side attempting to localize
a distant call. Put on your headphones and listen to the sound linked below. You will
hear a distant elephant calling, followed by an answer from the listening female.
{audio}c2303515_contact_call_ Erin1_48.mp3{/audio}

Hopefully your computer are connected to a sound system, or you have access to headphones!

Musth male, Solonga, listens in for the sounds of distant females in his search for mates. (©ElephantVoices)
Musth male, Solonga, listens in for the sounds of distant females in his search for mates.

Trumpets, Joyce

Friday, 04 April 2008 12:51

Hi all,

I am in a philosophical mood today. I am generally full of enthusiasm - a trait that runs in my family, but I must admit to feeling disheartened when I look at the state of the planet. I am curious about what you think about the following: Elephants are a species of extremes. They are the world's largest land mammal, and arguably among its most social, most intelligent, most long-lived, most charismatic and, particularly Asian elephants, among its most endangered. Elephants have been called a flagship species - because if we can protect them, put aside enough space for them, we are saving whole ecosystems.

Joyce Poole. (©ElephantVoices)Yet, almost everywhere you look, elephants are losing ground to the onslaught of human "progress"; elephants are under threat because one species, Homo sapiens, is taking more than its share of the planet's resources. I often think to myself, if we cannot save elephants, then what hope do we have of saving the myriad other species that are threatened with extinction?

Yesterday, as I watched the news and listened to fishermen protesting the closure of wild salmon fishing along the west coast of the US, I was reminded of the time when Japanese carvers protested the closure of the ivory trade because it threatened their businesses. Yes, it did, it will, but then again, if we continue to consume and consume, won't everything get used up at some point anyway? And then what? Why can't we put on the brakes now and save what we've got? Why can't we reduce our population growth, even our population size!

We are the largest brained species on the planet. We are the most intelligent, but you have to wonder at the individual and collective decisions we make. If the scales are always weighted toward the rights and needs of humans, in the long term we will be the ultimate losers. In the corridors of power, in the board rooms, the international conference rooms, politicians and policy makers, need to start making sensible decisions, they need to act now for the future of our planet, for our future. We need to make our voices heard. We can make a difference, we must!

Joyce

'There was still in Africa a marvelous, irresistible freedom. Only it belonged to the past, not the future. Soon it will go. There'll no longer be herds swirling against the forests and crushing them in their passage. The elephants were the last individuals.' Romain Gary, Roots of Heaven, 1958

Wednesday, 21 May 2008 08:02

Hi all,

I apologize that we have been so quiet for so long. We are working on a major update for our website as well as on several other projects with deadlines, and these activities have limited our ability to focus on our blog. In addition we have had family visiting from around the world. The update on our website will include a long awaited database of elephant calls and we have much to do to prepare the sounds and text for the database.

I thought that I could bring you along with me as we work – sharing examples of the calls as we prepare the files. Elephant rumbles are very low frequency calls and I originally saved individual calls at a low sample rate. While this is perfect for analysis, to make the MP3 files necessary for the database and for sharing with you I need to go back the original recordings. This is quite a time consuming job – but it must be done!

Let me start by introducing you to some different overall call types before I get into the calls African elephants produce in specific behavioral contexts. Listen to the different call types. Notice that elephants sometimes combine call types - as for instance a bark and a rumble, or a rumble and a roar:

Rumble {audio}B3403050_contact_48.mp3{/audio}
Rev {audio}C0600953_rev.mp3{/audio}
Roar {audio}Z1701823_rumble_noisy_roar.mp3{/audio}
Cry {audio}C2602942_cry_rumble.mp3{/audio}
Bark {audio}A3500216_bark_rumble.mp3{/audio}
Grunt {audio}B2110150_grunt_series.mp3{/audio}
Husky-cry {audio}B2411653_48_husky_cry.mp3{/audio}
Harmonic-play-trumpet {audio}A0502703_harmonic_play_trumpet.mp3{/audio}
Nasal-play-trumpet {audio}A0502259_nasal_play_trumpet_48.mp3{/audio}
Snort {audio}B1501405_snort.mp3{/audio}

Then there are learned calls which I will come back to later.

Enjoy! Joyce
Monday, 26 May 2008 09:54

We would like to inform all ElephantVoices friends that we will be in California on a fundraising trip later this year. We plan to be in the San Francisco from 7 to 14 November and in Los Angeles 14 - 20 November. We are already busy planning various events.

If you are from California we would certainly be grateful for ideas or input regarding our visit - and you can also send an email to us if you want to be invited to any of the events being arranged. Our research on elephant cognition and communication, our scientific and popular publications, our advocacy work for elephants, our website updates are all dependent on individuals like you.

To continue to protect elephants we need your support.

Best wishes, Petter and Joyce

Friday, 30 May 2008 08:50

Elephants use a variety of techniques when they are confronted by predators. They may try intimidation tactics, including highly effective (and noisy) mobbing, or they may bunch together and take evasive action.

Although much has been said about the complex defensive behaviour of elephants, very little has been written about the variety of sounds they produce in these situations, which may include a variety of rumbles, snorts, trumpets, and roars. Our observations indicate that their particular response to predators is communicated, in part, via fine-tuned signaling. When a family group is exposed to an unusual or disturbing situation, the elephants usually freeze (hold stock-still) and listen to first assess how dangerous the situation is. This behavior may follow a sharp snort or snort-rumble followed by soft, medium length rumbles by one or more individuals. As the elephants call they continue to stand alert, listening and looking. Anthing that alarms an elephant may elicit this kind of behavior and calling pattern.

For instance, elephants may call after being frightened by an unintended noise in the research vehicle, a helicopter passing overhead, the discovery of Maasai herdsmen in the area, or the roaring sounds of lions. Elephants may also give similar sounding calling in the context of a new situation, such as the arrival of a known research vehicle. And this form of soft rumbling may also be heard when a disturbing event occurs in the family, such as aggression directed at a family member. It seems as if the elephants use these calls to draw attention to, or comment upon, an unusual or disturbing event.

Here are two examples:

{audio}B2802022_48.mp3{/audio}
The EBs are frightened by a herd of running buffalo; they run away and then stop at a safe distance; Eudora rumbles. Note that the louder sounds at the end are made by the buffaloes.

{audio}C3002923_48.mp3{/audio}
A young male persistently follows Eudora as if he thinks that she is in estrus. Erin is annoyed by his behavior and chases him away, twice. Elspeth (Eudora’s daughter) and then Eudora comment upon her action.

Have a great weekend!

Joyce and Petter

Tuesday, 10 June 2008 11:48

Elephants  and Ethics - The scientific EvidenceSome of you may want to read the book Elephants and Ethics: Toward a Morality of Coexistence.

Together with Cynthia Moss Joyce has authored a chapter called "Elephant sociality and complexity: The scientific evidence."

Cheers, Petter

Friday, 13 June 2008 14:27

Hi again,

I apologize for the long gap in elephants sounds. I got to a point where I was forced to make a whole series of new spectrograms for the work we're doing toward an online database of elephant calls, in addition to working with a continues flow of issues related to elephant conservation and welfare. The spectrograms of some of the rarer calls had not yet been uploaded to our current offline database and many needed first to be made. I had to make over 200 of them and each one is quite time consuming.

The last time I wrote about how elephants use sound to intimidate predators I mentioned what I call a trumpet blast. In addition, they have a couple of other powerful calls in their bag of frightening tricks! The roars elephants produce when they are scaring off lions are deafening! One of the early elephant scientists, Sylvia Sykes commented that these sounds could put "fear in the hearts of men." Indeed they can!

I was out with the EB family one day when Enid came upon a pride of lions resting under a small Acacia. With one incredible roar from her the lions ran off. When you listen to the sound she made notice how Enid begins to rumble and then takes a deep breath before roaring at the lions. Notice, too, that after she inhales she starts with a short rumble, then roars and then ends again with a rumble. We call this type of concantenated call a rumble-roar-rumble.

Can you hear the difference between the trumpet blast and the roar? Enid roars at a group of lions resting under an Acacia:
{audio}elephantvoices_enid_deafening_roar.mp3{/audio}

Thank you, Michelle P and Anna M, for your continued support! And thank you Nathalia! Your support is very much appreciated.

Petter and I wish you all a great weekend!

Joyce

Friday, 19 September 2008 17:31

Hi all,

Manori and I arrived in the Minneriya area on evening of 16th. I have been bowled over at the generosity of people here. A friend of Manori's owns the Hotel Sigiriya which is about a 30 minute drive through the forest to Minneriya and he very kindly invited us to stay free of charge until we have set up our own base here. So we are very fortunate to have access to a swimming pool (except we have been too busy to use it), great food and incredible service - not to mention internet and electricity for charging all of our gadgets. We are so grateful. It's also good to know that many are showing interest in the project - including funding bodies. World renown Dilmah Tea, through Dilmah Tea Conservation, have already come on board, which gives us lots of energy in this early phase.

17/09/09
This morning we departed early to meet with the Warden of Minneriya National Park - we had very good discussions about the various threats to elephant conservation. Manori had arranged for me to give a lecture on African elephant behavior to a group of 20 or so of the park staff. The park has recently built a beautiful visitor center and auditorium designed by an award winning Sri Lankan architect. The auditorium was open on the sides and really stunning. The talk went well and Manori followed up by giving a presentation on the characteristics used to indentify Asian elephants. We had already gone over all of this material together since the three of us (with Petter) have been working to build a searchable online database - so I was busy taking photographs of Manori speaking. I should have paid more attention. Identifying Asian elephants has required me to reprogram my brain - and it isn't working too well yet!

Then into the park and out with the elephants. They appeared from the forest, as if by clockwork, at 14:00. More and more groups appeared but we focused on four - a bull we named Suddha because of his white tail hairs, two cow-calf groups and one larger mixed (adult males with the cows and calves) - these included 7, 9 and 45 elephants, respectively. I got to work right away - trying to photograph, age, sex and make sense of who was who, and who was with whom. I got befuddled pretty quickly and it wasn't just jet lag. I am used to looking at tusks which give an overall appearance to an elephant, as well as being a good indicator of age and sex. Well, these elephants don't have them - among all the elephants we saw only one male had tusks. So imagine trying to make sense of scores of tuskless elephants. I really felt I had lost my touch.

Meanwhile Manori worked away quite happily - which was a little demoralizing! Hopefully I will slowly catch up...

Trumpet, Joyce

Thursday, 06 November 2008 09:14

Dear elephant friends!

For those of you living in the US: Sandip Roy Chowdhury will be talking with Joyce Poole on "New America Now: Dispatches from the New Majority," which airs Friday Nov 14th at 1:00 p.m. and repeats Sunday at 3:00 p.m. on KALW, 91.7 FM.

You can hear an interview with Joyce on AnimalVoices, an alternative radio in Vancouver, via the player below. The interview with Karl Losken was aired on 31st October.
{audio}2008-10-31.mp3{/audio}

At 4 am this morning we were awoken by two alarm clocks - not wanting to risk that one would let us down. A couple of hours later we departed for our two week event and fundraising tour in California. We're looking forward to see friends, elephant supporters and even elephants (at PAWS, where we have a joint event on Saturday 15th Nov.), while at the same time experience the excitement of an historical election. With strong roots in Kenya (and plenty of other good reasons, too) no-one should be surprised that we are happy that Barack Obama will soon be the new President of the United States of America. We are among those convinced that he will strengthen America in a way that will be good for everyone. Barack is Kiswahili for blessing and he is indeed a blessing.

Waiting at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam for our next flight, we watched another BBC news piece describing the impact of increased ivory poaching on the world's biggest land mammal - and expressing fears that the recent ivory auctions, sanctioned by CITES, will stimulate that growing threat. More and more elephants are succumbing to poaching fueled by the ivory trade and the press needs to bring this to the world's attention. Despite difficult times for the financial markets around the world, and for most of us as a consequence, we are hopeful that the people we meet during our California tour will continue to support our elephant work.

Best wishes, Petter and Joyce

Friday, 21 November 2008 00:53

After almost two weeks on the road with several events and fundraisers behind us, we depart from California and Los Angeles this afternoon. We're busy packing so we don't have time for more than a very short summary of our trip.

ElephantVoices  visiting PAWS. (©ElephantVoices)The tour started with a cooking party and two other events in San Francisco, continued with a joint event at PAWS in San Andreas. You can see a video from this event here, including footage of Joyce's talk and of the responses of Ruby, Maggie, Mara and Lulu to some elephant sounds that we played to them. Their response was so strong that some people were worried that the sounds were upsetting to the girls. While it may be rare for captive elephants to react so strongly to a stimulus, the responses were very typical of wild elephants and we were able to observe a range of responses from high social excitement to fierce defence. Their response showed just what a strong leader Ruby has becomes and how tight the bonds are between the four elephants. PAWS can be extremely proud of the work they have done to facilitate the development of this family unit.

Georja Umano, Petter and JoyceWe finally had an event and fundraiser in the home of a good friend in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, on Sunday 16th November. The last three days of our visit ended up being much more hectic than planned, mainly because of meetings and press briefings related to our involvement in discussions regarding the future of elephants, including Billy, at LA Zoo.

On Tuesday Joyce participated in a press conference arranged by councilman Tony Cardenas of Los Angeles County Council. NBC Los Angeles, CBS Los Angeles and dailybreeze.com, laist and Fox LA are among the media that have covered the case. The vote was planned for Wednesday, but after 5 intense hours on the floor it has been delayed until the first week of December. (Article in LA Times here)

Petter,  Joyce and Councilman Tony Cardenas visiting LA Zoo.

We strongly hope the LA County Council will decide to close the exhibit and send Billy to a sanctuary. An urban zoo cannot offer the space necessary for a such a large, active, social, and intelligent animal as the elephant. We're extremely grateful for all the support and help we have received during our trip - it's been exhausting but has also given us lots of new energy. We have made new friends, and hopefully created more compassion for elephants among people that we have met on our way. We look forward to keeping in touch with all of you caring for elephants. Thanks!

Petter and Joyce

Monday, 12 January 2009 05:52

A new book is on the market: An Elephant In The Room: The Science and Well-Being of Elephants in Captivity. You can buy the book from Amazon.com here.

The opening chapter in the book, Mind and Movement: Meeting the interests of elephants, is written by ElephantVoices' Joyce Poole and Petter Granli. You can download the chapter from our Document Download Center: icon Poole, J & Granli, P. 2008. Mind and Movement: Meeting the Interests of Elephants. (2.19 MB)

The Science and Well-Being of Elephants in Captivity
Cover photos by ElephantVoices' Petter Granli.

From the back cover:
"There once were about 160 species of elephants, reaching back across 60 million years. Today, only three remain, and their survival is not certain. An Elephant In The Room: The Science and Well-Being of Elephants in Captivity, authored by experts from around the world and astride many disciplines, brings a new voice to assist their future. It examines the many and perplexing difficulties of elephants in captivity, looking for the best questions and trying to provide good answers.

The book presents the biological, ecological, and social dimensions of elephant behavior in the wild as the basis for any sound understanding of what elephants want and need. It discusses the effects of trauma and stress upon elephants, with a close look at current captive management systems and beliefs. It also offers a scientific assessment of captive elephant welfare, and practical methods to improve fundamental aspects of the lives of elephants in captivity. Presentations of new and impressive initiatives in the form of orphanages and sanctuaries provide hope for the future, as do new visions that would transform the current management regimes in zoos.

Humans have over millennia caused elephants enormous anguish, and even their imminent demise. Are we also capable of saving them? Is captivity a requirement for this, and if so, what should it be like? What are the special needs of elephants? What can be done to improve their quality of life? The number of zoos giving up their elephants has been growing in recent times. More are questioning whether zoos can provide for the extraordinary demands of these extraordinary beings.

To help address this, the book concludes with a set of Best Practices: a synthesis of science and ethics to guide a healthier future for captive elephants. Anyone interested in animal welfare, and especially the welfare of elephants in captivity, will find this book essential and enlightening reading."

An Elephant in the Room: The Science and Well-being of Elephants in Captivity is available on Amazon.com.

Saturday, 14 March 2009 19:58
The Performing Animal Welfare Society's (PAWS) 25th Anniversary Gala and Conference takes place at ARK2000 in San Andreas, California, from 24 to 26 April. Joyce is one of the keynote speakers, and will participate throughout the conference.  Join leading wildlife and captive wildlife experts for an interactive full 3-Day Conference!
Tuesday, 14 April 2009 11:06

The  Science  and Well-Being of Elephants in CaptivitySeveral have asked us where they can get a copy of the book An Elephant In The Room: The Science and Well-Being of Elephants in Captivity. You can actually get the book from Amazon.com - buy it here.

The opening chapter in the book, Mind and Movement: Meeting the interests of elephants, is written by ElephantVoices’ Joyce Poole and Petter Granli.

You may read and/or download the chapter through this link:
icon Poole, J & Granli, P. 2008. Mind and Movement: Meeting the Interests of Elephants. (2.19 MB) (Cover photos by Petter Granli, ElephantVoices.)

Tuesday, 01 September 2009 13:44
The Elephant CharterIndividual elephants and populations of elephants, African and Asian, are suffering as a consequence of conflict with people over dwindling resources, poaching for ivory and meat, poor governance, capture for captivity and mistreatment in the name of human entertainment. With science as the foundation for our knowledge, and respect for the interests of elephants, each one of us can contribute toward making a difference to their well being and future survival.

We appeal to you to sign The Elephant Charter!

The purpose of The Elephant Charter is to provide a set of guiding Principles, based on elephant biology, to form a touchstone for anyone needing to address elephant interests. Buttressed by its Appendix, The Elephant Charter represents a consensus of the nature of elephants. It is intended to promote scientifically sound and ethical management and care of all elephants, providing guidance to law and policy makers, enforcement agencies and the courts, organizations, institutions and international bodies, as well as to managers of wild and captive elephants.

Visit and sign The Elephant Charter NOW!
Tuesday, 13 October 2009 00:00

ElephantVoices' Joyce and Petter will be at several events in California during October 2009. You will find more details about each event and how to attend below. We wish you warmly welcome!

If you like to bid on items auctioned out to the benefit of ElephantVoices during October 2009 look at the bottom of this page and check out our Celebrity Endorsements page.

Wildlife Conservation Network Expo Day 3 October

ElephantVoices was represented by ElephantVoices board member, Coco Hall, at the Wildlife Conservation Network's Expo Day. The event took place Saturday, October 3rd, 10am - 6pm, at Mission Bay Conference Center, 1675 Owens St, San Francisco. You can also read about the event in this flyer.

Fundraiser for ElephantVoices in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, 18 October

Patty Shenker and Doug Stoll will host a reception at their home, on Sunday 18th October, 3 to 6 pm. You will find an invite with all necessary information on how to attend here.

Lecture: The Living Desert, near Palm Springs, 19 October

Cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

Lecture: Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, Santa Barbara, 21 October

The lecture at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum starts at 7:00 pm.

Fundraiser for ElephantVoices in Sausalito, 25 October

Coco Hall will host an event at her home in Sausalito on 25 October, 5 to 7 pm. You will find an invitation with all necessary information here.

Lecture/event Oakland Zoo, 28 October

Oakland Zoo will host a Joyce Poole lecture as part of their Conservation Speaker Series on 28 October, at 6.30 pm. Check event flyer here.

Auction before and during LA fundraiser 18 October - get Dionysus sculpture and support!

Our long-term, generous supporter Doug Aja has again donated a beautiful bronze sculpture, this time a bust of famous Dionysus. Dionysus starred in Echo of the Elephants and graces a center spread in the May 1991 issue of National Geographic. The artwork will be auctioned during our fundraiser in LA 18 October - but if you want to give a bid before then please use our contact form! The normal price is $2,200; the minimum bid is half of this. Dionysus is one of many Amboseli elephants that has a special place in our hearts. Joyce spent a lot of time with him during her musth studies in the 1980s and we both followed his struggles during his final days in 2003. You can read our field notes from that time here. Bid for Dionysus, keep his memory alive and support out work!

Doug is an artist living in Vermont, USA, and has African wildlife and the African elephant in particular as his true passion. Part of the proceeds from the sale of his wildlife art is donated to ElephantVoices. Doug is a Member of the Artists for Conservation (AFC).

Dionysus, made famous in the BBC film, Echo of the Elephants, was one of Joyce's focal Amboseli males.
Click on photo to see Dionysus in 2003.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009 08:10

 

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Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:59

More and more people are on social networks - and the popularity of Facebook continue to increase. ElephantVoices is following the trend, with the obvious goal of improving our educational interface towards a global audience. With the current disastrous boom in the trade in ivory and poaching anybody working for the future and interest of elephants must optimize all efforts trying to reduce supply and demand for ivory.

ElephantVoices on facebookElephantVoices' facebook "window" will be were we will post daily updates, viewpoints and comments, while hoping for many from you as well. We will at the same time continue to improve and expand ElephantVoices.org when it comes to comprehensive information about elephant communication and elephants interests, and our multimedia databases. We will also give news updates through the site, when appropriate. After a few days close to 850 people has registered as fans on our Facebook Page.

ElephantVoices 4U is launched to provide a network for youth who want to discuss and work together to secure a kinder future for elephants. We are very grateful for anyone recruiting young people to join! ElephantVoices have 449 fans after less than a week.

ElephantVoices is also on Twitter, for people that want to follow our work and updates through this communication channel.

 

Friday, 29 January 2010 16:02

Copyright: WildAidIn this day and age the best way to do this is through the web, posting on Facebook and YouTube, sharing and cross-posting.The ivory trade is unsustainable. Elephants are in jeopardy because people covet their tusks. In a collaborative effort ElephantVoices is working to get the facts and figures out to decision-makers, and to spread the word in hopes of reaching potential buyers of ivory.

Over 80 celebrities have donated their time to public service announcements (PSAs) produced by our colleagues at WildAid. This organization is among the few with a substantial audience in a Facebook- and Google-free China - the country that is currently the biggest threat to elephants. Take a look at one of their PSAs about elephant, ivory and poaching starring famous Chinese basketball player, Yao Ming.

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Tuesday, 02 March 2010 07:05

Ivory poaching is heavily impacting many elephant populations, killing off older individuals with larger tusks and fragmenting families and leaving youngsters orphaned. We must act before it is too late. The increasing demand for ivory in Asia combined with corruption, poor governance and poverty in many range states is resulting in the killing tens of elephants each day.

We believe that a total ban on trade in elephant tusks is necessary and that further legal sale will fuel both the demand and supply. You will find several new links related to poaching and the ivory trade here, including some to online petitions. Please use your social networks off- and online to influence the decision at the upcoming CITES meeting which will take place during the second half of March.

Let your voice be heard!

Friday, 19 March 2010 12:06

Our objectives for being here at CITES do not allow much time for giving comprehensive updates, nor for relaxation, for that matter. This is partly why we have given some links to other sources for CoP15 updates and related information here, and why we continue to update this page with links to media coverage about ivory trade and poaching. Take the facts and reflections in this news piece as our "one and only" proper feedback about our perspective of CITES and the CoP15 "in action". I am well aware that many of you might find the below rather technical, but in trying to reach people with different level of insight this is how it has ended up...

Friday (yesterday) was a day off in terms of the official program, and gave us a chance to catch up with important e-mails and preparations for the days and activities to come. In the evening we participated in a strategy meeting and dinner with the Afrian Elephant Coalition (AEC). A few hours ago we went to the Official Delegates' Dinner hosted by Qatar's Ministry of Environment, but raced back to our hotel for some more time on the computer after a quick meal and a couple of important conversations.

Improved CITES work processes strongly needed

It's a fact that enormous effort and money go into lobbying CITES delegates. This mean that politics, horse-trading and "friendly favors" among nations sometimes overtake CITES mandate of "ensuring that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival." Admittedly, I don't have a good gut feeling based on how CoP15 voted against increased protection for the polar bear and the blue fin tuna.

CITES member states rely heavily on the Panel of Experts (PoE), selected by the Secretariat. Their reports on Tanzania's and Zambia's proposals for sale and downlisting (available here) were distributed, without peer review, only a few days before CoP15. They contain conclusions that we disagree with and some core facts that are wrong. We honor the hard work of the Panel, but we feel that elephants deserve a more open and less rushed process. Handing out such crucial documents a couple of days before the meeting takes place is simply unacceptable.

We have contested the Secretariat's conclusion that Zambia's and Tanzania's populations do not meet the biological criteria to remain on Appendix I in Statement from Save The Elephants & ElephantVoices regarding Tanzania's and Zambia's proposal distributed to CoP15 delegates on 18 March. The opinion piece in Science 12 March, Elephants, Ivory, and Trade, highlights the need for engagement of the wider scientific community in CITES decisions regarding the future of elephants.

We have spent most of today working hard to prepare a presentation that Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Sam Wasser and Joyce will give at CoP15 tomorrow, Sunday. It pinpoint some hard facts and figures about the ivory trade and Tanzania's and Zambia's evident role in it while also describing the long-term consequences of poaching on elephant populations. The presentation will, furthermore, document what we view as a clear relationship between CITES elephant petitions, one-off sales and illegal trade and poaching. We argue that it would be irresponsible to break the spirit of the nine year moratiorium or "resting period" on trade that was decided at CoP14.

The "bigger picture" - and welfare for the individual elephant

Qatar is one of the sunniest places on earth, but we have hardly been outside. From our hotel windows we can see huge buildings shooting up all around - what probably is the richest country in the world, considering their oil and gas reserves, is a quickly growing financial powerhouse. It admittedly feels kind of strange to discuss conservation and wildlife surrounded by overwhelming signs of trade, luxury and (over)consumption.

While CITES mainly is about the "bigger picture" and trends, we shouldn't forget the welfare of individuals. During the last couple of days we have been through slides showing numerous ivory seizures, with three huge ones from 2009 representing 17,000 dead elephants. We have seen photos from markets or shops in Nigeria, Congo, Angola, Mozambique and Egypt exhibiting ivory equal to hundreds of elephants. During the presentation tomorrow gruesome photos of elephants whose genitals have been cut off will be shown for the first time. We cannot even imagine the trauma for families whose members are amongst the 30,000+ elephants that are estimated to be killed each year.

The fight against the ivory trade is in any case not over

It is late Saturday evening - during Monday we most likely will know if CITES will follow the Precautionary Principle and give elephants a much needed benefit of the doubt. Even with a positive decision the struggle is far from over, better law enforcement is another vital factor in this trade. The world society and African governments will have to put a lot of effort into closing down ivory suppliers and outlets, while authorities in China, Japan and Thailand must control and close down smuggling routes and illegal carving facilities. To change attitudes among willing buyers in the market place, educating people that ivory means dead elephants, is just one of many challenges we face.

We hope to bring you good news on Monday - but don't want to raise any expectations what so ever.

Petter, in Doha

Section of GB family in Amboseli wait for their one-tusked matriarch, Grace, to catch up. (©ElephantVoices)

Wednesday, 07 April 2010 00:00

Petter Granli & Joyce Poole One of our objectives is education - to share our knowledge about the behavior, abilities and interests of elephants and their conservation in the wild with you the public. We accomplish this in a number of ways - this website and ElephantVoices on Facebook being just two. Articles, documentary films and lectures are other important avenues, although with the travel involved the latter is, admittedly, not the most eco-friendly alternative.

With this in mind we have decided to try out the use of Skype to communicate directly with students in primary, middle and high school classes. The blurb below describes one such a meeting from March this year where, via Skype and a computer connected to a data projector, we chatted with enthusiastic kids and their teachers in Atlanta, Georgia.

We welcome teachers or students from any where in the world to mail us with their thoughts about how they think a discussion with ElephantVoices and Joyce could fit into their class work. We are pleased to discuss a range of issues including elephant biology, social behavior and communication, elephant conservation in the context of human development, elephants and the ivory trade, and captive elephant welfare, among other topics.

Our time and capacity is limited, but we would like to try doing an "Elephant in the Classroom" meeting once a month. Get in touch with us and we can take details from there!

A fun meeting with a school class in Atlanta, Georgia, 11 March 2010

"Five and six year old students at the Paideia School in Atlanta, Georgia have been studying elephants in depth with their teachers, Jonathan and Kristi. Students have been busy creating life-size elephants, making models of elephant habitats, and researching interesting animal facts that they will share in a podcast. As part of their research, they Skyped with Petter and Joyce to ask them their unanswered questions about elephants. Students had a chance to ask them the questions they had written in their journals earlier in the week. The class enjoyed learning that the female elephants never leave their families. They also found it interesting to hear about the many ways in which an elephant uses its trunk."

Amy Valk, Instructional Technology Specialist, The Paideia School

Wednesday, 05 May 2010 00:00

Every day we receive messages about how captive elephants are being mistreated, often accompanied by disturbing photographs or video footage. It can be tough spending hours, weeks and months looking at the brutality and abuse inflicted on defenceless animals who cannot speak for themselves.

We are a small team so we are not able to take on individual battles for each and every elephant. But there are particular cases when we feel compelled to make our opinions known and Lucky, and now Queenie, in the San Antonio Zoo are two examples. Lucky has been languishing alone in the San Antonio Zoo and welfare advocates have been arguing that she should be sent to a sanctuary due to her poor accomodation and her lack of companionship. When Queenie was rescued from an abusive life in the circus everyone expected her to go to one of the two sanctuaries, which are ideally set up to provide a home for elephants who have been mistreated. Indeed negotiations with PAWS were well underway.

In what we consider a dirty trick, however, the San Antonio Zoo managed to get hold of Queenie using the argument that Lucky needed a companion. A spineless USDA supported that argument saying that the San Antonio Zoo is accredited. We believe that this maneuver is part of an ongoing attempt by the AZA to block the sanctuaries from receiving elephants - so they don't lose face. We certainly don't disagree that Lucky should have companionship, but feel strongly that both Queenie AND Lucky should retire to a sanctuary, before it is too late. What the San Antonio Zoo is offering them is just not good enough. The USDA using the accreditation line when the Zoo is so poor, is just pathetic.

We have written letters to USDA and decision makers in Washington and San Antonio, and have made phone calls to some relevant offices. We are happy knowing that many good people and organizations are doing their part - and we continue to strategize together with some about how to move forward.

The swaying of confined elephants like Lucky shown in the video below is extremely disturbing - because it is so symptomatic of a life of social and physical deprivation. With nowhere to go and no one to see, no new smells to investigate and nothing to strive for elephants become bored and frustrated. The result? They stand in one place rocking, back and forth slowly losing their minds. Well, wouldn't we do the same given similar circumstances?

Why do we humans feel such a need to confine and control other animals? Is our pleasure in seeing them captive worth the cruelty that we inflict on them? Elephants are intelligent socially complex individuals who have the same basic needs that we have: Freedom and autonomy, companionship and affection, just to name a few.

I often try to put myself in the elephants' shoes, so to speak. Ever had to stand waiting for that bus or train that never comes? Feet and back aching? I, too, start to step from one foot to the other. I, too, rock back and forth, I sway. But I don't wait for transport for weeks, for months, for years. I have the freedom to choose to go. We need to wake up to the reality of what we are doing to other creatures and stop hiding behind a lot of constructed arguments for keeping elephants in this way. In our enlightened society elephants should not have to live like this any longer - Queenie and Lucky, and other elephants in their circumstance should go to a sanctuary where they have space to roam in the company of other elephants.

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Wednesday, 26 May 2010 09:48

On 12th May Joyce Poole was interviewed on Talking Animals.

She discusses elephant behavior and communication, and our responsibility for their well being.

She also touches on the fate of Boo (alias Queenie) and Lucky in the San Antonio Zoo.

You can listen to the interview via the below media player.

Joyce on Talking Animals {audio}Talking_Animals_Audio_Archive_Joyce_Poole.mp3{/audio}
Friday, 28 May 2010 00:00

Front  page  letter Mr. ChadengaA week ago we posted Zimbabwe captures elephants and creates an angry storm - and along with many others we keep hoping that Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority will cancel its plans for further captures in Hwange National Park and the shipment of these animals to North Korea. Its been amazing to see how many people have written to us to express their disgust with the authority's plans - especially moving have been some of the e-mails from Zimbabweans.

On 21st May Joyce did an interview with SW Radio Africa about the captured elephants. You can listen to the interview below - after buffering move to 23.15 to go directly to where the interview starts.
{audio}swradio_africa_210510.mp3{/audio}

For those of you who have not seen the open letter (180.02 kB) that more than 50 organisations from around the world signed on to, click on the letter to the right. Pass it on to as many people as you will!

If you want to sign a petition you can do so here.

Monday, 31 May 2010 00:00

In late January this year, Junia Machado, a Brazilian from Sao Paulo, wrote to us to ask for some help in assessing the situation for Teresita, an African elephant is living alone in the Sao Paulo Zoo. She also wanted to know how she could contribute towards the goals of ElephantVoices.

Since then we have started to collaborate with her on some welfare issues related to captive elephants in Brazil (there are 23 - 15 Asian and 8 African), which we will come back to in the near future.

A couple of days ago Junia sent us a link to an excellent article in a Sao Paulo newspaper - a journalist and grandfather's reflections after a zoo visit. You will find the original version of journalist Nelson Motta's article in Portugese here, and an English version translated through Google here. It is worth reading!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 11:59

A friend alerted us to this short video which shows fascinating elephant empathetic behavior and forethought. The entire elephant family we see is tuskless, which suggests a population that, at some point, has undergone heavy hunting for ivory.

Screenshot from Baby Elephant rescueThe video below is in low resolution, but as far as we can make out, this is what takes place: A family is by a mud wallow with very steep sides when an infant falls into the water. Using their trunks a young mother and an adolescent female attempt to pull the baby out, but they fail. The infant's distress calls alert the rest of the family to its predicament, and you can hear elephants trumpeting in alarm in the background. The elephants' tails are held high and they are secreting from the temporal glands - indicating that they are agitated. A larger female can be seen walking back and forth as she appears to be assessing how best to help - she start to enter the mud wallow at the far side. A fourth female arrives to help, but then gives up.

Then, the larger female abandons entering the mud wallow and, in the company of another large female, she comes over to the two younger females to help. As they arrive the adolescent female enters the water and together with one of the larger females (one with noticeable notches in her ear), tries to help the calf. The calf's mother then enters the mud wallow and, with clear purposefulness, she gently pushes the calf about 5-10 meters to a spot where the bank is not steep. She is accompanied by two allo-mothers (adolescent females) and one of the larger, older females, who may well be her own mother. Together these elephants shepherd the baby gently to safety.

The footage shows a marvellous example of the cognitive behavior of elephants.

Joyce & Petter

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Tuesday, 07 June 2011 12:00

ElephantVoices is with enthusiasm and interest following the development of eZoo (see also ezoo on Facebook), a concept for the world's first techno-zoo without live animals recently presented in Barcelona. More and more zoos are facing out their elephant exhibits realising that they just cannot provide what elephants need, and alternative elephant exhibits without elephants is the future solution. We recently posted the news piece Will Toronto get the first elephant exhibit without elephants?, which is another indication of what is happening.

The concept of eZoo is developed jointly by the Franz Weber foundation and Libera, and is a revolutionary project based on the latest technological advances. It is meant to include virtual reality, animatronics, enhanced reality, mapping and 3D projections, with the aim of turning a visit into a unique educational experience. eZoo is designed to create a space in which to raise awareness about the importance of species conservation - and respect for animals, their habitats and ecosystems - with programs adapted to the different types of visitors (children, families - students at primary schools, high schools and universities), as well as being a meeting point for local, national and international scientists and other experts.

In their press release eZoo states that one of their objectives is collaboration with organisations that run field conservation programs, including financial collaboration as well as publicity generation and exchange of knowledge. Examples include grant programs for field researchers and university students who wish to carry out studies of animals in their country of origin. eZoo also intend to push forward research into global warming, and to create a website for education, research and project funding.

eZoo aim to incorporate technological advances and developments which will give life to virtual animals immersed in recreations of their natural habitats and which can be seen acting in a totally natural state. The technology will allow visitors to not only feel immersed in the habitat of every species of animal and plant, but also “live

Friday, 02 September 2011 09:27

Identifying elephants isn't difficult, but it requires using powers of observation and it takes a bit of practice. There are many different characteristics that you can use to identify an elephant: sex; body size; shape; length and configuration of the tusks; size and shape of the ears; ear venation patterns; notches, tears, holes in the ears. ElephantVoices has developed eight educational modules explaining how to read and understand these characteristics, also used in the Mara Elephants Who's Who database.

You should start by determining whether the elephant you are trying to identify is male or female.

By clicking on the screenshot to the right, or on one of the links to photos below, you will start a slideshow - the caption shown is equal to respective text on this page. You can go through slide by slide - or let it run through automatically. Learn more about elephants - enjoy!

What to look for to sex an African elephant

  1. Focus on the general body shape, the shape of the head, the thickness of the tusks and the genitalia. From left to right you'll see: an adult male, an adult female and a juvenile female. Photo A1
  2. In some cases the sex is obvious. Photo A2
  3. For age, males are larger than females. By age 17, males are half their body weight but they are already as tall as the largest adult females. Photo A3
  4. Males have more massive and rounded foreheads, and thicker, more conical tusks. They have no breasts between their front legs. Photo A4
  5. Females have smaller more pointed or square foreheads and more slender tusks. Adult females have two breasts between their front legs. Photo A5
  6. Adult females have two breasts located between their forelegs. Photo A6
  7. Males tend to carry their heads higher than their shoulders; their abdomens slope downward from their forelegs to hind legs. Photo A7
  8. Females tend to carry their heads lower and their abdomens are more curved. Photo A8
  9. In males the penis shaft bulges out below the tail and curves forward. Photo A9
  10. In females the genitalia look like a funnel with the vulva opening pointing downward. Photo A10
  11. Younger elephants are harder to sex but again, check out the foreheads and tusk thickness. Both these elephants are females. Photo A11
Friday, 02 September 2011 09:27

Identifying elephants isn't difficult, but it requires using powers of observation and it takes a bit of practice. There are many different characteristics that you can use to identify an elephant: sex; body size; shape; length and configuration of the tusks; size and shape of the ears; ear venation patterns; notches, tears, holes in the ears. ElephantVoices has developed eight educational modules explaining how to read and understand these characteristics, also used in the Mara Elephants Who's Who database.

You should start by determining whether the elephant you are trying to identify is male or female, and will get help from How to sex African Elephants.

It helps to be able to put the elephant you are trying to identify into a size category. Size categories correspond to rough age ranges. The size categories we use are: Calf (0-4 years), juvenile (5-9 years), small adult (10-19 years), medium adult (20-34) and large adult (35 years+). Putting elephants into size classes takes a bit of practice and we don’t recommend using this characteristic to identify elephants until you have a lot of experience.

By clicking on the screenshot above right, or on links to photos below, you will start a slideshow - the caption shown is equal to respective text on this page. You can go through slide by slide - or let it run through automatically. Learn more about elephants - enjoy!

What to look for to find the age of an African elephant (Start slideshow)

  1. Remember that adult males grow to be twice the size of adult females so the relative sizes of small adult, medium adult and large adult are different depending upon which sex you are considering. Photo B1
  2. For example, by age 17 a male is a large as a 50-year-old female, so a small adult male may be larger than a large adult female. Young males lined up to drink - a full grown female on the far right. Photo B2
  3. We use the term infant for a calf under a year old. An infant has no tusks and is generally small enough to walk under the belly of a large adult female. The genitals must be used to sex an infant. Photo B3
  4. A calf's tusks appear just beyond the lip between 18 months and two years old. Rely on genitals to sex the calf. Photo B4
  5. By three years of age a calf's tusks extend about 8 cm beyond the lip. At this age, if the calf is a female, you may notice a slight knob on her forehead; but the genitals are still definitive for sexing. Photo B5
  6. Relative sizes of three calves from left to right: Two and a half year old, one-year-old, and four-year-old female (note the slightly pointed forehead and tusks about 10 cm long). Photo B6
  7. Relative sizes from left to right: Calf under age two, juvenile female (note pointed forehead and slender tusks) and young adult female (note pointed forehead and slender tusks). Photo B7
  8. Relative sizes in a family from left to right: Calf under age two, medium sized adult female, juvenile female (note slender tusks), infant, young adult female. Photo B8
  9. Relative sizes in a family unit from left to right: juvenile, calf, young adult female, young adult female, juvenile, juvenile, medium adult female, infant, medium adult female. Photo B9
  10. Relative sizes in a family from left to right: juvenile female, medium adult female, calf, juvenile female, small adult female, juvenile female, medium adult (with infant underneath her) calf, medium adult female, calf, small adult female, infant, juvenile, juvenile, large adult female. Photo B10
  11. Mother and daughter: note that the older female has a larger body, a relatively larger head and thicker tusks. And she just looks older. Photo B11
  12. Large adult females have relatively large heads, thicker tusks, longer bodies. The oldest females may become sway-backed. Photo B12
  13. Adult males and large adult females stand out in a crowd. Spot them! Photo B13
  14. An adult male dwarfs an adult female and her juvenile daughter. Photo B14
  15. By age 17 males are as big as a large adult female, yet only half the weight of a large adult male. Small adult males have relatively small heads, relatively thin tusks and the line from their eyes to their tusks is straight. Photo B15
  16. Small adult males have relatively small heads, relatively thin tusks and the line from their eyes to their tusks is straight. Photo B16
  17. Medium adult males have larger heads than small adult males and relatively thicker tusks. As the forehead expands and the tusks thicken, the line from the eye to tusk begins to curve. Photo B17
  18. Another medium adult male. Again notice that he has a larger head than small adult males and relatively thicker tusks. Photo B18
  19. Large adult males have massive heads and thick tusks that bulge out from the face. The wide forehead and ticker tusks create a line from eyes to tusks that has an hourglass contour. They have heavy muscular bodies. Photo B19
  20. Another large adult male. Notice again his massive head and big tusks. Photo B20
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 09:30

Link to War Elephants on National Geographic.comElephantVoices' Joyce and Petter will be "on the road" in the US for three weeks during March 2012, with a premiere screening of an upcoming National Geographic Wild documentary, and lectures and other events promoting elephants and the work of ElephantVoices, on the agenda. You will find more details about each open event and how to attend below. We hope to see many of you during our short 10th Anniversary Tour!

Premiere screening of "War Elephants", Washington DC, 14 March

National Geographic LIVE! invites for a premiere screening of "War Elephants" in Washington DC on Wednesday 14 March, an upcoming documentary featuring the elephants of Gorongosa, Mozambique, Joyce Poole and her brother, cinematographer Bob Poole. The screening in Grosvenor Auditorium (at 7:30 p.m.) will be followed by a discussion with the Pooles, NGTV Sr. Producer David Hamlin, and Mateus Mutemba, Gorongosa National Park Administrator. You can buy tickets via this page.

Benefit for ElephantVoices in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, Sunday 18 March

On Sunday 18 March Patty Shenker and Doug Stoll will very generously host a reception at their home once again. We invite you to a VIP Reception at 2:00 p.m., and an Event Reception & Presentation from 3:00 to 5:30 p.m. You will find an invitation with all necessary information on how to attend here.

ElephantVoices lecture in Sausalito, Sunday 25 March

Our enormously generous board member Coco Hall will host another event at her home in Sausalito on Sunday 25 March, 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. You will find an invitation with all necessary information here.

Lectures during PAWS Summit for the elephants, Oakland Zoo, 28 to 30 March

Oakland Zoo will host PAWS SUMMIT FOR THE ELEPHANTS 2012 from 28 to 30 March. Joyce Poole and Petter Granli will hold 3 lectures during the Summit - all 3 on the last day 30 March. You can go through the conference schedule here.

Lecture Colorado College, Wednesday March 28

On 28 March, 6:30 p.m, Joyce Poole will give a lecture at Colorado College, Armstrong Hall Theater. The title is: Nature's great masterpiece: Stories of elephants.

You can open a poster with further details by clicking on the image to the left.

 

Help SUPPORT and PROTECT the Mara elephants - NAME THEM!

By providing the possibility for the public to name elephants we hope to bind together a community of people who care for the Mara elephants - those people living in the Mara who are monitoring and protecting elephants and those who live far away whose donations support the project! Giving names to individual elephants helps people to remember who is who and fosters a heart-felt connection for individuals.

To name an elephant look through the Mara Elephant Who's Who database and choose an elephant, who has not already been named, and who you would like to name. Click the "I'd like to name this elephant" link on the ID card for that particular elephant. An approved name will appear in the Mara Elephant Who's Who database, and the name of the person having given the name will also show.

Educational outreach, including local scholarships, will be of high priority in the allocation of donations through the Name an Mara Elephant program.

Link to ElephantVoices - Name an Elephant

Click on image to read more - support the Mara Elephants!

Friday, 13 April 2012 00:00

The National Geographic documentary War Elephants is due to air in the US on National Geographic Wild on Sunday, 22 April 2012, at 8 p.m. ET/PT. A Nat Geo Live! premiere screening took place in Washington DC on 14 March, also announced on National Geographics Explorers Journal. The film led to several other media activities, such as an interview on Animal House and a live conversation on National Geographic Facebook page on 13 March, embedded at the bottom of this page. You can see a clip from the film through this link - with Joyce "Talking To The Elephants".

A few days after the screening on 14th March the documentary won a prestigous award in Sun Valley Film Festival - ONE IN A MILLION. This award honors feature length stories made for under a million dollars. War Elephants furthermore received merits for cinematography and wildlife behavior at the International Wildlife Film Festival in Montana. On 20th April Bob Poole will talk about War Elephants on ABC Nightline. You may want to visit The Independent's Traveller's Guide: Mozambique, to read more about this fascinating country.

About War Elephants on National Geographic's website:
"In Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park, elephants are in crisis: Years of civil war and ivory poaching have left them frightened and hostile toward humans. In a new National Geographic Television film, the world’s foremost elephant researcher Dr. Joyce Poole, in a documentary by her brother, cameraman Bob Poole, works to build trust and retrain the animals away from their violent behavior."

Below you will find when War Elephants will be shown in different countries. The following countries are included under "Nat Geo Wild HD Eur Intl Feed", air time 3 June at 15.00: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, Greece, Georgia, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosavo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sub-Saharan Africa (Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe), Sweden, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan

War Elephants air time
Air time War Elephants - National Geographic Wild

People from 55 countries joined Joyce and Meigan Goodyer Henry in a live conversation on National Geographic Facebooks page, Tuesday, March 13, 2012.

People could ask questions during the conversation - or post them on a National Geographic blog post.

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Thursday, 24 May 2012 09:02

Elephants in the classroom

On 11th May 2012 ElephantVoices had a Skype conference based on our Elephants in the Classroom: Meet ElephantVoices initiative. Joyce Poole met up with students from Boynton Middle School in Ithaca, New York. Teacher Corinne Morton was the one behind this educational meeting through cyberspace.

Corinne has written this summary from an online gathering Joyce enjoyed very much. Keep up the good work, Boynton Middle School!

Petter

I am a sixth grade science and humane education teacher at Boynton Middle School in Ithaca, New York. We are located in the heart of the fingerlakes and our school is about ten minutes from Cornell University. As an educator, my passion is exposing students to all sides of situations so that they may make informed decisions about how they spend their money and what they do or do not support.

I have always been interested and involved in elephant conservation and education, especially regarding life for these creatures in zoos and circuses. I often do curriculum work tied in with the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and have exposed my students to the research being done on elephant communication. I love to think of myself as Global Educator and link my students to scientific events worldwide as well as locally. We had the pleasure of having Melissa Groo come in to our classes to do a presentation on her experiences with the Elephant Listening Project at Cornell and elephants in general. I had also exposed my students to ElephantVoices and the work Joyce Poole has done over the years in elephant research. I thought it would be a wonderful experience to have my students Skype with her after seeing it on the website.

The students were beyond excited and still talk about the experience they had skyping with Joyce! I had a total of 120 students come up with questions for her and those students were split into four class periods to Skype. I was able to let small groups of students take turns in front of the camera asking their questions while I projected Joyce on the large screen for all students to watch. It all worked wonderfully!

My students wrote some reflective pieces on their experience skyping with Joyce and below you'll find a few.

From the sixth graders ( age 11-12):

"I learned a lot and it made me want to do something and inform other people about elephant voices!" Imaan Gruel.

"I love the skype effect...I thought Joyce Poole was funny and at the same time it was enlightening." Dylan Davenport.

"It was the best ever science lesson. I love skyping with Joyce Poole." Brian Conuel.

"I learned a lot from the questions you answered and thought it was cool that you were across the world talking to us! Thank you". Danielle Hemly.

"It was cool to meet one of the leading elephant scientists in the world! It also made me want to boycott animal circuses." (Not signed)

"I am Max and I speak for the elephants! I am convinced that poaching and circuses are horrible." Max Milton.

"I really enjoyed skyping with you. You gave many facts and a few stories that made us laugh. Skype was a great way to talk with you. I want to spread the word about ElephantVoices." Andreas Lambrou.

"I know that elephants are important to the world." Mohammed Williams.

"Joyce Poole, you are awesome, I like that you help elephants." Tysheem Randall.

"I learned a lot skyping and it made me realize how awesome elephants are." Dylan Morse.

"I learned elephant circuses are not for elephants or for any other animals." Shayla Szeto.

"Thanks for everything... I have actually been to Africa...I got to see a lot of wild animals. Elephants and other animals belong in the wild." Mariya Mayu.

"It was a very informational experience. For example, I learned that elephant tusks extend far into their skulls." Ben Carver.

"Thank you for skyping, it was a wonderful experience. Elephants are a great subject to research and I bet it is very interesting to spend so much time with them. I hope we meet again." Adelaide Tracey.

"It was very cool talking to you!" Thea Clarkburg.

Thursday, 31 May 2012 00:00

The National Geographic documentary War Elephants is due to air in most countries in Europe and Africa on Sunday 3rd June 2012, on National Geographic Wild. The US premiere was on 22 April. A Nat Geo Live! premiere screening took place in Washington DC on 14 March 2012, also announced on National Geographics Explorers Journal. The documentary led to several other media activities, such as an interview on Animal House and a live conversation on National Geographic Facebook page on 13 March, embedded at the bottom of this page. You can see a clip from the film through this link - with Joyce "Talking To The Elephants".

A few days after the screening on 14th March the documentary won a prestigous award in Sun Valley Film Festival - ONE IN A MILLION. This award honors feature length stories made for under a million dollars. War Elephants furthermore received merits for cinematography and wildlife behavior at the International Wildlife Film Festival in Montana. On 20th April Bob Poole talked about War Elephants on ABC Nightline. You may want to visit The Independent's Traveller's Guide: Mozambique, to read more about this fascinating country.

About War Elephants on National Geographic's website:
"In Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park, elephants are in crisis: Years of civil war and ivory poaching have left them frightened and hostile toward humans. In a new National Geographic Television film, the world’s foremost elephant researcher Dr. Joyce Poole, in a documentary by her brother, cameraman Bob Poole, works to build trust and retrain the animals away from their violent behavior."

Below you will find when War Elephants will be shown in different countries. The following countries are included under "Nat Geo Wild HD Eur Intl Feed", air time 3 June at 15.00: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, Greece, Georgia, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosavo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sub-Saharan Africa (Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe), Sweden, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan

War Elephants air time
Air time War Elephants - National Geographic Wild

People from 55 countries joined Joyce and Meigan Goodyer Henry in a live conversation on National Geographic Facebooks page, Tuesday, March 13, 2012.

People could ask questions during the conversation - or post them on a National Geographic blog post.

" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" height="315" width="560"> " />
Monday, 18 February 2013 10:34
PRESS RELEASE 18TH MARCH 2013

ElephantVoices is launching a campaign against the ivory trade, which is causing the slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants every year. Elephant expert and Co-Founder of ElephantVoices, Dr. Joyce Poole, observes, "It is with a sense of déjà vu and deep sorrow, though little surprise, that following the torpedoing of the 1989 ban by the 'one-off' sales of ivory stockpiles, we find ourselves living through, and battling against, another elephant massacre." Two weeks before the delegates to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meet in Bangkok, Thailand, to discuss the fate of elephants once more, ElephantVoices reminds the world that each new tusk on the market means more death, trauma and destruction.

"We are asking people to help us reach out to potential buyers of ivory who don't realize that elephants are dying in record-high numbers for trinkets and decorations. The only way to stop this wanton slaughter of elephants is to choke demand for ivory and stop the trade," states Joyce Poole.

ElephantVoices is basing its campaign on two powerful pieces of graphic art by New York artist, Asher Jay. The artworks, with the slogans, EVERY TUSK COSTS A LIFE; DON'T BUY IVORY and EVERY TUSK COSTS A LIFE; STOP THE TRADE, target potential buyers and decision-makers, and are also specifically directed toward a Chinese audience. "ElephantVoices is doing something unique by making the graphic art available online in several versions, so they can be shared on social networks and be used for T-shirts, bumper-stickers, posters and banners", says Executive Director, Petter Granli.

"We urge people to share these messages far and wide, making them go viral. The poaching is endangering elephants, jeopardizing biodiversity, and threatening tourism, people's livelihoods and stability in elephant range states. The writing is on the wall for elephants and we must act now", says Joyce Poole.

Yellow Stars Shed Light

There are too many people buying ivory in too many countries. The current demand for elephant tusks is unsustainable and is swiftly mining Africa's elephants. The largest demand is in China and, hence, the Chinese government and her people have a special responsibility for taking a lead to end the decimation of elephants. China was permitted to buy a restricted amount of ivory from stockpiles, a decision by the international community that has caused immense harm to elephants. Ninety percent of the ivory available in China is from slaughtered elephants, illegally sourced, traded and sold. Chinese buyers deserve to know that tens of thousands of elephants are being killed to supply them with ivory. Every tusk costs a life.

China has the ability to raise public awareness and to enforce their strict laws to quickly strangle the trading, buying and poaching. China can stop her countrymen causing the destruction of Africa's heritage and biodiversity, while concurrently protecting her enormous investments on the African continent. We urge China to take action now to end any trade in ivory - we cannot afford to lose Africa's keystone species. 中国 Zh

Monday, 22 April 2013 07:19

The powerful, thought-provoking HBO-documentary An Apology To Elephants debuts on Earth Day on HBO & HBO GO' in the US, Monday 22 April, 7:00-7:45 ET/PT. The film explores the beauty and intelligence of elephants, and tells the troubling story of their exploitation in captivity.

An Apology to Elephants is a call for compassion and better treatment, and a plea to save what's left of the wild in our world.

ElephantVoices' Joyce Poole are among those presenting what elephants are about, and why they don't thrive in captivity.

You can watch the trailer for An Apology to Elephants at the bottom at this page, read the synopsis here and set a reminder by clicking on the screenshot to the right. You should know that all these pages may take quite a few seconds to load.

This is what The Hollywood Reporter wrote about the film - "A succinct, graceful argument to save an endangered species."

The film will be aired also in some countries outside the US, and we will update this page when we have more information.




Friday, 05 July 2013 00:00

In June, faciliated by the Humane Society International, I was invited by the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG) to attend a two day meeting of 47 Chinese Zoo Directors in Shenzhen, China. My invitation followed the bad press that China received in relation to the importation of baby elephants from Zimbabwe late last year. At least one of these babies died and another became seriously ill. Zimbabwe had earlier given assurances that it would stop the capture of baby elephants for captivity and the news of the shipment and deaths and rumour that more babies were awaiting capture and export, prompted an international outcry.

The CAGZ was eager not to be caught up in such exposure again and I was asked to give a 90 minute presentation on the topic of "The Importance of Animal Behavior in Import Decisions". The trip to China offered an excellent opportunity to also speak about another topic involving elephants and China and Petter and I decided that I should extend my stay to include Hong Kong and Beijing to talk about elephants, poaching and the ivory trade.

I arrived in Hong Kong on the afternoon 14 June and that evening gave a lecture on elephants and the ivory trade at the Royal Geographical Society and an interview with Jennifer Ngo of the South China Morning Post (click for headline). Jennifer’s article was picked up by The Daily Mail and also the New York Times and Asia News.

The following morning, 15 June, I was interviewed by freelance journalist, Kate Whitehead, and by Joyee Chan, who wrote an article for the Young Readers edition of the South China Morning Post published on 2 July.

That afternoon in a Starbucks in Kowloon was the first meeting of a loose group of people who are keen to do something to stop the trafficking of ivory through Hong Kong and into China. In the photographs below from left to right Christian Pilard (Eco-Sys Action Foundation), Joyce Lau and Victoria Chin (both Jane Goodall Institute), Alex Hofford (Conservation Photo journalist), Joyce Poole (ElephantVoices) and Iris Ho (Humane Society International). Alex took some photos while showing me a couple of ivory outlets in Hong Kong - I wasn't amused.

Celia Ho, the "Elephant Girl" arrived soon afterwards and we had a really nice meeting just the two of us, in which she presented me with an origami elephants with the words “Every Tusk Costs a Life, Don’t Buy Ivory

Friday, 05 July 2013 00:00

In June, faciliated by the Humane Society International, I was invited by the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG) to attend a two day meeting of 47 Chinese Zoo Directors in Shenzhen, China. My invitation followed the bad press that China received in relation to the importation of baby elephants from Zimbabwe late last year. At least one of these babies died and another became seriously ill. Zimbabwe had earlier given assurances that it would stop the capture of baby elephants for captivity and the news of the shipment and deaths and rumour that more babies were awaiting capture and export, prompted an international outcry.

The CAGZ was eager not to be caught up in such exposure again and I was asked to give a 90 minute presentation on the topic of "The Importance of Animal Behavior in Import Decisions". The trip to China offered an excellent opportunity to also speak about another topic involving elephants and China and Petter and I decided that I should extend my stay to include Hong Kong and Beijing to talk about elephants, poaching and the ivory trade.

I arrived in Hong Kong on the afternoon 14 June and that evening gave a lecture on elephants and the ivory trade at the Royal Geographical Society and an interview with Jennifer Ngo of the South China Morning Post (click for headline). Jennifer’s article was picked up by The Daily Mail and also the New York Times and Asia News.

The following morning, 15 June, I was interviewed by freelance journalist, Kate Whitehead, and by Joyee Chan, who wrote an article for the Young Readers edition of the South China Morning Post published on 2 July.

That afternoon in a Starbucks in Kowloon was the first meeting of a loose group of people who are keen to do something to stop the trafficking of ivory through Hong Kong and into China. In the photographs below from left to right Christian Pilard (Eco-Sys Action Foundation), Joyce Lau and Victoria Chin (both Jane Goodall Institute), Alex Hofford (Conservation Photo journalist), Joyce Poole (ElephantVoices) and Iris Ho (Humane Society International). Alex took some photos while showing me a couple of ivory outlets in Hong Kong - I wasn't amused.

Celia Ho, the "Elephant Girl" arrived soon afterwards and we had a really nice meeting just the two of us, in which she presented me with an origami elephants with the words “Every Tusk Costs a Life, Don’t Buy Ivory

Monday, 22 April 2013 07:19

The powerful, thought-provoking HBO-documentary An Apology To Elephants debuts on Earth Day on HBO & HBO GO' in the US, Monday 22 April, 7:00-7:45 ET/PT. The film explores the beauty and intelligence of elephants, and tells the troubling story of their exploitation in captivity.

An Apology to Elephants is a call for compassion and better treatment, and a plea to save what's left of the wild in our world.

ElephantVoices' Joyce Poole are among those presenting what elephants are about, and why they don't thrive in captivity.

You can watch the trailer for An Apology to Elephants at the bottom at this page, read the synopsis here and set a reminder by clicking on the screenshot to the right. You should know that all these pages may take quite a few seconds to load.

This is what The Hollywood Reporter wrote about the film - "A succinct, graceful argument to save an endangered species."

The film will be aired also in some countries outside the US, and we will update this page when we have more information.




Monday, 18 February 2013 10:34
PRESS RELEASE 18TH MARCH 2013

ElephantVoices is launching a campaign against the ivory trade, which is causing the slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants every year. Elephant expert and Co-Founder of ElephantVoices, Dr. Joyce Poole, observes, "It is with a sense of déjà vu and deep sorrow, though little surprise, that following the torpedoing of the 1989 ban by the 'one-off' sales of ivory stockpiles, we find ourselves living through, and battling against, another elephant massacre." Two weeks before the delegates to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meet in Bangkok, Thailand, to discuss the fate of elephants once more, ElephantVoices reminds the world that each new tusk on the market means more death, trauma and destruction.

"We are asking people to help us reach out to potential buyers of ivory who don't realize that elephants are dying in record-high numbers for trinkets and decorations. The only way to stop this wanton slaughter of elephants is to choke demand for ivory and stop the trade," states Joyce Poole.

ElephantVoices is basing its campaign on two powerful pieces of graphic art by New York artist, Asher Jay. The artworks, with the slogans, EVERY TUSK COSTS A LIFE; DON'T BUY IVORY and EVERY TUSK COSTS A LIFE; STOP THE TRADE, target potential buyers and decision-makers, and are also specifically directed toward a Chinese audience. "ElephantVoices is doing something unique by making the graphic art available online in several versions, so they can be shared on social networks and be used for T-shirts, bumper-stickers, posters and banners", says Executive Director, Petter Granli.

"We urge people to share these messages far and wide, making them go viral. The poaching is endangering elephants, jeopardizing biodiversity, and threatening tourism, people's livelihoods and stability in elephant range states. The writing is on the wall for elephants and we must act now", says Joyce Poole.

Yellow Stars Shed Light

There are too many people buying ivory in too many countries. The current demand for elephant tusks is unsustainable and is swiftly mining Africa's elephants. The largest demand is in China and, hence, the Chinese government and her people have a special responsibility for taking a lead to end the decimation of elephants. China was permitted to buy a restricted amount of ivory from stockpiles, a decision by the international community that has caused immense harm to elephants. Ninety percent of the ivory available in China is from slaughtered elephants, illegally sourced, traded and sold. Chinese buyers deserve to know that tens of thousands of elephants are being killed to supply them with ivory. Every tusk costs a life.

China has the ability to raise public awareness and to enforce their strict laws to quickly strangle the trading, buying and poaching. China can stop her countrymen causing the destruction of Africa's heritage and biodiversity, while concurrently protecting her enormous investments on the African continent. We urge China to take action now to end any trade in ivory - we cannot afford to lose Africa's keystone species. 中国 Zh

Thursday, 31 May 2012 00:00

The National Geographic documentary War Elephants is due to air in most countries in Europe and Africa on Sunday 3rd June 2012, on National Geographic Wild. The US premiere was on 22 April. A Nat Geo Live! premiere screening took place in Washington DC on 14 March 2012, also announced on National Geographics Explorers Journal. The documentary led to several other media activities, such as an interview on Animal House and a live conversation on National Geographic Facebook page on 13 March, embedded at the bottom of this page. You can see a clip from the film through this link - with Joyce "Talking To The Elephants".

A few days after the screening on 14th March the documentary won a prestigous award in Sun Valley Film Festival - ONE IN A MILLION. This award honors feature length stories made for under a million dollars. War Elephants furthermore received merits for cinematography and wildlife behavior at the International Wildlife Film Festival in Montana. On 20th April Bob Poole talked about War Elephants on ABC Nightline. You may want to visit The Independent's Traveller's Guide: Mozambique, to read more about this fascinating country.

About War Elephants on National Geographic's website:
"In Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park, elephants are in crisis: Years of civil war and ivory poaching have left them frightened and hostile toward humans. In a new National Geographic Television film, the world’s foremost elephant researcher Dr. Joyce Poole, in a documentary by her brother, cameraman Bob Poole, works to build trust and retrain the animals away from their violent behavior."

Below you will find when War Elephants will be shown in different countries. The following countries are included under "Nat Geo Wild HD Eur Intl Feed", air time 3 June at 15.00: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, Greece, Georgia, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosavo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sub-Saharan Africa (Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe), Sweden, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan

War Elephants air time
Air time War Elephants - National Geographic Wild

People from 55 countries joined Joyce and Meigan Goodyer Henry in a live conversation on National Geographic Facebooks page, Tuesday, March 13, 2012.

People could ask questions during the conversation - or post them on a National Geographic blog post.

" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" height="315" width="560"> " />
Thursday, 24 May 2012 09:02

Elephants in the classroom

On 11th May 2012 ElephantVoices had a Skype conference based on our Elephants in the Classroom: Meet ElephantVoices initiative. Joyce Poole met up with students from Boynton Middle School in Ithaca, New York. Teacher Corinne Morton was the one behind this educational meeting through cyberspace.

Corinne has written this summary from an online gathering Joyce enjoyed very much. Keep up the good work, Boynton Middle School!

Petter

I am a sixth grade science and humane education teacher at Boynton Middle School in Ithaca, New York. We are located in the heart of the fingerlakes and our school is about ten minutes from Cornell University. As an educator, my passion is exposing students to all sides of situations so that they may make informed decisions about how they spend their money and what they do or do not support.

I have always been interested and involved in elephant conservation and education, especially regarding life for these creatures in zoos and circuses. I often do curriculum work tied in with the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and have exposed my students to the research being done on elephant communication. I love to think of myself as Global Educator and link my students to scientific events worldwide as well as locally. We had the pleasure of having Melissa Groo come in to our classes to do a presentation on her experiences with the Elephant Listening Project at Cornell and elephants in general. I had also exposed my students to ElephantVoices and the work Joyce Poole has done over the years in elephant research. I thought it would be a wonderful experience to have my students Skype with her after seeing it on the website.

The students were beyond excited and still talk about the experience they had skyping with Joyce! I had a total of 120 students come up with questions for her and those students were split into four class periods to Skype. I was able to let small groups of students take turns in front of the camera asking their questions while I projected Joyce on the large screen for all students to watch. It all worked wonderfully!

My students wrote some reflective pieces on their experience skyping with Joyce and below you'll find a few.

From the sixth graders ( age 11-12):

"I learned a lot and it made me want to do something and inform other people about elephant voices!" Imaan Gruel.

"I love the skype effect...I thought Joyce Poole was funny and at the same time it was enlightening." Dylan Davenport.

"It was the best ever science lesson. I love skyping with Joyce Poole." Brian Conuel.

"I learned a lot from the questions you answered and thought it was cool that you were across the world talking to us! Thank you". Danielle Hemly.

"It was cool to meet one of the leading elephant scientists in the world! It also made me want to boycott animal circuses." (Not signed)

"I am Max and I speak for the elephants! I am convinced that poaching and circuses are horrible." Max Milton.

"I really enjoyed skyping with you. You gave many facts and a few stories that made us laugh. Skype was a great way to talk with you. I want to spread the word about ElephantVoices." Andreas Lambrou.

"I know that elephants are important to the world." Mohammed Williams.

"Joyce Poole, you are awesome, I like that you help elephants." Tysheem Randall.

"I learned a lot skyping and it made me realize how awesome elephants are." Dylan Morse.

"I learned elephant circuses are not for elephants or for any other animals." Shayla Szeto.

"Thanks for everything... I have actually been to Africa...I got to see a lot of wild animals. Elephants and other animals belong in the wild." Mariya Mayu.

"It was a very informational experience. For example, I learned that elephant tusks extend far into their skulls." Ben Carver.

"Thank you for skyping, it was a wonderful experience. Elephants are a great subject to research and I bet it is very interesting to spend so much time with them. I hope we meet again." Adelaide Tracey.

"It was very cool talking to you!" Thea Clarkburg.