Through Junia Machado and other good elephant friends in Brazil, ElephantVoices is working hard for the best interest of elephants in this progressive country. Our main objectives are
To create awareness about elephant conservation and the welfare needs of captive elephants in Brazil, and to secure that a sanctuary for elephants is established as soon as possible.
To get such a sanctuary in Brazil off the ground is key to discussions about getting elephants suffering in circuses and bad zoos moved to a new home. Without having a good alternative in place for abused elephants, it is difficult to get the political process regarding elephant welfare moving forward. Junia and others are currently learning as much as possible about the captive elephants in Brazil - many kept under terrible conditions. ElephantVoices believe there are 25 elephants in Brazilian zoos, and 6 in circuses or chained on rural properties, but are still working to get these figures and details related to each elephant confirmed.
Junia and Ana have met up with Petter and Joyce in Kenya and the Maasai Mara twice, and in March 2012 they joined at PAWS Summit for Elephants hosted by Oakland Zoo. Junia and Ana are also contributing work and data to ElephantVoices' conservation initiative for the Mara elephants, Elephant Partners.
Our main collaborators in Brazil, in addition to Junia Machado and Ana Zinger, are Maria Cristina Mullins, Teca Franco, Martha Toledo, Tiago Esteves Carvalhaes, Andrea Schmidt, Mayara Barbi and Carol Toledo. There are also other volunteers supporting their efforts on specific issues, like Mario Duarte, Luciana Dallari, Ticiana Carneiro, Felicia Mendonça, Sabrina Cury, José Licciardi and Marcos Marcello. Two agronomists, Cesar Frizzo and Vanessa Rizzi, are currently checking land-related issues and possibilities in connection with a future sanctuary.
ElephantVoices Brasil is also networking with a substantial number of people working for elephants in other countries in South-America, and aims to contribute ideas and the sound science-based knowledge of ElephantVoices wherever it can be of help. Get in touch with
if you want to join ElephantVoices Brasil in their efforts!
On April 22nd 2012, Gay Bradshaw posted an article in her blog in Psychology Today critiquing War Elephants and Joyce Poole's role in it. Here is Joyce's response to it.
I awoke this morning to an email from a colleague who has done more to highlight the plight of elephants than almost anyone I know. It read: "I presume you saw this. I am so sorry. How ignorant of her. If it makes any difference, I saw the NGS film and was proud to know you. Hang in there.” Then I read your critique of War Elephants and my role in it and realized how little you understand of who I am and what I stand for. Gay, you and I hold many of the same perspectives on elephants, we have published together, and I admire and respect you for the work you have accomplished. If you had concerns, why didn't you get in touch so that, as colleagues, we could try to find common ground? Why torpedo an elephant spokesperson if you have the best interests of these incredible animals at heart?
We will not be able to save all of Africa’s elephants from the onslaught of poaching and conflict, but by using our collective intelligence and experience we can work together toward a kinder future for those who live in places where they have a chance to survive. I choose to be part of a solution, to put my long experience in Africa and with elephants to work. While I would be so glad if elephants everywhere could be left in peace, doing what they like, in the real world we need to find ways for elephants to survive despite human intervention and encroachment. To habituate elephants to friendly visitors is one way to do that - and done with knowledge and respect, elephants are intelligent enough to adapt and thrive as we have seen in Amboseli, the Mara, Samburu and elsewhere. Elephants learn quickly and they easily can discriminate between their human friends and foes.
Gorongosa National Park and its elephants had been given up for lost, but thanks to the Mozambican Government and the Gorongosa Restoration Project, these elephants have a chance. Their future, though, depends on tourism revenue and I was invited to Gorongosa to assess the elephants and to begin a process of habituation, so that visitors can have peaceful encounters with them. This work would have happened with or without cameras present, but National Geographic expressed an interest in documenting the habituation process and the Gorongosa Restoration Project felt a film would help to highlight the work they are doing and the particular plight of these (and many other) elephants who have survived war.
I approached the Gorongosa elephants as I would any elephants: slowly, and when I saw signs that they were concerned I turned off the engine and sat quietly. The concept is to gain trust by respecting their boundaries. Sometimes I talk to elephants; I always have done and I make no apologies for it. My conscience is totally clear regarding my strategy and my actions. I would never do anything to harm or harass elephants. There were no guns in the car; the incident you mention occurred on the main road on a game drive, coincidently with a ranger in the car, long after the film crew and I had departed. The incident only serves to highlight the necessity of gaining, in a systematic way, these elephants' trust.
Other than charges by some individuals, my experience was that the Gorongosa elephants were, surprisingly, calm. Editing weeks, indeed months, of footage and compressing it to 50 minutes gives the impression of relentless agonistic interaction. The use of long lenses, the pace, the timing, the selection of scenes, their repetition, the script and the music all interact to exaggerate the drama. But that is TV - film production and editing is not my expertise.
I played calls to the elephants for a reason. I have been asked if there is a way to encourage the elephants to use parts of the park that they abandoned years ago. The elephants are needed to open up habitat and kick-start the grazing succession for other species. Our hope is that if elephants hear others on the distant bank of the river they may feel that it is safe to venture there themselves. The calls I played to them were the sounds of normal elephants doing normal elephant things - in this case adults threatening a lion and calling for recruits. I played those particular calls for a purpose - because I thought they were most likely to attract a family group. The elephants responded with excitement and curiosity, not with fear and agitation. And again: I would have used this technique whether a film crew was there or not.
ElephantVoices will be returning to Gorongosa later this year, and in the years to come, and we will use all of these techniques and others to try to secure a future for these elephants. War Elephants gives a tiny window into who these elephants are and through a monitoring and research program we will learn much more. We will continue to do all we can to make sure that there are other places in the wild for elephants, and to work toward an end to the ongoing poaching-crisis. It can be hard going, and full of heart-break, but I believe if we all work together there will still be free-ranging elephants for my great-great grandchildren to experience. At a time when elephants are under tremendous threat, Gorongosa is a place of hope. It is also a place where a team of dedicated conservationists, scientists and filmmakers are coming together to give this small population of elephants a chance. We are proud to be among them.
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
ElephantVoices' 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
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.
Click on image to read more - support the Mara Elephants!
Joyce is from 19th February and for a 10 day period in Maasai Mara, meeting up with and training some of the people that are contributing elephant observations to the Elephant Partners initiative. On this page you will, with the help of a cellphone app and Google Earth, find out a bit more about where she is going, and what she sees together with our collaborators. The infrequent "reports" below are mainly meant to give you a peak, while we also gain some experience in new ways of collecting data and sharing field experiences with those interested. We will later post a more comprehensive report from Joyce's current field visit.
It may a bit of time before the page loads, depending on your connection speed. By clicking on each point on the map you will find a photo, with a caption. We hope you will enjoy being with us in the bush!
Joyce looking for elephant signs from Olerai to Enchorro Ololali - seeing many.
Wonderful day with Gini Cowell and David Kimutai starting from Siana through Ol Kinyei and on to Mara Naboisho where we picked up Derrick Nabaala. Saw perhaps 100 elephants and returned to Siana at end of day.