We are pleased to share our elephant news with you once again. During a time when every new day brings headlines about the devastating poaching crisis, we are non-the-less making positive steps forward in our work for elephants. We are delighted to report that we have received a three year grant from JRS Biodiversity Foundation for our elephant conservation initiative in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. We think the potential in a citizen science and web-based approach to elephant conservation is substantial, and we are using some of the same tools in the project we are developing in Gorongosa, Mozambique.
Poaching IS spiraling out of control and only the entire world acting together will save the planet's remaining elephants. YOU can contribute by spreading the word through your network to every corner of the globe - elephants are in serious trouble and the world needs to ACT NOW: STOP the BUYING and SELLING of IVORY!
We still have a ways to go to cover our funding requirements for 2012 and 2013, so if you like what we do please remember ElephantVoices in your annual giving - and thank you for following us!
Best wishes, for the elephants,
Joyce and Petter
ElephantVoices' Mara conservation initiative - Elephant Partners
We recently returned from a very informative field trip to the Mara, where we expanded the range of our project beyond the Maasai Mara National Reserve and its neighboring conservancies to encompass the Loita Hills and the Naimena Enkiyo Forest - translated from Maa as the Forest of the Lost Child. With the help of people we met on our way we hope to establish the routes used by elephants to and from the Mara.
The project encompasses an incredibly biologically diverse landscape, and presents us with both logistical challenges and exciting opportunities. Thanks to a grant received from the JRS Biodiversity Foundation in June this year, we now have the core funding to develop and expand this unique project. We plan to be in the Mara ecosystem for up to 6 months each year for the next three years, with our next field trip planned to run from late November 2012 through mid March 2013.
At the invitation of the Gorongosa National Park, ElephantVoices is initiating a new elephant monitoring and conservation project in this wonderful part of Mozambique. The project aims to establish baseline data on the elephant population for the national park wildlife management team to best protect it. We will be gathering data to establish the size of the elephant population, its structure, association patterns, the proportion of tuskless individuals, as well as habitat occupancy and human-elephant conflict. And we will be looking at behavior. To do this we will be getting to know each of the elephants individually.
The first set of data on the elephants were collected in August/September 2011. We are returning this year for an intense three-week field trip during which we will be both collecting data and training others. Follow our progress via ElephantVoices on Facebook.
Blood Ivory - poaching out of control
2012 is déjà vu for Joyce. It’s a recurring bad dream. In the late 1980s when elephants were being slaughtered at an unprecedented rate, she carried out surveys on east african elephant populations to document the impact that poaching was having on their reproductive and social behavior. And she helped write the proposal that led to the international ivory trade being banned in 1989. In the 17 years that followed she watched elephant populations recover numerically and socially. Until, 2007, when the international body that regulates trade in endangered species, CITES, permitted the export of ivory from five southern Africa countries and included China as a trading partner. Then we watched the inevitable happen - hell began to break loose. In 2010 we voiced our grave concern in a paper published in Science (395.07 kB) and we spoke at CoP15 in Qatar against any further trade. At that time the authorities poo-pooed our concern. Not now. With the killing totally out of control, the UN recently noted elephant poaching as a threat to global security.
In the Maasai Mara ecosystem, where we work, elephants are partly protected by the presence of tourists. But, in the first three months of 2012 some 42 elephants were illegally killed there. In a spate of more recent slaughter our beloved “Goodness” (named by Derrick Nabaala for her gentle nature) was killed for her beautiful long asymmetrical tusks, leaving behind her juvenile daughter, f0361, and other calves. (Goodness album on FB). In late August we saw f0361 standing forlornly, alone under a tree. A family of five reduced to one by the killing of a matriarch for her teeth. The deaths of the dependents - calves under the age of 10 years old - is the unseen cost of the trade in ivory. Ivory is dentine, a tooth that belongs on elephants, not on the mantlepiece.
Thanks to the combined voices and hard work of many the word is finally getting out. National Geographic’s article Blood Ivory has galvanized public opinion. Joyce will be speaking live with the author and others on NPR tomorrow Tuesday 2 October at 11 EDT. Join us!
Continued efforts for captive elephants
We continue to engage on issues impacting elephants in captivity. In late March we had several lectures at PAWS Summit for Elephants at Oakland Zoo, and met up with many of our collegaues also working hard to make a difference for elephants in captivity. In June Joyce testified in an LA court on behalf of LA Zoo residents Billy, Jewel and Tina, which resulted in what has been defined as a landmark ruling. In August Joyce joined the scientific advisory board for science-based Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, and we earlier joined the board for Elephant Haven.
Petter will in October meet up with Junia Machado and Ana Zinger in Rio de Janeiro to discuss ElephantVoices' further strategies to improve the lives of captive elephants: increasing awareness; improving legislation and working toward getting an elephant sanctuary off the ground in Brazil.
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!
ElephantVoices has had another busy and eventful year and we look toward 2012 with eager anticipation and in the hope that you and others will help us to maintain and strengthen our voice!
Here is a sneak-peak at the first quarter of next year: In February: back to the Maasai Mara and to a meeting in Arusha of elephant projects being carried out along the Kenya-Tanzania "borderlands". In March: the premiere of a film in Washington DC, fund-raising visits to New York and California, a series of lectures at Colorado College and an elephant welfare summit organized by PAWS at the Oakland Zoo.
But before we get ahead of ourselves we have a short summary of the year coming to an end.
Best wishes, and peace for creatures great and small, Joyce and Petter
ElephantVoices Maasai Mara initiative - Elephant Partners
Our primary investment of time and energy this year has been to the elephants of the Maasai Mara ecosystem. By combining web-based technology, education and citizen science in the monitoring and conservation of elephants, a long-held ambition has come true: engaging individual people from all walks of life in the conservation and protection of individual elephants. It is from-the-heart, Compassionate Conservation, at work! It has been a pleasure to collaborate with our old friends at Verviant, Nairobi, during the challenging programming described below.
Mara Elephants Who's Who & Whereabouts
Using photographs of the Mara elephants taken by people from all over the world, we now have over 750 individual adult elephants described and registered in an online searchable elephant ID database: The Mara Elephants Who's Who.
Photographs together with the date, time, location and group size and composition have contributed to over 430 group "sightings", which have been uploaded by a growing community of people to a second searchable Whereabouts database. Together these two integrated databases are known as the Mara Elephants Who's Who & Whereabouts. A related Mapping function makes it possible to search for the location of elephant groups by group type and group size; you can even search for where an individual elephant has been seen or for your own observations. The resulting data are available for anyone to view and to use to toward the conservation of the Mara elephants.
The Mara EleApp
We developed the Android-based Mara EleAppso that anyone residing in or visiting the Maasai Mara can participate in the collection of data that will help to monitor and protect the Mara elephants. The data collected on elephant individuals and groups, on their wounds, injuries or illnesses, and on mortalities can be uploaded directly to the ElephantVoices server in the US.
The combined App and searchable databases make this project highly interactive. There is nothing quite like it available anywhere else and ElephantVoices is proud to have pioneered this new way to monitor elephants. Indeed, as we go to press Agness Kilena (pictured left) has uploaded an observation of an elephant birth!
Name and Protect an Elephant for Christmas!
Each Mara elephant is registered with a code number. You can contribute toward the project and the protection of the Mara elephants by Naming an Elephant. Naming donations will go toward supporting the project, providing scholarships and covering field costs.
Kerstin Bucher, a frequent visitor to the Mara from Germany, has named the beautiful matriarch f0115, "Sian", in memory of an orphaned elephant she fostered. She has also contributed quite a number of elephant photographs that we have used to augment the Whereabouts & Who's Who databases. One of our long supporters, Doug Aja, who earlier this year gave the name Tilly to f0303, has just now named a second member of her family, f0305, "Janis". Thank to both for kicking off the naming of elephants!
In September Joyce traveled to Mozambique, to assess the behavior of the elephants of the Gorongosa National Park. During a civil war that lasted over 15 years, the warring sides, RENAMO and FRELIMO, slaughtered 95% of the elephant population, exchanging ivory for guns and ammunition. Almost two decades after the end of the war, the survivors are still caught between fear and fury: They either run from tourist vehicles or they charge!
Joyce traveled to Gorongosa at the suggestion of her brother, cinematographer, Bob Poole and at the invitation of philanthropist, Greg Carr, who is leading the restoration of the incredible Gorongosa National Park. Joyce had the pleasure to meet some extraordinary survivors and ElephantVoices is discussing future involvement to help these elephants to learn that the people they now meet inside the park come in peace.
Educating via the Senses: Sound, Photography, Paintings and Film
Through a variety of activities, ElephantVoices continues to be involved in the sharing of knowledge about elephants.
From our collections a number of elephant calls, images and video, have been used by the media this year. A series of photographs describing elephant behavior appeared as part of Japanese DVD-book, which has become very popular.
A video clip, a range of elephant sounds and a series of photographs will appear in two elephant films that are due to premiere in 2012. Two of our elephant recordings will appear in Muséum-Maison de l'Eau temporary exhibition on elephants next year. The Science Museum of Minnesota is using a series of photos taken by Joyce in 1980 of Tonie grieving over her stillborn infant, to explore the question, "What makes us human?" The exhibit, still in development, introduces the concept that other animals grieve, too.
Joyce and Petter used a month-long exhibition of elephant photographs (Petter's) and paintings (Joyce's) as an avenue for two lectures on elephant behavior, welfare and conservation.
Joyce worked on two different elephant film productions, one with HBO on elephant welfare and the other with National Geographic on elephant conservation. Both films will premiere in 2012 - we will keep you updated.
We're happy to see that the number of people following us on our different Facebook Pages and Causes are steadily increasing - ElephantVoices on Facebook passed 10,000 "likes" a couple of weeks ago. Please join!
Captive elephant welfare - defining Sanctuary for Elephants
As more people recognize that elephants aren't suited to zoo environments, there is growing interest in the concept of sanctuaries.
To quote Jane Goodall in a letter included in a recent ElephantVoices news post about the Toronto elephants, "With their intense social bonds and need for large areas to roam, elephants should remain in the wild or when this is not possible, in a sanctuary that can provide them with adequate care, the chance to form natural bonds with other elephants, and large areas of natural habitat."
There is much talk about sanctuaries, yet there has been little discussion about what the word "Sanctuary" means for elephants. In line with our work on The Elephant Charter, we have, therefore, put time this year into defining the Principles of Sanctuary for elephants.
The Elephant Charter - SIGN ON and spread the word!
Once again, we urge you to sign The Elephant Charter. It is easy to share the site via social networks and, using Google Translate, visitors can read the Charter in all major languages. Please share it with your friends in other countries!
The elephants of the Toronto Zoo - ElephantVoices' welfare work
ElephantVoices participated in the successful campaign to persuade the Toronto Zoo to close their elephant exhibit and send the three remaining elephants to PAWS; on 25 October the City Council voted overwhelmingly to do so. With the climate and conditions Toronto Zoo can offer - this was the only reasonable decision for the elephants in question. We are delighted to hear that the enormously generous Bob Barker is funding the transition of these elephants from Toronto to PAWS.
Being a small organisation our priority is to engage at the level of policy where we can have the broadest influence on elephant welfare. The development of statements on selected topics concerning the management and treatment of elephants is a primary goal for 2012.
Our intention is for individuals and institutions to make use of these expert statements in a range of more specific cases around the world. While we may take a decision to give advice or provide statements on specific cases, such as the Toronto Zoo, this will be the exception rather than the rule.
In this issue of our eNewsletter we share with you some of our achievements and activities of recent months. Since the scope of our little organization involves everything from scientific research, elephant conservation and welfare, as well as educating the public, our working days are lively and present us with diverse challenges. This variety is reflected in the items included below. The common denominator is our desire to make the world a better place for elephants - now and in the future.
Best wishes, Joyce and Petter
The Mara elephants and Elephant Partners
The Mara elephants are coming under increasing threat from the ivory poaching situation and conflict with people. Joyce and Petter spent January and part of February in the Mara getting a new elephant conservation initiative, Elephant Partners, off the ground. You can read a blog report from that trip here. To generate interest in the Mara elephants, and as a platform to exchange information about them, we have created a Facebook Page dedicated to this initiative. In half a year it has grown to close to 1,000 members. Some of our followers are quite active, often responding with useful information and about the elephants that they have seen and photographed. These records are helping us to follow the movements of some of the more charismatic elephants.
If you want to read more about the Mara elephants and some of our early reflections, you can browse through this note published on Elephant Partners Facebook page. Further down you will find a separate piece on the project's unique online interface.
We have worked hard with our many colleagues to persuade the AZA and individual zoos to drop the use of bullhooks. The AZA Board has just decided that all AZA institutions must make the change over to protected contact by 2014. Protected contact places elephants and their keepers in separate spaces and removes domination, discipline and bullhooks as methods of control and gives elephants more autonomy. An incident at the Toledo Zoo in August last year and a consequent news piece with links on ElephantVoices highlights the major issues surrounding free contact.
The Amboseli Elephants - get the book today!
In February, after decades of observations, years of analysis and writing, and months of editing, the tome, The Amboseli elephants: A long-term perspective on a long-lived mammal was published by University of Chicago Press. The book is a culmination of four decades of study of the Amboseli elephant population in Kenya. Led by Cynthia Moss, the Amboseli Elephant Research Project is the longest study of elephants in the world and many individuals have contributed to this work.
ElephantVoices' Joyce Poole and/or Petter Granli are authors on six of the book's chapters covering such topics as acoustic communication, postural and gestural communication, leadership, male independence and sociality, reproductive success and musth, as well as ethics and elephant conservation. Get your copy - or click on book cover to peak inside.
Poaching and the ivory trade - the slaughter continues
The recent surge in the killing of elephants across Africa and Asia is being fueled by rising demand for ivory in the Far East. Anti-poaching, intelligence and law enforcement efforts simply must be increased. But, if we want to put an end to this senseless slaughter of elephants we must also tackle the demand for ivory. The single most important effort, in our view, is to educate would-be consumers. One way we do this is by keeping dedicated pages on ElephantVoices up to date with relevant information. If you google the words ivory and poachingthis ElephantVoices page comes high up, and the same with this one. Other related words and combinations of words keeps us high up on the list of search returns - we are proud that ElephantVoices is having an impact! Our hope is that the concern and voices of many will force China and others to act for the future survival of elephants. A recent meeting of the CITES Standing Committee indicates that the seriousness of the situation is understood - what remains is swift action among CITES members when it comes to controlling both demand and supply.
Follow some of the world-wide media coverage of the ivory trade and poaching here - and please let your voice against the ivory trade be heard when appropriate.
Older elephants are often the targets of poachers bullets because they have larger tusks, and because they come to the fore in defense of their families. Protecting the lives of these wise leaders of elephant society is one more reason to put an end to the gruesome trade in the teeth of these intelligent animals.
Joyce was also an author in a publication (229.86 kB) resulting from a study by Patrick Chiyo of male elephant association patterns, published in Animal Behaviour in March. As Joyce noted in her 1982 Phd thesis (34.12 MB), Chiyo found that male elephants generally associate with others males in a rather random fashion, though they also show distinct preferences for a few valuable partners. Closer analysis by Chiyo uncovered that these networks of valuable “friendships” are based on a combination of age proximity and genetic relatedness. Based on body shape and facial similarities we have suspected that male relatives form friendships, and Chiyo's genetic work has been able to confirm it. His study also found that older males influenced the cohesion of all-male groups. The study concludes, once again, that the elimination of older individuals by poachers and trophy hunters will negatively impact male elephant society.
The Elephant Charter - SIGN ON and spread the word!
During March and April we carried out a technical upgrade of The Elephant Charter site. It is now easy to share the site via social networks and, using Google Translate, visitors can read the Charter in all major languages, so share it with your friends in other countries.
Exhibition of Joyce's elephant paintings - educational twist
During April Joyce held her first ever exhibit of elephant paintings at Hubro Litteraturhus og Kafe in Sandefjord, Norway. Over the month-long exhibit Joyce and Petter held two lectures on elephants, both times to a full house.
The paintings and the stories behind them illustrate the behavior of elephants, the many threats to their conservation and welfare, and the depth of Joyce's feelings for them.
Proceeds from sale of paintings go to support the work of ElephantVoices. Get
if you're interested in buying!
Kenyan programmers hard at work with Elephant Partners' online interface
In early May we completed the detailed specifications for Elephant Partners online searchable databases. Verviant in Nairobi is in the final stages of programming the Mara Elephant Who's Who and the Mara Elephant Observations Database. We are now busy testing and fine-tuning this unique site, which we hope to launch in September.
In the meantime we are populating the database with the observations and the more than 600 elephants that we have already registered. ID photographs of each individual must be uploaded and each elephant's unique characteristics coded in. Once this is accomplished, the public can begin to use the databases to find and follow individual elephants and to contribute to our growing knowledge of their families, habitat use and movements.
We invite you as friend of ElephantVoices to take an early sneak peak at the work-in-progress ID database here - and you're of course very welcome to join Elephant Partners on Facebook!
ElephantVoices' team grows stronger
Recent months have seen some changes in ElephantVoices' little team. In March, we welcomed Prof. Andy Dobson of Princeton University to our Board, which includes Coco Hall, Nidhi Singh, Joyce Poole and Petter Granli.
In June, Peter Stroud of Melbourne joined ElephantVoices part-time as our Elephant Welfare Specialist. His presence will increase our capacity to work toward positive change for the welfare of captive elephants. Peter worked in major Australian zoos for 23 years, as a keeper, curator and director. From 1993 to 2003 he was active in the development of zoo elephant management in the Australasian region. Peter is a member of the Asian Elephant Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.
Our volunteer representative in São Paulo, Junia Machado, continues to work hard to improve the living conditions for the almost 40 elephants in Brazil. Junia is building up a very active team of volunteers who have taken on a number of different activities. With Junia's help, ElephantVoices is actively supporting an initiative from Brazilian Congress Representative, Ricardo Tripoli, to ban the use of elephants in circuses.
Juliette West, a Californian teenager, is working with us this summer to develop a series of PSA-type messages related to both wild and captive elephants. Since we first met Juliette in 2009 she's done a great job educating the public through How I Became an Elephant and public appearances and has won awards for her work.
Joyce to assess fearful elephants in Mozambique
Joyce arrives in Mozambique on 25th August to work with the elephants of Gorongosa National Park. These elephants are the traumatized survivors of the civil war and to find ways to help them understand that they can trust, not fear, today's visitors to the park, is a major challenge.
Discussions over the fate of these elephants has lead to a TV documentary in which Joyce will work together with her brother, cinematographer Bob Poole.
Thank you for your continued support - elephants need you!
In the months ahead, education will continue to be central to all our efforts. We look forward to training guides and scouts in Maasai Mara in October and November, and to developing educational modules for schools. A couple of exciting film projects and increased messaging through social media are also in the pipeline.
As we work with people to protect the elephants of Maasai Mara and elsewhere, compassion for individuals remains at the heart of what we do and sound science the basis for our arguments and choices.
We know well that elephants, and those of us working for their interests, face major challenges ahead. To achieve results we must network and collaborate with you and many others. We truly appreciate your support for ElephantVoices and your participation via ElephantVoices on Facebook and Elephant Partners on Facebook. Follow our work, get involved, donate if you are in the position to do so - you can make a difference!
It has been a very busy year for ElephantVoices. You can learn more about some of the elephant issues we have been involved in during 2010 by scrolling down the page - or by using the links to the right to go directly to something of particular interest. A click on an image reveals a larger version and more information.
Thank you for your continued support!
We wish you and yours Happy Holidays - and all creatures a peaceful 2011!
Elephant Partners - our new project in the Maasai Mara ecosystem
The concept of Elephant Partners, put simply, is to connect individual people - guides, scouts, rangers, researchers, photographers, tourists, people of the Maasai Mara and all people who care - with the lives of individual elephants. Through use of the Internet and social and educational media our intention is to develop a community of people working together to share their knowledge about the Mara elephants and to monitor and protect them.
Harambee is a Kiswahili word meaning to work together for a common purpose. It is our belief a harambee spirit can engender the understanding, compassion and collective custodianship needed for people and elephants to find ways to coexist in a mutually beneficial way. Though conflict is high, we believe that there is a real possibility that change for the better can be accomplished through Elephant Partners.
We hope you will consider joining Elephant Partners, either by sharing your Maasai Mara elephant images and observations or as a financial contributor. The elephants of the Maasai Mara need you NOW!
Those of you who are following our blog and Facebook page know that ElephantVoices was very active during the lead up to, and at, the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Qatar in March. Together with 26 other scientists we wrote an opinion piece that appeared in Science the day CITES opened in Doha. The piece argued against any "one-off" sales of ivory and concluded that CITES will only meet its mandate of protecting species from over-exploitation if science is placed above politics in all CITES trade decisions.
At CITES ElephantVoices was part of the African Elephant Forum supporting the African Elephant Coalition of range states that opposes trade in ivory. Joyce gave a presentation together with scientists Iain Douglas-Hamilton and Sam Wasser that helped to tip the scales against the ivory trade. While we consider this to be a victory for elephants, unfortunately much of the damage was already set in motion by previous “one-off" sales. Until we are able to reduce the demand for ivory by, poaching will continue. And as long as countries continue to push for trade the message to consumers is that it is OK to buy ivory. This is why we are against any trade in ivory.
Read an ElephantVoices article on the issue of affluence driving elephant killings here, and follow world-wide media coverage of the ivory trade and poaching here.
Elephants belong in the wild and conservation efforts must focus on ensuring their survival there, not in captivity. Traditional zoos simply cannot meet the needs of large social, intelligent animals like elephants. We feel very strongly that elephants should not be removed from the wild to fill captive exhibits.
Earlier this year ElephantVoices led a successful, global campaign to stop the shipment of two wild caught elephant calves from Zimbabwe to a North Korean zoo. The calves are now being rehabilitated in Zimbabwe and will be returned to the wild. Similar pressure has been brought to bear on Tanzania. Both countries are being monitored closely in this regard.
Those of you who followed our involvement in the release of the Sondelani elephants last year may wish to watch a very moving film, There were nine little elephants, which tells the story of 10 little elephants (one of whom dies in captivity) captured in Zimbabwe and brutally trained for elephant-back safaris. It took incredible dedication and compassion of people working across continents to rehabilitate and release these elephants back to the wild in Hwange National Park. The story ends with the birth of Mary’s calf… - in the wild, where she should be.
In September, we travelled to Oxford University to attend the Compassionate Conservation Symposium. Finally, compassionate conservation, an approach we have promoted for decades, has come of age! Those of us who study the behavior of animals in the wild know how important each individual is to the integrity of a society. Compassionate Conservation is about protecting these individuals and bringing their needs – rather than just the species – to the fore. Practicing compassionate conservation means making a connection of the heart - individual people, families, villages, communities and nations supporting, protecting and nurturing individual animals and plants; individual species; habitats, landscapes and ecosystems.
Our new project in the Mara is compassionate conservation in practice – connecting individual people – scouts, rangers, photographers, tourists, you - with the lives of individual elephants – and building a global community that cares.
Higher standards of care for elephants in captivity
ElephantVoices is working on various fronts to press for improved standards for elephants held captive.
In South Africa: For several years now we have worked with the central and provincial authorities to develop better standards for the more than 100 captive elephants in zoos, circuses and elephant-back safari businesses.
In Brazil: We are working with Junia Machado and the central authorities toward laws that would improve the conditions for elephants in zoos and would ban the use of elephants in circuses. Working with us, Junia has collected hours of data on the behaviour of Terezita, a lone wild caught female African elephant in the Sao Paulo Zoo.
In Spain: We visited the Barcelona Zoo in June to assess Susi’s and Yoyo’s situation and to give our support for setting aside land in southern Spain for an elephant sanctuary to be developed. Read our assessment here.
In the United States: We have been working on various fronts to improve the lives of captive elephants this year including pressing to phase out the use of bullhooks in circuses and zoos in the United States. (e.g. Fulton County)
In Sri Lanka: A call-to-action for new laws to protect captive elephants.
Getting elephants out of the circus
This year we have also worked on several fronts to try to put an end to the use of elephants in circuses.
In Norway: We have written reports (høringsuttalelse (373.19 kB)) and met with the animal welfare authorities, who have recommended an end to elephants in circuses. The decision is soon to be taken by the Government.
In the UK: We are working with Animal Defenders International (ADI) and others. ElephantVoices report on the Great British Circus is to be presented to the British animal welfare authorities.
In the United States: We have written a detailed report on the brutal training of baby elephants by Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, which was presented in person to the USDA. Read the report here (1.59 MB).
In Brazil: We are working with Junia Machado and the central authorities toward a law that would ban the use of elephants in circuses.
In South Africa: We are working in an expert capacity toward policy that would protect elephants from abuse in circuses.
Sri Lanka's elephants in serious trouble - action needed!
Over the course of the year we have exchanged numerous emails on the subject of Sri Lanka’s wild and captive elephants, and have been following elephant conservation and welfare issues with growing alarm. After the recent tragic and unnecessary death of one of Sri Lanka’s rare “tuskers” during translocation, we posted a call-to-action on ElephantVoices.
There is an urgent need for Sri Lanka to come up with long-term solutions to the rising toll from human-elephant conflict, and to introduce legislation to protect elephants in captivity. We urge the Sri Lanka authorities to address these issues by putting the wellbeing of individual elephants before profit and politics.
Reaching out and networking through Facebook, Twitter & Jumo
The use of social networks is exploding, and opens up new possibilities for education and engagement that we are putting to use for the conservation and protection of elephants. Since ElephantVoices started on Facebook a year ago, we have seen our "membership" grow to over 7,500. We have another 1,400 following us on ElephantVoices4U, 2,900 on Causes, and a few on Twitter. Our primary outreach is via ElephantVoices on Facebook through which we link back to articles on ElephantVoices.org. To add to this outreach, ElephantVoices joined Jumo on its opening day. We hope that Jumo helps to generate funding needed to keep ElephantVoices vibrant, creative and effective.
As a tiny organization we feel that these social networks offer us a chance to educate by connecting with hearts and minds in a very personal way. Our biggest reward is when members of our networks take their own initiatives to act as ambassadors for elephants, and this is happening ever more frequently. Furthermore, it is with pleasure that we see many our followers starting to mingle, online and even in person. That IS networking in the interest of elephants...
Why do African elephants (Loxodonta africana) simulate oestrus: An analysis of longitudinal data.
Over several decades Joyce and other members of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project have observed that influential adult females, particularly mothers of teenage daughters, simulate estrous behavior when their young daughters come into estrus for the first time.
In our paper we hypothesize that these females may be demonstrating to their naïve daughters how to behave so as to maximize the chances of mating with a high-ranking male.
The long awaited BIG BOOK on the Amboseli elephants
The long-awaited scientific book, The Amboseli elephants: A long-term perspective on a long-lived mammal, will be coming out in February 2011. The book is available for prepublication order on Amazon.com. Joyce and/or Petter have contributed to six chapters in the book including:
Ethical approaches to elephant conservation
The behavioral context of African elephant acoustic communication
Signals, gestures and behaviors of African elephants
Longevity, competition and musth: A long-term perspective on male reproductive strategies.
Male social dynamics: Independence and beyond
Decision-making and leadership in the using the ecosystem