This has been another busy and exciting year for ElephantVoices - below you'll find some highlights taking you from Kenya to Mozambique and Brazil! To start, take a look at our redesigned ElephantVoices.org where you will also see our new logo.
Interacting and sharing ideas and data with people, via social media, citizen science or mentoring is fundamental to what we do - for conservation efforts to succeed we must ensure that those who live with elephants are engaged in their conservation.
In December last year we wrote that poaching was spiraling out of control. Sadly, the killings of elephants has continued unabated, though momentum for action and change is increasing by the day. The demand must be reduced and, preferably eliminated. The EU has just called on all Member States to introduce moratoria on all imports, exports and domestic sales and purchase of ivory. We urge anyone with influence to add their voice for the closure of all ivory markets, with China top of our list.
Our work is dependent on your generous support - please include ElephantVoices in your annual giving. Click on this link for a more mobile-friendly donation-page. Naming an elephant supports scholarships and outreach in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, and makes a perfect gift! Every contribution counts!
A warm THANK YOU to all supporters and collaborators - foundations, organisations, media and individuals.
Best wishes and Happy Holiday Season,
Joyce and Petter
ElephantVoices' Mara initiative - Elephant Partners
In early November we prepared our new equipment (read new "Bush Internet") for our second long Mara field season of the year, and created version 2.0 of the Mara EleApp to permit the collection of elephant signs as well as sightings and mortalities. In the Mara we spent time with several of our "citizen scientists" who are collecting data for Elephant Partners. We met David Kimutai, a Kenya Wildlife Service Research Scientist who is doing his Masters project with us; Alfred Kiprotich Bett, a ranger working in Mara Conservancy; Saitoti Silantoi, a warden working on Olare Orok/Motorogi Conservancy. And we extended our outreach to include new people on Motorogi, Siana and Olarro Conservancies. The latter two are key areas for elephants moving from the Maasai Mara toward the Naimena Enkiyio Forest. We also participated in EcoStorm Maasai Mara with fellow stakeholders to brainstorm on the topic, "Creating Space and Generating Benefits."
We have now made our Mara Quarterly Reports available for download, if you want to read about our findings. Our results are based on the 1070 adult elephants we have registered in the Mara Elephants Who’s Who and the 2259 elephant group sightings uploaded by over 250 participants to the Mara Elephant Whereabouts.
One of our many citizen scientists is a young Maasai student, Alfred Mepukori, who interned with us this summer as part of his diploma in tourism and wildlife management at Maasai Mara University. We encouraged him to write an article for Izilwane: Voices for Biodiversity about his experiences growing up by the Naimina Enkiyio Forest (literally, the Forest of the Lost Child) and his recent work monitoring elephants in the forest for our project. He wrote a beautiful piece which has just been published in two parts. If you enjoy reading about Maasai culture you will love his story, part 1 and part 2.
2013 field season in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique
We spent October studying the elephants of Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. The research combines building up baseline data on the population that was ravaged by the 20-year civil conflict and studying their aggressive behavior. Protecting the biodiversity of Gorongosa is dependent on revenue from tourism and, therefore, ensuring that elephants are habituated to approach by vehicles is of fundamental importance. Our work aims to combine the study of elephant behavior with practical input for conservation management and local capacity building.
This year a film team from PBS/National Geographic International followed our work as part of a six episode series on Gorongosa, which will air in 2015. So, in addition to our own data collection and still photographs, we had the benefit of three cameramen (well, one was a woman) to help us document the complex signals between elephants - and we had two vehicles to negotiate "Ambush Alley" and to navigate "Gauntlet Gully". There were some adrenaline pumping moments, but we do feel that the elephants we observe regularly are becoming calmer.
The ivory trade, the poaching, the way forward
Poaching and the ivory trade has loomed larger than ever this year. To counter it ElephantVoices initiated Every Tusk Costs a Life Campaign and Joyce travelled to China to lecture and speak to the authorities about the poaching of elephants. You can read her reflections in this ElephantVoices blog post.
Joyce's visit to Hong Kong spurred the formation of an anti ivory trade group that spearheaded an October 4th March for Elephants (part of the global campaign and march initiated by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust) and an AVAAZ petition aimed at the Hong Kong Government asking for the destruction of the confiscated ivory stockpiles held in HK and the closing of its domestic ivory market.
Joyce's Hong Kong visit caught the attention of 11 year old Nellie Shute who, encouraged by the response to our post on ElephantVoices Facebook page about her interest in making a difference, has started her own campaign, Nellie for Ellies. Nellie made the press again recently by taking a strong stand in favor of the destruction of Hong Kong's huge pile of seized ivory.
Nellie is one of the increasing number of young people speaking out loud for elephants. We are happy to promote her and others like her.
While educational outreach is key to reducing the demand, domestic trade bans in China, Thailand, the United States and other key countries are necessary to stop the ongoing slaughter of elephants.
Outreach through National Geographic media
We worked with National Geographic to publish five articles on our elephant work. The topics ranged from our efforts to stop the ivory trade, elephant gestural communication, how to identify elephants as part of our citizen science project in the Maasai Mara, Kenya and research on the anthropogenic impacts on elephants.
Joyce was featured in the National Geographic Earth Explorers Exhibit, which is being held at the Science Center of Iowa through early 2014. Her Explorers Journal includes photos of her early childhood and her pen and ink drawings of elephants.
Developing an elephant sanctuary in Brazil/South America is made possible by ElephantVoices' team of enthusiastic and well connected volunteers in Brazil. Here is the page on ElephantVoices that presents these exciting new initiatives.
You may also enjoy reading what we wrote about the arrival of Toronto Zoo elephant, Toka, at Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in San Andreas, California. What we saw was a demonstration of the intense social nature of elephants. You'll find the related video clips via the PAWS site.
Despite the tragedy unfolding for free-ranging elephants, our attention and compassion will also continue to be with those suffering in captivity.
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!