Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 December 2013 01:42
Dear Friends of ElephantVoices,
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.
You can read these stories via the following links: Harmonizing Elephant Deaths, Little Fellow Knew Nothing About CITES, Elephants Communicate in Sophisticated Sign Language, Researchers Say, Name that Elephant and Orphan Elephants Lack Social Knowledge Key for Survival. The latter was based on the recent scientific publication, Effects of social disruption in elephants persist decades after culling, on which Joyce is a co-author. The results of our research should act as another argument against the trade in elephants and their body parts.
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.
A brighter future for captive elephants
In October Global Sanctuary for Elephants and Elephant Sanctuary Brasil were launched, inspired by ElephantVoices continuing efforts to improve the well being of elephants held captive.
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.
Follow ElephantVoices through social media
ElephantVoices Facebook page is nearing 25,000 followers and we use it daily to educate and spread the word - with our goal being to encourage our followers to spread our messages even further. If you are on Facebook and like elephants please "like" us! You can also follow us on Instagram and Twitter, and via ElephantVoices Brasil on Facebook if you prefer Portuguese.
Last Updated on Saturday, 26 October 2013 08:08
As many of our supporters know, for the last couple of years ElephantVoices has been working with team members in Brazil to promote and support progressive legislation to end the antiquated practice of performing elephants. A connected strategy has been to explore the development of an elephant sanctuary in Brazil. Many captive elephants in Brazil and other South American countries are in dire need of better welfare and living conditions. To help put an end to their suffering, a sanctuary in Brazil is urgently needed.
Recently, Scott Blais, co-founder of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, and his partner, Katherine Blais, have established a new non-profit entity, Global Sanctuary for Elephants (GSfE), with financial and other support from ElephantVoices.
Dedicated to the development and support of progressive, holistic, natural habitat elephant sanctuaries internationally, GSfE will spearhead the exciting and, for elephants, important effort in Brazil. Brazil is for many reasons a well suited location for a sanctuary - with the climate, available habitats permitting natural foraging and social behavior, the potential of progressive policies and a our established team of enthusiastic volunteers being just a few.
A collaborative initiative with ambitious goals
With their vast experience with captive elephants, Scott and Katherine will take the lead on this initiative working closely with ElephantVoices Brazil, while ElephantVoices Directors, Petter Granli and Dr. Joyce Poole, will continue to provide advice and consult on all major developments. ElephantVoices Brazil, the team of volunteers led by Junia Machado, will coordinate all on-the-ground activities, working with Brazilian officials, investigating new opportunities including exploration of possible properties to develop, and they will continue to build the fundamental, professional relationships so essential to moving this project forward. Together we have agreed that Elephant Sanctuary Brazil (ESB) will be fostered under the guiding principles previously established by ElephantVoices and available on Sanctuary for Elephants - Overall Principles.
ElephantVoices cares deeply about the long-term health and welfare of captive elephants. We feel confident that under the direction of Scott and Katherine, Elephant Sanctuary Brazil will transform the future for elephants in South America while also serving as an international benchmark for other sanctuary-initiatives to emulate. To see ESB up and running will be like a dream coming true.
Lots of hard work ahead - Brazil has highest priority
As we now set out on the long road forward, several phases need to be developed and substantial funds need to be raised to bring Elephant Sanctuary Brazil to fruition. The first phase of development is for Scott and Kat to join ElephantVoices team members on the ground in Brazil to finalize plans moving forward, and to gather the basis for a sanctuary prospectus. While in Brazil, they will assess identified properties for potential development, meet with key government officials and Brazilian stakeholders and investigate construction options that will allow us to formalize the long-term financial needs and to formulate land acquisition and construction budgets.
In addition to human resources, ElephantVoices has committed $10,000 toward the $30,000 budget needed to fund this first phase and we have already received another $3,500 from supporting animal welfare groups. Now the project team will be working to secure the remaining $16,500 to expedite the first phase toward helping elephants in South America walk and live in sanctuary.
We urge you to consider supporting ESB and/or GSfE
For the past 20 years we have witnessed the tremendous impact of two iconic elephant sanctuaries in North America, The Elephant Sanctuary (TES) and Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), as they have transformed the lives of those lucky enough to find sanctuary. You can be a part of making that dream a reality for elephants throughout South America. With your support of Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, together we can ensure that those elephants who have already served a life sentence performing, can soon find the peace, space and autonomy they need and deserve. We request the help of everyone (individuals, companies and animal welfare agencies alike) committed to working for a better quality of life for elephants to help raise the funds needed to move this pivotal first phase forward.
Please donate online through one of the links below:
Global Sanctuary for Elephants
Crowdfunding campaign for Elephant Sanctuary Brasil
ElephantVoices. If you donate through ElephantVoices, be certain to designate your funds for the Elephant Sanctuary Brazil Project on the dropdown menu.
Poor Semba passed away - we need to move forward NOW
Over the past few weeks we’ve learned that Semba, a circus elephant who spent her life on the road across South America, and who we hoped would one day find freedom at Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, passed away without warning. We don’t know any details about her cause of death, but we do know that her life will not be forgotten as we push forward with greater urgency to ensure that other captive elephants are offered a freedom Semba was denied.
Follow us on Facebook to hear more about the latest developments toward a compassionate future for elephants in Brazil and throughout South America. You'll find more information on:
- Global Sanctuary for Elephants
- GSfE on facebook
- Elephant Sanctuary Brazil
For inquires or offers of assistance please contact:
in the U.S. –
in Brazil –
Last Updated on Sunday, 29 September 2013 08:11
Some time ago we received an e-mail from Nicole Pursley in Texas, where she writes: "Hi, my daughter and I watched the documentary "An Apology for Elephants", and learned about the bull hook used on these animals. We went to Scarborough fair in Waxahachie, Texas, today and saw these poor elephants giving rides. Thankfully because of the movie my daughter saw the bull hook and refused to ride because she did not want to support the abuse. I asked the man with the hook why it was needed and of course he denied the actual reasoning for it. He then processed to poke the elephant in its side saying "see, it doesn't hurt them". My six year old just started crying - it was just heartbreaking! With your cause being so successful, can you point me in the right direction to bring awareness to these elephants?"
The story touched me very much, and I immediately wrote back to Nicole thanking her for the kind words, giving her some advise in regard to who she could get in contact with locally, and asking her if we might publish her and her daughters story on ElephantVoices. Nicole and her daughter Ella had experienced the infamous Trunks & Humps - a circus company out of Texas - which represents another sad story about the treatment of elephants.
Ella and Parker working together for elephants
Nicole responded: "My daughter was so excited this morning when I read your email to her. We would absolutely love for you to post her story on ElephantVoices!! Ella (my daughter) wants to take a picture with her elephant collection, after school today. I will also send you a few other pictures of the elephants yesterday and let you pick which ones you believe can help them the most. Thanks so much again. Ella has been wanting to help for a while now and I just did not know where to begin. After what we saw yesterday I knew I just needed to start somewhere. I will send you the email later this afternoon!"
And when the photos came, Ella's mother wrote: "Ella picked her newest stuffed elephant Parker to join in her picture. She told me as soon as people hear what they are doing to these elephants, they will help her fight back to save them. She tells anyone that will listen about the ivory trade and how many elephants are killed each year because of it. We constantly look at your website and Facebook page to read updates about the elephants - good or bad. With you helping her get this story out it will encourage and inspire her to keep spreading the word!"
Every step toward better treatment of elephants is a victory
This story is about is a little girl deciding to do something when she sees something that she doesn't feel is right. The suffering of many elephants in captivity is enormous. Ella can help by telling others about the brutal disciplining and the tools used to keep these big, intelligent animals in line. She can help in many other ways also - some mentioned on the page What YOU can do here on ElephantVoices.
We see it as a victory every time a compassionate individual, young or old, writes to us feeling inspired to put efforts into trying to improve the situation for elephants. There are so many passionate voices out there - but many more are needed! And the voices of children are often the most powerful.
Awareness and public pressure are pushing those responsible for keeping elephants in captivity in the right direction. Some accept that they just cannot provide acceptable conditions and allow their elephants to move to a better home as long as that is an option.
Thank you Ella and Nicole for contacting us - continue to spread the word! I can see that Ella's friend Parker and his companions are having a good life - but there are so many elephants in captivity who don't! And certainly many without companions...
Last Updated on Monday, 09 September 2013 09:30
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” written on it.
The following morning, 16 June, Iris Ho and I took the train to the border and crossed into mainland China and on to the Zoo Director’s meeting in Shenzhen. I spoke to the Directors on 18 June, using the occasion to introduce the audience to elephant society and behavior, why the capture and importation of baby elephants is a very bad idea and why elephants don’t do well in captivity. You'll find my summary slide here. I also asked the Zoo Directors to educate their visitors not to buy ivory - but it is fair to say that they didn't particularly like the Every Tusk Costs a Life campaign artwork I showed them. I was forgiven, one of them said, for not knowing that the artwork spelled China in Mandarin...
On 19th I flew from Shenzhen in southern China to Beijing, where I spent the last four days of my China trip, primarily in the care of IFAW and, most particularly, Qi Zhang, or “Sabrina”. She came to meet me at my hotel that evening and took me on my only real touristic experience, which was a delicious meal at a classic Chinese restaurant, a visit to Tianamen Square and a drive through a hutong by bicycle rickshaw.
On the morning 20th I was met at my hotel by Chunmei Hu, a young Chinese student who has just graduated from Veterinary School and hopes to work in an animal rescue center. I had "met" Chunmei via email earlier in the year when the news of the death of the Zimbabwean baby elephant broke in China and made waves around the world. Chunmei and I have been corresponding since then about the plight of elephants in Chinese Zoos, and she wanted me to speak at a symposium of Zoo Watch China. She took me out to lunch prior to the gathering where I met some of her animal welfare colleagues including Prof. Ping Mang from the Academy of Chinese Culture.
Professor Mang coordinated the symposium which included several presentations on the state of elephants in Chinese Zoos as well as some of the legal problems related to the law - or lack thereof - for animal protection. The photographs and videos that were shown were completely heartbreaking. It may be a good thing that I didn’t see them before I gave my talk to the Zoo Directors. I had been given clear instructions not to mention any Chinese elephant welfare examples, to avoid embarrassing the Directors, but I don’t think I would have been able to keep silent had I seen the images first. The symposium was well attended by journalists and I gave a couple of interviews after the Symposium including with China Daily, also covered in it's US version and the Global Times.
The schedule of 21 June began at 10:00 a.m. with a meeting with the Head of the Department of Wild Animal Protection and the Head and Deputy Head of the Division of Wild Animal Conservation and Management to discuss the ivory trade. It took quite a bit of effort to achieve the meeting and I had been forewarned that this Ministry, which is home to both the CITES Managament Authority and the CAZG, is known for being very conservative on issues related to animal welfare and ivory trade. When I broached the topic of China’s involvement in the illegal ivory trade they responded with a list of arguments that can only be read as denial.
For example, I was told that since 1900 colonials killed 8 million of Africa’s elephants; that some 800 tons of ivory is being traded on the Internet by the United States and other countries masquerading as pre-ban ivory; China has very good law enforcement/regulations and, therefore, it is not China that is at fault, but her neighboring countries; rumors of the hoarding of ivory and rumors of high prices are killing the elephant, not China (i.e. it is rumor-mongering that is leading to escalated poaching not facts); and when I asked how they were going to meet CITES recommendation to reduce demand, I was told that China has good education to restrict people to purchasing just legal stock.
The meeting was useful in that I learned that to change the status quo we cannot rely on bureaucrats associated with China's CITES Management Authority. I was reminded again that CITES is an international body mandated to regulate trade in wildlife products; it is not a wildlife conservation body. These individuals are too pro trade to be able to admit that their Ministry is failing to control the ivory trade, nor to be able to see that that failure is ruining China’s reputation in the eyes of the world.
The meeting was followed by four interviews all organized by IFAW China - the first with CCTV, followed by a radio interview with China Radio International, then another with China Daily and, finally, an unusual and interesting interview with an engaging journalist, Gao Wenxing, of the China Philanthropy Times, which falls under the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
In the meantime, on the same day, far away in the Philippines, the crushing of a five-ton ivory stockpile was underway. This event was covered by the New York Times, which made mention of my trip.
On my last day in Beijing, 22 June, I gave a final lecture which was held in the Auditorium of the National Academy of Sciences. The event was organized by IFAW and their team coordinated by Sabrina did a fantastic job. Imagine my surprise when we pulled up to the Academy of Sciences and there, attached securely to the side of the building, was the most enormous banner announcing the lecture with pictures of elephants and me:-).
As I was speaking to the interpreter in a side room, the air suddenly began to vibrate with the sound of “Ele-Beats”. Sabrina had found it on our website and downloaded it for people to listen to as they registered. There was no need to check the sound system – the woofers were certainly fit for low frequency elephant rumbles! When I walked into the 300-seat auditorium I had my next surprise. The screen was enormous – stretching the entire width of the room and Sabrina and the IFAW team had put together a slide show of elephants and the history of Joyce. I was astonished!
As “Ele-Beats” played on and on (and on!), the auditorium gradually filled up with parents and small children, primary school and secondary school students, teachers, scientists, professors, members of the press and Li Bingbing’s assistant, Eline, whom I had been looking forward to meeting. And then it was time to speak to this vibrant crowd.
Grace Gabriel had organized a panel discussion afterwards and time for Q&A. So when I had finished speaking Grace, Jie Yu of the Nature Conservancy (who co-sponsored the talk with IFAW) and CCTV Host, Yue Zhang, (introduced to me as "China’s Oprah Winfrey" as I was to soon understood why!), joined me on stage. Yue Zhang spoke passionately about elephants and other animals and did a fantastic job of leading the questions and keeping the discussion lively. That hour-long Q&A was my next China surprise. I was blown-away by the caliber of questions from the audience – from both young and old, layman and professional. I have given many talks, but this was the most intelligent and compassionate audience I have ever had the pleasure to engage with.
So what did I learn and ElephantVoices achieve? And what can YOU do? I went to China not knowing what to expect. I, admittedly, went in despair over the elephant poaching horror and China's key role in it confirmed by facts and figures of ivory shipments from well reputed sources. The sad situation simply cannot be denied, even though many government officials are trying to do so. I am more convinced than ever before that ALL trade must be banned, to send the clear signals so much needed.
It is obviously impossible to know if my lectures, meetings and the many headlines that have followed have made any impression on those in power. However, having met so many outward and forward looking, curious people who care deeply about the world they inhabit, I have come away with more optimism.
We all know that the effort to educate people about the connection between the purchase of ivory and the killing of elephants needs to be widespread and massive. And we urgently need the Chinese government to be loud and clear in communicating that it is shameful and embarrassing for China to be seen by the global community as responsible for the buying of body parts that, accumulated, leaves tens of thousands of elephants dead in Africa every year. As a colossal investor in Africa, China has a lot to lose if the death and destruction continues. We can only dare to hope that those behind China's new "soft power" approach will take the lead in turning the fate of elephants around. We will all lose part of our pride, and our soul, if the killing of elephants doesn't stop.
You can be part of the tsunami needed to create change - to save elephants. You may not be able to inspire more diplomatic approaches, but you can write on Facebook, get a friend to post on Weibo, contact your politician, talk to a journalist - and participate in upcoming marches and other arrangements focusing on the ivory trade and what urgently should be done. In any way you can, try to ensure that the message is shared in a medium that can reach someone in China. Please include information that people should know about in that regard in the comment field below this blog post. Your suggestions and thoughts are welcome!
I'd like to send a warm Thank You to all my new friends in Hong Kong and mainland China - the hospitality and kind and efficient efforts by so many made a huge difference to my busy program. A special thank you to Jacqueline and William Furniss for hosting me in Hong Kong, and to the Humane Society International and International Fund for Animal Welfare for inspiration and support.
Last Updated on Sunday, 29 September 2013 08:14
Two days after an upsetting e-mail about the slaughter of a pregnant female elephant from our long-time friend and Kenya Elephant Forum collegaue, Kuki Gallmann, we received another. A second pregnant female elephant has been killed for her ivory. She was shot on 22nd, but survived another two days. We are talking about tiny tusks. Males with big tusks are rare to see in Laikipia these days. We are talking about a wonderful, intelligent creature and her unborn baby, killed because of greed; supplying what the market is willing to pay for. A long chain from the killer, to the unscrupulous local middleman, through the big-wigs greasing the wheels of corruption (likely public servants on both side of the ocean) to the dealer and into the hands of the uncaring or ignorant buyer, most likely in Asia. Kenya's heritage, tourism and work places are not factors. Nor is the suffering of the young female and her unborn child.
Joyce is just back from China, a growing super-power which, based on reliable facts and figures from CITES, accounts for 40% of the illegal ivory trade. China should be embarrassed by these photographs which represent the reality of the demand for ivory as a status symbol among the country's growing middle class. Meanwhile, those of us in Africa continue to be confronted with the daily brutality, trauma and death among the declining elephant populations in many elephant range states. Official mortality figures don't include the deaths of the orphaned babies who cannot cope without their mothers. In the case of a pregnant elephant the result is obvious and heart-wrenchingly sickening. Read Kuki Gallmann's words to us as part of the Kenya Elephant Forum. The world must wake up - NOW!
With a sinking heart I report from the field:
Birds waking up in the garden, festive dogs, promise of sunshine, work to do. One early morning like many others. Then... Radio call, phone calls, phone messages, all at once. Another elephant found. Dam Kiboko. Dead in the water. Tusks intact. Pitiful tusks. Rangers deployed, KWS deployed and I drive there, with Sveva.
Official facts and figures:
- Elephant: Female
- Estimated age: 20
- Cause of death: Shot by poachers
- Date of incident: 21/6/ 2013
- Date of death: Night between 23/24 /6/2013
- Location gps: 37N 0202345 UTM 0055820
- Location-found: Dam Kiboko. Time: Today 24th, 7 am
- By: Driver Wilson Chelule
- Tusks: Retrieved.
- Weight: 2 kg and 2.1 kg = total 4.1 kg
- Shot by: Same three men as report 21/6/2013; they wounded her
- Comments: Pregnant and about to calve
This is the second elephant female we find in two days; the second casualty overall in 2013. Shot in same incident, at dusk. Wounded, she survived two days. Very pregnant. Very young: first calf. Conceived here, she was born here, grown here to follow her mother and family, migrating periodically to the Aberdares through increasingly fragmented dangerous land, back here every June in the migratory season along their now interrupted migratory routes. Back here again to be bred in the mating season: and now back to give birth, in what used to be their safe heaven. She died in the water. She died in a dam with pelicans, where elephant play; in a forested area they love, where they used to be secure.
Kiboko Dam, April 2012.
Kiboko Dam, 24th June 2013.
What did she die for? Three dead elephants in two days. Two here one at Mugie, next door. But all pregnant females, dead are the calves. Six dead. What has changed after a peaceful year? Why now? The Rift Valley dealers are back.
Young pregnant females are giving birth, now, here. THEY ARE COMNG BACK FROM FAR. WE SEE NO MALES. THOSE HAVE BEEN KILLED LONG AGO, IT IS THEIR CALVES THAT ARE BORN TWENTY-TWO MONTHS LATER. We need more rangers to look after them, and we need help.
Kuki, Sveva and Team in Ol ari Nyiro,
Laikipia Nature Conservancy
On the Great Rift Valley of Kenya, on a SAD SAD SAD 24th June 2013
https://www.facebook.com/KukiGallmann - www.gallmannkenya.org
After a tractor pulled the dead elephant out of the water, the rangers removed the tusks and slit the stomach for the predators to speed up the recycling process. Photo: Sveva Gallmann.