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ElephantVoices Year End eNewsletter 2010

Dear Friends of Elephants and ElephantVoices,


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!

Trumpets, Joyce & Petter

Read about:
- Elephant Partners, our new project in the Mara

- Ivory trade and the protection of elephants
- Keeping wild elephants in the wild
- Compassionate Conservation has come of age!
- Higher standards of care for elephants in captivity
- Getting elephants out of the circus
- Sri Lanka's elephants in serious trouble
- Reaching out through Facebook, Twitter & Jumo
- Why do African elephants simulate oestrus?
- The long-awaited book on the Amboseli elephants

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!

Read more

Ivory trade and the protection of elephants

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.

Read more

Science Opinion Piece 12. March 2010: Elephants, Ivory, and Trade

Keeping wild elephants in the wild

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.

Read more, and watch the film

Compassionate Conservation has come of age!

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.

Read more, and watch presentation

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

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