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ElephantVoices eNewsletter August 2011
Dear Friends of Elephants,
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 are pleased to report that the Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation, the National Geographic Society's Conservation Trust, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Moorhead Family Fund, Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy, the Franz Weber Foundation, Friends of Conservation, as well as generous individuals are supporting this project. We warmly thank these organizations and individuals for making this project possible.
BIG VICTORY for elephant welfare!
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.
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 poaching this 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.
Scientific papers published
In March the Proceedings of the Royal Society published Leadership in elephants: the adaptive value of age (335.01 kB), a study led by Karen McComb. Joyce was one of the authors of this paper, which showed, once again, the importance of the presence of older leaders to elephant society.
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