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ElephantVoices' eNewsletter September 2012

Dear Friends of ElephantVoices,

Petter and JoyceWe 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.

Looking for elephant signs at salt lick near Walking with Maasai/Olkoroi Camp, with Amos Munai and Parit Kashu.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.

We now have 796 adult elephants registered on the Mara Elephants Who’s Who and 966 elephant group sightings uploaded to the Mara Elephants Whereabouts. Learn about how our project works and how you can participate by watching Joyce’s 15 minute presentation at the National Geographic Explorers’ Symposium. And if you live in or plan to visit the Mara and neighboring areas please join us! All you have to do is to get yourself a smartphone based on Android, download the Mara EleApp from Android Market and get started. Name an elephant or contribute data. We look forward to see you online!

ElephantVoices launches Gorongosa project

Gorongosa elephants. Photo by Andreas Ziegler.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. Goodness, killed in August 2012. Photo: Gina Poole.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