Jared Leto’s World Wildlife appeal

I got an email from actor Jared Leto.  Not a personal email, although he used my name.  Rather, he is an ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund, and they are currently running a fundraising campaign to save Asian elephants in Myanmar.

Last week I posted about the current crisis in Myanmar, and how poachers are now selling elephant skin as “medicine”, even though there is no real scientific evidence that elephant skin has any benefit for human health.

Jared writes:

Elephant poaching rates since January have already surpassed the annual average for Myanmar—this is truly a crisis. Most of the poaching is happening in two areas: Bago Yoma and Ayeyarwady Delta, where poachers can gain easy access. At this rate, wild Asian elephants could vanish from these areas in just one or two years…

WWF has an emergency action plan to stop the poaching. With your support, WWF will train, equip and deploy 10 anti-poaching teams to the most vulnerable areas, and implement a thorough plan to stop the slaughter.

So far, the campaign has raised $80,000.  The goal is $230,000, so if you’re looking for a good cause for donatations, please consider this!

Elephants likely to be protected in NY

There is a bipartisan effort in New York to ban elephant entertainment. It passed the legislature and is now on the Governor’s desk for review.

Thanks to efforts by Pace University students to educate their representatives about animal cruelty, New York may become the first state to protect elephants by law.

From USA Today:

The bill, called the “Elephant Protection Act,” allows the state Department of Agriculture and Markets to assess a fine of up $1,000 for every violation of the law when an elephant is used for performances.

The bill doesn’t apply to accredited zoos, aquariums or wildlife sanctuaries.

Cuomo’s office said it is reviewing the bill. If signed, the law would take effect within two years.

Myanmar elephant deaths rise

From The Guardian:

“Reported cases of killed elephants in Myanmar have increased dramatically since 2010, with a total of 112 wild elephant deaths, most of them in the past few years. In 2015 alone, 36 wild elephants were killed, according to official figures from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The figures for 2016 are feared to be even worse.”

Myanmar, a poor country with plenty of government crises, has not devoted time and money to invest consistently in conservation.  Although they did stop logging operations in 2014, they have been unsuccessful in protecting wildlife such as elephants from poachers.

With China banning the ivory trade, Myanmar has become a popular spot for Chinese to go to buy ivory and other elephant products such as the teeth, skin, and the penis.  Most of these parts are used for “medicinal” purposes, although there is no solid scientific evidence rhino, elephant, or tiger parts really help treat illnesses.  Any relief the patient feels after ingesting or rubbing such ointments onto the skin is likely only an expensive placebo effect that harms the environment.

Myanmar unfortunately has become a country where African elephant parts go to the market too.  Groups such as TRAFFIC are trying to strengthen Myanmar border patrols to stop illegal wildlife trading.

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Photo: taken at Elephant Nature Park

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Welcoming orphaned elephant

Video: youtube, elephantnews

The Elephant Nature Park in Thailand is a special place.  They rescue elephants and rehabilitate them from landmine accidents, abusive circus acts, and body-breaking logging work.  The elephant then can live out his or her life in retirement.

Tourists are allowed to observe the elephants, and even can feed or bathe them (the staff are careful to choose elephants who are willing participants).   This park was where I got to meet a variety of elephants during my trip to Thailand in June 2015.

Therefore, I try to keep up with news online about the Elephant Nature Park.  This video of an orphaned elephant being welcomed by the herd made world news this week, and for good reason.  It’s so heartwarming to watch good news!

With summer here (a short season in my city), I will be posting on the blog less – likely once a week – as I will be trying to spend as much time outside during my free time as possible!

 

 

Elephants help rescue effort

An elephant in India hurt his leg and became stuck in swamp waters.  Local villagers have been bringing the wild elephant food.  They have ridden their domestic elephants into the murky water to deliver supplies.  Now a team of rangers and vets have arrived to free the elephant and fix the leg.

One of the most touching aspects of this story is that the domestic elephants showed great compassion for their fallen wild friend.  They intertwined trunks for extended periods of time, an act usually reserved only for friendly family members.

From ABC News:

Indian veterinarians are treating a 10-year-old wild elephant with an injured leg to help it escape from a marshy area where it has been stuck for at least five days.

The state Forest and Environment Ministry said forest rangers are bringing domesticated elephants to help rescue the trapped male elephant in Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary, 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Gauhati, the capital of Assam state.

Sadly, more elephants are becoming trapped (and often die) in wells or dangerous waters.  This is due to climate change – wild elephants are going into unchartered territory to search for water and food.

 

Reteti Elephant Sanctuary

The Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Kenya is supported by the Northland Rangelands Trust, which strives to get locals involved in conservation.  The Samburu tribe traditionally feared elephants, but now are on the front lines saving them.  They founded the sanctuary in 2016, and employ both male and female tribal members.  The Samburu track elephants for data purposes, rescue elephants in trouble, rehabilitate adults elephants and provide care for orphaned elephants.

From National Geographic:

The loss of elephants has a ripple effect on other animals. Elephants are ecosystem “engineers” who feed on low brush and bulldoze small trees, promoting growth of grasses, which in turn attract bulk grazers like buffalo, endangered Grevy’s zebras, eland, and oryx, themselves prey for carnivores: lions, cheetahs, wild dogs, leopards.

For pastoralists like the Samburu, more grass means more food for their cattle—one reason indigenous communities have begun relating to elephants, animals long feared, in a new way. “We take care of the elephants, and the elephants are taking care of us,” Lemojong says. “We now have a relationship between us.”

 

Elephant “revenge” on hunter

Big game safari hunter Theunis Botha, age 51, died this past week after being crushed by a female elephant.  From NPR:

Botha ran Theunis Botha Game Hounds Safaris specializing in leopard and lion safaris in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. He claims to have pioneered a European-style of hunting in the region using hounds to help flush out the prey. Botha would often travel to the United States to find wealthy customers to take part in the trips, according to the Telegraph.

He was with a hunting party and they came across a breeding herd of elephants – three elephants charged towards him, and a fourth came from the side and took him by surprise, lifting him with her trunk.  A fellow hunter shot the elephant and she too died, crushing Mr. Botha.

Sadly, Mr. Botha leaves behind a grieving family.  Yet, hunting big game is very dangerous and there is always high risk.  The fact that this was a breeding herd made the situation incredibly precarious for the humans.   Elephants, like most mammals, are prepared to fight to the death to protect their most vulnerable family members.

Supporters of big game hunts say the money goes into conservation, and also keeps populations in check.  But, the results show problems with this optimistic theory.  National Geographic looked at six countries that allow big game hunting (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Namibia, and Tanzania) and wrote the following:

But a closer look at trophy hunting in Africa shows that the industry employs few people and that the money from hunt fees that trickles down to needy villagers is minimal. Government corruption can be a factor. In Zimbabwe, for instance, individuals associated with President Robert Mugabe have seized lands in lucrative hunting areas. Trophy hunting isn’t stopping poaching, especially in countries that have a poor record of protecting their wildlife…

With more than one-sixth of the land in those six countries set aside for trophy hunting, and the fact that land-hungry politicians are seizing more and more land for themselves, impoverished rural communities often resort to poaching and the illegal wildlife trade to sustain themselves.