Snow Leopard Trust

My local zoo is finally expanding the area for their snow leopards; their previous enclosure always broke my heart a bit.  Snow leopards, like elephants, are struggling in the wild with climate change, poaching, and human/animal conflicts.  There are only between 4000-6000 wild snow leopards in the world today.

The Snow Leopard Trust has been instrumental in saving the snow leopard.  One of their projects includes providing livestock insurance – herders who wish to receive compensation for lost livestock must protect snow leopards.  Another provides income to women by purchasing their handicrafts and selling them through the Trust all over the world.  They also create eco-camps and nature clubs for children to  learn about conservation, and run adult educational seminars on a regular basis.

 

 

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!

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.”

 

Humans benefit from saving elephants

The Guardian posted ten selfish reasons to save elephants – and they aren’t really selfish, as they can lead to medical advances that help a great many people.

By studying elephants, humans are beginning to learn more about the aging process, for example.  Elephants have a similar lifespan, and similar age-related diseases such as osteoarthritis.  They have a similar walking pattern to our own, so any insights researchers discover with elephants can likely transfer over to our own species.

I wrote a post previously discussing cancer research with elephant DNA, and that takes the number 1 spot on The Guardian’s list.  Number 2 on the list talks about elephant hearing and how Stanford University is trying to develop human hearing aids that would use vibrational sounds.

Please head over to the site to read the whole list – it is quite interesting!

 

Six months

Well, it’s already been six months since I began the blog, and I must admit I’m surprised that I’ve been able to post nearly every day.  I started thinking I would have a month or so worth of posts about elephants, and then have to change course.

But, I have found the topic to be rather inexhaustible.  In addition, learning about elephants have made me naturally connect to other topics like conservation, environmental policy, animal rights, and human rights.

If there is one thing I have learned these past six months, it is that we are all connected.

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(Photo taken at Elephant Nature Park)

One of my first posts was about why we should care about saving elephants.  When there are so many issues that need our attention, why devote so much time and resources to an endangered species?

In 2015, BBC Earth did a report on the same topic.  They found that although saving any species does require a huge investment, the economic and social benefit long term far exceeeds it.  (In one example, they looked at how the tourist industry depends heavily on environmental beauty and biodiversity.  In another example, they mentioned that medical advances found in nature can provide huge benefits to humankind).

But, after their long report, their conclusion at the end was the same and as simple as mine is now.

Why should we care?  We should care because we are all connected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nepal and Human-Elephant Conflict

A study published in the Journal for Nature Conservation discusses human-elephant conflict in Nepal.  The obvious conclusion is that both humans and elephants suffer from conflict.  Elephants, already endangered, are killed.  Humans lose crops that they depend on for their livelihood.

Nepal has a rapidly growing population, and the elephants’ traditional habitat is quickly disappearing.  Conflict is inevitable under such conditions, but the study concludes it would improve dramatically if the humans could  be compensated for loss.  The study also concluded that the government needs to invest in a long term conservation plan and involve locals in decisions.

Currently, Nepal has little monetary resources to devote to saving elephants.  Especially after the disastrous earthquake, saving elephants is not a priority of the Nepalese government.

Yet, there are some areas of hope.  For instance, the Chitwan National Park has used tourist revenue to pour back into conservation.  Elephant, tiger, and rhino populations have therefore increased on national park land.

 

 

 

 

Drones to help lessen elephant-human conflict

The PBS Newshour recently had a segment featuring RESOLVE, a US non profit group trying to prevent human-elephant conflict by using drones.  The small drones, meant to sound like a swarm of bees, seem to prevent elephants from entering crop fields.

A local man explained, “There is no animal we hate here more than elephants. The elephants destroy our food. Children sleep hungry. Sometimes you cultivate acres, only to find out the elephants have eaten them all.”

RESOLVE hopes that by preventing elephant crop destruction, locals will no longer despise elephants.  The locals will then be less likely to accept work as poachers and more likely to work with authorities when asked whether poachers are in the area.