Youtube: JP Films
This young man captured some wonderful footage of what is so incredible about elephants: such massive yet gentle, kind animals. If you treat them with respect they will do the same. They have an enormous intelligence and heart, and it is tragic to know they are endangered due to human related causes from poaching to deforestation and climate change related drought.
Three years ago I studied abroad in Thailand. One of my favorite experiences was visiting the Elephant Nature Park, which ethically cares for over 35 elephants. My professor is now back in Thailand, leading another group on this magical daytrip.
She just sent me this picture, which showcases the beautiful scenery of the park. I wish I were there with them!
Thailand is getting more and more aware of ethical tourism. Here are some other options:
1. Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary: Three guesthouses with double accommodation. Wake up and walk only a few steps to help feed and bathe the elephants.
2. Elephant Haven: like the Elephant Nature Park, you can do a daytrip from Chiang Mai. The unique part about this place is it is a reformed elephant camp. Just a few years ago, they kept elephants in chains and used harsh training methods so the elephants would perform for tourists. Now, they are looking to the Elephant Nature Park model as a guide to humane treatment for elephants.
3. Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary: one hour from Chiang Mai, this is a volunteer experience. People often stay a week helping out, with regular feedings, bathing, and clean up duties. Help restore nature to her finest by assisting with tree plantings.
Dame Daphne Sheldrick has passed away from breast cancer. She and her late husband founded the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which has rescued hundreds of elephants since 1977 and raised awareness about conservation. Her daughter posted the following on the DSWT website.
She will be sorely missed, but never forgotten, and this is what Daphne drew the most comfort from in her final weeks; knowing that her memory and work would continue with the tiny steps of baby elephants for generations to come and that the work that she pioneered has been able to achieve so much for wildlife and wild places throughout Kenya. She died knowing that she will continue to make a difference each and every day upon a land that she held so dear to her heart through the work of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, thanks to a dedicated team she leaves behind. Daphne was fortunate to live long enough to preside over mud baths at Ithumba with well over 100 orphans, ex orphans and wild friends frolicking, and be able to say to herself, ‘but for I’. What a gift she leaves us all with, as she really is a shining example of the finest of humanity. Thank you all for your love and passion and support.” Angela Sheldrick
Very disappointing news shared by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust:
USA lifts ban on elephant trophy imports
In another twist in the trophy hunting debate, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has announced that it is withdrawing its ban on importing elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia with immediate effect. Instead, permits will now be granted to hunters on a ‘case-by-case basis’. A number of other decisions made previously under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) are also being overturned.
The ban on importing trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia was put in place under the Obama Administration in 2014 as a measure to protect elephants, after evidence showed that hunts in these countries did not enhance conservation efforts. The current US Administration first tried to lift the ban in November 2017, but a subsequent global backlash forced President Trump to put the decision on hold, pending a further review.
Though USFWS remained tight-lipped on any formal decision, Trump indicated at the time that the ban would remain in place, calling trophy hunting a ‘horror show’ and the attempt to overturn the ban ‘terrible’.
Yet, just a few months later, here we are again, with the US Administration lifting the ban to allow imports, this time on a case-by-case basis – appointing itself as judge, jury and executioner to elephants.
This latest announcement comes as a disappointing u-turn and one that could lead to the killing of more innocent elephants by US hunters.
Sad news featured on BBC today:
Esmond Bradley Martin, 75, was found with a stab wound to his neck at home in the capital Nairobi on Sunday.
The former UN special envoy for rhino conservation was known for his undercover work establishing black-market prices.
An influential conservationist, Martin was fearless in his pursuit for truth and justice. He traveled to a China, Laos, Vietnam, and other locations posing as a black market dealer, taking secret photographs of ivory whilst in the presence of gang members. He was instrumental in providing accurate reports of the illegal ivory and rhino horn trade to the UN and conservation groups, and gets a lot of credit for pushing China to ban ivory.
A US citizen, he first went to Kenya in the 1970s to begin his reports to combat the rise of ivory trading. He died there in his home, likely the unfortunate victim of robbery rather than a premeditated revenge killing.
Tributes from groups like Save the Elephants have been released in the press and on social media.
Zimbabwe has been featured in this blog for bad news in the past, such as for selling elephants into captivity.
I’m happy to start 2018 with great news. The new president Emmerson Mnangagwa is concerned about endangered species. He is banning the trade of elephants and other endangered animals.
He also wants to devote more government funds and focus to protecting the environment. Also very encouraging: he hopes to have women be leaders in conservation. So far, he seems to be walking the walk, and not just giving nice speeches. His daughter is currently participating in the Akashinga project, a woman-run part of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation.
(My photo below)
Some good news to start 2018: Preliminary studies are showing the ban on ivory in China is working well.
From the BBC:
“Wildlife campaigners believe 30,000 African elephants are killed by poachers every year.
State media said there had already been a 65% decline in the price of raw ivory over the past year.
There had also been an 80% decline in seizures of ivory entering China, said Xinhua.
The ban was announced last year and came into effect on Sunday, the last day of 2017.”
Happy New Year!