Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Day 409- The End of the Northern White Rhino

This is what the end of a species looks like.  At the current rate of poaching, the African Elephant is not too far behind the Northern White Rhino. 

Ultimately, more rhinos were killed every year for their horns than were born. And now they will go extinct. 

The loss of the last male Northern White Rhino occurred the same month President Trump lifted the ban on elephant trophies in the United States.   

Sudan, who died on Monday from natural causes, was one of only eight male Northern White Rhinos nine years ago, all of whom were living in captivity.  Sudan was living in a conservancy in Kenya when he passed away at age 45.  It is up to us to ensure that the African Elephant population will not be whittled down to just a few remaining individuals in captivity.  

Read more about Sudan here
Read more about Trump's decision to lift the poaching ban here.

Go make a difference! 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Day 408- Stampede the Phone Lines!

Read below for information about how YOU can help the elephants!

Donald Trump Junior holding a severed elephant tail as a trophy

In 2014, President Obama banned the import of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia.  On November 16, Donald Trump decided to overturn this ruling, to allow elephant remains in the United States. The announcement was met with outrage by animal lovers everywhere.  Two days later, in response to national protest, Trump appeared to change his mind, suggesting he won’t overturn Obama’s ban.  The elephant world waits.  Jane Goodall (our fav!) posted this on her Facebook page:

"On the Ivory Ban Being Lifted: 
In a sudden decision President Trump has called a temporary halt to the importation of ivory from two African countries while he and his newly appointed Secretary Zinke re-evaluate the status of the elephant populations there. First of all, one of the reasons that was given for reversing the ban on importation of ivory was that the thousands of dollars paid by wealthy American hunters would help to protect the elephants as the money would be used for conservation of the species. And that it would provide countless jobs for the local people.
On both counts this is misleading information. Conservationists on the ground maintain that very little money is actually used for conservation, and that the safari companies organising these murders have their own staff so that typically the local communities receive very little compensation.

To kill endangered animals is not a good idea, and we must remember that each elephant is a highly intelligent social individual whose life matters. Now, probably as a result of the outrage expressed from around the world, Trump has announced a suspension of the ruling. But we must remember that this administration has steadily stripped long-standing protections for animals and the environnent and that the president has left the door open for Secretary Zinke to remove the ban. 
We must remember the words of T. S. Elliot (in The Love Song of Alfred J Prufrock) : “ In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse". We cannot claim this moment as a victory. Rather, we must see it as a call to action to use our voices to call for strengthened protections for animals, for one another and for the planet we all call home."

Call the White House (202-456-1111) from 9am-4pm EST.  

Hello, my name is _____ from _____, and I am calling to strongly urge the President to not overturn the ban on elephant trophies.  An elephant is slaughtered every 15 minutes due to the illegal poaching crisis.  At this rate, elephants will be extinct in less than a decade.  Elephants are a keystone species, and their environments would deteriorate without them.  Thank you for passing along this message to the President.

Go make a difference! (Call the White House!)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Day 407- Remembering Mr. Lotter

In a year where we've seen many positive steps forward in the elephant poaching crisis, Mr. Lotter's death was a devastating loss to the elephant conservationist community.  

South African wildlife conservationist Wayne Lotter was fatally shot this week in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  Mr. Lotter was as an advocate for the elephants, and worked to decrease poaching and the illegal ivory trade.  

Jane Goodall mourned his loss, describing him as "a hero of mine, a hero to many."  She went on to say: “There is no doubt in my mind but that Wayne’s anti-poaching efforts made a big difference in the fight to save Tanzania’s elephants from the illegal ivory trade. Moreover his courage in the face of stiff opposition and personal threats, and his determination to keep on fighting, has inspired many, and encouraged them also to keep fighting for wildlife.  If this cowardly shooting was an attempt to bring the work of the PAMS Foundation to an end it will fail."  

Please read the New York Times article below for more information about Mr. Lotter.  

~ ~ ~

Wayne Lotter, a wildlife conservationist from South Africa, was fatally shot this week in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where he had worked to stop poaching and the illegal ivory trade, the organization he helped found said. 

Mr. Lotter was killed in a district of the east African country’s capital late on Wednesday, the PAMS Foundation said in its statement on Facebook on Thursday. It said the police in Tanzania were investigating. A report in The Guardian said that Mr. Lotter, 51, was being driven from the airport to his hotel when his taxi was stopped by another vehicle. Two men opened the door to his car, and one of them shot him, the newspaper reported. 

It was not immediately clear from investigators whether Mr. Lotter was killed because of his work. He was one of the founders in 2009 of the PAMS Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports antipoaching efforts in Tanzania through the country’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit, which has been at the forefront in combating poachers and arresting suspects.

Mr. Lotter worked as a ranger as a young man in South Africa before he moved to Tanzania, where he became a leading force in the fight against poaching, the foundation said. It said his work included training village game scouts in every corner of the country, as part of his belief that “communities were the best protectors of the continent’s animals."

Conservationists mourned his death. Jane Goodall, who ventured into the Tanzanian wilderness half a century ago to conduct groundbreaking research on chimpanzees, said in a statement on her foundation’s website on Friday that Mr. Lotter was “a hero of mine, a hero to many."

“There is no doubt in my mind but that Wayne’s anti-poaching efforts made a big difference in the fight to save Tanzania’s elephants from the illegal ivory trade,” Dr. Goodall wrote. “Moreover his courage in the face of stiff opposition and personal threats, and his determination to keep on fighting, has inspired many, and encouraged them also to keep fighting for wildlife.”

“If this cowardly shooting was an attempt to bring the work of the PAMS Foundation to an end it will fail,” she added.

Over the years, poaching has become more militarized as prices for ivory soar. The Tanzanian Serious Crimes investigation unit has arrested high-profile suspects, including Yang Feng Glan, a Chinese woman whom Tanzanian officials call “the ivory queen” responsible for exporting thousands of tons of ivory to China. She has denied the charges, a Reuters report said.

The N.T.S.C.I.U. arrested 1,398 poachers and ivory traffickers with the support of the PAMS Foundation, said the Elephant Crisis Fund, which said Mr. Lotter was a “powerful force taking on the Tanzanian ivory trafficking cartels.”
Tanzania’s elephant population declined because of poaching to 43,000 in 2014 from 109,000 in 2009.

Mr. Lotter had spoken of the risk of fighting poachers. After a pilot was shot dead during a search for signs of poaching near Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park last year, Mr. Lotter told The Times: “The more you go after them, the more situations where confrontation between poachers and rangers will take place. There are going to be risks.”
Mr. Lotter is survived by his wife, Inge; his daughters, Cara Jayne and Tamsin; and his parents, Vera and Charles Lotter, according to the foundation.

Azzedine Downes, the president of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said in a statement that Africa had lost one of its most committed conservationists. But he also said Mr. Lotter had a sense of humor that was “second to none.”

At a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species last year, colleagues teased Mr. Lotter because it was the first time they had seen him wearing a tie.
“His response,” Mr. Downes wrote, “was to arrive for a meeting at our International Headquarters in Washington, D.C., wearing two ties, one around his neck and the other on his head.”

-Christine Hauser
The New York Times
August 18, 2017

Go make a difference! 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Day 406- "We are Failing the Elephants"

Botswana: formerly a region of refuge for wild elephants, now THE front line in the battle against poaching.  Check out this video with CNN's David McKenzie and researcher Mike Chase, a hero who is trying to save the largest land mammal from the sky.  

Go make a difference!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Day 405- Happy New Year: China Bans Ivory Trade in 2017

Here's to 2017!

Similar to The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species’ 1989 decision to ban the international trade of ivory, China's new ban will be a huge help to elephant populations globally, as the nation is by far the largest consumer of ivory. 

A 2014 report states that about 90 percent of the illegal ivory seized is destined for China, and estimates suggest that over 63 percent of the ivory sold in China is illegal.

In the 1980s, before the CITES ban, about 100,000 elephants were being slaughtered per year.  In the past decade, about 144,000 elephants have been killed.  These numbers show the impact of the CITES ban.  However, an August 2016 report states that poaching numbers are up 30% compared to 2015. 

As the Chinese middle class grows, it is imperative that ivory does not remain a status symbol.  The new ban is a powerful tool to hopefully change Chinese consumers' tastes.  

In addition, in the 1980s, illegal ivory was not being used as a weapon.  Today, black market ivory is funding terrorism and violence worldwide. This by-product is equally harmful to our global community as the loss of a keystone species in Africa, .  

In the past 10 years, tens of thousands of elephants have been slaughtered across Africa to feed China’s insatiable appetite for ivory. Entire herds from Gabon to Tanzania have disappeared. Even baby elephants have been killed for their tiny stubs of ivory. Scientists have said that the very survival of the species is in China’s hands.

On Friday, after years of denying that China was part of the problem, the Chinese government made a stunning announcement: It would shut down the country’s ivory market, the world’s largest.

Will this save the elephants? This is what experts on the plight of elephants say:

• It all depends on the price. If China simply shuts down its legal ivory trade but does little to combat the much bigger illegal trade, then the price of ivory (now about $500 a pound) will stay high, giving poachers an incentive to keep killing.
• Making all ivory illegal in China could actually push the price up, like illegal drugs.
• Neighboring markets will be crucial. If Vietnam, Myanmar, the Philippines and others do not take similar steps, then many Chinese will simply buy their ivory from other places, which will keep demand high.
• African elephants face other threats, including habitat destruction and increasingly deadly contact with humans. In Kenya, a truck speeding down a highway recently rammed into an elephant and killed it.
• Many elephants are also hunted for bush meat. China’s new policy will not affect that.
• If the Chinese government really commits to combating the ivory trade, then the price of ivory could collapse. Criminal organizations and poachers will then abandon the business, and Africa’s elephant herds could recover for the first time in years. 

The Early Ivory Trade
Ivory comes from an elephant’s tusks, the equivalent of its incisor teeth. Ivory has been coveted for thousands of years because it is strong, beautiful and relatively easy to carve.
In the 19th century, European nations used ivory for billiard balls, piano keys, buttons, snuffboxes and false teeth. Countless elephants in central Africa were shot down. Joseph Conrad thinly fictionalized the ruthless scramble for ivory in “Heart of Darkness.”
Scientists believe that before the 19th-century ivory craze, more than 10 million elephants roamed the earth. Today, there are about 500,000.

The New Scramble for Ivory
Around 2002, conservationists across Africa started noticing the same thing: a growing proportion of dead elephants with their faces sawed off and tusks missing. At the same time, China’s economy was beginning to boom. In China, ivory is a status symbol, carved into bracelets, bookmarks, shot glasses, statuettes, chopsticks, combs and many other objects. As China’s middle class grew to the hundreds of millions, a new scramble for ivory intensified.
The ivory trade has been abetted by pervasive corruption, extreme poverty and the presence of armed groups in many areas of Africa where the last great elephant herds roam.
Elephants are killed many ways. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, they have been shot by poachers from helicopters. In Kenya, bows and arrows are often used, a quieter method that attracts less attention. In Malawi, poisoned pumpkins are rolled into the road for the elephants to eat. The poachers include subsistence hunters, rebel groups and even American-allied African militaries.

And the threat is not just to elephants. In recent years, African governments have reported that poachers have killed scores of wildlife rangers.

Criminal gangs buy the ivory from poachers and ship it to Asia, bribing government officials along the way. The ivory is sometimes packed with anchovies or chili peppers, to throw off the sniffer dogs used by customs agents and law enforcement officials.

Jeffrey Gettleman
New York Times 
December 30, 2016

Go make a difference!