Friday, August 12, 2016

Day 402- World Elephant Day- Why the World Needs Elephants

In 2012, August 12 was named "World Elephant Day" in honor of the 129,000+ elephants that have been slaughtered for their tusks since 2012.  

Check out "World Elephant Day: Why does the world need elephants?" published by the Christian Science Monitor below! 

Animals lovers around the world are showing their adoration for elephants on Friday, in recognition of World Elephant Day, which has been celebrated on Aug. 12 since 2012.
Despite – or perhaps as a result of – man’s interest in elephant species, their population numbers have witnessed sharp drops in the last few decades.
The organization Born Free suggests that over 129,000 elephants have been poached for their ivory since 2012, and a 2015 report by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES) estimates that poaching rates exceed the species’ normal growth rate, meaning that poaching still exists above sustainable levels.
Humans love elephants for their grandeur, human-like emotions, and cognitive capacity. Elephants, however, are to be appreciated and protected for more than just anthropocentric reasons, say ecologists.
Adequate forest preservation requires a healthy elephant population. Because of their appetite and migration patterns, elephants disperse more seeds throughout the forest than any other animal. They also deposit over one ton of dung-fertilizer each week.
“This is why ecologists refer to elephants as mega-gardeners of the forest,” explains The Guardian. They are “sowing the seeds of the trees of tomorrow.”
But on World Elephant Day 2016, there are “grounds for cautious optimism,” as National Geographic reports.
According to a report prepared ahead of the 17th meeting of the Conference of Parties in South Africa in September, the Proportion of Illegally Killed Elephants – or PIKE – has dropped to below five percent for the first time since 2009, evidence that population numbers can recover.
And the price of illegal ivory in China – the country that buys the most ivory each year – has been cut in the half during the last two years, according to a December report by Save the Elephants. Experts attribute this price drop to low demand, proof that public awareness campaigns on the ivory trade can work. 
There have been other meaningful efforts by individual countries to protect elephants in the past year.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced a new ban on interstate sale of ivory in June, equating to an almost-complete can on commercial trade. Now, only pre-existing manufactured items with less than 200 grams of ivory or items over 100 years old can be sold legally. The ban also prevents hunters from bringing home more than two trophies a year. 
“Up until now, ivory markets in the US have pretty much had free run,” Jeff Flocken, the North American regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, told The Christian Science Monitor shortly after the ruling in June. “It was very hard to prosecute people for selling ivory because the exceptions and loopholes were so large. The rule that came out and was finalized yesterday really takes a hard look at what is legal and what isn’t, and the as the US government said, it’s a near ban.”
Kenya’s president set fire to 105 tons of ivory in late April, believed to be the largest stockpile ever destroyed. The stack of tusks were accumulated from over 8,000 elephants. 
“A time has come when we must take a stand and the stand is clear,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta. “Kenya is making a statement that for us ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants.”
But some elephant supporters disagreed with Kenya’s ivory burn, arguing that such an act only serves to increase ivory’s value.
Despite recent gains in elephant conservation, it’s too soon to write off the elephant species as safe, conservationists say – a point underscored by a drastic poaching spike from 2009 to 2011.
“These figures should be treated with caution,” National Geographic concludes. “Data on elephant populations, poaching and the ivory trade is notoriously hard to verify, and causal relations between trends almost impossible to prove. Nevertheless the balance of evidence suggests hard work by governments, wildlife protection agencies, NGOs and campaigners in civil society organizations is making a difference. Maybe, just maybe, we have turned a corner at last.”

-Story Hinckley
The Christian Science Monitor
August 12, 2016

Go make a difference! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Day 401- Paper Pachyderms!

How we can use origami to save our favorite pachyderm: 
96 Elephants has set a goal of breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest display of origami elephants! The current record is 33,764 elephants (who knew?), and 96 Elephants hopes to collect 35,000...the staggering number of elephants slaughtered every year due to poaching.  You can help by sending in your creations (directions below) and spreading the word!  
My paper pachyderms
Every year 35,000 African elephants are killed for their tusks, and in case people need some help picturing just how large that number is, a nonprofit is looking to illustrate it with origami.
“We’re attempting to break the Guinness World Records title for the largest display of origami elephants,” explains the 96 Elephants website about the project. “The current record is 33,764. We’re looking to fold 35,000 of them—the number of African elephants killed each year for their tusks.”
So far the group has received 3,000 paper elephants from across the country, some from individuals, others from nonprofits like the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance. Fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, who earlier this year designed a small elephant statue to raise funds for elephant conservation, has also contributed to the challenge.
While 3,000 may sound like a lot, it’s only just a little over the number of elephants killed in a single month. If the statistic sounds astounding, that is exactly the point as the nonprofit is seeking to raise awareness of how big the poaching problem currently is. The animals’ ivory tusks sell for high prices in the black market and in 2015 The African Elephant Summit even concluded the animal will go extinct in our lifetime if the trend continues.
Want to contribute but don’t know how to make a paper elephant? Don’t worry, you are not alone. That’s why 96 Elephants has put four different designs with step-by-step instructions on their website. The designs — two of an elephant head and two of a full elephant — were created by Origami USA, the American national society devoted to origami, who also contributed their share to the project.
For those ready to get folding, the deadline for submitting their paper pachyderms is September 16. While the origami doesn’t have to be perfect, it does need to resemble an elephant to count towards the final goal. Once finished, the elephant origamis should be mailed to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Go make a difference!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Day 400- Elephants and Election Day

August 5, 2015

New Jersey becomes the first state to ban the import or sale of ivory in the United States.  

August 12, 2015 

Governor Andrew Cuomo signs a new law to prevent the sale of ivory in New York State on World Elephant Day.  

October 4, 2015

California Governor Brown signs AB 96, named for the number of elephants killed every day in Africa, into law, "thus eliminating the third largest ivory market in the country and joining New York and New Jersey in banning intrastate ivory trade."

"Up to 90% of the ivory for sale in Los Angeles and approximately 80% of the ivory for sale in San Francisco is likely illegal under California law.  The proportion of likely illegal ivory in California has roughly doubled--from approximately 25% in 2006 to about 50% in 2014."

November 3, 2015

Washington State voters prohibit the sale, purchase and distribution of ten endangered species groups, including elephant ivory in a landslide vote. 

June 28, 2016

Hawaiian Governor Ige signs Senate Bill 2647 into law, banning the sale, purchase, barter and possession with intent to sell of any ivory products. 

July 7, 2016

Wildlife conservationists in Oregon submit signatures to get their ivory ban measure on the ballot in November.

July 28, 2015 

This November's Ballot will include Petition 68, banning the sale of ivory in Oregon.  

To our friends in Oregon, do not boo the sale of ivory.  Vote! 

Go make a difference! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Day 399- Ivory is the Ammunition

How Anti-Terrorism Tactics Are Being Used to Fight Elephant Poaching: In Kenya, Elephant poaching reached it's record high in 2012.  It is reported that 384 elephants were slaughtered.  Three years later, only 96 elephants were killed in 2015.  Lower poaching numbers aren't only great for the elephants- less poaching means less funding for terror groups, such as the Lord Resistance Army, led by the notorious Joseph Kony.  In fact, Feisal Ali Mohamed, an ivory poaching kingpin, was sentenced to 20 years in prison last Friday, guilty of dealing in ivory worth $433,000.  In a press statement, Kenya Wildlife Service said, "The guilty verdict is a strong message to all networks of poaching gangs, ivory smugglers, financiers, middlemen and shippers that Kenya will not watch as its elephant population is decimated or its territory used as a conduit for traffickers."
While the risk of extinction seems to constantly loom over African elephants, poaching devastates locally and globally. Over the past 28 years, Joseph Kony, one of Africa’s most notorious terrorists, has led the Lord’s Resistance Army in abducting more than 66,000 children for use as child soldiers, servants, and sex slaves.  Acts of cyclical violence against vulnerable children and the gentle giant Loxodonta Africana, fuel further brutality and instability in these fragile political regions and ecosystems.  Ivory tusks are worth up to $1,500 per pound on the black market; a male elephant typically has two 250-pound tusks.  Often the slaughter of one elephant can bring Kony and the LRA $750,000.  With about 35,000 elephants killed per year worldwide, and only 500,000 remaining in the wild, elephants are likely to be extinct by 2030 if poachers such as Kony are not stopped. 
In 1994, during the civil war between the North and the South in Sudan, Kony offered the Northern government his assistance in destabilizing the South.  In return, the government in Khartoum funded the LRA, supplying Kony and the soldiers with “food, medicine, and arms, including automatic rifles, antiaircraft guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and mortars."  However, in 2005, the peace agreement between the North and South ended Kony’s funding.  The LRA relocated to Garamba National Park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, surrounded by about 4,000 elephants at the time.  With the ivory demand high in Asia, Kony realized his new source of funding: the largest land mammal on Earth. 
In 2009, Kony’s men attacked the rangers protecting Garamba National Park, weakening antipoaching efforts.  Since then, a ranger unit has been permanently deployed to protect the new park headquarters, and more specifically, a radio tower that is being built for the rangers, one of the park’s most valuable assets.  The rangers’ resources are limited; using old and unreliable AK-47s, often seized from poachers, two airplanes, and a helicopter against the LRA, though their main setback is their lack of ammunition.  A Sudanese poaching expedition in 2015 wiped out nearly 400 of Garamba National Park’s elephants, and the LRA is responsible for another 2,100, leaving less than 1,500 elephants in the park.  The fight between Garamba’s 150 rangers and poachers such as the LRA is often described as war. 
Slaughtering elephants and ruling in terror fuels the Lord’s Resistance Army.  Kony is raiding villages and “forcing children to kill their parents or siblings with machetes or blunt tools. He mutilates those who stand in his way, or those simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, cutting off innocent civilians’ noses, lips, and hands. He abducts girls to be sex slaves for his officers,” creating an almost unstoppable terrorist army, fueled by elephants. Ivory is the ammunition killing humans and elephants.

Without awareness of the looming environmental catastrophe, or with malicious callousness of said devastation, elephant poaching by the Lord’s Resistance Army will continue until extinction of the species on the continent.  The criminal Kony, must be named an international terrorist and an enemy of peaceful governments everywhere.  Ending the cycle of arming terrorists begins with limiting the purchase of ivory.  Kony must not be allowed to use elephants as his source of ammunition, to save the lives of countless civilians currently being threatened by the Lord’s Resistance Army, as well as the elephants of Africa.


Go make a difference!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Day 398- Ella's Earth Day Picks

Hey elephant lovers!

While we work to preserve habitats for elephants abroad, your place on the planet is the best place to care for your own habitat.  Here are ten things we can do on a daily basis for our beloved planet, because everyday is Earth Day! 
  • Before heading to the grocery store, grab a fun reusable bag!  An additional perk of purchasing from Elephant Pants is part of the proceeds go to protecting elephants!
  • Set aside food scraps and create a compost bin! Or, one step further, raise chickens to take care of any leftovers. 

  • Instead of using air fresheners that come in aerosol cans, use essential oils and a oil burner or diffuser, like the ones sold at The Body Shop! 
  • Instead of buying plastic bottles, invest in a reusable water bottle!  You can find my favorite here! (And you can decorate them with fun stickers) 
My favorite Nalgene water bottle 

  • Download your music versus buying "packaged" albums!
  • Be sure to always turn off the water when brushing your teeth or washing your face.
  • Go thrift shopping!  I always have a blast looking for gently used clothing, and you automatically avoid having the same outfit as a friend.
  • Take public transportation or carpool!
Enjoy the carpool lane! 

  • Meatless Monday is a great way to consume more vegetables and eat lower on the food chain, which adds to a decrease in pollution and supports long-term health!
  • Choose local food whenever possible (who doesn't love a farmers market?)

Go make a difference! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Day 397- Indian Elephant Conservation gets the Royal Treatment

The recently released portrait of four generations of Britain's Royal Family on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday certainly captured the imagination of all of us who find ourselves besotted by Prince George’s adorableness in knee socks.  

But last week’s photos of Kate and William visiting elephants in a sanctuary in India mesmerized those of us in the wildlife conservation movement.  The couple began their travels in Mumbai on April 10 and finished in Agra on April 16.

Here is a link to read more about the struggles the Indian elephants are facing. 

Go make a difference! 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Day 396- Three Elephants and One Pilot Dead

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about 

things that matter."

~Martin Luther King, Jr. 

This past week in Tanzania, British pilot Roger Gower was shot in his helicopter by poachers on the ground.  He was helping Tanzanian wildlife authorities track poacher groups, when he was fatally killed by AK-47 assault-rifle fire. The same group of poachers killed at least three elephants that day.  

The Washington post reports that The Thin Green Line ( estimates that commercial poachers and armed militia have killed a thousand rangers in the line of duty.  We must stand in solidarity with groups such as the Thin Green Line, training park rangers and supporting their communities as they are on the front line of conservation and anti-poaching.  

Read the full article here:

Go make a difference!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Day 395- Can A Lion Save the Elephants?

In 2013, Time Magazine reports that 49 lions were killed due to illegal poaching.

But stop and think.  

In 2014, 100,000 elephants were slaughtered by poachers, and 1,000 rangers were murdered in attempt to protect the elephants, according to National Geographic.  

Although Cecil was a majestic creature butchered in an unsavory and vulgar fashion, the slaughter of elephants (and humans) and the subsequent criminal activity surrounding blood ivory that fuels crime and terrorism... is certainly no less appalling.  

Cecil the Lion

Go make a difference! 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Day 394- U.S. Government Steps In to End Ivory Trade

The following New York Times article written by Ron Nixon, captures the new policies of the U.S. government regarding illegal wildlife trade.  As the populations of elephants and rhinos decrease more and more each year, the importance of government involvement is crucial.  The Obama administration’s goals include raising fines, creating more awareness of poaching, and diminishing the demand for illegal products in the United States.

WASHINGTON — Hoping to stem illegal wildlife trafficking, the Obama administration on Wednesday introduced an aggressive plan for taking on traffickers that will include using American intelligence agencies to track and target those who benefit from the estimated $20-billion-a-year market.
The plan, which was outlined by officials from the State Department, Justice Department and Interior Department, will also increase pressure on Asian countries to stop the buying and selling of illegal rhinoceros horns, elephant ivory and other items, which President Obama has called an “international crisis,” and will try to reduce demand for those items worldwide.
“Right now, wildlife trafficking is a very profitable enterprise,” said John C. Cruden, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Our goal is to take the profit out of this illegal trade with all the tools at our disposal.”
But the planned actions, a result of a two-year administration review on how to limit wildlife trafficking, will be supported by only a modest increase in funding and staffing for the law enforcement arm of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency chiefly responsible for policing the wildlife trade.
Anti-trafficking experts praised the effort as an important step, even as they said the government faced a daunting task.
“It’s fantastic that we are doing this, but given that there are still limited resources, the government needs to really focus its efforts and go after the criminal organizations behind the trade in the most critical areas both here and abroad,” said Crawford Allan, a wildlife trafficking expert with Traffic, a program of the World Wildlife Fund. “They can’t have a scattershot approach where they put a little money here and a little there.”
The action comes as the United States has grown into the second-largest market for illegal wildlife products and a major conduit of the products to Asia, where rhino horns and ivory are believed to cure ailments like headaches and hangovers. Officials say that millions of pounds of illegal animal products, including bear and fish bladders, are sold every year to American and foreign customers. The trade has driven several animal species to near extinction while fueling the growth of international criminal gangs.
“The ongoing slaughter of rhinos and elephants in Africa is driven by rising consumer demand here, and United States citizens are intimately involved in illegal trade both here and abroad,” said Daniel M. Ashe, the director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.
As part of the administration’s effort, the wildlife service is for the first time sending officers abroad to help combat trafficking originating in Africa, Asia and South America. One officer has been posted to Thailand, and three will be sent to Tanzania, Botswana and Peru later this year. In its most recent budget request, the administration asked for $75.4 million a year for the wildlife service’s law enforcement division, $8 million more than the year before.
About $4 million of the funding would be used to support efforts to stop wildlife trafficking in African countries, and another $4 million to expand forensic labs and add special agents.
But even with the increase, wildlife service officials say that the staffing remains inadequate and that investigations have fallen from more than 13,000 in 2012 to about 10,000 last year.
The service has 205 investigators and an additional 120 officers who patrol nearly 40 ports of entry, examining more than 180,000 wildlife products last year.
“We have the same number of officers we had in the 1970s, when the trade was nowhere like it is now,” said Edward Grace, deputy director of law enforcement at the wildlife service. “We try to go after the big smugglers, but a lot falls through the cracks.”
Since 2012, records show that American law enforcement officials have arrested 26 people and prosecuted 18 for trading in rhino horns and ivory as part of Operation Crash, a nationwide criminal investigation into the black market for wildlife.
In addition, officials have smashed smuggling rings trading in gall bladders and paws from black bears and the totoaba, a fish in Mexico that has been pushed to the brink of extinction because of illegal trafficking. A totoaba bladder can fetch up to $20,000 in Asian countries, where it is prized in soups.
Court records and other documents show that the smuggling rings are made up of Chinese and Japanese traders; people with links to Mexican and South American drug cartels; Irish gangsters; American auction and antique dealers; and South African safari operators.
Most traffickers have little to fear, law enforcement officials said, because only an estimated 10 percent are caught. Law enforcement agencies often lack the resources to fully police the illegal trade. Also, fines for trafficking are low, and loopholes in the law still allow trade in some items, like ivory.
The shadowy wildlife trade takes place in auction houses and antique stores across the country, self-storage facilities in places like Chelsea and the Bronx in New York, and on the Internet, officials said. Smugglers bring in the items mainly through ports in New York and Los Angeles.
Stopping the ivory trade has proved to be especially problematic, officials said.
Under American law, ivory can be sold if it is more than a century old. But an investigation of vendors in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas last year by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental organization, found that 77 percent to 90 percent of the ivory sold by vendors in the two cities might be illegal under federal law.
While many vendors tried to pass the ivory off as 100-year-old pieces, investigators said many of the pieces appeared to have been chemically aged or physically damaged to look older.
“These fake antiques are a growing problem,” said Daniel Stiles, a wildlife investigator based in Kenya, adding that many of the pieces came from factories in China, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, where raw ivory taken from poached elephants is carved into statues and altered to look older.
Trafficking in wildlife has decimated elephant and rhino populations in Africa. The latest figures from South Africa show that 1,215 rhinos were killed last year, up from a little more than 300 in 2010.
More than 100,000 elephants have been killed for ivory since 2010, according to a 2014 Colorado State University report. Rhino horns can fetch prices as high as $30,000 a pound, and ivory can command prices as high as $3,000 a pound.
Congress is also trying to address wildlife smuggling. Last month, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, and Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, introduced a bill that would increase fines for trafficking in wildlife and allow law enforcement officials to confiscate the assets of traffickers.
“The problem with these wildlife crimes is that the penalties are too low,” Ms. Feinstein said. “They aren’t much of a deterrent. We want to change that.” The bill is pending.
~Ron Nixon
February 11, 2015
The New York Times

            Go make a difference!