Saturday, September 3, 2016

Day 403- Working With Leo

Coming soon! "The Ivory Game," an exposé on the horrors of the poached ivory black market, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, will soon be available on Netflix. 

Check out the article below!

Photo by Estey Chen

The numbers don’t tell the story, but they’re alarming enough to set it in motion: 150,000 elephants have been killed for ivory in five years; today, one elephant is killed every 15 minutes. At this rate, the African Elephant will go extinct in 15 years. These figures provide a statistical foundation to “The Ivory Game,” a globe-spanning investigative look at a species under serious duress. However, the movie’s real suspense emerges out of the astonishing footage — from the heated battleground of Southern Africa, where elephants face constant threat from poachers, to the black market in China where the goods wind up, “The Ivory Game” reveals the full scope of a human-driven push toward mass extinction. A real-life ecological thriller in the mold of “The Cove” and “Virunga,” directors Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani’s engaging overview makes up for its occasionally scattershot approach with first-rate suspense.
If James Bond turned his attention to animal rights issues, he might find himself in the middle of this hidden war. (It could also provide good material for Leonard DiCaprio, who executive produced.) The film follows countless activists and officers engaged in a clandestine and often dangerous battle with an underground economy. From the wilds of Kenya, where the filmmakers visit scene after scene of mutilated elephant corpses, the movie tracks the problem to backroom dealings in China, where a single kilogram can sell for $3,000 on the black market.
Using concealed cameras — sometimes, though, not concealed enough — the filmmakers capture numerous shady conversations between traders and undercover agents. These tense scenes are matched by similar showdowns in Africa, where officers routinely find poachers in the immediate aftermath of their malicious hunts. The resulting collage of personalities turns “Ivory”into a global war movie in which the survival of humans and elephants alike hangs in balance.
But the film also provides a keen overview of the geopolitical setbacks that continue to keep the ivory business in flux. “One person has the destiny of an entire species in his hands,” says one activist, placing the blame solely in the lap of China’s president — and the film’s revealing footage makes it easy to see why. Despite official regulations limiting the amount of ivory allowed into the country, many traders gleefully flaunt their illegal wares, with few locals willing to speak up. One exception: the determined Hongxiang Chang, a young man driven to upend assumptions about his country’s ambivalence even as he acknowledges the possibility of being deemed a traitor.
Meanwhile, “The Ivory Game” traces the ivory trade back to its grisly source: the gun-wielding poachers roaming through African parks and slaughtering hordes of elephants without any semblance of restraint. While these offenders remain largely off-camera, the film acknowledges some of the broader systematic issues allowing the killing to persevere: In villages where roaming elephants inadvertently destroy farmland, locals welcome hunters the way one might greet an exterminator, prompting activists to intervene with mixed results. Flying high above the African planes, they come across scene after scene of dismembered animals — shriveled under the sun, their corpses become tragic signposts of environmental indifference.
The filmmakers fuse these disparate settings together with sweeping aerial footage, murky nighttime encounters and hidden camera footage alike, providing an immersive collage into every level of interaction that contributes to this international crisis. This approach sometimes leads to an episodic quality that impedes the prospects of getting too invested in any single narrative. However, as an essayistic breakdown of a widely misunderstood threat, it excels at capturing nearly every angle of the equation.
“The Ivory Game” may be a harsh wakeup call to anyone concerned about the future of the largest land mammal, but it’s also a keen evaluation of the efforts being made to correct the situation. Even as it captures a dire situation, Davidson and Ladkani single out a series of engaged personalities risking everything to bring illegal traders to justice — and in some cases, making actual progress. By transforming its urgent message into the sensationalistic language of pulse-pounding blockbuster — replete with dramatic music cues and frantic editing sequences — “The Ivory Game” risks overstating its message, but at the same time it makes the underlying didacticism more palatable. The you-are-there approach to tackling this subject means that “The Ivory Game” largely avoids lecturing its viewers; instead, the harrowing experience speaks for itself.
September 2, 2016

Go make a difference! 

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!