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Dear Friend, Ally, Lords of the Earth

An elephant is pictured in Tsavo East National Park in southern Kenya on January 31, 2013. (Ivan Lieman/AFP/Getty Images)

In 1967, Romain Gary, that remarkable poet of the spirit, penned an address to you, the elephants of earth, of such stunning clarity and beauty; it is a prayer for life. It made one almost jealous of your great startling species, so many years ago. I was just a little boy then in Paris. My grandfather had known Gary and helped to liberate my home town. I did not know the fascists in WWII. I did not fly fighter planes to deliver us from tyranny. I did not liberate starving prisoners who suffered the torture and ignominy of the camps. I did not partake of the horrors of that time. I am of another time.

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Seeing the Elephant in the Room

African elephants. (Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson)

As a concerned parent and Academy Award nominee who helped alert the world to the elephant crisis in the landmark “Agony and Ivory” article in Vanity Fair in 2011, written by Alex Shoumatoff, I deplore the recent CITES decision in South Africa to not give maximum protection to elephants.
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The Second Elephant Disaster

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I pointed the small hidden video camera at George Poon outside one of his clandestine ivory factories in the UAE. When he realised we had just filmed his ivory cutters churning out bangles from poached ivory he screamed, his eyes glaring furiously. Turning on our heels, Des Hamill from the UK’s ITN Television News and I ran across the dusty street, threw the camera in our baking car and pulled away. Poon, shouting in Chinese, ran after us, held on to the front door and tried to reach the camera through the window. As I accelerated he fell off. I’ll never forget the image of him in the car’s wing mirror, shaking his fist in the dirt thrown up by our speeding Toyota.

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Conservation and Humanitarianism: Two Sides of One Coin

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There is increasing urgency to include local communities in environmental matters, especially those communities living near nature reserves. This is partly fuelled by those who seek equality in reaping ecosystem benefits. However, the biggest motivation for increasing public participation is a realisation that these often poor local communities will be most affected by any failing ecosystems. Most live off the land and do not have the financial means to cushion any blows dealt by weakened ecosystems. Members of these communities may often transgress into the nearby protected areas for subsistence hunting. From this subsistence hunting some see a way of making money and escaping poverty. This then provides foot soldiers for some of Africa’s biggest environmental problems; industry-scale bush meat trade, and poaching of elephants and rhinos. Continue reading “Conservation and Humanitarianism: Two Sides of One Coin” »

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A Call to Action

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I remember my first encounter with wild elephants. “Quiet”, the person with the flashlight beaming under my tent flap whispered. The light stunned me awake, and as I shook off my grogginess and pushed back the cover of my sleeping bag, I saw the face behind the flashlight belonged to Noah, our Tanzanian guide. He held his finger to his lips and then waved my tent mate and me outside. When my eyes adjusted to the night, I could see what the others in our group were looking at. My jaw dropped. At the edge of our campsite, standing by a makeshift water fountain of piled stone, was a herd of maybe nine elephants.
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Letter to an Elephant

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lifeI hope you won’t consider me discourteous if I tell you that your size, strength and craving for unrestricted existence make you quite obviously anachronistic. You’re therefore considered as incompatible with modern times, and for all of us who are sick and tired of our polluted cities and even more polluted minds, your colossal presence and the fact of your survival against all odds, acts as a God-sent reassurance. Everything is not yet lost, the last hope of freedom has not yet vanished completely from this earth and, who knows, if we stop destroying elephants and save them from extinction, we may yet succeed in protecting our own species from our destructive enterprises as well.  Continue reading “Letter to an Elephant” »

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The Animal Protection Engine (APE): Modern Tech and Wildlife Conservation

Dr. Thomas Snitch is Chairman of the Board of Visitors at the University of Maryland’s College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences and a Visiting Professor at Maryland’s Institute of Advanced Computer Studies. In May, 2013, he flew the first night UAV anti-poaching missions in Africa

The world was recently outraged to learn of the death of the beloved Zimbabwean lion, Cecil. Then, just last week, a mammoth 50 year old elephant with huge tusks was killed by a German hunter in Zimbabwe. It is a pity the bull elephant didn’t have a name since he has already disappeared from the world news.

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The Real Buzz Kill

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Travel Diary: Samantha Schmidt

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SamanthaBy Samantha Schmidt

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Today is World Wildlife Day

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(Originally posted on www.ifaw.org.)

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South Africa: Rhino Poacher Jailed for 20 Years

[SAPS] On 7 September 2017, 30-year-old Mapoyisa Mahlauli was sentenced to an effective 20 years imprisonment after he was found guilty in the Skukuza Regional court for various rhino-poaching related crimes.

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Africa: How Ivory Fell Into the Hands of Organized Criminal Syndicates

[IPS] Cambridge -“Ivory is like a drug and you have to be careful with it. If you are serious and desire it, you can get all you want, but you have to be patient and act very carefully,” a Cameroonian man selling ivory items from a network of shops across Central Africa, told TRAFFIC investigators in 2014.

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Zimbabwe: Poachers Poison Jumbos

[The Herald] Two elephants were killed by suspected poachers using cyanide in the Liasha area of Hwange, the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe has said. About 260 kilogrammes of cyanide has since been recovered in a bushy area, while one of the elephants had been dehorned. The carcasses were recovered on Friday last week.

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Namibia: N$866 000 Raised for Anti-Poaching Drive

[Namibian] THE Hunters United Against Poaching Trust last Thursday hosted a gala dinner and fund raising auction during which N$866 000 was raised for use in anti-poaching activities.

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Namibia: NGOs Cry Foul Over Licensing to Kill Desert Elephants

[Namibian] TWO non-governmental organisations have accused government of indiscriminately issuing licences for desert elephants to be shot.

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IFAW collaborates on new scientific report about sharks, rays and chimaeras

Sep 7 2017

silky shark swims in the gulf of mexico

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Kasungu National Park’s wildlife is recovering after 25 years of poaching

Sep 6 2017

The increase in scale and nature of the illegal wildlife trade combined with Malawi’s previously undeveloped and ineffective law enforcement efforts has had a devastating effect on the nation’s wildlife. Kasungu National Park, Malawi’s oldest protected area was once a thriving ecosystem with an abundance of wildlife. Rhino and lion populations that were once flourishing have been completely wiped out, while elephant numbers went from 2,000 in the 1980’s to just over 50 in 2015.

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Kasungu National Park’s wildlife is recovering after 25 years of poaching

Sep 6 2017

The increase in scale and nature of the illegal wildlife trade combined with Malawi’s previously undeveloped and ineffective law enforcement efforts has had a devastating effect on the nation’s wildlife. Kasungu National Park, Malawi’s oldest protected area was once a thriving ecosystem with an abundance of wildlife. Rhino and lion populations that were once flourishing have been completely wiped out, while elephant numbers went from 2,000 in the 1980’s to just over 50 in 2015.

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Africa: Wildlife Crime – Why Diverse Data Will Drive Better Responses

[ISS] Since 2006, Southern Africa has been facing an increasing poaching crisis. The securitisation of national parks and private reserves has become a multi-million-rand industry. The cost to secure South Africa’s Kruger National Park alone, for instance, is estimated at around R200 million annually. Parks are increasingly militarised in their approach to curbing the threat, with many using advanced drone and tracking technologies.

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Angola: IDF Preserves Rare Species of Fauna and Flora

[ANGOP] Matala -Animals such as black buffalo, elephant, leopard and wild boar are some of the rare species of fauna considered privileged and cataloged by the Forest Development Institute (IDF), in the Bicuar National Park, southern Huíla province, preventing them from being extinguished.

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Zimbabwe: Poacher Zimparks Employee Shot

[The Herald] A Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) employee was shot and injured while allegedly poaching for elephant tusks at Mana Pools National Park.

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Elephants needing a room: hawkmoths on the march for a pupal pad

A herd of elephant hawkmoth caterpillars is trooping across my garden to pupate

Caterpillars are on the march. In the past week I’ve found several elephant hawkmoth caterpillars trooping across my garden. These are arguably the most subtly beautiful of the charismatic hawkmoth grubs. They are deep brown and charcoal grey with four arresting “eyes” of black, brown and silver – part of an armoury of deterrents against voracious birds, which includes the sudden switching into “snake” mode when disturbed, to discombobulate predators.

The adult moth takes its name from the caterpillar’s trunk-like snout, although its bewitching pink hued wings are also the colour of a cartoon elephant.

Related: Exotic migrant moths invade Britain under cover of darkness

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