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The Real Buzz Kill

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This month’s keynote blog is a guest post by Clara Bowe.

I can’t remember who it was that first told me it is impolite to discuss politics or religion with company… perhaps a distant cousin at a crowded thanksgiving table, or I heard it in passing. Either way, I didn’t give it much thought as a child – I wasn’t interested in those issues as a toddler. As I got older, and became privy to more  “adult” conversations, it struck me that these issues, politics, religion, and anything else “taboo” for polite society, were not only more interesting than the weather, but more important.

As an adult now, I can choose my own company based on common interests, and I am rather well versed in the art of conversation. That being said, there are still topics I am reluctant to bring up among my friends or family. These topics generally fall within two categories: the unpleasant, and the disempowering. I feel there is not much of a point to bringing up a subject that will make others shut down, because they either dislike the situation I am describing, or they feel bad that they can’t do something to change it.

In other words, it is ok to talk about political issues with some people if they are advocates and feel that they can take control of the situation, by participating in the body politick. But it is much harder to bring up the gritty, gory, and depressing subject of wildlife crime. Certainly I can discuss the issue with other wildlife advocates and conservationists, but as stimulating as that dialogue might be, it is not as satisfying as raising awareness with people who don’t already know.

In my mind, the challenge comes down to making a difference. I can quote the poaching statistics all day long, but to a certain extent, after a certain point, I know those numbers will be falling on deaf ears. Or I can be more strategic: I can organize the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, and invite all my friends to attend, and I know they will support my work and the work of the film-makers. In fact, when I arranged this event at New York University this past spring, attendance was amazing – standing room only by the end. One of my very best friends, a vegetarian incidentally, came up to me after the screening and said something which struck me… “I had no idea how bad the situation is in Africa! I always thought that by not eating animals that I was doing my part to protect them, but now I know that doesn’t impact wildlife crime.” My only response was admittedly lame, “I try not to bring up a problem unless I have a solution.”

And that, I think, is the essence of the issue. We, as humans, are not simply averse to conflict. On the contrary, many of us thrive on it, or even make our livings off it. But we hate to feel like there is something in our face that we can’t change. We have learned how to take the natural world under our control so efficiently that it seems offensive, almost rude, that we cannot simply identify the problem of illegal hunting of rare and endangered species, wave a wand, and POOF! Problem solved.

But then, there is that saying, the best things don’t come easily. It is not easy to make a difference. And frequently it is not comfortable talking about the things that need to be done in order to do so. But it is worth it. It is beyond valuable to take a stand for something, even if, for a few seconds, you will kill someone’s buzz. That’s got to be better than 100 elephants, and 3 rhinos being killed PER DAY.

On the bright side, it is possible to make a difference. Modern society is driven by connections and networks that enable individuals and groups to radiate out ideas and create action that has impact. The question is, how to find the right network for your needs, and what to do when you find it.

When it comes to wildlife conservation, one of the best things any one can do is to volunteer. Take it from me, there are tons of options – you can work in the field, at the zoo, from your home office, or your mobile. You’d be surprised which organizations are looking for something as little as a few hours a week of PR and Marketing, and you won’t know until you start looking. (Or, in the case of LinkedIn, you can add your skills to your profile and every week or so you will get updates of organizations looking for volunteers with your ability.) Regardless of what your circumstances are, and how much time you have to give, volunteering can help everyone to identify the line in the sand, and step across it. It is empowering for us, and the community we serve, even when we do not yet have a solution.

Ultimately, I understand why some choose not to discuss politics or religion, even if I don’t always agree: people don’t want to be disrespectful of others’ views. Because it’s not cool to be judgmental. But neither is slaughter. The conversational dictates of “polite” society need not always apply when it comes to wildlife crime, which in essence disregards the inherent value of African wildlife, and thus threatens life itself. Unfortunately it seems we’ve become so bound up in manners that we’ve become less civilized… When I think of the potential for open dialogue to support individual action and large-scale change, it seems to me that is the real buzz kill.

Clara Bowe is a Master’s student at New York University in the Environmental Conservation Education program. Her previous experience working abroad includes working on the production team of a documentary of the world’s first rhino orphanage with Youth 4 African Wildlife, and teaching environmental ethics in Spain. Since moving back to America she has been a Marketing Intern for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a docent for the American Museum of Natural History, and has started an after school gardening education program for KIPP School Team Academy in Newark, New Jersey. Any questions or comments can be addressed to ckb287@nyu.edu, or you can follow her on Instagram @ckmbowe.

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  • Cynthia V. Anderson

    “When it comes to wildlife conservation, one of the best things any one can do is to volunteer.” Well stated Clara!

    • Clara Bowe

      Thank you Cynthia. I hope you will join us as we continue to raise awareness at our next event at the Explorer’s Club. Public support is on par with volunteering!

Victory for WildLeaks! Green Mile Safari Accused of Poaching in Tanzania

In 2016 Elephant Action League – through our whistleblower program WildLeaks – received videos showing illegal and cruel trophy hunting in Tanzania committed by the safari company called Green Mile Safari Co. Ltd. Among the shocking violations in the Green Mile videos are hunting with automatic weapons, having children hunt with automatic weapons, gunning down fleeing animals from moving cars, capturing baby animals and torturing dying ones, and using bait and lights at night to attract unsuspecting animals.
With the WildLeaks campaign on Green Mile, we were the first to speak-up and denounce those crimes.
The video was brought to parliament and became a national sensation.
In a recent development, Tanzania’s Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Hamisi Kigwangalla has released a list of operators, owners of hunting blocks and officials in the ministry accused of supporting poaching syndicates. That list includes Green Mile Safari Co. Ltd.
Minister Kigwangalla blamed the suspects whom he said had for a decade paralysed the country’s national parks, protected areas and game reserves. Dr. Kigwangalla, speaking to reporters here, said: “The suspects along with their associates will first undergo a thorough inquiry by the ministry’s special task force…I have potential incriminating evidence and I want them to appear before the task force for questioning.”
Minister Kigwangalla said the government has embarked on a comprehensive strategy to purge the entire syndicate of wildlife trafficking in the country by 2020.
Stay tuned for more updates…
https://elephantleague.org/green-mile-safari-scandal-tanzania
http://allafrica.com/stories/201801260119.html

Green Mile Scandal

The post Victory for WildLeaks! Green Mile Safari Accused of Poaching in Tanzania appeared first on Elephant Action League.

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Train Plows Into Elephant Herd in India, Killing 5 Animals

The authorities say the train driver was going too fast and ignored villagers who were waving flashlights to urge him to slow down.

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Speeding Train Plows Into Elephants in India, Killing 5 Animals

The authorities say the train driver was going too fast and ignored villagers who were waving flashlights to urge him to slow down.

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Speeding Train Plows Into Elephants in India, Killing 5 Animals

The authorities say the train driver was going too fast and ignored villagers who were waving flashlights to urge him to slow down.

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Kenya:Prominent Ivory Trade Investigator Killed in Nairobi Home

[Deutsche Welle] World-renowned ivory investigator Esmond Bradley Martin has been found dead in his home with a stab wound to the neck. Martin had spent decades tracing the trade of ivory and rhino horns from Africa to Asian markets.

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Kenya:Ivory Trade Investigator Found Dead in Karen, Nairobi

[Nation] A world-renowned ivory investigator has been killed at his home in Karen, Nairobi, police said.

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Top ivory investigator murdered in Kenya

Esmond Bradley Martin, whose groundbreaking investigations helped the fight against elephant poaching, died after being stabbed at home in Nairobi

A well-known American ivory-trade investigator, who pioneered efforts to combat elephant and rhino poaching, has been killed in his home in Nairobi, prompting an outpouring of shock and revulsion across the conservation world.

Esmond Bradley Martin, 75, died after being stabbed in his house in the Nairobi suburb of Langata on Sunday. His wife, Chryssee Martin, found his body. Bradley Martin had led global investigations into illegal wildlife trading since the 1970s and was a charismatic and familiar sight at conservation conferences.

Related: The defenders: recording the deaths of environmental defenders around the world

Continue reading…

Read More »

Top ivory investigator murdered in Kenya

Esmond Bradley Martin, whose groundbreaking investigations helped the fight against elephant poaching, died after being stabbed at home in Nairobi

A well-known American ivory-trade investigator, who pioneered efforts to combat elephant and rhino poaching, has been killed in his home in Nairobi, prompting an outpouring of shock and revulsion across the conservation world.

Esmond Bradley Martin, 75, died after being stabbed in his house in the Nairobi suburb of Langata on Sunday. His wife, Chryssee Martin, found his body. Bradley Martin had led global investigations into illegal wildlife trading since the 1970s and was a charismatic and familiar sight at conservation conferences.

Related: The defenders: recording the deaths of environmental defenders around the world

Continue reading…

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Nigeria:Thailand Seizes Nigeria’s Smuggled Ivory As Rescued Chimpanzees Face Uncertain Future

[Guardian] Ivory worth 15 million baht ($469,800) smuggled from Nigeria has been seized in Thailand, customs officials said.Three elephant tusks and 31 ivory pieces weighing a combined 148 kilograms were seized at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, Kulit Sombatsiri, director general of the customs department told a press conference.

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South Africa:Policewoman Provides Gifts to Help Grandmother, Baby

[News24Wire] A fluffy grey elephant, pink-frilled clothing, soothing creams and nourishing formula are amongst the gifts from the heart given by an Eastern Cape police captain to an elderly granny taking care of her tiny granddaughter.

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Overwhelming response to UK ivory surrender to protect elephants

Publication Date: 
Feb 2 2018

Image: 
Overwhelming response to UK ivory surrender to protect elephants

An ivory surrender to help protect elephants from further slaughter for the illegal ivory trade has received overwhelming support from the UK public with almost 500 ivory items weighing around 150kgs donated in just a few months.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) invited people to surrender their own ivory to be destroyed as part of a campaign to close the UK’s ivory market and save this iconic species from the threat of extinction.

read more

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Overwhelming response to UK ivory surrender to protect elephants

Publication Date: 
Feb 2 2018

Image: 
Overwhelming response to UK ivory surrender to protect elephants

An ivory surrender to help protect elephants from further slaughter for the illegal ivory trade has received overwhelming support from the UK public with almost 500 ivory items weighing around 150kgs donated in just a few months.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) invited people to surrender their own ivory to be destroyed as part of a campaign to close the UK’s ivory market and save this iconic species from the threat of extinction.

read more

Read More »

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