Monday, February 15, 2016

Today's Elephant In The Room

Poachers Shoot and Kill Do-Gooder Pilot Who Was Trying to Save Elephants. As activists mourn the loss of one of their own, they remain committed to protecting Tanzania’s wildlife.
Although poachers present a deadly threat to African elephants, they can be just as dangerous for the conservationists attempting to stop them.

British pilot Roger Gower was fatally shot while trying to track down poachers in the Maswa Game Reserve in Tanzania on Friday, The Associated Press reports. The 37-year-old worked as an accountant before earning his pilot’s license in 2004, according to the BBC. Coworker Pratik Patel described him as “a great guy, a great friend, a great pilot” who loved his job.

Working with Texas-based organization the Friedkin Conservation Fund, Gower was on a joint mission with Tanzanian authorities when a group of poachers fired on his helicopter from the ground with AK-47s. His copilot was injured but survived.

“This tragic event again highlights the appalling risk and cost of protecting Tanzania’s wildlife,” Dan Friedkin, chairman of the Friedkin Conservation Fund, said in a statement. “We are profoundly saddened by the loss of our dear friend.”

Tanzanian officials have arrested three suspects in Gower’s death. “The suspects are in the hands of police,” said Jumanne Maghembe, Tanzania’s natural resources and tourism minister, according to The Guardian. “They are cooperating, and soon more people making up the poaching gang will be netted and brought to justice.”

Park rangers also discovered the carcasses of three elephants that were killed by the same group of poachers, according to the AP.

Demand for ivory in foreign markets such as China has caused the African elephant population to drop dramatically, from 3 million to 5 million elephants populating the continent in the early 1900s to less than 500,000 today. Tanzania has lost more than half its elephant population in just five years, declining from 110,000 elephants in 2009 to fewer than 44,000 elephants in 2014, according to a government survey.

Conservationists fear that if poaching rates are not curbed, African elephants could become extinct within the next 20 years.

While elephants are vital to maintaining local ecosystems, killing off the species would also cause African economies to suffer. Both a decline in the likelihood of catching a glimpse of the remaining elephants and safety concerns prevent tourists from making the trip to Tanzania and other African countries. Tanzanian officials estimate that poaching will cost Africa 3.8 million jobs over the next 10 years if it continues at current rates.

As Gower’s family and friends mourn the loss of the conservationist, the Friedkin Conservation Fund continues its efforts to protecting Tanzania’s wildlife.

“We are committed to honoring Roger and his work,” Friedkin said. “We believe that Roger can best be honored by redoubling our commitment to protect elephants and our priceless wildlife heritage.”

Chai Is Dead—Ask the Oklahoma City Zoo to Close Elephant Exhibit! 
asian elephant
Less than a year ago, a Seattle zoo shuttered its elephant exhibit following the death of an elephant named Watoto, who was found collapsed in her enclosure, never to get back up again. The zoo sent the two remaining elephants, Chai and Bamboo, to the Oklahoma City Zoo, even though an accredited sanctuary was standing by, ready to give them a new home. Instead of retiring to vast fields and woods to explore with companions, Chai and Bamboo were condemned to continue their miserable existence behind bars and on display. Now, Chai is dead, found collapsed in her enclosure just like Watoto was.

The Oklahoma City Zoo should do the right thing for Bamboo and the four other elephants it exhibits. Please take action today by urging the Oklahoma City Zoo to close its elephant exhibit immediately and send the elephants to a sanctuary, where they wouldn't die alone and unassisted as Chai did.

Urge BBC Program to Stop Selling Ivory. 

Elephant_by_Gary M. Stolz
Target: Craig Henderson, Head of Programming for BBC English Regions
Goal: Discontinue selling ivory on the BBC network.
Even after ivory bans all over the world, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is still promoting ivory. On Flog It!, a BBC program dedicated to selling antiques, ivory items continue to be sold. The host(s) and sellers then cheer like they do after every product gets purchased. The sale of ivory should not be applauded. Tell BBC to do what other countries and television shows have done and ban the sale of ivory on this program.
Many people think that buying ivory antiques do not promote the poaching industry. Unfortunately, by allowing the sale of ivory, you are putting value on the tusks of elephants. This encourages poachers to continue hunting these creatures because they know there is a market for it. We have seen this mostly in Hong Kong before the new ban was set in place on all ivory trading. Before that, stores were allowed to sell ivory obtained prior to 1989. Having stockpiles of ivory allowed smugglers to easily launder new items into the country.
Other antique shows, like the Antique Roadshow, have stopped selling ivory tusks and will inform buyers of the illegal trade if any product contains even a fraction of ivory. With many elephant species endangered or at risk, selling of ivory should be banned. Tell BBC that they need to step up and not condone the selling of ivory on their shows.
Dear Mr. Henderson,
The popular program Flog It! has recently sold pieces of ivory on its show. The promotion of ivory products has been directly linked with the continuation of poaching. We have seen this exclusively with Hong Kong’s prior “legal” selling of ivory made before 1989. Poachers continued to hunt these animals because they saw a market that they could still infiltrate.
With elephants at risk of extinction, I ask you to not promote the selling of ivory on your programs. Similar shows to Flog It!, like the Antique Roadshow, no longer sell elephant tusks and warn consumers about items that contain traces of ivory. I urge you to have Flog It! do the same.
The BBC is a staple of great programming that broadcasts to many countries. Your decision to not promote the selling of ivory can have an enormous impact on both people and the illegal killing of elephants. Please do a great deed and ensure that no more ivory will be sold on the BBC network.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Gary M. Stolz
Ex-orphan Icholta has her first wild born baby.
Watch wild born baby Inca take his first wobbly steps in our video, filmed when he was just one day old!

Wild born born baby Inca is thriving from all the love, attention and guidance he could possibly wish for from Emily’s attentive ex-orphan herd who form his family. Read more about his progress at: https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.or....

Find out more about the work of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust at:

Follow the work of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust on Facebook at:

Rescue Annette the Elephant From Isolation in Circus.
Target: Frank Murray, Animal Exhibitor and Owner of Annette
Goal: Retire Annette the elephant, who lost her only friend and now must perform and live alone, to an accredited sanctuary.
For years, Frank Murray has forced his two elephants, Annette and Topsy, to entertain crowds in circuses and fairs, most recently painting Annette with a pro-Trump campaign slogan and parading her around a rally. In 2014, Topsy died and Annette has been alone ever since. She has been moving from state to state giving rides and putting on shows.
In the wild, elephants live their entire lives surrounded by family and friends. They travel for miles each day, play with each other, take dust baths and search for food.
Right now, Annette is trapped. Sign this petition and demand Annette be retired to an accredited sanctuary where she can live out the rest of her days among friends.
Dear Mr. Murray,
For years, you have been forcing Annette to entertain crowds by having her perform tricks or give rides. She has been carted from state to state while cramped in a cage. Since 2014, she has done this all alone. This is not the life Annette deserves.
Elephants in the wild spend their entire lives surrounded by friends and family. Each day they travel miles and engage in numerous activities including dust baths, playing, and searching for food.
It is time you stop taking advantage of Annette for profit. She deserves so much more in life. Please consider sending her to an accredited sanctuary where she can happily spend the rest of her days surrounded by friends.
[Your Name Here]
Thai elephant attack puts spotlight on abuses in animal tourism trade. Animal welfare activists hope the death of a British man this week will prompt Thailand to take action on elephant rides, tiger parks and primate shows.
An elephant in Bangkok
he death of a British tourist who was trampled by an elephant in Thailand this week has reenergised campaigns to end widespread abusive practices in the country’s animal tourism sector.

Edwin Wiek, a prominent animal rights campaigner, said he would press Thai politicians to regulate the industry, citing the dangers to holidaymakers who pay to ride elephants or take photos with captive tigers.

“It looks very bad on Thailand,” he said of the killing. “Everyone now is saying that if you take photos with tigers you get mauled and if you ride elephants there is no regulation whatsoever. People have a point.”

Elephants can be docile but are also prone to bouts of rage if agitated. The brutish training of trekking elephants can make them even more dangerous, campaigners say.

The charity World Animal Protection says elephants are made to submit to giving rides as they are taken from their mothers as babies and forced through a savage training process known as “the crush”. Footage of this operation in Thailand has been leaked, in which elephants are restrained in small cages and beaten.

On Monday, Gareth Crowe, 36, from Scotland, was killed by an elephant during a trek with his 16-year-old stepdaughter Eilidh on the holiday island of Koh Samui. The elephant’s handler, or mahout, had dismounted to take a photograph of the duo when the animal, named Golf, attacked him.

Crowe was thrown off, trampled and gored after the handler unsuccessfully attempted to control the animal with a speared hook.

While it is impossible to say what caused the elephant to kill Crowe, Wiek said the adult male might have been in musth, a periodic condition characterised by a rise in reproductive hormones that can make bull elephants violent. “They become very unpredictable,” he said. “Imagine 6,000 kilos of horny meat.”

Samattapong Uttama, assistant managing director of Island Safari, the tour company that owns Golf, said the elephant was being closely monitored following the attack. “We have suspended all operations for 10 to 15 days while we review our procedures,” Samattapong said by phone.

Samattapong said his mahouts were “strictly told that they must not use the sharp end of the stick”, that the company was not cruel to its nine working elephants, and that it closely followed Thailand’s animal rights laws.

Wiek, founder of the Wildlife Friends Foundation of Thailand, said that apart from documents that proved ownership of the animals, Thailand’s 80 elephant camps, which together hold 2,800 elephants, were not properly regulated.

The kingdom’s main piece of legislature to prevent animal abuse, approved by 188 to 1 in a 2014 parliamentary vote, protects “performing show animals” but has mostly been interpreted to cover neglect of domesticated dogs and cats.

Sek Wannamethee, a foreign ministry spokesman, said Thailand had other specific regulations that promote the welfare of elephants, including a beasts of burden act and the tourism department’s guidelines for elephant camp management.

“Enforcement, monitoring and evaluation of these laws and regulations are constantly carried out throughout the country,” Sek said, adding the Thai government “takes the issue of animal cruelty seriously”.

Activists say further legalisation and increased enforcement is needed. In one zoo on the outskirts of the capital, orangutans are made to box each other for the entertainment of onlookers.

Abuse has also been reported in Thailand’s tiger parks, where tourists can get their photos taken with cubs and adults. Last month, a video showed a handler punching a tiger in the face, and in 2014 an Australian tourist was badly mauled. World Animal Protection says 614 tigers are being kept at such sites.
Two tigers at Tiger Temple
Animal attractions are big business in Thailand, and the tourism sector as a whole accounts for about 10% of GDP. In an indication of the money that performing elephants can make, a baby female is valued at up to £35,000.

Freeland, an organisation that tackles wildlife trafficking, said that most of the time elephants were taken from the wild, often from neighbouring Myanmar. There are an estimated 3,000 wild elephants in Thailand, and a few dozen elephants are still used in logging operations.

Thailand’s Tiger Temple, where nearly 150 tigers live, has faced allegations of involvement in the illegal wildlife trade. The foreign ministry spokesman Sek said the government had started moving some tigers to wildlife conservation units last week.

But the sector is resilient, even when tourists are attacked. There have been six fatal elephant attacks over the past six months in Thailand, according to Wiek. “I think that we should exploit this moment in the positive sense by telling the Thai government to start thinking about real legislature,” he said.

Several elephant sanctuaries have been set up in Thailand where no rides are permitted but visitors can view the animals – often older elephants that have been rescued from elephant camps – in open areas.

Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai province, in northern Thailand, allows visitors to feed, walk alongside and bathe elephants. Its founder Sangduen Chailert travels to elephant camps to train mahouts on basic healthcare, diet and proper handling. Tourists are also allowed to volunteer at the camp, although private insurance is compulsory.

See Heartbreak in the Eyes of America's Loneliest Elephants

Lucky the Elephant
Lucky, Shirley, Happy, Asha, Laura, Fritha, Nosey, Anna Louise, and Bubbles—you can help them all. GRAB A TISSUE!
Retire blind, handicapped elephant Pawan Kali - No more tourist rides!
Retire blind, handicapped elephant Pawan Kali - No more tourist rides!
BY: Elephant Watch Nepal
TARGET: Nepal Hotel Association, Nepal

This is not the kind of life these noble beings deserve! There are close to 600 elephants in Kerala, mostly bulls. Each and every one of these bulls have to undergo the same kind of ritual practice every single year. 

Pawan Kali is a 70+ year old, handicapped elephant living at Hotel Seven Star in Chitwan, Nepal.  This poor elephant is partially blind and in constant pain due to a lifetime of abuse, but is still forced to give safari rides to tourists and guests of the hotel. 

Her list of obvious ailments is long, and includes: a deformed leg, malnutrition, open wounds, and scarring across her body. Her physical condition is the result of her treatment and "training." In Nepal, safari elephants are trained through food deprivation, confinement and regular beatings, as well as physical restraints such as chaining and shackeling.

Sign the petition and appeal to the Hotel Association Nepal for her well-deserved retirement immediately.
Save Elephants From Extinction. The African Wildlife Foundation is strongly urging all countries to destroy their stockpiles of ivory and establish a domestic moratorium on its trade. If broadly adopted, these decisive steps will cripple the ivory industry and allow Africa's elephant populations to stabilize and recover.
Humans are elephants’ greatest threat, but we can also unite to serve as their greatest protector. Support the destruction of ivory stockpiles worldwide—add your name today.

The unprecedented demand for ivory has led to a marked rise in poaching—recent projections put the annual death toll of African elephants as high as a devastating 35,000. These colossal losses will reverse any gains in conservation efforts and threaten the species' long-term survival. Our only recourse for saving elephants from extinction is extinguishing the insatiable demand for ivory. I support African Wildlife Foundation’s fight against the illegal ivory trade. 

I pledge to

And, last, is a report from the 'Bike for the Elephants' 2016 w/ a GoPro!

KIS peeps (Myself, Emily, Isaac, Jeremy, Levi and Viraj) participates in the seventh charity bike ride for the survival of Asian elephants!

Had a lot of fun biking and enjoying the scenery around the countryside. Our favourite part of the trail would be the crazy downhill at 11:05 !

Video was filmed in 720p@60fps and 1080@30fps, with the GoPro HERO 4 Silver.

Music Provided By:
0:36 TKDJS - Don't Leave (feat. AYER)
4:57 Major Lazer x DJ Snake - Lean On (KLYMVX Ft. Emma Heesters Remix)
9:30 Klingande - RIVA (feat. Broken Back)
14:43 Faul - Something New
18:08 Savant - Rise Up
22:00 EDEN - Gravity