Monday, October 10, 2016

The Elephant In The Room

In Defense of Animals
End Elephant Performances in New Jersey! New Jersey Senator Raymond J. Lesniak introduced "Nosey’s Law," Bill S2508, in September. If passed, it will ensure that, " person shall use an elephant in a traveling animal act" in the State of New Jersey. It may come up for a vote in the New Jersey Senate as soon as October 20, 2016, so the elephants need your help now! READ MORE

Rescued Baby Elephant Is Healing Thanks To Daily Cuddles With Orphaned Ostrich.
A baby elephant named Jotto and an ostrich named Pea can not get enough of each other! The two orphans were both found by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in 2014 and have formed an unlikely bond. Jotto was saved after being born prematurely. He was rescued by a helicopter from a well and handlers were not sure he would made it. Pea was found with her brother, Pod. They were meant to be released when they were well enough but Jotto's friendship was too strong to abandon.

The new elephant census estimates poachers kill 27,000 elephants a year. Click to help.

55-Year-Old Rescue Elephant Heals Old Wounds With Water Therapy. If you were to see Nam Phon today, you’d see a happy elephant splashing in her special pool at the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) sanctuary and elephant refuge. But not very long ago, things were very different for her.

Nam Phon was probably poached as a baby and sold to work in the logging industry, and then later in the tourism industry giving rides.

Elephants, though huge, are sensitive, intelligent creatures, and so all those years of labor and loneliness took a toll on Nam Phon, both physically and emotionally.

Luckily, though, she was freed from her life of hard labor for good in 2016, and came to live at WFFT. It was here that she met her best friend, another senior elephant named Jele, and began her journey of emotional healing.

But the 55-year-old elephant’s physical health was still reeling from the hard labor she’d been forced to endure, and her back legs suffered the most.

Then one day she collapsed. After the episode, she was unable to stand on her own for several days, and relied on a harness to stay upright.

But the people at WFFT knew that she would need ongoing care to prevent her from collapsing again, and potentially doing more harm to her bones.

So they created a perfect physical therapy pool for her, where she can hang out as long as she feels she needs to.

Check out Nam Phon’s rehabilitation below.

Facebook / Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand
Nam Phon the elephant is 55 years old, and has spent much of her life enduring hard labor in Thailand’s logging and tourist industries, both of which regularly exploit elephants.

The Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) was finally able to secure her release earlier this year, ensuring that she’d be able to spend her retirement in peace and quiet with her new best friend, Jele.

Facebook / Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand
But the people at WFFT were more than concerned when one day, Nam Phon collapsed. Years of hard labor had taken their toll on her back legs.

It took a crane and a harness to lift her, and she was unable to stand on her own for a few days after that.

To make sure something like this wouldn’t happen again, WFFT came up with a unique therapy solution for her.

Facebook / Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand
Water therapy! Tom Taylor, assistant director at WFFT, says that she uses this pool once a day. “She… spends however long she wants to in the pool,” he says.

Just like with physical therapy for humans, the water both alleviates strain on her joints while also helping her build muscle through the resistance of the water.

Facebook / Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand
And she seems to like it!
Facebook / Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand
She’s been getting stronger, and is currently able to walk on her own.

But she still likes her pool, and sometimes even has to be coaxed out with treats.

Facebook / Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand
“The daily swimming lessons will strengthen her muscles, as well as giving her something to smile about,” Taylor says.
Facebook / Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand
For now, the harness is being kept on just in case, but it looks like Nam Phon is recovering well.
Facebook / Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand
And she’s practicing on land, too.
Facebook / Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand
And, as in the water, there’s nothing like some snacks for encouragement.
Facebook / Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand
The staff is still keeping an eye on her, but it seems like Nam Phon will keep on walking tall. After all, she has to get back to her friend Jele and to enjoying her retirement!

You can keep up with Nam Phon’s progress, as well as the other animals that WFFT cares for, on their website and on Facebook and Instagram, and you can also donate to make sure they all stay healthy and happy.

Please SHARE if you think every elephant deserves to be happy!

This Photographer Went to Hell and Back to Save Endangered Sumatran Elephants. Throughout the world, elephants have historically been regarded with admiration by humans who can acknowledge their many positive qualities. Elephants share deep emotional bonds with one another, often spending their entire lives alongside their immediate family members. Adult females and young elephants generally live in close-knit matriarchal herds – headed by the eldest and most experienced female – while older males form separate “bachelor” groups. These animals have demonstrated an enormous capacity for empathy and compassion,  and have frequently been recorded grieving when a loved one dies.

Tragically, however, these majestic creatures are in grave peril. Endangered Asian elephants are routinely exploited by the elephant tourism or illegal logging industries: torn from their families,  subjected to cruel training procedures, and forced to work to the point of collapse. African elephants, meanwhile, are dying at the tragic rate of 100 per day to feed the ivory trade. Africa has lost 60 percent of its elephant population over the past few decades, and experts fear that they may soon become extinct if this trend continues.

Thanks to the tireless actions of conservation groups and animal activists, the plight of these animals has become more highly publicized in recent decades. However, there are some lesser-known types of elephants who are facing a different – but just as serious – struggle to survive.

Pygmy elephants (also known as Sumatran elephants) are indigenous to the Leuser Ecosystem of Indonesia: a vital forested area that is home to many animal species who are not found elsewhere on the planet, and boasts the second highest level of biodiversity in the world. Sadly, this region – in addition to many other wildlife refuges throughout Indonesia and Malaysia – is being systematically destroyed to feed the demands of the palm oil industry.

Together, Indonesia and Malaysia produce 90 percent of the world’s total supply of palm oil. This product can be found in approximately 50 percent of consumer goods, including snack foods, cleaning fluids, and even pet treats.

Palm oil is highly valued by manufacturers because of its versatility and low cost, but its large-scale production has had a devastating effect on the areas in which it is grown. Palm oil companies frequently clear their desired patches of rainforest by igniting highly damaging fires that wipe out countless wild animals and cause serious health problems for local children and families. Shockingly, an estimated 300 football fields’ worth of rainforest are cleared every single hour to make way for palm plantations. It is estimated that burning forests and peatland account for a whopping 97 percent of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions. This has pushed Indonesia’s daily greenhouse gas emissions level above that of the U.S.

The Leuser Ecosystem’s ongoing conversion from lush rainforest into sterile palm plantations is driving many of its indigenous species to the brink of extinction. For example, orangutans can be shot on sight if they wander onto a palm plantation. Over the past two decades, 20,000 of these animals have been killed at the hands of the palm oil industry. Just 60,000 of them remain, and they are now critically endangered, with some experts predicting that they could be extinct within thirty years. Malayan sun bears, Sumatran tigers, and Sumatran rhinos are also threatened with extinction by the actions of the palm oil industry.

Meanwhile, Pygmy elephants often suffer the fate of being poisoned to death or ensnared in traps set by palm oil producers. The Indonesian branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has estimated that over 100 Pygmy elephants were killed in the Riau province of Sumatra between 2004 and 2014. Just 1,300 of these animals now remain. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists them as “critically endangered” … and so long as palm oil manufacturers continue to regard them as a nuisance that must be eradicated, this status is not likely to improve anytime soon.

These elephants’ plight was recently highlighted by Paul Hilton, a renowned environmental photojournalist who specializes in raising awareness of the Leuser Ecosystem’s continued destruction. In a heart-wrenching photograph Hilton shared to his Instagram page, the fate of this once burgeoning rainforest – and by extension, all of the animals who depend on it for sustenance – is laid bare.

Hilton said, “I’ve been to hell and back following the wildlife trade and to live in a world without wild elephants to me is unthinkable.”
Haunting Image by Conservation Photographer Exposes the Heartbreaking Future in Store for Sumatra’s Elephants – Unless We Act Now
Hilton is currently running a crowdfunding campaign that will help protect the Leuser Ecosystem’s endangered elephants by monitoring their movements and increasing patrols to help steer them out of harm’s way. “Please people, dig deep and make a donation,” he said in the caption of his haunting image. “We are more than half way there to raising funds for the dedicated elephant patrol teams. It’s up to us to make things right. We can blame everyone but it’s not going to change anything, so let’s do this.”

Hilton’s crowd funding campaign link is available here. Alternatively, you can help by going to the website of Wildlife Asia and making a donation to help support their elephant patrol units in the Leuser Ecosystem. Their donation link is available here.

The desecration of Indonesia’s rainforests – together with the people and animals who rely on them – can come to an end once the demand for palm oil goes down. We can all help by seeking out more environmentally friendly alternatives to this product in our everyday lives. To learn more about the problem with palm oil, and how you can take steps to avoid it, check out the articles below.
Image Source: Paul Hilton/Instagram