Monday, March 27, 2017

Elephant In The Room

The newest arrival at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) is a little baby with a heartbreaking story. This elephant calf was found standing right next to her her dying mother.

The elephants were found on November 28, 2016. The baby was keeping a careful vigil over her struggling mother, not leaving her even for a moment. The bare earth surrounding the mother elephant showed she had clearly been struggling for a long time. The baby was a witness to that terrible fight for life, standing by helplessly and in fear.

The rescue team did everything that was in their power to help the struggling mother, but, tragically, to no avail. In the wake of her death, they focused their full attention on the little calf. She was rescued and driven to the Voi where she was loaded on a plane and readied for her journey to Nairobi. There, she found her home at the DSWT Nursery.

The little ellie soon made friends with other orphans who comforted her and helped her settle in – only two days after her arrival she was able to join the others out in the forest. Now the baby relishes in her new life at the sanctuary, spending her days eating fresh food and playing with other elephants. Her newfound joy of life was even mirrored in the name she got from her caretakers – “Kushi” meaning “to live” in Swahili.

Kushi will now grow up under the watchful eye of her caretakers and learn how to be a wild elephant alongside her peers. We hope one day this little one will get to return to her wild home and live our her days in peace and quiet.

Click here to visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s website and learn more about what they do to help elephants.
Elephants Are Forced to Play Polo to Raise Money for Conservation…Elephants are some of the most intelligent and social animals living on this planet. They live together in close-knit matriarchal herds where the oldest female plays the dual role of leader and mentor to a herd of daughters and their calves. Just like humans, elephants are deeply emotional, empathetic creatures. Herd members who are experienced mothers are known to help first-time mothers raise their young. They also mourn the deaths of their loved ones. In spite of how similar these gentle giants are to us, elephants are terribly exploited for human greed.

Asian elephants suffer greatly at the hands of Thailand’s elephant tourism industry. Baby elephants are torn from their mothers at an early age and forced to endure a breaking period known as “Phajaan.”  Baby elephants who undergo this process are forced into tiny crates, have their legs or necks shackled, and are repeatedly abused with sharp objects called bull hooks — the same tool that many circuses use in order to intimidate elephants into performing unnatural feats for entertainment. Once complete, the elephant’s trainer leads them out of their restraints and shows them kindness, making the animals trust their captors. Elephants who undergo this are typically used in the tourism industry – trained to give paying customers rides on their backs or perform other ridiculous tricks.

In one particularly cruel event called the King’s Cup, which takes place each year in Bangkok, Thailand, 30 Asian elephants are forced to take part in a game of polo (the most recent game took place in February 2017). Each elephant is ridden by two humans, one who uses the polo stick and one who uses a bull hook to control the elephant. Oh, the best part of all of this –  they are chasing a tiny ball around a field in order to raise money for conservation. Yes, you read that right, conservation.

The event organizers claim that the elephants used for the game are treated well because they give them fresh fruit, vegetables, and massages. But that act of benevolence is not good enough when the elephants have no choice but to participate in an event that causes them both pain and distress.

In the video below, which features a game that took place this year, we can see that the elephants are forced to move in certain directions by having the sharp end of the bull hook driven into their ear.
The fact that spectators are willing to write a check to save elephants while watching elephants who are unwilling captives speaks volumes to how we view these creatures. They are for entertainment first and considered worthy, valuable beings second.

Like “scamtuaries” across the globe that brand themselves as consciously minded organizations that raise conservation awareness, this event is, plain and simple, exploitation. No organization would ever seek to drive a profit by forcing their animals to perform for humans, whether it is posing for photos or being forced to take part in a cruel, unnatural game. Lead image source: UNREAL WORLD™/YouTube

Zoo Elephant is So Lonely She Holds Her Tail for Comfort – Sign Petition to Get Her Transferred. Mali was just a baby elephant learning how to swim and find her own food, when she was taken away from her mother and sent to the Philippines, as a gift for the President at the time, Ferdinand Marcos. Her home was once the grasslands of Sri Lanka but now she is forced to live in a barren enclosure of concrete walls and floors at the Manila Zoo in the Philippines. For forty long years, Mali has lived alone at this zoo, never allowed to see her mother or another elephant.

Understandably, Mali’s mental well-being has suffered greatly from this life of solitude. She appears clearly depressed and spends her days pacing back and forth in her concrete enclosure. In the wild, elephants can roam up to thirty miles a day over grasslands and various terrains, Mali walks back and forth on a hard surface, day after day. This has caused her to develop a painful foot condition and arthritis. She can be seen leaning against the walls of her enclosure during the day, likely to relieve some of the pressure on her feet.

In 2012, the elephant expert Dr. Henry Richardson examined Mali. His report cites cracked pads, cracked nails, and overgrown cuticles. Richardson states, “I am absolutely certain Mali has pain in her front limbs and feet.”

The zoo, however, has done nothing to help and continues to ignore Mali’s health problems. And if her condition is left untreated, there is a high likelihood that she will go lame and no longer be able to support her own weight. This is a leading cause of death among elephants. When they collapse and cannot get back up, their body weight crushes their internal organs, ultimately leading to death.

Mali is so lonely at the Manila Zoo that she holds her tail for comfort and security. The 500 acre Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES) in Thailand has agreed to accept her – sign this petition now to transfer Mali to the sanctuary in Thailand immediately!
Experts recommend Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES) as the best place for Mali. Filipino officials, however, have refused to let her go. The government is denying Mali of any hope of a better life and of surviving. PETA has even came forward and offered to pay for the transportation fees and care, so the only thing standing between Mali and her freedom is her captors.

The Boon Lott’s Sanctuary in Thailand offers everything Mali needs. Hundreds of acres of grasslands, banana plantations, and rivers. Unlike Mali, the elephants here can roam for miles, forage for food, swim and play. Mali does not even have grass beneath her feet or surrounding trees.

Time is desperately running out for this poor elephant. She doesn’t have long and she needs your help. Please, urge officials to transfer Mali to the sanctuary in Thailand, by signing this petition. Share her story with others and ask your friends and family to act too!

To show your support and to stay updated, like the Free Mali Facebook page.

No Elephant Deserves to Be Alone

Endangered Asian elephant gets shocked to death after rubbing electrical tower