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News Article | April 6, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Last year more than 30 young elephants were captured from the wild in Zimbabwe and flown by plane to China. The elephants – some reported to be as young as three – were dispersed to a number of zoos throughout the country, including the Shanghai Wild Animal Park, the Beijing Wildlife Park and the Hangzhou Safari Park, according to conservationists. But what are their lives like now? This week, 12 of the calves went on show at the Shanghai park. The Weibo page for the zoo says their average age is four. The photos there were reviewed by Yolanda Pretorius, vice-chair of the Elephant Specialist Advisory Group of South Africa, who commented: “Overall their body condition seems to be slightly below average but it does not look as if they are starving. One of the elephants has temporal gland secretions and I am not sure whether this is a good or bad sign. In the wild, elephants mostly secrete from their temporal glands when they get excited.” Meanwhile, recent photos and video said to show some of the elephants currently in Hangzhou reveal the animals behind bars and walking on concrete floors. The images were obtained by the animal welfare advocate Chunmei Hu, former secretary general of the Chinese Green Development and Endangered Species Fund. The video has been reviewed by elephant experts, including Joyce Poole, co-founder of the Kenya-based Elephant Voices and renowned specialist on elephant behaviour. “They appear rather listless,” she says. “Perhaps waiting for something, but without much attention… Their housing is totally unstimulating. They look like sad, locked-up little kids.” Aside from these snippets of evidence, there is little information on the conditions faced by these once-wild elephants. There is no official figures for how many elephants were sent to each zoo, although conservationists believe 17 of the calves ended up in Shanghai, 15 in Beijing and six in Hangzhou. “It is heartwrenching not knowing the current fate of these animals,” says Iris Ho, wildlife campaign manager at Humane Society International. “It’s like knowing that someone – or children in this case, since they are baby elephants – is in danger or trapped in misery for the rest of their lives but there is nothing you can do about it.” A 2016 report on elephants in Asia said that 47 zoos in China together hold at least 200 captive elephants – but the precise situation is “unclear”. Owners are supposed to register births, deaths, trade and movements, but the rule isn’t enforced or enforceable: “It appears that registration relies on voluntary compliance unless it becomes necessary in the interest of the owner.” In 2012 a shipment of eight elephants was sent to China from Zimbabwe. Distressing footage was shot of one of those reportedly sent to Taiyuan zoo. In the video, the sickly-appearing calf seems to be trying to smash his way out of his confines. Named Xiaofei, he still lives alone at the Taiyuan zoo, according to Hu. She believes that the other elephants imported into China that year are dead. Compared with the trade in ivory, which has led to the slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants in Africa, the live trade in elephants receives far less attention. This is probably because it is legal, sanctioned by Cites, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species. A review of the Cites database shows many other wild elephant exports that took place over the last few years. Seven elephants were shipped from Tanzania to China in 2011, and two from Tanzania to South Korea. In 2011 and 2012 Monaco sold a total of 12 elephants, originally from Zimbabwe, to Denmark and the Czech Republic. They were probably performing animals. African elephants are a regular feature of the Monte Carlo International Circus. In 2012, Namibia reported exporting 18 elephants to Mexico (Mexico says that only nine arrived), while in 2013 Namibia sent six to Cuba. In July 2015, 27 wild elephants were shipped to Chinese zoos from Zimbabwe. Hu believes that one of those elephants is dead and that the others aren’t on public display. In September of the same year, China Central Television reported that 24 of the elephants were at the Changlong Breeding Center of Rare and Endangered Species of Wild Animals and Plants would be used for research. Last year, 17 elephants were sent from Swaziland to three zoos in the US. Initially, there were to be 18, but one reportedly died before leaving Swaziland. One of the conservationists’ concerns about the live trade is that there isn’t an independent body that adequately oversees these animals once they are captured and ultimately exported. Cites allows live animals to be sent to “appropriate and acceptable destinations”. But the decision about what is “appropriate and acceptable” is left to the importing country’s scientific authority. It has to be satisfied that the animal is suitably housed and cared for, while the country of export must be satisfied that trade promotes conservation of elephants in the wild. That’s not good enough for Keith Lindsay, a collaborating researcher with the Amboseli Trust for Elephants in Kenya: “There currently is under Cites no independent, objective mechanism of oversight or monitoring of the welfare conditions of elephants (or any animals) when they enter the live export chain.” The minimal welfare standards that do exist are left entirely to the authorities that are already involved in the import and export. “If both countries say they are happy with the welfare aspects of the trade,” Lindsay says, “no matter how genuinely inadequate, there is nothing anyone else can say.” What is needed, Lindsay argues, are Cites resolutions that specify stringent welfare conditions for the entire chain of live trade, including the eventual captivity: “The latter should replicate in every way the conditions of the native ecosystem, and there should be no impacts on the populations from which the animals are taken.” There was an effort at the most recent Cites conference in Johannesburg to stop the live trade in elephants, led by the African Elephant Coalition, a group of 29 African nations. But China, the EU, the US and Zimbabwe did not support the resolution and it failed to gain the necessary two-thirds majority to pass into law. Meanwhile, rumours continue to circulate that China has a standing order for 100-200 elephant calves from Zimbabwe. And according to Jess Isden of Elephants for Africa, a conservation and research organization based in Botswana, recent captures in Hwange National Park are already damaging elephant behaviour. Large numbers of elephants have begun migrating into Botswana from Hwange, some making it as far as the Botetei river, hundreds of miles from their home range. “The research is not yet conclusive,” she says, “but these animals, mostly young males, could be moving out of Hwange in direct response to the violent captures going on in Hwange.” As for the elephants most recently sent to China from Zimbabwe, it is unclear if they will be forced to perform, but it appears likely in some cases. China’s State Forestry Administration issued a directive in July 2010 to end acts of cruelty in safari parks, including a ban on animal performances. However, Hu claims, in many cases these rules are being ignored. Just weeks ago, she says she photographed elephants, tigers, macaques and bears being forced to perform tricks at the Shanghai Wild Animal Park. Photos of elephants said to have been taken at Hangzhou Safari Park in June 2016 also showed elephants performing tricks, including lifting people with their trunks and standing on stools. For Scott Blais, founder of the Global Sanctuary for Elephants, who has worked with elephants for decades, such “tricks” are often taught by brutal means: “Elephant experts and advocates across the globe oppose the horrific training these elephants will endure. These practices are well known to be detrimental, violent and grossly inhumane, causing immeasurable psychological and emotional trauma.” Efforts to ask Zimbabwean and Chinese Cites authorities about the condition of the elephants recently shipped to China met with no response.


Chiyo P.I.,Duke University | Chiyo P.I.,University of Notre Dame | Lee P.C.,University of Stirling | Moss C.J.,Amboseli Trust for Elephants | And 3 more authors.
Behavioral Ecology | Year: 2011

Body size is an important influence on the life history of males of polygynous mammals because it is usually highly correlated with fitness and is under intense selection. In this paper, we investigated the effect of high-risk foraging behavior (crop raiding) and genetic heterozygosity on male body size in a well-studied population of African elephants. Crop raiding, the foraging on cultivated food crops by wildlife is one of the main causes of wildlife human conflict and is a major conservation issue for many polygynous mammals that live in proximity to agriculture or human habitation. Body size was estimated using hind foot size, a measure strongly correlated with stature and mass. Crop raiding predicted male size in adulthood, with raiders being larger than nonraiders. However, elephants that became raiders were neither larger nor smaller for age when young. Enhanced growth rates and size among raiders suggest that taking risks pays off for males. Lastly, genetic heterozygosity had no effect on size for age in male elephants, most likely because low-heterozygosity males were rare. Risky foraging behavior can evolve as a result of strong sexual selection for large size and condition-dependent mating success in males. We discuss the implications of these results for managing human-wildlife conflict. © The Author 2011.


Lee P.C.,University of Stirling | Moss C.J.,Amboseli Trust for Elephants
Journal of Comparative Psychology | Year: 2012

Animal personalities have been demonstrated for almost 200 species, with stable dimensions of responses (aggressive to fearful; shy to bold) across contexts and with a heritable basis to these traits. As a long-lived and highly social species, elephants (Loxodonta africana) were expected to demonstrate complex dimensions to individual characteristics or personalities, which would be obvious to human observers and validated by behavioral observations. We used principal-components analysis of ratings on 26 behavioral adjectives applied to one social unit, coded as the EB family, which has been observed for 38 years. Eleven adult females were rated by four observers and found to have individually variable traits on four dimensions described by principal-components analysis. The first component was associated with effective and confident family leadership. Component 2 was age-related, and defined by playfulness, exploration and high levels of activity, suggesting both an experience and an age-related element to its structure. Component 3 represented gentleness and at its other extreme, aggression, and Component 4 was related to constancy (predictability and popularity), with both of these latter components reflecting social integration. Leadership among elephant females represents the successful negotiation among individual interests, and our components were related to a capacity to affect the behavior of others in the absence of aggressive dominance. The family matriarch, Echo, was high on elements associated with leadership. The importance of the matriarch in this family's success suggests that elements of personality may underlie interfamilial variation in long-term survival and reproduction. © 2012 American Psychological Association.


Lee P.C.,University of Stirling | Bussiere L.F.,University of Stirling | Webber C.E.,University of Stirling | Poole J.H.,ElephantVoices | Moss C.J.,Amboseli Trust for Elephants
Biology Letters | Year: 2013

Growth from conception to reproductive onset in African elephants (Loxodonta africana) provides insights into phenotypic plasticity, individual adaptive plastic responses and facultative maternal investment. Using growth for 867 and life histories for 2652 elephants over 40 years, we demonstrate that maternal inexperience plus drought in early life result in reduced growth rates for sons and higher mortality for both sexes. Slow growth during early lactation was associated with smaller adult size, later age at first reproduction, reduced lifetime survival and consequently limited reproductive output. These enduring effects of trading slow early growth against immediate survival were apparent over the very long term; delayed downstream consequences were unexpected for a species with a maximum longevity of 70+ years and unpredictable environmental experiences. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society.


Chiyo P.I.,Duke University | Archie E.A.,University of Notre Dame | Hollister-Smith J.A.,Oregon National Primate Research Center | Lee P.C.,University of Stirling | And 3 more authors.
Animal Behaviour | Year: 2011

Strong social bonds are uncommon among male mammals. In many mammals, however, males form all-male groups, providing opportunities for male-male bonds to emerge. We examined association patterns of male African elephants, Loxodonta africana, in all-male groups and assessed the influence of age and genetic relatedness on these associations. We also examined the influence of age and genetic relatedness on the choice of sparring partners in male elephants. Males had many weak and random associations and few valuable relationships. Male associations were positively correlated with genetic relatedness, suggesting that kinship influences patterns of male associations. Male associations were negatively correlated with age disparity, and males were more likely to spar with other males closer in age to themselves. These results suggest that males associate with other males of similar age in part because sparring may facilitate the development and maintenance of motor and psychological responses to sudden and unexpected events that occur during play; this may help prepare males for male-male competition. We also found that older males had high centrality and strength in social networks, suggesting that older males influence the cohesion of male social groups. Consequently, the elimination of older males from elephant populations by poachers or trophy hunters could negatively affect social cohesion in male elephant groups. Finally, we found that age and genetic relatedness were not significantly correlated, suggesting that male associations based on age and relatedness did not overlap. These findings highlight the complexity of male social relationships in all-male groups. © 2011 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.


Lee P.C.,Amboseli Trust for Elephants | Lee P.C.,University of Stirling | Sayialel S.,Amboseli Trust for Elephants | Lindsay W.K.,Amboseli Trust for Elephants | Moss C.J.,Amboseli Trust for Elephants
African Journal of Ecology | Year: 2012

We assess tooth-based age criteria for African elephants developed by Laws in relation to known-aged individuals in the Amboseli elephant population. Laws's technique remains a robust and useful mechanism for age determination, although we suggest revisions to the oldest age categories. Blind age assignment to jaws of unknown sex using the Laws criteria resulted in misclassification of M4 and M5; measures overlapped too much to differentiate these teeth by sex. Sexes could be reliably distinguished after age 30 or XIX in tooth category by two measures: mandible thickness and width of the ascending ramus, but individuals of the same known age differed in tooth wear and progression rates. Such variation needs to be incorporated in the error assigned to tooth age categories. Ages at death of found jaws (n=266) were similar to results of survival analysis from all demographic data (n=2455), excluding calves whose jaws decompose because of weathering and scavengers. Jaw-based models of age at death need correction for the inability to detect this early mortality, which artificially extends mean longevity by up to 6 years. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


PubMed | Amboseli Trust for Elephants and University of Stirling
Type: | Journal: Behavioral ecology and sociobiology | Year: 2016

Long-lived species such as elephants, whales and primates exhibit extended post-fertile survival compared to species with shorter lifespans but data on age-related fecundity and survival are limited to few species or populations. We assess relationships between longevity, reproductive onset, reproductive rate and age for 834 longitudinally monitored wild female African elephants in Amboseli, Kenya. The mean known age at first reproduction was 13.8years; only 5% commenced reproduction by 10years. Early reproducers (<12.5years) had higher age-specific fertility rates than did females who commenced reproduction late (15+ years) with no differences in survival between these groups. Age-specific reproductive rates of females dying before 40years were reduced by comparison to same-aged survivors, illustrating a mortality filter and reproductive advantages of a long life. Overall, 95% of fertility was completed before 50, and 95% of mortality experienced by age 65, with a mean life expectancy of 41years for females who survived to the minimum age at first birth (9years). Elephant females have a relatively long period (c. 16years) of viability after 95% completed fertility, although reproduction does not entirely cease until they are over 65. We found no evidence of increased investment among females aged over 40 in terms of delay to next birth or calf mortality. The presence of a mother reproducing simultaneously with her daughter was associated with higher rates of daughter reproduction suggesting advantages from maternal (and grandmaternal) co-residence during reproduction.


Three generations of Amboseli elephants. Credit: Amboseli Trust for Elephants Only a few mammals and some birds are as long-lived as humans, and many of these species share interesting characteristics in how they age. A new paper in Springer's journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology explores lifetime reproductive patterns in African elephants. Led by Phyllis Lee of the University of Stirling in the UK, the study analysed data from 834 female elephants in Amboseli National Park, Kenya. This population has been continuously monitored since 1972, and data collected on more than 3000 elephants since the study began. This paper analyses 42 years of data on females who survived to be at least nine years old. For long-lived species such as humans, chimpanzees, whales and some birds, longer survival is associated with higher reproductive rates and a loss in fertility only at an extremely old age. Prolonged post-reproductive lifespans may mean potential advantages for both the surviving individuals and their offspring; post-reproductive longevity thus remains a question of major theoretical interest. Elephant life histories are slow; a 22 month gestation period is followed by 12 months lactational anestrus, and calves suckle until their next sibling is born. Most females in this study gave birth by the age of 14, and as for other species, early starters have higher rates of reproduction. Most Amboseli females survived into their late thirties, while ten per cent lived into their sixties. According to Lee, elephants exhibit the classical mammalian pattern of a decline in reproductive rate after age 49, followed by up to sixteen years of post-reproductive survival. This classic life history phenomenon - the selective disappearance of less productive individuals - has not been demonstrated for such a long-lived animal before. Calf survival goes hand-in-hand with maternal experience and environmental conditions in the calf's first year of life, but is not directly related to the mother's age. First-born calves, those born during a drought and male offspring are more likely to die earlier than others. Even the oldest mothers (aged over 50) raised offspring successfully, although, like the mothers of sons, older mothers have slightly longer intervals between births. "The new and exciting part of our study is the strong effect females have on the reproduction of daughters and granddaughters in their family" says Lee. "Daughters of long-lived mothers lived longer themselves and had higher reproductive rates". In some large families, three generations of mother-daughter pairs reproduced simultaneously. Only ten of the 281 mothers monitored ceased reproduction towards the end of their lives. So while elephant calves clearly get a major survival and reproductive benefit from having a living grandmother, the females do not exhibit classical forms of menopause - or cessation of reproduction long before death - seen in whales and humans, despite having an average of a 16-year period between when a long-lived female's reproductive rate declines and her own death. Lee et al. argue that elephant reproduction is a function of a long-lived mother within a successful family context. The social dimension of grandmothering, such as environmental or social knowledge, appears to be a more important benefit in these female-led families than does a female trading off her own reproduction against that of her daughters, as is typically seen in humans. Explore further: Older killer whales make the best mothers More information: Phyllis C. Lee et al. The reproductive advantages of a long life: longevity and senescence in wild female African elephants, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (2016). DOI: 10.1007/s00265-015-2051-5


News Article | February 13, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

There is so much being done to help stop elephants being wiped out in the wild. We’ve identified more than 50 campaigns and organisations around the world, from well-known charities like the World Wide Fund for Nature to grassroots groups like Elephanatics in Canada and Laos-based ElefantAsia. If you think we’ve missed anyone or anything, let us know at elephant.conservation@theguardian.com. We’ll update the list with your suggestions. Please note, however: presence on this list does not constitute an endorsement. Organisations take differing approaches to elephant conservation, and even the most secure-looking can run into financial difficulties. As a conscientious giver it is your responsibility to make sure your contribution will be used wisely. Set up petitions, organise marches, lobby politicians or just spread the word: there are a number of ways in which you can campaign and really make an impact. There are many inspiring grassroots groups that do amazing work; why not join one of these, or set up your own if there’s none in your country? In the UK, Action for Elephants has organised marches and talks to highlight the importance of banning the ivory trade. This grassroots group also campaigns against keeping elephants in captivity. Even though 179 countries have signed up to Cites, the UN’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the illegal trade in wild animals remains a multibillion-dollar industry. The Bloody Ivory campaign aims to put pressure on Cites to do more to prevent poaching and ivory trafficking. Its online petition to tackle the black market in ivory has 56,000 signatures (and counting) and will be presented at the next Cites meeting in 2019. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Elephanatics aims to raise awareness of the poaching crisis and ensure the long-term survival of elephants through education, conservation and fun activities like the annual global march for elephants and rhinos. Inspired by her childhood in Africa, Joyce Poole has been studying elephant behaviour and communication for more than 30 years. She has a particular interest in how poaching and habitat destruction affects herds’ social dynamics. Through ElephantVoices, which she founded in 2002, Poole campaigns for elephants and promotes research and conservation projects, while providing others with the resources they need to do the same. Conducting the first pan-African aerial survey of elephant populations in 40 years and covering 345,000 square miles across 18 countries, this ambitious project set out to count and map Africa’s savannah elephants. The final report, published last year, showed a 30% fall in numbers over the last seven years. While the census itself is complete, the organisation is now using its database to help governments, scientists and NGOs manage and protect elephant populations. Committed to bringing an end to animal poaching and trafficking, IFAW campaigns for the bolstering of wildlife trade policy with supranational organisations such as the UN and the EU, while helping to train customs agents and wildlife rangers. It also investigates online crime. This offshoot of WildAid – one of the largest conservation groups working to eliminate demand for wildlife products such as elephant ivory and rhino horn – is responsible for the #JoinTheHerd campaign. Showing your support is as easy as uploading a photo of yourself – which the website then stitches to one of an elephant – and sharing the resultant image on social media, with the #JoinTheHerd hashtag. This non-profit aims to fight ivory trafficking on every front, training rangers, supplying sniffer dogs, working to make ivory less prestigious … Responsible for the #SaveElephants social media campaign, it also provides plenty of highly shareable pictures for your own activities. Named after the 96 animals killed for their ivory every day in Africa, this offshoot of the Wildlife Conservation Society works to highlight the plight of elephants and supports organisations caring for them around the world. Campaigns include Origami for Elephants (“create your own customised digital origami elephant”) and the #ElephantYogaChallenge (“You can help save elephants with yoga”). Putting pressure on politicians both at home and overseas is a powerful way to effect change. Save the Asian Elephant provides template letters and contact details for top-ranking officials, including the British prime minister, Theresa May, and India’s minister for tourism, Dr Mahesh Sharma, which you can use to urge them to follow through on their promises to protect Asian elephants. A grassroots organisation dedicated to raising awareness about the ivory trade and the fate of elephants across Africa. It offers a space to share knowledge, lobby government and join marches. Founded by two zoology students from the University of Exeter, this little organisation focuses on producing short films that target a wildlife crime or human-wildlife conflict issue. These are then shown to affected communities through a bicycle-powered cinema. In Malawi, Stop Wildlife Crime, Protect Malawi’s Wildlife, about elephants and the illegal ivory trade, was shown to more than 14,000 people. This World Wide Fund for Nature initiative is focused on ending Thailand’s ivory trade – once the world’s second largest – and has already enjoyed much success. In 2015, its efforts helped the Thai government to pass new regulations, while last year’s Ivory-Free Thailand campaign enlisted the help of local celebrities to discourage consumers from buying or accepting gifts of ivory. Launched by the World Elephant Society, which creates and distributes educational information about elephant conservation, World Elephant Day (12 August) asks elephant-lovers the world over to share their appreciation of these endangered animals. Youth 4 African Wildlife works with young people in the hope that they’ll become global conservation ambassadors. It offers conservation internships for people from all over the world, and also raises awareness through community outreach in the greater Kruger National Park area in South Africa. If you want to help elephants and have time to spare, these organisations want to hear from you. Some offer hybrid travel and volunteering experiences that will let you interact with elephants in their own habitat. Others need assistance with campaigns or administration. As always, make sure you understand their aims and approaches before signing up. Set in the lush countryside of Thailand’s northern Mae Chaem district, this sanctuary serves as a retirement community for some of the country’s 4,000-plus registered captive elephants, which have endured long lives of hard graft and exploitation, predominantly within the tourism and logging industries. Tasks for volunteers range from feeding and bathing the animals to teaching English to local children. With stays at the charity’s Cambodian elephant sanctuary lasting anywhere between one and four weeks, a good level of fitness is a must, as volunteers are expected to spend much of their time hiking through the Mondulkiri province’s mountainous terrain. Activities include observing the elephants in their natural habitat and planting seedlings to counteract deforestation. Elephants in Lagos are traditionally used in logging and worked to the point of exhaustion. The Conservation Center is home to the country’s first elephant hospital dedicated to victims of logging accidents, and has an elephant breeding programme. Reliant on donations and fees from volunteers, the centre invites visitors to learn about elephants and the importance of conservation in their natural environment. A useful starting point for any well-intentioned volunteer who doesn’t quite know where to start. There are dozens of opportunities across Africa and Asia to choose from, including data collection and research projects in Thailand, community outreach and wildlife education programmes in South Africa, and hands-on caretaking roles in a Sri Lankan elephant sanctuary. Human-animal conflict is one of the greatest threats to some of the world’s most at-risk elephant populations. The Great Projects links volunteers to conservation efforts in Asia and Africa; these include protecting the Namibian desert elephants – whose slowly recovering numbers were as low as 300 in the 1990s – by working with the local farmers, who frequently come into violent contact with the animals. Dedicated to protecting the Asian elephant, Save the Elephant Foundation provides a safe home for rescued elephants in its Elephant Nature Park in Chang Mai, Thailand. It invites volunteers and visitors to spend time with the animals, feeding, bathing and giving them care and affection in their natural habitat. One of the largest human-elephant conflict resolution projects in the world, this scheme run by the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society sees volunteers muck in across a wide variety of tasks. Daily activities might include observing elephant herds, identifying game trails, developing a dialogue with local communities, or maintaining the scenically situated base camp in north-western Sri Lanka. Giving money may seem the easiest way to help a cause you believe in. But deciding which organisation to donate to can be a daunting task. Some will use the money across their programmes, while others will let you back specific projects. Be sure to check that the organisation is legitimate and fits your objectives. Study its website, check its credentials and search the web to learn about its reputation and status. In addition to government regulators, these organisations provide advice for charitable giving: Charity Navigator, GuideStar, Charity Watch and GreatNonprofits. The rangers who risk their lives to prevent wildlife poaching and trafficking make little money and often spend months at a time away from their families. A guaranteed 100% of donations to this WWF-run initiative fund the equipment and infrastructure they need to do their jobs effectively and safely. For more than 30 years Born Free has been working to keep wildlife in the wild. You can support its work by (symbolically) adopting either orphaned Asian elephant calf Jubilee, or African elephant Emily Kate, who now has a calf of her own. The welcome pack includes a cuddly toy and personalised adoption certificate. Since its creation three years ago, this joint initiative between Save the Elephants and the Wildlife Conservation Network has channelled donations to the areas where elephant populations are collapsing the quickest, and the projects on the ground best placed to do something about it. Its celebrity-backed anti-ivory campaign in China played a vital role in changing policy in the country. With donations funding information-gathering operations and deep-cover field investigations, the EAL adopts an intelligence-led approach to uncovering and disrupting the criminal networks behind poaching and ivory trafficking. As well as using specialist investigators to infiltrate the criminal organisations profiting from the exploitation of wildlife, the EIA runs evidence-backed campaigns to advocate for meaningful policy change at a governmental level. Investigations typically cost between £10,000 and £20,000 and rely on donations from the public. Rather than paying into a pot that the charity will redistribute as it sees fit, this foundation allows donors to choose a specific programme and guarantees that 100% of their donation will reach their intended recipients. There are more than 20 research and conservation projects to choose from, including the Mounted Horse Patrol Anti-Poaching Unit for Mount Kenya. As well as its own investigative and policy work, the IFAW partners with media organisations around the world to raise awareness of the illegal ivory trade and the destruction it causes. Donations help to fund future media campaigns and awareness-raising projects. From elephants and tigers to chameleons and carnivorous plants, this research project run by the International Union for Conservation of Nature is aiming to gauge the health of the world’s biodiversity by assessing 160,000 species by 2020. It’s almost halfway there. Donations will support this ongoing research as well as supporting on-the-ground conservation projects. Elephants and tigers play vital roles in the ecosystem, and JTEF aims to raise awareness of their importance. It has several programmes to support conservation work, and reduce Japanese demand for wildlife products. It’s not just elephants and other wildlife that are at the mercy of the poachers’ weapons: more than 1,000 park rangers are estimated to have been killed in the past decade simply for standing in their way. This Australian-run foundation seeks to “protect nature’s protectors” by providing training and vital anti-poaching equipment, while also offering financial support to the families of those killed in the line of duty. Wild Philanthropy supports at-risk ecosystems and communities in Africa through grants to NGOs that are involved in managing protected areas. It also provides secured loans to local eco-tourist businesses.. As an all-volunteer organisation, the WAF uses every penny donated to help secure the longevity of animals and the delicate ecosystems that they inhabit. To show your support for elephants specifically – rather than the plethora of protected species ranging from fireflies to fish – you can symbolically adopt one for $35 (£28) a year. When elephants come into contact with farmland, they can wreak havoc and destroy livelihoods by eating or crushing crops. Many farmers respond by setting out poison or taking other extreme measures. World Animal Protection works with communities to come up with simple and sustainable solutions that allow humans and elephants to coexist, such as the introduction of chilli fences in Mikumi National Park in Tanzania. Most poaching takes place after dark, when rangers aren’t around. This initiative from the Lindbergh Foundation runs drone operations at night in collaboration with local rangers. With thermal imaging sensors, it can locate wildlife as well as poachers, and position rangers before an incident takes place. In two years of testing in a park in South Africa that had been losing 18 rhinos a week, not one animal was lost. Air Shepherd has now conducted around 5,000 missions, across South Africa, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Stepping in where local governments are unwilling or unable to act, African Parks manages 10 national parks in seven countries, taking complete responsibility for the day-to-day management and preservation of 6 million hectares of protected land. Already employing 600 rangers – the largest counter-poaching force on the continent – it aims to increase its conservation operation by 2020 to 20 parks and more than 10m hectares. The communities who share their land with elephants are best placed to conserve their natural heritage, but they often lack the means to do so. The African Wildlife Foundation recruits, trains and equips wildlife scouts from these areas, providing employment opportunities to local people and creating a large and effective poaching deterrent in the process. Renowned wildlife researcher and conservationist Cynthia Moss has been studying elephants in the Amboseli National Park, straddling the Kenya-Tanzania border, since the early 1970s. She founded the Amboseli Trust for Elephants after seeing elephant populations in Kenya plummet by an estimated 85%. As well as groundbreaking scientific research, the trust conducts extensive community outreach programmes with the local Maasai community. One such scheme compensates anyone who has lost livestock to elephants, which has more than halved the number of animals speared and killed in retribution. Policing the 2m acres of elephant habitat in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro region of east Africa takes courage and dedication, with wildlife rangers spending weeks in remote outposts, putting their lives at risk every day. The Big Life Foundation employs hundreds of Maasai rangers, providing them with field units, vehicles, tracker dogs and aerial surveillance. You can support their efforts by joining the Ranger Club with a one-off or monthly donation. An elephant calf depends on its mother’s milk for the first two years of its life. So when one becomes orphaned – often because its mother has fallen foul of ivory poachers – the calf’s life hangs in the balance. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust fosters, feeds and rears these orphaned calves, eventually reintroducing them to the wild in the Tsavo East National Park. To date, 150 calves have been saved in this way. A research-based organisation that began life as Save the Elephants – South Africa, Elephants Alive! has been monitoring one of South Africa’s largest continuous elephant populations for over 20 years. It believes that extensive knowledge of elephants’ movements and needs is vital to ensure their long-term survival. An offshoot of the Wildland Conservation Trust, this non-profit organisation works with Maasai communities in Kenya to help elephants and other wildlife. On the banks of the Zambezi river, where Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe share a border, lies the town of Kazungula, from where Elephants Without Borders (EWB) runs its transnational conservation operation. African elephants regularly cross these international boundaries, leaving them at the mercy of changeable policy and conservation laws. Using state-of-the-art monitoring technology, EWB tracks their movements and works with the local authorities to create safe migratory corridors through which the elephants can move freely. In Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, elephant and other wildlife populations are at risk from bone-dry summers as well as from humans. In 2005, a particularly devastating drought saw scores of animals lose their lives. On the back of this disaster, Friends of Hwange was formed to pump water from underground sources, providing waterholes even in the most extreme conditions. Zambia sits at the heart of southern Africa, surrounded by four countries identified by Cites as centres of ivory poaching and trafficking. The Game Rangers International Wildlife Crime Prevention Project works with conservation organisations and law enforcement to end the illegal wildlife trade in and through Zambia. Malawi is one of the poorest, and fastest-growing, countries in the world, which is putting its natural habitat under severe strain. In 2008 the Lilongwe Wildlife Trust launched its first project, the Wildlife Centre, as a sanctuary for rescued animals and an education centre. The NGO now works across the country in rescues, advocacy and conservation education. Based in Tanzania, PAMS Foundation works in conservation to benefit both wildlife and the community. Its initiatives include training dogs to detect ivory being smuggled at borders, and supporting the Tanzanian government to undertake anti-poaching efforts. The elephants of northern Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve are some of the best studied in the world, thanks to the work of Save the Elephants. The charity’s main research centre is located in Samburu, from where it once pioneered the GPS tracking of elephant populations, and continues to try to understand ecosystems from an elephant’s perspective. Donations go towards various research and protection projects, from anti-poaching aerial surveillance to better understanding the herds’ migratory movements. Poaching is the immediate threat. But there is another, perhaps even more serious threat to Africa’s elephants: the loss of their habitat as economies grow and land competition surges. Space for Giants is pioneering efforts in Kenya, Gabon, and Uganda to lessen human-elephant conflict with specially-designed electrified fences, and spends a lot of time working with local communities explaining why fences help. This Japanese-Kenyan NGO is best known for its “No Ivory Generation” campaign, aimed at changing Japanese consumers’ attitudes to ivory. Tusk has invested about £30m in 60 conservation projects across Africa since its founding in 1990. Education and sustainable development are at the heart of its approach to conservation, working with local schools and rural communities to promote happy cohabitation between at-risk wildlife and the ever-expanding human population. The group behind the Ninety-Six Elephants campaign (see the campaign, lobby and educate section above) has a presence in 15 of the 37 African elephant range sites, from the savannahs of east Africa to the Gulf of Guinea. Donations help WCS’ efforts to stop the degradation of elephant habitats and prevent wildlife crime by providing rangers with essential technological and intelligence-gathering resources. A US Fish and Wildlife Service initiative financed by a mixture of government contributions and public donations, the fund awards grants to a variety of conservation and animal welfare projects. Recent beneficiaries include a scheme to mitigate human-elephant conflict in Nepal; counter-poaching operations in Thailand; and veterinary training to improve the care of captive elephants in Indonesia. As an all-volunteer organisation, the AES uses 100% of donations to fund numerous and diverse programmes everywhere from India to Vietnam. These range from English as a Second Language classes so that mahouts can develop their careers, to meeting the veterinary and housing needs of retired working elephants. ElefantAsia promotes alternative, cruelty-free careers for the elephants and mahouts that have traditionally served the logging industry in Laos and other parts of south-east Asia. The Laos-based non-profit also providing veterinary care in the form of mobile clinics and an elephant hospital in Sayaboury province. By making a one-off donation or sponsoring an elephant – generally a pregnant female, a mother with a baby, or an elderly or injured animal – donors can support the ECC’s efforts to rescue elephants from the Lao logging industry and re-home them in 106 hectares of protected forest. Rather than impose western ideas of how to run conservation projects, Elephant Family empowers local experts to develop their own solutions to protect Asian elephants in India, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Malaysia. Soraida Salwala founded Friends of the Asian Elephant’s first elephant hospital in Thailand in 1993. Since then, more than 4,000 elephants have received medical treatment in her facility. In their spare time, a group of young people based in Gudalur work in nature conservation in the Nilgiri region of south India. Part of their work involves research into how people and elephants can coexist peacefully. The next generation of conservationists could be the key to ensuring elephants’ long-term survival. Through its educational programmes, Think Elephants International is keeping the subject alive in classrooms both at home in the US and in Thailand, with ambitions to spread the word far beyond. Formed almost 20 years ago in response to the threats to wildlife in India. With 150 employees, the group is dedicated to nature conservation through a wide range of projects. For example, it has supported anti-poaching training for more than 15,000 people working with wildlife. You can make a real difference to conservation efforts by becoming a citizen scientist. You don’t need a PhD to help track elephant populations. Run by the University of Cape Town, the MammalMAP project asks travellers and citizen scientists to share their photos of African wildlife, along with information about the date and location that the photograph was taken. In so doing, you will be helping to build a valuable picture of the mammal population and how it is changing. This Android app, created by ElephantVoices, allows users to upload sightings and observations of Mara elephants to help the conservation charity with its research and campaign work. A must-download for locals and visitors to Maasai Mara. A fun, simple and interactive way to conduct valuable scientific research from anywhere in the world. Snapshot Serengeti asks citizen scientists to help classify the animals caught on some of the hundreds of camera traps dotted throughout the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. You will be shown a photo and provided with a user-friendly and searchable list of native animals. Get clicking to help researchers better understand the park’s animal populations. You don’t have to travel all the way to Mozambique to be part of the Gorongosa National Park’s conservation team. Simply review webcam and camera trap footage to help identify the movements of the park’s animal populations. Whether you would rather bake cakes or trek across Kenya, your hard work can raise money (and awareness) for elephant conservation. Just make sure you obey local regulations. Described by National Geographic as one of the “most authentic, most innovative … and most sustainable tours” out there, this annual nine-day expedition involves trekking across the Kenyan countryside, encountering wildlife and the people responsible for its conservation along the way. Participants are asked to raise upwards of $1,000 (£800), which goes towards preventing the slaughter of the region’s elephants. Simply select an elephant-focused charity or conservation project from the website’s vast database, and within a couple of minutes you can set up your own fundraising page. Crowdrise promises that at least 97% of the proceeds will go to your chosen cause. Alternatively (or additionally), you can sponsor and support others in their fundraising efforts. Functioning in much the same way as its crowd-funding cousin Crowdrise, JustGiving provides users with a simple way to share news of their fundraising campaigns with friends and family and to collect sponsorship. Whether you want to run the London Marathon, climb Mount Kilimanjaro or hold a bake sale in the name of elephant conservation, Tusk’s team can support your fundraising endeavours, be that by helping you get a place at an event, or by providing you with useful tips and ideas. An anti-poaching initiative, Veterans 4 Wildlife sends skilled veterans – and volunteers – to support rangers across Africa. Often poverty is the cause of poaching, so this organisation does a lot of community-based work, such as building schools and creating jobs. Provides all the tools and tips you need to create a successful fundraising campaign. Download flyers, posters and pictures direct from the website, or draw inspiration from other fundraising efforts. It’s easy to become so fascinated by elephants that you overlook ways in which you are harming them. Here are some of the things you should not do if you want to prevent exploitation and abuse.


Chiyo P.I.,Duke University | Chiyo P.I.,University of Notre Dame | Moss C.J.,Amboseli Trust for Elephants | Alberts S.C.,Duke University
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Factors that influence learning and the spread of behavior in wild animal populations are important for understanding species responses to changing environments and for species conservation. In populations of wildlife species that come into conflict with humans by raiding cultivated crops, simple models of exposure of individual animals to crops do not entirely explain the prevalence of crop raiding behavior. We investigated the influence of life history milestones using age and association patterns on the probability of being a crop raider among wild free ranging male African elephants; we focused on males because female elephants are not known to raid crops in our study population. We examined several features of an elephant association network; network density, community structure and association based on age similarity since they are known to influence the spread of behaviors in a population. We found that older males were more likely to be raiders than younger males, that males were more likely to be raiders when their closest associates were also raiders, and that males were more likely to be raiders when their second closest associates were raiders older than them. The male association network had sparse associations, a tendency for individuals similar in age and raiding status to associate, and a strong community structure. However, raiders were randomly distributed between communities. These features of the elephant association network may limit the spread of raiding behavior and likely determine the prevalence of raiding behavior in elephant populations. Our results suggest that social learning has a major influence on the acquisition of raiding behavior in younger males whereas life history factors are important drivers of raiding behavior in older males. Further, both life-history and network patterns may influence the acquisition and spread of complex behaviors in animal populations and provide insight on managing human-wildlife conflict. © 2012 Chiyo et al.

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