Blood Beads – Another Threat to Elephant Survival

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Photo from:  https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/skin-poaching-asian-elephants-myanmar-blood-beads

A CHILLING NEW DEVELOPMENT IN ELEPHANT POACHING

Just when you think man’s inhumanity to life and our environment can’t shock us, a new product from poached elephants much in demand from China is making the news. Called “Blood Beads,” this is a ruthless, painful way for people to make money from not only killing elephants, but also torturing them to harvest their skin because it must be taken while they are dying. Read about it here:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-12/poachers-targeting-asian-elephants-for-their-skins/10368638

Today, elephants in Myanmar are slaughtered for their skin which contains a lot of blood vessels close to the surface. Elephants are poisoned, and before they are dead, deep cuts are made to remove the outer layer of skin before the blood leaves the skin tissue. Some elephants have been skinned while still alive. The tissue taken from right under their skin is dried and then polished into red beads and other novelties and made into a powdered “miracle health cure.” What makes this even worse is that the product is also poisonous.

If you have the stomach to Google “elephant blood beads,” you’ll see photos of dead, skinless elephants. These are sentient, caring beings, a vital part of our ecosystem. They feel love, pain, joy, and fear. There is no acceptable reason for this brutality. We must work together to stop it.

This hideous trend could signal the end of the elephants in Myanmar. Myanmar isn’t Africa, but what happens when there are no more elephants in Myanmar to satisfy wealthy, greedy, and brutal buyers? We must continue to do all we can to help support anti-poaching efforts in Zambia where herds of elephants are holding their own against poachers thanks to Conservation South Luangwa’s dedication and Africa Hope Fund’s support. We must ensure elephants remain a vital part of our ecosystem and not a memory. Please consider donating today. Whatever amount you can contribute goes directly to nonprofits in Zambia Africa Hope Fund has vetted and helps support (africahopefund.org). You can help save elephants from cruel and brutal deaths and an entire species from extinction.

Nearly 90 Elephants Found Dead Near Botswana Sanctuary, Killed By Poachers

Nearly 90 Elephants Found Dead Near Botswana Sanctuary, Killed By Poachers https://www.npr.org/2018/09/03/644340279/nearly-90-elephants-found-dead-near-botswana-sanctuary-killed-by-poachers

The photographs in this article are horrific, and do not show the orphaned young elephants who were dependent on their mothers for milk.

This headline from yesterday makes us more grateful to nearly 300 of our supporters who joined us at our Safari on the River fundraisers on August 26th. Together we raised money to help Conservation South Luangwa maintain their first-line defense against poachers – detection dogs. We also raised money for Chipembele Wildlife Education and Trust because our mission includes educating children to protect their inheritance, the wildlife. And we see results. Detection dogs are highly effective both as deterrents and in finding contraband (bush meat, pangolins, and especially ivory). Students are returning to the South Luangwa Valley to work with wildlife after completing their education.

Elephants thought they were safe in Botswana because the previous government under the leadership of President Ian Khama protected them, dedicated military resources to anti-poaching patrols, and handed out severe penalties to any poachers unlucky enough to be arrested. Khama stepped down when his term expired, succeeded by Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi who reversed Khama’s policy on banning elephant hunting. He also withdrew their anti-poaching protection and poachers moved in and slaughtered nearly 90 elephants with no regard to their families and babies. At home, our President, Donald Trump, lifted a ban on elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia, a ban that was put in place by former President Barack Obama.

Elephants leave countries where they are at a greater risk of being poached. When there is unrest in one, elephants who know no borders will escape to another place where they find safety. Elephants migrated to Botswana because they were safe. Now they will likely move again. The Zambian government values their wildlife and works to protect elephants. Their wildlife protection unit, ZAWA works in conjunction with Conservation South Luangwa, one of the nonprofits we help support. Together they make the South Luangwa Valley less hospitable for poachers and give elephants a fighting chance to reproduce and increase their numbers. Elephants in the South Luangwa Valley know they are safer there, but it’s a daily battle to protect them.

There are about 365,000 elephants left on the African Continent. They are perilously close to becoming extinct in the next ten years without our help. We stand behind the countless heroes who dedicate their lives to protecting wildlife. Please, your support is more critical than ever. If you missed on Safari on the River, you can donate on our website. A dollar goes a long way in Zambia where annual salaries are modest compared to ours. Africa Hope Fund spends very little money on overhead. We donate our time and expertise and rely on volunteers. Any donation you make is well-spent, effective, and helps save wildlife. Help us prevent sights like this in Zambia. Give elephants and other wildlife a chance today so our grandchildren will know them.

 

 

 

 

 

Botswana Considers Lifting Elephant Hunting Ban

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Today, Botswana is considering lifting the ban on elephant hunting. 130,000 elephants, close to a third of Africa’s elephant population live in Botswana, a country about the size of France. Farmers complain that elephants destroyed nearly 72% of Botswana’s north region’s maize crop which feeds their families. At the same time, because of its vast, remote wilderness space, tourists flock to Botswana to see its wildlife and conservationists are alarmed at the thought of lifting the ban which will not solve the problem of crop-raiding elephants. Elephant experts say hunting will only result in killing the largest bull elephants with big tusks while the elephants that raid crops are usually younger bulls or families of elephants.

Conservation South Luangwa (CSL) in Zambia, which Africa Hope Fund helps support, offers better alternatives by working with farmers to protect their crops. CSL helps farmers build concrete graineries to replace woven ones to keep elephants away from the corn they put away for the year. CSL also helps farmers plant chili crops around their fields which elephants hate and helps farmers sell their harvested chilis. They teach farmers how to use “chili blasters,” loaded with chili powder that create annoying clouds of chili dust around persistent elephants. Elephants dislike potatoes too, so bordering a corn crop with potato plants also discourages elephants from raiding farmer’s livelihood.

These conservation efforts along with education about the value of the valley’s wildlife to all who live there help farmers and elephants live together. Farmers realize elephant’s value in the ecosystem and the local tourism economy.

Conservation South Luangwa’s programs can work in other parts of Africa. Your support makes it possible for us to help protect elephants in Zambia and share what works with other parts of Africa like Lake Tanganyika where they struggle to regrow their elephant population and minimize human/elephant conflicts.

Please consider joining us at our fundraiser next month to help us continue this work. Safari on the River is August 26th. Meet some of the people who dedicate their lives to protecting elephants and educating children in the South Luangwa Valley, wander through our marketplace, and dine on exceptional regional food www.africahopefund.org/safari-on-the-river-tickets-page

 

 

 

 

 

Today, Elephants Are Closer to Extinction Because of U.S. Reversal on Wildlife Trophy Ban

March 12, 2018. Less than six months ago under the director of the President, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service reversed the previous administration’s ban on wildlife trophies that included elephants. Elephants got a bit of a reprieve from the relentless hunt to kill them for their tusks. In a legal battle between conservationists and wildlife supporters and the NRA and Safari International, the future of elephants and other wild game were batted back and forth like a shuttlecock in a badminton game that ended up in the D.C. Court of Appeals. The court ruled in favor of allowing hunters to bring their trophies into the U.S.  and the U.S. Dept of Fish and Wildlife stated they would review permits on a case-by-case basis but according to Snopes.com (https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/elephant-trophy-import-ban-lifted/) Note: It’s always good to check Snopes to verify the accuracy of any news. According to Snopes:

That ruling already a number affected other endangered species trophies. The Fish and Wildlife Service released a memo on 1 March 2018 in response to the ruling withdrawing Endangered Species Act findings from various years for trophies of elephants from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, South Africa, and Namibia; lions from Zimbabwe and South Africa, and bontebok in South Africa. The memo added:

However, the Service intends to use the information cited in these findings and contained in its files as appropriate, in addition to the information it receives and has available when it receives each application, to evaluate individual permit applications.

Wildlife Service will now review permits on a case-by-case basis. The agency did not announce this change, however, and the memo only began receiving media attention when The Hill and other outlets reported on it on 6 March.

This reversal is bad news for all elephants and particularly the elephants in the South Luangwa Valley in Zambia. The elephants in this photo are regular visitors to Mfuwe Lodge in the South Luangwa National Park. They know they are much safer in the park, but the park is very about two and a half million acres large with an incredibly diverse and remote landscape ranging from rivers and grasslands to nearly impenetrable and remote bush. Poachers good at finding their way across borders and smuggling ivory are a very real threat to the elephants in the South Luangwa Valley. Our concern is that as bordering countries like Zimbabwe begin to run out of elephants, more poachers will overrun Zambia’s borders to make a few dollars for killing an elephant and taking its tusks, possibly leaving a young elephant like the one in this picture an orphan and unlikely to survive.

You can help save elephants. Write your legislators and voice your protest. Donate to Africa Hope Fund to help us protect Zambia’s elephants (africahopefund.org) and follow this blog for up to date news about elephants. Please share this blog with your friends and help us get the word out. Thank you.

 

 

 

Back To Zambia

I returned to Zambia four more times. Each visit brought me closer to the people and the wildlife, and with each visit, I learned more about the push and pull between saving elephants from extinction and villagers trying to feed their families. I got to know local people, villagers, students, those in the safari industry, people working hard to save wildlife and educate children, and people from all over the world who call the South Luangwa Valley home.
With each visit, I learned more about elephants and how close they are to extinction. I met people who helped me understand how ivory continues to make its way out of Zambia to Asia. The borders along the northeastern part of Zambia, wild with vegetation, rivers, and tributaries allow entry from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Malawi with few law enforcement challenges. Ivory from elephants and poached game or highly desired bush meat as they call it usually makes its way out from the North and South Luangwa National Parks through Malawi on the east or south through Chipata, the closest town along the long tar road on boats, motorbikes, or on foot. The bush meat goes to people in cities who haven’t lost their taste for wild game, and the ivory makes its way to Asia through the Black Market.
In Zambia, people shared stories of their favorite authors and experts who pioneered ways to raise orphaned elephants and studied elephant behavior. My library and e-reader filled with facts and stories about elephants. Through my trips to Zambia, I saw elephants in the wild and came to love and admire these enormous pachyderms more. On my last trip, we saw more than 50 elephants moving towards the village in a single-file line. The guide said it was rare to see so many together like that. We found out later that there was a small tremblor, and they were heading away from it. We never felt it. I spent hours watching elephants with their families, laughed at their antics, and realized how brilliant and kind they are. I cannot imagine a world without elephants. Each trip made me more determined to do my part to save them.

How I Ended Up In Zambia

When the movie Out of Africa, came out in 1985, something opened up in my heart. Robert Redford was a romantic legend as Denys Finch Hatton. The wildness and beauty of Africa also stayed in my heart, and I began to dream of visiting the African continent. I read every book I could find of Isak Dineson’s (Karen Blixen) work and other books about life in Africa. Sadly, most of the books I read were about hunters and their prey. My early knowledge of the African continent and its history was poor. Entire countries changed hands before I knew where they were on a map.
I watched wildlife shows on television. Seeing part of Africa on the big screen made me hunger to go there. Elephants never entered my mind. They weren’t chasing Meryl Streep through the bush, but I longed to return to the continent from where we all began.
I’d traveled a bit to other countries. I love the United Kingdom and my Scottish ancestry. Paris and Guadalajara were adventures I’ll never forget. Other cities and countries showed me their best, but I was always ready when it was time to go home and left without looking back.
My daughter Lindsey and I visited Mfuwe Village in the South Luangwa Valley and spent time in bush camps in the South Luangwa Park where we went on games drives and long guided hikes. This was the beginning of my understanding about how precarious elephant’s survival is. When it was time to go home after my first visit to Zambia in 2011, I cried as our small airplane took off, and the wild bush country disappeared from view. I knew I would find a way to return.

International Focus on Combating Wildlife Crime

  1. Thank You All – You Are Helping us Protect Wildlife in Zambia

 

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CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. It aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The most recent CITES gathering was in Johannesburg in early October 2015.

Over 90 representatives from wildlife enforcement networks across the world met for frank discussions on strengthening frontline cooperation and coordination to combat transnational organized wildlife and forest crime. CITES Secretary-General John E. Scanlon has described wildlife crime as “a multi-billion dollar threat to wildlife and ecosystems, people, and economies, which is taking place on an industrial scale.”

He said: “Collaborative support for the people serving on the front lines and often in dangerous conditions is critical to the implementation of the Convention. When backed by powerful international agencies, wildlife enforcement networks are in a far stronger position to support the tracking, apprehension, and prosecution of sophisticated criminal gangs involved in wildlife trafficking.”

According to a BBC News article by Matt McGrath, Environment Correspondent, Johannesburg, “Attempts to give the maximum level of international protection to all African elephants have foundered at a key species conference in Johannesburg.”

A proposal put forward by Kenya was strongly supported but failed to gain the two-thirds CITES majority required. The EU opposition, which voted as a block, was pivotal in the defeat. Other proposals that would have opened up new ivory markets were also rejected. Proponents of the increased protection say it is a missed opportunity to safeguard the future of the species and end the current poaching crisis.

This report is not good news for elephants. But thanks to your support, Conservation South Luangwa and other nonprofits in Zambia are holding their own. The detection dogs we helped provide are essential to keeping one step ahead of poachers. This year our fundraiser, Safari on the River raised enough money to pay expenses for detection dogs for another year. Elephants are a keystone species. Without them, the entire ecosystem will collapse, and there will be little wildlife on the African continent. Africa Hope Fund will continue to work hard to protect a rich inheritance of abundant wildlife for our children whether they are in the United States or Zambia. Thank you for being a big part of that work.

Counting Elephants

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CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The most recent CITES gathering was in Johannesburg in early October 2015.

Over 90 representatives from wildlife enforcement networks across the world met for frank discussions on strengthening frontline cooperation and coordination to combat transnational organized wildlife and forest crime. CITES Secretary-General John E. Scanlon has described wildlife crime as “a multi-billion dollar threat to wildlife and ecosystems, people, and economies, which is taking place on an industrial scale.”

He said: “Collaborative support for the people serving on the front lines and often in dangerous conditions is critical to the implementation of the Convention. When backed by powerful international agencies, wildlife enforcement networks are in a far stronger position to support the tracking, apprehension, and prosecution of sophisticated criminal gangs involved in wildlife trafficking.”

According to a BBC News article by Matt McGrath, Environment Correspondent, Johannesburg, “Attempts to give the maximum level of international protection to all African elephants have foundered at a key species conference in Johannesburg.”

A proposal put forward by Kenya was strongly supported but failed to gain the two-thirds CITES majority required. The opposition of the EU, which voted as a block, was pivotal in the defeat. Other proposals that would have opened up new ivory markets were also rejected. Proponents of the increased protection say it is a missed opportunity to safeguard the future of the species and end the current poaching crisis.

The CITES report is not good news for elephants. But thanks to your support, Conservation South Luangwa and other nonprofits in Zambia are holding their own. The detection dogs we helped provide are essential to keeping one step ahead of poachers. Our fundraiser, Safari on the River raised enough money to pay expenses for detection dogs for another year. Elephants are a keystone species. Without them the entire ecosystem will collapse, and there will be little wildlife in the African continent. We will continue to work hard to protect a rich inheritance of abundant wildlife for our children whether they are in the United States or Zambia. Thank you for being a big part of that work. You can donate at africahopefund.org if you would like to help save elephants and other wildlife from extinction.

 

 

You Were Heard

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Our current administration has decided not to overturn the ban on importing hunting trophies. Leaving the ban in effect will greatly help protect elephants I’ve met personally in Zambia and relieve the hearts of those who put their lives at risk to protect them from poachers. Elephants are still on a march toward extinction as long as poaching continues at current levels. Please go to africahopefund.org  to learn how you can help. It’s not all about donations. We need advocacy too. Watch this blog for opportunities to make your voice heard where it matters. Thank you.

Overturning the Ban on Importing Elephant Trophies is Disgraceful

Please friend our Facebook page African Hope Fund, tell others about it and help us save elephants from extinction. Go to our website africahopefund.org to learn more about ways you can take action now to help save elephants and other wildlife.

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Don’t Let Elephants Disappear –

Don’t listen to the hype about why overturning the ban on bringing elephant trophies from Africa should be all right…

Very wealthy people spend thousands of dollars hunting elephants and other wildlife in Africa. They say they are just taking out the old ones, culling the herd, feeding the locals, or introducing money into the village economy. None of that is true. Kill an old elephant, usually the matriarch, and the herd loses its knowledge and institutional memory. Elephant numbers are decreasing so fast that at the current rate they will be extinct in ten years without removing the ban on trophies.

Locals are not allowed to eat wildlife anymore, and while they might like to have an elephant to eat, it’s not a solution to their hunger or poverty. It’s a one-time “feel good” opportunity for the hunter’s ego. And the money from these hunts almost never trickles down to the villagers who are most in need and live in constant scarcity. Corruption and other problems divert the money away from where it could do some good.

But the other thing you should know is that if elephants become extinct, we will feel the effects here at home. Elephants are a keystone species. All bush wildlife depends on them to push down trees and create grasslands so herbivores can graze and to dig watering holes during droughts. If there are no more elephants, the bush becomes an impenetrable thicket and the trees that grow undigested in nutrient-rich elephant dung will no longer be dispersed for 20-30 miles as elephants forage each day. Without elephants, more wildlife will die during droughts because elephants aren’t there to dig down to aquifers they know how to find and to share fresh water.

If there are no elephants and there is no food for herbivores in the African bush, there is no game for hyenas, wild dogs, leopards, cheetahs, lions, and other carnivores to eat. The other species that depend on this food chain will have no ecosystem left to support them. The trees that don’t grow and the thickets that do will add to our greenhouse warming which affects the entire planet. It’s not just that elephants are sentient, self-aware beings and we should save them because they are so cool. We need them as environmental stewards to help ecosystems thrive.  The extinction of a major species is an ecological disaster. Don’t let elephants disappear.