This is a question I have been asked many times over the past 7 years since founding Elephanatics, an elephant advocacy organization in Vancouver, B.C. Elephanatics recently formed a coalition of organizations to include the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, Humane Society International-Canada, Global March for Elephants and Rhinos – Toronto, and World Elephant Day. […]Why Worry About African and Asian Elephants in BC Canada? — Elephanatics
Category Archives: Animal Activism
Thanks to the amazing Jane Goodall for her op-ed in today’s Globe and Mail in honour of World Elephant Day. Please sign our petition or write your MP to end the legal trade of ivory in Canada today.
Why hasn’t Canada banned the elephant ivory trade?
by Jane Goodall – The Globe and Mail
My fascination with and love for elephants began when I first encountered a herd. I was on foot in the forests on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater, and I was able to spend time with these magnificent beings in Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park. I was there with my late husband, Derek Bryceson, who was the director of Tanzania National Parks at the time. We had arranged training workshops for park rangers who would follow individuals and record their activities using techniques similar to those we developed in Gombe to monitor chimpanzee behaviour.
Although I could not be there often, I got to know a number of elephants individually. There was Fred, a juvenile male. He was a real show-off and would chase almost anything – antelopes, warthogs, cattle egrets – trumpeting fiercely, ears spread. I even saw him charge a butterfly.
One individual I especially loved was a very old male, Ahmed. His ears drooped and his skin was loose, hanging in folds around his ankles. He moved slowly and deliberately and often stood in the shade by himself, his trunk draped over one of his tusks.
Elephants are highly intelligent. During dry periods, the older members of the herd remember the locations of water holes they visited years before. They form strong social bonds and have emotions similar to our own. If danger threatens, the adults will circle the mothers and calves protectively and are ready to charge. They care for adults of the herd as well: One researcher observed three male elephants attempt to revive a dying matriarch, lifting her body with their tusks as they tried in vain to get her back on her feet.
On World Elephant Day, we pay tribute to these wise, gentle giants who so perfectly represent the natural wonders of the world.
But today is not a time for celebration. This magnificent species, which once roamed across Africa in great herds, has been pushed toward extinction. In 1930, as many as 10 million elephants inhabited the continent. Today, there are only some 400,000 left. This decrease is almost entirely the ugly result of poaching, which is backed by criminal cartels to satisfy the demand for ivory. How shameful that human greed threatens these majestic, intelligent beings, slaughtering them for their tusks.
If we are to save this species, the demand for ivory – and other elephant parts – must end. In 2016, at the most recent conference hosted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the African Elephant Coalition (which comprises 29 countries representing the overwhelming majority of range states in which African elephants are found) called on countries around the world to close their markets for commercial trade in raw and worked ivory. The proposal was supported through a unanimous resolution.
Canada – along with Japan, Namibia and South Africa – has refused to do so. Unlike China, once the largest single market for the buying and selling of legal and illegal ivory, Canada continues to sanction a domestic marketplace for elephant ivory.
As a policy, Ottawa has banned sales of ivory from elephants killed post-1990. But because ivory is extremely difficult to date, illegally harvested supplies enter the Canadian market with little or no difficulty. (Canada has also expressed concern that banning elephant ivory could affect the well-regulated Inuit trade in worked narwhal and walrus ivory, although no evidence has been cited to support this claim.)
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Canada also permits the importation of elephant trophies. Between 2007 and 2016, Canada allowed the legal importation of more than 400 elephant skulls and 260 elephant feet, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which tracks the movement of animals and animal parts.
Hunting causes terrible suffering to thousands of individual elephants. Moreover, profits from poaching fund criminal cartels, destabilize communities and feed corruption. Park rangers, on the front lines of protecting all wildlife, also pay a high price: In 2018, at least 63 African game rangers died in the line of duty, often leaving their families without support. And a number of people working to bring the ivory barons to justice have been brutally murdered.
On World Elephant Day, the Ivory-Free Canada coalition, of which the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada is a member, is calling on Canada to ban the trade in elephant ivory. With its partners, – Elephanatics, Humane Society International-Canada, World Elephant Day and Global March for Elephants and Rhinos-Toronto – the coalition is asking Canada to join other responsible countries in the fight to save these iconic animals from extinction.
When I see elephant tusks or elephant ivory trinkets, I see the suffering and brutal death of the individual to whom they once belonged and the terror and heartache of the others in the herd.
But together we can change this. I choose elephants, not ivory. I choose an Ivory-Free Canada.
More than 400,000 have signed the petition asking for end to the legal trade in elephant ivory.
Help us get to 500,000 by World Elephant Day on August 12!
The ongoing slaughter of African elephants for their tusks has decimated elephant populations. Today, this magnificent animal is highly endangered and on the brink of extinction. Since 1980, the number of elephants in Africa has fallen from 1.3 million to just over 400,000. Currently an estimated 20,000 elephants are killed every year for their ivory. At this rate, they will be erased from the wild in our lifetime.
Countries that have banned the domestic sale of elephant ivory within their borders, or are in the process of doing so, include China, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Belgium, Luxembourg, the European Union and nearly every state in the United States.
To date, the Canadian government refuses to do the same and also ban the ivory trade. Shockingly, Canada is directly contributing to the destruction of one of the one of the planet’s most iconic species by keeping its elephant ivory market open for business.
Canada also legally permits elephant trophies to be imported. Between 2007 and 2016, Canada allowed the importation of 83 trophy elephants, 434 elephant skulls and 260 elephant feet.
Please join the Ivory-Free Canada campaign #IvoryFreeCanada and tell our government to end the legal domestic trade of elephant ivory.
Here’s how you can help save elephants:
1. Sign and share our petition! More than 400,000 have signed already – thank you! If you haven’t added your name yet, please help us get to 500,000 signatures by World Elephant Day on August 12.
Our coalition is led by Elephanatics with supporting partners Humane Society International-Canada, the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, World Elephant Day and Global March for Elephants – Toronto.
If you are Canadian, you may be one of the many people who aren’t aware that that Canada allows the legal trade of ivory. Elephants will be extinct in the wild within 20 years if all countries don’t implement strict bans on the sale of ivory.
If you would like to ADD YOUR VOICE, click here to send your MP a pre-written letter asking to close the legal trade.
The federal Minister Catherine McKenna has already received a petition and a letter from Elephanatics. The petition is now over 300,000 and the letter was endorsed by 95 national and international scientists, conservationists and animal welfare organizations, including SPCA, Jane Goodall Institute, Born Free and Wildlife At Risk International.
The Minister has not responded.
Kate Brooks, director of documentary film The Last Animals, states, “It’s absolutely imperative that every country on the planet enact legislation to combat the global wildlife trafficking crisis and stop stimulating demand for ivory by continuing to trade. I hope Canada will join the countries that are standing up for elephants and the rangers who put their lives on the line trying to protect them.”
Several US states, France, China, Philippines, and the United Kingdom have banned the sale of ivory within their borders. The Netherlands will close its raw ivory market in 2019; Taiwan will ban its ivory trade by 2020; Hong Kong will follow in 2021; and Singapore is considering the most stringent ban to date.
It’s time for Canada to do the right thing.
In The Last Animals filmmaker and conflict reporter Kate Brooks turns her lens to the killing of African elephants and rhinos – in this sweeping expose of this under reported genocide.
As the single -digit population of Northern White Rhinoceros ticks closer to zero, Brooks outlines the factors contributing to the current epidemic of highly effective poaching and trafficking syndicates, drawing startling connections between the illegal wildlife trade and international terrorism and border security.
At the same time Brooks documents the heroic efforts of conservationists, park rangers, and scientists to protect these animals on the verge of extinction in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
The result is a potent plea for worldwide attention and action to combat the permanent loss of these majestic creatures.is a story about an extraordinary group of people who go to all lengths to save the planet’s last animals.
The documentary follows the conservationists, scientists and activists battling poachers and criminal networks to protect elephants and rhinos.
From Africa’s front lines to behind the scenes of Asian markets, the film takes an intense look at the global response to this slaughter and the desperate measures to genetically rescue the Northern White rhinos who are on the edge of extinction.
About Kate Brooks
Kate Brooks is a world renowned photographer who has chronicled conflict and human rights issues for nearly two decades. She first began working as photographer in Russia while documenting child abuse in state orphanages. The resulting photographs were published worldwide and used by the Human Rights Watch to campaign for orphans’ rights.
Kate then proceeded to dedicate herself to co
vering the post 9/11 decade through to the beginning of the Arab Spring; she is widely known for her extensive work across the Middle East and in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Kate’s photographs are regularly published in magazines, such as TIME, Newsweek, The New Yorker and Smithsonian. She also exhibits her work in museums and galleries across the globe.
In 2010 Kate was as a contributing cinematographer on the multiple award-winning documentary The Boxing Girls of Kabul. Her introspective collection of essays and photos In the Light of Darkness: A Photographer’s Journey After 9/11 was selected by PDN as one of 2011’s best photography books. Kate was then awarded a 2012-13 Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan. There she began researching wildlife trafficking and the pan African poaching epidemic for the documentary film The Last Animals. Kate’s drive and passion for this project comes from the fundamental belief that time is running out and that we are at a critical moment in natural history.
I subscribe to an elephant newsfeed (surprise surprise) and I often scan the headlines and move on but I stopped at this one when I learned that Paul Allen had died. Paul Allen in addition to being the co-founder of Microsoft, was also a philanthropist who donated millions of dollars to fund a variety of charities.
In particular, however, he funded the Great Elephant Census which was an extraordinary undertaking. By collaborating across borders, cultures and jurisdictions a successful survey of massive scale was completed and what was learned was deeply disturbing.
The census revealed for the first time the dramatic decline of elephant populations. Paul Allen’s belief was that we share a collective responsibility to take action and we must all work to ensure the preservation of this iconic species.Beyond a significant amount of his personal time and effort, Paul Allen spent more than $7 million to fund and manage the project, create the technology, and make the census results available online.
“If we can’t save the African elephant, what is the hope of conserving the rest of Africa’s wildlife? I am hopeful that, with the right tools, research, conservation efforts and political will, we can help conserve elephants for decades to come.”
In a world where wildlife faces so many dire challenges, it is the extraordinary kindness and generosity of people like Paul Allen who offer a bright spot on what seems to be a long uphill battle. But every little bit matters. I am thankful to Mr. Allen and his team for lending their hearts, resources and expertise to help one of the worlds most remarkable species and I am very sad to hear of his passing at such a young age..
The piece below is long but it tells you a little bit about who he was:
“On the evening of September 12th, Orca Network Co-Founder Susan Berta got a call: A Seattleite wanted help IDing a whale pod he’d photographed while visiting Rosario Strait in northern Washington. But this was no ordinary citizen reporting an orca sighting: More than 200,000 followers could share in his enthusiasm for the famously endangered J-pod.
“Lucky to get a show from these orcas today while out on the water! Incredible sighting off James Island. May have been the J Pod. pic.twitter.com/ReWhenfYUk”
— Paul Allen (@PaulGAllen) September 13, 2018
“We were excited: We’d never gotten a whale report from Paul Allen before,” Berta says of the tech billionaire. “We knew he was interested in orcas and conservation and other things, but had never worked directly with him… it was neat that he cared enough to want to know which whales they were.
“We didn’t know at the time that his cancer had come back.”
A little more than a month later, Allen—the celebrated co-founder of Microsoft and revitalizer of Seattle who donated billions to charities—passed away from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 65.
“We were just shocked and saddened, but also felt a little comfort knowing he had spent a beautiful September day with the southern resident orcas,” Berta says. “It seems like whales have a way of showing up for people at the right time.”
Cataloguing all of Allen’s far-reaching personal and professional passions would be a difficult undertaking. But while he pursued tech-adjacent efforts to send people into space or crack the mystery of the human brain, some of Allen’s most earnest interests kept his mind occupied with an earthbound community that technology often leaves behind: the natural world.
In his well-traveled private life, Allen discovered a kinship with and concern for the natural world that many share. But he applied his famously analytical mind to quantitative initiatives meant to preserve a planet he’d helped to broadly transform.
Paul and his team at umbrella-company Vulcan spearheaded some of the most influential climate and wildlife projects in human history—which friends say stemmed as much from emotional and moral imperatives as they did intellectual ones.
Crosscut reached out to conservation advocates, researchers, and Allen’s Vulcan colleagues to learn more about how his charitable support for environmental programs evolved from a personal passion into historic efforts to save the natural world—in a uniquely Paul Allen way.
“One of the unique things about Paul is that he has a personal investment in every single thing he funds,” says Dr. Sam Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington, who received two significant Vulcan grants for a project analyzing elephant ivory DNA in Africa.
For years, Paul’s curiosity about the natural world kept Dr. James Deutsch awake at night— in a positive way, he says. Deutsch left the Wildlife Conservation Society three years ago to join Vulcan as Director of Biodiversity Conservation.
“Those of us who worked for Paul would receive email messages at 2 in the morning because Paul had just read the latest article in Nature and wanted to know what we thought about it, and whether he could do something about the issue,” Deutsch told Crosscut the day after Allen passed. “That’s just how we worked — he was, like, scarily insatiable about consuming scientific information.”
One of Allen’s keenest obsessions was with elephants. He was struck by their extraordinary intelligence, their sociology, and their importance to the comprehensive African ecosystem. He visited with them on safaris for decades.
When he saw environmental injustice in person, his response was intense — especially with elephants. Allen’s investments in African anti-poaching projects, Deutsch says, “grew out of his direct experience visiting parks in Africa and seeing the decline of elephants and seeing the poaching crisis.”
While developing a program in Tanzania to end wildlife trafficking, Allen flew to Tanzania to personally interview the eventual head of the unit in the field.
But while his love for animals is well documented, colleagues say Allen also considered whether humans suffered repercussions from environmental problems when deciding where to put his resources.
Allen’s interest in coral reef remediation and protection, came from worries about the number of people dependent on reefs for their livelihood as much as a desire to continue diving in them.
Learning that as many as one billion people depend on reefs for food and jobs—and that as much as 90 percent of reefs could die by 2050—Paul G. Allen Philanthropies invested in a project to map and monitor all of the world’s shallow-water reefs. All of the visual data is open-source and available for non-commercial use. (Although—to be fair—his yacht’s crew sometimes inadvertently damaged the coral reefs he loved so much.)
Environmental issues spoke to Allen’s sense of humanity and morality, but the ways in which he processed and attacked environmental problems mirrored his actions in the tech world.
“Every single project and program that we ran, he was involved in designing it —he approved it and then followed up to see how it was doing,” Deutsch says. “He wanted to make sure that everything was built on good data with clear, empirical answers —not wishful thinking.”
Once again, this was most pronounced in Vulcan’s work with African elephants. The Great Elephant Census, which ran from 2014 through 2016, ended of illegal ivory importers’ claims that elephants were plentiful in certain African countries, and that environmentalists were overstating the poaching problem.
Facing a dearth of facts, the Vulcan team had to complete the first aerial survey of the elephant population in more than four decades and collate the evidence into a database. The team concluded that the African savanna elephant population in 18 countries had decreased an astounding 30 percent between 2007 and 2014.
The result led Allen to funnel upward of $25 million into elephant anti-poaching efforts over his lifetime.
“These are things that are very difficult to get funded, but Paul and his staff saw the value in this kind of work,” says University of Washington’s Wasser. With Allen’s help, Wasser oversaw one of the broadest-ever DNA analyses of seized African elephant ivory — about 32 tons worth. The effect was immediate: By connecting ivory DNA from different seizures back to individual traffickers, Wasser’s team continues to help Homeland Security charge trafficking cartels with increased criminal penalties.
Allen also twinned his passion for environmental protection with his well-documented support of the arts. Allen co-produced the documentary Chasing the Thunder, an upcoming feature documentary from international marine conservation organization Sea Shepherd.
Captain Paul Watson—founder, CEO, and president of Sea Shepherd—says the film follows the longest pursuit of a fish poacher in maritime history (the Thunder tracked Patagonian toothfish), and makes salient the difficulties in stopping oceanic wildlife crimes—but that’s hardly Allen’s biggest contribution to marine anti-poaching efforts. Once again, a dramatic technological solution arose from Allen’s involvement in the movie.
“The funding of the film was one thing, but probably the most important thing was helping to set up a global satellite surveillance system [called Skylight] that monitors fishing vessels—which has been incredibly useful to us in our pursuit of poachers on the high seas,” Watson says.
Allen was famous for owning a massive yacht where he held parties with rock stars in glitzy locales like Cannes. But his appreciation for marine science was apparent to anyone who knew what to look for.
“He’d have his yacht there every year—which was more like a 300-foot fully equipped oceanographic research vessel, really,” Watson says. “He’ll be sorely missed. It’s amazing. He’s so young to die at 65 but when you think about all the things that he achieved it’s absolutely miraculous that he did so,” Watson says.
Supporters are worried for wildlife in a world without Allen. But he created infrastructure and data repositories that will give the public enduring means to further future research using his technological approach.
The Great Elephant Census’ value could’ve ended there, but in 2017, Allen launched a big-data initiative to enable future tracking of endangered wildlife. The Domain Awareness System, a connection of smart sensors and drones throughout Africa, makes real-time data collection of threatened species over a 90,000-square-mile area possible.
In his last month, Vulcan announced an initiative to equip its global wildlife tracking programs with machine learning capabilities created within its own Vulcan Machine Learning Center for Impact.
“I hope that his example of leadership [and] effectiveness in conservation will provide motivation for people to get involved, to believe that biodiversity conservation can work if we focus on it — regardless of whether we have Paul’s resources or the labor of our own hands,” Deutsch says. “When you look across his philanthropy, understandably the most involvement is in the most immediate crises we have, like sheltering homeless people in Seattle, but if some of us—both in action and giving money—aren’t also involved in environmental conservation, then there’s no way that our species or children are going to survive or thrive.”