Category Archives: Animal Activism

The Last Animals a Film By Kate Brooks

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

Watch the movie here.

 

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Microsoft’s Co-founder Paul Allen and the Great Elephant Census

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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.

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Mike Chase, principal investigator and founder of Elephants Without Borders says “

“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.”

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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..

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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.

Paul’s Curiosity

“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.)

Paul’s Approach

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.

Paul’s Impact

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.”

https://crosscut.com/2018/10/elephant-man-paul-allens-quest-save-planet-itself

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How Japan’s Hanko Ivory Destroyed Africa’s Elephants

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Japan and the Killing of Elephants

Sometimes the word ivory feels a little too objective for me. Ivory is actually an elephant’s tusk which they use because it’s theirs to use. It’s essential to their survival. Tusks are used for defense, offense, digging, lifting objects, gathering food, and stripping bark to eat from trees. They also protect the sensitive trunk, which is tucked between them when the elephant charges. In times of drought, elephants dig water holes in dry riverbeds by using their tusks, feet, and trunk.

It’s unfortunate that somewhere down the line somebody figured out that these tusks can be harvested from an elephant by killing it, and that the “tusk” can be carved into trinkets, jewellery, piano keys, chopsticks etc…. But you have to kill the elephant to get the tusk. That’s just the way it works.

brent-japan-ivory-nationalgeographic_1494083.adapt.1900.1.jpgAbout 100 years ago there were approximately 10 million elephants in Africa. According to the Great Elephant Census of 2016 only 400,000 or thereabouts remain. With 30,000 or so being killed for their tusks per year they will be extinct in the wild within 10 years. The UK, France, China and the US announced bans with Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong soon to follow suit. Elephanatics is advocating that Canada also ban the sale of ivory but we’re waiting for the Honourable Minister to make up her mind about this issue.

Since the closure of these markets the “ivory trade” is flowing to two other markets, Japan and Vietnam.

japanivory_00013.adapt.1900.1.jpgJapan has long resisted closing the trade in any way, just like they resist closing the Taiji dolphin slaughter.  Japan has consumed ivory from at least 262,500 elephants since 1970, the vast majority from large, mature adults. A 2015 JTEF and EIA single-day survey of Yahoo! Japan and Rakuten, a popular e-commerce site, likewise revealed some 12,200 ads for ivory—about 10 percent of which indicated, illegally, that the material could be shipped overseas.

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The article below is long but it’s worth reading. Elephants are like people. They are highly intelligent, emotional and complex animals. They are a keystone species which means we need them.  I am hoping that the next generation of human beings will be justifiably horrified and appalled at our horrifying treatment of animals and wildlife including this astonishing species.  While we dither they die. What a profound loss that is for everyone but especially them.

HOW JAPAN UNDERMINES EFFORTS TO STOP THE ILLEGAL IVORY TRADE

 

 

 

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Ben Mulroney Interview with Dr. Beyers on the Inexplicable Canadian Elephant Ivory Law and the Botswana Massacre

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Elephanatics is a small Vancouver-based not-for-profit that advocates on behalf of African and Asian elephants. We’re a small team with a host of amazing volunteers and advisors. In response to the recent massacre of elephants in Botswana, Elephanatics was asked to comment on CTV with journalist Ben Mulroney.  Dr. Rene Beyers, a zoologist at UBC and one of our amazing supporters and advisors, answered some tough questions on why the massacre happened, and why Canada still hasn’t done anything to close the legal trade of ivory.

A big thanks to Rene for being the voice of elephants in Canada on our behalf. You can watch this interview here. #ivoryfreecanada

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Let’s make canada #ivoryfreecanada Minister McKenna

On March 14th Elephanatics sent a letter to Minister McKenna asking the federal government to close the legal trade of ivory in Canada. The letter was signed by members of the BC Legislature, Honourable Mike Farnworth, Jane Thornthwaite) and Parliament of Canada Don Davies, Fin Donnelly and Nathan Erskine-Smith), scientists and environmentalists asking the government for a ban on the import, export, re-export and domestic trade of all elephant ivory.

Some of the signatories include BC SPCA, International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, Big Life Foundation, Born Free, World Elephant Day, Stop Ivory and African Wildlife Foundation. Noted elephant research scientists Dr Richard Leakey, Dr Caitlin O’Connell-Rodwell, Dr Joyce Poole, Ron Orenstein and Dr Cynthia Moss also put their name to the letter.

A petition with the signatures of over 130,000 private citizens was included with the letter.

Elephanatics has asked for a meeting with the Minister to discuss first steps in making Canada a leader in the protection of elephants. The overwhelming response to the petition, the incredible support by national and international wildlife advocacy organizations, including world re-known scientists and conservationists, suggests that Canadians are ready for Canada to do the right thing for the protection of this magnificent keystone species.

Please write your member of parliament or the Minister (Catherine.McKenna@parl.gc.ca ) in support of our efforts to end the legal trade of ivory in Canada.

Please read and share this letter.

Canadian Domestic Ivory Ban Letter – Mar 14 Final Version Sig

Please share and sign this petition.

Change doesn’t happen without the support of remarkable individuals and organizations. Thanks to everyone who has supported our efforts.

Thanks also to Mia Rabson, Evan Solomon and the many outlets who have published this story including the Globe and Mail, The National Post, Vancouver Sun, Metro News, 24 Hours, USA Today.

http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/canada-should-ban-trade-in-elephant-ivory-says-animal-rights-group

https://usa-today-news.com/news/animal-rights-group-says-canada-should-ban-trade-in-elephant-ivory-as-125k-sign-petition

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-animal-rights-organization-says-canada-should-ban-sale-of-elephant/

http://www.news1130.com/2018/03/18/canada-should-ban-trade-in-elephant-ivory-says-animal-rights-group/

https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/canada-should-ban-trade-in-elephant-ivory-says-animal-rights-group-1.3847959

https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/life/greenpage/canada-should-ban-trade-in-elephant-ivory-says-animal-rights-group-477204103.html

 

http://www.capebretonpost.com/news/canada-should-ban-trade-in-elephant-ivory-says-animal-rights-group-194545/

 

https://www.thetelegram.com/news/canada-should-ban-trade-in-elephant-ivory-says-animal-rights-group-194545/

 

http://www.battlefordsnow.com/article/599957/canada-should-ban-trade-elephant-ivory-says-animal-rights-group

 

http://meadowlakenow.com/article/595038/canada-should-ban-trade-elephant-ivory-says-animal-rights-group

 

https://24-hours-news.com/2018/03/18/canada-should-ban-trade-in-elephant-ivory-says-animal-rights-group/

 

http://www.newslocker.com/en-ca/news/general-news-canada/animal-rights-group-says-canada-should-ban-trade-in-elephant-ivory-as-125k-sign-petition/

 

https://awionline.org/press-releases/awi-joins-95-organizations-urging-canada-close-domestic-elephant-ivory-trade

 

https://www.gpdnmain.com/GPDN2015/en/content/awi-joins-95-organizations-urging-canada-close-domestic-elephant-ivory-trade

 

https://www.nationalnewswatch.com/2017/11/28/elephant-conservationists-call-on-canada-to-step-up-to-protect-iconic-beasts-3/#.Wq65w2rwbcs

 

https://niagaraatlarge.com/2018/03/15/help-stop-the-wanton-slaughter-of-elephants-sign-a-petition-to-the-canadian-government-here/

 

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-animal-rights-organization-says-canada-should-ban-sale-of-elephant/

http://toronto.citynews.ca/2018/03/18/canada-should-ban-trade-in-elephant-ivory-says-animal-rights-group/

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Elephanatics’ Letter for an #ivoryfreecanada Goes to the Government Today!

 

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Elephanatics has sent a letter to Minister Catherine McKenna today asking the Canadian government to close the legal domestic trade of elephant ivory in Canada.

We are thrilled to have been supported by 95 distinguished national and international wildlife and animal advocacy organisations, conservationists, scientists, Members of the Parliament of Canada and the BC Legislature. Enclosed with our letter is a link to our online petition for the public to also ask the Canadian government to ban the domestic trade of elephant ivory. The petition has garnered over 118,000+ signatures and is growing every minute.

The astounding groundswell of support for the #ivoryfreecanada campaign is telling. We know that African elephants will be extinct in the wild within 20 years if countries continue to allow the legal domestic trade of elephant ivory. The flow of illegal ivory through legal domestic markets is well documented.

Kenya and 29 other African Elephant Coalition countries petitioned the 17th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 2016 to call for the total closure of all remaining ivory markets. Countries such as the United States, France and China have already closed their domestic ivory trade. The United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Taiwan and likely Singapore will also soon follow suit. Due to the US Administration over-turning their ban on elephant trophy imports onMarch 1, 2018, there is additional onus on the rest of the world to increase their efforts to protect elephants.

The astonishing number of signatures on the petition demonstrates the public no longer tolerates inaction by governments, while elephants are being decimated in the hundreds of thousands by greedy poachers. INTERPOL estimates the worldwide illegal wildlife trade at up to US$23 billion a year, making it the fourth most lucrative organized crime after drugs, human trafficking and counterfeiting.

Our ask of the Canadian government is an opportunity for real leadership on an important worldwide issue. While Canada may not represent the largest market for elephant ivory, by banning the domestic trade it signals to the international community that Canada is committed to leading the fight to save the world’s most iconic keystone species.

Julie MacInnes, Wildlife Campaign Manager of Humane Society International/Canada, a signatory on Elephantics’ letter says, “CITES has recommended that all nations with ivory markets that contribute to poaching and illegal trade close these markets. Multiple seizures of illegal ivory in Canada in recent years clearly indicate that an elephant ivory market closure is warranted, particularly given the items seized likely represent only a small fraction of the problem. It is time Canada respect the CITES recommendation and protect elephants by prohibiting ivory trade.”

Elephants don’t have to go extinct. It’s a choice that is made by people and by governments. We are asking the Canadian government to take a lead role, as other international countries have done  As a country we not only have a responsibility but a moral obligation to be part of saving one of Earth’s most precious animals – the elephant.

Thanks,

The Elephanatics Team
Canadian Domestic Ivory Ban Letter 
Petition

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