Category Archives: elephants

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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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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Tessa’s GoFundMe Polar Elephant Swim

Hey everyone,

On New Year’s Day at 2:30 pm I’m taking a dive into the freezing cold waters of English Bay, (Vancouver, BC) lemon drop martini in hand, and wearing a crazy elephant costume to raise money for the rescue of a working elephant in Thailand. I’m going to get cold, (oh yes I am), apparently I might float away, body parts might separate themselves from me and most likely I will be hungover because the night before is New Years Eve, so ya there’s that. It’s going to be messy and I’m going to freeze my bum off but we’re going to have some fun. My friend Leanne will be joining me.

If you’re in Vancouver, please come down and maybe we’ll sing a song and have a sip of the lemon drop and then you can scream and yell in anticipation as I run toward the gentle ocean waves!

If you love elephants as I do and want to be a part of this rescue effort, please consider donating to a great cause.  Small amounts welcome. Larger amounts welcome too!

Thanks so much!

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Canada Must Do More to Stop the Trophy Hunting of Elephants — elephanatics

There was a strong world-wide reaction when President Trump threatened to reverse a 2014 ban on importing elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia. Few Canadians realized, however, that Canada never had such a ban in place to begin with. Recently a reporter approached Elephanatics President Fran Duthie regarding an Elephantatics petition to the Canadian government […]

via Canada Must Do More to Stop the Trophy Hunting of Elephants — elephanatics

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Canada and the Ivory Trade

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Many people, understandably, don’t get the connection between global markets and the killing of elephants for their tusks. But with poaching continuing to present the gravest threat to their very existence  (one every fifteen minutes is killed |70% total decline in population in less than 40 years due to poaching, and only 415,000 remaining), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has called for all countries to close their domestic markets.

Canadians are often surprised to learn that the Canadian domestic “legal” ivory trade is still open. The legal trade is one in which the product is dated prior to 1975. The issue with the legal trade is that it is difficult to date ivory and as a result illegal ivory flows through legal domestic markets.

Canada also allows the importation of legal trophies. Under its obligation to CITES (The Convention on the International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna) those trophies can only come from countries regulated by CITES, and thus it is legal under those circumstances.

Below are the instances in which ivory can enter the country:

In order to legally possess ivory in Canada, the following criteria must be met, in accordance to the Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations (13 (1)):

http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-96-263/page-2.html#docCont

    (a) the person who possesses it establishes a reasonable probability that it or, in the case of a part or derivative, the animal or plant from which it comes, was taken from its habitat before July 3, 1975;

    (b) the person who possesses it establishes a reasonable probability that it was legally imported into Canada; or

    (c) the person who possesses it establishes a reasonable probability that the distributing of it or the offering to distribute it would be in accordance with any applicable federal and provincial laws that relate to the conservation and protection of the animal or plant.

 However, these criteria are not applicable to elephant ivory from appendix II. Appendix II ivory is only required to be legally imported into Canada.

 Appendix I items must have import and export permits, while appendix II items are only required to have export permits.

Canada’s position on ivory at international conferences:

  • IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii  in 2016 results in an international commitment to close domestic ivory markets. Four countries object – Canada, Namibia, South Africa & Japan
  • At the 17th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, Canada voted against moving all African elephants to Appendix I to provide them the highest level of protection.

In recent years there has been some movement from large ivory markets such as the US and China to close their domestic markets which has the potential to have a significant impact on decreasing the ivory trade and giving  elephants the chance to survive the war being waged on their existence.

  • 2015     China and US announce an agreement to a “nearly complete ban” on ivory import/export and commercial domestic ivory trade7 in both countries (no completion date given).
  • 2016     January: Hong Kong pledges to a complete ban on commercial domestic ivory trade by 2021.
  • June: US passes new regulations that ban almost all domestic ivory trade. August: IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii results in international commitment to close domestic ivory markets. Four countries object – Canada, Namibia, South Africa & Japan.
  • October: CITES conference in Johannesburg fails to put all elephant populations in Appendix I by only 9 votes – Canada, US, UK & EU vote against it. However, Botswana, with the most elephants, reverses their pro-ivory trade policy and supports a total ban.
  • 2017      January: Price of raw ivory in China falls to US$730 per kilogram (65% drop in less 3 years) due to Chinese economic slowdown, anti-poaching team success and crackdown on corruption.
  • February: Draft EU guidance document indicates possible ban on raw ivory exports by July 1, to make sure that illegal tusks are not laundered with legal tusks.
  • March: China closes the first of its 67 licensed ivory carving factories and retailers, and promises to close its domestic ivory market by end of 2017.
  •  March: Hong Kong says a bill on ivory trade will be introduced by end June. Hong Kong also convicts 2 people for illegal ivory possession, using radiocarbon dating to prove post-1990 ban.

It would be great to see Canada take pro-active steps to save one of the world’s most iconic, intelligent, keystone species by closing the domestic trade, banning the importation of trophies into Canada and vote to have all elephants moved to Appendix 1 of the CITES convention. I want Canada to be the country who does everything it can to save these magnificent animals from extinction  not only because it can but because it should.

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