Tag Archives: elephants

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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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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Elephant Nature Park – The House Lek Built

elie-scrumWhen my husband Dave and I decided to volunteer at Elephant Nature Park Elephant  (ENP)- a sanctuary for elephants in Northern Thailand, we wanted to support the work of  helping abused and misused elephants who are rescued from elephant riding camps, street begging, circuses and the logging trade.

Volunteering for 7 days with room and board would give us the experience of a working holiday and the proximity to being near elephants in as close to their natural state as a domesticated or broken elephant could be.

We had heard of Changduen “Lek” Chailert the founder and the driving force behind ENP through friends and social media. I was thrilled to find out that she would be giving a presentation on our second night there. When she walked in I was surprised at how tiny she was. This small, powerful woman, wore a graphic t-shirt that read “Ivory is Murder”.

The message on the t-shirt didn’t mince words and neither did she.

“What you’re going to hear and see tonight is going to make you sad.” she said. “It will make you cry. But to be the voice of the elephant you must understand their lives and their troubles.”

For the next hour and half she did a presentation that I’m sure she has done a million times. People say passion is the greatest driver of change, the creator of outstanding achievements over time. And the woman whom I believe is building a quiet revolution in Thailand’s elephant tourism industry, delivered a talk that came straight from the epi-centre of heartbreak with an equal amount of determination to do something about it.

She tells us the history of elephants in Thailand – how their labour, their servitude built the country. She unflinchingly shows us the ‘phajaan’ the process of ‘breaking elephants, a horrifying multi-day starvation, and abuse of baby elephants intended to break their will to prepare them for a life of servitude. I sat in the back and listened to their screams, their cries, the footage of elephants buckling in pain as they’re released, and hit and beaten again and again.

She shows us images of elephants working in logging camps, carrying impossibly heavy lumber, dragging them up steep inclines, their faces etched in pain, fatique and defeat. She shows us the trials of street elephants, babies taken from their mothers who live under bridges, and are fed amphetamines and junk, as they’re trotted out in front of ignorant adoring tourists.

It occurred to me that if tourists could stomach the presentation we were shown, there is little doubt that anyone would be eager to participate in a tourist economy based on this kind of systemic and horrific abuse.

Residents of ENP

On the walls of the lunch area there are pictures and stories of the elephant residents at ENP. There are now 72 elephants living here.

Here are the stories of two of its residents:

Medo

Medo was born in 1980 and rescued in July 2006.She is a survivor of the illegal logging industry where her right ankle was broken but never allowed to heal. She was placed in a forced breeding program where the large bull injured and attacked her. Despite never receiving medical treatment for a broken knee joint and a dislocated hip, Medo manages to get around quite well at the park. Her best friend is  Mae Lanna.

Mae Lanna was born around 1980 and was rescued from street begging in February 2007. She has also worked in logging. She is 60% blind most likely from a slingshot when working in logging. When she was working as a street beggar, a monk became concerned about her and she was rescued and brought to ENP.

More than just elephants – The House the Lek Built

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On 250 acres of land donated from a wealthy American family, ENP has grown to include 72 elephants, 500 rescue dogs, Cat Kingdom cat rescue, 50 water buffalo including Violet a baby water buffalo who was rescued and raised by people and considers herself human, birds, monkeys, wild boar, a single pig and I suspect many others I didn’t see.

We had no idea all these animals were being rescued here when we first arrived.  It feels like something much bigger and is a grand gesture of generosity towards all living things. It is the way Lek believes the world needs to work – the true way of moving forward on this planet together.

The vegan menu that is served three times a day during our stay, underpins this philosophy. Animals don’t need to get hurt to serve our needs. And the food is delicious by the way. I actually gained weight during our stay.

A quiet revolution can also be an economic driver

ENP is a bustling hive of activity. From the moment we arrived it felt like we were on a sanctuary swat team. There are minivans delivering people, trucks delivering food and goods, and a busy kitchen preparing food, beds to be cleaned, laundry, animals to be tended to, mahouts tending to elephants. Without having the daily receipts in front of me, I sense that this experiment in kindness is proving to be a successful business model.

Spreading the love

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In addition to running ENP, Lek works with local trekking camps to change their business from riding elephants to being with elephants. In return they have access to her vets and she promotes them through ENP. To date 15 have moved towards non-riding eco models.

Elephant Haven

We weren’t done when we left ENP so we went back to the Save the Elephant Foundation office in Chiangmai (where we met many friendly dogs, including one naughty little pug who lovingly dined on my skirt) and asked Ms. Patty what next. She pointed us to the direction of Elephant Haven, quickly helped us make the plans and off we went.

We spent 4 days at Elephant Haven  in Kanchanaburi about 1.5 hours outside of Bangkok. With only 12 elephants I imagine it is closer to what ENP was just a few short years ago.

We woke up to elephants outside our cabin window and spent the days making elephant food, cutting sugar cane, and wandering in the woods with elephants  sometimes only a few  even inches away from us.

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While it’s still many steps behind ENP it is encouraging to see and you can only hope that the word will grow like wildfire amongst tourists to support elephants in a more respectful and humane way.

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 The future of Asian elephants

Watching the elephants slowly amble their way through the landscape at ENP, stopping to scratch, moving with their families to fields in green pastures, I feel anxious for their future.

Asian elephants are an endangered species and part of the miasma of wildlife rapidly vanishing from our planet.

At the start of the 20th century there were 100,000 elephants in Thailand alone and today there are between 3,000 to 4,000 wild Asian elephants with a global population of fewer than 30,000. After the logging trade was closed in 1989 Thailand has a population of 2,700 domesticated elephants.

Conservationists also worry for the long-term outcome of these magnificent animals. The jungle, their natural home, is being taken away for land use. Population demands, deforestation and demand for ivory are their greatest threat.

As I walked with them in the jungle and watched them from afar, I marveled at how much these giant herbivores eat huge quantities of fruits and vegetables every day.

I witnessed first- hand their need to wander distances. I feel anxiety that these amazing creatures, these giants are meant for another world, another time.

But as I watch the hustle and bustle of trucks bringing in food, supplies, and the minivans bringing in hundreds of people every day, I feel a tiny ray of hope for the domesticated elephant anyway. This looks like economic development to me. Perhaps Thailand can become the leader in ethical tourism for one of its most revered and cherished symbols.

There’s a woman out there called Lek Chailert and she has built a sanctuary, a house of rescue, a revolutionary business model, a new way of helping elephants survive.

She has the magnificent heart of someone who does the tough work of rescue. Not just a part of it. All of it. I feel lifted by this thought and hope that I can be a small part of this revolution she is creating.

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2016 Mardi Gras for Elephants and Rhinos: A celebration 4 life

12734243_10153776260215358_6944977851216971239_n.jpgAs some of you may know I work to raise awareness of the issues facing the world’s remaining Asian and African elephants. I am part of a group based in Vancouver called Elephanatics. We are a conservation group that does educational outreach, action and advocacy in Canada on behalf of elephants.

For the last two years we have organized a event in Vancouver that is part of a global, grassroots initiative called The Global March for Elephants and Rhinos. Last year over 140 cities organized worldwide. This year we hope to have even more cities participate. Our goal is put continued  pressure on governments and policy makers worldwide to end the ivory and rhino horn trade and to save many of Africa’s endangered species by moving them to Appendix 1 under the convention of the international trade in endangered wildlife and fauna known as CITES.

We are encouraging people in cities around the world to organize events large and small (last year two elderly women organized an event on their street corner which was completely inspiring!)

Without global action elephants and rhinos will be extinction with 10 to 25 years.

On September 24th events will be held worldwide for the opening day of CoP17 in Johannesburg.

Vital decisions on elephants, rhinos and lions are to be made at CoP17 by 181 members of CITES. Our objectives are to halt all trade and to get governments (who are CITES members) to change laws, have political will to stop the trade.

Last year over 50,000 people marched to raise awareness and to demand an end to the poaching crisis that is pushing them rapidly towards extinction.

The poaching of elephants and rhinos has reached unprecedented heights in recent years as the demand for ivory and rhino horn has soared in China and other mainly Asian markets.

An elephant is brutally killed every 15 minutes – 35,000 every year.

A rhino is poached every 11 hours with an estimated 24,000 left in the world. Over 1,000 rhinos were poached last year alone, compared to 13 in 2007.

Speakers at Vancouver’s events this year are:

Patricia Sims –  Co-Founder of the annual World Elephant Day, a global awareness campaign that brings attention to the critical threats facing elephants. The campaign reaches millions of individuals across the globe through events, traditional media, and social media outreach.
She produced, directed and wrote the documentary When Elephants Were Young,  narrated by William Shatner which won best documentary awards in both the Whistler Film Festival and Palm Springs FF..

Paul Blackthorne is an English Actor for film, television, and radio. He is currently a lead actor in the series “Arrow” which is filmed in Vancouver BC. Over the past three years he has collaborated with different conservation organizations to help raise awareness about the poaching crisis facing the African elephant and the rhino. He has run two successful t-shirt campaigns: One in Vietnam for the rhino with the slogan “Keep Rhinos Horny” and another for the elephant “Poach Eggs Not Elephants”.He is a committed social activist for wildlife conservation and has implemented a range of activities calling for joint global efforts to save wild animals, especially the elephant and rhino.

Mike Farnworth is the current NDP MLA for Port Coquitlam.
He serves as Opposition Spokesperson for Justice (Public Safety and Solicitor General).

Mike has been adamant in trying to fight a loophole in Canadian law that allows rhino horn to be sold if it can be proven to be obtained before 1975. Illegal horn is easily mixed with legal horn and thus forms a loophole. He recently tabled a private members bill at the legislature to outlaw the sale of ivory and rhino horn.
Join us on Twitter: @condofire @elephanaticsBC
Vancity_GlobalMarchElephants Instagram

Here is a short informational video about the ivory trade:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfooocokOr4&list=UULXXG0683FswkRlXk4CTjFQ

www.elephanatics.org

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The Importance of an Ivory Burn

The Importance of an Ivory Burn

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Some people ask what the reasoning is behind an ivory burn. Some have suggested that flooding the market with ivory would help drive down prices and demand or that a one-time sale of this ivory could fund conservation efforts.

Discussion was further fuelled by Kenya’s recent ivory burn that took place in Nairobi National Park on April 28th, 2016. With eleven pyres of the tusks of roughly 8,000 elephants, as well as rhino horns and animal skins, this was the largest burn every to take place.

Many nations, including the US and Kenya have publicly destroyed ivory contraband to stop the trade. (Ivory Stockpile Burns 1989 – 2016)

Here are some reasons why the ivory burn was the right decision.

  • The ivory is illegal to sell as per CITES Appendix I and many nations’ laws;
  • Previous one-off sales of ivory have resulted in dramatic increases in poaching; and its sale would be morally reprehensible.
  • Countries who destroy ivory show that they value the whole elephant, that ivory belongs only on them, and it’s valuable ONLY to living elephants.
  • If Kenya’s 105-tonne ivory stockpile had legally entered the market, it would have provided a conduit for laundering the vast amounts of illegal ivory that are smuggled out of Africa and into Asian nations, funding terrorist groups like Boko Haram and al-Shabab.
  • History has shown us that after CITES listed the African elephant on Appendix I and banned the international trade in ivory in 1989, poaching levels dropped, elephant populations began to recover and flourish again, and the illegal trade slowed dramatically.
  • The two legal CITES one-off sales of ivory stockpiles, to Japan in 1997 and Japan and China in 2008, had disastrous consequences for African elephants.
  • China’s ivory carving factories fired up and the poaching crisis exploded.
  • More than 100,000 African elephants have been slaughtered in recent years, with approximately 90% of tusks successfully smuggled through transit nations and into the vast black market. The New York Times reported in 2012 that 70% of illegal ivory was being smuggled into China. Legal trade fuels poaching and increases demand for more ivory.
  • China’s population is 1.408 *billion* people. Even if only 1% of the Chinese people purchased ivory, that’s still 14 million people demanding it. With only about 450,000 elephants at most still existing on the African continent, the species would be wiped out with legal trade and an escalation in demand.
  • It’s estimated that only 10% of illegal tusks are intercepted and seized. Imagine how immense Kenya’s burning stockpile would have been if all illegal ivory had been recovered.

Elephant advocate Ann Early made the point about today’s ivory burn in the most succinct statement we’ve read, and kindly gave her permission to share it:

“All day I’ve been defending the Kenya ivory cremation in comments on articles or posts from people who think the tusks should be put on the market to raise money for Kenya. it is hard for some people to grasp the moral contradiction of selling the tusks of poached elephants into the ivory market while decrying the destruction and unspeakable torment of this species by that very same trade.”

Kenya did the right thing and we applaud the Kenya Wildlife Service for their hard work and vision, as well as Dr. Richard Leakey and Dr. Winnie Kiiru who supervised the operation and the verification of inventory. Thank you to all the elephant researchers and conservationists who attended the ivory burn; as heartrending as these images are for those of us a continent and ocean away, we can only imagine how sorrowful it must have been for you to witness in person with the acrid smell of smoke and death in the air.

Someday future generations who will inherit the earth will look back at these times and the ghastly crimes against elephants and nature, which are also crimes against humanity, particularly the African people. Robbing a nation’s people of their wildlife – which provides tourism jobs and accounts for 12% of Kenya’s GDP – and killing the creatures who grow the forests and are intrinsic parts of their ecosystems is a crime against the nation’s people.

Humanity should collectively hang our heads in shame for the elephants’ unfathomable suffering and tortuous deaths. It’s a stain on our species that legal trade in ivory was ever allowed and that we have not yet stopped the poaching. It is our imperative to do so.

This is our last chance to save elephants from extinction. We don’t get a do-over once they’re gone, and if we allow elephants and rhinos to go extinct, it would be humanity’s unpardonable crime.

Photo credits:

First photo: Stand Up Shout Out

Text adopted from : ‪#‎GMFER core strategist Lori Sirianni, on behalf of the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos

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Fashion Week Shines a Spotlight on the Elephant Crisis

 

Vancouver, BC: In an industry that regularly garners criticism from animal advocates, Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) is showing the world that animals do in fact matter. On Saturday (March 19) March 20 (VFW ) will feature Elephantasia, a pachyderm-inspired, eco-couture collection by a collaboration of 12 different designers globally. This travelling exhibition will raise awareness and funds for African elephants who are killed for their ivory. In Africa an elephant dies every 15 minutes. Ninety-six elephants die from poaching per day and at this rate, African elephants will be extinct within our generation.

Elephantasia is enlisting the support of BC’s only elephant advocacy organization – Elephanatics. Based in Vancouver, the group helps the long-term survival of elephants by raising awareness, organizing events such as the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, and providing education on the enormous challenges elephants face in Africa’s poaching crisis and in Asia’s tourist trade.

The fashion show On Saturday March 19th will also include guest speaker, Dr. Jake Wall, Chief Scientific Research Advisor for Elephanatics. (Elephanatics, Save the Elephants, UBC Grad and National Geographic Explorer) He will speak at 4:30 pm about the current poaching crisis in Africa. Dr. Wall developed a real-time monitoring system using high-tech GPS tracking technology inside collars that were put on wild elephants. The system helps counter elephant poaching in Kenya and South Africa. Dr. Walls technology was instrumental in capturing iconic footage of a one-hundred-plus elephant herd for National Geographic’s documentary, Great Migrations.

On Sunday (March 20), Elephanatics will host an information booth at VFWs show at the Chinese Cultural Centre at – 4:00 pm. The booth will be collecting donations for the African Wildlife Foundation and encouraging donations with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s baby elephant orphanage in Kenya that cares for the young elephants orphaned by poaching, until they are ready to be introduced to the wild again.

EVENT DETAILS

Elephantasia at Vancouver Fashion Week

March 19 14 to 20, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver

50 East Pender Street

Vancouver, BC

http://vanfashionweek.com/elephanatics/

FOLLOW THE CAMPAIGN

http://www.elephanatics.org

Twitter: @elephanaticsbc

facebook.com/Elephanatics/

Instagram: Elephantasia2016

MEDIA CONTACT

Tessa Vanderkop

elephanaticsinfo@gmail.com

604-789-8886

 

 

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