“May Man and Beast
succeed to coalesce harmoniously,
in the forests, the seas, and land,
with ner’er a compromise from Nature.”
There is a tragic urgency in the world today for the necessity to compromise. Compromises for wildlife. Compromises for nature. But, above all else, the ability to compromise humanity’s own platitudes for the sake of Mother Earth. David Attenborough said it best, “Nature once determined how we survive, now we determine how nature survives.” Only by compromising will we find an equilibrium that will provide a solution to prevent critical mass extinction of wildlife and our own species.
Rewilding is a concept that has gained larger recognition worldwide because of the irreparable damage caused by humans to wild spaces that were once occupied by species responsible for healthy ecosystems and biodiversity. Conservationists understand the frailty of our existence and the connection between nature and mankind as synergistic. Therefore, if the basis of rewilding be to govern all natural processes, then it must be said that the basis of rewilding humanity be at its core.
What is rewilding and why do we need it?
Rewilding is a progressive form of conservation that restores and rebalances ecological areas that have suffered from overuse and abuse from humans, allowing nature to repair itself through natural processes with as little human interference as possible. It helps ecosystems rebuild diversity, structure and resilience. It is imperative for all life on Earth to have healthy, regulated ecosystems to counter the extinction crisis, preserve biodiversity, and help mitigate human-made climate change.
Rewilding consists of 3 major success categories: Cores, Corridors and Carnivores.
Cores are wild spaces linked up by corridors that enable carnivores, or other keystone species, to be reintroduced to areas where they once roamed, and now have the opportunity to flourish and regenerate ecosystems that were once part of the landscape. Corridors are natural or man-made strips of land connecting cores and serving as an avenue for wild animals to move across to reach food, water and cover. Increasing habitat fragmentation has put these essential movements at risk.
Large predators play a key role in regulating ecosystems. By connecting core areas through natural corridors, big predators can reach wild land networks.
Generally speaking, populations of wild animals are naturally regulated. There are two forms of food regulation. One form of is bottom-up control – meaning the flow of energy and nutrients from the soil through to the plants to the herbivores and on up to the predators. Another form is top-down control where predators control herbivores or other smaller predators (predation), which indirectly affects plants and even soils, referred to as a trophic cascade. Elephants are plant predators – a top-down control (food regulation) of plants and trees in the ecosystems in which they live. In the savannah elephants affect tree populations by eating small seedlings thus preventing trees from returning keeping the vegetation open. One of the most frequent causes of ecosystem collapse is the loss of top predators. Human hunting, urban development and agriculture has prevented regulation of herbivores by top predators by displacing or killing them causing a chain reaction in the food chain.
In any ecosystem, the loss of a keystone species results in a loss of biodiversity at other levels in the food chain. Elephants have decreased by nearly two-thirds largely because of human activities in the past 40 years and because elephants are a keystone species, this has greatly affected the ecosystems in which they live and all the other animals that depend upon them for survival. A principal driver for the decline and extinction of a species is the loss of their habitat. An important pillar of rewilding is the reintroduction of keystone species to areas that have been degraded in order to rebuild stability and diversity.
Rewilding is a complex and intricate process of re-establishing ecosystems to the original form had human disturbances not occurred. Long-term monitoring is essential in tracking rewilding programs. By having a long-term goal it allows scientists to track a systems progress and intervene if it deviates because of external threats such as poaching.
So, how does all this pertain to humanity and its role in the extinction crisis and what constructive tactics could we practice in order to assist the rewilding concept?
It is a disheartening fact to know that 96% of the mass of mammals on the planet today are humans and the livestock we have domesticated. Only 4 % is everything else, meaning wildlife is at the bottom of the barrel. 70% of all birds are domesticated poultry, mainly chickens. The speed at which species are disappearing is at least 100 times higher than the natural rate of extinction. At the current rate it will take millions of years for diversity to be restored to pre-industrial levels. How do we halt this tsunami?
If we were to say that humanity’s success is governed, largely, by 3 major success categories to include competence, commitment, and collaboration, we could discern and conflate the principles of rewidling with our own principles of humanity. We could also broaden the categories to include; compassion, conscience, culture, community, and co-existence.
From the beginning of time, mankind has been ingenious and competent enough to protect itself from extinction. But, we have reached a global population growth of 8+ billion people that are pillaging the earth’s resources at mammoth speed. A commitment to evaluate our consumption practices and place nature at the top of our list of collaborators is imperative for all survival on earth and a true test for humanity. Are we competent enough to succeed? Our sub categories of success, to include compassion and conscience, will need to place an emphasis on rewilding humanity as its primary goal in order for rewilding nature to be successful. Cultural norms will need to be reevaluated, and educational programs in communities and schools will need to be organized to teach the importance of co-existence with nature as our primary connection and means to survival. It is encouraging to know that some conservation organizations are focusing on the importance of rewilding and making it their primary objective.
We are bound, intrinsically, to nature. From the elephant that tramples copious amounts of seeds in the forest that, in turn, nourishes life in ecosystems, to the stars we gaze at with wonderment, in the night sky, that are part of our DNA. Compromises are urgent proponents to change that humans are irrevocably responsible for in order for rewilding to succeed and humanity to continue to exist.
The truth is, nature does not compromise. We must.
Below are some suggestions on how to ‘Rewild Humanity’ and top reasons why we should:
Top reasons why we need to rewild:
President / Elephanatics
*All rewilding statistics listed above accredited to “A Place Like No Other”
author, Anthony R.E. Sinclair, with Rene Beyers, director, Elephanatics
Our student ambassador, Muskan, gave two informative and insightful presentations to the children attending the Art Therapy Program at Kids Play Foundation in Surrey last Saturday. The kids learned about the many faceted roles the elephant plays in keeping ecosystems in which they live healthy and their role as a keystone species. Lots of giveaways and fun was had by all.
Thank you, Muskan, for your great work. The elephants trumpet!!
The decline of elephant populations due to the illegal wildlife trade and poaching is now almost the stuff of legendary horror. While elephants roamed the forests and savannas of Africa in the millions in the past, the 20th century has seen an accelerated assault on their lives with populations declining from 10 million in the early 1900s to approximately 450,000 today.
While poaching threats continue unabated, climate change, biodiversity loss, and human wildlife conflict are equally as threatening to the long-term survival of Africa’s elephant populations.
Elephants are at the crossroads of multiple human system failures. In Kenya, 200 elephants died recently due to the drought bringing elephants in closer conflict with humans competing for limited resources. As a keystone species the loss or potential extinction of elephants will have devastating consequences for ecosystems dependent on them for their survival, driving a circle of degradation for all species, including humans.
How do we emerge from this human created mess? Elephanatics is committed to providing resources and education for people of all ages, with the intention of helping people understand that elephants, like the rest of the natural world, are an integral part of a broader ecology that help form the fabric of ecosystems essential to our collective survival. In Elephanatics’ latest lesson plan “Biodiversity and the Important Role of the African Elephant,” students from grades four to twelve will learn how to:
Link to lesson plan here.
View all our lesson plans here. All plans can be modified to suit grade appropriateness.
With a commitment to supporting education for future generations on the importance of protecting wildlife and biodiversity, we hope to ensure the long-term survival of Africa’s remaining population of extraordinary wild elephants.
Please consider a donation today (“note in the comments “scholarship”) to support Janeth and other Kenyans preparing for a career in conservation, buff.ly/3WNTgH8.
Keep up the great work, Janeth!
It is with great pleasure that we are able to donate to Wildlife Friends Foundation in Thailand to help them continue their outstanding work and care of elephants and other wildlife at their sanctuary.
The major goals of their organization are:
Thank you for your commitment and care of wildlife.
Elephanatics funds donated to the elephant Refuge – https://www.wfft.org/projects/elephant-refuge/
Please visit their website at: https://www.wfft.org/ for more information.
This chapter examines the relationships between conflict, wildlife trade, and rewilding. Trade in wildlife, both legal and illegal, has increased exponentially in the last few decades, which has led, at least in part, to the decimation of numerous wildlife species, including keystone species that have an important role in the functioning of ecosystems. This affects trophic cascades, leading to the degradation of ecosystems and decreased ecosystem services. Conflict and civil strife have also been increasing globally. In most cases conflict results in a decline of species mainly through increased trade in wildlife for food and revenue, habitat degradation, and a breakdown in law and order. If rewilding is to be effective in restoring trophic cascades and ecosystem functioning, addressing the social and ecological impacts of conflict and wildlife trade should be seen as an integral part of rewilding. Interventions may include controlling trade and hunting, involving local communities, promoting sustainable wildlife use and curbing illegal wildlife trade.
To purchase book please go to: https://bit.ly/3WsxB64
Wishing you all a very happy holiday season!
Elephanatics Impact and Activities | 2022
Over 2022 Elephanatics’ continued to advocate on behalf of African elephants to fundraise, build partnerships, and educate Canadians about the ongoing and multiple threats that affect both African communities and elephants.
We share some of this year’s highlights below and in the video above.
The first ever Fran Duthie Elephant Conservation scholarship was awarded to Janeth Jepkemboi, a Conservation masters student, now attending Karatina University, Kenya.
The scholarship provides financial support to Kenyan nationals acquiring a technical certificate, undergraduate or postgraduate (Masters or PhD) degree in an area related to conservation and the protection of wildlife. Read more here.
Elephanatics offers free lesson plans and resources for elementary and intermediate students including reference articles, books and apps and educational videos.
NEW LESSON PLANS
New 2022 Lesson Plan for Grades 6 to 12, “Elephanatics newest lesson plan Rewilding” aims to restore healthy ecosystems by creating wild, biodiverse spaces that are self-sustaining without human interference. Download Rewilding lesson plan here
Access all education resources here.
New lesson plans will be announced early January 2023.
Elephanatics partnered with not-for-profit SEEDBALLS Kenya whose mission is to re-green habitats in Kenya. SEEDBALLS Kenya is an African based organization that has pioneered a method of mass-producing seedballs for low cost and efficient reintroduction of trees and grass species into degraded areas in Africa. Their methodology will help rebuild ecosystems that have been degraded by human interference. We are happy to promote the outstanding work SEEDBALLS Kenya does in assisting with restoring and reforesting areas of Africa hardest hit by habitat destruction.
“Elephanatics African Elephant Specialist Director, Dr. Rene Beyers, co-edited and published the “Routledge Handbook of Rewilding” this year. It is a comprehensive overview of the history, theory, and current practices of rewilding. This followed last year’s publication of “A Place Like No Other,” Discovering the Secrets of Serengeti, which he co-wrote with Prof. Antony Sinclair from UBC. Congratulations, Rene!
Without our small but mighty group of volunteers we couldn’t do the work we do.
With special thanks and kudos to: Carol Ann and Brian Kunimoto, Chelsey Bogaczewicz, Melissa Torres, Jade Crawford, Melanie Reding, and Jett Britnell.
We thank ALL our wonderful donors, volunteers, and directors for their enormous support during the year. We wish you all a very happy, healthy, harmonious, holiday season.
Until next year, keep enjoying elephants with us!
On December 15, 2022, 90 civil society groups from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the world called on Chinese authorities and actors to protect biodiversity and people in its overseas investments. As China is chairing the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD #COP15) currently underway this month, civil society and impacted communities voiced concerns that many Chinese banks, companies, contractors, and other Chinese overseas developers are not meeting international norms and standards in protecting the environment, people, and biodiversity, as obligated under China’s green finance and overseas policy frameworks.
The civil society letter highlights China’s commitments to protecting biodiversity, and provides concrete recommendations for how Chinese authorities and overseas actors can do their part in stopping and reversing the biodiversity crisis. The letter also includes a list of 37 controversial projects associated with harmful biodiversity, environmental, and social impacts which Chinese banks and companies are currently supporting, and notes compelling examples where Chinese banks and companies have withdrawn support from activities with harmful biodiversity impacts in the past. Although these cases represent the exception rather than norm, they indicate the capability of Chinese actors to take positive steps in protecting biodiversity.
Read letter here: English_China CBD COP15 Letter_Biodiversity