Elephanatics

Lady Gets Rescued!

ELEPHANT RESCUE UPDATE

Many will recall we fundraised to rescue Joumban & Mae Seang in Laos earlier this year. If we have learned anything about rescues, it is that rescues change on a dime! The sanctuary asked us to donate to another rescue as they had since raised enough for Joumban & Mae Seang (who are now safe in sanctuary). We felt they were not taking enough care to ensure the seller didn’t buy another elephant – perhaps a baby – from the wild. We absolutely do not want to take that risk, so we kept looking for another rescue opportunity.

We thought we had settled on one, again in Laos, but the status kept changing so we held off any announcements. Unfortunately, they haven’t secured a major donor yet (we can only be a part-donor) so we are still communicating with several sanctuaries, including Elephant Nature Park, waiting for an ethical rescue.

A few days ago we heard Global Sanctuary for Elephants (GSE) in Brazil needed help with a rescue. Lady is an adorable, fluffy elephant, born in captivity, who spent 40 excruciating years in a circus and then 7 years in João Pessoa Zoo, Brazil. She will travel by road to the sanctuary in several days’ time. Lady’s feet are in the worst shape due to captivity – some nails are black! They will never fully recover but considerable funds are needed to give Lady the best relief possible. We have donated – thanks to you, our supporters – $1,200 towards Lady’s immediate vet care upon her arrival to GSE. (If any donors to the Joumban rescue do not wish their donations directed towards Lady’s care, please let us know and we will issue a refund.) We are very excited to finally be able to help our first ASIAN elephant! We will update you very shortly as soon as Lady’s rescue from the zoo begins!

Image may contain: outdoor
Image may contain: tree, outdoor and nature
No photo description available.
Image may contain: outdoor and nature

A Total Ivory Ban Must Be Installed Again

https://ecoterra.info/index.php/en/1076-30-years-ago-ivory-ban

Strong Elephant  and an Eland antelope bull in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem that streches on both sides of the colonial boundary between Kenya and Tanzania. – the tusker is known as “Fred”.
Photo credit: Fran Duthie

By VF/ET – 17. October 2019

Today, 30 years ago, on 17. October 1989 in Ottawa/Canada – during the Conference of the Parties to the International Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) – the 10 year moratorium and the global ban of ivory trade was adopted, since in the 1970s and 1980s, Elephant poaching triggered by the rush for ivory was at a dramatic high.

It was estimated in 1980 that Africa still boasted over a million Elephants (1979 estimate 1.5 million), but by the end of the decade the estimate was that only 400,000 remained.

The African Elephant was first listed by Ghana in CITES Appendix III in 1976. The following year, 1977, at the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP1) to this United Nations species protection convention, African Elephants were moved to Appendix II. Under Appendix II rules, species are not necessarily seen as threatened by extinction but their trade requires control to avoid use that would be detrimental with their survival as a species.

Elephants and ivory were monitored by CITES, but making the distinction between legal ivory and illegal ivory proved very difficult at the time. The drastic decline was brought to the attention of CITES and a proposal was brought forth to move the Elephants under Appendix I. Species under Appendix I are threatened with extinction and the trade of these species is only permitted in exceptional circumstances.

Not everyone was an advocate for listing Elephants under Appendix I. Well known ‘conservationists’ around the world and several South African countries argued that the listing was unnecessary in some places. South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana claimed that their elephant populations were growing at the time and were putting a strain on the ecosystem and local people. Some countries used the profits from legal harvesting of ivory, meat, and hides to support conservation and management. There was concern that with the new listing, crucial funds would be lost and conservation would suffer.

The Political and Bureaucratic Fight

Prior to this historic event in 1989, months and months of haggling between the two strong groups of lobbyists from the camps of the protectors and the users had continued and the two sides seemed irreconcilable.

Killing fo ivory trophies must be banned worldwide – here a German taker in Namibia.

The taker-lobby, lead by the money-laden sport-killers and trophy-collectors from e.g. the USAmerican Safari Club International and their affiliations, incl. corrupted governments, wanted to see “sustainable use” of the African Elephant populations to continue unabated and therefore also the ivory sales to flourish to “finance conservation”.

On the other hand the protectors presented strong evidence (see below) that such practice would certainly lead to the extermination of many African Elephant populations and bring the species close to extinction. They wanted all African Elephant populations be moved to the so-called Appendix I, which would mean a total ban of any trade in Elephants and any derivative (ivory, meat, hides etc.) like it had been put in place for the Asian Elephant that was placed and remained on CITES Appendix I since the CITES treaty had come into effect on July 1, 1975.

SOLVING THE PROBLEM

To break the deadlock and to take the most critical point out of the equation, the delegation of the Republic of Somalia to CITES tabled 30 years ago to the date today the so-called ‘Somalia proposal’, that left the disputed Appendix questions out of the debate, but called for a total ivory sales ban. Somalia at that time had a strong wildlife department, supported by the minister in charge as well as the president. Seconded by what was then the Kingdom of Swaziland, today Kingdom of Eswatini, that groundbreaking resolution sailed through was adopted against all odds by the state parties to CITES. It made immediately global headlines and caused a grave shock to the ivory poachers and traders.

Somalia itself had  – before a proper wildlife department was installed in 1987 – lost in just one year (1984) most of its Elephant population by a foreign lead culling operation targeting the strongest remaining population in the country that roamed the whole area between the River Juba and the border with Kenya. That ecocide saw the Somali Elephant population decline from around 64,000 to below 7,000. It was an unprecedented slaughter led by foreign logistics including spotter planes from Kenya and the support of local and international crime-networks.

The strong signal had immediate positive results with ivory prices tumbling and Elephant populations relieved from poaching pressure.

The bold move was then followed up at the next CITES meeting two years later in 1990, when after nearly a decade during which African Elephant populations dropped by over 50% the species was then finally moved to Appendix I of the CITES rule-book.

The result of the ivory moratorium and the Appendix I trade-ban of Elephants and all derivatives resulted in a drop in the price of ivory and a decline in the number of Elephants killed illegally (Dobson and Poole, 1992).

As the years passed, the ivory ban remained a hot debate. There were those who demanded a continuance of the ban out of fear that without it, an increase in demand would trigger an increase in poaching (Padgett). Those who proposed to uplift the ban cited past arguments – overpopulation in some areas, Human-Elephant conflict, and the potential for profits.

In 1997, CITES chose to continue listing Elephants under Appendix I. However, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia had successfully proposed to have the Elephants in their countries listed under Appendix II. This was to allow for the sale of nearly 60 tons of stockpiled ivory that the three countries had to Japan (Bulte, Kooten, 1999). South Africa’s Elephant population was transferred back to Appendix II in 2000. During the years following, poaching increased in Africa, reaching crisis levels in 2011.

Ivory can not be allowed to be the demise for the Elephants.

Today CITES still lists the African Elephant (since 18/01/1990) under Appendix I, with the exception populations of Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe (Appendix II, 18/09/1997) and South Africa (Appendix II, 19/07/2000)

The inconsistencies and exemptions, the ill-advised ‘permitted’ ivory sales in 1999 and 2000 or the paid for burning of ivory, the haggling over the domestic sales of “historic” ivory (right know in the UK) and the unearthing of larger quantities of mammoth ivory from areas where the permafrost vanished due to climate change has put once again the ivory question at the forefront.

Given the fact that the time during the ivory moratorium 1989 to 1999 was the only time since the 1950s during which all Elephant populations in Africa recovered, another moratorium and total ivory ban is mandatory to again stop the rampant killing of Elephants in Africa.

Under increasing human population pressure, evastating habitat loss in vast areas of Africa and undeminished ivory poaching despite all counter-measures, the last strong and reproducing populations of the African Elephant – like in Botswana, Zimbabwe, South-Africa, Namibia, DR Congo, Tanzania and Kenia must be seen as a global resource for the relocation of Elephants to areas in the African Elephant range that are recovering e.g. from war and must not be deminished by culling, trophy-shooting or zoo-sales. The local communities in these wildlands with healthy elephant populations must be uplifted and rewarded as the global Elephant guardians.

A renewed total ivory ban will help to boost these plans.

 

MUST READ:

EIA’s report on the plight of the Elephants 1989

– Today a similar difficult situation exists and a new total ivory moratorium is mandatory.

 

Elephant ivory must again be taken out of the equation when it comes to Elephant protectionPicture: Getty Images

 

Re: Canada’s CITES Report Card

There were five proposals for the regulation of elephant trade at the recent CITES conference in August 2019. This is how Canada voted:

Re: Canada’s Report Card CITES September 24, 2109

Are you aware that the African elephant is under threat of extinction? Every year 20,000 elephants are killed illegally for their ivory. If the poaching rate continues, some subpopulations of elephants could be extinct in the wild in 10 years. In response to this crisis many countries including the UK, China, several states in the US, France, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Belgium and Israel have either closed or are preparing to close their domestic elephant ivory trade.

The illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth over $10 billion (USD) per year and has drastically reduced many wildlife populations around the world.

Elephanatics, World Elephant Day and Global March for Elephants & Rhinos – Toronto have been in contact with Minister McKenna’s office several times to ask why Canada, in spite of calls by CITES for all markets to close their domestic ivory trade, still hasn’t done so and in fact does nothing to support increased protection for elephants. Why is Canada an outlier when it comes to the protection of the world’s most iconic, keystone species?

At the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES CoP18) that took place August 17th to 28th, 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland, representatives from 183 member governments (including the EU) came together to set the rules for the international trade of wild plants and animals.

There were five proposals for the regulation of elephant trade. This is how Minister Catherine McKenna’s deputies voted on these proposals at the conference.

  1. Proposal 44.2 – A near-total ban on removing baby African elephants listed in Appendix II from the wild and selling them to zoos around the world was approved.

Canada voted NO to protecting wild baby elephants from export. 

  1. Proposal 10 – Zambia proposed to down-list its elephant population from Appendix I to II, thus paving the way to allow commercial trade in ivory. It failed to pass.

Canada voted YES to decreasing the protection for Zambia’s elephants. 

  1. A proposal to tighten protection for elephants by permanently eliminating all commercial international trade of the animals throughout Africa failed to pass.

Canada voted NO to tightening the protection for elephants.

  1. Proposal 12 – Gabon and other countries proposed to up-list all African elephants to Appendix I, thereby affording them the greatest level of protection. It did not pass.

Canada voted NO to affording greater protection for elephants.  

  1. Proposal11 – South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe brought forward the controversial proposal to re-open their ivory trade. It was voted down by 101 of the 183 treaty members.

Canada’s vote was non-registered.

There was also a proposal to increase the hunting trophy quota for the endangered black rhino in South Africa. Canada voted in favour of increasing the number of black rhinos that could be killed for trophies in South Africa.

The Ivory-Free Canada petition is asking the government to close the domestic elephant ivory trade in Canada has garnered close to 500,000 signatures. It is clear Canadians don’t have an appetite for being complicit in the demise of one of the world’s most emotionally intelligent and sentient species.

If you haven’t already, please sign the petition and send a pre-written email to your Canadian MP here expressing your concern.

(We thank Kate Brooks, writer, producer and photographer The Last Animals documentary, for her support in our #IvoryFreeCanada campaign)

Sincerely,

Fran Duthie                                    Patricia Sims                            Heather Craig

President & Co-Founder              Co-Founder                             Co-Founder & President

Elephanatics                                  World Elephant Day                GMFER – Toronto

Why Worry About African and Asian Elephants in BC Canada?

This is a question I have been asked many times over the past 7 years since founding Elephanatics, an elephant advocacy organization in Vancouver, B.C.

Elephanatics recently formed a coalition of organizations to include the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, Humane Society International-Canada, Global March for Elephants and Rhinos – Toronto, and World Elephant Day. Together we created the #IvoryFreeCanada campaign to address the reasons elephants are important globally and the need to close the domestic trade of elephant ivory in Canada.

As a local grassroots organization, our mission has been to assist global elephant conservation efforts by educating Canadians about issues of ivory poaching, habitat loss, and the continued exploitation of elephants by humans, and to connect Canadians directly with elephant conservation partners in Africa and Asia. We do this through our three pillars of advocacy – Education, Conservation and Action.

We have brought significant awareness about the elephant crises to schools in the lower mainland, as well as a great number of schools in the San Diego area, with our education lesson plans and classroom presentations. Our Global March for Elephants and Rhinos has drawn a large segment of supporters from greater Vancouver and our coalitions’ #IvoryFreeCanada campaign has received much media attention as well as close to 500,000 petition signatures.

Elephants are an intelligent, iconic and sentient animal that requires our attention to their own importance and their value to the environment. As a keystone species, it contributes to the mitigation of climate change and supports a delicate ecosystem that inadvertently affects us all globally.

The importance of the elephant to its ecosystems and environment has been well documented by scientists. The elephant’s demise is a growing concern. The increase in carbon due to elephant decline in both Africa and Asia is articulated in the article included here written by Brandon Keim, Anthropocene Magazine.

At the recent Convention on International Trade in Flora and Fauna, (CITES CoP18) held in Geneva, Switzerland, an important agenda item had to do with issues surrounding the ongoing protection of elephants. CITES is the forum where governments have agreed to meet every two to three years to regulate the international trade of wildlife and wildlife products. Parties at CITES CoP-18), confirmed their commitment to the closure of domestic ivory markets, agreeing by consensus to focus scrutiny on remaining open markets such as Japan and the EU. Furthermore, parties that have not closed their domestic markets for commercial trade in raw & worked ivory will be requested to report on what measures they are taking to ensure that their domestic ivory markets are not contributing to poaching or illegal trade. It is assumed that Canada, as a signatory of CITES will – as do all other Parties – be required to report the measures they are taking and submit them to CITES.

Our goal as a coalition is to close the domestic trade of elephant ivory in Canada, thereby protecting elephants. Reporting on the measures our country will take to ensure we are not contributing to the trade will not prevent the slaughter of these animals. Canada is now in the minority of countries not closing their domestic markets, and there is no excuse. Why is Canada hesitant in taking a stronger force of action in regards to an issue that is also an environmental, global concern?

Any legal domestic trade is a conduit for illegal trade. As long as there are loopholes in the system, criminal activity will continue to disrupt economies worldwide and threaten to bring elephants to extinction for unconscionable purposes such as producing trinkets! Many countries to include the UK, Australia, France, Netherlands, Israel, Singapore, China, and several US states, have closed their domestic markets. We need to stand in solidarity with these countries in order to save a keystone species and to lessen the crime and corruption that ensues from the continued trade of elephant ivory. We believe we can liaise with the government on how best to implement a workable ban on the domestic elephant ivory trade, with exemptions similar to that of other countries.

Our petition can be signed and shared at change.org/IvoryFreeCanada. Our letters to the government can be viewed on our website at – elephanatics.org.

We thank you for your support.

Sincerely

Fran Duthie

President – Elephanatics

Support elephants and get a free t-shirt!

Our generous monthly donors allow us to assist global elephant conservation efforts by educating Canadians about issues of ivory poaching, habitat loss, and the continued exploitation of elephants by humans, and to connect Canadians directly with elephant conservation partners in Africa and Asia.

Anyone who signs up to be a monthly donor of at least $20 a month will receive a free t-shirt of their choice from our product line. Note- offer only valid for t-shirts.

Where will my donations go?

All monthly donations for 2019 will be divided evenly and donated to the MARA Elephant Project to help protect African elephants in the greater Mara ecosystem and the Elephant Nature Park, a rescue and rehabilitation center in Thailand.

How do monthly donations work?

Monthly donations are an easy and effective way to contribute. You can decide on an amount (average donations are between $5-$25 a month) and have the donation made automatically through your bank account or credit card.

To become a monthly donor, please visit elephanatics.org and set up your donation on a regular basis by hitting the Donate button on the Homepage.

Become a Monthly elephanatics donor

CITES CoP18 August 2019 Synopsis

#IvoryFreeCanada Petition Update – August, 2019

Hello Elephant Supporters,

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (referred to as CITIES) has just concluded its most recent meeting in Geneva, Switzerland on August 28th. This convention (CITES CoP-18), is the forum where governments have agreed to meet every two to three years to regulate the international trade of wildlife and wildlife products. This includes everything from live animals and plants, food, leather goods, and trinkets made from animal parts.

An important agenda item at this meeting had to do with issues surrounding the ongoing protection of elephants. We are pleased to share some good news that came out of the convention. Although in Canada we have not yet closed the domestic trade of elephant ivory, here is a brief synopsis of what other countries proposed and the voting results below.

1) Zambia’s proposal to down-list their elephants from Appendix 1 to 2 was REJECTED. A WIN!

2) The proposal to amend Appendix 2 of CITES concerning enabling resumption of trade in registered raw ivory on elephant populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe was DEFEATED. A WIN!

3) The proposal to export live African Elephants outside of their home range of Africa to zoos and other countries was DEFEATED. (with some exemptions) A BIG WIN!

4) Yahoo Japan will end the sale of ivory on the country’s biggest online auction site, joining competitors in a ban. A WIN!

5) Israel and Australia announced a ban on domestic ivory trade. A WIN!

Parties at CITES CoP-18), confirmed their commitment to the closure of domestic ivory markets, agreeing by consensus to focus scrutiny on remaining open markets such as Japan and the EU. Furthermore, parties that have not closed their domestic markets for commercial trade in raw & worked ivory will be requested to report on what measures they are taking to ensure that their domestic ivory markets are not contributing to poaching or illegal trade. It is assumed that Canada, as a signatory of CITES will have to, as do all other Parties that have not closed their domestic markets for commercial trade in raw and worked ivory, be requested to report on what measures they are taking to ensure that their domestic ivory markets are not contributing to poaching or illegal trade.

Unfortunately, a proposal by Kenya, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Libera, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic and Togo to Up-list the four Elephant populations in southern Africa to Appendix 1 from the current Appendix 2, therefore prohibiting all international commercial trade in African ivory, was rejected.

Although it was an excellent outcome for the African elephant at CITES COP-18, intense challenges in improving livelihoods, law enforcement, and closure of domestic ivory markets still remain.

The time is now to be responsible and close the domestic trade of elephant ivory in Canada. We have almost reached our goal of 500,000 signatures! Another WIN! Please keep signing and sharing.

As a FYI –All species of giraffe (who are facing extinction) were uplisted to Appendix 2, which is an important step in regulating trade, and preventing any illegal and unsustainable trade for future generations. A BIG WIN!

Letter to Minister Catherine McKenna July 5, 2019

Read our coalition’s letter to Minister Catherine Mckenna, dated July 5, 2019, regarding the legal domestic trade in elephant ivory. Our coalition agrees it is an excellent opportunity for the Government of Canada to champion global wildlife conservation by announcing its intention to end the domestic trade of elephant ivory in Canada. 

Letter to Minister McKenna – July 5, 2019

GMFER Letter to CITES CoP18 + Tweet Demands

CITES is meeting NOW making decisions about POACHING, IVORY TRADE, TROPHY HUNTING, and increased PROTECTION for Wildlife.

Their fate requires our ACTION NOW! 🐘🦁Please SIGN letter in link below. Thank you!🙏

🐘🐘 ACTION. CITES. CoP18. PLEASE ACT!

Please sign the letter; please sign even if you have signed before; we are collecting signatures anew. Once you’ve signed the letter, please do go over to the tweet sheet and tweet out our DEMANDS.

You can tweet over the duration of CoP18. Aug17-Aug28th, 2019.

Letter: https://march4elephantsandrhinos.org/cites-cop18-letter-of…/
Tweets: https://sites.google.com/view/citescop18/home

We call on CITES @CoP18 to:

1. 🐘🦏Exempt all animals listed on Appendix I and II from trophy hunting and trade in their body parts and live animals.

2. 🐘🦏Demand that Japan and the EU close down their domestic ivory trade.

3. 🐘🦏Ban animals with Appendix I and II status from captive breeding; their body parts/bones fuel the illegal wildlife trade and the demand for endangered species.

4. 🐘🦏Vote in favour of proposals to uplist elephants to Appendix I and giraffes to Appendix II.

5. 🐘🦏Reject proposals by certain SADC countries to re-open trade in ivory and other elephant body parts and in rhino horn.

6. 🐘🦏Establish greater transparency in CITES’ issuing of permits, specifically permits for hunting trophies and export of live endangered species.

NEXT GOAL 1 Million SIGNATURES

change.org/IvoryFreeCanada

More than 500,000+ people have signed our petition to the Canadian government asking to ban the domestic trade of elephant ivory in Canada. Help us get to 500,000 signatures. Please sign and share our petition far and wide.

The ongoing slaughter of African elephants for their tusks has decimated elephant populations. Today, this magnificent animal is highly endangered and on the brink of extinction. Since 1980, the number of elephants in Africa has fallen from 1.3 million to just over 400,000. Currently, an estimated 20,000 elephants are killed every year for their ivory. At this rate, they will be erased from the wild in our lifetime.

Countries that have banned the domestic sale of elephant ivory within their borders, or are in the process of doing so, include China, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Belgium, Luxembourg, and several states in the United States. The Canadian government has not complied as yet. Shockingly, Canada is directly contributing to the destruction of one of the planet’s largest, most intelligent and most iconic species by keeping its elephant ivory market open for business!

Canada also legally permits elephant trophies to be imported. Between 2007 and 2016, Canada allowed the importation of 83 trophy elephants, 434 elephant skulls and 260 elephant feet.

The following organizations are working together as a coalition to act in concert to end the legal trade in elephant ivory in Canada: Elephanatics, Humane Society International-Canada; World Elephant Day; Global March Elephants and Rhinos – Toronto; and the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada. Please join the Ivory-Free Canada coalition and tell our government to end the legal domestic trade of elephant ivory. Look for our campaign – #IvoryFreeCanada.

Here’s how you can help save elephants:

  1. Trumpet the issue on social media! Watch for us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and share using #IvoryFreeCanada. Sign and Share our petition above.
  2. Open link below and SIGN the letter provided for you from Kate
    Brooks, The Last Animals, movie producer,  to Canadian
    lawmakers asking they end the trade in elephant ivory and become an
    #IvoryFreeCanada. We thank Kate Brooks for her support and highly
    suggest you watch her movie.

https://thelastanimals.com/take-action-global-initiatives/

Thanks for joining our herd!

Read our letter to the Canadian Government sent July 5th, 2019

Letter to Minister McKenna – July 5, 2019

There were five proposals for the regulation of elephant trade at the recent CITES conference in August 2019. This is how Canada voted:

Canada’s Report Card September 24

A Maasai Mara Safari Extraordinaire!

June, 2019 

“There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne — bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive.” 

Karen Blixen (Danish author best known for “Out of Africa”, her account of living in Kenya)

…. And so begins my journey to Kenya, Africa

The exotic lure of Africa, rife with rich culture and history, was a destination I had been anticipating for years. Having spent the past seven years building Elephanatics, I knew the time had come to heed the call of the elephants and make my sojourn to the land of mystical sunsets and magical people. Nothing could prepare me for the exhilaration of viewing lions, elephants, wildebeests, warthogs, cheetahs, and numerous other species in their natural settings, as close as four feet from our jeep. Not to omit the bellowing hippos outside our tent on the Mara River that woke us up every morning and charmed us all day long as they fought for territory and kept other animals at bay! Adventures come in all sizes and shapes, but an open jeep safari is as big as it gets! The trick to remember is – NEVER laugh when an elephant has its back to you! I found out the hard way after giggling from a funny episode an elephant had performed – she rightly turned around and gave us the ‘ears forward’ charge position, lunging at the jeep and stopping at 3 feet away. Thank goodness she sensed I was not a threat and retracted. My stomach hasn’t been the same since!

Our first stop was to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust where we visited our three adopted orphans, Larro, Nabulu and Panda. The keepers explained the situation of how the orphans arrived and what their due diligence and care of the orphans entail. The keepers spend day and night with the babies, sleeping in the same quarters, tending to their every need and comforting them when they have bad dreams – yes, elephants have bad dreams, too! They slowly integrate them back into the wild, but it takes years of love and patience to get them to that point. It was a tender moment; my appreciation for what they do has no bounds.

The Karen Blixen Camp came by recommendation from the Mara Elephant Project (MEP). Dr. Jake Wall, director for MEP and also for Elephanatics, and Marc Goss, CEO of the Mara Elephant Project, were instrumental in making sure our stay was as comfortable as possible and it most certainly was! The genuine friendliness and service of the staff at Karen Blixen was articulated in every meal and activity we took part in. I would highly suggest KBC as your first choice when searching for a luxury safari experience. They are best known for responsible tourism, making sure their business benefits the environment and the people working at the camp and communities nearby. After a tour of their facilities, it was evident they are leaders in this genre.

Our guide, Jack, led the way with his knowledge of the local flora and fauna and introduced us to a world of stories about the Maasai people, their culture, the landscape area and rules to be obeyed between the conservancies and farmers. Storytelling is still the way used by most communities to pass cultural knowledge and history from one generation to another. Because of the varied heritages and cultures in East Africa, storytelling is a way to help bring them together. Each group, lending flavour to their own unique tale, interprets versions of the same story differently. I experienced this ‘bush telegram’ communication upon receiving news that someone had been killed in the village earlier that day. When I heard the same story told to us by our guide on our nightly safari, it was slightly different but the crux of the story was the same. It appears storytelling continues in our Western culture as well. The only difference to note in our culture is the opposition of differences of opinion, as opposed to a respectful appreciation of another’s interpretation.

We were fortunate to visit MEP a few times and learn about the ambitious initiatives they are working on. Jake gave us a tour and a presentation about what he is responsible for as the new director of research and conservation. He leads MEP’s applied research agenda aimed at enhancing the protection of elephants and the habitat upon which they and other wildlife depend. He tracks many variables related to the area, including collared elephant movements, human-elephant conflicts, and environmental variables related to elephant movements. He showed us the snares rangers have collected from the Mau forest and the old GPS collars they’ve removed from previously tracked elephants. We met Marc Goss – MEP’s CEO – and learned more about the education program. We were also fortunate enough to meet elephants Hugo, Freddy and Kegol who are tracked with EarthRanger, a real-time technology used for tracking elephants and rangers. Dr. Jake Wall was one of the architects in building this software when working with Vulcan, a Paul Allen company. It was wonderful to see first hand the outstanding work they do, what their future plans are within the Mara to protect elephants and where Elephanatics’ donation dollars go.

The famous wildebeest migration that takes place every year between May and December starting in Tanzania’s Serengeti plains in the south and moving north to Kenya’s Maasai Mara in Kenya, started early this year in the Maasai Mara due to drought in the southern areas and early rains in the north. The best time to see the migration is typically in the dry season between July and October but we lucked out! We avoided the hundreds of tourists that come at that time and endured some rain much to the benefit of viewing one of the seven wonders of Africa. Unfortunately, we also saw the perils at which these great animals risk their lives to find food. Many don’t make it across the river due to high river currents, crocodiles, or going back to find a relative or friend from the herd. The banks can be steep on the river causing slippery conditions in the rain leading to death from a broken leg or becoming maimed, making them a target for prey. The migration is extremely stressful for these beautiful animals and I must admit, I felt somewhat guilty adding to the possible stress they endure by being a tourist. Every year almost two million wildebeests and a host of other animals migrate, making it a prime example of the ‘circle of life’. It was a sight to see and is one of the greatest shows on earth.

The daily tours became a natural way to start the day and end the night while relaxing during the day took on its own meditative quality. Hypnotized by the Mara Rivers gurgling flow and the abundance of animals that came sporadically throughout the day for a drink, sank us all into a state of wonderment and reverence for this beautiful land. The endless beauty of open skies and savannah plains blended with it a sense of calm and caution, a primordial response to the raw nature of the surroundings. Ones true existence can be found in the winds of Africa. Purpose becomes transparent as trees whisper messages of hope, faith and deliverance of justice for all wildlife. We need to listen to these messages and act accordingly – for all our sake.

I could continue to elaborate on the significance of visiting Africa and its benefits to my well-being, but I will not. Some experiences are beyond words. All I can say is if you have been contemplating a trip to Africa – do not hesitate any longer.

“When you leave Africa, as the plane lifts, you feel that more than leaving a continent you’re leaving a state of mind. Whatever awaits you at the other end of your journey will be of a different order of existence.” Francesca Marciano

A special thanks to Karen Blixen Camp staff / Dr. Jake Wall / CEO Marc Goss, MEP 

A big thank you to Tessa, Leanne and Jett for all their hard work in my absence.

Fran Duthie

President / Elephanatics

Some ‘Did You Know’ moments from our safari:

*Jackals, who eat leftovers, bark at lions to wake them up so they hunt.

*Hippos are the most dangerous animal to humans and are responsible for more human death and conflict than elephants!

*Water buffalo is the second most dangerous animal

*At night, Warthogs back themselves into holes dug by Aardvarks for safety and in order to charge out quickly to defend themselves

*Giraffes have chaperones from the family to take care of the young during the day while the mothers graze a short distance away. They head to the village at night for safety from lions but venture far and wide during the day.

* Hyenas are more closely related to cats than dogs. Their dung is white because of the calcium in the bones they eat

* One type of Dung Beetle can navigate by moonlight alone and prefer omnivore feces to herbivore.

*The word elephant in Swahili is ‘ndovu’

 

Enjoy a few of my pictures from my fantastic adventure. 🙂