Conservation Questionnaire for Conservationists:
Elephant Treks: Samburu National Reserve, Kenya. The next best thing to being there!
Enter into a world of harmony amongst the gentle elephant giants of Samburu National Reserve, Kenya
Elephanatics’ Director of Communications, Christina Toms, and Chief Scientific Research Advisor, Dr. Jake Wall, have moved to Kenya temporarily.
Dr. Jake Wall was instrumental in building a GPS monitoring system with Google in order to track elephant movements. The GPS system monitors the movement and behaviour of an elephant which can determine whether it is sick or injured. He states in the article below – “We’re also very concerned with elephant poaching for ivory, so one of the algorithms I designed looks at whether an animal has stopped moving for a given period of time, which would signal that the animal has been killed.”
An elephant researcher, Dr. Jake Wall, mourns an elephant lost to poachers:
National Geographic’s, Explorers/Bio interviews Dr. Jake Wall, Elephant Researcher:
While Dr. Jake Wall is working in Samburu, he gets a visit to his vehicle by a known elephant, Yeager, who is in musth – beware! Have a watch:
Dr. Jake Wall, our Chief Scientific Research Advisor, recently collaborated with Google to create Google Street View. This technology allows internet users to take a virtual safari tour in Kenya’s Samburu National Park conservancy by mapping the area. The goal is to aid with the efforts to protect the elephant and to raise awareness about the struggle that remains from poachers. Use Street View here.
Dr. Jake Wall also worked to create Story Spheres, an interactive application, which tells stories about the elephants and people of Samburu through panoramic photographs. The Story Spheres here allow you to meet some of the elephants Dr. Wall knows so well and to help you understand the challenges of life as an orphaned elephant. He also teaches about Save The Elephants hi-tech tracking of elephants. View Story Spheres here for a pleasant journey to Samburu!
At the Canadian Association of Geologists 2015 annual meeting, Dr. Jake Wall was awarded Best Student Presentation. View it here.
Scientific Research is fundamental in understanding the needs of wildlife today. Below are some resources to get you started in learning more about the crisis and mitigation efforts to save the African wild elephant.
Please see attached link: Elephant Crisis Fund, created by Save The elephants
Individuals, scientists, conservation organizations, and governments are uniting behind a common strategy to stop the killing, stop the trafficking, and stop the demand for ivory. The Elephant Crisis Fund (ECF) exists to fuel this coalition.
The ECF is a joint project of Save the Elephants (STE) and the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN). STE has more than half a century of single-minded focus on elephant conservation that is deeply rooted in its on-the-ground work and yet also reaches the uppermost corridors of power. The ECF combines this experience with the efficiency of WCN, which was named the #1 wildlife conservation charity in the US by Charity Navigator. The ECF has only one goal: to end the elephant crisis. Please view the link below to learn more about the great work they do to save elephants:
Please take the time to read their annual report:
- A breakdown of elephant population since the 1500’s taken from the Great Elephant Census: http://www.greatelephantcensus.com/background-on-conservation/
- This article speaks about different non-government organizations and how to best choose one to donate to: Elephant Charities: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly – Africa Geographic
- Read about the first ever debate on the future of elephants in Kenya: “Things R Elephant” – National Geographic. Reference the Intermediate lesson Plan I, in the education section for ideas on teaching.
- Here is a comprehensive analysis done by Elephanatics outlining the debate on trophy hunting. (PDF file)
- IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) Elephant Trophy Imports from 3 more African countries no longer welcome in EU
- Watch as a curious calf interacts with a Save The Elephants vehicle
credit: Elephant Human Relations Aid / Nonprofit Organization
What happens if prime bulls disappear? 🐘
Elephants suffer from the debilitating effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the same as humans do.
“In the early 1980’s Kruger National Park in South Africa decided that they had too many elephants so a plan was devised to cull (to kill) a significant number of the park’s population of elephants. At this time they didn’t have the technology to transport large, full-grown elephants so they were killed. They chose to keep the younger elephants alive, however and transport them to other parks in South Africa as well as American and European Zoos.
A few years prior to the culling in Kruger a park called the Pilansberg National Park in South Africa suddenly appeared. It was a massive undertaking in which a huge section, over 220 square miles, was fenced off. There were villages inside the park but they were all moved, buildings and homes were taken down, roads removed and indigenous plants were planted to restore the land to a wild nature preserve.
The project was so large it was called Operation Genesis and 6000 animals including 19 separate species were moved into the park rivaling even that of Noah’s Ark. They were thrilled to accept some of the young elephants from the Kruger Cull as well as a large group of black and white rhino’s in the hopes of saving them from extinction.
Years later, in 1993, park rangers began to notice something disturbing. Several of the park’s rhinos were found mutilated and killed. At first, they thought this must be the act of poachers but the wounds inflicted on the rhinos were unusual and their horns were still intact, something a poacher would never leave behind. As time passed the number of killings grew and experts were brought in to try and figure out what was happening to the rhinos before whatever it was took out the entire population. All of the deceased rhinos had unique lacerations caused by the tusks of elephants in their upper shoulder and back areas. At first, the park rangers and officials didn’t think it was possible that the elephants could be killing the rhinos so they set up a massive stake-out. Hidden cameras were placed in regions throughout the park and some of the rhinos were collared and tagged so they could be followed more easily. To everyone’s shock they soon discovered a small group of bull elephants harassing, chasing and then killing the rhinos in the park. But why? This was the question that plagued everyone. Researchers had never seen this before…anywhere… and it just didn’t make any sense. Soon some amazing scientific discoveries were exposed shedding light on what might be driving the elephants to react in such a puzzling way. First of all, the young gang of elephants were all in a heightened sexual state of musth.
This was completely baffling because the elephants were between the ages of 13 and 18 and though a young bull elephant will begin producing sperm in their early teenage years a bull elephant had never been spotted in full-blown musth until the normal age of 28 (see Poole reference). These young individuals had gone into this heightened state of sexual maturity nearly 10 years early. When a bull elephant is in what’s known as the musth stage, they have testosterone levels that spike to 30-60 times higher than normal. They become incredibly aggressive with each other and with anything else thats in it’s way.
In the wild, however, males stagger their musth periods. They don’t all enter this phase at once, which is a phenomenon still under investigation. Perhaps it is to increase their chances of mating. If all of the bull elephants entered the musth stage at the same time then they would all kill each other before they would even have an opportunity to mate. This way a few elephants enter the musth phase and the rest simply avoid the ones who are in this volatile state.
The young gang of teenage bulls, however, were all in a musth state, and this perplexed everyone. (…) With nearly 10% of the park’s total rhino population killed by teenage elephants park officials decided to try something never attempted before. Now, nearly 15 years after the culling in Kruger National Park they had discovered ways to transport full-grown elephants. They decided to bring in several large bulls and females from Kruger National Park that were in their mid to late 40’s as an experiment to see what the younger generation would do with an older one watching over them.
The largest bull, named Amarula was among them. In elephant society, an older male keeps a younger male in check because the younger male isn’t strong enough to fight with an older, larger one. Because of this, his musth stage ends much sooner than that of an older, larger sexually viable male.
Almost immediately the younger males approached Amarula. Smaller elephants hero worship ones larger and older than they are. However, when one is in a musth state he will go up and try to provoke even the largest elephants as was the case with a younger male. Amarula wasted no time and hit the younger elephant so hard in the stomach that he flew several feet up into the air. This served as a warning to the younger group, that they were no match for a male the size of Amarula, musth or no musth.
The killing stopped literally overnight.
The adult elephant experiment worked with incredible precision. Soon all of the younger males were forced out of their musth phase simply by there being older males in the group. With no older males to serve as role models many of the young bulls were coming into musth much earlier and it was lasting longer. This was a significant finding since it showed that having older males around in an elephant society is what keeps younger, juveniles in check. It also keeps their musth stages much shorter and further apart.
This proved that the absence of older bulls in elephant society has serious, even fatal consequences on the younger generation of bull elephants. Introducing adult male elephants back into a community, whether related or not, has a profound effect on whether the youngsters can survive into adulthood.”
For more reading see below:
(1) Moss, C.(1983). Oestrous behavior and female choice in the African Elephant. Behavior, 86(3), 167-195.
(2) Poole, J. (1987). Rutting behavior in African Elephants: The phenomenon of musth. Behavior, 102(3), 283-316.
(3) Slotow, R., and van Dyk, G. 2001. Role of delinquent young ‘orphan’ male elephants in high mortality
of white rhinoceros in Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa. Koedoe 44:85– 94.
(4) Slotow, R., van Dyk, G., Poole, J., Page, B., and Klocke, A. 2000. Older bull elephants control young males.
(5) Aronowitz, T. (2005). The role of “Envisioning the Future” in the development of resilience among at-risk youth.
Public Health Nursing, 22(3), 200-208.