The Great Elephant Census

It’s alarming to read the results of the Great Elephant Census (GEC) released by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (UICN) in Hawaii on Friday (2nd September).  The report highlights the plight and the future survival of the species.

It reveals that poachers are decimating the elephant population.    In some areas elephant deaths were exceeding the birthrate.  There is a decline of 30% in African savanna elephant populations in 15 of the 18 countries surveyed revealing that about 30,000 elephants are being killed in a year.

Just 352,271 elephant were counted in the census across the countries surveyed.  Though Namibia and South Africa’s populations are still to be included – an additional 22,711 and 9000.  Add the forest elephant, whose numbers could be as low as 50,000 and the total comes to the paltry figure of about 434,000.

For more information read about it here.

Elephant_Addo_National_Park

Animals at play

Playful, exuberant and just plain fun, featured here are three of my favourite animal species playing.    So why do they engage in these exuberant displays – what do they gain or do they do it just because it feels good?  All the scenes exude good humour – a relaxed sense of just goofing around.   It was a delight to watch all their antics.  Play benefits healthy development of young animals both physically and mentally – helping them to get to grips with their spacial environment and building up dexterity and strength.

For more entertainment head over to WPC:Fun!

In support of an Anti-poaching Campaign: Elephant Tusks!

At year end, the WordPress Team puts out a review for each blogger on their year’s blogging statistics.  It reveals some surprising information, who visits the blog, which posts were most liked etc.   I was pleasantly surprised by the ‘crunchy numbers’ and the statistics which revealed my blog had been viewed about 16,000 times.  I was more surprised by the information on which posts were the most popular:  Culture and Love ; and which post attracted the most comments  “Penguin Chicks:  From Fluff to Tuxedo”.

During the year i’d not really paid too much attention to the ‘backroom’ details, although i’d noticed that “elephant tusks” came up regularly via search engine queries.   I wrote a post about the odd relationship between three of the most unlikeliest mammals,  The Dassie, Dugong and Elephant  .  They have a fascinatingly evolutionary history which ties them back to a common ancestor.  They share various, if disproportionate, physiological similarities in teeth, leg and foot bones, testes, and other more obscure details.  In the post I assigned ‘elephant tusks’ as a tag to this photo.Elephant-tusks

How sad, (and devastating) it is to realise that there is a sinister connotation to the fact that this tag had the most hits on my blog via search engines.  Here in Africa, the poaching of elephants for their ivory and rhino for their horn remain the biggest and most devastating scourge in wildlife conservation.  Much is written in the press and across the international wildlife community in raising awareness on the diminishing numbers of these majestic animals through this wholesale slaughter of illegal poaching. The elephant tusks mostly land up in China, and i do believe that there is a possibility that the stats on my blog for visitor traffic from that country, could well tie into this issue.

I would like to share this following article, reblogged from Africa Geographic, as a reminder to all who do land up on my blog searching with bad intent, that all animals, no matter whether they are pandas, snow leopards, tigers, elephant or rhino, all deserve our respect for their continued existence.

Anti-elephant poaching story goes viral in China

Original Source: Mongabay

A newspaper story about the impact of the ivory trade has gone viral in China, raising awareness among millions of Chinese, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

The story, published on November 15 2013 in Southern Weekly, has been shared widely across Chinese web sites and social media, according to the conservation group. ”The total views of the original Southern Weekly Tweets and Retweets on Weibo (China’s Twitter/Facebook hybrid) exceeded 10 million. Most of these “netizens,” or members of the Chinese online public, were from Tier 1 Chinese cities (Beijing, Chongqing, Guangdong), the most significant consumers of ivory,” said WCS in a statement.

“The article was reposted on 24 online discussion forums or Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) including Mop and Tianya, two of the most popular in China. Thousands of comments were generated on the Tianya BBS forum alone. Overall over 5 000 comments on the article were posted on Weibo, BBS fora, and other websites.” The story received wide play outside environmental news, being picked up on finance sites, according to WCS. ”This represents an important shift for the topic of ivory from the specialist environmental pages to the mainstream debate,” said the group.

The poster reads: Protect the pandas of Africa - elephants. When the buying stops the killing can too. Image courtesy of WildAid.

The poster reads: Protect the pandas of Africa – elephants. When the buying stops the killing can too. Image courtesy of WildAid.

The article, titled “The Blood Ivory: Behind the Largest Ivory Smuggling Cases in China”, identified Chinese consumption as the main driver of elephant poaching. It noted links between the ivory trade and terror and rebel groups in Africa.

The ivory trade has exploded in recent years due to surging demand from middle class consumers in China. Conservationists estimate that up to 35 000 elephants may have been killed in 2012 alone. The carnage has spurred several NGO’s, including WCS, to step up campaigns targeting both the supply and demand sides of the trade. In September, the Clinton Global Initiative gave these efforts a boost when it launched a massive push to catalyze support for stopping “blood ivory”.

The poster reads: Do you want to own ivory dripping with blood? When the buying stops the killing can too. Image courtesy of WildAid.

The poster reads: Do you want to own ivory dripping with blood? When the buying stops the killing can too. Image courtesy of WildAid.

But reaching Chinese buyers has remained a challenge. Therefore WCS welcomed the news that elephant ivory is now garnering attention in China. “To have the influential mainstream media make the link between the elephant crisis and the Chinese demand for ivory is hugely significant,” Cristián Samper, WCS President and CEO, said in a statement.

“In China, it’s not just what is said but who says it,” added Joe Walston, Executive Director of WCS’s Asia Program.“To have the Southern Weekly give its front page to an article highlighting China’s role in the ivory trade is monumental. This is no longer a fringe topic.”

Photo Credits – Posters are the work of Asher Jay.
For more information on WildAid and their anti-poaching campaign visit www.wildaid.org