Posts Tagged With: Tuskers

To a Poacher

mom and babe ele 4I need to make a difference
I want to change your mind.
I’m begging you to see them
through my eyes.
Mother and child,
Lovers, cousins, friends
They raise their babies
they mourn their dead.
Close your eyes and listen brother
do you hear their pain?mom and baby rhino 1
Tearing families apart
you kill, you wound, you maim!
A mother lies trembling in her blood
listening to her baby cry
knowing she can’t protect him now
the pain excruciating, as she slowly dies.
How will you explain to your daughter
killing for cold bloody cash?
And what will you do
when your next one may be the very last?

By: Tisha Wardlow

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Brave Little Orphan

Amboseli National  Park – December 2011 a baby elephant was born. He was named Jasiri, meaning “brave one”. Little did anyone know how fitting that name would become. A year later, Christmas of 2012, his mother was found dead, another suspected death by poachers. There was no sign of Jasiri, his sister or other members of his family.Jasiri

Since calves suckle until they are three years of age, and rely on their mother for nutrition as well as protection , it was assumed poor Jasiri did not make it. However, to everyone’s surprise, three months later Jasiri was spotted 20km from where his mother was murdered.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Nairobi Rescue Team was immediately deployed to bring him in. With the necessary manpower, nutrition and medical supplies they rescued the calf and are caring for him, hoping to help him survive.

The following is video footage of the rescue:

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Shirley & Jenny

This is the story of a touching elephant reunion. It’s not a new story, but worth retelling. After a life of hardship, Shirley, an old gentle soul, gets a happy ending. She has finally found peace and companionship with Jenny, a friend from her past.

Watch here:

Shirley Part 1

Shirley & Jenny Part 2

Old friends

Old friends


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Pink Elephants & Poison Rhinos

This weekend many people will partake  in the tradition of dyeing eggs. So it’s a fitting time to discuss dying ivory. More specifically the actual  tusks themselves.

Will dyed tusks prevent poaching?

Will dyed tusks prevent poaching?

This is an idea that I first noticed on Facebook and is being presented in a petition as well. The theory is the dye while safe for the elephants, will serve as a deterrent to poachers. Anyone coming into contact, through selling or buying, will immediately know the tusks were poached. Of course theoretically no one would want to utilize the ivory in this form.

Currently similar tactics are being used in rhino horn, only the dye is more than just visible, it is actually toxic as well. Therefore, not only is it useless for display, it  causes illness in anyone consuming the horn. The critics of this plan argue there is an ethical issue of poisoning people. But isn’t there an ethical issue in breaking the law to kill endangered species?

Rhino horn being infused with toxin.

Rhino horn being infused with toxin.

It’s incredible to think it’s come to this-dying animals to save them. But desperate times call for desperate measures. There is no effort or idea that can be overlooked when it comes to saving these creatures from extinction. If we fail, the price is too great.

To view and sign the petition, go to CHANGE.ORG

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The Circle of Life

baobab cartoonThe Baobab Tree isn’t called the “Tree of Life” for nothing. The giant African trees can store hundreds of liters of water, which can be tapped in the dry periods. The fruit or “monkey bread” is high in vitamin C, and the leaves are used for medicine. Even the cork-like bark, which is fire-resistant, is used for making cloth and rope.

The enormous Baobab is one of the longest living trees in Africa. Most of the mature trees are hollow and provide living space for humans and animals. In fact one such tree which was made into a pub is said to have been carbon dated at over 6,000 years old!

Ready for the catch? The Tree of Life is not doing well. In fact, its one of the top ten endangered trees on the planet.  Why?  Climate change and the natural regeneration of Baobab has been badly affected.

This is where the elephants come in. Elephants only digest 40% of the vegetation they eat. The 60% of undigested (the dung) generates new plant growth as it is deposited. With humans destroying elephant habitat AND poaching the pachyderms for their tusks, the population has dwindled and they too are endangered.

Up to 30% of the tree species may require the elephants to help with dispersal and germination. Also, during migration they use the same paths, keeping habitats open so other species can use them. They bring down vegetation as they traverse, making it more accessible to the smaller species to feed. In the process, they also inadvertently create trails that humans use.

Daphne Sheldrick (of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust) has observed that many forms of life depend on the activity of the elephants. They are a keystone species  (a species that has a disproportionately large effect on its environment relative to its abundance) to Africa.

So destroy the elephants, take with them the Baobab, as well as bushbabies, squirrels, rodents, snakes, tree frogs, scorpions, rollers, hornbills, parrots, kestrels, spinetails, barn owls, eagles, buffalo weavers, baboons and fruit bats. Not to mention the supplies of water and fruit to the people living on the savannah.

For more information on Daphne Sheldrick’s observations see IMPACT IN TSAVO.

african elephants


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There’s Orangutan Blood in my Kitchen!

Since learning of palm oil plantations leading to the destruction of homes and habitat for not only the orangutans, tigers, elephants, and rhinos; but also to the native people of the area, I’m putting my money where my mouth is (or where my post is).  See previous post The Perils of Palm Oil

It seemed a daunting task, but  I was determined to remove all remnants of palm oil from my house. Taking less than half an hour, I rummaged through my cupboards, fridge, and bathroom drawers checking labels and writing down the newly banned items for future use.

It was an eye-opening experience.  The most surprising culprit was the ice-cream. Interesting thing is-not ALL ice cream uses it. While Hudsonville does , the local Meijer brand does not. This seems to be the case with many items like coffee creamer, shampoo, and toothpaste.

Reading the labels is  important.  Not everything says PALM OIL. Here is a list of other names for palm oil.
Foods, Body Products, Cosmetics & Cleaning Agents:

-Vegetable Oil              orang 1
-Vegetable Fat
-Sodium Laureth Sulfate (in almost everything that foams) ^
-Sodium Lauryl Sulfate ^
-Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaDS) ^
-Palm Kernel#
-Palm Oil Kernel #
-Palm Fruit Oil #
-Palmate #
-Palmitate #
-Palmolein #
-Glyceryl Stearate #
-Stearic Acid #
-Elaeis Guineensis #                                                                               orang 2
-Palmitic Acid #
-Palm Stearine #
-Palmitoyl oxostearamide #
-Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3 #
-Steareth -2 *
-Steareth -20 *
-Sodium Kernelate #
-Sodium Palm Kernelate #
-Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate *
-Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate ^
-Hyrated Palm Glycerides #
-Sodium Isostearoyl Lactylaye ^
-Cetyl Palmitate #
-Octyl Palmitate #
-Cetyl Alcohol ^
-Palmityl Alchohol #

# These ingredients are definitely palm oil or derived from palm oil.

* These ingredients are often derived from palm oil, but could be derived from other vegetable oils.

^ These ingredients are either derived from palm oil or coconut oil.

I was afraid of what I’d have to do without. But I’ve learned it’s actually not that hard. Where one product gets the Ban in my house, there’s usually a substitute brand to take its place. So while I’ll miss my pop tarts a little bit, I’m gaining a healthier and more conscience friendly way of living.

Products in my cupboards that contain palm oil.

Products in my cupboards that contain palm oil.

For more information go to

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Elephants are extremely social creatures. They form groups, and sometimes join up with other herds. The females stay together, raising each others young and communicate constantly with one another. Female asian elephants are never alone in the wild.

Mali reaching out for companionship.

Mali reaching out for companionship.

Manilla Zoo, Philippines  Mali is the only Asian Elephant in the zoo. In fact she is the only elephant in captivity in the Philippines. The 38-year-old gentle giant has been an occupant of the zoo since she was taken from her mother at the age of 3,  spending all of her life in a concrete enclosure.

After capturing the attention of concerned citizens, an animal rights group was contacted and Dr. Mel Richardson, a veterinarian and expert on elephants,  was sent to evaluate Mali. His findings expressed concerns both for her physical and mental health.

Mali’s feet (which have only known the feel of concrete) are showing ailments including cracked nails, overgrown cuticles, and cracked pads. Such foot problems are the leading cause of death in captive elephants. The zoos veterinarians admit they do not have the means to properly care for her feet.

Perhaps even more importantly, Dr. Richardson expressed extreme concern for her profound loneliness. ” Mali’s social and psychological needs are being neglected at the Manila Zoo. Even the best intentions … cannot replace these needs, which can only be met by the companionship of other elephants.” He concludes, “In my experience, even elephants who have been alone for more than 20 years integrate well with other elephants when moved to a sanctuary.”

Mali's "home" for the last 30 years.

Mali’s “home” for the last 30 years.

There is a place available for Mali at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. She could feel the grass beneath her tired feet, wrap her trunk around other trunks, greeting other elephants for the first time in her life. After a lifetime of solitary confinement, isn’t it time she lived as she was meant to?

There has been an outpouring of support for this magnificent lady. Everyone from PETA to Dame Daphne Sheldrick has lent a voice to the effort to move her. Yet the officials of the Manilla Zoo have resisted, saying she is home and they are her family.

There is a place available for Mali at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand.  After a lifetime of solitary confinement, Mali could finally feel the grass beneath her feet, wrap her trunk around other trunks, and greet a family for the first time in her life. Please join in the fight to give Mali the life she deserves.  Go to Free Mali on facebook.

Mali holding tail

Categories: Rhino Ramblings, Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Buyer Beware

Illegal Ivory Trade-China, Vietnam, and Thailand certainly play the biggest role in the demise of the elephant. With over 32,000 elephants slaughtered within the last year, poaching and illegal trade have reached epic proportions.

But the US is second to China in the dealings of illegal ivory.

The US is seemingly aggressive when it comes to seizing illegal ivory entering the country. In 2012  $2 million of ivory was seized in Manhattan; the guilty parties were asian jewelry shop owners.

But the black market trade is fueled by cyberspace. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) states that online trading is definitely an issue in the US. One way sellers and buyers use to conceal their product is by using code words; ox bone, white gold, unburnable bone, or cold to the touch.

I checked into the four most prominent sites here in the US-Google, Amazon, Ebay and Amazingly, it took only a few minutes for me to find ivory jewelry and trinkets on Google, Amazon and Ebay. I found nothing on

The US law states that ivory from the African Elephant cannot be internationally sold or bought. But  it IS legal to own, sell or buy within the US. No permits or registration is required. Pertaining to the Asian Elephant-all trade is illegal across the board.

The thought being that the ivory  already present is older “pre-ban” ivory dating before 1989. However, there seems to be no shortage of  items found on-line.

Google said in an emailed response to The Associated Press that “ads for products obtained from endangered or threatened species are not allowed on Google. As soon as we detect ads that violate our advertising policies, we remove them. But there are so many ads that come out every day, you have to be vigilant. You have to keep checking.”

Illicit ivory sold in the US is typically used to make gun and knife handles, billiard balls, piano keys and combs. There is also a market for small items such as trinkets and jewelry.

ele love

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A Hope and A Prayer

So much of the future for rhinos, elephants, and other creatures are being decided right now. The critical CITES meetings are taking place March 3-14. Within days, decisions will be made that could  give us hope or spell disaster for the remaining elephants and rhinos.

CITES-Convention on International Trade of Wild Fauna and Flora-is essentially an international agreement between governments. The aim is to ensure international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Started in 1975, there are currently 177 parties involved in this group including China, Thailand, Vietnam and the US.

One of the current issues they will be deciding is whether or not to ban all ivory trade, the other is on legalising the trade of rhino horn. Both species are in grave danger of being overpoached and these decisions weigh heavily on their future.

Unfortunately this is not the first time the issues have come to the attention of CITES. In 1989 the ban on all ivory trading was put into effect. The ban instigated stronger enforcement efforts, nearly halting poaching altogether. However, within 4 years after it was enacted western aid was withdrawn, the issue seemed to be nonexistent,  and everyone dropped their guard.  Now poaching has made an alarming comeback. There are approximately 300,000 elephants killed per year.

The scenario is the same for the rhino. A ban on rhino horn trade was enacted in 1977, only to become a wildly out of control problem to the devastating amount of 668 rhinos poached in South Africa alone all of last year.

CITES controls are easily evaded. Only 16 of the 35 African parties have complied with the ivory trade.  It is  laundered through legitimate CITES channels with no consequence.

I recently read a suggestion that if there was an Axis of Evil in Wildlife Conservation , it would include the following: China, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, Thailand, Qatar, Mozambique, Tanzania and S. Africa. Interestingly all but Laos and Tanzania are member of CITES. The obvious question is “How much of a benefit is there to CITES?”

CITES funds are replenished by the 177 parties. When attempting to access the status of contributions and unpaid parties, the information “could not be given”. So its unclear how much finances steer the decisions that are being made. However its hard to ignore the possibility of corruption when the group is made of governments filled with biased intentions.

However things turn out, the cold reality is this; among the  70 proposals at the current convention, 10 are recommendations that species be removed from CITES protection due to the fact they are already extinct.


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Mahout (Keeper) For a Night

“I once had the opportunity to visit the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya, while filming an episode of my show. I was designated as the mahout-or keeper-for the night of a 3-month-old calf that had lost his family to poachers. As we bedded down in his cage, my main job was to make sure the 350-pound calf had the tactile contact with me that he needed to sleep peacefully. Things began well enough, with him nodding off easily, but in the middle of the night, I felt a knocking at my back. He was having a nightmare, and I instinctively cupped his eyes so he couldn’t see the light from the oil lamp hanging from the ceiling. The trembling of his trunk slowed, and his breathing softened. Just as he was drifting off again, he started to twist a lock of my hair with the tip of his trunk. All 40,000 muscles in that miniature proboscis were working together to make sure that its tip-which is 10 times more sensitive than a human finger-brought him the soothing contact he needed. Suddenly, I grasped the trauma that a creature this sensitive must experience in the presence of a poacher’s brutality.”

-excerpt from Jeff Corwin 100 Heartbeats

Mahouts sleep with the orphans every night.

Mahouts at Sheldrick sleep with the orphans every night.

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