With this worldwide pause, a travel ban has been implemented which will restrict hunters from North America to fly to Botswana. Thus, it is possible that the majority of the hunting permits will go unused.
Siobhan Mitchell, UK Director of Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, reported; “We welcome the fact that foreign trophy hunters cannot kill elephants in Botswana, and hope that the government takes the time to reflect on and rethink its deadly strategy towards elephants and shake off this colonial pastime altogether.”
“As our city streets quiet, as people hang back from parks and paths, and the busy noise of daily life recedes, listen for the birds.” David Arnold, President of the Nat’l Audubon Society
Cattle Egret *
The cattle egret has a relatively short, thick neck, a sturdy bill, and a hunched posture. It spends most of its time in fields rather than streams. The cattle egret’s breeding plumage highlights its beautiful peach feathers, and it often appears to be wearing spiked topknots. Its legs and feet even change from black to a dramatic orange.
Cattle egrets feed on a wide range of prey, particularly insects, especially grasshoppers, crickets, flies (adults and maggots), and moths, as well as spiders, frogs, lizards and earthworms. They forage at the feet of grazing cattle, heads bobbing with each step, or ride on their backs to pick at ticks.
* Why feature the Cattle Egret?
This is the last day of what has turned out to be Elephant Week, and elephants have a special relationship with the cattle egret. The cattle egret, while relieving the elephant of parasites, receives a free meal and a free ride as the elephant walks along. But the egret enjoys this same kind of relationship with a number of different mammals. Elephants, on the other hand, aren’t involved in any other symbiotic relationships except that of the cattle egret. For the elephant, it’s the cattle egret only.
I am thrilled to share with you a new film, released today, which takes you into the heart of our extensive wildlife conservation projects in Kenya.
As a foster parent, you perhaps know us best for our Orphans’ Project, which has over many decades seen us rescue and raise more than 262 orphaned elephants, as well as rhinos, antelopes, giraffes and a plethora of other species. As our orphans gravitate towards a life in the wild once more, keeping them and Kenya’s wild herds safe is of equal importance, ensuring a viable long term future for all.
We are proud to be able to showcase in this film the many indispensable aspects of the SWT’s work, each so important to the whole.
During these unprecedented times for us all, I hope you feel as inspired as we do seeing what we can achieve together. We humans are facing one of our greatest global challenges ever, however, the wild world has been facing challenges created by us for thousands of years and the threats they face are as real today as they were a few months ago.
Despite all that is unfolding, our teams are out there in the field right now, walking with the orphans, flying our planes, patrolling to prevent illegal activity, and seeking out and treating injured animals. You help make all this happen and I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to you all. Your steadfast support is hugely appreciated.
Gardeners of Eden is about the operations of Kenya’s David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust , the vision of its founder Dame Daphne Sheldrick and the dedication of the keepers who raise the orphaned babies. The film covers some of the successes and the tragic losses that occur while trying to save these fragile babies. (Yes, it’s hard to imagine “fragile” as being a descriptive word for an elephant.)
Gardeners of Eden exposes the slaughter of elephants for the valuable ivory they can provide and the reluctance of countries to stop trading in ivory trinkets. There is a plea at the end of the film that goes something like this: “We will either be a witness or the solution to the unfolding of an ecological disaster. What will we say to our grandchildren when they ask us why there are no elephants remaining in the wild? Will they be proud of us when we say it was more important for us to own beautiful things than for beautiful things to roam in spectacular places?”
There is no storybook ending here. These magnificent animals are in serious trouble.
Daphne Sheldrick passed away April 2018. Linger long enough to listen to the closing song during the credits.
The following was taken from a Change.org email dated March 25, 2020
– Welcome to Botswana – Where Rich People Can Kill Elephants
Kenya has banned the practice of trophy hunting. Botswana had formally joined in the ban, but has now chosen to reinstate elephant hunting. Foreign hunters will be allowed to kill 202 of its elephants.
Most of the foreign hunters who go to Africa are from the United States. The average cost for foreign trophy hunters to purchase hunting rights, travel, hire a professional to accompany them and pay for taxidermy is approximately $71,000.
Elephants help support the health of our planet. They spread the seeds from the plants they have eaten, dispersing plant life to other areas. They dig water holes in dry river beds that other animals use as a water source as well as creating trails that serve as fire breakers. Elephants help the local economies through eco-tourism. Eco-tourism is a $2 billion-dollar industry, while reintroducing hunting contributes to only 1.9% of tourism.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has held Crush Ivory Days in various sites over the years.
In Colorado, U.S. officials destroyed more than 6 tons of confiscated ivory tusks, carvings and jewelry — the bulk of the U.S. “blood ivory” stockpile — and urged other nations to follow suit to fight a $10 billion global trade that slaughters tens of thousands of elephants each year.
There are two bills that have been introduced in U.S. Congress (the CECIL and Protect Acts) that will ban trophy hunting imports from crossing American borders. The fate of these bills is unknown at the time of this posting.
Change.org is asking everyone to consider contacting his/her representative in support of these bills.
*facts and images collected from all over the internet
The African Elephant
1. It’s true that elephants never forget (sort of).
Elephants can remember the locations of water holes hundreds of miles apart, and return to them every year. Their brains are very advanced, like humans, dolphins and chimpanzees.
2. African elephants are the largest land mammals on the planet. One of the largest known elephants was Jumbo, whose name is thought to be derived from the Swahili word for “boss” or “chief.” He is the reason we now use the word “jumbo” to mean “huge.”
3. Elephants commonly show humor, compassion, cooperation, self-awareness, tool use, playfulness, sharp learning abilities and frustration.
According to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, temper tantrums are common among baby elephants, who are known to throw fits by throwing themselves down into mud when upset.
4. Elephants demonstrate concern for members of their families and take care of weak or injured members of the herd.
They greet each other by hugging with their trunks.
5. No matter what you’ve heard, elephants don’t care much for peanuts.
6. Elephant herds are matriarchal. The oldest female elephant will decide where and when the herd moves and rests, day to day and season to season. She will only leave the group if she dies or is captured. Males leave the herd around the age of 12.
7. Elephants can have babies until the age of 50. The gestation period for elephants is 22 months. Female elephants have been known to induce labour by self-medicating with certain plants.
8. Baby elephants are initially blind and some take to sucking their trunk for comfort in the same way that humans suck their thumbs.
9. Elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror, joining only humans, apes and dolphins as animals that possess this kind of self-awareness.
10. Elephants are very good swimmers. They move all four legs to swim and use their trunk to breathe like a snorkel in deep water.
11. As important an appendage as an elephant’s trunk is, it has no bones!
Its trunk, capable of lifting 700 pounds or plucking a single blade of grass, contains over 40,000 muscles, divided into 150,000 individual muscle units.
12. Elephants are herbivores and can spend up to 16-hour days collecting and eating tough, fibrous foods, most of which pass through their bodies undigested. All that undigested fiber can produce as much as 300 pounds of poop each day! Some of the poop can be harvested to help produce sellable products.
13. Elephants are one of a few (possibly the only) animals who can understand human pointing, without any training.
14. The total global elephant population is currently estimated at 650,000, and they are very much in danger of extinction. The main risk to elephants is from humans through poaching and changes to their habitat.
Poachers in Kenya have enjoyed lenient sentences and few have been successfully prosecuted. The global ivory trade was worth an estimated $1 billion over the past decade, with 80% of ivory from illegally killed elephants. The street value of elephant ivory is now greater than gold, running to tens of thousands of dollars per tusk.
Tim, one of the last surviving super tusters, died in Amboseli National Park early last month. According to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), he died of natural causes. There was evidence that his wild animal friends had tried hard to resurrect him.
Famous for his rare majestic tusks, Tim was a very popular sighting for tourists who visited Amboseli National Park. He was considered an ambassador for his species.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which helped save Tim from a swamp in 2018, sent out a statement saying, “Kenya lost a giant today. Our hearts are heavy as we remember a magnificent elephant who we grew to know and love.”
“Our hearts are broken,” said Wildlife Direct, a Nairobi-based conservation campaign group. “Tim was one of Africa’s very few Super Tuskers, and an incredible elephant whose presence awed and inspired many. He was one of Kenya’s National Treasures.”
Tim was 50 years old. He called the Amboseli ecosystem (which spreads across the Kenya-Tanzania border) his home. His body was found not far from the Kimana Gate.
Elephant tusks never stop growing, so enormous tusks are usually a sign of an old elephant. Both male and female African elephants grow tusks. African elephants are referred to as “tuskers” when their tusks grow so long that they reach the ground. Due to poaching, conservationists estimate only a few dozen such animals with tusks that size are now left on the continent.
Tim’s tusks were said to weigh more than 100 lbs each.
Tim’s body was moved to a taxidermist in Nairobi so that it can be preserved for display in the national museum for exhibition and education purposes.
On the 2nd of January, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust rescued a calf from the Masai Mara. The little female baby was about six months old. They named her Naleku.
After the trauma of losing her mother, followed by the noise and handling necessary for the rescue, Naleku was very restless, and paced her room all night.
The following day she sensed the presence of the other elephants in the Nursery and constantly cried out while pacing in her stable.
Although still weak and a resident for only a single day, the decision was made to let her out with the other orphans.
Naleku was greeted with reassuring trunk cuddles and showered with love and affection. It’s amazing when one considers that the older elephants giving comfort and emotional support are only babies themselves, yet instinctively they know to offer a tender trunk hug.
I adopted Maktao in order to get a closer look at SWT’s elephant babies, in a less crowded setting. I adopted Naleku because I couldn’t resist.
These guys are at the top of every visitor’s Must-see Safari List. Travel books will tell you when and where to find them, and why these five animals carry the Big Five moniker.
Hippos aren’t on the list, and they’re bigger than the lions and leopards who are listed.
Giraffes, the tallest animals in the world, aren’t included either.
The large Kudu Antelope was snubbed as well.
So what gives?
The term “Big Five” was coined by game hunters in the late 1800s. It refers to Africa’s five most challenging and dangerous animals to hunt on foot. Nowadays the term is used by safari guides and game reserves, both public and private, to entice visitors to use their facilities. “Come visit our reserve and you will see all five of Africa’s most touted mammals. Prepare to be awestruck”
Want to be able to list the names of The Big Five in rapid fire order? Just think of that recently knighted zoologist and endangered species specialist, Sir Carl L.
C – cape buffalo A – African elephant R – rhinoceros L – lion L – leopard
We’ll begin to examine one or two of The Big Five in later posts.
On page one of The Elephant Whisperer, the author writes, “. . . to be clear, the title of this book is not about me . . . Rather, it is about the elephants – they whispered to me and taught me how to listen.” I tend to judge a book by its cover, which includes its title. The title is misleading, or at least it misled me. Still, I was entertained and learned a thing or two.
Lawrence Anthony, famed conservationist, writes about his experiences when he accepts seven unpredictably dangerous elephants onto his South African reserve. Had he not accepted the challenge (and he was offered a great deal of money not to), the animals would have been shot.
Yes, of course, the book speaks of elephants – and one receives quite an education. They’re curious yet cautious, warring yet loving, powerful yet gentle, intelligent, clever, and loyal. Elephants unite. Elephants celebrate. Elephants grieve. It appears that their enormous bulk masks the fact that there’s even more to these creatures than first meets the eye.
In addition, the reader learns about what it takes to care for these animals. The constant struggle against soaring heat and torrential rains, the doctoring, the engineering skills, the equipment, the war against poachers – all are present as Anthony risks physical as well as financial safety to protect the pachyderms.
Maktao is my temporarily adopted elephant toddler. He currently resides at the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi. In order to participate in the 5pm foster visit (much less crowded than visits earlier in the day), visitors must adopt an orphaned elephant for a year ($50).
The orphanage sends a newsletter with updates about your adopted elephant. The latest information I received read, “We can tell all our orphans apart not just by their appearance but their quirky little characteristics as well. Maktao is a playful little chap always keeping the other orphans entertained with wrestling games. He isn’t fussy who he plays with and will choose anyone on any particular day to start a pushing game with.”
Although the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) is best known for its work rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned elephants, it is also very involved in the promotion of anti-poaching programs, and the advancement of community awareness and veterinary assistance to animals in need.