News from the Amboseli Trust for Elephants
It's been an odd July and August in Amboseli. The Park is full of elephants. Usually in these two months, and especially in August, the elephants go off somewhere to feed and we have trouble finding groups. For years now I've been calling this time, with some frustration, the elephants' August holidays.
We are happy to have them in the Park but we suspect the reason they are there may not be good. We believe that the elephants feel safe in the Park and they're not going out on their usual treks because bad things have happened to them in the outlying areas. We are seeing families on a regular basis that in any other year would be spending most of their time in Tanzania. One of the collared elephants, Maureen of the MBs, is a case in point. The MBs are more Tanzanian then Kenya - we say they hold dual passports. However, since collaring Maureen on July 29 she and her family have not crossed the border. In fact, if you look at the red dots on the map in the following story you will see that they went right up to the border and then turned around and went back towards the Park.
Things are peaceful for the Amboseli elephants right now. When we are out with the families they are very relaxed indicating that they have not been harassed in any way recently. It's a joy being with them when they are calm and stress-free. At the same time we know that they need access to the whole ecosystem not just the Park and its immediate surroundings. We want them to go on their normal wet and dry season migrations and this is why we have to secure the whole ecosystem for the elephants and the other wildlife. We need a safe ecosystem now and in the future.
With thanks for your interest and support,
Amboseli Trust for Elephants
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Collaring for Corridors -- Mapping Critical Paths -- Harvey Croze
Let's say it once more: without access to the ecosystem surrounding the relatively tiny Amboseli National Park, the Park, the wildlife including the world's best-known elephants would be reduced to zoo-like numbers.
During the last week of July, ATE bit the bullet -- rather, the immobilization dart -- and in a record-breaking six hours, fitted adult females in five key families with GSM transmitting collars. Ida, Lobelia, Vicky, Willow and Maureen (of the IB, LB, VA, WA and MB families, respectively) are now beeping away, sending position reports every hour.
The smoothness of the operation was thanks to the cooperation of a skilled group of like-minded experts: the superb KWS vet team led by Dr. Ephantas Ndambiri with his researcher and ranger support staff; two ATE collaborators (Drs. Max Graham of Space for Giants and Henrik Rasmussen of Savannah Tracking, who built the collars); and the ATE research team, whose specific knowledge of elephant identities and demographic status is unequalled anywhere in the world.
Vicky with her new collar
None of us present -- and the combined expertise spanned five decades and hundreds of elephant operations -- recalled an event in which five specific 'target' elephants were collared in the space of one morning without use of helicopters. In all but one of the collarings there was virtually no disturbance to the elephants (nor to any visitors). Each of the ladies, chosen to be non-matriarchs, except for Vicky, whose defunct collar was removed and a new one replaced, between 20 and 42 years old without a calf younger than 2 years old, was back with her family within 15 minutes of the dart going in (actually, Ida got up quickly, but stood around dozing and dusting for about an hour).
Friends say to me, 'But don't you know enough about where the elephants go without having to jeopardize their trust by jabbing them in their bottoms?'. I answer that we need objective information on the paths the elephants need to follow in the ecosystem in order to build a strong case for their future corridors and easements. The operation is like taking your child to the family doctor for an innoculation. It may be a bit of a shock, but the long-term benefits are unquestionable, and trust returns quickly to smart, much-loved kids.
Already the collared females are painting their favourite routes (see map) and there are tantalizing portends of their regular paths into the ecosystem. How far will the MAs (red dots) venture into Tanzania? Will the WAs (green) move as far west as Namanga? Will the VAs head north 40kms to the Selenkey Conservancy? Stay tuned...
Collared eles 110809
Good News from a Graduate of ATE's Training Program
The Amboseli Trust for Elephants has run a training program for scientists and wildlife managers who are going to be studying elephants in their home countries. Started in 1994, the program was intended for citizens of African countries that have elephants. Our first two trainees were from Ethiopia. Since then we have trained people from Chad, Kenya, Liberia, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Some of these trainees have gone on to hold very important jobs in the wildlife sector.
Devised as a 10-day course run by our Training Coordinator, Norah Njiraini, students learn: how to approach and work around elephants, how to observe them, how to take photographs and build up an individual recognition file, how to age and sex elephants, how to design data sheets, and more.
This training program was fully supported by a generous donor for many years and during that time we were able to pay all the costs for each trainee including airfares to and from their home countries. At the moment the training program is not fully funded so a potential trainee has to find some additional support.
At times we have taken on students who are not African citizens if we feel that they will be working on good elephant projects in Africa or Asia. In these few cases the trainee pays the basic costs. In one case we had two scientists from Sri Lanka and in another we had an Australian woman who was working in Zimbabwe.
I have just had news of our Australian trainee and I have to say I am very proud of what she has accomplished. Sharon Pincott came to us in 2002 for training. She was already an interesting exception. She had left a very well-paying, high-powered job as an the information technology director for Ernst & Young Associates in Australia to follow her heart.
Sharon's heart was with elephants after her first encounter with one in South Africa. In 2001 she left her job, moved to Zimbabwe and became a full-time volunteer studying and monitoring a small population of elephants living on land next to Hwange National Park. In 1990 President Mugabe had given these elephants special protection and they became known as the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe. The 450 elephants currently making up this population are remarkably habituated to vehicles, so much so that they come right up to Sharon's vehicle and get a scratch on the trunk from her or a kind word.
Sharon Pincott with her Beloved Elephants
Sharon Pincott back with her Beloved Elephants
I had been in touch with Sharon over the years, but the last I heard from her she had had to leave Zimbabwe because the situation for her was dangerous and untenable. She was constantly being harassed and investigated. Then two weeks ago I read a recent article describing the way that Sharon can "talk to" elephants and discovered that she had returned. I got in touch and was very happy to hear her news. Most important and welcome was the news that Mugabe had just reaffirmed the Presidential Decree protecting the elephants she has spent a decade fighting for.
Sharon has written two books. One was published in 2009 and is called "The Elephants and I"; it is available through Amazon. Her second book, "Masakhe", will be out next year. A documentary film about her will be released in 2012.
Sharon is an amazingly brave and dedicated woman. Although our training only played a tiny part in what Sharon has accomplished we are pleased we had any role at all in protecting a very special group of elephants in Africa. We wish Sharon the best of luck over the coming years.
The History of the JA and JA2 Families
The JA family is one of the best known of the 64 elephant families in Amboseli. It is a favorite of many of the researchers who have worked on the Amboseli Elephant Research Project. I think we all like the family so much because it was, for 19 years of the study, led by the magnificent matriarch Jezebel. She died in her late 50s in 1993 and at the time was one of the oldest elephants in the population. She had beautiful, long, elegantly-curved tusks, which were exceptional for a female. In fact, Jezebel's tusks caused confusion at the very beginning of the study.
My colleague Harvey Croze and I first met Jezebel and her family on February 24, 1974. We photographed the adult females and some of the juveniles and when we developed and printed the pictures we gave the adult females names: Jezebel, Jessica and Juliet.
Some months before this we had found a large aggregation of elephants and had photographed as many individuals as we could, including adult males. One handsome male was given the number M5. We pasted his picture in the male recognition file. It wasn't until sometime in 1975 that I noticed that this "male" was Jezebel. The photograph just showed the head, ears and tusks from head on; with her large tusks Jezebel looked like a bull!
Jezebel in 1975 with her son Jerome and other family members; it is easy to see why she was mistaken for a male
The JA family lives on the western side of the Park and moves outside the boundaries to the southwest towards and into Tanzania. In April 1974, when we were trying to get information on the movements of the Amboseli elephants, we radio-collared three females. One of these was Sona the matriarch of the SB family. It turned out that the JAs and SBs formed a bond group along with the YAs. We did not know this at the time we darted Sona. She just happened to be the female we came upon when we were looking for a western elephant. In fact we had not even seen this family before. She was named after she was darted. Once we started following her we realized that she had a special relationship with Jezebel and her family and with another family led by a very large, old female whom I called Yolanda. These three families moved together much of the time.
To read the full story of the families go to the Elephant Trust website: Full story
Just as I was about to send out this e-newsletter I read that 1041 elephant tusks had been intercepted in Zanzibar. They represent the deaths of at least 521 elephants (some elephants are one-tusked). Probably most occurred in Tanzania but some of them may have been Amboseli elephants that use both sides of the border. It is very discouraging considering that it is estimated that only 10% of illegal goods are ever detected. We must fight this trade or we're going to lose Africa's elephants. Please help in any way that you can.
Amboseli Trust for Elephants
After the trauma of attack and loss comes healing—and a richer understanding of the emotions and intelligence of elephants.
Poster's note: Should you wish to adopt one of the orphaned elephants, go to http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/asp/fostering.asp and for
US $50.00 per year you can help ensure the orphans future at having a chance to be rehabilitated and returned to the wild.
In this newsletter we're going to concentrate on an important event that occurred here in Kenya and the background to that event. On July 20, Kenya burned 4.9 tons of ivory as a message to the world that only elephants should wear ivory.
We are rapidly going back to the devastating poaching that was going on in the 1970s and 1980s when Africa lost half of it's elephants, going from 1.3 million in 1979 to less than 600,000 in 1989. Today there may be no more than 400,000 remaining.
Although there is poaching of elephants in Kenya, including Amboseli, the levels are still relatively low, but that is no reason to be complacent. The elephants of the Central African rainforests and the West African savannahs are being poached at a horrendous rate. Across Africa as many as 38,000 elephants are being slaughtered each year to feed the ivory trade. With only 400,000 on the continent, at that rate we will lose all the elephants in 10 years. We can't allow this to happen.
Amboseli Trust for Elephants
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Kenya Burns Ivory -- Harvey Croze
Kibaki lights ivory - PHOTO ON WEBSITE
Elephant ivory is worthless and should only be worn by elephants -- That was the strong message sent by Kenya to the world when President Mwai Kibaki set light to nearly 5 tons of contraband ivory in Tsavo West National Park on July 20.
In his address to the crowd that included officials from neighboring states, ministers, diplomats and NGOs, the President stressed that Kenya is committed to the war against wildlife crime.
He launched the first ever African Elephant Law Enforcement Day, including a Special Account and a Wildlife Enforcement Monitoring System in support of the African Elephant Action Plan to which ATE has been contributing.
The conflagration marked the 22nd anniversary of a massive ivory burning by Kenya in 1989 which aimed to bring attention to the plight of elephants in preparation for the meeting of the party members of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in October of that year. At that meeting a ban on international trade in ivory was passed and went into effect in January 1990. Since then, Kenya's elephants have recovered from the poaching of the 1970s from 16,000 to 37,000.
Africa's elephants are still down in total from an estimated at 1.3 million in 1979 to less than 600,000 in 1989. Today there may be as few as 400,000. And the threat to their survival is escalating as nearly 40,000 are currently being killed every year, largely to supply a growing demand for ivory among the newly-monied middle class in the Far East.
The stunning ivory-burning event this year took place under the auspices of the Lusaka Agreement on Cooperative Enforcement Operations Directed at Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora, an African-led effort to curb cross-boundary illicit trade. Only seven countries have joined so far, but it is a start.
You can see Kenya's Citizen TV's coverage of the event by clicking here. There's also a glimpse of the ATE team listening carefully to President Kibaki's words.
ATE at burning
ATE Team at the Burning:
(L to R) Katito, Cynthia, Purity, Norah, Soila, Vicki. PHOTO ON WEBSITE
There are more images and summaries of the dignitaries' remarks on the ATE Website.
Poaching & Ivory Trade: Background History and Facts
A poached elephant with bushes cut to try to conceal him; Kenya lost almost 90% of its elephants in a 16-year period
In 1979 there were an estimated 1.3 million African elephants. By 1989 only 600,000 remained.
The loss of more than half a million elephants in a decade was due primarily to killing for ivory. Natural habitat loss was a second important factor: human population had doubled in elephant range states since 1970.
Major public awareness campaigns were launched worldwide to save the elephant and halt the illegal trade in ivory. The Amboseli Elephant Research Project played a crucial in making people understand more and care about elephants.
In October 1989, at the seventh meeting of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Convention of the Parties (CoP7), governments banned international trade in ivory, with effect from January 1990.
Some Parties to the convention (France, UK, USA) had already begun to impose their own ivory import bans.
In that same year (1989) Kenya made the bold gesture of burning its then stockpile of 12 tons of ivory in a spectacular display of solidarity with the growing community of concerned conservationists.
Demand for ivory dried up; the price of ivory dropped significantly and rapidly from around $300 per kilogramme to around $3 per kg.
Elephants in many parts of Africa were left in peace, and populations recovered. For example, Kenya had lost 90% of its elephants (167,000 to 16,000) in the 16-year period from 1973 to 1989. The population has grown back to some 37,000 today.
In some areas poaching continued at a lower level, particularly in Central and West Africa where there were local markets for ivory. In addition, some ivory was smuggled out of Africa, mostly to the Far East.
In 1997 at the CITES conference, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe succeeded in having their elephant populations downlisted by to a less endangered status.
In April 1998, Taiwanese port police seized 190 tusks and 283 ivory pieces weighing 1.45 tonnes originating from Nigeria.
The three southern African counties were allowed to sell stockpiled ivory to CITES-designated buyers. The first sale was in 1999; 50 tonnes were exported to Japan.
At the conference in 2000 South Africa's elephant population was downlisted.
In June, 2002, the largest shipment of illegal ivory since the 1989 ban was seized by Singapore authorities. DNA analysis showed the ivory had originated in Zambia. The shipment, via Malawi and Zimbabwe, was destined for Japan. It comprised 532 elephant tusks and more than 40,000 cut pieces of ivory, 6.5 tons in total.
At the November 2002 CITES meeting, it was agreed that Botswana, Namibia and South Africa could export 60 tonnes of ivory, subject to conditions.
This second CITES-negotiated sale occurred in 2008. Zimbabwe was also allowed to sell ivory and 108 tons went to Japan and China (46 and 62, respectively). Many predicted the sale might fuel an increasing appetite for ivory among the rapidly growing Chinese middle classes. That prediction appears to have been correct (see below).
KWS Treating Injured Elephant
A Kenya Wildlife Services vet treating an injured elephant; his attacker was after his ivory. Combatting poaching is a huge drain on KWS resources.
Some 470,000 elephants remain in Africa today according to IUCN's African Elephant Specialist Group. Other authorities estimate the number to be considerably lower.
An estimated 38,000 African elephants are killed annually to supply the ivory trade, according to Dr. Sam Wasser's genetic studies of confiscated ivory. If this rate were to continue, elephants could be gone from most of their former range in less than 15 years.
Killing of elephants is increasing in East, Central and West Africa, as evidenced by increased poaching and increased seizures of ivory originating in Africa.
Confiscations of illegal ivory have greatly increased. ETIS, the Elephant Trade Information System has shown "... that between 2007 (the last time data was collected) and 2009, over 2,000 seizures of illegal elephant material were recorded by authorities, a sharp increase from years past. The increased rate of poaching, coupled with the large quantities of ivory in individual seizures, suggests that criminal networks are behind the trade and manipulating local populations to increase their profits." (MediaGlobal, 21-11-09)
Demand in China has escalated since the one-off sales. Ivory carving factories and sales of ivory items have increased. In 2009 an additional 37 stores were approved as new, official ivory retail outlets. If only a small percentage of the 1.3 billion Chinese purchase ivory, the effect on elephant populations will be devastating.
Chinese companies are working throughout Africa. E. B. Martin, a leading ivory trade expert, said: "Chinese [throughout] Africa ... are buying up ivory, worked and raw. ... in Khartoum or Omdurman I found that about 75% of all ivory being sold was bought by Chinese." (Daily Nation, 11-11-09)
Seizures of contraband ivory have increased alarmingly over the past three years mainly in Far Eastern ports, but also in Africa, Europe and North America. Some catches have involved hundreds of tusks and tonnes of ivory. There were 139 seizures in 2009 in China alone (Traffic Bulletin, March 1997-April 2011). Chinese nationals have been involved including diplomats.
The 'China factor' notwithstanding, the fact is that the USA is the second most important importer of illicit ivory in the world (Care for the Wild International).
A kilogramme of ivory sells for as much as $1,500 in the Far East. On the ground in Kenya it sells for 3-4,000 Kenya shillings ($40). Even a small pair of 10-kg tusks would bring a poacher the equivalent of $400, more than casual workers earn in a year. A big bull carrying 100 kg of ivory would bring a fortune. The incentive is considerable.
Elephant Threats: Growth, Greed, Graft and poor Governance -- Harvey Croze
Elephants are under threat from extinction. With nearly 40,000 African elephants being killed each year to feed an illicit ivory trade, the end of today's estimated 4-500,000 animals will take less time than it takes an elephant born today to reach sexual maturity.
Echo's grandkids: what's their future?
The threats can be summed up in the four G's of human development: Growth and Greed, Graft and poor Governance. Indeed most wildlife populations and their ecosystems are under the same gloomy with-a-capital-G cloud.
Human population Growth is inevitable, we suppose. As elephants and other wild creatures loose ground to pernicious habitat encroachment, the challenge is to secure easements and corridors to allow seasonal movements into the ecosystems surrounding protected areas, as well as safe corridors between protected areas. That is a major preoccupation for ATE in Amboseli.
Global economic Growth, particularly of emerging economies in the Far East, feeds inexorably the second big G, Greed.
Human Greed creates capricious demands for trophies and trinkets, such as the 40,000 hankas (signature stamps) that were part of the consignment burned in Tsavo last week. The bau fa hu ("suddenly wealthy") huge and rapidly-growing middle class in China has created a demand that has driven the price of ivory over the past decade from $20 to $1,500 a kilo.
That kind of incentive to the poor African on the ground, in a culture of Graft and poor Governance, completes the loop and would seem to make the demise inevitable.
Elephant spearing increased sharply in 2008 after the first sale of legal ivory to China
Odile, above, survived the recent upsurge in killings (and after treating by ATE and KWS even had a baby the next year). Others weren't so lucky.
Is there nothing we can do? Yes, there is, and ATE and other concerned NGOs and enlightened government officials are trying along three fronts, all E's, as it happens.
Education. We need to accelerate the flow of information about how special elephants are -- information gained through our on-going research -- to the public, especially the Chinese public, many of whom genuinely believe that ivory is somehow plucked from a living animal who goes on to grow more, like a sheep growing fleece.
Employment. The obvious link between a healthy wildife ecosystem, tourism revenue and employment for local community members needs to be realized without the intervention of practitioners of graft who cream off the profits for themselves. But that requires good governance, which in turn requires a well-educated public that can vote and legislate protection of its patrimony from pillagers.
Easements. As part of the 'elephant survival package', the communities surrounding wildlife protected areas have to be taught about and given the means to enjoy payments for ecosystem services while protecting their chosen ways of life. Low-key, eco-friendly, high-quality enterprises -- not fast-buck mass tourism monstrosities -- are the only answer. ATE is working with fellow NGOs to fight uncontrolled development by profiteers that threatens to block wildlife movements.
ATE 'being there' in the ecosystem, a bastion of concerned and knowledgeable watchers working hand-in-hand with the Maasai, KWS and other NGOs, will in the long run ensure the survival of the Amboseli Elephants. Please join us in the struggle.
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I know this has been a depressing issue of the ATE Newsletter, but we all have to face what's happening to elephants in Africa. We can't just sit back and bemoan the losses. We have to fight and we can all join the battle. For example, just last week a man in Philadelphia was arrested for illegally importing one ton of ivory. You can stop something like this from happening again. You can find out where ivory is being sold in your community and try to get it stopped. You can lobby for the sale of all ivory to be banned in your country. At the moment dealers are hiding new ivory as "antiques" which are allowed. Campaign, spread the word, sign petitions, lobby your government representative.
We at ATE passionately believe that we can win this Ivory War. As always, we plead for your support to help us raise awareness worldwide as well as fighting the poachers here on the ground. We are a small organization but we work hard with many partners to provide a loud voice for elephants and their ecosystems.
Amboseli Trust for Elephants
To learn more go to: http://www.elephanttrust.org/
AFP: Nairobi — Despite increased poaching and a recent severe drought, Kenya has recorded a rise in elephant population in its flagship park, wildlife authorities announced Saturday.
Elephant population in the expansive Tsavo ecosystem in the south of the country rose to 12,572 from 11,696 three years ago according to the preliminary results of a censusus released Saturday.
The figures, which represent an increase of around two percent, is however less than the four percent rise that has been recorded in previous counts.
"This has happened in the backdrop of a very bad drought," said Julius Kipng'etich, the director of the Kenya Wildlife Service. "The new numbers might also reflect the increased demand for ivory and the subsequent rise in poaching."
The Tsavo National Park is Kenya's premier elephant sanctuary, hosting one third of its entire elephant population and covers 46,437 square kilometres of territory, an area bigger than Denmark and more than twice the size of Israel.
The expansive Tsavo is also the pulse on the status of Kenya's endangered elephants.
In 1976, Tsavo was home to some 35,000 elephants. In early 1970s, around 6,000 animals died during a harsh drought, and by 1988 only 5,400 remained in the park in the wake of a serious poaching onslaught.
However, the numbers have gradually grown since the early 1990s owing to tighter conservation and protection.
Conservationist Iain Douglas-Hamilton, the founder of Save the Elephants organisation said the latest figures were "hugely significant not only for Kenya but for Africa."
The wildlife authorities also raised alarm over the surge in illegal ivory trade after southern African countries of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe were allowed a one-off stockpile sale in 2008 to Japan and China.
Kenya has in recent months arrested several people trafficking ivory through its main airport in Nairobi to Asian countries where the tusks are used in traditional medicines and ornaments.
"Whilst this census is integral to the conservation and management of elephants, the real challenge remains in protecting them from threats such as poaching and challenges brought forth by land use changes," said James Isiche of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Article found on Daily Nation: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/1106238/-/111t8wxz/-/index.html]]>
We are losing old friends in Amboseli. Amboseli is experiencing the worst drought in decades. The Maasai elders say it is the most severe drought since 1961 when they lost almost all their cattle. I have been through two previous bad years: 1976 and 1984. By the end of 1976, 68 elephants had died, many from the drought, others from the competition and conflict caused by the drought, and still others from poaching. During 1984, 70 elephants died, most from the same three causes.
There is a pattern in the deaths due to drought. Young calves under three months old die, probably because their mothers do not have enough milk or rich enough milk. Then older calves 8-12 months old die towards the end of the dry season in September and October when they should be supplementing milk with vegetation. There is simply nothing for them to eat and their mother’s milk is not enough. Calves 4-5 years old also die. These have been weaned and also cannot find enough vegetation to sustain them. Once an elephant is over five it seemed to be able to get through the droughts. Unless elephants are speared or poached they tend not to die as adults until they are in their 50s or 60s. The adults that suffer particularly during droughts are the old females. Their teeth are worn down and they cannot find enough food that they can process. Losing these old matriarchs and other big females is by far the hardest thing I have had to deal with over my 37 years in Amboseli.
Grace, Odile and Ebenezer
Now at the end of July 2009 after three years of low rainfall and an almost total failure of the rains this year, there is very little vegetation for the animals to eat. There is still water in Amboseli. The springs fed from Kilimanjaro continue to flow into the swamps, but the vegetation in the swamps has been eaten down to almost nothing and in any case what there is is not very nutritious.
Animals are dying everywhere: zebras, wildebeests, buffaloes, hippos and elephants. It is very depressing and frustrating standing by and watching this tragedy unfold. There is nothing we can do and we feel so helpless. Even if it was a policy to feed wild animals during droughts, there is not enough hay in all of Kenya to feed the wildlife for even a week. We try to tell ourselves it is a natural phenomenon, but it doesn’t stop the pain of watching the animals suffer.
During 2008, 137 calves were born which broke all previous records for annual births. So far in 2009, another 53 calves have been born. We fear that most of these calves will die. A minimum of 30 young calves have died. This is just the beginning of August; it won’t rain until late October or early November so there is three more months to go and we have to face the fact that many of the remaining calves will also die. It won’t be until it rains again and the families come back into the Park that we will know the total loss.
In the meantime, I am losing some of my old friends whom I’ve known for 36-37 years. So far the matriarchs who have died over the last year are: Echo, Grace, Isis, Leticia, Lucia, Odile, Ulla and Xenia. Echo, Freda, Isis, Leticia and Ulla had been the matriarchs of their families since the 1970s and some from even earlier. Their families must be very distraught and confused. Personally I will miss them terribly. They have been a part of my life for so long.
Older males are also dying but not from the drought. They are being poached for their tusks. Just in the last 10 days three more big males have been killed. One, Ebenezer, had his tusks cut out with a power saw. The poachers are definitely getting more serious. We are doing everything we can by working closely with the Kenya Wildlife Service and providing support to the Amboseli-Tsavo Game Scouts Association. On Thursday, at a special ceremony, Soila and Harvey, representing ATE, presented a motorbike, tents, rations, and money for vehicle repairs and running to the Scouts. We were able to give this support thanks to a generous donation from the Elephant Sanctuary.
We need more help. The day of the presentation the scouts set up two anti-poaching camps, but there is need for another. It is our estimate that it will cost about $10,000 to set up and run one of these camps. If any of you can help it will be greatly appreciated and I believe it will save elephant lives.
August 2, 2009]]>
Kenya Wildlife Service has started restocking Shimba Hills National Reserve with various wild animals to improve biodiversity and enhance tourist experience.
The restocking operation funded by the Eden Wildlife Trust to the tune of Kshs.2, 750,000.00 is one of the many projects the UK charitable outfit for the conservation of wildlife has funded. The translocation of wild animals from Tsavo East National Park over a 150 km distance to one of Kenya’s treasured coastal rainforests includes 100 impalas, 15 giraffes and 50 kongoni.
The restocking is meant to attract more visitors not just to the Shimba Hills National Reserve but also to the Mwaluganje Elephant Community Sanctuary. The grazing area in Shimba Hills ecosystem has been under- utilised due to a low number of mammals. Many tourists to Shimba Hills expect to see not only a beautiful coastal rain forest but also a variety of wildlife but get disappointed by limited game viewing. The restocking is meant to address this challenge.
The reserve is the only place in Kenya with the magnificent but endangered population of the Sable antelope. Other wild animals found in the park include elephants, colobus monkeys, the leopard, serval cats and hyenas.
Shimba Hills located 35 km south west of Mombasa via the Likoni Ferry offers plentiful panoramic picnic and observation points: Makadara Picnic site, Giriama Point, Ocean View Point,
Pengo Hill Lookout and Elephant Lookout. The Shimba Hills are cloaked in a mantle of ancient forests, one of the largest contiguous pieces in East Africa. Over a thousand species of plants have been recorded, a fourth of them endemic to the area.
The ecosystems’ close proximity to the coast means it has the potential to attract large numbers of visitors on short excursions from the coast to see elephants. The Shimba Hills are regarded as one of the most diverse forested ecosystems in the Coastal Region as about 15 percent of the rare plants in Shimba Hills are coastal endemic and over 50 per cent of the 159 rare plant species known to occur in Kenya are found in the ecosystem.
The ecosystem is an important water catchment as it provides fresh water locally and regionally. The Shimba Hills are the source of three permanent rivers, which include: Marere/Manolo/Pemba river; Mkurumudzi and Ramisi. Water from Marere springs in the Shimba Hills reserve is supplied to Kwale, Mombasa and the south coast of Mombasa. Waterfalls in the hills serve as key tourist attractions while the forest tends to moderate temperatures and encourage rainfall locally.
AREA: 250 km square
LOCATION: 35 km southwest of Mombasa, off the main south coast road that leads to the Tanzanian border.
GAZETTEMENT: September 1968
WHEN TO VISIT: All year round, most roads consists of all- weather murram roads
ACCESSIBILITY: The reserve has one airstrip 1.9 km long. Regular passenger flights land at nearby Ukunda airstrip on Diani beach or the Moi International Airport in Mombasa.
ABOUT EDEN WILDLIFE TRUST
A UK charitable Trust for conservation of wildlife that also seeks to improve the needs of the local population they are involved with. EWF is a long standing supporter of KWS having independently funded over Kshs.3,000,000.00 on the species restocking exercise.
For more information.
Corporate Communications Manager,
Kenya Wildlife Service, P.O Box 40241 00100 Nairobi
Tel +254-20-600800 ext 2122 or 2088
Cellphone: +254-721-453981 or +254-733-391126
Telkom wireless: +254-020-243 3000
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org OR
Kenya Wildlife Service is a State corporation established by an Act of Parliament, CAP 376, with the mandate to conserve and manage wildlife in Kenya. It has the sole jurisdiction over 26 National Parks and oversight role in the management of 33 national reserves and private wildlife sanctuaries.
Seventeen African countries, including Kenya, have signed a document for the establishment of a coalition to save the elephant.
It was also agreed that a global elephant action plan that will fight illegal killing and trade in ivory be implemented.
It also paved way for an elephant conservation fund to be known as the African Elephant Coalition, says Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Assistant Director for Biodiversity, Research and Planning, Mr Patrick Omondi.
He said Mali, where the meeting was held, was elected chair of the coalition. Kenya is the co-chair.
The member countries are from West, Central and Eastern Africa countries.
"The body will raise funds and seek donor funding that will help States with weak enforcement and anti-poaching abilities," Omondi told The Standard.
Apart from Kenya and Mali, the other African elephant States are Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Togo, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Southern Sudan and Ethiopia.
The Malian Minister for Environment, Mr Agatham Alhassan, supported the accord.
"With limited human and financial resources, we face not only climate change challenges, but also cruel methods poachers use to slaughter elephants and devastate their habitats, which have been considered safe havens in the past," the minister said.
Omondi said the meeting symbolised the formal unification of the nations at the forefront of elephant conservation and anti-ivory trade.
"Representatives have been working closely for many years on such issues, and are now strengthening their presence with this formalisation. This is a meaningful accomplishment for countries with elephant populations," Omondi said.
He further added: "Not only are we taking a stand against the slaughter of endangered elephants, but also joining together to discuss the importance of elephant conservation and management strategies, which are essential in maintaining viable populations, and in effect, promoting tourism."
Omondi said it was significant that countries had agreed to implement decisions made at the 14th Conference of Parties of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) on international ivory trade, particularly the development of an African Elephant Action Plan on conservation.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), facilitated the meeting.
Through the Director of Wildlife and Habitat Programme, Mr Kevin Shields, it commended delegates for their achievements.]]>
NAIROBI (AFP) — The crisis in Kenya's tourism industry caused by the post-election violence there and the subsequent collapse in tourism could mean more people turn to poaching, conservationists warned Thursday.
Environmental NGO WildlifeDirect.org warned that the world-renowned Maasai Mara Game Reserve "is under severe threat from widespread poaching following the collapse of tourism in Kenya's post-election crisis."
"Wildlife is going to be hit hard," Brian Heath, head of the Mara Conservancy Trust, was quoted as saying in the statement.
Since the December 27 presidential election deteriorated into violence, close to 800 people have been killed across Kenya.
Images of people hacking each other to death and reports of women and children being burned alive in a church dealt a huge blow to the tourism industry, Kenya's main source of foreign currency.
Around 90 percent of accommodation bookings for January were cancelled, hitting the country's economy during the tourism high season.
The NGO, chaired by conservationist Richard Leakey, explained that many people were expecting to turn to poaching for bushmeat trade if they lost their jobs in the tourism sector. "My community benefits directly from tourism as gate revenues pay for the wildlife conflict compensation scheme," explained Parmois Siampei, a Maasai administrative officer for the Mara Conservancy and local community member.
Leakey called a fund-raising campaign through conservancy blogs to save the Masai Mara reserve. "Africa's parks cannot survive on tourism revenues alone, especially during times of political instability."]]>
Lake Nakuru National Park is alive again after flamingos recently rediscovered their old home which they had deserted for over two years. The lake is now teeming with a million flamingos again and the pink shoreline which has traditionally been the park's trademark is now restored, hopefully for good.
The flamingo is an elegant pink bird that inhabits saline waters of East Africa. And it is highly gregarious often forming large flocks that are a fascinating spectacle to watch especially when flying and courtship displays. The East African lakes are estimated to host 95% of the world flamingo population which are confined in four lakes: Lakes Manyara and Natron in Tanzania and Lakes Nakuru and Bogoria in Kenya.
Lake Nakuru is often tipped by researchers as flamingos' favourite feeding site and has recorded a population of nearly 2 million birds in the past earning the respectable name as the "home of million flamingos" besides its international reputation as the "biggest ornithological site on earth" on account of the incredibly high biomass of water birds that stuns every visitor.
For the last two years, however, flamingos had virtually deserted Lake Nakuru, inviting all manner of speculation from researchers and managers. It was blamed on receding water volume, pollution of the lake and even loss of salinity in the water, none of which sounded convincing especially now that flamingos have come back in the thick of those very circumstances! Intermittent deaths last year also caused some scare in the travel industry as it coincided with anxiety surrounding possible spread of bird flu into East Africa.
Flamingos' come back, while most welcome, has however raised more questions than answers: First, why did they flee Lake Nakuru for two years? Perhaps it is just in keeping with their tag of mystery. In 1958, Leslie Brown published The Mystery of Flamingos which documents many things that were unknown then. And it seems flamingos are determined to remain a mysterious species to the foreseeable future. Secondly, where are the pelicans, the stoutly elegant birds that had invaded the park around Njoro River mouth and Baharini Springs? The mystery depends.
Wildlife News provided by www.menengaiholidays.com]]>