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Elephant Country Blog 5: Behind the Scenes at Mushara

Every field season has its idiosyncrasies and challenges. This year, nature kept Tim particularly busy maintaining technology in order to keep the camp safe and operational, starting with a humane catch-and-release program for the inordinate number of brazen mice that inhabited our camp and got under foot after such good rains brought much grass seed—and abundance of food. Not only can mice be a nuisance by chewing the corners of each box of long-life milk or juice that they can, they also attract a problematic pursuer—the snake.

Matriarchs of Mushara

The activity for the night watch team hasn’t slowed as the heavy wind in the past few days has kept the elephants at bay until sunset. Two nights ago, the parade of families started with the Princesses arriving from the south at dusk, followed by the Pharaohs from the west, the Athletes (with Smokey escorting)…

Mushara Elephant Project Celebrates 25 Years With New Season in Namibia

This season marks the 25th year of the Mushara Elephant Project, but the first few days were a little too chaotic to absorb the magnitude of this momentous occasion. We arrived at Mushara the first night of the waxing moon with much to set up before nightfall. A few bulls came and went as we got ourselves situated, allowing ourselves a break at sunset to soak in the beauty of this remote oasis.

“Elephant, I Miss You”

Elephants may be edging closer to extinction which would in turn cripple local ecosystems, but it is the stories of damaged crops and trampled people that are most salient for communities here in Malawi. Nyama is the Chichewa word used for both “meat” and “anima”’, and chirombo, which means pest, is often used to describe wild animals. The prevailing cultural belief is that they are God-given resources that will never run out.

“Elephant I Miss You” was made to challenge this view using the storytelling tradition combined with facts-based education. We hope it will stimulate discussion as well as pride in the country’s natural heritage that in turn would support wider conservation efforts.

How Saving Elephants Got One National Geographic Explorer Arrested

Nights in police custody, fake elephant tusks, and terrorist organizations are all just part of a day’s work for National Geographic Society Fellow and Chief Correspondent to the Special Investigations Unit, Bryan Christy.

China bans ivory, prices plummet. Will this really help save the elephants?

The price of ivory in China has dropped by 2/3 since 2014. Can that help save living elephants?

Conservation Focus: Protecting the Critically Endangered Sumatran Elephant

These slideshow images, taken by Paul Hilton for WCS in 2016, illustrate the multitude of challenges faced in conserving the Sumatran elephant. These include the conversion of forest habitat to oil palm plantations, degradation of forest habitat by illegal logging, conflicts with farmers through crop-raiding, and being illegally hunted for their ivory tusks.

China’s Ivory Ban Has Played a Significant Role in De-Valuing Ivory

As the government rolls out the closing of the market, WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) is observing hopeful results as in the Save the Elephants report issued this week. We believe that the ban has played a significant role in de-valuing ivory. We also believe that the ban has increased motivation for enforcement agencies to enhance actions on illegal ivory trade.

The battle for the survival of the forest elephant can be won

In Gabon’s Minkébé National Park, forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) declined by approximately 80 percent between 2004 and 2014, as reported in a recent publication supported in part by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Both savanna and forest elephants are declining across most of the African continent driven primarily by Asia’s demand for ivory. What is happening in Minkébé National Park is particularly alarming, as this area was once home to the highest densities of forest elephants in Central Africa and was established as a stronghold and sanctuary for the species. What do these findings tell us about the future of forest elephants more broadly, and how should we prioritize efforts to save the species? Dr. Richard Ruggiero, chief of the Service’s Division of International Conservation, shares his thoughts.

Video Tribute Marks 40th Anniversary of Sheldrick Elephant Haven

Nicky Campbell is a journalist, broadcaster and wildlife campaigner. He and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust have released the “Sacred Eyes” music video to mark the 40th anniversary of the Trust’s Orphans Project, which has saved hundreds of juvenile elephants left stranded by the slaughter of their mothers for ivory.

China bans ivory, offering new hope for elephants

Fingers crossed that China is serious, and will effectively enforce their announced ivory ban. We are all counting on it.

PNAS Paper Suggests Global Ivory Sales Being Driven by New Ivory Rather Than Ivory Stockpiles

Notes WCS VP for Species Conservation Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, “What the authors of the new PNAS study have shown us is that ivory, once it’s poached from elephants in Africa, is going very rapidly straight into the trade. This is all new ivory that is getting caught going into the illegal markets. It’s not old ivory from stockpiles. And that’s somewhat of a surprise. We thought that stockpiles were probably leaking into the market. But it appears that stockpiled ivory is either being protected or has been destroyed in one of the many initiatives to burn or crush that material.”

Translating Survey Findings Into Effective Elephant Protection Results

The Great Elephant Census showed that important elephant populations persist in several key range areas that historically supported large numbers of elephants – so there is still much to fight for in the battle to save Africa’s elephants. Fortunately, there are some signs of hope – both in sites covered by the GEC and other elephant sites.

World body that could protect elephants—decides not to

Acutely, an elephant’s problem is ivory. Chronically the problem is shrinking space. Rich or poor, humans seem too much of a good thing. One wonders where this trend of growing human numbers and appetites, afflicting elephants and humans alike, is headed.

African Lions on the Brink: A Conversation with Lion Expert Craig Packer

With roars that rend the African night, lions have captured our imaginations since the dawn of humankind. “Lions have long been celebrated in art and literature throughout the world,” says ecologist Craig Packer, National Geographic Explorer and Expeditions Council grantee, and director of the University of Minnesota Lion Center. In the face of habitat loss and…