The Texas Trophy Hunter Whose Wall Of Death Sent Social Media Into Meltdown

As the Internet went into meltdown over the poaching of Cecil the Lion by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, another man was causing a stir after a photo published in National Geographic went viral at the same time.

Kerry Krottinger, a wealthy Texas hunter and businessman, has slaughtered so much African wildlife over the years that he amassed a veritable “wall of death” in his Dallas-area home. The National Geographic portrait depicts him sitting with his wife among the taxidermied bodies of Lions, Rhinos, Cheetah, Giraffes and enough Elephant tusks to open a traditional Chinese hospital.

The British-based charity LionAID, which uploaded the photo to their Facebook page, took a markedly dim view. “This is just one Texas trophy hunter with a ‘love’ of Africa,” they write. “Is it any wonder that Africa’s wildlife is disappearing? Just have a count of the various species displayed. Three Lions? So many Elephant tusks? A Giraffe? A Rhino? Kerry must be one of the leading conservation hunters on the planet!”

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Kerry and Libby Krottinger in their ‘Wall Of Death’ room

Little is known about Krottinger’s personal life. Aside from being an energy millionaire with multiple companies to his name, he and his wife Libby operate a Gypsy horse farm called Ndugu Ranch. A website about the property had been taken offline, but a cache copy can be viewed here. A Facebook page also associated with the ranch was also taken down. Next to a smiling photo of the pair, Krottinger wrote he named the ranch after the Swahili word for “brother” or “family member,” and that the couple has “a great love for Africa.”

Krottinger’s kingly haul of animal carcasses was acquired through what’s known as “conservation hunting,” a practice that is supposedly designed to protect species by allowing people to hunt animals for a high fee that’s then to be used for other conservation efforts. Palmer, who is now facing indictment in Zimbabwe for poaching, said in a statement that he had trusted his guides and assumed his activities had been legal.

Far from poachers, conservations hunters — and the websites that promote them — see themselves as environmentalists. LionAID’s director Pieter Kat said the whole premise was nonsense.

“Conservation hunting is a complete myth,” he told Mic. “If conservation hunting had been effective, Cecil the Lion would not have to have been poached out of a national park, because conservation hunting would have maintained a viable and sustainable Lion population within their own trophy hunting concession.” According to Kat, steep fees like the more than $50,000 Palmer paid to kill Cecil typically end up in the pockets of tour operators. “Sustainable hunting does not sustain anything,” he said.

PETA president Ingrid Newkirk was blunter still. “The idea of killing animals to ‘protect’ their species is like having 5-year-olds build a child-labor museum,” she said in a statement to Mic. “True conservationists are the people who pay to keep animals alive through highly lucrative eco-tourism, not the power-hungry people who pay for the cheap thrill of taking magnificent animals’ lives and putting their heads on a wall.”

On Twitter, the response was one of almost universal disgust, with the photo generating near Cecil-levels of rage.

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Kat was unapologetic about the Krottinger-shaming on LionAID’s Facebook page. “What we were trying to do there is to alert people to the fact that trophy hunters have this sort of enjoyment of their activity, and what we would like to expose to people is these sorts of people belong in the 19th century,” he said.

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Legendary Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Slash’s Plea To Help Save Elephants

ICONIC ROCKER SLASH IS DOING HIS BIT TO HELP CURB ELEPHANT POACHING

If former Guns & Roses guitarist Slash hadn’t put all his heart and soul into music and becoming one of the world’s greatest rock guitarists, perhaps he would’ve sought a career in zoology?

He is a trustee of the private, non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) and shot a commercial for Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens with veteran actress Betty White to promote their new exhibit The Lair, which displays over 60 species of weird, rare and endangered amphibians, invertebrates and reptiles. He has shot other ads and PSAs before for the zoo.

“I used to not believe in zoos as a concept, but now because there are so many endangered animals; there’s so much poaching,” Slash tells Samaritanmag. “With zoos now, it’s really about conservation. They become safe houses for a lot of species so, I think, now, zoos are really necessary places, not totally about just family entertainment at any cost. It’s about education; it’s about conservation.”

Anyone familiar with Guns N’ Roses, Slash’s former band, knows he used to own snakes — as many as 80, which he got rid of when he became a father. He has been on the cover of Reptiles magazine and even had a band called Slash’s Snakepit post GNR. But he’s actually a lover of all animals.

Slash has been visiting the LA Zoo since the age of 5 and later in childhood went every weekend, sometimes twice. As a touring musician, he often visits the local zoos on his downtime.

in 2011, Slash received the inaugural Tom F. Mankiewicz Leadership Award from GLAZA at the 41st Annual Beastly Ball recognizing his long-time support of the zoo and the welfare of the world’s natural and civic environment (filmmaker Mankiewicz was GLAZA chairman who died in 2010).

The award will recognises his long-time contributions to environmental welfare programs and his support to the LA Zoo and zoos around the world.

GLAZA (Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association) President Connie Morgan declared:
‘Tom [Mankiewicz] advocated opportunities for interaction among our diverse communities and championed the cause of animals and the environment through education and on-the-ground conservation. He strongly believed the Los Angeles Zoo exemplifies both missions as a place where people come together having a good time while learning the importance of saving and protecting wildlife.’

To which Slash responded:
‘The biggest compliment for me is that it’s Tom’s award. I really adored that man. I miss him very much, and that aspect is very special and resonates deeply. Additionally, I profoundly appreciate the implications of the award itself. It’s a fantastic honour.’

But Zoo director John Lewis could not stop there:
‘Slash is a great example of our mission of nurturing wildlife and enriching the human experience. He is a champion for wildlife and conservation and has introduced our mission, his passion, to millions of his fans’.

“I just try to help the zoo,” says Slash of his role as a trustee. “We all on the board support and help the zoo’s best interests. We just try to keep all that together. It’s a pretty big thing. It’s a city-owned zoo and we’re trying to make it a private zoo and there’s just always something going on with that.”

In 2012, while on a trip to Australia, Slash took wildlife warrior Bob Irwin up on an invite, but left the meeting by signing on to aid Irwin’s new conservation initiative.

SLASH loves reptiles. So does Bob. And that’s enough.

A deep affinity for the cold-blooded creatures has forged an unlikely friendship between the legendary Guns N’ Roses guitarist and wildlife warrior Bob Irwin.

Irwin, who is the father of late ‘Crocodile Hunter’ host Steve Irwin, reached out to the guitarist when he learned the tour was coming to Australia, and invited him down to Queensland to visit the crocodiles and snakes.

After lending his support, Irwin returned the favour by urging his followers to catch one of Slash’s performances while he was visiting the country.

SLASH Bob Irwin Wildlife Conservation Foundation 2012 (1)
Slash and Bob Irwin at the launch of the Bob Irwin Foundation

In 2013, Slash performed in South Africa with rock super group Kings of Chaos and spent extra time seeing the local wildlife. Although he had been aware of the diminishing numbers of Elephants in the world, the former Guns N’ Roses guitarist learned on this trip that the situation was becoming increasingly more dire. While poaching rangers had increased their efforts to stop the illegal ivory trade, Slash believed that people needed to be more aware of the situation.

The guitarist also released the “Beneath the Savage Sun” video, which details the illegal ivory trade and tells the story of an Elephant who has lost a loved one from the Elephant’s point of view.

“How many killing seasons can you justify?” he asks. “How many dead and bleeding / only for an ivory lie?

“I was shocked that the poachers still manage to get away with it,” he told Rolling Stone in the above video. “A lot of people don’t know that every time they purchase anything that has even a smidgen of ivory in it, it comes from a dead Elephant. I think if people were more aware of that, it would have a dramatic effect on the whole ivory trade.”

Slash’s singer, Myles Kennedy, was equally affected by the situation. Kennedy wrote the lyrics for what would become “Beneath the Savage Sun,” a doomy hard rocker told from the perspective of an Elephant who witnessed the death of a fellow pachyderm.

SLASH AND MYLES KENNEDY

Slash made a powerful video for the track – which is featured on the guitarist’s last solo album, 2014’s World on Fire – illustrating the brutality of the ivory trade with written facts, images of both living and murdered Elephants and poachers’ spoils. The video notes that the U.S. is the world’s second-largest consumer of ivory, so Slash hopes the clip serves as a wake-up call.

“We wanted to give the viewer an idea of the atrocities that are going on, to hit them full in the face with it,” says Slash, an animal lover who is on the board at the Los Angeles Zoo and has long been active in animal conservation. “It’s more of an immersive experience. The most important thing is to reach as many people as possible.

“Elephants are so beautiful, intelligent and sensitive,” the guitarist continues. “They have emotions we’re all familiar with. They care for their young. They move in big family groups that live on for generation after generation. They very visibly mourn their dead. When you actually meet Elephants and get to know them a little bit, they have a whole myriad of personalities.” (Slash was previously part of the campaign for Billy the Elephant.)

In addition to educating people about Elephants, Slash has also partnered with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), an organization he reached out to personally because he had worked with them in the past and liked how they were “hands on” in their causes.

Jeff Flocken, IFAW’s regional director, North America, has been working with the Obama Administration to draft and implement laws to regulate ivory. “Any legal trade of ivory encourages illegal trade,” he says. “Our laws are riddled with loopholes like Swiss cheese.”

He believes that if the U.S. led by example, real change is possible. “Last November, the U.S. crushed six tons of ivory that was seized illegally here in the U.S., and within months, China crushed 6.1 tons of their own ivory,” he tells Rolling Stone, adding that China is the world’s Number One ivory consumer. “It’s the first time they’ve ever done that. It shows that other countries are watching what we’re doing.”

Trade in elephant ivory is driving these amazing animals to extinction; largely at the hands of criminal networks that kill local wildlife rangers and support organized crime, smuggle drugs and transport illegal firearms. They do all this to meet the lucrative demands of consumers in China, the United States and elsewhere, many who don’t even realize that every piece of ivory comes from a dead elephant, but who still value the stuff as jewellery, trinkets, and yes, instruments.

Flocken added that the anti-ivory movement has begun facing opposition from the N.R.A., who want to protect ivory for ornamentation on gun handles, among other causes. Slash says that ivory ornamentation is not necessary and uses musical instruments as an example.

We love our instruments. We know that many of you love your guitars with ivory bridges and pianos with ivory keys, but we need you to think about where things came from and what are your ethics when buying and selling them?” Piano keys don’t have to be ivory,” he says. “It’s not important. And for inlays on guitars and tuning pegs, it’s absolutely not necessary and I won’t use it.” Do we really want to profit off of the extinction of such a beautiful and majestic species?

To prove his point, Slash donated proceeds from the sale of the song to the IFAW and has redesigned his website to provide more information about the ivory trade and serve as a place where people can donate to the organization. Supporters can also donate to the IFAW.

“Donating is great – that’s hugely necessary – but the other thing to do is to stop purchasing ivory,” Slash says. “Do not buy it. I think the more people that stop buying ivory is going to have a significant effect on the Elephant poaching trade.”

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An Obituary To Tolstoy, One Of Africa’s Few Remaining Tuskers

TOLSTOY

18th March 2021: Just after dawn, Tolstoy lumbers into view. A wandering giant, with tusks almost scraping the earth, this great elephant has roamed beneath Mount Kilimanjaro for nearly 50 years.

He has survived ivory poachers, spear attacks and terrible drought, but the mighty bull could be confronting a new threat to his natural realm: surging demand for avocados.

A turf war has erupted over a 180-acre (73-hectare) avocado farm near Amboseli, one of Kenya’s premier national parks, where elephants and other wildlife graze against the striking backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak.

In 2020 Kenyan agribusiness KiliAvo Fresh Ltd received approval from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to start its own avocado farm on land in Kimana, southern Kenya it purchased from local Masai owners. [Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP]

Opponents of the farm say it obstructs the free movement of iconic tuskers like Tolstoy – putting their very existence at risk – and clashes with traditional ways of using the land.

Adjacent landowners and wildlife experts say elephants have already collided with KiliAvo’s electric fence – proof that it impedes migratory routes used by an estimated 2,000 tuskers as they depart Amboseli into surrounding lands to breed and find water and pasture. “Can you imagine if elephants in Amboseli died of starvation so that people in Europe can eat avocados?” Kenyan conservationist Paula Kahumbu, who heads the campaign group WildlifeDirect, said.

HUMAN WILDLIFE CONFLICT

16th March 2022: The Elephant named Tolstoy is a living natural wonder, carrying some of the largest tusks on the planet. So when Big Life’s rangers don’t see him for a while, they go looking.

They searched beyond their normal patrol areas and eventually found him resting under a tree. All appeared fine, until he took a step… something was badly wrong. Tolstoy could barely walk. Upon getting closer, the rangers could see the problem: a puncture wound in the joint on his front right leg.

Tolstoy being treated for his leg wound

A wound like this was no accident. Tolstoy frequently plays a high-stakes game called crop-raiding. When he wins, he comes away with a bellyful of highly nutritious crops. But when he loses, he gets speared.

Tolstoy doesn’t know it, but his crop raids can cost a farmer their entire season’s income in one night, and these farmers (justifiably) care little that Tolstoy is one of Africa’s dwindling number of ‘super tuskers’. It’s not the first time this has happened: in 2018 he was treated for three spear wounds, also a result of crop-raiding.

The Kenya Wildlife Service vet unit, funded by our partners at Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, was quick to respond, but the decision to treat him was not made immediately. Darting an animal of this size, particularly with a wound in a sensitive joint, is extremely risky because the Elephant may not be able to stand after treatment. The decision was made to wait 24 hours and see if his condition improved.

Big Life’s rangers stayed by his side, spending the entire night out with him, but the wound showed no signs of improvement. The decision was made to dart him, and it was done quickly and professionally.  His wound was thoroughly cleaned and treated, and Tolstoy was given antibiotics and painkillers before a jab to wake him up.

Tolstoy comes round watched by members of the KWS team

With great effort, he finally stood and stared back at the treatment team, before retreating into the shade. For now, his prognosis looks good, but he’s not out of the woods just yet as he continues to heal. Big Life rangers will continue to monitor him while he recovers. And they will continue to spend their nights out in the farms, keeping Elephants safe and helping farmers to protect their crops, in order to prevent this from happening again.

The elephant named Tolstoy is a living natural wonder, carrying some of the largest tusks on the planet. So when Big Life’s rangers don’t see him for a while, they go looking.

They searched beyond their normal patrol areas and eventually found him resting under a tree. All appeared fine, until he took a step… something was badly wrong. Tolstoy could barely walk. Upon getting closer, the rangers could see the problem: a puncture wound in the joint on his front right leg.

A wound like this was no accident. Tolstoy frequently plays a high-stakes game called crop-raiding. When he wins, he comes away with a bellyful of highly nutritious crops. But when he loses, he gets speared.

Tolstoy doesn’t know it, but his crop raids can cost a farmer their entire season’s income in one night, and these farmers (justifiably) care little that Tolstoy is one of Africa’s dwindling number of ‘super tuskers’. It’s not the first time this has happened: in 2018 he was treated for three spear wounds, also a result of crop-raiding.

THE SADDEST DAY

27TH April 2022: “This is so painful.”

These few words spoken by ranger Daudi Ninaai describe well how we are all feeling at Big Life. Tolstoy, one of Africa’s biggest ‘tusker’ Elephants, and an icon of the Amboseli ecosystem, has died at 51 years old.

He was speared in the leg 6 weeks ago, almost certainly by a farmer defending his crops from one of Tolstoy’s night-time crop raids. The wound was treated, but the resultant infection has ultimately had the worst possible consequences.

Big Life’s rangers in Kimana Sanctuary have been monitoring Tolstoy since his treatment. Yesterday morning, they found him lying down. This was not unusual for an Elephant who took frequent horizontal naps despite his enormous size, but upon getting closer, the rangers could see signs of his failed struggle to stand up. They knew that this time was different.

Tolstoy was still alive and two Kenya Wildlife Service vet units (both funded by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust) responded. He was given further treatment, but getting him on his feet again was unlikely from the start. For hours the rangers and vets tried to pull him up with vehicles and ropes, with no success. A front-end loader was called in as a last desperate attempt, but Tolstoy was just too weak to stand.

With the rescue team running out of ideas, and night fast approaching, Tolstoy finally ran out of strength and died, surrounded by the rangers who have looked over him for so long.

Ranger Job Lekanayia is one of these: “Today is the saddest day in my job as a ranger, having lost one of the Elephants that I treasured the most. We tried everything that we could. I thought he would wake up, but he just couldn’t lift himself up.”

After 50 years on earth, there isn’t much that Tolstoy hadn’t seen. And there isn’t much that looks the same. His home has been transformed by the human species, and it is the consequences of rapidly expanding farmlands that eventually killed him.

His death is a reminder of the vulnerability of even the largest of animals, as well as the urgent need to protect habitat for wildlife and manage the interface between wild animals and human activities. There are solutions, and we are making progress despite a tragic setback such as this.

Over his long time on this planet, Tolstoy had a positive impact on countless people, and will be remembered as a calm and gentle giant. As ranger Lekanayia says, “All I can say is: rest in peace Tolstoy, we will miss you.”

TOLSTOY

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REMEMBERING SATAO, THE ELEPHANT KILLED BY POACHERS FOR HIS TUSKS SO LONG THEY TOUCHED THE GROUND

THE MAGNIFICENT SATAO ~ RICHARD MOLLER/TSAVO TRUST

Satao was one of the largest Elephants in the world. His weight was estimated to be over 7 tons and his tusks were so long he could rest them on the ground.

By logic, his size should have made him unreachable for any natural predators. However, in a world of destruction and corruption, logic doesn’t prevent the extinction of the African Elephant. Satao fell prey to poachers for his ivory in May 2014, which triggered a huge wave of grief in Kenya followed by international outrage in the news and on Twitter and Facebook.

Born in the late 1960s in Tsavo, Satao caused great amazement to everyone who ever caught a glimpse of him; rangers, tourists but also poachers. Many believe that Satao had the understanding that his tusks were beyond the ordinary. In fact, he had adjusted his behaviour to keep his tusks out of sight, which was incredibly impressive and heart-breaking at the same time. Impressive, because this once again proved how very intelligent Elephants really are, and sad, because Satao was nonetheless poisoned by arrows that caused his death.

The Tsavo Trust had been monitoring the Elephant’s movements using aerial reconnaissance for the last 18 months, and thanks to his enormous tucks the beast was ‘easily identifiable’ from the air.

But the technology was not enough to save the iconic beast from the hands of the poachers.

A Tsavo Trust spokesman said at the time: ‘With great sadness, we report the death of Satao, one of Tsavo’s most iconic and well-loved tuskers.

‘This magnificent Elephant was widely known in Tsavo East National Park, where he was observed with awe by many thousands of Tsavo’s visitors over the years.

‘No longer will Tsavo and Kenya benefit from his mighty presence.’

‘Satao, whose tusks were so long they trailed the ground, was discovered with his face hacked off at Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park’

He added: ‘The arrow had entered his left flank and he stood no chance of survival. We spotted his carcass on 2nd June but to avoid any potential false alarms, we first took pains to verify the carcass really was his.

‘Today it is with enormous regret that we confirm there is no doubt that Satao is dead, killed by an ivory poacher’s poisoned arrow to feed the seemingly insatiable demand for ivory in far off countries.

‘A great life lost so that someone far away can have a trinket on their mantelpiece.’

‘Rest in peace, Old Friend, you will be missed, he added.

Photos of his hacked off face and tusks circled the Internet and recorded the bitter loss and undignified death of this incredibly rare tusker.

AN UNDIGNIFEID END: SATAO WAS FOUND WITH HIS FACE AND TUSKS HACKED OFF!

Wildlife filmmaker based in Kenya Mark Deeble who had written a blog post Satao: last of the great tuskers about how poachers had been hunting Satao for some time and how he was injured but managed to escape until now:

He said “I was thankful that the bull’s wounds were healing and that we hadn’t had to dart him, but I was devastated that poachers had somehow managed to predict his movements and get close enough to fire two poison arrows into him. I am appalled at what that means – that the survival skills that the bull has painstakingly learnt over half a century have been rendered useless by the poachers’ use of mass-produced Chinese goods, GPS smartphones, cheap motorcycles and night vision goggles.

I think the old bull knows that poachers want his tusks, and I hate that he knows.

More than anything, I hate the thought that poachers are now closing in on one of the world’s most iconic Elephants.”

His fears came to reality on the 30th of May 2014!!

RIP Satao, you will NEVER be forgotten.

SATAO DRINKS AT A WATER HOLE IN TSAVO EAST NATIONAL PARK, KENYA, IN 2013, WHEN THE MAGNIFICENT TUSKER WAS IN HIS PRIME – MARK DEEBLE

NO ONE IN THE WORLD NEEDS AN ELEPHANT TUSK BUT AN ELEPHANT. ~ THOMAS SCHMID

A variety of styles of Nobody In The World Needs An Elephant Tusk Except Elephants tops are available at Save The Elephant with all proceeds helping Elephant charities.

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SAVE THE ASIAN ELEPHANTS: A NEW LAW BECKONS – BY DUNCAN MCNAIR

“Don’t bother – Elephants are finished.”

“You must be joking. Anyway it’s India’s problem.”

“It’s big money talking, and you’ll never change that.”

“Surely the travel industry will sort it out if you ask them?”

BRUTALLY ABUSED FOR YOUR PLEASURE

These were amongst the unpromising responses enjoined on Duncan McNair after returning from his first trip to India, in 2014, to assess for himself the horrors to Asian Elephants in modern tourism of which he had started hearing and, appalled, urging that something must be done.

This Duncan’s story:

The sad refrain had some truth: the species is indeed in desperate peril. Yes too, vested interests like the UK travel industry could do so much, and so could India and the other range states. But these are not policies if nothing is being done. And the UK cannot compel a mighty sovereign State like India, less still Sri Lanka, Thailand or Myanmar, to adopt our own ideals of elephant welfare – aside from the UK’s own cupboards rattling with skeletons like brutal industrialised farming or a legacy of trophy hunting.

India has excellent animal welfare laws, according Elephants the highest degree of protection, but they are widely circumvented by political interference and protection of vested interests.

But, I thought, surely the world’s most revered species, the Asian Elephant, need not – should not – meet its end under the cruelest of all animal abuse, babies screaming and crying under extreme torture to break their spirits (known as “the phajan”) for easy use in tourism?

THE PHAJAN BEATS ELEPHANTS INTO SUBMISSION FOR YOUR ‘PLEASURE’ IN THE TOURIST ‘INDUSTRY’

Back in London I tramped and trailed round many animal welfare organisations searching for a star to hitch my wagon to, but received reproofs. One charity urged me to be realistic and not waste time. A Government minister charged with animal welfare issues told me she had far better things to do than help Elephants.

But I started receiving encouragement too, and exhortation. It was so plain that public awareness of the horrors was so low yet when people heard of them, they were as appalled as I. So in early 2015 Save The Asian Elephants was born, with an immediate strategy by every means to drive up awareness of facts omitted from all travel brochures and websites, draped over for years with a mantle of secrecy. After all, in a functioning democracy a proper cause constantly advanced, linked to coherent, credible policies, should prevail over time.

Without funds STAE developed an ethos of voluntary, unpaid help – no wages or perks for anyone, and working off the lowest cost base. Just passion and commitment.

ELEPHANTS PAINTING LIKE THIS IS NOT NATURAL BEHAVIOUR

A wonderful team of eminences and experts soon emerged from every quarter, and many others of all ages and specialisms. My childhood dreams of a veterinary career (I had spent forever in libraries poring over the lives of famous vets then seeking them out via the telephone directory hoping for inspirational meetings) were dashed when my ineptitude at sciences became evident. But later I could see my life as a lawyer having worth far beyond fighting for my clients. I was thankful others of my profession came forward to join STAE.

Policies were developed that were not contingent on concurrence of vested interests or governments of indigenous states, but on what we in the UK could achieve by relentless exposition of the facts and proper pressure upon government.

A landmark policy of STAE’s (alongside those previously outlined in Animal Spirit) is new law: to ban the advertising, promotion and sale of unethical Asian elephant-related venues. Self-regulation by the travel industry having failed, and endless promises of change broken, compulsion of law is essential to stem supply (and then demand) of the vast trade in such abuse. Shockingly, to date STAE has identified over 1,000 tour companies promoting 210 venues where extreme brutality is committed to baby and adult Elephants to hundreds of thousands of UK tourists. Abused Elephants regularly attack and kill. These fetid places are also a storm of risks for tourists to acquire deadly airborne viruses like Covid 19 as well as TB that broken down Elephants readily transmit through coughing, sneezing and spraying water.

STAE has been in ongoing negotiation with the Prime Minister’s officials and government departments on our Asian Elephants (Tourism) Bill, drafted for Lord Zac Goldsmith. Hopes of new law soon for the UK are running high based on government assurances. Polls show STAE’s Bill is backed by 90% of Britons, confirmed by STAE’s petition and others aligned to it running at 32 million signatures, and 100 people and organisations of influence including all the major faiths of SE Asia.

DUNCAN MCNAIR, STAE CEO AT DOWNING STREET

STAE considers this law transposable to other countries across the West and beyond. Together they can stem this tide of abuse. And although Asian Elephants suffer uniquely from abusive tourism, such law can stand adapted for other species too.

Who knows the destiny of this ancient species, denizens of the Earth long before Man? But what Man has done so wrong, he can put right. Whilst Christian precepts apply to the protection of all of God’s creation, no religious faith is needed to believe that we should stand and fight for these gentle creatures, “megagardeners of the forests” on which we all rely. We hope and pray there is time for the Elephants.

Duncan McNair KHS is a lawyer and founder and CEO of Save The Asian Elephants.

STAE’s petition for change can be signed at: bit.ly/STAEpetition

Suggested cut and paste letters of support to Minister Zac Goldsmith and to your MP are at: http://stae.org/uk-minister/ and http://stae.org/your-mp/.

THE ELEPHANT THAT WAS IN THE ROOM

Save The Asian Elephants (STAE) and all the animal welfare sector are aghast at the weekend’s media reports that the Government has abandoned the Animals Abroad Bill despite all its commitments otherwise, received regularly by STAE’s team as pledges, promises, “it’s been cleared in Cabinet” and “you’re pushing at an open door” in over 20 meetings with No 10 and Defra since lockdown.

THE ANIMALS ABROAD BILL WOULD HELP STOP CRUELTY LIKE THIS

STAE is working to bring the entire sector together to ensure all is done to see this decision, if confirmed, reversed. Indeed with public support for a ban to protect elephants from the most extreme violence largely driven by the UK market running at over 90%, STAE’s petition now touching 1.1 million, and extreme emotions evoked in the electorate by torture of baby elephants, any such decision seems extraordinary as a General Election looms before late 2024.

PHAJAAN OR ‘CRUSHING’ IS THE TRADITIONAL ASIAN TORTURE OF YOUNG ELEPHANTS TO BREAK THEIR SPIRIT. IT IS DONE SO THAT THEY ARE SUBMISSIVE TO HUMANS.

Why on earth would Government be committed to these cruel acts? It must surely be in its own interests to take a principled lead over other parties (who will support it) and other nations, by pursuing the Bill. They are important measures now expanded in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare to all species abused in overseas tourism (including big cats, apes, bears, equines, dolphins) and not particularly controversial or difficult. On the contrary they are welcomed across the political divide. None of the measures to ban ads for “low welfare venues” impinge on Tory peers’ shooting weekends or even pigging out on foie gras, if that’s their tragic choice.

STAE CEO Duncan McNair speaking to Protect All Wildlife said “If confirmed, its sickening and foreshadowed in STAE’s communications with Govt and officials over the past year and my US TV interview on Unchained TV, despite every reassurance from Govt (including a letter signed by the Minister a week ago) all was on track.” 

Muted claims that the Russian war on Ukraine has stolen all available Parliamentary time are unconvincing. STAE traces the evidence of wavering elements in Govt much further back. As they say, the first casualty of war is the truth. We hope the Defra Ministers at the helm will turn this round, publish the Bill, consult and bring it into Parliament soon.

Thank you to Duncan McNair CEO, Save The Asian Elephants  for speaking to us.

WILD AND FREE, HOW THEY SHOULD BE

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Gods in Shackles – What Elephants Can Teach Us About Empathy, Resilience and Freedom

SANGITA IYER FELL IN LOVE WITH THE COW ELEPHANT LAKSHMI AS SOON AS SHE SAW HER

With a foreword by the world-renowned chimpanzee conservationist, Dr. Jane Goodall (DBE), Gods in Shackles: What Elephants Can Teach Us About Empathy, Resilience, and Freedom is a moving memoir that follows a biologist, journalist, and award-winning wildlife filmmaker Sangita Iyer, who finds her purpose in advocacy for the Asian Elephants in her childhood hometown of Kerala, India. Gods in Shackles book touches on themes ranging from conservation and climate change to religion, philosophy and emotional well-being and how Elephants relate to each of these.   The book is slated for release on February 8, 2022, and will be available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and everywhere books are sold. 

Dr. Jane Goodall

Elephants are self-aware, conscious beings. They can feel and grieve the loss of both Elephants and humans. Elephants are supremely intelligent, with a brain size 3 times as large as the human brain.  They are social animals, who live in tight knit families.  Just like humans, their priority is protecting their young.

But they are being ripped apart from their families, subjugated using brute force and constantly abused, so they can be exploited in the so-called “cultural festivals”. Despite their physical and emotional traumas, these captive Elephants give nothing but love and compassion even to those who inflict suffering.

In 2013, Iyer visited her childhood home in Kerala, India, where more than 500 captive Elephants, owned by individuals and temples are forced to perform in lengthy, crowded, noisy festivals. Deprived of food, water and rest, these animals they claim to revere are exploited for tourists and money. This sparked the creation of her award-winning documentary of the same name and a new purpose in life for both Sangita and the Elephants. 

The book contains crucial scenes that could not be included in her ground-breaking film, Gods in Shackles, and it connects the readers with the emotions Elephants feel.

“By exposing the suffering of Elephants, my most sincere intention is to help people realize that manmade cultural shackles are preventing us from evolving consciously. Our attitudes and misguided beliefs are responsible for our own suffering, as well as the suffering of other beings – both human and nonhuman.” says Sangita Iyer

When Sangita found herself in the presence of these divine creatures and witnessed their suffering first-hand, she felt a deep connection to their pain. She too had been shackled and broken for too long-to her patriarchal upbringing in India, to the many “me too” moments in her work life that were swept under the rug, to the silence. Now she would speak out for the Elephants and for herself. And she would heal alongside them.

Kerala Festival Elephants

“If humans can collectively unleash the shackles that confine them—the shackles of culture, material wealth, and status quo, or whatever they may be—we can become compassionate enough to heal all sentient beings. But first, we need to heal our self by reconnecting with our origins—the wilderness and its inhabitants, so that we can foster a peaceful coexistence,” says Sangita Iyer

Climate Change angle:

Climate change is an existential threat that impacts people around the world, as what happens in one nation reverberates across the planet. We have natural climate mitigators in the tropical forests of India, and saving them in India would benefit the whole planet …

Journalist/biologist/Nat Geo Explorer, author and Founder of Voice for Asian Elephants Society Sangita Iyer is sounding the alarm about the need to protect Asian and African Elephants because of their critical role in mitigating climate change.

Watch this 6-minute video produced by Sangita that world premiered on Nat Geo TV India, and then uploaded on YouTube. Meet the Gardeners of the Earth There are more such short films here

And you can watch Sangita’s short clips here (4 minutes long): https://vimeo.com/657252565

“Elephants are the largest living land mammal, and they play a grand role in preserving this magnificent web of life that we are all a part of. Elephants create productive ecosystems, and they coexist harmoniously with all living beings, allowing the forests and its inhabitants to thrive.” notes Sangita.

Book Reviews

“As I read Gods in Shackles – What Elephants Can Teach Us About Empathy, Resilience and Freedom, I was shocked, saddened and angered by the cruelty towards the Elephants who are forced to take part in religious ceremonies – cruelty that is described in this extraordinary book.  And I was amazed and moved by the courage shown by its author Sangita Iyer.  She loves Elephants, yet despite the emotional pain she suffered when she saw the abuse meted out to them, she forced herself to visit as many of the temples as possible to record and expose their pain to the world. And when an accident left her crippled and in agonizing pain for weeks, she never gave up. Moreover, she realized that her pain, and the pain of the Elephants, reflected the suffering of so many abused people around the world. ” – Dr. Jane Goodall (DBE), Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute

“We are desperate to feel that we are not alone in the universe. We are not. A whisper is all around us, the constant song of life communicating with itself. In Unshackled, Iyer links our own resurrection as individuals and as a species to this shared song. ” — Richard Louv, author of “Our Wild Calling” and “Last Child in the Woods”

In these pages, Sangita Iyer offers us both love and imaginative hope. Hope becomes more realistic when we view the four horsemen of the apocalypse – climate disruption, biodiversity collapse, extinction and the decay of human hope – as a single existential threat with shared solutions. To find that path, to take action, we must first listen to the song that surrounds us, as Sangita has done in her own life. — Richard Louv, author of “Our Wild Calling” and “Last Child in the Woods”

“When a person stands up for injustice, the plight is infectious. Sangita’s passion is infectious. The good people of this world came her way and helped because they believed in what she was doing. Sangita made Gods in Shackles and the VFAES happen, and bravo to her. I would thoroughly recommend this inspiring and uplifting book. The subject matter is brutal, but it gives me hope that humans can still make the world a better place if we change our ways, if we make a stand. Education and solidarity are the way forward. Excellent read and fantastic journey!’ – Carla Kovach, Author of the bestselling, DI Gina Harte series

“Thought provoking, and very upsetting at times, particularly that these tortures are under the semblance of religion. This wonderful book is deep and full of facts and emotions. I particularly resonated with the frequent parallels to the Elephants’ plight and Sangita’s personal life experiences both physical and mental. Sangita. is a determined, cause driven passionate advocate whom I admire enormously.” – Rula Lenska – Renowned British Actress & Model

This phenomenal trailblazing book reminds us that humans need to self-heal in order to fully play our role in forming a synergistic co-existence with Nature and animals. What we do to another species reverberates back to us. There is an urgency therefore to end the weeping of Elephants, an evolving of humans so that we all hold out hands with respect and tender love. Then Elephants, all animals, will be free from shackles and chains. In this outstanding book Sangita Iyer is the worthy voice of Elephants, the translator of their wisdom, of the mapping of their consciousness itself and how it relates to us mere humans. – Margrit Coates, World Renowned Author, Healer and Interspecies communicator

“Through this engaging story Sangita Iyer helps us recognize how interdependence, community, diversity, and being open to adaptation and emergence creates transformative change for a sustainable future.” Dr. Liza Ireland; Associate Faculty, School of Environment & Sustainability, Royal Roads University.

You can pre-order this wonderful book at Gods In Shackles.

A VIDEO OF A JCB RESCUING A BABY ELEPHANT FROM A DEEP PIT GOES VIRAL

A BABY ELEPHANT GETS A HELPING PUSH UP FROM A JCB

One lucky little Elephant has captured the hearts of people across the internet after it was rescued from a mud pit in the Southern India state of Karnataka.

A video of the rescue operation staged by state forest officials has charmed netizens, as it also shows what some people say was an appreciative gesture from the Elephant, who turned to address the crane that helped to dig it out.

the BABY ELEPHANT being rescued FROM A DEEP PIT by a jcb

The incident took place in Siddapura Village in Coorg district of Karnataka, reported Indian Express.

A good Samaritan recorded and shared the clip, which has been viewed over one million times on Twitter alone. The beginning of the video shows the Elephant struggling to climb up and out of a slippery mud put. Each time it tries, it slips back down the hole’s steep walls. Eventually, an excavator machine pulls in and begins to dig mud out from around the Elephant.

THE ELEPHANT KEPT SLIDING BACK INTO THE PIT

Bystanders can be heard cheering as the arm of the JBC crane reaches behind the Elephant and gives it a gentle push, giving it the boost it needs to finally get its feet back on solid ground.

The lumbering animal then turns back around to face its rescuers, bumping its head and tusk to the machine’s bucket in what some are viewing as a sign of appreciation. Onlookers can be heard cheering loudly as it does, then officials set off a small firecracker to encourage the Elephant to leave the area and return to the forest.

Sudha Ramen, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Tamilnadu Forest Department shared the video from her Twitter account. She told Newsweek, “Elephants are mostly human-friendly until they get aggressive stimulated by human behaviour or have some hormonal imbalances. They are known to recognize the aid received when they are in need.”

Even though this behaviour can be observed in subadult and adult Elephants, young ones are not as human-friendly or expressive.

She added that when such rescues happen in a crowded environment, the animal is usually in panic mode and may get aggressive because of human presence or too much noise.

“But in this situation not many outsiders were present. Still, I do not say that the animal returned a gesture in this case. It may be an exhibit of stress too,” Ramen told Newsweek, addressing the belief shared by many that the head bump was ‘thank you’ in the Elephant language.

Her tweet with the video has been viewed more than a million times. She credited the video to Indian actor Satish Shah who initially shared it on his Twitter page.

Sudha Ramen, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Tamilnadu Forest Department shared the video from her Twitter account.

The usage of machinery such as a JBC depends upon the terrain, the animal involved in the rescue, and other safety factors, according to Ramen. The vehicle often comes in handy as many of its features make it able to handle slushy, slippery ground, and many rescue operations are carried out in the forest or nearby in areas that are usually non-motorable larger vehicles.

“Such operations are done only in the presence of the forest officials and vet doctors, so the driver gets guided by them,” Ramen told Newsweek.

“This made my day 1,000 times. Kudos to the construction crew and operator. And Mr. Elephant is the classiest mammal I’ve ever seen,” commented one user.

While many appreciated the machine operator’s work, some also questioned the use of smoke crackers in the end.

“It seems the Elephant was actually very grateful to the JCB for helping her/him by doing a head bump with it. Instead of busting smoke to scare it away, we could be gentler next time by keeping some food nearby so that they can replenish and get busy without charging at anyone,” wrote another.

THE RESCUED ELEPHANT APPEARS TO THANK THE JCB

However, the rescue team is always advised to carry the smokers along for safety reasons, Ramen told Newsweek, saying it is not necessarily standard practice to use them but they are commonly deployed when herds venture into villages or human habitations.

“It is used on occasions to direct the animal back into the forest and also to protect the nearby people if the animal tries to attack them,” she said.

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A Woman Rescued A Baby Elephant, And Now Moyo Follows Her Everywhere

ROXY AND MOYO

Roxy Danckwerts is the founder of Wild Is Life, an animal sanctuary in Zimbabwe. And one day, while working, she stumbled upon a baby Elephant that seemed to be lost and separated from her herd. The small baby Elephant almost drowned in a river while the herd was trying to cross it, and her health was in a critical condition.

The baby Elephant was found on the shore of Lake Kariba, and the efforts to find her herd were in vain because there were no Elephants in the area. At that time, the Elephant was just a few days old, fragile, scared, and separated from its family. Roxy decided to nurse the Elephant back to health, but what she didn’t expect was for the two of them to become best friends.

ROXY AND MOYO SNUGGLE UP TOGETHER

Roxy spent a lot of time with Moyo, giving the baby 18 litres of a specialised milk formula every day. They spent a lot of time together, and Roxy even slept with her, so it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that she became so fond of Roxy and now follows her everywhere she goes.

WRECKING COUCH

Moyo – which in African translates to ‘Of The Heart’ ~ is now 5-years-old and growing up fast. Moyo has become so attached to her savior Roxy, that she sees her as a second mother and doesn’t let her out of her sight.

While there’s plenty of room for her to go play outside in the wildlife sanctuary, Moyo seems to be enjoying life inside the house and doesn’t really care for outside activities. The cute elephant regularly visits the kitchen, munching on peanuts, brownies, salt, and he also seems to be really into silverware.

TOO MANY COOKS

The fact that Moyo almost drowned while crossing the river left the poor Elephant with a great deal of trauma and a fear of swimming. However, her caring guardian Roxy has been there the whole time, to help Moyo recuperate, and after 15-months of therapy, Moyo was finally able to overcome her fear of swimming. 

ROXY ENCOURAGES MOYO TO OVERCOME HER FEAR OF WATER

And with the selfless help of the people at the Zimbabwe sanctuary, Moyo and other orphaned and injured animals like him get special care and lots of love and attention to overcome their fears and traumas.

MOYO CAUSING HAVOC

WILD IS LIFE

“Little by little, a little becomes a lot.”

Wild Is Life is a genuine wildlife sanctuary in Zimbabwe. It is also home to the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery (ZEN), Zimbabwe’s first elephant nursery which rescues, rehabilitates and re-wilds orphaned and injured Elephants.

An Elephant Graveyard: 282 Elephant Deaths Registered In Odisha In 3 Years

In Odisha, rapid urbanization, mining and industry, expansion of linear infrastructure and fragmented habitats have sent Elephants into a growing conflict with humans over the last several years.

A TRAIN STOPS TO LET AN ELEPHANT & CALVES CROSS THE EAST COAST RAILWAY IN ODISHA

 A total of 282 Elephants died in Odisha from 2018 through August 31, 2021, the state’s forest minister Bikaram Keshari Arukha said.  The highest number of Elephant deaths (93) took place in 2018-19, followed by 82 in 2019-20, 77 in 2020-21 and 30 till end of August this year. 

UNFORTUNATELY NOT ALL ELEPHANTS ARE SO LUCKY!

As many as 43 of the Elephants were electrocuted, seven were killed by poachers, 13 were hit by trains, four in road accidents and 59 died in other accidents. The rest succumbed to infections — 18 died of anthrax, six of herpes and 77 of other diseases. As many as 34 Elephants died of natural causes and 21 due to unknown reasons. 

Seven Elephants WERE Electrocuted by Sagging Power Lines

The eastern state had 1,976 Elephants in 2017, according to the last census. This was an improvement from 1954 in 2015 and 1930 in 2012, the minister noted at the state assembly.

“Odisha’s forest and environment department has selected 14 traditional Elephant corridors in the state for smooth movement of the Elephants,” he added.

The Minister also informed that the state lost 17 Leopards in this period which included two Royal Bengal Tigers, killed in electrocution and disease separately in 2018-19. Five Leopards were killed in poaching. The Special Task Force of Odisha Police, State Forest department as well as the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau have seized at least 29 Leopard skins since April 2020. Nine Leopard skins were seized by Forest officials in Kalahandi alone in July this year.

Three of the leopard skins seized by forest officials in kalhandi

The Tiger population in Odisha plateaued at 28 between 2014 and 2018, according to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

The number of Leopards in the state, however, more than doubled to 760 in that period, according to the NTCA report released December 21, 2020.  

‘Leopards occupy areas vacated by Tigers and this is one of the main reasons behind the increasing Leopard population in the state, according to LA Singh,  former wildlife research officer of Similipal Tiger Reserve

Leopards also breed more often than Tigers and can survive in almost any type of habitat and need less space, he added. Tigers, the biggest of the big cats, thrive in larger forest expanses, said the expert.

a royal bengal tiger Similipal Tiger Reserve

To curb poaching of wild animals, the State Government has formed anti-poaching and anti-smuggling squads in the sensitive areas.

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