The withered carcasses of livestock are reminders that drought has descended yet again in northern Kenya, the latest in a series of climate shocks rippling through the Horn of Africa.
As world leaders addressed the global climate summit in Glasgow, pastoralists watched their beloved animals suffer from lack of water and food. Yusuf Abdullahi says he has lost 40 goats. “If they die, we all die,” he says.
Kenya’s authorities has declared a nationwide catastrophe in 10 of its 47 counties. The United Nations says greater than 2 million individuals are severely meals insecure. And with individuals trekking farther in quest of meals and water, observers warn that tensions amongst communities may sharpen.
“The warmth on the bottom tells you the signal of hunger we’re going through,” he says.
Rain has failed for two seasons in the east African country, leaving families without enough food and water. It also has snuffed out pasture for livestock, crippling herder communities throughout the nation.
In September, Nairobi and aid agencies estimated that 2.1 million people in 10 counties were affected by the drought. The numbers are expected to rise to 2.4 million by this month, relief agencies reported.
The harrowing footage was taken by Kevin Mtai, a climate campaigner from Pokot in Kenya.
He said: “In Kenya we have contributed less carbon emissions, but we are the ones paying the highest price.
“Animals are dying and people are suffering because of the climate crisis.”
Experts warn that such climate shocks will become more common across Africa, which contributes the least to global warming, but will suffer from it the most.
“We do not have a spare planet in which we will seek refuge once we have succeeded in destroying this one,” the executive director of East Africa’s Intergovernmental Authority on Development, Workneh Gebeyehu, said last month.
As if in a macabre parade, cattle carcasses line the two sides of the dusty road leading into Biyamadow, a sleepy village in northern Kenya’s Wajir county.
The grisly spectacle of dismembered animals rotting beneath the scorching sun is the result of a prolonged drought that has been pushing pastoral communities here – and the livestock they exclusively rely on – to the brink of disaster, reports Aljazeera.
“In 72 years of life, I have never seen something like this,” said Ibrahim Adow, a Biyamadow resident.
Gabriel Ekaale, a policy officer for the World Food Programme based in Lodwar told Sky News: “It’s estimated about 600,000 members of the population in Turkana County are in need of food or cash assistance.”
Kenya’s Catholic Bishops met in Nairobi this week to ask the country’s Catholic faithful to donate food to regions affected by severe drought, the Vatican News reports.
They released an open letter stating: “It is becoming clear that the frequent droughts that we are experiencing in many parts of our country are as a result of global climate change and environmental degradation.
“Here in Kenya, it seems our model of development has led to a culture of degradation of our environment and the depletion of our natural resources.”
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On the first day of deer season for firearms in Michigan, a 10-point buck apparently sought to find refuge in Grace Christian Fellowship Church in Sturgis, breaking through a window and becoming a huge surprise to the pastors when they got to the church Monday morning.
“When Luke Eicher, Justin Wickey and Amanda Eicher arrived at the church this morning, they found signs of breaking and entering,” stated the church’s description on the video. “Little did they know that a 10-point buck had come for prayer in the auditorium on opening day of gun season.”
When the three walked into the church’s office Monday morning, they noticed light coming from a darkened window in the auditorium.
“When I peeked inside, I saw the window was broken and heard loud banging,” Amanda Eisher told Storyful. “My husband rushed in and found this 10-point buck. On the opening day of the gun season of all days!”
“I was just shocked by how high he could jump,” Amanda Eicher said. “I was amazed at how big he was.”
The buck didn’t appear to have any gunshot wounds and was bleeding just a bit from what appeared to be cuts from the glass, she told the Kalamazoo Gazette. Besides the broken window, the only other damage was blood stains on the carpet.
“There was some damage to the building and our pastors are a little traumatized,” the church reported. “But the buck left strengthened in the Lord to go face his battles.”
Deep in the Alaskan wilderness, a prospector came to the rescue of an injured mother wolf and her pups, and a lasting connection is formed.
One spring morning many years ago, I had been prospecting for gold along Coho Creek on south-eastern Alaska’s Kupreanof Island, and as I emerged from a forest of spruce and hemlock, I froze in my tracks. No more than 20 paces away in the bog was a huge Alaskan timber wolf—caught in one of Trapper George’s traps.
Old George had died the previous week of a heart attack, so the wolf was lucky I had happened along. Confused and frightened at my approach, the wolf backed away, straining at the trap chain. Then I noticed something else: It was a female, and her teats were full of milk. Somewhere there was a den of hungry pups waiting for their mother.
From her appearance, I guessed that she had been trapped only a few days. That meant her pups were probably still alive, surely no more than a few miles away. But I suspected that if I tried to release the wolf, she would turn aggressive and try to tear me to pieces. Here are the proven skills to survive any emergency.
So I decided to search for her pups instead and began to look for incoming tracks that might lead me to her den. Fortunately, there were still a few remaining patches of snow. After several moments, I spotted paw marks on a trail skirting the bog.
The tracks led a half mile through the forest, then up a rock-strewn slope. I finally spotted the den at the base of an enormous spruce. There wasn’t a sound inside. Wolf pups are shy and cautious, and I didn’t have much hope of luring them outside. But I had to try. So I began imitating the high-pitched squeak of a mother wolf calling her young. No response. A few moments later, after I tried another call, four tiny pups appeared.
They couldn’t have been more than a few weeks old. I extended my hands, and they tentatively suckled at my fingers. Perhaps hunger had helped overcome their natural fear. Then, one by one, I placed them in a burlap bag and headed back down the slope.
When the mother wolf spotted me, she stood erect. Possibly picking up the scent of her young, she let out a high-pitched, plaintive whine. I released the pups, and they raced to her. Within seconds, they were slurping at her belly.
What next? I wondered. The mother wolf was clearly suffering. Yet each time I moved in her direction, a menacing growl rumbled in her throat. With her young to protect, she was becoming belligerent. She needs nourishment, I thought. I have to find her something to eat.
I hiked toward Coho Creek and spotted the leg of a dead deer sticking out of a snowbank. I cut off a hindquarter, then returned the remains to nature’s icebox. Toting the venison haunch back to the wolf, I whispered in a soothing tone, “OK, Mother, your dinner is served. But only if you stop growling at me. C’mon, now. Easy.” I tossed chunks of venison in her direction. She sniffed them, then gobbled them up.
Cutting hemlock boughs, I fashioned a rough shelter for myself and was soon asleep nearby. At dawn, I was awakened by four fluffy bundles of fur sniffing at my face and hands. I glanced toward the agitated mother wolf. If I could only win her confidence, I thought. It was her only hope.
Over the next few days, I divided my time between prospecting and trying to win the wolf’s trust. I talked gently with her, threw her more venison, and played with the pups. Little by little, I kept edging closer—though I was careful to remain beyond the length of her chain. The big animal never took her dark eyes off me. “Come on, Mother,” I pleaded. “You want to go back to your friends on the mountain. Relax.”
At dusk on the fifth day, I delivered her daily fare of venison. “Here’s dinner,” I said softly as I approached. “C’mon, girl. Nothing to be afraid of.” Suddenly, the pups came bounding to me. At least I had their trust. But I was beginning to lose hope of ever winning over the mother. Then I thought I saw a slight wagging of her tail. I moved within the length of her chain. She remained motionless. My heart in my mouth, I sat down eight feet from her. One snap of her huge jaws and she could break my arm … or my neck. I wrapped my blanket around myself and slowly settled onto the cold ground. It was a long time before I fell asleep.
I awoke at dawn, stirred by the sound of the pups nursing. Gently, I leaned over and petted them. The mother wolf stiffened. “Good morning, friends,” I said tentatively. Then I slowly placed my hand on the wolf’s injured leg. She flinched but made no threatening move. This can’t be happening, I thought. Yet it was.
I could see that the trap’s steel jaws had imprisoned only two toes. They were swollen and lacerated, but she wouldn’t lose the paw—if I could free her.
“OK,” I said. “Just a little longer and we’ll have you out of there.” I applied pressure, the trap sprang open, and the wolf pulled free.
Whimpering, she loped about, favouring the injured paw. My experience in the wild suggested that the wolf would now gather her pups and vanish into the woods. But cautiously, she crept toward me. The pups nipped playfully at their mother as she stopped at my elbow. Slowly, she sniffed my hands and arms. Then the wolf began licking my fingers. I was astonished. This went against everything I’d ever heard about timber wolves. Yet, strangely, it all seemed so natural.
After a while, with her pups scurrying around her, the mother wolf was ready to leave and began to limp off toward the forest. Then she turned back to me.
“You want me to come with you, girl?” I asked. Curious, I packed my gear and set off.
Following Coho Creek for a few miles, we ascended Mount Kupreanof until we reached an alpine meadow. There, lurking in the forested perimeter, was a wolf pack—I counted nine adults and, judging by their playful antics, four nearly full-grown pups. After a few minutes of greeting, the pack broke into howling. It was an eerie sound, ranging from low wails to high-pitched yodelling.
At dark, I set up camp. By the light of my fire and a glistening moon, I could see furtive wolf shapes dodging in and out of the shadows, eyes shining. I had no fear. They were merely curious. So was I.
I awoke at first light. It was time to leave the wolf to her pack. She watched as I assembled my gear and started walking across the meadow.
Reaching the far side, I looked back. The mother and her pups were sitting where I had left them, watching me. I don’t know why, but I waved. At the same time, the mother wolf sent a long, mournful howl into the crisp air.
Four years later, after serving in World War II, I returned to Coho Creek. It was the fall of 1945. After the horrors of the war, it was good to be back among the soaring spruce and breathing the familiar, bracing air of the Alaskan bush. Then I saw, hanging in the red cedar where I had placed it four years before, the now-rusted steel trap that had ensnared the mother wolf. The sight of it gave me a strange feeling, and something made me climb Kupreanof Mountain to the meadow where I had last seen her. There, standing on a lofty ledge, I gave out a long, low wolf call—something I had done many times before.
An echo came back across the distance. Again, I called. And again the echo reverberated, this time followed by a wolf call from a ridge about a half mile away.
I had no fear. The wolves were merely curious. So was I.
Then, far off, I saw a dark shape moving slowly in my direction. As it crossed the meadow, I could see it was a timber wolf. A chill spread through my whole body. I knew at once that familiar shape, even after four years. “Hello, old girl,” I called gently. The wolf edged closer, ears erect, body tense, and stopped a few yards off, her bushy tail wagging slightly.
Moments later, the wolf was gone. I left Kupreanof Island a short time after that, and I never saw the animal again. But the memory she left with me—vivid, haunting, a little eerie—will always be there, a reminder that there are things in nature that exist outside the laws and understanding of man.
With four tiny pups to feed, the mother wolf would need to stay nourished.
During that brief instant in time, this injured animal and I had somehow penetrated each other’s worlds, bridging barriers that were never meant to be bridged. There is no explaining experiences like this. We can only accept them and—because they’re tinged with an air of mystery and strangeness—perhaps treasure them all the more.
This story originally appeared in the May 1987 issue of Reader’s Digest.
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A critically endangered Sumatran Tiger was found dead after being caught in a trap on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, authorities said on Monday, in the latest setback for a species whose numbers are estimated to have dwindled to about 400.
The female Tiger, aged between 4 and 5 years, was found dead Sunday near Bukit Batu Wildlife Reserve in the Bengkalis district of Riau province, said Fifin Arfiana Jogasara, the head of Riau’s conservation agency.
Jogasara said an examination determined the Tiger died from dehydration five days after being caught in the snare trap, apparently set by a poacher, which broke one of its legs.
She said her agency will cooperate with law enforcement agencies in an investigation.
Sumatran Tigers, the most critically endangered Tiger subspecies, are under increasing pressure due to poaching as their jungle habitat shrinks, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It estimated fewer than 400 Sumatran Tigers remain in the wild.
It was the latest killing of endangered animals on Sumatra island. Conservationists say the coronavirus pandemic has led to increased poaching as villagers turn to hunting for economic reasons.
Three Sumatran Tigers, including two cubs, were found dead in late August after being caught in traps in the Leuser Ecosystem Area, a region for tiger conservation in Aceh province.
In early July, a female Tiger was found dead with injuries caused by a snare trap in South Aceh district.
An Elephant was found without its head on July 11 in a palm plantation in East Aceh. Police arrested a suspected poacher along with four people accused of buying ivory from the dead animal.
Aceh police also arrested four men in June for allegedly catching a Tiger with a snare trap and selling its remains for 100 million rupiah ($6,900). Days later, another Sumatran Tiger died after it ate a goat laced with rat poison in neighbouring North Sumatra province.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Once targeted for their ivory tusks, Asia’s already endangered elephants are facing a new threat to their survival: Poachers in Myanmar and elsewhere are selling their hides to be turned into purported cures for stomach ulcers and cancer as well as jewellery and prayer beads for sale in China. Elsewhere, the skins are being turned into luxury leather goods from golf bags and designer boots to wallets, belts and even motorcycle seats.
Trafficking in Asian elephant hides has grown over the past four years from small-scale sales of skins to a wholesale commercial trade. In Asia, this includes sales on open, online forums as well as by some Chinese pharmaceutical companies, according to the U.K.-based wildlife conservation group Elephant Family, which believes most of the Chinese products come from illegally traded Asian elephant hides. Legally licensed trade in hides from four African countries is strictly controlled and regulated.
Conservationists fear that elephant skin may even begin to replace ivory as a motive for poaching, and that any legal trade provides a loop-hole for illegal trade. For these reasons, they have urged countries to completely ban its importation.
Asian Elephants live across a vast range of 13 countries, from India to Indonesia, yet their global population of 30,000-50,000 is barely 10% of their African cousins. While all Elephants face the threats of habitat loss, conflict with people, and poaching for ivory, Asian Elephants are also threatened by illicit live trade for the entertainment industry and, most recently, by poaching for the illegal trade in their skins.
The first conservation organisation to investigate the Elephant skin trade chain, their research revealed that this trade continues to grow both in scope and in volume. Traders are diversifying and experimenting.
Initially, powdered Elephant skin was sold as a traditional medicine ingredient. Then a new trend emerged where dried Elephant skin was carved and polished into prayer beads and other Chinese collectibles, with traders extolling the qualities of the blood-red hue in the translucent subcutaneous layers.
There is now an increase in the online advertising of powdered Elephant skin for sale to, apparently exclusively, buyers in mainland China. Videos posted on marketing sites show images of backyards in Myanmar and Laos being used by traders to carve up chunks of Elephant skin, remove coarse hair with blow-torches and dry it in ovens before grinding it into a fine powder. It is then packaged for sale as Traditional Chinese Medicine for stomach ailments. Field investigations revealed that while some consumers are satisfied with these prepared products delivered to them by courier, more discerning buyers in China’s cities prefer to buy whole skin pieces complete with creases and hair to prove their authenticity, before grinding them into powder themselves.
The main source for Elephant skin is, at present, Myanmar, where officials have identified a poaching crisis that has developed rapidly since 2010. But traders have also mentioned other Asian Elephant range countries. Undoubtedly, the vast majority of known importers, online traders, physical salespeople and consumers are in China. The product labels are printed in Chinese, online traders communicate in Mandarin and prices are quoted in Chinese currency. In early 2018, the investigation found Elephant skin products on sale in Yunnan, Guangdong, and Fujian provinces of China.
Like many forms of illegal wildlife trade, traffickers are exploiting a traditional, usually medicinal use, to create new trends that drive demand, and allow them to profit from poaching. Of particular concern is the discovery that Chinese pharmaceutical companies are advertising the sale of medicine that contains Asian Elephant skin derivatives, and that China’s State Forestry Administration has apparently issued licenses for these products.
At a time when China has shown commitment to ending its domestic trade in Elephant ivory, it would be troubling and perverse to find that, at the same time, it is creating a new legal demand for Elephant skin products. Conservationists, law enforcement specialists and many governments agree that domestic wildlife markets facilitate the laundering of illicit commodities while simultaneously placing increased demand on law enforcement agencies as they attempt to address a growing and illegal wildlife trade with limited resources, inadequate criminal justice responses and institutional corruption.
The report outlines Elephant Family’s findings and provides evidence of a profoundly worrying trend in Elephant skin trade that severely threatens already fragile populations of Asian Elephants. Moreover, this new trend could easily spread to Africa as has been seen with other species. As one trader told Elephant Family investigators “it’s only skin – who cares if it comes from Asian Elephants or African Elephants”.
The report aims to provide greater insight into the illicit trade in Asian Elephant skin. We also raise critical questions that need answers, and make recommendations to guide urgent action by key stakeholders.
Key Findings Of The Report Found:
Since 2014, the trade in Asian Elephant skin has expanded from small-scale use to wholesale commercial trade as traffickers stimulate demand.
The first account of manufacturing Elephant skin beads was posted online in 2014. Elephant skin powder is now a dominant commodity sold as a medicine for stomach complaints.
Manufacture of Elephant skin products is taking place in Myanmar, Laos and China. The market in China is where skin products can reach several times the value at source. Elephant skin beads and powder are mainly traded through open online forums such as Baidu, and private personal messaging platforms such as WeChat. Traders use only Chinese language on forums and quote prices in Chinese currency.
The primary source of Asian Elephants used in the skin trade now appears to be Myanmar where poaching incidents have increased dramatically since 2010, with Elephant carcasses found with their skin removed entirely or in strips. Most traders also confirm that Elephant skin products use Asian Elephants, a species protected under Appendix I of CITES.
Elephant skin products have been found in physical markets in Mong La, Myanmar, and Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province, China and in January 2018 were also found in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China.
Documentation shows that China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA) issued licenses for the manufacture and sale of pharmaceutical products containing Elephant skin. These commercially produced products, claiming to contain African and Asian Elephant skin, were advertised for sale by several Chinese companies.
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The Rhino was heavily pregnant and roaming Pilanesberg National Park in Mogwase, north-west South Africa, with its calf when they were hunted down for their horns.
These heartbreaking images show an unborn Rhino calf who died after its mother and sibling were shot and killed by poachers.
Photos show the poachers began hacking off the mother’s prized horn, but they were interrupted by park rangers and fled before they had time to remove it.
When park staff tried to save the unborn calf, it was found to have died inside its mother’s womb.
Pilanesberg National Park wrote on its official Facebook page: ‘There are no words.
‘Mom and calf shot and killed by poachers. Horns are still on as the murderers fled the scene when they heard a game drive approach. Mom looks very pregnant as well. We are devastated.’
Pilanesberg National Park added in the post that a reward will be issued for any information leading to an arrest and prosecution of the poachers.
A spokesperson for the park told MailOnline that the mother Rhino was aged eight and the calf just two years old. The unborn foetus would have been due in February next year.
‘We have lost 16 Rhino and 3 unborn calves so far 2017 – that we are aware of,’ the spokesperson said.
‘This loss is not due to lack of interest or effort from Park management, as this is a large park with many valleys and hills, which is a difficult territory to operate in.’
Since 2007, more than 6,000 Rhinos have been shot and butchered for their horns in South Africa alone.
The majority of those have come in the last four years with around a thousand being killed every year since 2013.
Sometimes the Rhinos are shot dead, in other cases they are brought down with a tranquiliser gun before having their horn hacked off – leaving the Rhino to wake up and bleed to death painfully and slowly.
The province of KwaZulu-Natal, which has the greatest density of Rhino in South Africa, has seen 139 slaughtered already this year.
Despite countries such as China, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia and even India believing Rhino has medicinal values, repeated studies have not found any evidence to support the claims.
Rhino horns are made from a protein called keratin, the same substance that human fingernails and hair are made of. The horn is essentially just a compacted mass of hairs that continues to grow throughout the animal’s lifetime, just like human hair and nails.
It is similar in structure to horses’ hooves, turtle beaks, and cockatoo bills – however these animals are not hunted and slaughtered in the same way.
Tragically tradition and cultural beliefs in some Asian countries mean the demand for Rhino horn has not waned despite just some 20,000 white Rhino being left in the wild.
Poachers are now being supplied by international criminal gangs with sophisticated equipment to track and kill Rhinos. Based on the value of the Asian black market, Rhino horn price is estimated at $ 65,000 USD per kg*. In the near past, the Rhino horn price soared up around $65,000 per kilogram. This price hike turned the Rhino horn more valuable than gold and many other precious metals, also many times more worthy than Elephant ivory. (*2020 figures)
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The use of elephants in the tourism industry has become incredibly popular. Vacations boasting everything from a chance to ride on an elephant, to seeing them paint, or even getting a massage from an elephant have popped up all across Asia. While these might appear to be fun activities for you and your family, the reality is that the experience is anything but for the elephants.
Although elephants are incredibly intelligent and docile by nature, there is very little about the behaviors exhibited by captive elephants in the tourism industry that is natural. To get these wild animals to interact with humans, they must undergo an extraordinarily cruel breaking process, called “Phajaan,” that renders them submissive to their human trainers.
Breaking Baby Elephants Baby elephants are taken from their mothers at a very young age, usually three to six years old, but often younger. After a young elephant is in the captivity of its handlers, the aim of the Phajaan program is to break its spirit. Babies will be kept in small crates similar to those found in the intensive pig farming industry. Their feet will be tied with ropes, their limbs will be stretched, they will be repeatedly beaten with sharp metal and other tools, they will be constantly yelled and screamed at, and they will be starved of food. Bull hooks (a tool used in most forms of elephant control) will be used to stab the head, slash the skin and tug the ears.
The next time you see an Asian elephant used in trekking, elephant rides, movies, in a circus or any other form of entertainment, take a look at the state of its ears. Captive elephants often have shredded or torn ears from their tissue being ripped and pulled away in the training process. They also often have scars on their foreheads from deep lacerations caused by beatings.
Ropes are used to tie and stretch the elephant’s limbs, these will eventually be replaced with tight, constricting chains. The Phajaan may last for weeks and they have no rest from physical torture and mental domination. Gradually, their spirits break and their handlers achieve control.
The “Bond” Between Trainer and Elephant Traditionally in Eastern Asia, a mahout will be sole charge of a single elephant. As a mahout ages, his elephant is passed down through his family line. An elephant’s mahout will not be involved in the physical abuse during Phajaan. In the final stage of the Phajaan, the elephant’s mahout will bring the animal its first meal with water, and will be the one to “release” the elephant and lead it away from the crate. After weeks of torture, of mental and emotional abuse, of loneliness, confusion and
separation, the elephant sees this human figure as its savior – the one it trusts. This is just another stage of mental and emotional manipulation, of course, but it is how a particular mahout gains such immense control over its animal.
This video illustrates the cruelty of this process. We will warn you, it is graphic.
What You Can Do Getting the chance to interact with a baby elephant might seem like an incredible experience, but given the immense cruelty and abuse that that elephant has to endure for these interactions, is it really worth it? Asian elephants are highly endangered animals and are often targeted by poachers who capture them from the wild and sell them into the tourism industry. By visiting attractions that feature captive elephants and paying to ride or interact with one, you become complicit in this injustice.
We can all help to end this cruelty by boycotting tourism attractions that feature captive elephants. If you are headed to Thailand and want to experience elephants in a humane way, check out elephant sanctuaries like Elephant Nature Park or Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary. These organizations are helping to spread the truth about the cruelty inherent in elephant tourism while providing a sanctuary for animals who have been rescued from such attractions.
But remember, these elephants would not need to be in sanctuaries if the elephant tourism industry didn’t exist so please share this knowledge with others so we can see the cruelty against elephants end, once and for all.
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Graham Geran of the Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary in Powys collected a number of dogs.
The founder of an animal rescue centre in Wales was among the volunteers who helped transport Pen Farthing’s cats and dogs.
Farthing arrived at Heathrow Airport with 173 rescues from his Nowzad animal charity in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday, August 29, and was met by a number of vehicles involved in transporting them to their quarantine centres.
Among them was Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary founder Graham Geran, who had volunteered to collect some of the dogs in a special transport vehicle free of charge.
The animal rescue, based in Powys, is on the list of premises and carriers authorised by the Government for rabies quarantine in England, Wales or Scotland.
Graham said “I was up at three o’clock in the morning as I had to be in Heathrow for 7:30… and then it was a case of waiting for the checks and then get them from the plane into the quarantine centre.”
There were said to around 18 other vehicles involved in transporting the animals.
Speaking about the dogs, Graham said: “They came out of the crate and they were straight up jumping on us.
Graham also revealed that he had received ‘numerous phones calls’ from people wishing to adopt the animals after it was discovered he was involved in transporting them.
He added: “People want to adopt the dogs, so they will go out to quarantine and to good homes.
The animals, with an estimated total of around 100 dogs and 70 cats, are in quarantine kennels across the UK, with hundreds of people looking to adopt them.
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