This Is Why You Should Never Ride On The Back Of An Elephant If You Are Travelling In Asia

Elephant rides are an attraction regularly offered to tourists in several Asian countries including Thailand. But to get there, the animals undergo a very particular training that is actually akin to real torture.

Between 35 and 40,000, is the number of wild Elephants that remain in Asia, according to estimates. A figure to which should be added the more than 15,000 domesticated Elephants. If you go to Asia one day, you will certainly meet these majestic pachyderms with big ears. You may even be asked to ride on their backs for a ride.

This attraction attracts millions of tourists every year in Asia, especially in Thailand. Nevertheless, it hides a reality that few tourists are aware of: to get there, the animals suffer a real torture. If the words can seem strong, they are not, as all those who have seen with their eyes what is really happening. Indeed, to be trained, Elephants undergo a ritual called “phajaan”.

The principle is simple: “break the spirit” of the Elephant. As two globetrotters, Seth and Lise, explain, “the origin of phajaan comes from the ancestral belief that one can separate the mind of an Elephant from its body so that it loses its reflexes and instinct natural wilderness and be completely under the control of man “. Concretely, it is to submit the Elephant until he agrees to do everything asked of him.

Beaten, hungry and sleep-deprived

From a practical point of view, it is only by using violence that the trainers achieve it. Phajaan lasts between 4 and 6 days and is carried out on young Elephants. The animals are separated from their mothers and locked in narrow cages where they are chained. Without being able to struggle or even move a limb, they are then repeatedly hit in strategic places, the most sensitive.

THE PHAJAAN

In addition to being beaten, Elephants are kept awake, deprived of food and water under the eyes of trainers (“mahout”) who recite prayers that can be translated as “Elephant, if you stop fighting, we do not you’ll hurt more, “says a documentary. The torture does not stop until after several days, when the trainers believe that the spirit of the Elephant is broken, that his behaviour has changed.

The Bullhook

Out of his cage, the animal appears submissive, impressed by the fear of the man who subjected him to this torture. Then begins a real training that will consist in teaching the Elephant all the necessary commands or gestures intended to amuse the tourists. Once the specimen is formed, it can be used as an attraction for most of its life.

50% of Elephants die during the ritual

It is estimated that half of the Elephants would not survive phajaan. Others would become aggressive: about 100 mahouts are killed each year by their animals. Still others would go insane or have trouble with their experience, rendering them unusable for attractions. Most would then be killed.

The surviving Elephants are used to wander among the tourists, to beg or for work. In order for them to remain submissive, they are given a few booster shots by hitting them or pressing the sensitive spots again. In tourism, an Elephant can spend the day carrying people without a minute to rest, eat or drink. The rest of the time, most animals are tied up so that they are not dangerous.

WHEN NOT BEING EXPLOITED BY TOURISTS THE ELEPHANTS ARE CHAINED

A life that would often lead to the appearance of disorders including neurological. “If you ever have a chance to spot domestic Elephants, watch them,” Seth and Lise explain. “Chance or not, all the Elephants we’ve seen had signs of recent abuse, scars, obvious signs of poor health, some are more damaged than others, and it’s extremely rare to see one of these well-treated animals. “.

“It is largely because of tourists that this business works, so it is up to tourists to make the right decisions. The future and especially the well-being of thousands of Elephants is at stake,” they conclude in their blog.

Seth & Lise: To Make Elephants Attractions In Thailand … What Is Hidden From Tourists? 

#BeKindToElephants ~ Please SHARE this page to raise awareness to the so-called Elephant tourist ‘industry’ in Asia. You can also SUBSCRIBE to Protect All Wildlife to receive news and updates direct to your inbox.

MEET DERRICK CAMPANA, THE MAN WHO HAS HELPED THOUSANDS OF ANIMALS TO WALK AGAIN

DERRICK CAMPANA WITH MOSHA THE ELEPHANT

Derrick Campana is an animal orthotist who creates braces and artificial limbs to help increase animals’ mobility and improve their lives. Campana is one out of ten people in the world who make custom animal prosthetics, according to the Washington Business Journal. It’s amazing just how mobile animals with prosthetics can be, these few people are making a profound impact.

In 2004, Derrick founded the Animal Ortho Care in Sterling, Virginia, and since then, he has helped over 20,000 animals. The company sends out kits to pet owners and veterinarians so they can cast molds of their pets or patients. Then, they send back the casting kits, where Derrick crafts a personalized prosthetic, or brace, out of thermoplastic  material.

Since he started, his client base has grown dramatically. Now, he doesn’t only treat dogs or cats, he’s also making prosthetics for camels, horses, gazelles, sheep, birds, and elephants. “Now we’re seeing people caring about animals more, and we’re showing the world that things like dog prosthetics exist, and you can give your animals a second chance,” Campana proclaimed.

Receiving his undergraduate degree in Kinesiology/Biomechanics from Penn State University and Masters Degree in Orthotics and Prosthetics from Northwestern University, Derrick has pioneered the field of Veterinary Orthotics and Prosthetics (V-OP) into what it is today. Since that first dog, Derrick has treated nearly 20,000 furry patients with mobility devices. Derrick’s Goal is to help as many animals as he can while in his lifetime and even the playing field between animals and humans as far as treatment options available.

Currently, Derrick turns to medical grade plastic, foam, and sometimes even thermoplastic material for most of his projects. There is a specific reason that he chooses plastic for his efforts:

“These plastics enable him to craft and mold prostheses that contour to the shape of an animal’s body, while being sturdy enough to provide reliable support for many years. The plastics also help make prostheses more affordable, which is important to many pet owners without insurance to cover veterinarian care.”

One thing also noted is that sadly the need for veterinary doctors to help animals who require prosthetics is high, and there are roughly 200 animals a month that need his help.

“I’m always so excited about everything I do—from helping animals and developing new products to flying around the world and seeing different countries,” he says.

Campana considers seeing new parts of the world as a huge job perk, but he says the most rewarding part of his career will always be seeing animals walk again for the first time and watching their owners break down and cry.

“There’s never a dull moment,” he says. “It’s the best career in the world.” 

BABY ELEPHANT REFUSES TO LEAVE HIS INJURED FRIEND’S SIDE — NO MATTER WHAT!

This wild baby elephant refused to leave his injured friend’s side — no matter what.

Rangers were patrolling the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya spotted five elephants who’d been wounded by arrows. When the rangers gathered information from nearby communities, they learned what had happened — local farmers had shot the elephants after the herd ate some of their crops.

The rangers, who were from Olarro Conservancy, immediately got in touch with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Mara Elephant Project (MEP), who, in turn, got in touch with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT). Then everyone worked together to get a mobile veterinary team to fly out and treat the elephants.

Before the team could help the injured elephants, they had to dart the animals with sedatives — and this had to be done by helicopter. When the team darted the first bull, the bull veered away from the herd, along with an older elephant and a baby.

“It was assumed from the air to be a mother and her calf accompanying the young bull,” Angela Sheldrick, CEO of DSWT, told The Dodo. “It was later confirmed by the ground teams to be two young bulls with the little calf.”

This wild baby elephant, who was about 18 months old, stayed close to the sedated elephant, who may have been the calf’s brother, although this couldn’t be confirmed. The calf’s mother wasn’t anywhere to be seen.

“The baby was very protective of the young bull and refused to leave his side to join the older elephant … once the young bull succumbed to the anesthetic,” Sheldrick said. “The youngster boldly remained by the side of the young bull throughout the operation.”

Being surrounded by humans was probably scary for the baby elephant, especially since it had been humans who injured his friend in the first place. But nothing deterred him from remaining by the bull’s side.

“This is not a tiny calf,” Sheldrick said. “At 18 months of age, he would still be very capable of knocking a grown man off his feet. He displayed no such aggression throughout proceedings, which is extraordinary behaviour for a wild elephant in a situation such as this. Normally one so young would run away, or charge around trumpeting, knocking into people.”

Yet the wild baby elephant remained calm and attentive throughout the ordeal, despite there being multiple people and vehicles driving in and out of the area, according to Sheldrick.

He showed concern and protectiveness, but elephants are such intelligent animals, and, somewhere, we feel sure he knew help was on hand,” Sheldrick added. “[This was] made all the more remarkable given the recent human-wildlife conflict and the injuries inflicted on this herd at the hands of humans. One would expect aggression and fear; this baby elephant knew the difference between the two situations as there was no panic.”

The vet team worked for two days to help the five injured elephants. Thankfully, none of their wounds were life-threatening, and the elephants were able to fully recover and rejoin their herd.

It was a very unusual day for all concerned, and those on the ground made clear how touched they were by the protective behavior of the youngster,” Sheldrick said. “Of course, attending to incidents like this, where elephants have been injured through no fault of their own … is always emotive for the teams. However, knowing you can make a difference is uplifting.”

All images: DSWT.

Story: The Dodo

Two-Legged Street Dog That Was Shot In The Head Lives To Tell The Tale And Now LOVES Life.

AMIRA WHEN SHE WAS RESCUED

A two-legged street dog from Thailand that was shot in the head and left to die has been rescued by a Canadian family – and now even has her own wheelchair. Lara Pleasence, 51, from Montreal, Canada, first heard about Amira’s tragic story through the Soi Dog Foundation, based in Asia. Administrator and personal trainer Lara first saw Amira in a video posted by the rescue centre in Thailand in October 2020. “This poor dog who was born without legs, lived on the streets having litter after litter, then after nine years of struggling to survive, someone shoots her in the head,” Lara told Jam Press. “I just broke down and cried.”

Amira was treated for her head wound by the Soi Dog rescue centre who shared regular updates of her progress on social media. “Sweet Amira was always wagging her tail; it just broke my heart that she still trusted humans even after everything she’d been through. “I knew I had to contact the rescue to see if I could help in any way, maybe even offer to be her forever family, although they doubted that she would ever be well enough to travel.” After a tense wait, the Soi Dog Foundation contacted Lara to tell her that Amira had recovered enough to be put up for adoption. “I was so stoked and so worried about what my husband was going to say, since we already had three dogs,” Lara admitted. “There was something about Amira, this incredible connection I felt for her from the very first time I saw her. “I wanted to right all the wrongs that were done to her, I just felt compelled to try. “I wanted desperately to show her all the love, security, happiness that she deserved, that every dog deserves, and that this poor sweetie had been denied for so many years.”

AMIRA’S LOVING AND LIVING LIFE TO THE FULL

To qualify to adopt Amira, Lara and her family had to go through a strict application procedure – including a virtual home visit, interview process and form-filling. “I was made aware that we would have to pay for her to be flown to Canada since, because of Covid, they didn’t have travellers who could take her on the plane for free.” “I think I would have mortgaged the house to get this sweet girl here.” When Amira touched down in Montreal in April 2021 after a 22-hour journey – which cost $2,000 – it was love at first sight. Lara said: “My husband was none too happy about even the idea of another dog since we already had three, but I told him that I had never felt this way about any rescues that I had seen. “I was so excited that we were getting her, I was practically bursting, and he knew that fighting it was a lost cause – happy wife, happy life.” Amira came with her wheelchair, after a man in Vietnam made a custom one for her and it was gifted to the pup by Soi Dog. “She literally came bouncing out of her crate and jumped all over us like the happiest kangaroo you’ve ever seen.” “She’d been in it for over 22 hours and didn’t even have an accident!” “We couldn’t believe the joy she exudes.

She is a true miracle. After everything she’s been through, Amira is fun-loving and outgoing. “She’s so trusting, she loves everyone she meets. “She absolutely loves to be held in your lap and will sleep there for as long as you will let her. “She is resilient and doesn’t let her past hold her back from trying new things or doing something a bit scary like canoeing or going on our paddleboard. “She is obsessed with our bed… If we’re not home, we have to block the stairs because we can’t risk her falling. “How a street dog, with no front legs, knows how to climb stairs is just one of Amira’s many mysteries. “She’ll let me kiss her nose 50 times in a row, my other three dogs will eventually pull their head away, but not Miss Amira, she loves it. “She gets these crazy puppy moments where she runs around on her nubs and jumps up on the furniture then flies right back off it. “These moments make my heart smile because it’s like she finally doesn’t have a care in the world and can just be a dog. “No more struggling for food or to keep her puppies safe and fed or hiding from bad people.”

AMIRA IN HER WHEELS

Now, Amira enjoys a happy life spending her days with her family and playing at her favourite spot. Lara added: “She loves going to the dog park, even though many of the dogs get freaked out by the “transformer dog” with wheels and just bark at her.”

FROM STREET DOG TO CRUISING THE STREETS

In videos posted to Instagram (@amira.amiracle), Lara shares Amira’s adventures with her new set of wheels. In one comical clip, which has been viewed over 725,000 times, Amira runs after a cat and ends up doing a headstand when she hits a curb. “She just waits for me to pick her back up and she keeps on going like it’s no big deal,” said Lara. Another video shows her gradually getting better at walking in a straight line with her wheels. Followers of Amira’s page are in love with the pup, and she regularly receives gushing comments. One person commented: “So beautiful to see this! You’re amazing, sweet and strong Amira.” “Love u Amira very much,” said another viewer. “She’s amazing and you’re amazing with her,” added another person. Lara is grateful for all the support and says she is touched by the comments she receives. “The people who follow Amira on Instagram are the sweetest,” she said. “They are so happy that she has a family that loves her now. “Some say Amira’s posts are their daily dose of ‘good feels’ or that her videos are ‘good for the soul’. “People feel they need to thank me for taking her, which is so kind, but I always tell them that it is my privilege to give her the best life that I possibly can,” “It’s the least I can do for such an angel. “I can only hope that her page may inspire someone else to help a special needs dog or donate to an organisation like Soi Dog Foundation so they can continue their amazing work.”

THE LIMBE WILDLIFE CENTRE URGENTLY NEEDS HELP TO SECURE THE FUTURE FOR CAMEROON’S WILDLIFE

SECURING A FUTURE FOR CAMEROON’S WILDLIFE

The Limbe Wildlife Centre (LWC) is a conservation education centre in Limbe, Cameroon. Above all, they provide a solution to law enforcement agencies for where to place wildlife seized from the illegal wildlife trade. For all elements of their work, they collaborate with state and national government, communities, and other international and local NGOs to protect habitats and endangered species. In brief, they  in-situ and ex-situ activities that include rescue, rehabilitation and reintroduction, conservation education and advocacy, law reinforcement, creating alternative livelihoods to hunting, and research. Through a holistic approach, the LWC aims to ensure the survival of Cameroon’s unique flora and fauna.

Ultimately, there are three main pillars to our work: rescue and rehabilitation, education and community.

The Limbe Wildlife Centre (LWC) is being hit hard by the current Covid-19 pandemic. With no volunteers or visitors coming to the centre, they have lost an important source of income, and much of their grant funding has been cut due to the global economic downturn. With travel and business restrictions happening across Cameroon, like in many other countries, they are struggling to obtain the food and medication needed every day for their rescued wildlife.

At this difficult time, they urgently need your helpThey are dependent on your kindness to continue providing daily essential care to the more than 450 animals currently in their care.

Protect All Wildlife are supporting LWC continue their amazing work by selling these unique Ltd Edition tops to raise funds.

Please help @LimbeWildlife rescue, rehabilitate & release primates & other animals orphaned by the illegal bush meat and pet trades. These beautiful Ltd Edition tops are available in a variety styles & colours at https://teezily.com/stores/limbe-wildlife-centre…. All profits help this wonderful charity.

The Amazing Story Of The Elephant Whisperer Lawrence Anthony.

When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of 7 ‘rogue’ and ‘trouble-making’ Elephants on his reserve at Thula Thula in 1999, his common sense told him to refuse. But he was the herd’s last chance of survival – notorious escape artists, they would all be killed if Lawrence wouldn’t take them. He agreed, but before arrangements for the move could be completed the animals broke out again and the matriarchand her baby were shot. The remaining Elephants were traumatised and very angry. As soon as they arrived at Thula Thula they started planning their escape.

As Lawrence battled to create a bond with the Elephants and save them from execution, he came to realise that they had a lot to teach him about love, loyalty and freedom. Set against the background of life on the reserve, with unforgettable characters and exotic wildlife, he wrote The Elephant Whisperer, a book that appealed to animal lovers worldwide.The original herd of 7 Elephants has now increased to 29 Elephants, the maximum sustainable capacity of Thula Thula.

In March 2012, Lawrence Anthony passed away. His family spoke of a solemn procession of elephants that defies human explanation.

For 12 hours, two herds of wild South African elephants slowly made their way through the Zululand bush until they reached the house of Lawrence Anthony. The formerly violent, rogue elephants, destined to be shot a few years ago as pests, were rescued and rehabilitated by Lawrence.

They stood around the house in an apparent vigil for two days, and then dispersed.

“They had not visited the house for a year and a half and it must have taken them about 12 hours to make the journey,” Lawrence’s son Dylan said. “The first herd arrived on Sunday and the second herd, a day later. They all hung around for about two days before making their way back into the bush.”

But how did the elephants know Lawrence had died?

“A good man died suddenly,” says Rabbi Leila Gal Berner, Ph.D., “and from miles and miles away, two herds of elephants, sensing that they had lost a beloved human friend, moved in a solemn, almost ‘funereal’ procession to make a call on the bereaved family at the deceased man’s home.”

“If there ever were a time, when we can truly sense the wondrous interconnectedness of all beings, it is when we reflect on the elephants of Thula Thula. A man’s heart’s stops, and hundreds of elephants’ hearts are grieving. This man’s oh-so-abundantly loving heart offered healing to these elephants, and now, they came to pay loving homage to their friend.”

Elephants Travel 12 Hours To Attend A Vigil For The Man Who Rescued Them

Thanks to the local community, Thula Thula has the opportunity to add a further 3500 hectares of land to increase their habitat. This solution requires 35 km of electric fencing as well as roads, increased security, guard training, security equipment and vehicles, conservation, land management and the list just go on, to keep the wildlife safe. Community projects such as this, not only support the wildlife but also improve local employment and education.

Goodbye Iman, Malaysia’s Last Sumatran Rhino.

With the death of Iman, Malaysia has lost its last Sumatran Rhinoceros today.

She had been battling an illness prior to her death.

According to the Sabah Wildlife Department, Iman died at 5.35pm of natural causes, categorised as shock.

Iman, Malaysia’s Last Sumatran Rhino Has died.

“Iman’s death came sooner than we had expected. “But we knew that she was starting to suffer significant pain from the growing pressure of the tumours into the bladder,” said Augustine Tuuga, director of Sabah Wildlife Department in a statement.

The statement added that veterinarian at Borneo Rhino Sanctuary Dr Zainal Zahari Zainuddin, had earlier today suggested to start using morphine tomorrow, as other painkillers were becoming insufficient.

The Sabah Wildlife Department had hoped that it would still be possible to obtain some egg cells from Iman for the proposed Malaysia-Indonesia collaboration on this species.

But the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding is still pending.

It was reported that State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew had said the state government is hoping to expedite the legality process with Indonesia to fertilise Iman’s egg with the republic’s male Rhino and surrogate female Rhino.

“I would like to inform our counterparts in Indonesia that I am keen to pursue the MoU. Iman’s death is a tragedy, but this is one event in a bigger picture.

“There are still ways in which our twin countries can usefully collaborate based on our different experience over the past decade.

“For Sabah that includes management of female Sumatran Rhinos with reproductive pathology, safe harvesting of gametes from living Rhinos, and cell culture. Iman and Tam both live on as cell cultures in Malaysia,” said Liew.

Despite knowing that Iman’s death was imminent, Liew said she was still very saddened by this news.

“Iman was given the very best care and attention ever since her capture in March 2014 right up to the moment she passed.

“No one could have done more. She was actually quite close to death when sudden massive blood loss from the uterine tumours occurred on several occasions over the past few years,” she added.

In addition, Liew said the team at Tabin Wildlife Reserve provided round-the-clock intensive support and successfully brought her back to good health and egg cell production on several occasions.

On Wednesday, the 25-year-old Iman was reported as deteriorating from non-malignant tumours.

The tumour has been with her since her capture and had spread to her urinary bladder.

R.I.P. IMAN

Elephant Hit By Train In West Bengal’s Dooars Passes Away After Struggling For Hours.

Another man-animal conflict story was reported in West Bengal when a train engine hit an Elephant trying to cross the tracks, critically injuring the animal.

The incident happened in the Jalpaiguri district of the state.

The Banarhat-Nagrakata train route passes through a major Elephant corridor often leading to such tragic accidents involving Elephants.

The heart-wrenching video that surfaced on various social media platforms showed the critically injured Elephant trying hard to drag itself out of the railway track, as people watched in helplessness, after being hit by the engine of the intercity express.

The video shows the impact of the injury on the poor animal while people watch helplessly. In 2004, the Dooars line was converted from metre gauge to broad gauge; a move that saw a sharp increase in Elephant deaths.

But despite all the precautionary measures and efforts, such as speed limits and buzzers, trains on the Dooars route have continued to kill Elephants.

In the period between 2013 to June 2019, a total of 67 Elephants were killed in train-related accidents.

Actor Randeep Hooda said in a twitter post “The agony of the Elephant is quite evident in the video, the impact can be gauged by the damage to the engine.

I humbly urge the ministry to drastically reduce speed of trains through this area, humans can easily manage slight delay to keep wildlife safe”

For the sake of the Elephants, let’s hope they listen and reduce the speed of trains through the corridor.

A petition is being filed asking Indian Railway to review the permitted speed of 50kmph in the day time in dense forest areas. The maximum speed before the increase was 25kmpg and had shown a sharp decrease in the accidents and death of Elephants.

Please sign the petition HERE

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What Trophy Hunting Does To The Elephants It Leaves Behind

Trophy Hunters Slaughter An Elephant In Zimbabwe

There was outrage when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the remains of Elephants legally hunted in Zimbabwe and Zambia could now be legally imported to the United States as trophies.

This new policy overturned a ban put in place by the Obama administration in 2014. African Elephants are considered “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, a step below being endangered. The animals’ numbers have plunged from around 10 million 100 years ago to around 400,000 today, largely because of poaching and habitat loss. The Fish and Wildlife Service has not changed the Elephants’ status; instead, it now argues that supporting “legal, well-managed hunting programs” will help provide “much-needed conservation dollars to preserve habitats and protect wild herds” in Zimbabwe and Zambia, the agency’s principal deputy director, Greg Sheehan, said in a news release.

But then, to further complicate matters, President Donald Trump tweeted Friday evening that nothing would actually change until he “reviews all conservation facts.”

The idea that killing more elephants will help save the species is counterintuitive, and its line of reasoning is difficult for many conservation organizations to support: Let rich hunters pay hefty sums to shoot elephants, and use the money to help conservation efforts and local communities. Supposedly, the villagers won’t then need to poach elephants to feed their families and pay their kids’ school fees. Still, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, a respected organization that sets the conservation status for all species, supports the notion.

But the evidence that “hunting elephants saves them” is thin. The hunting-safari business employs few people, and the money from fees that trickles down to the villagers is insignificant. A 2009 report from the IUCN revealed that sport hunting in West Africa does not provide significant benefits to the surrounding communities. A more recent report by an Australian economic-analysis firm for Humane Society International found that trophy hunting amounts to less than 2 percent of tourism revenue in eight African countries that permit it.

And then, there is a larger moral question: How does hunting affect male elephants, especially the “big tuskers” that hunters want, and the overall population?

If elephants are recognized as legal persons, a term the U.S. courts have granted corporations, it would be more difficult to hunt them at all—let alone import their body parts. Wise’s lawsuit cites extensive scientific studies that have established elephants’ cognitive abilities, emotional and empathetic natures, complex social lives, lifelong learning, and memory skills. “Taken together, the research makes it clear elephants are autonomous beings who have the capacity to choose how to live their lives as elephants,” he tells me.

German Trophy Hunter Rainer Schoerr Proudly Poses With One Of The Biggest ‘Tuskers’ Ever Slaughtered In Zimbabe

One thing elephants would not choose, Wise and elephant researchers agree, is to be hunted. “It doesn’t matter to elephants if they are killed by poachers or trophy hunters,” says Joyce Poole, who has studied African elephants in the wild in Kenya and Mozambique for more than 40 years and is the codirector of ElephantVoices, a conservation organization. “Either way, you’re a killer. And if elephants understand that about you, they change their behavior.”

Elephants aren’t considered game animals in most African countries with substantial populations of these animals. But trophy hunters after large male elephants can seek their prey in South Africa, Namibia, Cameroon, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Gabon, and Mozambique. Kenya banned the sport in 1973, while Tanzania continued to permit legal hunting. That caused problems for the elephants of Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, says Poole, who was studying the large males in the park at the time. The park borders Tanzania, and after the Tanzanian government opened a hunting block on the opposite side, the Amboseli male elephants who wandered across became prized targets.

“It was an awful time,” Poole recalled, “because on one side, the elephants learned to trust tourists—generally white people—in cars. From our studies, we know they can smell the difference between whites and local people. They also distinguish us by our languages. They know people who speak Maa, the language of the local Maasai people, may throw spears at them; those who speak English don’t.” However, the tables were turned on the Tanzanian side of the border. There, white people in cars who drove up close to see an elephant might lean out with a camera—or a rifle.

“The elephants didn’t run because they didn’t expect to be shot,” Poole said. Two of the large males she was studying were lost this way to trophy hunters. She and others protested to the Tanzanian government, and these particular hunting blocks were eventually closed.

Poole does not know how the loss of these big males, who’d fathered many calves, affected the other elephants. Female elephants, though, do mourn family members who die, and are especially troubled when the matriarch, their leader, passes. In 2003, for instance, researchers in Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve watched as Eleanor, an elephant family’s matriarch, died from natural causes. When Eleanor fell heavily to the ground, Grace, a matriarch from another family, used her tusks to lift her friend and helped her to her feet. Despite Grace’s efforts, Eleanor died that night. She had a tiny, six-month-old calf who never left her side. In a photograph, the calf stands like a small sentinel beside her mother’s body, while the rest of the family bunches together, grieving.

Researchers have rarely seen similar moments among male elephants, who as adults, live away from the female herds they grew up in, and return only to mate. That behavior led to a “myth that males are far less social than females,” said George Wittemyer, a conservation biologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins who has studied elephants in Kenya for more than 20 years. His new research contradicts this notion. “Actually, the males are always in groups and have preferences for certain companions. They’re not the loners they’ve been made out to be,” he said.

“The death of a bull will cause less disruption than the death of a family member,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, a zoologist who founded the organization Save the Elephants. “If a bull is shot while associating with a family the others will normally run away.” But he noted: “Bulls will defend or help each other sometimes, when one is down.”

From a population standpoint, “older male elephants are very important to the health and genetic vitality of a population,” said Cynthia Moss, who has led the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya since 1972. While hunters in the past have used the belief that older males are reproductively senile as an argument for killing them for their ivory, research has revealed that they are in fact an elephant population’s primary breeders. “By living to an older age, [older males show that] they have the traits for longevity and good health to pass on to their offspring,” Moss said. “Killing these males compromises the next generation of the population.”

It’s not clear if the Fish and Wildlife Service will consider how trophy hunting affects individual elephants or their families. The agency didn’t comment on Trump’s tweet when contacted, but later issued a public statement confirming that permits would be put on hold. “President Trump and I have talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in the statement.

Wise believes that the emotional and psychological suffering the elephants endure from this sport is obvious. “One day it will be seen for the moral outrage that it is,” he said.

The Thula Thula Land Expansion Project For Elephant Habitat

Lawrence-Anthony-Lawrence-002
The Late Lawrence Anthony With Two Of The Original ‘Rogue’ Elephants

Elephants had never been part of Lawrence Anthony’s plan for Thula Thula, but in 1999 he was telephoned by a conservation organisation which asked whether he would be willing to take on a herd of nine animals which had escaped from every enclosure they had ever been in, wreaking havoc across KwaZulu-Natal, and were considered highly dangerous. Realising that the Elephants would be shot if he declined, Anthony agreed to give them a home.

But he was the herd’s last chance of survival – notorious escape artists, they would all be killed if Lawrence wouldn’t take them. He agreed, but before arrangements for the move could be completed the animals broke out again and the matriarch and her baby were shot. The remaining Elephants were traumatised and very angry. As soon as they arrived at Thula Thula they started planning their escape.

“They were a difficult bunch, no question about it,” he recalled. “Delinquents every one. But I could see a lot of good in them too. They’d had a tough time and were all scared, and yet they were looking after one another, trying to protect one another.”

Lawrence decided to treat the Elephants as errant children, working to persuade them, through words and gestures, that they should not behave badly and that they could trust him. He concentrated his attention on Nana, the matriarch of the herd: “I’d go down to the fence and I’d plead with Nana not to break it down,” he said. “I knew she didn’t understand English, but I hoped she’d understand by the tone of my voice and my body language what I was saying. And one morning, instead of trying to break the fence down, she just stood there. Then she put her trunk through the fence towards me. I knew she wanted to touch me. That was a turning point.” Soon they were allowed out into the reserve.

As Lawrence battled to create a bond with the Elephants and save them from execution, he came to realise that they had a lot to teach him about love, loyalty and freedom. Set against the background of life on the reserve, with unforgettable characters and exotic wildlife, he wrote The Elephant Whisperer, a book that appealed to animal lovers worldwide.

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The Elephant Whisper

After his death, Lawrence’s beloved Elephants came to his house to say goodbye.

When Lawrence died at the age of 61 in 2012, two herds of wild South African Elephants slowly made their way through the Zululand bush until they reached the house of late author, the conservationist who saved their lives. The formerly violent, rogue Elephants, destined to be shot a few years ago as pests, were rescued and rehabilitated by Anthony, who had grown up in the bush and was known as the “Elephant Whisperer.” For two days the herds loitered at Lawrence’s rural compound on the vast Thula Thula game reserve in the South African KwaZulu — to say good-bye to the man they loved. But how did they know he had died? Known for his unique ability to calm traumatized Elephants Lawrence had become a legend. He is the author of three books, Babylon Ark, detailing his efforts to rescue the animals at Baghdad Zoo during the Iraqi war, the forthcoming The Last Rhinos, and his bestselling The Elephant Whisperer. There are two Elephant herds at Thula Thula. According to his son Dylan, both arrived at the Anthony family compound shortly after Anthony’s death. “They had not visited the house for a year and a half and it must have taken them about 12 hours to make the journey,” Dylan is quoted in various local news accounts. “The first herd arrived on Sunday and the second herd, a day later. They all hung around for about two days before making their way back into the bush. “Elephants have long been known to mourn their dead. In India, baby Elephants often are raised with a boy who will be their lifelong “mahout.” The pair develop legendary bonds and it is not uncommon for one to waste away without a will to live after the death of the other.

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Elephant’s  March To Pay Their Respects To The Man Who Saved Them

What Is The Thula Thula Land Expansion Project For Elephant Habitat?

The original herd of 7 Elephants that Lawrence Anthony rescued in 1999 has now increased to 30 Elephants meaning the maximum sustainable capacity of Thula Thula has been reached!

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The Elephants Of Thula Thula

How Can The Long-Term Future Of The Elephant Whispered Herd Be Secured?

Thanks to the local community, Thula Thula has the opportunity to add a further 3500 hectares of land to increase their habitat. This solution requires 35 km of electric fencing as well as roads, increased security, guard training, security equipment and vehicles, conservation, land management and the list just go on, to keep the wildlife safe. Community projects such as this, not only support the wildlife but also improve local employment and education.

For my part, I am doing a 10,000 feet skydive to help raise funds for this project.

By donating to this cause you are helping to secure the future for the Thula Thula Elephants and local communities.

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To help secure the long-term future of the Thula Thula Elephants please DONATE at https://t.co/bdiEDD7ljr 

For more information on Thula Thula’s Wildlife and Nature Conservation Projects please visit http://thulathula.com/conservation-fund-2/

Thank you for your support, Paul.

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