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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MONTANA GOVERNOR KILLED RARE COLLARED MOUNTAIN LION CHASED UP A TREE BY HUNTING DOGS

Greg Gianforte has caused outrage after hunting and killing a COLLARED Mountain Lion outside Yellowstone National Park.

MONTANA GOVERNOR GREG GIANFORTE AND A RARE MOUNTAIN LION

The Republican governor slaughtered the Mountain Lion in December on U.S. Forest Service land in Park County, southwest of Emigrant, Montana. The five-year-old Mountain Lion, who was being monitored via GPS collar by staff biologists at Yellowstone National Park, was chased up a tree by dogs and then shot.

“The governor and friends tracked the lion on public lands,” said Gianforte’s press secretary Brooke Stroyke in a statement to The Washington Post who first reported on the events. “As the group got closer to the lion, members of the group, who have a hound training license, used four hounds to tree the lion once the track was discovered in a creek bottom on public land.”

Stroyke also said that once the Mountain Lion had been forced up the tree, Gianforte “harvested it and put his tag on it. He immediately called to report the legal harvest and then the [Fish, Wildlife & Parks] game warden.”

The governor’s office confirmed the kill, which occurred on December 28th on public land just north of Yellowstone National Park. Gianforte’s spokesman noted that he had a proper license.

Yet, many area residents are sceptical of the governor’s story. The Post reports:

Some Montanans have raised questions about the tactics employed during the hunt. One person familiar with the incident told The Post that the Mountain Lion was kept in the tree by the hunting dogs for a couple of hours while Gianforte travelled to the site in the Rock Creek drainage area. In neighbouring Wyoming, detaining a Mountain Lion in a tree until another hunter arrives is illegal.

“There are an estimated 34 to 42 Mountain Lions that reside year-round in Yellowstone,” explains The Post. The Mountain Lion Gianforte hunted, dubbed M220 by researchers, was a five-year old male.

A YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK MOUNTAIN LION

“We almost never see a Mountain Lion,” said Nathan Varley, a biologist who leads wildlife viewing tours in Yellowstone. “They’re just too secretive. They usually only move around at night. They love to hide. They just don’t sit out in the open very much.”

This marks the second time Gianforte has reportedly shot and killed a monitored animal who wandered beyond the protected boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. In February of last year, Gianforte violated state hunting regulations after slaughtering a collard wolf 10 miles outside Yellowstone without the necessary trapping license or training.

Last year, Gianforte outraged conservationists and animal campaigners after dramatically stripping back hunting laws in Montana. The new rulemaking authorized the widespread killing of wolves in areas bordering Yellowstone National Park, paving the way for the potential slaughter of around 85 percent of the state’s wolf population. The use of strangulation snares, night hunting, and bait to hunt and trap the animals was also permitted.

“The consequences are severe for wolves,” said Dan Wenk, who was Yellowstone National Park superintendent from 2011 to 2019.

In the last six months alone, a record 25 Yellowstone wolves have been shot, trapped, and killed by hunters. 19 of these animals were slaughtered in Montana just over the park border.

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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 order this wonderful book at Gods In Shackles.

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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 Critically Endangered Sumatran Tiger Has Been Found Dead In An Animal Trap In Indonesia

MEMBERS OF NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION AGENCY INSPECT A SUMATRAN TIGER FOUND DEAD AFTER BEING CAUGHT IN A SNARE TRAP IN PEKANBARU, RIAU

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.

A STUNNING SUMATRAN TIGER

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.

AN ELEPHANT FOUND WITHOUT ITS HEAD AFTER BEING KILLED BY POACHERS

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.

Via A P News

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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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Asian Elephants Face New Threat Due To The Illicit Traffic In Skin Trade For Traditional Chinese Medicine And Luxury Goods

A female Asian elephant skinned in Myanmar.

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.

PIECES OF ELEPHANT SKIN

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.

An investigation by Elephant Family into the illegal trade in Asian Elephants since 2014, through research, analysis and field investigations. Initially monitoring live trade, they were alarmed to discover a marked  increase in poaching in Myanmar, and seeing images of carcasses found with strips of skin missing but with the rest of the body left largely intact. They began investigating the trade in Elephant skin products both online and in physical markets and, in 2016, exposed this trade to the international conservation community at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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”.

A trader in Xishuangbanna, China, weighs a piece of Asian elephant skin in August 2016. This 420.3g piece would cost about $335

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.

AT RISK

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Killed By Poachers Before It Had A Chance To Live. Pregnant Rhino And Calf Shot Dead By Poachers In Pilanesberg National Park

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No chance: An unborn Rhino calf who died in its mother’s womb after she and its sibling were shot dead by poachers in South Africa
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Heartbreaking: The markings around the mother’s horn show that the poachers had made an attempt to cut it off, but fled the scene when park staff arrived

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.

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Killed: The heavily pregnant Rhino and its calf lie by the roadside where they were shot

‘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.

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Sad: Park rangers and guests gather at the heartbreaking scene in Pilanesberg

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 Barbaric ‘Tradition’ Of ‘Breaking The Spirit’ Of Elephants For Their Use In The Tourism Industry

breaking The Spirit of the elephant

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.

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The ‘Crush’

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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