Dear friend of ElephantVoices,
In Maasai Mara, Kenya, citizen scientists have been gathering data using our Mara EleApp and uploading to our Who's Who & Whereabouts Databases. In recent years human and livestock populations have increased and the landscape is being rapidly subdivided and fenced. Ivory poaching has hit the Mara elephants hard, too. While the outlook isn’t uplifting, elephants are resilient, flexible and smart, and we see these qualities reflected in the data: Elephants are strategically adapting their movements and behavior to overcome adversity and to balance access to security and resources. ElephantVoices is working with colleagues to define habitat and corridors to ensure long-term survival of elephants and connectivity of habitat. Many thanks to those who have made our work possible - JRS Biodiversity Foundation, National Geographic Global Exploration Fund Northern Europe, Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation and Crystal Springs Foundation, in particular.
In Gorongosa, Mozambique, we have set up camera traps to better understand crop raiding patterns and to further our understanding of these elephants. The cameras have made it possible to age and identify scores of reclusive elephants, document new behaviors, and to determine the temporal pattern, identity and size of raiding parties. The data have confirmed expectations and delivered surprises in equal measure. In October we will be back in Gorongosa and look forward to spending time with these extraordinary elephants and our many colleagues. Thanks to the Gorongosa Restoration Project for continued support of our work. Stay tuned for insights in the six-part PBS series premiering on 22nd September - you’ll find the details here.
We are engaged in elephant behavior and communication research again! Many of you know about our unique online Gestures and Elephant Calls Databases. To these we are now adding video, so that you can see exactly what we mean by the over 200 documented behaviors. We are busy mining raw footage of elephant behavior from two films that we participated in: Gorongosa Park: Rebirth of Paradise and Little Giant, set in Mara Naboisho, Maasai Mara. Once the time consuming logging of behavior is done, we look forward to using it for a range of educational outputs, including our scientific databases. We are very grateful to WildiZe for supporting this work and to Off the Fence for providing many hours of raw footage of elephants filmed by Bob Poole. We applaud the film producers for collaborating with scientists in this way. Both films will be screened at Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.
Besides our three main projects, ElephantVoices continues to advocate for elephants and raise awareness, working with many others to move the groundswell for change forward. We have had successes and failures: the passing of CA-AB 96 in the State of California will prohibit the purchase, sale or import of ivory or rhinoceros horn; California is also on the verge of becoming the first US state to ban the bullhook. In Brazil, Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, an initiative of Global Sanctuary for Elephants and ElephantVoices Brazil, purchased land for an elephant sanctuary. One in which we failed, makes our stomach churn: We worked hard to try to stop the capture in Zimbabwe, and export to China, of scores of baby elephants. We traveled to China to speak to Chinese Zoo directors, wrote a letter to President Robert Mugabe and contributed to several National Geographic articles about this abusive practice. Despite all efforts tens of elephants are already at Chimelong Safari Park, China, and more have been caught and are ready to be shipped. With a key collaborator we are currently discussing what can be done to put an end to the abhorrent practice of live elephant trade.
And now: On our way to Mozambique in early October we will make a large detour to Sun Valley, Idaho, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In Sun Valley Joyce will hold a public lecture at the Community Library. On 22 September we’ll watch the premiere of Gorongosa Park: Rebirth of Paradise with some Gorongosa folk. We’ll be in Jackson Hole from 25 September to 3 October to attend the Elephant Summit and Film Festival, where Joyce, Cynthia Moss and Iain Douglas-Hamilton will receive Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Awards. Joyce and Cynthia, will be interviewed by author and biologist, Carl Safina on Tuesday 29 September. We look forward to seeing some of you there!
After a month in Gorongosa we will be back in Kenya at our home office, Raha Mstarehe, and in the Maasai Mara and the Forest of the Lost Child. While the challenges are many, the rewards of compassionate conservation are greater.
Want to stay in the loop? If you haven't already, join well over 275,000 others and follow our educational snippets and progress on ElephantVoices on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Thank you for your continued support - with your help we are making a difference!
Trumpets, Joyce and Petter
PS From 7th to 13th September you can raise funds for our work for the Gorongosa elephants by shopping at float.org. In collaboration with ElephantVoices FLOAT has designed striking tees - be ready, we are asking you to RUMBLE FOR ELEPHANTS!