Dear Elephant Friend,
From the tranquil edge of the Great Rift Valley, Kenya, the vast expanse of Africa before us and the sun shining on a land blessed with recent rain, it is hard to comprehend the dreadful events that are affecting so many people around the world. In these troubled times we hope for peace and wish you a Thanksgiving and holiday season surrounded by family and friends.
2015 marks the fifth year that ElephantVoices has been engaged in elephant conservation in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. Our databases now hold thousands of geospatial records on over 1,200 individually recognized adult elephants from across the ecosystem. It is has been a period of tremendous and tumultuous change in the Mara, which is reflected in a report we have written in collaboration with colleagues entitled, Mara ecosystem connectivity: Information on elephant population status and movements for spatial planning and conservation in Narok County. For a window into the life of an elephant family trying to navigate this changing landscape, watch Little Giant on National Geographic Wild early next year. Complex communication, seamless team-work and cognitive decision-making helps elephants to cope with this rapidly changing world - to learn more keep an eye out for the Minds of Giants later next year. Both films were inspired by ElephantVoices work in the Mara.
This year is also the fifth year that ElephantVoices has been studying the lively elephants of Gorongosa National Park. Our elephant behavior and conservation work was highlighted in Episodes 2 and 5 of the PBS six-part series, Gorongosa Park: Rebirth of Paradise, that premiered in September/October. This year we developed the Gorongosa Who’s Who and Whereabouts Databases and the multi-language Gorongosa EleApp for this long-term conservation endeavour. These databases hold sightings records and other data on 230 adult elephants, who are represented by some of the most colourful elephant personalities that Joyce has ever known. Their Portuguese names offer insight to their characters: Provocadora, Ambuscadora, Valente, Corejosa, Vigilante, to name a few of the powerful elephant ladies we have come to know and love. And then, there is the delightful Morsa, caught on our camera traps and named for her walrus-like tusks. The Gorongosa elephant population is recovering slowly from Mozambique’s civil war, and today numbers about 600 individuals.
2015 has also been a time for celebrating Joyce’s 40 years studying elephants and working for their conservation and welfare. Befitting of this milestone, she received an Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in October, at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, together with Cynthia Moss and Iain Douglas-Hamilton, who have been mentors, friends and colleagues from the very beginning. We were happy to meet some of you during our time in Ketchum and Jackson Hole!
In 2016 we will continue to focus on the elephants of Gorongosa and Maasai Mara. In the Mara we will work with Narok County to ensure that the elephant corridors we describe in our report will be set aside in the upcoming spatial planning process. In Gorongosa we will continue to use the findings of our study to help the park authorities to protect this recovering elephant population so important for Mozambique.
A third focus of 2016 is our online Elephant Gestures Databases, which we will be improving with higher resolution images and video for those interested in the intricate communication of elephants. We will be mining our own multimedia archive collected over decades as well as raw footage captured during Gorongosa Park: Rebirth of Paradise and Little Giant. Our benchmark collaboration with PBS, National Geographic, producer, Off The Fence, and cinematographer and presenter, Bob Poole, is invaluable for us and for science. We look forward to offer you more insight!
As ElephantVoices continues its efforts to stop the capture of wild elephants for captivity in China, the United States and elsewhere, we also expect that 2016 will offer a new home to many of those held in zoos and circuses in South America. Elephant Sanctuary Brazil is about to become a reality - and we are proud to be a co-founder of this groundbreaking initiative for elephant welfare in South America!
We are very grateful if you include ElephantVoices in your Year End Giving. We are lean, flexible and efficient, and able to focus our energy and experience where we know we can make a difference! It is thanks to support from people like you that we are able to continue to secure a better future for elephants. And do follow and share our educational snippets and progress on ElephantVoices on Facebook, if you aren't among the 300,000 who have joined already.
You can contribute toward our work online or by printing and filling out a donation card before sending it to our office address in San Francisco listed on the card and below. Please contact us if you have questions.
We would be thrilled to hear from you!
Trumpets, Joyce and Petter