Tag Archives: kenya

Mourning the loss of two great Tuskers in Africa, killed by poachers.

22 Jun

Two iconic and well known jumbo elephants in Africa have been killed by poachers for their ivory tusks. These majestic elephants known as Mountain Bull and Satao, were known as Tuskers with Satao thought to be the largest elephant in Africa. Both were studied by conservationists, both were under 46 yrs old and both were survivors of previous poaching attacks. Sadly, both also ended up being killed by poisonous spears, which took several weeks to slowly and painfully cause their demise. All for the illegal ivory trade – blood ivory.

Mountain Bull was killed in Mt. Kenya National Park in May, and he was very well known and studied. In 2012 his tusks were cut down, in order to make him less desirable for poachers. The study of his migration routes assisted conservationists in developing a safe route for wildlife to pass from Mt. Kenya to Lewa and Samburu, without conflicting with human development. His acceptance and use of the new trail led to over 2,000 other elephants following the path. For the past 8 years he had a GPS collar tracking him by Save The Elephants, which alarmed the organization when they noticed it had stopped moving. The search team from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy found his body, with his tusks removed. He had survived at least one previous poaching attack, which left 6 bullets in his body. The loss of Mountain Bull was a shock and has deeply affected all that knew him. He was also featured on the CBS Evening News and CBS Sunday Morning regarding the poaching crisis in Africa. Their video report on his death can be found HERE. Mountain Bull was only 46 years old.

Photo Credit Lewa Wildlife Conservacy

Mountain Bull – Photo Credit Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Mountain Bull - Photo Credit Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Mountain Bull – Photo Credit Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

 

With the despair and frustration of Mountain Bull’s death still on many minds, the news of the great tusker Satao’s death was like blow to the body that you never feel you’ll fully recover from. Satao was thought to be the largest elephant in Africa, with his tusks almost reaching he ground.  He was from the Tsavo East National Park. Due to the size of his tusks he was under almost constant watch by the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Tsavo Trust. But sadly, the good guys can’t be everywhere all the time and poachers were able to spear him. The Tsavo Trust located his carcass on June 2, 2014.  Several months prior to that he was found with spear wounds, which luckily were treated in time for the poison to kill him.

 

I first heard of Satao earlier this year through a blog post by Mark Deeble, a wildlife filmaker in Africa. His blog post here talks about his observance of Satao and how his habits had changed in recent months. As Satao came across elephant carcasses in his travels, he most certainly realized that since their tusks were missing, that his may be a target as well. He would move through the bush in zig zag patterns, waiting and watching, and not trying to hide his body but rather hiding his tusks. It is highly possible that he knew his fate, and he was right. Satao was only 45 years old.

Satao. Photo: Richard Moller -Tsavo Trust

Satao. Photo: Richard Moller -Tsavo Trust

 

Satao. Photo: Mark Deeble

Satao. Photo: Mark Deeble

 

It is thought that the remaining tuskers are all in Kenya. A petition was started demanding the Kenyan President declare presidential protection for the remaining few, which would provide round the clock protection for them. President Kenyatta has yet to comment.

The source of poaching is directly caused by the demand for ivory, mostly in China. The majority of the buyers don’t even realize the crisis of poaching, and most have no idea if the ivory they’re purchasing is white ivory or blood ivory (recently poached ivory). The better their economy improves, which is steadily improving, the greater the demand. In addition, the true and traditional artform culture of carving ivory, which goes back 2,000 years, has been deemed a national intangible heritage in China. For those and other reasons, it’s undeniably an uphill battle. The chain of people from the poacher to the buyer of an ivory trinket or carving is rather long, and everyone is making money. For the poachers themselves, it’s an opportunity to make sums of money that they never have a chance of otherwise. So much that they’re willing to risk their lives for it. Everyone else in between is involved in corruption, and are helping to fund terrorist organizations and human trafficking rings.

My heart is with Kenya, and the rest of the continent as they’re losing elephants on a daily basis. The demand for ivory will cause the extinction of the African elephant if something doesn’t change. No…..not something, everything.

 

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My foster elephant Edo, a great success of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

23 Dec
Edo - Photo from The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Edo – Photo from The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

In 2004 I was trying to think of a thoughtful Christmas gift for my teenage daughter, and I remembered The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust offered a Christmas foster program. Since I’ve been an elephant lover since I was a child, both of my children have been raised with elephant awareness and have appreciated my “obsession” with them. In fact, all three of us have elephant tattoo’s now – but that will be another blog soon.

Christmas 2004 I browsed through the Trust’s website to select an elephant to foster. There were many infants that had been recently rescued, and many toddlers as well. All so adorable, and all with heartbreaking stories about why they were there. The decision was becoming harder and harder the more I read. Knowing that any donation helps the entire Trust, I decided to search for an ele that made some sort of a family connection with us. After eventually reading every profile, I was drawn to Edo. Beginning with his name, Edo was also a restaurant in our town that we frequented as a family. We had a lot of good memories there (it is now closed) so his name drew my attention. Edo was 15 yrs old, similar to my daughters age, so I imagined her and him “growing up” together. He is also a strong survivor and a true testament to the incredible work The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust does.  His story is amazing, and as they say – an elephant never forgets. He returns to the stockades to visit the orphans and keepers, and oh how I wish I could meet him one day. Going to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is #1 on my bucket list!

Exerpts from Edo’s profile, which can be found HERE:

Edo is the son of Emily, the elder sister to the now famous Echo, the star of many books and films. Emily was the Matriarch of the unit known for Scientific purposes as The E Group, but sadly she died as a result of foraging in the rubbish pit of a nearby Safari Lodge, and in amongst the peelings of fruit and vegetables, which were the draw in the first place, were bottle-tops, broken glass, torch cells and even an ash-tray, all of which she ingested, and were revealed in amongst the stomach contents during a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death. Edo, her calf, was 6 months at the time, having been born in March 1989.

Edo was rescued by the Trust…
He was lifted out of the car, and collapsed in a heap on the ground, apparently too weak to even stand. Clearly, he no longer had even the will to try and live, so we sent for the other orphans, who surrounded him. Dika touched his face gently with a trunk, and then a miracle took place before our very eyes – Edo opened glazed eyes, and a spark of recognition ignited them. We offered Dika a bottle of milk, which he downed gratefully, then another, and another, watched all the while by Edo. With the help of the Keepers Edo was then lifted to his feet, and like Dika, offered a bottle of milk, which he drank hungrily and gratefully. In all, he took 6 pints straight off, and would have liked more, but we knew that this would be dangerous on a starved stomach. He was nevertheless visibly much stronger, and calmly accompanied the other orphans to their noon mudbath, where hordes of visitors anxiously awaited their arrival.

Amazingly, Edo had no fear of the humans, having been used to the attentions of the monitoring Scientists ever since birth. He watched the other orphans romping in the mudbath, and playing with the football, and although he did not want to be part of such frivolity, he merely stood aside and made no attempt to escape. From that day on Edo, never looked back, and very soon was again the playful youngster of yore, completing his infancy in the Nursery along with his peers, and eventually moving with them to begin the re-integration back into the Tsavo East elephant population, as do all our orphans.

Edo last returned to the stockades in February 2008 for a visit. I check the Trust’s website on a regular basis, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. They’re very good about posting updates daily, with photos and sometimes video. I am hoping to one day see a post about Edo coming for a visit.

Since 2004 I have fostered Edo every year as a Christmas gift for my daughter. She is now an adult, married, with a career, but it is something I will always do for as long as I can.  One of the first few years, I went on the website and printed out all of the material I could about Edo and the Trust and put it in a nice 3 ring binder. So she has something she can pull out every year and look at. I also print out the foster certificate you receive when you commit to foster and give it to her to put in the binder. The joy we receive is nothing compared to the joy that the good people at the Trust must experience every time they nurse a baby back to health, and reintroduce them back into the herds. I wish I could do more, but I know that I am not alone in the will to help any elephant, any way, I can.

For anyone interested in fostering an elephant, please visit the Trust’s website at www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org

Holiday cheers to all,

~ LT

An African Love Story – by Dame Daphne Sheldrick

7 Mar
Daphne Sheldrick

An African Love Story

After supporting and following the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for the past 10 years, I was more than thrilled to hear of Dame Daphne Sheldrick’s plans to write an autobiography. Appropriately titled, “An African Love Story – Love, Life and Elephants”, Sheldrick eloquently brings readers along an amazing journey from childhood through today, with an incredible story only someone of her rare privilege could possibly tell.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust fosters baby elephants and rhinos in Tsavo National Park in Nairobi, Kenya. The babies fall victim to parental loss due largely to poaching, or some other human created death. They’re nursed to health at the orphanage and then eventually released back into the wild.

The book was released in the UK on March 1st, and is available in the USA by clicking here: http://www.thedswt.org.uk/LLE.html

Proceeds from the book purchased using the above link will go direct to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.


An excellent article about Daphne Sheldrick in The Telegraph:

The woman who fosters elephants in Kenya – Telegraph.

Worth the read…she is truly one of the world’s most remarkable women.

If you’re interested in fostering an elephant, contact the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for more information.

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