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$ 70,000 Raised by 100 Miles for Elephants Treks

$ 70,000 Raised by 100 Miles for Elephants Treks

Sept. 25, 2014

The latest 100 Miles for Elephants Trek is wrapping up with a meeting scouts and the co-founder of the Kirisia Community Forest Association. 13 participants walked across the wilds of north-central Kenya to the Kirisia Hills. This once was a poaching hot spot and now has become a refuge for elephant and other magnificent African animals, thanks to the hard work of the scout whom we support. 




We did it! 100 Miles for Elephants

We did it! 100 Miles for Elephants

Oct. 2, 2013

It was tough but a team of 11 elephant lovers trekked across the wild landscapes of northern Kenya to raise awareness and funds for anti-poaching efforts of the Kirisia community scouts. And what an adventure it was! We forded fast flowing rivers, crossed across vast thorn scrub plains and danced with Samburu women and warriors. 

The final result: almost $ 13,000 raised for the anti-poaching scouts. Enough money to equip, train and pay for 13 scouts for one year. 

You can sign up for this fundraising trek again in Feb. and Sept. 2014. See http://www.hiddenplaces.net/walking-safari.php  




His Holiness the Dalai Lama Supports Elephant Earth

His Holiness the Dalai Lama Supports Elephant Earth

We have received a most amazing letter from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. You can see the original here

 




VICTORIANS WALK TO SAVE ELEPHANTS!

Mar. 10, 2013

 

Five Victoria, BC residents are part of a team that will trek 100 miles across Northern Kenya next September, raising funds to help stop the killing of elephants for their ivory. All donations raised will go to a group of community anti-poaching scouts in the Kirisia Hills, the end point of the trek.

100 Miles for Elephants encompasses my passion for adventure travel, my love for elephants, and my desire to help save the world’s wildlife,” says naturopathic physician Jennifer Dyke, one of the Victoria team members.

The trek is organized by Hidden Places, a Victoria based boutique travel company run by Dag Goering and Maria Coffey who have passion for conservation – and elephants. “The slaughter of these magnificent animals is at an epidemic level, and unless it is stopped they could face extinction in the wild within 15 years,” says Goering, who is also a veterinarian. “Helping local people on the ground to combat poaching is one of the most effective ways to save elephants.”

Local magician Eric Bedard and his wife Linda saw a presentation last fall by Goering and Coffey and decided on the spot to become part of the team. “It was obvious that this was a well thought out, well planned and safe journey put together by two people who really care about the future of elephants,” said Bedard, adding that he and Linda can’t wait for September!

 Next month Victorians have another chance to see a presentation about the 100 Miles for Elephants fundraising trek– and to join the team:

When:        Tuesday April 09, 7 pm– 9pm

Where:       Robinson’s Outdoors Store, 1307 Broad St, Victoria. Ph: 250 385 3429

Admission: $5.00

Websites:    http://hiddenplaces.net/walking-safari.php

For more information, high res images or to arrange an interview, please contact:

E: info@hiddenplaces.net  P: 250 995 3003 M: 250 589 9844

 




Fundraising drive for anti-poaching scouts in Kenya

Mar. 01, 2012

We have committed to providing the necessary funds for the Kirisia Community Forestry Association to operate a scout program for one year through to April 2013. We need to raise approximately $ 6000 to ensure that the scout program remains viable and the elephants of Kirisia forest remain protected. To do so we are embarking on a fundraising tour in March and April. We hope you will join us for these presentations and help us raise the necessary monies.

Tues, March 27, Courtenay:
Stan Hagen Theatre, North Island College, 2300 Ryan Road, 7.30 pm

Wed, March 28, Victoria:
Young Auditorium, Camosun College, 3100 Foul Bay Road, 7.30pm

Mon, April 02, West Vancouver:
West Vancouver Memorial Library, 1950 Marine Drive, 7pm

Tues, April 03, Whistler:
Whistler Library, Main Street 7pm

Wednesday April 04, Vancouver:
Anza Club, Anza Club, 3 West 8th Avenue, 7.30pm 

Admission: By donation. All proceeds go to the community anti-poaching project which will be administered by the Suyian Trust, Kenya. 

Audience:    Age 12 and over (Contains some graphic images of poaching)

For more information, please contact Dag and Maria:

E: info@hiddenplaces.net  P: 250 995 3003




EEI funds the GPS collaring of Nelson.

EEI funds the GPS collaring of Nelson.

Jan. 15, 2011

Nelson is a bull  elephant notorious for breaking through game fences and invading farmers’ fields in the Laikipia area of Kenya. This puts him at risk of being killed either by the villagers or the wildlife authorities. By fitting him with a GPS collar, he and other elephants who follow him can be monitored to establish their routines, and an effective strategy can be developed to keep them away from farms. The operation run by the Laikipia Elephant Project was complicated, involving a capable bush pilot, a fearless vet with a dart gun, 2 armed rangers, a working GPS collar and last but not least, Nelson in a relatively accessible place. We also need needed good weather, as rain would make off-road driving impossible. Our stars lined up, it all came together (not without some very tense moments) and now Nelson is wearing a GPS collar, enabling his position to be tracked on an hourly basis on Google Earth! We'll make that available to you sometime in the future.




Elephant-friendly training comes to Nepal!

Nov. 6, 2010

One thing that has been missing up until now in Asia is an elightened and humane approach to training elephants. I've just spent a week in Nepal taking part in a workshop put on by WEPA (Working Elephant Programme of Asia) and it gives me hope that the lives of many captive elephants can be dramatically improved. Instead of the  using pain and punishment, mahouts are taught to control their elephants with positive and reinforcement. This is a science- based approach that is not only good for elephants, it is also good for mahouts: elephants become more  predictable and are less likely to panic or become aggressive. Elephant Earth Initiative will actively support WEPA in bringing this program to other parts of Asia.




Perspectives from the front-line

Apr. 8, 2010

This is a recent message received from Aaron Cawsey, a pilot in East Africa.

It is the 3rd day of February. I’m in front of my tent sitting in a chair. I came into the Selous GR today too late to go on safari. Instead I am using the afternoon to carefully dig the eggs of some small insect out of my leg. Rafiki, the well known local Elephant, is shaking Doum Palm trees with his trunk only a few meters away in a vain attempt to collect his prized food. There is a faint crack in the air. I look up across the lake in the direction of the noise and see there are no storms around and I instantly realize it is the shot of a rifle. Rafiki has heard it too. He stops and listens for a moment before he regains interest in his tree. I’ve heard the story before. I almost expected this. I’m not interested in my leg anymore. I know that only a few kilometres away an elephant likely just died.

I think back to when I first arrived in Tanzania and I learned the word “Nyama” which is Kiswahili for meat. I remember the exact place when the peculiarities of Kiswahili hit me. It was back in May when I
was at the airstrip in Seronera. There was a small mini bus taking myself and 5 other people back to the wildlife lodge. I asked the driver what the name for animals was as there were so many around.
“For which one” he asked. “I mean the word animals.” “Oh that’s easy. It is ‘wanyama. (more than one meat)’” I was a little puzzled at first thinking I had been misunderstood until I finally realized that all
the animals meant to the original people was that they were food. Animal wasn’t so much a creature as a means of survival. After that, I found it funny to point out the window at the “meat.” Now knowing that a “meat” has died simply for its teeth I don’t think it’s so funny anymore.

Another camp closer to the gunshot hears the shot as well and sends out some guides to investigate. They find a dead bull elephant being watched over by 4 park rangers. The rangers say they had heard the shots and went to investigate. When asked by the camp staff where they had been, they claimed they were driving along the main road to the airstrip and had heard it. The guides don’t ask any more questions. I am told there was a very uneasy silence. The park rangers have a couple of very old Land Rover Defenders which are poorly maintained and nearly un-muffled. For them to have heard the shot means they would have been nearly at the killing site, almost within the range of
their boomershootens, hence within sight of the crime. The rangers are also underpaid and many are poorly motivated. The guides know they are being lied to but without proof of wrongdoing, they have nowhere to turn. The carcass will be cut up and the ivory taken. The ivory is supposed to be declared and delivered to a government stockpile in Dar es Salaam. There is no guarantee it will ever get there. Due to shoddy accounting and the amount of elephants being poached, 4 on this day
alone in this very reserve, this elephant may not be declared. The ivory may instead be delivered to Kisaki, a nearby town, and from there smuggled to China. I find it ironic that the railway that cuts
through the Selous and stops at Kisaki was built by the Chinese. It continues on into Zambia, another country with problems of ivory smuggling to China. Another option is that the ivory will be declared,
admitted to the stockpile and money will be secretly paid to the rangers by corrupt officials. Legal ivory (from naturally deceased elephants) is indistinguishable from illegal ivory. The guides return
to camp knowing this will happen again soon. “Only when the animals are gone will the poaching stop.” All that is clear is that today an elephant has died for money.

Not all the park rangers are corrupt. When I fly into the game reserves or national parks, I try and fly over specific spots and look for tire tracks in areas that poachers have to drive through. When I
land, I check to see who the ranger is. Many are familiar and the guides know the reputations of the different rangers. If I have seen anything, I tell the ranger. Most times, there is little they can do
except report that something has been seen. The parks and reserves are huge and the resources allocated to the management are small. The Selous reserve itself is the largest protected area in Africa and when combined with neighboring parks, is more than twice the area of Vancouver Island. There are almost no roads and they have limited numbers of vehicles. It would be similar to reporting a bank robbery in Kelowna to the police in Victoria. By the time the rangers get there, if they can get there, the poachers will be gone and the evidence long since destroyed by the other animals. On one occasion, another pilot spotted an elephant being poached only 2km from an airstrip. As the poaching was happening on the other side of a hippo and crocodile infested river, there was nothing the rangers could do.
The poaching has had an effect on the elephants. Last October, a group from the BBC was attempting to retrace the footsteps of the 19th century explorer David Livingstone. They came across a bull elephant in the Selous reserve which had been in a bachelor herd, the others of which were poached early last year. This elephant became extremely aggressive when they came across him and threw the expedition leader to the ground and stepped on him in front of a group of British schoolchildren. A friend of mine here was hosting the group in his camp and witnessed this first hand. I can’t blame the elephant. If my friends were killed while I watched, I would be pretty angry too.

It is now the 26th of February. I have a group of obviously wealthy people from California to fly around for 3 hours on a scenic tour of northern Tanzania. I fly to Arusha after my previous flights are done
and have the plane fuelled. The clients show up and I know that this won’t be quite like any flight I have done before. The camera gear this group is toting is worth half as much money as the plane I am flying. We agree on a route and we set off. I have 7 wildlife and landscape photographers in the back and while my camera is nothing compared to theirs, they are still happy to see it. When they ask for a certain profile to be flown I know exactly why and where to find what they are looking for. The flamingos are found at Lake Natron. The Rhinos are in the Ngorongoro crater. We find so many elephants at Tarangire that I can ask what sort of ground they want to photograph the elephants walking on. We finish the flight and I talk briefly to the group leader. A week later I meet them again in the Serengeti before they head off to Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas. I’ve seen this man’s website. His prints go for four figure amounts per framed picture. He is expecting to have a lot of quality photos from our flight the week before and that is just from his camera. He tells me that in many more ways than I am aware of, this will help the wildlife in Tanzania. As long as people are coming to see these animals and bringing money, I know he is right. If the people stop coming, maybe
the animals will be once again seen only as meat and not valued for what they are. As the guide for this group told me last week; “Money is bad, but it can be a good thing too.”

I had not planned on writing an email just yet. A friend sent me an email regarding the CITES convention (UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.) They are having a vote tomorrow (March 14) on whether to support lifting the ban on ivory so that Tanzania and Zambia can sell their “legal” stockpiles of ivory in a one time sale to China and Japan. This has been a big topic in Tanzania for months. As I wrote about earlier, lifting the ban, even once, would only serve to reinforce the idea that ivory can be sold when the supplies are there. Most people would not be opposed to selling ivory from elephants that died naturally. The problem is that whether an elephant is shot by a ranger or poacher or dies from age cannot be distinguished in the tusk. If the ban is lifted, soon the only elephants people can see will be in a zoo or a picture book. The only reason I wrote this is because I can relate to it personally and this vote happens tomorrow. There is a petition to prevent the lifting of the ban as I found out from this friend. I’m sorry I didn’t find out about the petition sooner. I don’t know what effect signing it will have. Doing nothing is definitely worse.

I just finished writing this. It is 3am and I have been up since 6am yesterday. It's probably not well written. It's shorter than normal, maybe with spelling errors. I'm sorry but I just can't think and I
don't have any more time. Hopefully it makes sense. P.S. also not my best elephant photos. But they are elephants.


Aaron




Illegal trade of elephant parts is rampant in Laos.

Illegal trade of elephant parts is rampant in Laos.

Feb. 18, 2010

“How much is that?”  I asked pointing to the dried tip of an elephant trunk. The woman in the market stall wrote US $ 100 on a piece of paper: the same price as the big elephant molars she had on display.  There were other parts as well: dried skin, toenails and apparently dried slices of elephant penis.

If you know what you’re looking for, a stroll through the main market in the capital, Vientiane, will reveal heaps of illegal wildlife products including elephant parts openly displayed and offered for sale.  As I began taking pictures and asking questions about the price and source of these parts, the merchants grew increasingly suspicious and then decidedly ugly. They started shouting to each other and then one of them punched a number into her mobile: time to snap a few more pictures and get out of there.

Laos is a signatory of the CITES treaty according to which the trading of listed wildlife is illegal. However, according to one of our sources in the conservation field there, Laos officials have stopped patrolling the local markets and seizing illegal wildlife products. Many jewelry stores also casually offer ivory and similar items. Laos is one of the big hubs in the international wildlife trade and it’s not just underground.

Even in Luang Prabang’s touristy night market, Maria and I were surprised to find elephant parts for sale:  molars,   a trunk tip, toenails and skin. The next night the molar and trunk tip were gone. Sold to tourists, or for the Chinese medicine market?




Wild Elephant Encounter in Thailand

Dec. 25, 2009

In the dense bamboo forest of Salakpra we had an absolutely enchanting encounter with a wild female elephant. A forestry officer was showing us the salt licks where elephants often come to eat mud and clay rich in minerals. It was late in the afternoon and our guide was worried about straying into a herd of elephants as we walked through the dense and disorienting bamboo stands. On our return to the vehicle Mon (whom the forester had wisely left with the truck) excitedly pointed out a large female only 50 yards away. If elephants had got between us and the truck the consequences could have been serious. In this case however, the elephant just stood there and looked at us. She seemed insecure, shifting from foot to foot. In what appeared to be an attempt at looking nonchalant, she blew dust over her back. It was an utterly magical moment. One of the things that occurred to me is how vulnerable she looked. Yes, elephants can be extremely dangerous but on the whole they truly are gentle giants who now depend on us to ensure that they can continue to roam their ancestral lands.

Much is being done in the name of "saving" elephants in Thailand. However, almost all of this pertains to captive elephants. Too little is being done to look after the welfare of wild elephants. Habitat preservation is one of the most important issues in this regard. Kudos to the Elephant Conservation which has taken up this cause and is doing an extremely good job. We were privileged guests of Belinda Stwart-Cox and her incredibly dedicated staff and we look forward to supporting the important work the Elephant Conservation Network is doing.