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Laurel Neme

Laurel Neme has camped in the Kalahari, investigated walrus carcasses on Alaska’s Bering Sea beaches, and gotten lost in the Amazon jungle with the Brazilian Federal Police—all in pursuit of knowledge and a better story. She’s the author of ANIMAL INVESTIGATORS: How the World’s First Wildlife Forensics Lab is Solving Crimes and Saving Endangered Species, a “CSI for wildlife” featured on ABC News Nightline and NPR’s Science Friday, and writes regularly for Mongabay.com. She has hosted The WildLife radio show and addressed a range of groups on wildlife forensics and trafficking, including INTERPOL’s Wildlife Crime Working Group, the St. Louis Zoo, American Museum of Natural History, universities and libraries. Perhaps because she holds a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan and PhD from Princeton University, she has a special place in her heart for wolverines and tigers. See Laurel Neme website for more.

New WildLeaks Website Invites Whistle-Blowers on Wildlife Crime

Wildlife trafficking crimes often go undetected and unchallenged, even though they threaten many endangered species, including elephants, rhinos, and pangolins.

Elephant Foster Mom: A Conversation with Daphne Sheldrick

Orphaned elephants “can be fine one day and dead the next,” says Daphne Sheldrick, a Kenyan conservationist and expert in animal husbandry. She knows. To date, she has fostered over 250 calves, first in partnership with her husband, David Sheldrick, founding warden of Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park and a legendary naturalist, and later (following…

Ivory Mandala: A Fitting Memorial from the U.S. Ivory Crush

Tomorrow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will use an industrial rock crusher to destroy its six-ton stockpile of confiscated elephant ivory. The event is both a demonstration of the U.S.’s commitment to stop ivory trafficking and its belief that the legal ivory trade stimulates consumer demand and promotes elephant poaching. What it is not…

Al Shabaab and the Human Toll of the Illegal Ivory Trade

The real boon for Al Shabaab’s ivory business is soaring demand in consuming countries, which translates into high prices. Illicit raw ivory now fetches over U.S. $1,500 per kilogram in Asia; in China the “official” cost for raw ivory is supposedly more than $2,865 per kilogram. That means higher profits for Al Shabaab—and a treasury it can use to wreak chaos. Consumers can help break that lifeline by not buying ivory.

Destroying Elephant Ivory Stockpiles: No Easy Matter

When the Philippines destroyed its five-ton stockpile of seized elephant tusks on June 21, it marked not only the first time an ivory-consuming nation took such a public action but also the first time a country took key steps to guarantee that it could not re-enter the black market.

A Powerful Weapon Against Ivory Smugglers: DNA Testing

With illegal ivory trade at its highest level in almost two decades, and large-scale ivory seizures more than doubling since 2009, a new commitment to submit ivory shipments for DNA testing is a welcome development. “The single most important thing we can do is figure out where the killings are taking place,” says Samuel Wasser, Director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington. Wasser and his team innovated techniques for extracting and analyzing DNA from ivory. The team also developed a DNA map for African elephants that allows the geographic origin of a tusk to be ascertained within a 160-mile radius.

Chaos and Confusion Following Elephant Poaching in a Central African World Heritage Site

As poachers fired on forest elephants inside the Dzanga-Ndoki National Park, a World Heritage Site in the Central African Republic (CAR), the impotence of foreign governments and non-governmental organizations in preventing the slaughter of wildlife amid political chaos was, once again, revealed. Earlier this week, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reported that on May 6…

Did Polar Bears Really Lose at CITES?

Delegates at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species 16th Conference of Parties held in Bangkok in March rejected a proposal to ban international trade in polar bears and their parts. The decision caused a stir because polar bears face a precarious future. While some non-governmental organizations were deeply disappointed by the failure to uplist polar bears from Appendix II to Appendix I, which would have banned all international trade in the species and their parts, Steven Amstrup—a renowned polar bear scientist—believes that limitations on trade don’t address the real challenge facing the iconic animals.

New Promises Follow Elephant Slaughter in Chad and Cameroon

In the aftermath of the largest elephant poaching episode thus far in 2013, Central African governments met to coordinate and adopt an emergency plan to combat the killings. But is it too little, too late? WARNING: This post contains graphic images of slain elephants and an aborted calf.

Saving Elephants One School at a Time

Celia Ho, a 14-year-old girl from Hong Kong, has been working on an ivory ban campaign to help save elephants from the inhumane ivory market. In this post for A Voice for Elephants, Celia talks about some of her projects and asks for everyone’s support.

A Young Voice for Elephants: Celia Ho

“I take every chance to share my campaign and the difficulties elephants are facing,” says Celia Ho, a 14-year-old student from Hong Kong who launched a campaign to stop ivory consumption after reading Bryan Christy’s “Blood Ivory” article in National Geographic. Her young voice represents a new hope for elephants that is increasing throughout Asia, while her story illustrates how one person can make a difference.

Poachers Capitalize on Chaos in Central Africa

Poachers are capitalizing on the disarray in the Central African Republic (CAR) and appear to be moving freely in a search of elephants. Late last year several columns of Sudanese poachers, up to 200 well-armed men, were spotted traveling across northern CAR toward Chad and Cameroon. Reports last week indicate that these poachers are moving back-and-forth between CAR and Chad.

Elephants in Cameroon and Chad face imminent threat; Sudanese poachers en route from the Central African Republic (CAR)

Gangs of heavily armed elephant poachers have crossed the Central African Republic (CAR) from Sudan and are reported to be close to the southern Chad and northern Cameroon borders. Informers recognized one of the poachers as part of the group responsible for the killing frenzy that left roughly 650 elephants dead in and around northern Cameroon’s Bouba Ndjidah National Park in February 2012.

Elephant Poachers Caught in Chad, Protection Efforts Stepped Up

Following the capture of the poachers, Chadian communities have gathered to support the country’s elephants. The wildlife organization SOS Elephants, traditional leaders, and administrative authorities together have initiated an education campaign to explain why elephants deserve protection and how creation of a safe corridor could help.