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Family Strife

Mushara Waterhole, Etosha National Park, Namibia – Sunset began with a visit from Paula and Nadia and their fraction of the Athlete family. We saw them break the clearing from the southwest, and I rushed to get two of my volunteers out on their bunker observation rotation, but we were too late. They were coming in fast.

Ozzie on Fire Again

Mushara Waterhole, Etosha National Park, Namibia – Ozzie was on fire again Thursday, parting a sea of 14 bulls with his parade of musthy pomp until he reached his target—Mike. Mike is one of the largest bulls in our study population, and also one of the least aggressive. Why was he the focus of the young…

The Night Belonged to Ozzie

The world’s largest land creature stood on me last night—two giant feet over my head, putting me at a disturbing eye-level vantage with a dripping elephant phallus in the dark. It has occurred to me over the course of my research that an untimely end could happen to anyone studying these larger-than-life animals, but it’s not something I ever thought I’d live to tell about.

Time Passes at an Elephant’s Pace

Time passes at an elephant’s pace here at Mushara waterhole in the northeast corner of Etosha National Park, Namibia. The mornings are slow to materialize, a few solitary bulls drifting in like a lazy late morning gust from the northeast and then later from the southwest, each gliding through on non-overlapping paths. By early afternoon…

Q&A: Elephant Conservation Challenges in Sri Lanka—A Conversation With Shermin de Silva

Shermin de Silva, 33, is president of the Asian elephant conservation organization Trunks & Leaves. A post-doctoral student at Colorado State University, de Silva was born and raised in Sri Lanka and has returned regularly to Udawalawe National Park since 2005 to study its elephants, which she believes number some 1,200. Conservationists estimate that Sri…

Opinion: Killing of Great Tusker in Kenya Recalls Lesson From the Past

By John Heminway The killing in late May of the great tusker Satao, in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park, was another blunt reminder that no elephant in Africa is safe. A poacher’s poisoned arrow felled him, and his death was presumed to have been long and painful. Satao was thought to be the largest-tusked elephant surviving in Africa. While he…

A Young Chinese Conservationist Discusses His Country’s Role in the Ivory Trade

Gao Yufang, 26, is a Chinese researcher and conservationist who graduated last month with a masters from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. At Yale, Gao focused his studies on the ivory trade, with emphasis on the varied, sometimes conflicting understanding about the Chinese role in it. This, he believes, creates obstacles to…

Kruger Elephant Poaching Incident is Not the First in More Than Ten Years

Researched by Julian Rademeyer South Africa’s parks authority, SANParks, recently announced that the country’s Kruger National Park had suffered its “first confirmed elephant poaching incident…in well over ten years.” News of the incident, which occurred in Pafuri in the northern part of the park, spread quickly. “South Africa’s Kruger Park loses first elephant,” read an article on…

South Africa’s Kruger Park Loses its First Elephant; Kenya Loses an Icon

In recent years, Kruger, the jewel in the crown of South Africa’s national park system, has lost many rhinos to poachers, but its elephants have remained safe. Until now. For the first time in a decade, a bull elephant in the park has fallen to poachers, who hacked off his tusks. “This poaching incident really…

Opinion: Walking the International Talk to Help Elephants

By Katarzyna Nowak Is the new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service policy of a blanket domestic ivory ban a “declaration of political war” that “criminalizes American citizens and kills elephants”? This is the extreme view expressed by Doug Bandow in Forbes magazine in March 2014 and taken up again in yesterday’s post here by Andrew Wyatt…

Opinion: Blood Ivory and More Dead Elephants

By Andrew Wyatt and Doug Bandow   Nothing embodies the power and majesty of wild Africa like the iconic elephant. Tragically, across the continent you can see the devastating impact poaching has had on this keystone species. “Blood ivory” poachers ply their trade from the killing fields of the African savanna to the major markets in…

China Pledges $10 Million in Support of Wildlife Conservation in Africa

By Fredrick Nzwili Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, on a three-day visit to Kenya, announced May 10 that China will provide $10 million to support wildlife protection and conservation in Africa and help establish an African Ecological and Wildlife Centre in Nairobi.  During Li’s visit, Kenya and China signed a total of 17 agreements, which include…

The Fate of the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe—A Conversation With Sharon Pincott

Since 2001, Australian Sharon Pincott has been monitoring and protecting a unique population of elephants in western Zimbabwe known as the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe. The herd was given this name after President Robert Mugabe awarded it a presidential decree in 1990. Symbolizing Zimbabwe’s commitment to responsible wildlife management, the decree was intended to protect…

Controversy Swirls Around the Recent U.S. Suspension of Sport-Hunted Elephant Trophies

Battle lines are being drawn after the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) announcement last month to suspend import of elephant trophies from Tanzania and Zimbabwe for the remainder of 2014. The decision was spurred by the catastrophic poaching of Africa’s elephants and the fact that in these two countries, according to FWS, “additional…

What Elephant Calls Mean: A User’s Guide

From powerful roars to low-frequency rumbles, elephants use a variety of vocalizations to communicate.