Thursday, July 25, 2013


NAIROBI, Kenya — It was not a major arrest by ivory smuggling standards. A traveler bound for Amsterdam was stopped at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport here on a Saturday night last month with a little less than two pounds of ivory, in the form of five bangles, seven rings, seven pendants and two figurines.

The traveler’s identity was the surprising part: David McNevin, Senior Defense Official/US Embassy Kenya,, who served as a defense attaché at the American Embassy here. His arrest meant that a former official of a government dedicated to stopping the poaching that has threatened the very existence of Kenya’s elephants was engaged in ivory trading himself.

 The timing of the arrest was particularly incongruous. On the same day, July 1, that Mr. McNevin was arraigned, President Obama was in neighboring Tanzania pledging an additional $10 million in aid to help halt wildlife trafficking and creating a presidential task force on the matter.

At an event in downtown Nairobi on Wednesday as part of a campaign called Hands Off Our Elephants, Paula Kahumbu, the executive director of the nonprofit group WildlifeDirect, said that ivory was leaving Africa at an unprecedented rate, part of a surge in poaching that could lead to the extinction of the elephant within 10 years if it is not halted.

The United States is not exempt from the problem, she said. “We know that the U.S. has thriving ivory markets, and 30 percent of the ivory is illegal,” Ms. Kahumbu said. “We are calling for a U.S. ban on domestic trade.” Reports of ivory seizures are a regular occurrence in Mombasa, Kenya’s largest port, where just this month large shipments of ivory have been discovered, in one case disguised as a haul of sun-dried fish, and in another as a consignment of 240 bags of groundnuts.

The Kenya Wildlife Service has fought to preserve the country’s exotic fauna, including elephants, which are hunted for their tusks, and rhinoceroses, which are slaughtered for their even more valuable horns.

Last week, two rangers were killed in firefights with poachers. Yet light fines and short jail sentences have hobbled enforcement in Kenya. At the event on Wednesday, Judi Wakhungu, Kenya’s secretary for environment, water and natural resources, said the government had proposed a bill that would stiffen the sentences for poachers and smugglers, including prison terms of five years or more.

She also said that canine units had been introduced at the Nairobi and Mombasa airports as part of a plan to heighten surveillance. It is unclear whether the canine units helped secure the arrest of Mr. McNevin last month. “We dealt with him the way we deal with any criminal trying to commit a crime,” said Paul Udoto, a spokesman for the Kenya Wildlife Service.

He said that Mr. McNevin was traveling under a normal American passport. “He didn’t invoke diplomatic status,” he said. “The American Embassy didn’t contact us.” An embassy spokesman declined to comment on the case. Mr. McNevin could not be reached for comment.

A police spokeswoman said that Mr. McNevin pleaded guilty and paid a fine of 30,000 shillings, or about $350. “He was in a hurry to finish the case and get on his way,” Mr. Udoto said.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


US colonel David McNevin was caught smuggling carved ivory from Kenya Jerome Starkey, The Times July 24, 2013 The former US defence attaché in Nairobi has been convicted of smuggling thousands of pounds worth of ivory, just hours after President Obama pledged to fight a crisis in illegal wildlife trafficking.

David McNevin was arrested with 21 pieces of ornately carved elephant tusks as he boarded a flight to the Netherlands, from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International airport, according to officials. Uncarved tusks, which sold for £36 a kilo in 1976, can fetch up to £4000 per kg today, while carved items and antique pieces can cost much more.

 The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said McNevin was seized by a joint security team with five ivory bangles, seven rings, seven pendants and two ornaments, with a total weight of 0.8kg. He was fined 30,000 Kenyan shillings, or £225, the maximum punishment under Kenya’s outdated wildlife law. “For us he was a common criminal,” said Paul Udoto, a KWS spokesman.“He didn’t invoke any diplomatic privilege.

 He was just like any other criminal who owned up to his crime. He pleaded guilty. He paid the fine,” he said. Conservationists have warned that elephant poaching is at the worst level since 1989, when the international trade in ivory was banned, because of growing demand from China’s middle class.

Dr Richard Leakey, former Director of KWS and the founder of the charity WildlifeDirect, warned yesterday that elephants could be gone from the wild in Kenya by 2023.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


By Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Correspondent, Africa | Jul 19, 2013 

The largest seizure of blood ivory since 2010 took place yesterday at Hong Kong harbour, when 1.148 tusks were discovered in a container shipped from Togo. The tusks, which weigh over two tons and are worth more than 2 million dollars, were discovered at the city's main port in a cargo container from the African country of Togo.

It was headed for mainland China and the bags of tusks were hidden beneath planks of wood. Customs officials in Hong Kong confirmed the find. No arrests have been reported at this stage but the international task force, comprising among others CITES personnel and Interpol investigators, are now reportedly working with the Hong Kong authorities to establish the origin of the ivory through forensic tests and DNA analysis.

The haul is estimated to have a street value of around 2.3 million US Dollars, and while dealing a financial blow to the illicit underground smuggling network still points to the death of nearly 600 elephant, slaughtered for their tusks.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Good news for African Conservation, saving the Elephant, Saving Tsavo and much more....Hillary Rodham Clinton is onboard now and hopefully her support will light a much bigger fire under the ivory black marketers and poachers...

Amara means 'urgent need' in swahili. Ann Arborite and University of Michigan alumni, Lori Bergemann became enchanted by elephants as a youth living in India. Their sad captive eyes and swaying motion moved Lori to make an oath to herself that some day she would help them.

Amara Founder and Director Lori Bergemann

For over a decade, through Amara Conservation, Lori has been making good on that promise. Working with the Kenya Wildlife Service, and other very talented people, Lori, who has learned swahili, is educating the villagers of Tsavo...and it's working.

Through movies, lectures and workshops, Amara shows how elephants, as a keystone species, are vital to maintaining a healthy life sustaining environment for animals and humans. (Amara also teaches about the detriments of bush meat poaching and deforestation.)

It’s pretty hopeless to stop elephant poaching in Africa unless you get local buy-in,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton , one of the world’s most celebrated elephant researchers, who runs Save the Elephants 

Local buy-in is what Amara Conservation brings about. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


I have watched Amara Conservation grow from Lori Bergmann's private dream into a serious force for change in Kenyan wildlife over the past decade. It's transformation has been inspiring and persuasive. That Kenyans themselves are running so much of the work, and coming up with their own ideas for projects is important proof that Lori's dream is now their dream.

The work of Amara Conservation is about more than saving elephants. It has widened the experience and concerns of so many tribal villages up and down the country. Amara's films shown on improvised screens in village halls and churches have been extraordinary occasions that have touched the lives of everyone who has seen them. The debates they have stimulated afterwards are passionate and challenging.

It is serious and important work to bring about cultural change. That elephants are protected from poaching is a splendid outcome. But that the village people themselves understand why this is important, and how their destruction has harmed everyone’s interests is a crucial life enhancing journey.

It is one I wish we could achieve in so-called developed countries, where indifference to the environmental impact of our consumer choices is still all too obvious. Bravo! I whole heartedly support Amara Conservation's efforts, and congratulate you and your colleagues on what you have managed to achieve so far on modest resources.

Keep on keeping on! 

Roger Graef Writer, filmmaker, broadcaster and criminologist. Roger Graef OBE is CEO of Films of Record, a high end documentary company he founded in 1979. He is an award winning filmmaker, criminologist, and writer.

He is best known for his unstaged observational films in normally closed places like board rooms, ministries, prisons, probation, family therapy, special schools, and social work. His films have influenced policing and criminal justice policy.  

You can help with just a BUCK or TWO.....

Retro Kimmer


Without the duties required of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is free to devote herself to the causes she chooses. One of them, apparently, is saving elephants. There are now about 420,000 of the pachyderms in Africa, a decline of about two-thirds since 1980.

According to the Washington Post: Cristian Samper, [Wildlife Conservation Society] president and CEO, said in an interview that elephant poaching has reached such a crisis point that the world’s leading conservation groups are launching a coordinated strategy to address the problem.

Clinton agreed to “take some very specific steps, including using her political contacts with heads of state in trying to raise awareness about this issue,” Samper said. “This is an issue that needs to be elevated, not just in terms of public awareness, but particularly with the political leaders in other countries.”

As the demand for ivory has grown in Asia — where the ivory from a tusk can sell for $1,000 a pound — the poaching of African elephants has exploded. Roughly 30,000 African elephants were killed illegally in 2012, the largest number in 20 years.  FULL STORY

Thursday, July 11, 2013

International March for Elephants Friday October 4th 2013

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is carrying out a peaceful
International March for Elephants in conjunction with the iWorry campaign on Friday October 4th 2013.

To date there are said to be at the very most, 600,000 African Elephants left in the wild and with just a pound of ivory fetching over USD $1,000 on the black market and with lenient penalties, the risk of being caught is low, the incentive high.

African Elephants face extinction by 2025 if ivory poaching continues at the current rate.
This is an international problem and one which must be recognised by Governments worldwide if we are to see any positive developments.

Currently 13 confirmed cities will be taking part in the peaceful movement, a clear sign that the world is asking for urgent change, uniting on one day with a shared message ‘Say NO to Ivory’.

The peaceful marches will be concluding at Government Buildings when will we hand over a letter carrying the voice of thousands of people calling for stricter penalties and urgent international change.

For more details find your nearest city:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Quotes About Elephants

“Of all African animals, the elephant is the most difficult for man to live with, yet its passing - if this must come - seems the most tragic of all. I can watch elephants (and elephants alone) for hours at a time, for sooner or later the elephant will do something very strange such as mow grass with its toenails or draw the tusks from the rotted carcass of another elephant and carry them off into the bush.

"But perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that there are no walls between humans and the elephants except those that we put up ourselves, and that until we allow not only elephants, but all living creatures their place in the sun, we can never be whole ourselves.” Lawrence Anthony, The Elephant Whisperer

“Elephants love reunions. They recognize one another after years and years of separation and greet each other with wild, boisterous joy. There's bellowing and trumpeting, ear flapping and rubbing. Trunks entwine.”― Jennifer Richard Jacobson, Small as an Elephant

There is mystery behind that masked gray visage, and ancient life force, delicate and mighty, awesome and enchanted, commanding the silence ordinarily reserved for mountain peaks, great fires, and the sea.”― Peter Matthiessen, The Tree Where Man Was Born

Quotes from

How Do Elephants Cool Down?

Everyone knows an elephant loves to bathe. On those really hot days under the African sun, they begin their ritual standing at the edge of a pool; gorging themselves by slurping up and then squirting water into their mouths. They make their way further into the pool and start to shower water over their backs and heads, looking free and uninhibited.

They splash and dive, sometimes submerging completely, poking their trunk above the surface like a snorkel. The little ones climb on each other's backs and squeal with delight -- sometimes receiving a scolding in the form of a trunk-smack from an annoyed, older member of the herd.

A sleepy elephant naps in the noon sun, staying cool by casually flapping it's massive ears to fan away the heat. Their ears can be as big as over five feet long and almost 4 feet wide, acting as a 'gigantic cooling organ'. Another curious cooling method was considered impossible until it became readily observed by scholarly observers.

Elephants have even been known, under dire circumstance, like fleeing or in times of insufficient water source, to cool themselves by reaching their trunks into the their bellies to extract water from a reservoir in their gut, then showering it upon their head.

The Stealth of an Elephant

Elephants have padded feet, which make their steps virtually inaudible to their surroundings. Some researchers have remarked that they wouldn't hear a sound, and moments later, would be surrounded by hundreds of elephants.

“Elephants, it turns out, are surprisingly stealthy. As the sunlight fades, other species declare their presence. Throngs of zebras and wildebeests thunder by in the distance, trailing dust clouds. Cape buffalo snort and raise their horns and position themselves in front of their young. Giraffes stare over treetops, their huge brown eyes blinking, then lope away in seeming slow motion. But no elephants.” ― Thomas French, Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Spirituality of The Elephant

The elephant has a powerful significance in many traditions around the physical world and in the realm of spirit. For instance, witnessing an elephant in a dream is said to represent power, sovereignty, stability, and stead-fastness.

The elephant also symbolizes a spiritual presence that is divine and dignified. In Hinduism, the supremely revered Ganesh takes the form of an elephant, and is the God of luck, fortune, protection and  provides a blessing upon all new projects. Ganesha is said to be the 'remover of obstacles' - trampling hardships with a mighty stomp.

In Asian and Buddhist tradition, the white elephant is considered the most sacred of all animals. When a pregnant woman dreams of a white elephant, it is believed to signify that her unborn child will grow to be a great teacher or master. According to legend, while she was pregnant, Buddha's mother dreamt a white elephant entered her womb.

African cultures who lived closely with the elephant clearly recognized the animal's strikingly advanced consciousness.

The African Ashanti holds that they are human chiefs from the past, and regard the elephant as kind and noble creatures. In African fables, the Elephant is seen as the wise chief who acts as a mediator -- waving a fair and impartial trunk when settling disputes among other creatures.

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