Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Billy Joel by Kevin Mazur

To whom it may concern:

I wholeheartedly support the ivory sales ban bill pending in New York State. I am a piano player. And I realize that ivory piano keys are preferred by some pianists. 

But a preference for ivory keys does not justify the slaughter of 96 elephants every day. There are other materials which can be substituted for piano keys. But magnificent creatures like these can never be replaced. Music must never be used as an excuse to destroy an endangered species. Music should be a celebration of life – not an instrument of death.

Billy Joel


Friday, April 10, 2015


Photograph courtesy of Elephant Neighbors Center.

Q&A: Walking for Elephants: One Man’s Journey Across Kenya
By Maraya Cornell

On March 14, Jim Justus Nyamu, a 39-year-old Kenyan conservationist and elephant research scientist, completed a 283-mile-walk (455 km) from Emali to Voi in Kenya. Nyamu passed through the Amboseli and Tsavo ecosystems, both critical refuges for Kenya’s elephant populations. By walking for elephants as part of his Ivory Belongs to Elephants campaign, Nyamu hopes to raise awareness and better involve rural Kenyan communities in wildlife conservation.

Many of the community members Nyamu spoke with had questions and concerns about Kenya’s new Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, in place since January 2014. The act stiffens penalties related to wildlife crime, but it also gives communities more authority to manage natural resources locally. It specifies compensation to individuals and families for wildlife-related death, as well as injury and damage to property.

Since 2013, Nyamu has walked nearly 2,500 miles (4,000 km) in Kenya and 560 miles in the U.S. as part of the campaign. Nyamu is the founder and executive director of the Nairobi-based Elephant Neighbors Center.

Nyamu spoke via Skype after his recent walk.

Last month, you finished a 455-kilometer (283-mile) walk in Kenya, the latest in your Ivory Belongs to Elephants campaign. What was this campaign about?

The Ivory Belongs to Elephants walk is a grassroots education campaign geared to engage the local communities who live with the wildlife outside protected areas on how best they can manage and benefit from the wildlife. The other thing is to raise awareness and educate the communities about the new Wildlife Conservation Management Act.

What was a typical day like?

Our day would start from five in the morning. We would do the breakfast, we would knock down the camp, do the packing. I would visit the first school as early as 6:30 or 7 in the morning, and then we’d begin marching. I would walk with five, six, seven schools in a day. In between the schools, I would meet with maybe five different community groups. People would be out, waiting for our convoy, ready to ask questions, ready to support us, ready to criticize us. The last hour would probably be 8 in the evening because we also wanted to show a video in the community center or school centers.

What were some of the questions people asked?

They were asking about the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act. The compensation [for wildlife injury and property damage] only [applies to] last year. Who is going to pay for the past losses they’ve incurred from the wildlife? And they wanted to know the procedure on how they should report the incidents, how long should they wait before they’re compensated.

Who accompanied you on the walk?

I had 17 to start, and this was comprised of the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Kenya Police, the [county] administration police. I would also get support from the community game scouts who would come along and walk with me, as well as my support team and institutions like Amara Conservation.

You walked alongside Amboseli National Park and around the southern border of Tsavo West in Kenya. Why did you choose this particular route?

I chose this area because the Tsavo ecosystem is the largest in Kenya, accommodating 11,076 elephants, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service’s 2014 aerial census data. The other thing is Tsavo is known for one of the highest levels of human-elephant conflict. It borders five different community user groups—agriculturalists, pastoralists.

One of the difficulties was that the walk coincided with the dry season, when the conflict was very high. Ten elephants were killed while I was walking in this area. Four people were killed by elephants, and two were injured by elephants. So people would find it not very convincing that I’m talking about conserving and protecting elephants when they are experiencing human-wildlife conflict which was very high. Read Full Voices Article Here

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Image Credit: Courtesy: Dubai Municipality
 Dubai: Dubai Municipality will by the end of this month destroy six tonnes of ivory seized from smugglers over the years, an official said.

Aisha Al Muhairi, head of the municipality’s marine, environment and wildlife section, said the ivory will be crushed and mixed with sludge to render it useless.

The confiscated ivory — in various forms such as elephant tusks, polished, rough, or as bracelets — is worth “millions of dirhams”, she added.

It will be the first time in the Middle East that such a large amount of confiscated ivory will be destroyed, in line with international regulations, according to Aisha.

Ivory trade is illegal in the UAE under Federal Law No 11 of 2002, the municipality said in a statement on Sunday.

The United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) uses its Appendix I — for species that are threatened with extinction and that are or may be affected by international trade — to regulate the ivory trade.

International trade in species listed under Appendix I — such as the African elephant that is poached for ivory — is not allowed. The seized ivory is stipulated to be rendered unusable by destruction, the municipality added.

The contraband had been confiscated during routine inspections over “a long time, a number of years” in Dubai, Aisha said. It was held by the municipality in storage until further directions from the Ministry of Environment and Water, she added.

Following its transfer to the ministry, the directions have now come for it to be destroyed — crushed and mixed into sludge — which will take place towards the end of April, Aisha said.

“This will be a major national event, not just for Dubai but for the UAE. We, the municipality and the ministry, are partners. It’ll be a first of its kind event in the Middle East,” she added.

“Before it had not been easy to crush. The developing countries usually burn the ivory, but that’s not OK for us to do, [especially] with such a huge amount.” READ FULL STORY HERE

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Lori, Jacob and Towett are at Kipalo Hills on Mbulia Conservancy working with Tamsin.

We are so grateful to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund for giving us a Rapid Response Grant to help us with the Kipalo Camp and Mbulia Conservancy​ fence! The fence is under construction to protect the conservation area and ease human wildlife conflict, and to allow KWS to keep the area in full access to Tsavo West.

We have wheels in motion to obtain the rest of funding needed, but at this grant is critical right now. On behalf of the people who own and live around the conservancy, and the elephants who have used this area on a regular basis since time immemorial - Thank You Disney!

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