Special Update | Elephant Poaching in Samburu
Driven by rising demand for ivory, elephant poaching in and around northern Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve has reached its highest rate in 14 years, with alarming consequences for the animal’s population balance and potentially, the entire ecosystem.
A nonprofit organization called Save the Elephants has worked for decades to protect elephants from poachers, and until recently, had been successful at helping the Samburu population recover.
On July 12, a matriarch named Khadija—the last mature member of the “Swahili Ladies” family of elephants, many of whom are orphans—was found dead. Khadija’s death at the hands of poachers, who cut out her tusks after shooting her four times, underscores the magnitude of this growing problem.
The leather tracking collar Khadija had been wearing was cut from her neck and buried in the sand near the body.
We asked Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants, about the dire situation in Samburu.
Why is Khadija’s story significant?
Khadija was the last matriarch of a very well-known elephant family originally identified by researcher George Wittemyer in the early 2000s. One by one, the matriarchs were eliminated until she was the only survivor, leading a family with about eight orphans.
What has spurred the increase in poaching?
The increase appears to be driven by an upsurge in demand for ivory, principally from China’s newly affluent middle class, who are probably unaware that every time they buy ivory they are contributing to elephant death. Sometimes elephants are also killed for raiding local crops.
Does a decline in the elephant population affect other parts of the ecosystem?
Yes, in many ways. Elephants clear the bush and make roads for other animals, they dig for water in times of drought, and they spread the seeds of certain trees that they eat. Their habitat corridors also benefit other species.
What is the government doing to combat poaching, and what more can be done?
The Kenya Wildlife Service is doing all they can, but with demand for ivory surging, they are being run off their feet. There need to be more funds for anti-poaching activities on the ground by the local communities, the Northern Rangeland Trust, and the Kenya Wildlife Service. Sentences for poachers who are convicted should be more severe to act as a deterrent.
What are some common misconceptions about elephant poaching?
It is a misconception to suppose that the ivory poachers are poor farmers who are forced to poach because of their poverty. The truth is that ivory poaching and trading is increasingly carried out by organized criminal syndicates, and the poachers at the ground level are usually bandits, well-armed with automatic rifles, who are robbing people when they are not killing elephants and other wildlife.
Can poaching ever be totally eliminated?
It cannot be eliminated, but it can be controlled. In the years following the 1989 ivory trade ban the population of elephants increased in Kenya—from around 14,000 in 1985 to more than 23,000 in 2006—even though there was still some poaching occurring. Now, we need to make the world wake up and take action to stop this renewed onslaught against the elephants. Ultimately, demand for ivory needs to be reduced, and the most important country where this needs to happen is China.
What will happen to the orphans in Khadija’s family?
The youngest ones may die, but orphans over age 5 tend to do pretty well. Most stick together with siblings and cousins. Males tend to disperse from orphan groups earlier than non-orphan groups, setting out on their own or joining less stable bachelor groups. At the moment, the orphans from Khadija’s Swahili Ladies family are still together. It is part of our long-term research program in Samburu to understand what orphan elephants like these do to survive and piece together their lives.
So as much as I hate PETA, this has to be said
Before anything, I am not trying to defend PETA in anyway, but I figure this should be said.
The new pokemon parody Peta has released is in no way a reference to pokemon at all. Sure it uses the same characters and all that and someone what similar music, but the game itself PETA is using to “raise awareness” animals used for fighting, circus animals, animals used for fashion and animals used to product experimentation.
PETA did a terrible job in actually bringing out these issues, because the pokemon game makes it seem like PETA is trying to focus on fictional world of pokemon rather that the real life issue. Peta makes hints to the actual issues (ie, Pikachu used for Ash’s entertainment thing, Tepig used by Cheren for only battling, Oshwatt having its pelt removed, and Snivy having a needle in its head), but the issues are never actually addressed.
People getting angry at PETA for making this game have every right to be angry, Hell I’m red in the face because its so fucking stupid, but you should also know that the game IS NOT A DIRECT REFERENCE TO POKEMON, It was just a poorly chosen way of trying to address real issues that weren’t even addressed.
Skinning, circus abuse, forced fighting and animal testing are real issues that should be addressed and that should be brought to light, but the way PETA chose to portray them was immature, a mockery and honestly, it was just a sad cry for attention.
PETA is a joke as an activist organization and giving them any attention is only encouraging them, but if you’re angry should be directed at them, it should be because PETA made a laughing stock of actual issues that shouldn’t be joked about.
What brand of make-up do you use? Do you know if they test of animals? Be aware! Let's all say NO to animal testing!
I saw a post on Tumblr about animal testing and I got curious. I know it’s an old topic/issue but I feel like it is worth sharing! First thing I did was Google the brand of make-up that I use to check if they test on animals and to my dismay they do! So, starting today, I won’t buy any make-up brand that tests on animals! YOU SHOULD DO THE SAME!
Here is a list of brands that DO test on animals:
Bausch & lomb
Oscar de la renta
Johnson & Johnson
Sally Beauty Supply
Procter and Gamble
Clean and Clear
Head & Shoulders
CHECK OUT THIS LINK ON WHAT THESE COMPANIES DO TO ANIMALS!
Here are some that DON’T test on animals:
crabtree and elelyn
kate spade beauty
Victorias Secret Beauty
Wet n wild
Bumble and bumble
Kiss my face
Companies That Still Test on Animals (and associated brands):
I’m so happy that my 2 favorite brands don’t test on animals!
MARKS AND SPENCER
We pass the test on animal testing
At M&S, we know that many of our customers are concerned about the use of animals for testing cosmetic and household products. We’re against animal testing too.
We don’t test any of our M&S beauty or household products on animals. But we wanted to go further than this. As part of our Plan A commitments, we guarantee that none of the individual ingredients in our beauty or household products is tested on animals either, starting from a fixed cut-off date of January 2006.
This covers more than 1,200 products and, more importantly, their individual ingredients, from lavender laundry liquid to tea tree face wipes.
All these products have the stamp of approval from BUAV, (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection). You’ll see their leaping bunny logo on pack, which means you’ll know that what you’re buying is “animal-friendly.”
BUAV chief executive Michelle Thew says, “We applaud Marks & Spencer for taking this step to prove its cruelty-free retailer status. The BUAV’s Bunny Logo approval is the global gold standard in cruelty-free cosmetics and household products, so I’m delighted M&S has taken this step to reassure its customers.”
BODY SHOP:Against Animal Testing
Against Animal Testing. For Animal Protection.
We have never, and will never, test our cosmetic products on animals. We also don’t commission others to do it for us. In fact, we campaigned for years to bring about a ban on testing cosmetics on animals. We are among the few companies to comply with the stringent requirements of the internationally recognized Humane Cosmetics Standard.
We also ensure all our products are suitable for vegetarians and seek out alternative sources of ingredients that do not contribute to the destruction of habitat of endangered animals, or cause animal suffering. We just think it’s what everyone should do.
Sorry rambling here
It really annoys me when people think “Extinct” is only meant for Dinosaurs. Which is not entirerly true. Animals from the Ice Age’s are also extinct. From Saber tooth cats,Wooly Mammoths,Cave Bears, Wooly Rhinos, Dire Wolves, types of fishes, to various plants.
Even animals that were here a few hundred years ago are now extinct.
And many are in the endangered list now, which we must be aware about. And we need to protect them as much as we can.
So don’t tell me animals don’t feel, we don’t really need them. Shut up. We do and if one goes extinct then that effects everyone else.
Patrick the Pitt's Road to Recovery..
Please click the link below. This poor dog was found recently by maintenance workers in a garbage bag, thrown down a garbage chute, & left for dead. He was barely alive when he was rescued and he is slowly making way. I am reaching out as an animal lover in hopes you can forward this to anyone that can donate a few bucks to this poor dog’s “Res-Q” fund.
Here is Patrick’s story: http://www.ahscares.org/showarchive.asp?id=772
Here is a video of his progress: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYm7irMrlF4
If you or someone you know would like to donate, the link to the Res-Q fund is under his story (first link).