How do you celebrate half a century with an elephant?
With a jumbo celebration!
Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York recently honored their herd’s matriarch, Siri, as she turned 50 years old! Asian elephant herd mates Romani (41), Targa (34), Doc (20), Kirinia (22), Mali (20), and Batu (2) were all on hand to celebrate the amazing occasion. The Zoo held a highly successful series of events, including Pennies for Pachyderms, a fundraiser for elephant conservation of which the International Elephant Foundation was a recipient.
Coinciding with World Elephant Day festivities, the Asian Elephant Extravaganza included a county proclamation declaring 2017 the “Summer of Siri”! Everything from Pachyderm Parties to special docent-led tours, to a Watermelon Smash was held to bring the entire community together to celebrate two generations with Siri.
We at IEF are so thankful for and in awe of the commitment by the Rosamond Gifford Zoo team that we thought you might like to learn a little bit more about them from Director Ted Fox and President of the Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo Janet Agostini:
Q: Your Pennies for Pachyderms fundraiser was in honor of Siri’s 50th birthday. What are the names, ages & species of her herdmates?
Ted Fox: We have a seven-member herd of Asian elephants. Our eldest, Siri, came to us from the Lincoln Park Zoo in 1972 as a 5-year-old. For several years she was the zoo’s only elephant and actually was outgrowing her exhibit. This led to a decision to renovate and expand the zoo in the 1980s. The “new zoo” reopened in 1986 and received AZA accreditation in 1987, and we have maintained and earned accreditation ever since. We also acquired Romani, now 41; Targa, 34, and Doc, our bull, 20. Romani’s daughter, Kirina, 22, and Targa’s daughter, Mali, 20, were born here, and now Mali and Doc have a baby boy, Batu, age 2.
Q: What kind of events were featured at Pennies for Pachyderms? How were they received by the public?
Ted Fox: Siri has been beloved by the Syracuse community for two generations, so we wanted to celebrate her 50th in a big way. We decided to have her birthday party at our Asian Elephant Extravaganza held every August the week after World Elephant Day. We asked our County Executive for a proclamation declaring summer 2017 the “Summer of Siri” and planned several events leading up to her August 19 party.
The events included Pachyderm Parties, special days that included “Elephant Walk & Talks” – docent-led tours up to Asian Elephant Preserve – and Watermelon Smash, when our elephant keeper chats included giving watermelons donated by Tops supermarkets to our herd.
We kicked off the “Pennies for Pachyderms” fundraiser at our “Summer of Siri” press conference June 6 and kept it going all summer.
Janet Agostini: We felt the best way to honor Siri would be to do something for her counterparts in the wild. I had seen another zoo do something similar and decided to borrow the idea. I thought our community and guests would respond, and it was a way to get our very youngest guests involved because when you talk about pennies it implies emptying out your piggy bank.
We kicked off Pennies for Pachyderms with $100 in pennies from the Friends of the Zoo, and the Friends offered a matching gift of up to $2,000 if we met that goal by Siri’s party. This resulted in longtime zoo supporters Bob & Zalie Linn also offering a matching gift if we reached the $2,000 goal. We put a five-gallon “bank” in the zoo lobby and asked people to bring their pennies to the zoo.
The response was tremendous. Many families brought bags full of pennies to the zoo, and many adults threw in a few bills. By August 19, we had filled three five-gallon banks with a total of $3,211.07 – more than $1,000 over our goal. With the matching gifts, we were able to give $6,000 for wild elephant conservation, $3,000 to the IEF and $3,000 to AZA SAFE.
I knew people would respond, but their generosity exceeded my expectations, and whenever you surpass a goal like that it’s just a testament to how many people love Siri and love our elephants.
Q: How have you each seen visitors impacted by the elephants they experience at the zoo?
Ted Fox: I have seen the impact especially with Siri. This is a generational community that grew up with an icon who is the face of the zoo, and the people in this community feel like they truly know a zoo animal personally. In terms of memories, seeing something as magnificent and memorable as an elephant for the first time and learning about how amazing they are, and being able to take a family picture near it, or on our statue of a baby elephant, is a story we hear all the time, that that made a big impression on individuals and families.
Janet Agostini: I see visitors impacted greatly as they watch and get to know our herd. When I see people up at the Asian Elephant Preserve exhibit, they seem so relaxed and so at ease as they watch the elephants move around and interact. It prompts you to slow down from your usual life and just take it all in. It centers you. I think there is something magical about seeing elephants on natural turf, being able to wander where their interests take them, whether to drink from the watering hole or chase a gopher out of the exhibit. Some people have told me they come to Asian Elephant Preserve to meditate. It’s that calming.
Q: What role do you believe zoos play in securing a future for elephants? Where does the Rosamond Gifford Zoo fit into that future?
Ted Fox: At the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, we take every opportunity to learn more about every aspect of the health and well-being of the elephants under our care.
We will continue to collaborate with world experts on contemporary reproductive challenge of maintaining both the wild and captive elephant populations, and we support those goals financially too. We keep up with all the training courses and we collaborate with experts on both in-situ and ex-situ philosophy on elephant care and well-being and how to stay relevant. We talk to other elephant experts all the time and we continually strive to do better for our elephants, especially in creating an environment that’s stimulating and enriching. We added a 50,000-gallon watering hole to the 4 ½-acre preserve last year that was yet another component of our exhibit meeting our goals.
I was invited to do a presentation at the recent AZA Conference about our elephant pool’s green infrastructure, and it is our understanding that it’s the first elephant exhibit ever where no water from the exhibit goes into storm or sewer systems. It all goes into a bio-filtration basin, so there’s zero impact on the municipal water system infrastructure. Elements like this and the green roof on our elephant facility demonstrate how we always combine responsible stewardship of our community and our property with everything we do.
On the table now is another enhancement that will create a 340-degree experience for our visitors of getting closer to the elephants and at the same time create a more complex environment for the elephant herd.
Q: Your elephant program has been very forward-thinking when it comes to elephant training and management. Your zoo and staff were leaders in elephant management in helping found EMA, initiating JEMA and developing the AZA Principles of Elephant Management. Can you tell us about your elephant management program and the staff behind it?
Ted Fox: Our expertise in elephant management and contributions to the EMA and AZA started with former elephant manager Chuck Doyle along with senior keepers John Moakler and Mick Case. John and Mick are both technically retired but still work part-time with our elephants, and they each bring over 30 years’ experience in elephant management to our team.
Elephant staff member Seth Groesbeck has been here 18 years, and our elephant manager, Ashley Shepperd, and keeper Cassie Guerra have each been here 9 years – so we have about 110 years of experience with elephants on our staff. Under the AZA principles of elephant management, all of our staff have to take elephant management classes. We currently have six full-time and two part-time elephant staff, plus two other part-time staff and two interns.
I encourage our staff to stay connected on a daily basis to the EMA community, and there are no limits to our support of our staff regarding staff development in elephant care and husbandry, from elephant management and training to reproduction to research.
Elephant staff Seth Groesbeck and Ashley Sheppard both attended the EMA Conference this year, and Ashley is going to Houston, TX, for PEM 2 class. We also sent Ashley to India to visit an elephant work camp to learn how working elephants are managed.
Our staff is in constant contact with other elephant experts around the world with the goal of managing our herd better and creating better welfare opportunities for the animals while also maintaining a safe work environment for our staff.
Q: Can you tell us about your breeding program?
Ted Fox: There are a lot of questions about elephant reproduction and the future population of Asian elephants. We participate in as many projects as possible and collaborate with as many professionals as possible to collect as much data as we can to help future generations. Since 1990 we have had six elephant calves born at the zoo, five of which survived. A big achievement two years ago was the birth of Batu, a male calf who represents a third generation within our herd. His mother, father, and grandmother are here and form a close family group. We are excited about continuing our efforts to create more naturalized herd dynamics, with multiple generations in a matriarchal system like those in the wild.
Q: Does your elephant herd do any demonstrations meet & greets, or other activities where zoo-goers can experience elephants beyond watching them on exhibit?
Ted Fox: All of our elephant staff do keeper chats, which we offer twice a day on weekends from May through September and every single day in June, July and August. Crowds of people gather on our elephant overlooks and amphitheater at Asian Elephant Preserve to watch these demos and have a chance to question our keepers.
During the keeper chats, two or three keepers will use hay, treats and commands to bring our elephants out and down to the fence, which is really impressive when you have six or seven elephants come out as a herd, including a baby. The keepers then run the elephants through some basic training commands like raising their feet or showing their tusks and explain how and why we train for these behaviors in order to perform all the exams, observations and care that we do to keep them happy and healthy.
Sometimes the demos will include enrichments like “watermelon smash,” an elephant birthday “cake” made of fruit, browse or treats that they have to work to get, etc.
Besides the demos, we do offer an opportunity for people to purchase a behind-the-scenes elephant encounter that allows them to go into the elephant barn and see a couple of our elephants up close and get a private keeper chat.
We also collaborate with our licensing and accrediting bodies whenever possible to have open conversations with and allow them to view the program we’re so proud of here.
Q: Does your herd participate in any studies or research projects?
Elephant research projects conducted here include:
Exploring Early Social Affiliations and Behavior of a Captive Asian Elephant Calf (The birth of our 2-year-old calf, Batu, gave us a 3-generation family group that allows observation of the calf interacting with his mother, father, and grandmother on a daily basis.)
Evaluation of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in Asian Elephants using Dried Blood Spots Analyzed by Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry
Lineage-specific Expansion of the TP53 Gene Repertoire in the Elephant Lineage
Cholecalciferol Supplementation in Asian Elephants
Evaluation of the i-STATE Portable Clinical Analyzer for Measurement of Ionized Calcium and Selected Blood Chemistry Values in Asian Elephants
Comparison of Diff-Quick and Wright Giemsa Stained Whole Blood Smears in the Asian Elephant
Analytic Assessment of the Vitamin D and Calcium Status of Zoo-Managed Asian Elephants
In-Depth Assessment of Vitamin D and Calcium Status of Captive Asian Elephants in a Northern Temperate Climate
Q: How did each of you get involved with animals, zoos and conservation outreach?
Janet Agostini: I have loved animals all my life, so working for the zoo was just a natural fit, and it is a real privilege to be able to devote my working life to their benefit.
I became an animal lover as soon as I got my first kitten as a little girl in Michigan. Much to my mother’s chagrin, my father rented a small farm when we were stationed in Michigan, and the landlord brought an animal to each of us kids. Mine was a cat, my brother got a dog. We bought a couple of horses and we were underway. I have always had animals in my life.
When I was offered the position of President and CEO of the Friends of the Zoo 11 years ago, I felt it was the perfect fit for me — I could bring my business background and fundraising skills to benefit a cause I so firmly believe in. Being able to observe and interact with the animals on a daily basis is one of the best parts of my job.
Ted Fox: My dad taught large animal medicine at Cornell University and I started going on farm calls with him at age 6, and when I was old enough to work, I would work at different farms every summer. I also had racing pigeons from the time I was 10, and that turned into chickens and waterfowl and everything else. I had a guanaco in tenth grade because a circus came through Binghamton and some stupid teenager stuck a candy apple stick and in the eye of a baby guanaco. They brought it to Cornell and when they told the circus how much it would cost, the circus said, ‘Never mind, we don’t want it.’ I happened to be there and I said, ‘I’ll take it.’ That was the first weird animal I had (laughs).
I majored in animal science at Cornell with no history at zoos until I was nearly out of college. I ended up volunteering at this zoo in the bird department and then I took a summer job the next year and the following spring I was hired as a keeper. I’ve been here ever since. And though I have been offered jobs at other zoos, including San Diego and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I ended up staying here for the quality of life, family and a strong belief that the Rosamond Gifford Zoo is a truly special place that has so much to give to the Central New York Community.
As you can see the Rosamond Gifford Zoo team is dedicated to their elephant herd and elephants around the globe. They’ve made a commitment to helping their elephant ambassadors make a real impact in their community and beyond. IEF is honored to receive their support!
In a historic effort to save and conserve the Asian elephant, Government representatives from the 13 Asian countries which still have extant populations of wild Asian elephants, gathered at the Asian Elephant Range States Meeting to improve collaboration and cooperation in order to protect elephants in Asia.
The Asian Elephant Range States Meeting, hosted by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Republic of Indonesia, took place from April 18 to 20, 2017, in Jakarta, Indonesia. The meeting was facilitated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC) Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG), and supported by the Asian Elephant Conservation Fund of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Additional support was provided by the International Elephant Foundation, Regain Foundation, and the European Union Indonesia Office.
Click to image to read the Declaration and view a larger image.
Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam are the Asian elephant range countries committed to implementing a strategic Action Plan for Asian elephants, envisioned by the “The Jakarta Declaration for Asian Elephant Conservation” which was one of the outcomes of this Asian Elephant Range States Meeting. Deliberations stressed that the crisis facing Asian elephants overwhelms local capabilities and transcends national boundaries. Noting that saving elephants is a global challenge, the delegates called for a partnership of national governments and other stakeholders. The cooperative atmosphere was noted by Deborah Olson, Executive Director of IEF, saying, “It was a privilege for the International Elephant Foundation to support and participate in this momentous meeting. Even though the problems facing the long-term survival of the Asian elephant are difficult and many, all of the delegates, countries and organizations involved are committed to protecting the remaining populations.”
This epochal gathering strengthened Government networking among the Asian elephant range countries. It helped to identify common problems and shared lessons learned, knowledge, and experiences to conserve Asian elephants across their range, and emphasized the need to raise awareness about Asian elephants with other Government agencies, and national and international media and donors.
As a result of delegate discussions covering topics such as elephant population management, Human Elephant Conflict mitigation, poaching and illegal trade, the 13 Asian elephant range countries agreed to strengthen international collaborations, improve scientific monitoring to help restore the species’ habitat, create transboundary corridors, and halt poaching and illegal trade of ivory. The actions agreed to during the meeting also underscore the importance of creating incentives for local communities to protect elephants, and strengthening wildlife law enforcement and legislation to achieve the targets outlined in “The Jakarta Declaration for Asian Elephant Conservation”. ““Our long-term hope for this meeting is to bring attention to and create champions for the Asian elephant much like the poaching crisis has rallied governments, organizations, the general public and the media to the plight of the African elephant, which numbers 10 times more in population than the Asian elephant,” Olson added.
The meeting culminated with a Signing Ceremony of “The Jakarta Declaration of Asian Elephant Conservation” on April 20. The Indonesia Secretary General to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry , Dr. Ir. Bambang Hendroyono, MM, presided over the Signing Ceremony and spoke of the need for sustained efforts and mutual cooperation amongst Asian elephant range countries. The Signing Ceremony was attended by over one hundred dignitaries from various countries.
Woburn in the UK sent us this fabulous photo to share
Conservation requires a great deal of ‘thinking forward’–thinking forward towards the next project, thinking forward towards policy developments, thinking forward for population numbers, and thinking forward for the future of elephants. This month, we are pleased to highlight some of the many ways IEF thinks forward including fostering the healthy birth and care of baby elephants, spreading conservation messaging, and of course planning projects for next year!
We’d also like to thank our supporters at Woburn Safari Park in the United Kingdom for this month’s Newsletter Headline Photo! Their annual Elephant Conservation Weekend over Easter is a fantastic event, bringing together wildlife enthusiasts, keepers, animal ambassadors, and the public to foster conservation education and get everyone ‘thinking forward’.
IEF-supported projects protect elephants from poaching, seek solutions for human-elephant conflict, equip and train community conservationists, increase our knowledge of the treatment and prevention of disease and educate people.
In 2017, IEF will provide over $600,000 to support elephant conservation around the world, adding to the over $4 million total invested in conserving elephants since our inception in 1998. The following elephant conservation projects will receive support from IEF in 2017.
The Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus (EEHV) Advisory Group met in Atlanta, GA, the Saturday following the joint American Association of Zoo Veterinarians/European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians conference in July 2016. This was the second meeting of the Advisory Group since its inception in 2014. Attendees included 13 Advisory Group members and 18 invited guests, representing 6 countries total, including veterinarians, researchers, and elephant management specialists. The meeting began with regional updates from North America, Europe, and Asia, covering important topics such as potential new diagnostic options for screening at risk calves, evaluation of shedding during elephant transfer, a census of cases and research efforts in Europe, and reports of wild elephant deaths from EEHV in India. The group then turned their focus to updating two documents that outline the Standards of Care for Elephant Calves (as related to EEHV) and EEHV Monitoring and Diagnostic Testing. These two important resources are currently under revision, with new updates being available soon.
Other topics discussed included African elephants and EEHV, with a sub group of attendees from African elephant institutions committing to work together on developing more information and eventual guidelines for monitoring for EEHV in African calves and herds. Because EEHV is a global problem with elephants in both human care and in range countries, the Advisory group will identify regional Steering Committees which can better assist with supporting research and collaborative efforts in their specific geographical areas. This reorganization will facilitate the broader dissemination of information and best practices.
The EEHV Advisory Group is still determining the best methods for endorsing research projects, the protocol for which will likely vary by region. The website supported by the EEHV Advisory Group, www.eehvinfo.org, is currently undergoing a major overhaul and will be fully updated very soon. This website continues to be a major resource for EEHV Collaborators as well as clinicians and animal care personnel learning about EEHV for the first time.
The group concluded in the afternoon developing a list to prioritize the various areas of EEHV-related research, to help guide future researchers and collaborators on what the biggest needs of the community are. The results are listed below:
Pathogenesis, pathophysiology of hemorrhagic disease
Risk Factors Associated with EEHV HD
Elephant Host Immune Response; Adaptive (cytokines, T cells, antibodies)
Hemostatic response; Clotting, platelets, etc
African elephant epidemiology
EEHV Shedding (origin of shedding, saliva vs trunk wash, fetal fluids)
Early morphological changes to detect disease (lymph nodes)
Genetics related to EEHV (Elephant genetics) and viral evolution
Wild Asian elephant surveys
Aciclovir pharmacokinetic study (PK) in Asian elephants
Famciclovir PK Study in Africans
Ganciclovir PK in Asian elephants
The complete report of the EEHV Advisory Group, as well as the updated documents on Standards of Care for elephant calves and Monitoring and Testing, will be available to the public on www.eehvinfo.org by mid October 2016.
The EEHV Advisory Group would like to acknowledge their generous sponsors, without whom this critical meeting would not have taken place:
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians
International Elephant Foundation
Oklahoma City Zoo
Ft. Worth Zoo
Ringling Bros Center for Elephant Conservation
Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Donate your old vehicle to the International Elephant Foundation (IEF)
Wondering what to do with your used car, truck, motorcycle or boat? Donating your old vehicle to the International Elephant Foundation (IEF), is convenient, easy, and may qualify you for a tax deduction. And best of all, your donation will make a big difference in supporting IEF’s Asian and African elephant conservation and protection programs.
All you need to do is to complete our simple online form or call 1-866-628-2277 and we’ll take care of the rest.
We will pick up your vehicle, arrange to have your donation towed, and provide you with a tax-deductible receipt, all at no charge to you.
Call 1-866-628-2277 or online at www.elephantconservation.org.
International Elephant Foundation IEF funded a project to conduct 10 Human Elephant Coexistence street plays, two days teacher- training workshops and 2 school education programmes in Erode Forest Division, Tamil Nadu. Zoo Outreach Organization conducted several teacher-training workshops in India (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal), Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia and Thailand. This had an escalating effect in which participants of the training have created momentum in their institution or organization or on their own and as the educators they trained, educated more students.
For years, Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey has provided an opportunity for children and adults to see elephants up close and be amazed at their size, agility and intelligence, and in many this experience grew into a love of animals and the environment. What is not as well known is the incredible commitment that Ringling Bros. and the Feld family have made to the preservation of the critically endangered Asian elephant through their support of the International Elephant Foundation (IEF) and their own conservation programs supporting both wild and captive elephants in Sri Lanka.
The tragic decimation of some African elephant populations for their ivory tusks is currently receiving the worldwide attention it deserves but the fight to protect all elephants continues to be an uphill battle. A more important story, is that not all elephants are under the same threat of poaching. The Asian elephant, which has more than ten times fewer individuals – 30,000 – 40,000 Asian elephants worldwide compared to 300,000 – 500,000 African elephants – is disappearing at an unprecedented rate throughout Southeast Asia due to habitat loss and human-elephant conflict. Every day Asian elephants are killed because their habitat is being taken by large-scale plantations, development concessions for logging/mining/road construction, altered by dams, small-scale farmers and growing rural communities.
This is a message that will no longer be as effectively communicated to the millions of people who attend Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus annually to see elephants. At a time when elephants are at risk of disappearing from the planet, we are sad that fewer children and adults will be able to see and develop a connection with a live Asian elephant in their home town, but IEF is pleased that Ringling Bros’ commitment to Asian elephants and their conservation will continue and even grow.
IEF is an organization working diligently and successfully for conservation of elephants. If you would like to learn more about the IEF or any of its many elephant conservation and research projects please visit theInternational Elephant Foundation website.
Watch the Video as Wildlife Safari is excited to announce a jumbo-sized family reunion! Liz, a 51-year-old Asian elephant, and Valerie, a 33-year-old African elephant arrived after a short trip from Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California. Liz and Valerie have rejoined their companion, Tava, who came to Wildlife Safari two years ago. Liz, Valerie and Tava expressed their excitement to see one another in typical elephant fashion: there were lots of rumbles and even a few trumpets when all three were in the barn together.
Tava and Valerie’s relationship is similar to that of sisters, whereas Liz’s role is that of a matriarch. Liz’s life experiences, coupled with her dominant personality, make her a natural leader. Liz and Valerie also join George and Moja, bringing Wildlife Safari’s elephant family to a total of five. We are proud that we are able to provide an opportunity for Liz, Tava and Valerie to be reunited and are thrilled about the additional dynamics these two wonderful elephant personalities will bring to our herd and our program.
Over the coming weeks, we will keep you all informed as to how the girls are settling in. Keep an eye on our website and Facebook page—we’ll have an ele-fantastic welcome party for them soon where everyone will have a chance to welcome Liz and Valerie to their new home.
Wildlife Safari is also proud to announce that we are making a $5,000 donation to the International Elephant Foundation in honor of this jumbo-sized reunion and in recognition of all the lives the Wildlife Safari elephant family have touched. We have decided to designate these funds to anti-poaching efforts in Africa in an effort to do everything we can to secure a future for elephants.
Wildlife Safari believes in spreading a message of conservation by providing our guests with extremely unique opportunities to experience animals. Elephants are facing a very real threat of extinction; African elephants in particular are being poached at a rate of 96 per day just for their ivory tusks. By allowing our guests the opportunity to visit with and get to know elephants, we have allowed a bond to form between human and elephant which translates into a desire to protect these incredible animals for future generations. A dollar from each of our encounters also goes directly to conservation efforts.
in Nairobi on 13th January at 6 pm Kenya Time (3pm-5pm GMT). (10am-Noon EST)
As you may know, we have made huge progress in Kenya on protecting elephants, and stopping the trafficking of ivory across our borders in the last 12 months. Three major achievements include:
New and aggressive penalties in our new Wildlife Conservation and Management Act.
Creation of a dedicated team of wildlife prosecutors
Interpol assisted arrest of suspected Kenyan ivory kingpin, Feisal Mohamed Ali in Tanzania, repatriation and his prosecution in a Kenyan court.
WildlifeDirect through it’s Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign has played a major role in creating awareness and mobilizing public support for elephants to end the slaughter of our elephants.
We are participating in a #Tweet4Elephants event in Nairobi on 13th January at 6 pm Kenya Time (3pm GMT, 10am EST). The event is being generously hosted by the United States Ambassador to Kenya, Robert F. Godec.
Participants in a room will engage in a live discussion and include a diverse cross-section of society from conservation experts, to international musicians, top Kenyan bloggers and social media experts, as well as members of communities, NGO’s, the business and government sectors. The discussion promises to be quite lively, and it will be shared online through twitter to include all who are interested. We will examine the poaching crisis and efforts to end poaching, trafficking and demand for ivory.
We would like to invite you and your partner organizations around the world to participate in the conversation by following the twitter hashtag #Tweet4Elephants at 3pm GMT (6 – 8 pm in Nairobi).
Elephant poaching threatens our shared global heritage, help us infect the world with a love for these magnificent animals through a global conversation to save them.
Please share these details throughout your networks.
World-renowned conservation expert, zoologist, and Emeritus Professor, Dr. Charles Santiapillai, passed away on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 in Sri Lanka.
Dr. Santiapillai has been an important figure in wildlife research and elephant conservation for decades. An Emeritus Professor of Zoology at University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, he was also the editor of GAJAH, the Journal of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and Asian Elephant Specialist Group for nearly 20 years.
In the United States, Dr. Santiapillai is perhaps best known for his work with the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation. As the country coordinator for Sri Lanka, Dr. Santiapillai oversaw the important in-situ work funded by the CEC, including the joint Rajarata University-Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation Program: Management & Conservation of Asian Elephant. This partnership with Ringling also saw him complete the first national survey of elephants in Sri Lanka in 2013.
Dr. Santiapillai’s awards were numerous, including being a 3-time recipient of the Sri Lankan Presidential Award for Research, the recipient of the Gold Medal from HRH Prince Bernhard of The Netherlands for Conservation, and being listed as a prominent environmentalist by WWF’s “De Wereld van het Natuur Fonds.” His publications include 47 research papers in peer-reviewed journals, and 85 more in foreign and local journals on topics including elephants, tigers, water buffalo, javan rhinoceros, leopards, and crocodiles.
A regular at both the International Elephant Foundation’s Elephant Research Symposiums and the Elephant Manager’s Association’s annual conferences, Dr. Santiapillai’s contributions to elephants in Sri Lanka cannot be over-stated. His 2004 work, “The Asian Elephant: An Action Plan for its Conservation” is a seminal text for anyone working in Asian elephant conservation. Lyn de Alwis, Chairman of the IUCN/SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group, stated, “Only a person possessing such a zest for practical scientific achievement as Charles could have produced such a monumental work.”
The global conservation and elephant community has suffered a great loss in the passing of Dr. Charles Santiapillai. His legacy will live on and benefit countless animals and conservationists for generations to come.
Best estimates put the number of pygmy elephants in Malaysian Borneo at approximately 2,200, but no one can be sure how many have lost their lives in recent years as palm plantations encroach further and further into the rainforest. What is clear is that if the loss of their forest habitat continues to drive conflicts with humans at the rate it is now, Borneo elephants’ long-term survival may be in jeopardy.
There have been several high-profile cases, like the 14 elephants that were poisoned last year in Sabah Province, where the majority of Borneo elephants live and where deforestation has claimed huge amounts of forest over the past half-century. More recently, Sabah was the scene of a grisly shooting death of yet another elephant.
Borneo elephants (Elephas maximus borneensis) are listed by the IUCN as Endangered, living almost entirely in Sabah (approximately 80 also live in northern Kalimantan). A subspecies of the Asian elephant, Borneo elephants – also called Borneo pygmy elephants – are similar in size to their counterparts in peninsular Malaysia, and are threatened primarily by habitat loss.
Malaysia tops Indonesia, Brazil, and Nigeria as the country with the world’s highest rate of deforestation. According to Global Forest Watch, the country lost more than 500,000 hectares of forest in 2012 alone. Sabah, the smaller of Malaysia’s two Bornean states, lost nearly 900,000 hectares of forest between 2001 and 2013 – or about 15 percent of its tree cover. Constricted habitat driven in large part by palm oil expansion is squeezing elephants out of forests and into areas inhabited by humans, leading to increasing rates of human-elephant conflicts and subsequent elephant killings.
We received this very touching letter from the mother of Kandace Lynn Morris, a lover of elephants that sadly passed away last August –
“Please accept this donation in honor of Kandace Lynn Morris.
My daughter Kandace passed away one year ago at 22 years of age. I raised her alone and we had a bond closer than anyone could imagine. She was so beautiful Inside and out. She had a great love for elephants. She would draw elephants on note pads. Leave me notes with “I love you momma” with a picture of an elephant underneath.
Her face page was and still is elephants.
I can’t count the friends and family that have gotten elephant tattoos after her passing. I asked her one day, why do you love elephants so much? She answered “because they are family and family stays together”. When she passed on 8/5/13, a baby elephant was born at the Fort Worth Zoo, Fort Worth, Texas. World Elephant Day, 8/12/14, marks the anniversary of Kandace’s church memorial service.
I know in my heart that Kandace’s connection with elephants will continue forever.”
Growing up, Ravi Corea passed up electric train sets, remote racing cars and even an air rifle — for visits to the zoo, and books and movies about animals. It was an early indication of his passion for wildlife, and in particular, conserving and protecting wild animals and helping people understand their nature and habitats.
At the age of 13, he became a member of the Young Zoologists’ Association of Sri Lanka and also involved himself in organisations such as Wildlife & Nature Protection Society of Sri Lanka and the World Wildlife Fund. In 1995, he founded the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society (SLWCS), and today remains its president. In addition, he and the SLWCS are a pioneer and leader in human-elephant conflict (HEC) initiatives in Sri Lanka.
Working outfield has not been without its challenges — dealing with politicians and bureaucrats, he points out, is perhaps what he enjoys least in his role. There is also extreme physical danger, though this in no way fazes Corea, who professes the wilderness is his Juliet. One of his most memorable experiences was sneaking up to what he thought was an injured elephant only to have the healthy creature charge at him and a mate; the pachyderm eventually settled for his shoe, which he had dropped whilst making a run for his life.
Corea worked with Quotient TravelPlanner in late 2013 to design an itinerary revolving around wildlife conservation in the heart of the Wasgamuwa National Park. Participants in the seven-day experience can look forward to immersing in Sri Lanka’s great outdoors, learn about conservation measures and perform tasks associated with elephant well-being, as well as understand more about the local village and culture.
In this email interview, Corea shares his passion for creatures in the wild, devotion to helping communities co-exist with wildlife and recommendation for an off-the-beaten-track experience in Sri Lanka.
Quotient: Why and how did you and the SLWCS gear yourselves to focus on the human-elephant conflict?
Corea: The focus on elephants happened when I was studying for my degree in Conservation Biology at the Columbia University in New York. I had to select a project to do my summer internship and for a while already I had been aware of human-elephant conflicts in Sri Lanka and that it had become a huge problem. So I selected to do my summer internship conducting a survey on human-elephant conflicts (HEC) to learn more about it and to find measures to address it.
I had formed the SLWCS around the same time I entered Columbia University. When I presented my HEC study to the university, an organisation that supported the university got interested to support some of the measures I had developed. So naturally SLWCS was involved in that effort and ever since then on mitigating HEC.
What is a typical day like for you?
When I’m in our field house in Wasgamuwa the day starts at 4am even though I might not get off my bed until 5am. Around 4am the birds begin to chirp, tweet and sing. The vibrancy and energy of bird song is like an inspiring call to wake up, grab your day and make the most of it. And then the village roosters begin. To rise every day to such a natural symphony of animal calls and sounds in a salubrious environment is a privilege. At 5am the rising sun hidden below the horizon barely illuminates the surrounding hills, the Knuckles Mountains and the lake at the bottom of the hill of the field house property. I spend at least 15 minutes seated in the open veranda looking over this opening tableau and I’m always amazed by its sublime tranquility.
I turn on my laptop and check my emails and sort the messages for responding later in the day. Rising early I have the entire social space of the field house to myself. The solitude helps me to get my thoughts together — many times solutions for unresolved issues from the previous day form in my mind — and reenergises me for a brand new day. My friend Dodam, a rescued giant squirrel, joins me for my first cup of fresh Ceylon tea, after which I head to check on the rescued wild animals in the field house.
At 6am I head out to the Sunrise Rock about 10 minutes from the field house, accompanied by visitors and volunteers staying at the time then they would join me. The climb up to the rock gives a good start to the morning and the view from the top gives a good start to the entire day. The colours that light up the dawn sky never fails to amaze me. After sunrise we’ll walk down the other side of the Sunrise Rock to the fields, vast grass plains and scrub forest situated along the lake. We’ll observe nature, do bird watching and witness local traditional village activities. During the walk I’ll explain to the volunteers and visitors the tropical ecosystems, animals and the conservation challenges and issues we need to address.
By 8am we are back at the field house where after morning ablutions and breakfast the field team consisting of SLWCS staff and volunteers will conduct the morning activities. They include tank monitoring, where we check irrigation reservoirs for elephant dung to find out the dispersal patterns and food intake; trail walking, which is tracking of elephant activity based on visual sightings of dung and footprints over a 12-kilometre route with undulating terrain; electric fence monitoring, where we walk 8 to 12 kilometres along the fences to check the state of the barricades; mammal surveying, which may involve setting sand traps for specie identification; and monitoring of community projects. Generally the morning activities will end around 12 noon.
After lunch, I catch up with my work such as writing reports, proposals, articles, the blog, replying queries, making phone calls, etc. The volunteers and visitors also take this break to catch up with their social networking, write journals, etc.
After tea we prepare to conduct our evening activities. They consist of elephant identification, in which we head to the Weheragala tank to observe and photograph elephants, filling in data sheets with information about physical traits as well as HEC observation, where we spend time in a tree hut located along an elephant corridor to observe how villagers and elephants interact and use the common space. Then it’s dinner followed by discussions about the day’s activities and observations and documentary watching. I find time again to work on society matters.
Since we live in an area where elephants range some nights a call will come alerting that an elephant or elephants have entered the village. If so, we will head out to see the elephants and help the villagers to chase them from the village.
Once I call it a day I will head to my room and drift off to sleep amidst the sounds of nocturnal animals.
What is the biggest misconception participants of SLWCS’s wildlife adventure programmes have?
Most people don’t seem to realise, to conserve wildlife resources are needed: financial, equipment, personnel, tools and communities. Most volunteers obtain their experience and leave; only a very few continue to engage with us and promote the work we do to a global audience and help to garner support for our work.
If there is one thing you can change in your current roles, what would it be and why?
I wish I had more time to spend in the field. I’d love to go back to the days when I conducted field studies. Working in the field is a dynamic process where you are constantly learning and observing new things which gives fuel to your mind to come up with new and innovative ideas.
What is one off-the-beaten-track experience in Sri Lanka you would highly recommend for tourists?
To participate in the Padayatra. The Padayatra is a two-month long annual foot pilgrimage that starts in the north of Sri Lanka in Jaffna, from where people walk all the way down to Kataragama in the south through the countryside, jungle and forests. The final leg of the walk is through the Yala National Park where elephants, leopards, sloth bear, buffalo, and sambur inhabits with numerous other wildlife.
Outside of Sri Lanka, where is your favourite place in the world and why?
That would be southern Africa, especially Namibia and Botswana. These are vast countries with some of the most remote and astounding landscapes in the world home to a large number of wild animals and yet have very low human populations. While in magnitude Sri Lanka is miniscule and cannot be compared to them, when I was young many rural areas of Sri Lanka were similar: remote, beautiful and scenic landscapes with plenty of wildlife and very few people. I guess I’m nostalgic for the days of my youth when remote wild places actually existed in Sri Lanka.
A brave ranger from NRT’s specialised 9-1 security team lost his life in an exchange of fire with heavily armed cattle raiders on Sunday 11th May. Ltadamwa Lardagos, 36, had been part of the 9-1 team since it was established back in 2009. An experienced, talented and dedicated ranger, he will be sorely missed by his team-mates, his family, and his friends.
Lardagos lost his life recovering livestock that had been stolen from the Meru area, on the slopes of Mt. Kenya. He had been involved in many similar incidents over the years, resulting in the successful recovery of hundreds of heads of cattle. This fateful incident was described as ‘extremely unlucky’ as his team walked into a carefully prepared ambush. Lardagos was killed instantly.
The armed gang, who had stolen large numbers of cattle, had been on the move for several days, and had already encountered an NRT vehicle, although by accident. After the theft, the gang had rapidly headed north, through Nakuprat-Gotu Community Conservancy, where in panic they shot at an NRT vehicle heading back from a community board meeting. The vehicle contained Gabriel Nyausi, NRT’s community development officer, as well as several board members of Nakuprat-Gotu. The driver, “Ndege”, has received training in driving in hostile situations, and managed to manoeuvre the vehicle through the spray of bullets, driving all passengers to safety and escaping with just a graze on his head from a speeding bullet.
As the thieves headed into Sera Community Conservancy with the stolen livestock, the Kenya Police called in the help of NRT’s specialised 9-1 security team. 9-1 immediately sprang to action, picking up the trail of the gang near the village of Kom. It was here that they encountered an ambush, and exchanged heavy gunfire. During the exchange, Ltadamwa Lardagos was hit by one of the cattle raiders’ bullets and tragically lost his life.
The gang made their escape, but did not count on the strength of the community spirit and their unwavering support for the 9-1 team. As the rest of Lardagos’ team followed up with the bandits, people from nearby villages came forward, eager to gave information on the movements of the gang. It was this information from the community and the fast action of the 9-1 team, that lead to the arrest of his killer the same evening. NRT also wishes to thank Tropic Air for their rapid assistance, as they flew in a team of tracker dogs and their handlers from Ol Pejeta Conservancy to help find the culprit. As the case now rests with the Kenya Police, it will be this community involvement that will help to catch the other individuals involved in this incident.
Lardagos died fighting to protect his community, his rangelands, and for peace in northern Kenya. He was given a police burial in his home conservancy of Melako on Thursday 15th May, where he was described by an officer as “a good fighter and soldier, and loyal to the team.” The service was attended by his family, NRT staff, his fellow rangers, and representatives from three county governments, the Kenya Police and the Kenya Wildlife Service. He leaves behind a wife, Mbeneiyo, and two young children, Stephano and Nambiyie. Although nothing will ever bring him back, his family will be left with financial support equivalent to eight years of his salary. The US ambassador Robert Godec, who visited this area just last month to open the new Nasuulu Headquarters, tweeted his support, saying “Ltadamwa Lardagos, we mourn his death & celebrate his courage & all who make great sacrifices to protect Kenya’s wildlife”.
NRT has set up a fund to support Lardagos’ children through school, and we would welcome any donation great or small. To donate in USD, please see our Crowdrise site.
More about 9-1
The establishment of 9-1, so called because of their radio call sign, was in response to requests from the communities of Sera, Biliqo-Bulesa, Namunyak and Melako for a multi-ethnic security team. They wanted a unit that represented each of the three ethnic groups in the area, to focus specifically on poaching, road banditry and livestock theft, which has always been particularly bad in this region. Individuals from each community were nominated and recruited, and 9-1 was born. Ltadamwa Lardagos was one of these original twelve men.
NRT has a vested interest in helping the Kenya Police tackle livestock theft, as it poses such a major disruption to people’s lives in northern Kenya. Historically, it has been a root cause for violent ethnic tension, and the individuals now involved in cattle rustling are increasingly being linked to ivory poaching and road banditry as well. Sera, Biliqo-Bulesa, Melako and Namunyak all have high concentrations of elephant, and are a favourite spot for cattle raiders wishing to hide (and graze) stolen livestock. These factors, combined with the sheer size of the area in question, lead to the need for a specialised team to deliver the extra security assistance required in these conservancies.With the help of the Kenya Police and the Kenya Wildlife Service, the 9-1 team was trained in weapons handling, combat operations and advanced first aid.
The ethnic diversity within 9-1 has proved one of the teams’ greatest strengths. They are not only able to gain trust and intelligence from all the communities across their patrol range, but they are more effectively able to raise awareness within those communities too. They work closely with the conservancy rangers and the Kenya Police, as they operate under the chain of command of the OCPD. Their close relations with the communities and the Kenya Police means the 9-1 team have become part community policemen, part wildlife guardians. So far, the presence of 9-1 has proven invaluable. The illegal killing of elephants has reduced by 22% in these conservancies over the past year alone (see our 2013 elephant mortality report), and numbers of road banditry and cattle raiding incidents have dropped dramatically.
In fact, 9-1 has proved such a success, that a 9-2 team has now been established to cover the community conservancies south of the Ewaso Nyiro river.
How Much Is Your Face Worth? (Elephant Conservation Project)
Tribeca Flashpoint students teamed up with the International Elephant Foundation to raise awareness and donations for the conservation of elephants. This is their video.
An estimated 100 African elephants are killed each day by poachers seeking ivory, meat and body parts. In 1980, there were over 1,000,000 African elephants; today, there are less than 400,000.
IEF and Tribeca students share the same mission:
“IEF creates a sustainable future for elephants. We generate and effectively invest resources to support elephant conservation, education, research, and management programs worldwide. Through our passion, expertise, knowledge, and partnerships we inspire and engage people to ensure a vibrant future with elephants everywhere.”
Help our cause by visiting: TRIBECA FLASHPOINT ACADEMY’S FUNDRAISER
Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon, and Have Trunk Will Travel in Perris, California are dedicated to helping elephants by preserving the human/animal bond through providing personal, unique experiences that inspire people to help elephants.
Dr. Norman Deitch of Health Link Medical Center in Oceanside, CA met an elephant, learned about their plight in the wild and was the highest bidder for this one-of-a-kind masterpiece collaboratively created by “George” and “Tai” to contribute to conservation through the International Elephant Foundation.
Elephant footprint art series, “Stomp Out Extinction” now available. Each painting includes one footprint from an Asian elephant and one footprint from an African elephant. Each one is unique. They are available on Etsy.com and all proceeds benefit the International Elephant Foundation.
We are pleased to announce the new IEF app now on iTunes.
The App, customized for IEF by Global Identities now enables all our readers to keep in touch while they are on the move. Users can share the content with their friends and family and keep up to date with all of the new IEF projects and updates.
Download the new Grant Applications for 2015 today- right from the App. View the breathtaking images in the photo gallery. Watch all the movies, funny, serious and heart wrenching.There’s something for everyone in this app! Either click on the Apple download link above, or search for “IEF” on iTunes right on your iPhone.
Focus on black rhino: Diceros bicornis bicornis population dynamics and a formula for successful conservation of the species 2002-2012 –Susan P. Downie, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Reproductive parameters in wild Asian elephants in Southern Sri Lanka estimated through individual-based longitudinal monitoring –Shermin de Silva, Colorado State University/Trunks & Leaves, Inc.
Determining potential environmental and social factors affecting the success of the black rhinoceros in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa –Rachel Santymire, Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology Lincoln Park Zoo
White rhinoceros reproduction: Insights from the wild and semi-wild Ron Swaisgood, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research
Manual restraint and chemical immobilization with xylazine/ketamine of wild and captive Sumatran elephants (Elephas maximus sumatranus) under field conditions – Christopher Stremme, Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation
Urinary hormone concentrations and pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics of haloperidol in a female Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) – Anri Benco, Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife
and Ohio State University
Current studies on molecular mechanisms of iron homeostasis in rhinoceroses Rose Linzmeier, UCLA School of Medicine
Issues of elephant health care management in Myanma Timber Enterprise (MTE), Myanmar Zaw Min Oo, Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, Myanma Timber Enterprise
Update from the Stakeholders Task Force for the Management and Research Priorities of Tuberculosis for Elephants in Human Care – Kay Backues, American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Representative to the Elephant Care Task Force and Tulsa Zoo
Testing for tuberculosis in elephants: what is the evidence? David Miller, Stakeholders Task Force for the Management and Research Priorities of Tuberculosis for Elephants in Human Care Point prevalence and incidence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex in captive elephants 568 in the United States of America – Ramiro Isaza, University of Florida at Gainesville
First evidence of EEHV infection in Sumatran elephants (Elephas maximus sumatranus) in Indonesia – Christopher Stremme, Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation
Seven species of elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses (EEHVs) form a novel mammalian subfamily, the Deltaherpesvirinae – Gary Hayward, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Elephant herpesviruses EEHV2, EEHV3A, EEHV3B (a new subspecies), EEHV6, EEHV7A, EEHV7B (a new Subspecies) and EGHV1A, EGHV1B (a new species), EGHV2, EGHV4 found in tissue biopsies and saliva from African elephants in Kenya and America
Virginian Pearson, Princeton University
Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV): where we are, where we are going – Lauren Howard, Houston Zoo
The lonely rhino: analyzing anthropomorphism toward solitary animals – Selenia Murillo, Chicago Zoological Society – Brookfield Zoo
The bigger picture – How captive elephant facilities benefit wild elephant populations – Sean Hensman, Elephants for Africa Forever
Contributions to science and conservation by elephant managers and captive elephants – Heidi Riddle, Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary and Elephant Managers Association
Contributions of the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation to wildlife management in Sri Lanka – Charles Santiapillai, Center for the Study of Asian Elephant at Rajarata University of Sri Lanka at Mihintale
Control of invasive arenga palm (Arenga obtusifolia) in habitat suitable for Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus), Ujung Kulon National Park, Indonesia Sectionov Inov, International Rhino Foundation – Indonesia
The Role of standing sedation in mitigating human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka – S. Wijeyamohan, Ringling Bros. Center for the Study of Asian Elephants at Rajarata University
Trend analysis of temporal and spatial patterns of human-elephant conflict in Nepal – Dinesh Neupane, Arkansas State University
Oral imipramine and intravenous xylazine for pharmacologically-induced ex copula ejaculation in an African elephant (Loxodonta africana) – Ray Ball, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo
Pretreatment of Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)<,em> spermatozoa with cholesterol-loaded 1030 cyclodextrins and glycerol addition at 4 degrees C improves cryosurvival – Wendy Kiso, The Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation
The pressures on wild populations of elephants and rhinos are increasing at an alarming rate. We invite elephant and rhino conservationists and researchers from around the world to present conservation projects and research results on field conservation, conflict mitigation, management, health, disease, nutrition, reproduction and behavior at our third joint International Elephant and Rhino Conservation and Research Symposium.
IEF-supported projects protect elephants from poaching, seek solutions for human-elephant conflict, equip and train community conservationists, increase our knowledge of the treatment and prevention of disease and educate people. In 2013, IEF will provide over $250,000 to support elephant conservation around the world, adding to the over $2.5 million total invested in conserving elephants since its inception in 1998. The following elephant conservation projects will receive support from IEF in 2013:
Capacity Building by the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), Kenya
NRT develops the capacity and self-sufficiency of its constituent community conservancies in biodiversity conservation, natural resource management and protection, and natural resources based enterprises.
Land and Waterways Project, Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF), Uganda
This multi-year partnership constructs and equips marine and land ranger stations positively impacting the ability of law enforcement to reverse poaching and to initiate water rescue for the communities that make their livelihood from the resources of the lake.
Park Protection and Training Programme in Kafue National Park, Zambia
This project expands the Park Protection & Training Programme to include Waterborne Patrols, Surveillance and Monitoring of Lake Itezhi-Tezhi, providing increased security for the wildlife.
This program benefits elephant conservation both in the long and short term as both children and their parents are sensitized to the issues of neighboring elephant populations. The last count of the Mouhoun elephant population was conducted in 2002 resulting in between 200 and 900 elephants. The potential connection of the Mouhoun elephant population with other elephant populations, especially the Kaboré-Tambi – Nazinga, the Comoé-Léraba, and the Northern Ghana populations are unclear. These elephants are facing increasing pressures through habitat destruction and fragmentation. Outcomes of this project will determine long-term conservation efforts to protect this population.
Support to Purchase Field Equipment for Namunyak Conservancy Rangers, Kenya
The Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust is an indigenous community-based organization promoting wildlife conservation and socio-economic development through sustainable utilization of natural resources. While the rangers do their best to prevent poaching and monitor elephant mortality, they are very inadequately equipped and need a variety of equipment to be able to carry out their job effectively. Equipping the rangers with adequate equipment will enable them to not only patrol a larger area but will also be a deterrent to potential poachers.
Developing Long-Term Stakeholder Capacity for Elephant Conservation in Mali
This initiative is part of the Mali Elephant Project to protect a unique population of 550 sub-desert elephants that has managed to cope with the dispersed and variable nature of the area’s resources through making the largest annual elephant migration in Africa. Increasing human activity in the elephant range is increasingly impeding this migration, and incidences of conflict are escalating. This project brings together the diverse clans and ethnicities of communities to collectively establish natural resource management systems that all agree to, supported by legislation and government structure plans. These systems protect the elephant migration route, increase the quantity of resources by reversing destructive practices, and ensure wise land-use management.
Elephant Conservation Center, Myanmar
IEF is developing a long-term relationship with Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) to assist in developing a Conservation Center that would use out-of-work elephants for eco-tourism and patrols. This center will also be a base for mahout training and an elephant hospital.
Capacity Building to Strengthen Management of Captive Elephants in Laos
This project will reduce the illegal capture and trade of wild and captive elephants through the registration and micro-chipping of captive elephants. To date the team has successfully micro-chipped 442 elephants. This project will also include the distribution of Elephant Identity Cards, training of mahouts in basic healthcare, and the dissemination of information within mahout communities promoting long term care, breeding opportunities, and socio-economic alternative to logging.
Supporting Community-Based Conservation of Asian Elephants in Rakhine Yoma, Myanmar
This project recognizes that conservation often imposes a significant opportunity cost on local communities, and that these same communities often have skills and experience that can be harnessed to promote conservation. This project will train villagers in elephant surveys to generate reliable data on total population, distribution, threats, and conservation status, support the participation of the villagers in joint patrols and associated management and monitoring activities, and support anti-wildlife trade and HEC mitigation through education and awareness.
Determining Pharmacokinetic Characteristics of the Antivirual Drug Ganciclovir in Asian Elephants
Appropriate dosages and dosing intervals to maintain therapeutic blood levels of ganciclovir in elephants needs to be established in order to guarantee effective treatment and to minimize drug‐associated side effects.
Elephant Edotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV) Research
IEF is one of the primary funders of the National Elephant Herpesvirus Laboratory at the Smithsonian National Zoo and directs and funds multiple studies aimed at identifying the causes of EEHV.
Emergence of Highly Fatal Endot Heliotropic Elephant Herpesvirus in Asian Elephants of South India
This is the first report of EEHV both in India and in free ranging elephant populations. This project will be a thorough epidemiological investigation of the EEHV infections in both free ranging and captive Asian Elephants in the study area. This project will identify and evaluate the extent of emergence of EEHV, risk factors and risk groups involved and will help formulate management strategies for the future conservation of this species.
Innovative Attempts to Propagate Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus Cell Culture
The ability to grow and propagate this virus in laboratory conditions is so critical for the progress of future research towards understanding the biology and pathology of this virus, as well as for any hoped for possibility of generating live attenuated vaccines that additional innovative approaches must be carried out as one of the top priority goals of EEHV research. This study will employ a variety of improved detection methods and alternative approaches beyond the simplistic standard ones.
Validation of the Effectiveness of Anti-Herpesvirus Inhibitors for EEHV Disease
This project will carry out sophisticated basic research experiments designed to answer which if any of the drugs are truly capable of stopping EEHV so that informed decisions can be made.
Disease Risk Analyses for Tuberculosis Detection and Prevalence in Elephants
Identification of risk factors and assessment of currently available diagnostic methods in U.S. elephants will provide information that can be used for making recommendations to minimize transmission and prevent infection. Improved interpretation of diagnostic tests, identification of risk factors associated with infection, and assessment of the current infection status of the U.S. elephant population will facilitate decision-making by elephant managers, veterinarians, and regulatory officials regarding movement, treatment, and management of elephants to prevent TB infection.
Overview of Tuberculosis in Elephants in the United States
Tuberculosis in elephants in the United States is a complicated disease that poses numerous elephant and human health concerns, regulatory difficulties, and diagnostic challenges. Tuberculosis is difficult to diagnose in elephants, and current diagnostic tools have limitations. In addition, treatment options for elephants are of uncertain efficacy and have potentially serious side-effects. These issues have contributed to debate regarding appropriate regulatory standards. This study is intended to ensure that contributions from all authorities are integrated into an objective assessment of currently available information, and it will assist with clarifying where key information exists or needs to be developed to best manage and eliminate Mtb in elephants.
Investigating a Low Tech Method of Cryopreserving Elephant Sperm
Cryopreservation of semen for use with artificial insemination has the potential to be a valuable tool in the management of elephants. Unfortunately, post‐thaw motility of cryopreserved Asian elephant sperm is usually poor. This study will investigate the use of manual seeding to control ice crystal propagation and thawing at temperatures higher than 37C as a method of increasing post‐thaw sperm quality of cryopreserved Asian elephant sperm.
EEHV Viral Genomics and Pathogenesis
The three most common and useful techniques for studying viruses are not applicable for EEHV. However studying the genomes of EEHVs by PCR amplification and DNA sequencing directly from necropsy tissue and other clinical samples provides information about the genetic make-up of each virus and about the genes and pathways that they utilize to take control of particular types of host cell. That information allows us to generate additional clinical reagents such as specific antibodies and target antigens, as well as cloned expression vectors for viral enzymes that can be used in laboratory research and pathological diagnosis. The ultimate goal is to identify viral immediate-early genes, latency genes and immune evasion genes and other potential novel viral genes or pathways that will provide insights into the mechanisms of viral pathogenesis, and will also in the future help for generating engineered attenuated vaccine strains or new targets and approaches for better antiviral drugs.
Extensive viral DNA sequencing analysis carried out over many years primarily at the National Elephant Herpesvirus Laboratory and Johns Hopkins Laboratory Group has revealed a great deal of genetic variability amongst the herpesviruses that infect Asian and African elephants. This variability occurs at three distinct levels (Genus, Species and Strain). Information about individual viral genomes comes predominantly from DNA samples extracted from viremic blood and necropsy tissue collected from numerous elephant calves with hemorrhagic disease. However, some data also comes from virus-positive lung nodules and skin biopsies, as well as occasionally from routine blood samples and trunk washes of latently infected, but otherwise healthy elephants that are undergoing low level systemic primary infection or secondary reactivated infections. Selected fragments of viral DNA are amplified by a process known as polymerase chain reaction (or PCR) and the order of A, C, G and T nucleotides along the DNA molecules are then read off from a special sequencing gel profile and compared by computer techniques with all other known herpesvirus DNA sequences.
Instructions for Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV) Sample Submission Click here
Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus (EEHV) is killing baby elephants. JP was just 3 ½ years old when he died from EEHV. This insidious, elephant-specific disease has a mortality rate estimated between 80 and 90% and has been the cause of death of approximately 25% of the Asian elephants born in North America since 1978. It usually strikes when the calves are between 1 and 4 years old. They most often succumb within 24 to 72 hours of showing the first symptoms. Various strains of the virus are found in Asian and African elephants in human care as well as in wild populations. There is no known cure or vaccine.
JP & Rosie
JP was the fourth baby elephant to be born at Have Trunk Will Travel Ranch. He was named in honor of our dear friend and veterinarian, Dr. Jim Peddie. Rosie was not able to conceive naturally, so JP’s birth was achieved through artificial insemination. His birth was nothing short of a miracle to us and a testament to the elephant and veterinary communities that worked together to give him life.
JP’s endless energy and enthusiasm was a source of delight for his Mom, Rosie, and adoring aunties, Tai, Becky, Kitty and Dixie. We humans were blessed to have witnessed the affection, interaction and especially the wild playtime that JP inspired in all of them.Our elephant herd participates in an ongoing EEHV research project conducted by the National Elephant Herpes Virus Laboratory at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. JP had been donating serum for this research throughout his entire lifetime. Upon his death, blood and tissue samples were collected to gain desperately needed information for the studies and research projects working toward the answers and solutions to keep other baby elephants alive and healthy.
JP & Tai
The loss of JP has inspired us to redouble our efforts to wipe out this deadly disease. We are committed to continuing to aid in EEHV research projects. We will work to help raise urgently needed funding for EEHV research through the International Elephant Foundation to support the important work being done by:
National Elephant Herpes Virus Laboratory at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Baylor College of Medicine
New York State College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University
Johns Hopkins University
You can help save baby elephants. Donations to fund EEHV research, laboratories and studies will be collected and distributed through The International Elephant Foundation (IEF)
A Sustainable Solution for Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) in Sri Lanka: Palmyra Bio-fencing
During the first year, our team has been able to plant 235,000 Palmyra seeds at three sites covering about 13 km. of a fencing stretch. Palmyra Bio-fencing is an animal-friendly, sustainable, cost effective tree planting program that provides benefits both to wild elephants and underprivileged rural communities affected by wild elephants.
Palmyra bio-fencing is an alternative to short-lived electric fencing technology commonly practiced to mitigate human elephant conflict. Although Palmyra bio-fencing is considered as a new technology for mitigating human elephant conflict, this technology has been in practice in the past by the villagers of Sri Lanka for various other purposes. In many cases, this has been used as a cattle barrier, farmland demarcation boundary or in some cases as a parapet wall to home gardens in rural areas. The proposed Palmyra fencing technology for mitigating the HEC is somewhat different from the traditional way of erecting fences. Under the proposed technology, it is suggested installing four lines of Palmyra trees in zigzag pattern having 5 feet gap between plants and 8 feet gap between rows.
This past May the Berlin Zoo announced that Ko Raya, a 2-year-old female Asian elephant, had died of an infection caused by a particularly virulent species of herpesvirus discovered only within the past two decades.
With few exceptions, herpesviruses don’t cause clinically important disease. The virus that caused Ko Raya’s death, however, was one of several novel elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses now considered among the most serious challenges to the Asian elephant’s survival in captivity and the wild. No vaccine is available for EEHV, nor are there any reliable treatment options for the disease, which accounts for a quarter of young, captive Asian elephant deaths.
Neria is 5 years old and the daughter of a colleague of mine, Sarah. She and her dance friends are wearing the wristbands and spreading the word about EEHV. Also, Neria’s friend, Stephanie saw WATER FOR ELEPHANTS and simply HAD TO RIDE an elephant. She was at Santa Ana Zoo this past weekend and rode Rosie! I told Sarah that Rosie is JP’s mom! She was very, very excited about that and thrilled to wear the wristband!!