Kevin Bewick, head of the Anti-Poaching Intelligence Group of Southern Africa (APIGSA), provides his perspective on the fight against wildlife crime. His group undertakes investigations and focuses on intelligence gathering and research into wildlife poaching and trafficking.
John Scanlon, Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), reflects on the 40th anniversary of CITES, provides an overview of what to look for at the 16th Conference of Parties, and discusses species-specific issues, with an emphasis on elephants, rhinos and sharks.
Iain Douglas-Hamilton reflects on a lifetime studying elephants and discusses the current surge in ivory poaching.
At age 23, Iain Douglas-Hamilton pioneered the first in-depth scientific study of elephant social behavior in Tanzania's Lake Manyara National Park. During the 1970s he investigated the status of elephants throughout Africa and was the first to alert the world to the ivory poaching holocaust. He and his wife have co-authored two award-winning books and have made numerous television films. In 1993, he founded Save the Elephants, a Kenyan conservation organization dedicated specifically to elephants. In 2010, he was named the recipient of the prestigious Indianapolis Prize, in recognition for his lifetime achievements.
Fourteen-year-old Celia Ho from Hong Kong recently launched a campaign to stop the ivory trade after becoming inspired by Bryan Christy’s “Blood Ivory” article in National Geographic magazine. Her young voice represents a new hope for elephants that is increasing throughout Asia while her story illustrates how one person can make a difference.
Sharon Levy, author of Once and Future Giants, discusses what Ice Age extinctions teach us to help today’s megafauna, like elephants and bears, avoid the same fate. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that North America was home to a menagerie of massive mammals, like mammoths, mastodons, camels, giant beavers, sloths and lions, until about 13,000 years ago, when the first humans reached the Americas. She notes that today’s large mammals face an intensified replay of that great die-off, and that these large animals need to be able to move in times when they need to adapt to a changing climate.
Sharon Levy is the author Once and Future Giants: What Ice Age extinctions Tell Us About the Fate of Earth's Largest Animals. For the past nineteen years, she’s covered environmental issues of all kinds, including the ecology of top predators, bioengineered mosquitoes, and archaeological evidence of ancient human impacts on wildlife and fisheries. She is a contributing editor at OnEarth magazine, and writes regularly for National Wildlife, BioScience, Audubon and the New Scientist. Her work has also appeared in Natural History, Nature, Wildlife Conservation, High Country News and Discovery Channel Online. This episode of “The WildLife” was posted on August 1, 2011.
The WildLife is a show that explores the mysteries of the animal world through interviews with scientists, authors and other wildlife investigators. It airs every Monday from 1-2 pm EST on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont.
John Roberts, Director of the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, discusses domestic Asian elephants in Thailand. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the life of domestic Asian elephants in the Golden Triangle and talks about the innovative approach being taken by a relatively new elephant camp at Anantara luxury Resort in northern Thailand that aims both to help these animals and to help their owners improve their way of life. John Roberts is Director of the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation and Director of Elephants for Anantara Golden Triangle Resorts and Four Seasons Tented Camp. He is a trustee of the English Registered Charity the International Trust for Nature Conservation (www.itnc.org) and acts as Director of the Thai registered Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (www.helpingelephants.org). He has also contributed articles to publications as diverse as Bird Conservation Nepal and Land Rover Monthly. He’s also director of elephants for the elephant camps at Anantara and Four Seasons Tented Camp, which have gained worldwide television and press coverage and together with the Foundation provide more than twenty-five elephants, their mahouts and the mahouts’ families with a living. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 19, 2010 and was rebroadcast on July 25, 2011.
Nick Marx of Wildlife Alliance talks about rescuing wildlife from illegal trade in Cambodia. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that since 2001, the Cambodian government has cracked down on the illegal wildlife trade with the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT), an inter-agency wildlife crime investigation and counter-trafficking unit of the Forestry Administration and Royal Gendarmerie of Cambodia operating with technical and financial support from Wildlife Alliance. To date, the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team has rescued more than 40,000 live wild animals, raided hundreds of restaurants, markets and shops illegally selling wildlife, set up check points on roads and dramatically reduced wildlife crime in Cambodia. Whenever possible, live animals rescued by the team are released back into the wild. But when the rescued animals need medical attention or are too young for release into the wild, they are taken back to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center for care. The Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center is situated less than an hour away from Cambodia’s capital of Phnom Penh and is currently home to over 1,200 animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade.
Nick Marx is Wildlife Rescue Director at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. He works for Wildlife Alliance, a non-profit organization based in Cambodia and Washington, D.C. that works directly with communities and governments to improve forest management and institute good governance to comprehensively address the devastation of ecosystems and combat the illegal wildlife trade. Nick holds a master’s degree in Conservation Biology and has more than forty years of experience in animal care, especially with large wildlife. His animal experience includes large predators (such as tigers, lions, cheetahs, leopards), primates (including orangutans, gibbons), elephants, and other mammals. He has worked in park management, wildlife conservation, and animal care in the United Kingdom, India, South Africa, and Southeast Asia. He advises the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team on dealing with human-animal conflicts and providing care for animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. He has lectured and published broadly on wildlife conservation and animal husbandry, and appeared on global television broadcasts on BBC, ABC Nightline, CNN Planet in Peril, and other global media outlets. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on May 2, 2011.
Stephanie Vergniault, Founder and Executive Director of SOS Elephants, talks about elephant poaching in Chad. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that the situation is spiraling out of control. In just two-weeks, in February 2011, 20 elephants were killed in Chad for their ivory. All were killed outside of protected areas, making them easy targets. Vergniault notes that if poaching continues at this rate, “not a single elephant will be alive in Chad in three years time.”
Vergniault is doing all she can to stop this trend. For example, SOS Elephants has developed a network of 100 to 200 local people who inform the NGO about poaching activity, including providing positions of poachers or elephants. It then can alert Chadian government forces, (namely Mobile Forces of Protection of the Environment,) about the incidents. In fact, in mid-March 2011, government forces apprehended the poachers involved in the February incident. They also seized AK-47s, horses and 15 ivory tusks.
While in some regions tourism might provide an economic alternative, in Chad the prospects are limited because the elephants there have become so aggressive and often charge at people. “They are used to poachers,” Vergniault explains. “They have a good memory. To them, humans are bad.” As a result, SOS Elephants focuses on education and training in rural areas, discussing non-lethal alternatives, such as solar barriers or red pepper to discourage elephants from raiding crops and planting outside of elephant migration corridors. Vergniault knows that changing public attitudes both towards elephants and towards ivory is the only way to stop the killing, so SOS Elephants also spreads the word through sport. It’s NGO-sponsored soccer team, The Elephants, serves as an ambassador for the real elephants, furthering the message. It’s working, as more and more local teams are springing up spontaneously across the country.
Stephanie Vergniault is the founder and Executive Director of SOS Elephants in Chad. As a French lawyer specializing in elections and governance, she became passionate about her work overseas and traveled around the world to work in places like Nicaragua, Venezuela, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Ethiopia, Gabon, and Chad. She first came to Chad in 1995 to work with the government on electoral assistance. At that time, as a guest of the Head of State, she had a desire to see the elephants and was struck by their dire situation. When she returned in 2007, she was shocked by the massive slaughter that was occurring. That’s when she decided to take action and, in 2009, Stephanie created the non-governmental organization in Chad called SOS Elephants. SOS Elephants is dedicated to the preservation of elephants and their habitats in Chad and its neighbors. It works through a combination of methods including research, education, conservation and counter poaching actions. Vergniault now lives in Chad and works closely with local communities. One of the newest projects Stephanie has undertaken is building an elephant orphanage for the baby elephants who are orphaned after their mothers are poached for their ivory. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 11, 2011.
Wildlife veterinarian Steve Osofsky shares his adventures as the first wildlife veterinarian in Botswana. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme some captivating stories – like how he played “MacGyver” and used locally available materials to run medical tests on eland, and when he stared down an angry elephant who’d woken up a might too soon after being darted and entered his helicopter before he did! Dr. Osofsky worked for years at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas as the Director of Animal Health Services, where he cared for a variety of exotic game, before moving to Botswana in 1991 when he became the first Wildlife Veterinary Officer for Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism). Since leaving Botswana, his career expanded well outside the bounds of a traditional veterinary clinical career into a variety of policy positions, including at the U.S. Agency for International Development and World Wildlife Fund. Since 2002, he’s been at the Wildlife Conservation Society, first as that organization’s first Senior Policy Advisor for Wildlife Health and now as Director of Wildlife Health Policy. In addition to his current position with WCS, Dr. Osofsky is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland and has served on eight International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (IUCN/SSC) Specialist Groups. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on February 22, 2010 and was rebroadcast on February 28, 2011.
Gay Bradshaw, author of Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us about Humanity, discusses the psychological health of abused and traumatized elephants and what can be done to help them. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that elephants are traumatized by a number of events – including mass slaughter due to culling (which she compares to genocide), translocation to repopulate new areas (which she notes is akin to deportation), captivity, and the breakdown of elephant society (from poaching and targeting the largest elephants) – and consequently the mental, emotional, and social wellbeing of elephants should be considered in conservation design and policy.
Gay Bradshaw is Executive Director of The Kerulos Center. She holds doctorate degrees in ecology and psychology, and has published, taught, and lectured widely in these fields both in the United States and internationally. Dr. Bradshaw’s work focuses on the theory and methods for the study and care of animal psychological well-being and multi-species cultures. Her research expertise includes the effects of violence on and trauma recovery by elephants, grizzly bears, chimpanzees, and parrots, and other species in captivity. She’s also established the new field of trans-species psychology, upon which the work and principles of The Kerulos Center are based. Her research has been featured in diverse media including the New York Times, Time Magazine, National Geographic, Smithsonian, The London Times, ABC’s 20/20, and several documentary films. Her book, Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us about Humanity, published by Yale University Press, provides an in-depth psychological portrait of elephants in captivity and in the wild. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 10, 2010.