Tag Archives: elephants

Elephants rescued as calves return from the wild to show off their babies

Loijuk and baby Lili, accompanied by nannies Ithumbah and Naserian. Photo Credit: Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

What a joyous surprise!
On September 1st the once rescued African elephant Loijuk returned to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust where she had been rescued as a calf 14 years previously. With her was her adorable calf Lili, just hours old, and two other once-rescued elephants who she has chosen to be nannies for the calf.

Together, along with other wild or re-wilded elephants, this stitched together family will protect and guide Lily through her life, all through the protective and watchful eyes of the Trust. The rescue organization has documented 31 other calves born to rescued mothers, and untold numbers sired by rescued bulls with wild mothers.
Like the recently freed orcas, these calves have shown the world that rescued wildlife can be returned to the wild to live life as nature intended.

From the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust:

Loijuk when she was rescued in 2006. Photo Credit: Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

To bear witness to Loijuk becoming a mum, after we spent so many years performing a parental role and preparing her for a wild life, is the greatest reward for our endeavours.
Moments like these are precious and priceless. We are grateful to all of our foster parents and donors for your support, which enables us to be there for orphans in need, so that in the fullness of time, they can live the lives they deserve.
With mum Loijuk by her side and protective nannies Naserian and Ithumbah also on-hand, as well as our ever-watchful field teams looking out for them all, Lili has a bright future ahead of her and we look forward to watching this little girl grow up in the wild.
To learn more about our Orphans’ Project, visit https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/projects/orphans


“Let us not take this planet for granted”;  Leonardo DiCaprio, the environment, and you


Academy Award Leonardo DiCaprio wants each of us to wake up and face the challenges of climate change while there is still time.
“Climate change is real, and it’s happening right now,” DiCaprio said. “It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world…and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed.”
Washington State is symptomatic of what can go very wrong even in a state that treasures the natural environment when obstructionist legislators are granted access to our country’s highest lawmaking body – and we are just one state of fifty…a fraction of governments worldwide.

J54 and mother, J 28. Photo by Dave Ellifrit.
Endangered orcas. J54 and mother, J 28. Photo by Dave Ellifrit, the Center for Whale Research.

Washington Conservation Voters reports:

“Despite the strong environmental ethos in much of the Washington delegation, overall 2015 will go down as the most anti-environmental Congress in our history.”
…“Once again, too many members of Congress were complicit in extreme attacks on both bedrock environmental laws and more recent progress to protect our air, water, public lands and wildlife,” said Shannon Murphy, President of Washington Conservation Voters.
“Despite last year being the hottest year on record, Congressional leaders put polluters’ agenda ahead of the health of Washingtonians, environmental protections and climate action. This is particularly disappointing from members of the Washington delegation, where we have long had a bipartisan tradition of environmental protection.”
Washington State Delegation Scores On Environmental Issues:
Cantwell 96
Murray 96
1 DelBene, 94
2 Larsen, R., 94
3 *Herrer-Beutler, 6
4 *Newhouse, 3
5 *McMorris-Rodgers, 0
6 Kilmer, 94
7 McDermott, 100
8 *Reichert, 6
9 Smith, Adam, 89
10 Heck, D., 97
*Up for re-election in 2016

Washington State representatives Newhouse, McMorris, and Reichert all voted to support the odious Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (H.R. 2406). Herrera cast no vote. All four are up for re-election.
grace_and_leo dicaprio for pi articleLeonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant.                                                                 Photo Source
Washington Conservation Voters continues:

One of the most devastating provisions [of the ‘Sportsman heritage’ resolution] contains several alarming rollbacks of long-standing federal environmental and public land laws including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Wilderness Act, and the National Forest Management Act.
In the process, it reduces or eliminates important protections for America’s public lands that have been in place for decades.

The African Elephant Conservation and Legal Ivory Possession Act, rolled into H.R. 2406, would halt efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to crack down on the illegal ivory trade, particularly by undoing the restrictions on U.S. ivory imports and exports. African elephants are facing the greatest poaching crisis since the 1980s: more than 100,000 were killed from 2010 to 2012 – an average of one every 15 minutes.


The appalling scale of poaching is intertwined with violent militias, organized crime, and government corruption in Africa. A crucial element of halting this ongoing slaughter is addressing the demand for ivory within our own borders.

Donald Trump Jr. sawed off the tail of an elephant he killed for a trophy.
Donald Trump Jr. sawed off the tail of an elephant he killed for a trophy. (Source)

The regulations proposed by the FWS prohibit most imports and exports, and limit other commercial actions to ivory that was lawfully imported prior to 1990 (the date that elephants’ endangered status was elevated by the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species). Prohibiting FWS from implementing these vital regulations would be an enormous step backward in the U.S.’s response to the wildlife trafficking crisis.

These baby elephants were orphaned by ivory poachers. David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)
These baby elephants are orphans because of ivory poachers. David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

“Other provisions in this huge bill would prevent the public from having a say in National Wildlife Refuge decisions, and waive important environmental reviews for this system as well.
Such blind dedication to implementing recreational killing is detrimental to both conservation efforts and the public interest.” Washington Conservation Voters


Will we have a healthy planet for future generations? (Photo source)
Will we have a healthy planet for future generations?                                                   (Photo source)

It is up to you whether or not efforts to halt climate change in the next legislative term will be blocked and existing environmental protection will be undone.
You can volunteer, vote, make contributions, raise money, educate – what ever you do, you will make a difference. The choice is yours.
From ReadingRainbow.com
From ReadingRainbow.com


Shivering Elephants Huddled by a Fire Spark a Giant Blanket Drive

Unseasonably cold weather has the elephants sharing the warmth of fires with their handlers.  Photo courtesy of Elephant Nature Park.
Unseasonably cold weather has the elephants sharing the warmth of fires with their handlers. Photo courtesy of Elephant Nature Park.

Elephants trying to stay warm. Photo courtesy of Elephant Nature Park
Elephants trying to stay warm. Photo courtesy of Elephant Nature Park

When Elephant Nature Park founder Lek Chailert posted on Facebook today about the elephants shivering in the unseasonably cold weather there in Thailand, it was a matter of hours until two animal lovers who are concerned about elephant issues had organized a giant-sized coat drive for the elephants.  
Teresa Bradford and Gert Zagler along with others wanting to help have contacted the wonderful people at The Goat Coat Shop and arranged to have donations sent to make blankets for seven more elephants.  It is a great idea, and a good opportunity for people the world over to show support for those who dedicate their lives to rescuing elephants from harsh treatment.
While the coats are several hundred dollars with shipping costs, even a dollar or two will make a difference. Teresa and Gert’s message:

Who wants to help the elephants at [Elephant Nature Park ( ENP)] in Thailand stay warm?! The elephants need coats this year because it’s been cold. If you can help, please send your contribution via PayPal to info@goatcoatshop.com.

Please specify in the notes that your payment is for elephant coats for ENP. No contribution amount is too small! All funds go towards the coats.

The cost per coat is $250 and approximately $75 shipping per coat. Please [message] Gert Zagler with the amount of your contribution, she will keep track of all contributions. Also, please note this is not a 501c. Thank you so much!

Elderly elephants are particularly vulnerable to cold weather. Photo courtesy of Elephant Nature Park.
Elderly elephants are particularly vulnerable to cold weather. Photo courtesy of Elephant Nature Park.

Lek writes:

This year is not just only cold, but the rain comes to the wrong season and with it a cold wind; some of our old elephants stand shaking. Bua Loi is one of the elephants that shows very obvious shake when she gets cold.
This year Bua Loi got a great Christmas gift from Barbara and Rich Hendele, who ordered the elephant coat to be made by the Goat Coat shop at New York, and they donated this blanket in memory of Ahsi, one of our bull elephants, who Rich and Barbara spent time with when they last visited.
Thank you to Rich, and Barbara , for your love and warm heart that send along with the beautiful Blanket to our elephant. Bua Loi is so proud and she looks quite elegant in her new coat.

Elephant calves play in the mud, no doubt knowing that the adults will help them get warm again!  Photo courtesy of Elephant Nature Park
Elephant calves play in the mud, no doubt knowing that the adults will help them get warm again! Photo courtesy of Elephant Nature Park

Apparently the adult elephants are suspicious when blankets are put on the babies so they can’t be blanketed, but the young ones are able to keep warm by  huddling with the adults.
“The young ones can squeeze with their mother and nanny at night,” writes Lek. “The problem with the little babies when we put something to cover them, then the nannies start to suspect and they start to investigate the coat we have put on their baby. ”
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Lek Chailert, Elephant Nature Park.

Please donate (any amount) to the coat drive via PayPal at info@goatcoatshop.com and specify that it is for the elephants at Elephant Nature Park. Then contact Gert Zagler, she is keeping track of the donations.

About ENP: “The park has received numerous awards from institutions including the Smithsonian. The founder  [Lek Chailert] was named Asian Hero of the Year by Time magazine in 2005 and the park has been featured in many international publications including National Geographic magazine as well as feature documentaries from respected film production companies – Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Animal Planet, BBC, CNN, KTV, RAI, major Thai language TV channels, printed press and radio stations.”

Orphaned Baby Elephants Join in the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, Adorable!

In Africa, baby elephants who were separated and lost from their families – or more likely whose mother’s deaths left them orphaned – are successfully raised and returned to the wild at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Yesterday, a group of these cute babies marched with their keepers  as part of the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos on October 4th.

In Thailand, rescued elephants participated as well at the Elephant Nature Park.

And worldwide, people turned out to march in order to raise awareness of the fact that these and other organizations need more from us to save the elephants and rhinos in the wild before it is too late.

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Africa.

Orphaned baby elephants joined in the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, 10/4/14 (Sheldrick Wildlife Trust).
Orphaned baby elephants joined in the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, 10/4/14 (David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust).

 (Sheldrick Wildlife Trust).

(David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust).

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Maalim is fed by Sheldrick Wildlife Trust patron Dame Daphne Sheldrick's eight-year-old grandson Roan

 Sheldrick Wildlife Trust patron Dame Daphne Sheldrick’s eight-year-old grandson Roan with orphaned baby rhino.

Elephant Nature Park, Thailand



Lek Chailert, founder of the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand

A sample of the marches, worldwide


Cambodia (above).

 San Francisco (above).


France (above)


 London (above).

elephant march

Australia (above)

Map of the march locations:

Funny Elephant Shows Why So Many Will March to Save Them on October 4th, 2014

Thanks to the efforts of organizations such as the Save Elephant Foundation in Thailand, the world is now waking up to the plight of elephants, but will in be in time?

  • Elephant outsmarts villagers to get fruit
  • Rambunctious baby elephant whose mother stepped on a landmine gets his first bath
  • Help save elephants and rhinos – learn more

Worldwide, an elephant dies every 15 minutes for its tusks. Everywhere that they live they have conflicts with humans when they stray from reserves, and in Southeast Asia they stumble onto landmines. The lucky ones find their way to refuges, as did the mother of this joyful baby elephant at the Elephant Nature Park, whose daily updates on their rescues open a window into the elephant psyche :

In India, an enormous bull elephant who lives in a reserve shows an amazing talent for outsmarting the people who stand between him and whatever tasty morsel he is seeking. He hides and waits for a fruit seller to take a bathroom break, then emerges and helps himself to the bounty…but he didn’t stop there.
When a trench was dug to keep him away, he started cruising down the highway and scaring the guard away before continuing on towards his feast of jackfruit.  The villagers then assembled a group at the guard station, so the elephant – named Bharathan – got another elephant to go first.  When the villagers turned to chase the first elephant, Bharathan snuck up behind them and trumpeted loudly, causing them to scatter so he could amble down to his destination. Certainly smart, and who knows, maybe he has a sense of humor too.
In the article More brain than brawn, the author shares insights about this giant mastermind:

The most incredible thread running through all the anecdotes is that Bharathan seems to have learnt that violence and direct confrontation with people does not work in the long term. He is continuously trying to outsmart them — using his brain rather than brawn — despite having infinitely more brawn than his human adversaries…People living alongside wild elephants brim with stories about their intelligence.

Other anecdotes reported in the article show both the intelligence and emotional capabilities of elephants:

  • A ‘rogue’ tusker in central India recently knocked down a house, but when it heard a baby crying it stopped its rampage, and carefully cleared the debris around the baby.


  • A domestic elephant that was working to plant timber posts into holes that had been dug into the ground refused to put the post into one of the holes, despite its mahout’s (elephant handler) goading. When the mahout looked, he found a dog sleeping in the hole, and the elephant clearly did not want to kill it.


  • When elephants accidentally kill people, they invariably stand over them and try to cover them with leaves or mud, and are visibly distressed at what they have done. They are also the only other species known to have rituals around death, where the herd gathers around a deceased animal, covers it with leaves and guards it against predators.

We need to save these amazing elephants, their plight is real and painful, their loss imminent. Please join in the Global March to Save Elephants and Rhinos, Saturday October 4th, 2014.
This link will take you to march locations, worldwide (please scroll down their page to find the location tabs):  GLOBAL MARCH FOR  ELEPHANTS AND RHINOS. 

Move Over, SeaWorld; The Zurich Zoo Has Elephants in Their Tanks!

Underwater viewing of elephants at the Zurich Zoo, Switzerland.
Underwater viewing of elephants at the Zurich Zoo, Switzerland.

SeaWorld could stand to take notes on what the Zurich Zoo has managed to accomplish towards meeting the needs of large mammals – in this case, a herd of Asian elephants.
As we learned from the film Blackfish (see trailer below), SeaWorld has steadfastly resisted investing in meeting the psychological needs of the orcas in their tanks, and spent years trying to reinstate the dangerous circus-like shows that they were forced to stop following the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau. Although SeaWorld unveiled plans to add larger tanks to their parks, they have not shown any interest in changing how the whales are kept.
Putting aside the discussion of whether large, free roaming animals should ever find themselves confined (in my opinion, they should not) – the question becomes one of how to create an environment that addresses the animals’ needs for stimulation and normal social structure with limited space. In this case, the Zurich Zoo has completely re-imagined elephant keeping instead of just giving them a bit more room.
And their plan keeps their keepers safe.
Elephants are good swimmers, and often cross rivers in the wild.
Elephants are good swimmers, and often cross rivers in the wild.

Seeing elephants in tanks is of course a bit mind-bending, until you step back and look at the bigger picture. The Zurich Zoo has taken 2.7 acres and designed an enclosure with so many features that the elephants – kept together in a herd – can do what elephants do, eating, resting, playing on their own schedule. The swimming features are just a small part of an inventive enclosure.
There are no silly shows, and part of the elephant habitat is not open to the public so the elephants are not under constant viewing if they desire privacy.
Zurich Zoo elephant habitat.
Zurich Zoo elephant habitat.

Another good point about this elephant habitat is the nod to sustainability:

Great emphasis was placed on sustainability during the construction of the compound. The main building material was wood. Heating is provided via a district heating network using the central woodchip heating system at Zoo Zurich. Rainwater is collected from the roof, which measures 6,800 square metres. The water is then used for watering the ground, for moistening the sand, for removing dust from the plants and for supplying the pool maintenance equipment. Finally, an ingenious event control system ensures that the air conditioning in the inner compound conserves natural resources as much as possible.

To keep the personnel safe, the enclosure is designed so that the humans and animals are not in the same place at the same time. Killer whales and elephants are both dangerous to people in captivity, but while SeaWorld continues to hold onto to their old business model that presents significant risk, the Zurich Zoo has taken a proactive stance to protect their elephant keepers.

…the way in which the animal keepers look after the elephants has also changed. The animals are now cared for in “protected contact” at all times. This means that the animal keepers are no longer in the same room as the elephants. This gives the animals more freedom to develop their social structure and ensures greater security for the animal keepers.

While this is not freedom, at least the Zurich Zoo has completely re-thought what captivity entails for elephants.
How hard can it be for SeaWorld to do the same for orcas?


“iWorry” About Elephants, Why You Should Too…11 Years Until Extinction

  • “Organised bands of criminals are stealing and slaughtering elephants, rhinos and tigers in a way that has never been seen before.”
  • “Sub-machine guns, night vision goggles and even helicopters are used to slaughter up to 100 elephants each day.”
  • Countdown to extinction: 11 years.
  • August 12, 2014 is World Elephant Day

The lucky orphaned baby elephants are rescued and eventually released to the wild (David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)
The lucky orphaned baby elephants are rescued and eventually released to the wild (David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)

Wild elephants in Africa will be extinct by 2025 unless something is done to stop the wholesale slaughter they currently endure.
Shot, poisoned, snared or speared, one elephant is killed every 15 minutes – their faces and tusks sawed off, their bodies left to rot, their babies left to starve. That is the message of the iworry campaign, and it is a situation that each of us can help change.

According to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust:

Organised bands of criminals are stealing and slaughtering elephants, rhinos and tigers in a way that has never been seen before. Poachers are taking these animals, sometimes in unimaginably high numbers, and using the weapons of war to efficiently kill large herds of wild, innocent animals.
Sub-machine guns, night vision goggles and even helicopters are used to slaughter up to 100 elephants each day. It’s not just animals lives at risk, in the last 10 years, 1,000* rangers were killed protecting wildlife in the “war” against poachers.
The profits from wildlife trafficking are being traced to terrorist groups whilst in turn poses an increased threat to national and economic stability. Wildlife crime is said to be valued at approximately  $17 billion.
* The Thin Green Line Foundation

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We are at risk of losing a species that we are just beginning to understand, and as a marine mammal biologist I can’t help but be struck at their similarity to cetaceans (whales and dolphins).  Elephants communicate over long distances using sound that we can’t hear, they have complex social lives, the female calves remain with their mothers for life while the young males leave when they are sexually mature (around 14 years old or so). The herd shares in the responsibility of taking care of the babies, and knowledge is passed down from the matriarch to her offspring. 
They are very emotional, and researchers have discovered that they possess the same kind of specialized brain cells that are associated with emotion and found in few other species studied so far – a list which includes humans, gorillas, and some species of dolphins and whales.
Daphne Sheldrick,  has written a touching biography of the elephants she has known, and reading her page is a highly enjoyable experience. Here is an excerpt:

Daphne Sheldrick has struggled to save elephants for more than 30 years.
Daphne Sheldrick has struggled to save elephants for more than 30 years.

Is it because of their size, their quaint characteristics, or the fact that they are so incredibly endearing as babies, tripping over little wobbly trunks that seem to serve no useful purpose other than get in the way? Or is it, perhaps, because Elephants are “human” animals, encompassed by an invisible aura that reaches deep into the human soul in a mysterious and mystifying way.
Of course, Elephants share with us humans many traits – the same span of life, (three score years and ten, all being well) and they develop at a parallel pace so that at any given age a baby elephant duplicates its human counterpart, reaching adulthood at the age of twenty. Elephants also display many of the attributes of humans as well as some of the failings.
They share with us a strong sense of family and death and they feel many of the same emotions. Each one is, of course, like us, a unique individual with its own unique personality. They can be happy or sad, volatile or placid. They display envy, jealousy, throw tantrums and are fiercely competitive, and they can develop hang-ups which are reflected in behaviour.
They also have many additional attributes we humans lack; incredible long-range infrasound, communicating in voices we never hear, such sophisticated hearing that even a footfall is heard far away, and, of course they have a memory that far surpasses ours and spans a lifetime.
They grieve deeply for lost loved ones, even shedding tears and suffering depression. They have a sense of compassion that projects beyond their own kind and sometimes extends to others in distress. They help one another in adversity, miss an absent loved one, and when you know them really well, you can see that they even smile when having fun and are happy.
…Animals are indeed more ancient, more complex, and in many ways more sophisticated than man. In terms of Nature they are truly more perfect because they remain within the ordered scheme of Nature and live as Nature intended. They are different to us, honed by natural selection over millennia so they should not be patronised, but rather respected and revered. And of all the animals, perhaps the most respected and revered should be the Elephant, for not only is it the largest land mammal on earth, but also the most emotionally human.

The Sheldrick foundation works hard to rescue babies, prevent poaching, and educate the public.
The Sheldrick foundation works hard to rescue babies, prevent poaching, and educate the public.

What you can do – the following links are packed with information:
Sign the iworry petition, also see about direct donations, fostering the babies, and sharing the plight on social media.
Check World Elephant Day  for information.
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, with a little poking around on this site you will find ways to specifically donate to anything from desks for schools (to educate the locals) to sponsoring programs.
The Serengeti Foundation  funnels donations to Asian elephant issues, wild horses in the USA, and to the Sheldrick foundation in Africa (where they paid for waterholes to be dug, to remove wildlife from regions known to poachers.
The situation is different for Asian elephants, but it is equally troubling. A good site to check is Wildlife SOS.
In the US, find out what is being done by the government to stop the ivory trade:
FACT SHEET: National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking & Commercial Ban on Trade in Elephant Ivory
Copy and print the following, and distribute however you think it will be helpful:
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Retired Circus Elephant’s Story Will Warm Your Heart – Don’t Captive Whales Deserve This?

Two elephants, separated for 20 years, were reunited at an elephant sanctuary, and their joy in being together again is unmistakable.

The elephant handler’s emotional farewell to his charge is something anyone who has had to let go of an animal can relate to – we grieve our loss while embracing the knowledge that we have done what is right for another being. Whether it is releasing something once caged to the wild, or having to put our companion animals to sleep, we understand that there comes a point when holding on is not in the best interest of these beings who share our lives.
Remarkably similar to elephants in many ways, killer whales in captivity spend their lives endlessly performing repetitive tricks for our amusement, and similarly deserve retirement – yet they must perform until the day they die.
One particular whale has lived for decades with no companion of her own species in a tiny pool. The name given to her by the Miami Seaquarium where she lives is “Lolita”, the performing circus whale. Would she too recognize her family if reunited with them? Ken Balcomb of The Center for Whale Research believes so, and in any case he feels that it is an important question to explore.

It must be hard for the family who believe they own the whale to consider giving her up, but they might be surprised to discover that doing so may be one of the most meaningful experiences of their lives. We really don’t know how deeply captive whales and dolphins bond with the people who care for them, but if it is similar to elephants and other wild animals, then there is a good chance that Lolita would remember those who treated her kindly if she were retired.

Was the following a coincidence? We still know so little about animal perceptions that it is impossible to say with certainty, but it is remarkable:

Saying Goodbye: Elephants Hold Apparent Vigil To Mourn Their Human Friend
Lawrence Anthony was a conservationist and author known as “The Elephant Whisperer” who passed away on March 2nd, 2012. In 1999, Anthony rescued and rehabilitated a group of wild South African elephants who were deemed dangerous. And the animals appear to remember what he did for them: when Anthony passed away, a group of elephants visited his house in the South African KwaZulu for a two-day vigil, according to his family.
When Anthony died of a heart attack, the elephants, who were grazing miles away in different parts of the park, travelled over 12 hours to reach his house. According to his son Jason, both herds arrived shortly after Anthony’s death. They hadn’t visited the compound where Anthony lived for a year and a half, but Jason says “in coming up there on that day of all days, we certainly believe that they had sensed it”.

We will never know how a retired orca will react until we try, but we owe to the whales, and to ourselves, to try. Urge NMFS To Rectify Exclusion of Lolita from the ESA and bring Lolita home!