Archive for the Africa: Elephants Category

Bush Warriors Founder, Dori Gurwitz, Remembers the First Burning of Kenya’s Ivory Stockpiles 22 Years Ago

Posted in Africa: Elephants with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2011 by Dori G


Bush Warriors Founder, Dori Gurwitz, was only a teenager when he personally witnessed Kenya’s first burning of ivory stockpiles 22 years ago–an experience he will never forget.

Photo credit: Tony Karumba

In 1989, African wildlife conservation saw a historical event–one that many people did not think would happen. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) lit aflame a massive ivory stockpile, underscoring their zero tolerance for the illegal ivory trade. No matter what political thoughts people and governments around the world had about Kenya at that time, one thing was very clear: the government was seriously committed to the preservation of its wildlife, at all costs. It got to a point that game wardens were given permission to kill, should they confront a poacher. This zero tolerance policy worked and, despite all of the challenges associated with being a new and developing nation, Kenya rose as a leader in wildlife conservation. The eco-tourism industry exploded!
Continue reading

Live From the Congo: Will A ‘Notoriously Violent’ Poacher and Rapist Hamper Elephant Ivory Project’s Efforts to Stop Poaching?

Posted in Africa: Elephants, Live From the Congo: Elephant Ivory Project with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2011 by kyledickman

It’s been a fortunate few days. We arrived in Kinshasa on Monday, exhausted from 36 hours of transit, and found the Congo just as hot as we left it two years ago. On Tuesday morning, we met with Dr. Teresa Hart, a 30-year veteran of conservation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Teresa first came to the country as a Peace Corp volunteer in 1974. She’s now in her tenth year studying bonobos, an ape found only in the DRC, in a 25,000-square mile block of forest known as TL2. The region is an elephant sanctuary on paper, but animals are disappearing there faster than ever.

“Research here leads to advocacy because it’s all being destroyed,” says Hart.

Continue reading

Live From the Congo: Elephant Ivory Project’s Journey to Stop Elephant Poaching Begins

Posted in Africa: Elephants, Live From the Congo: Elephant Ivory Project with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2011 by kyledickman

Equipment needed for expedition

Today, I’m packing. After two years in the works, we’re kicking off the Elephant Ivory Project in earnest on Sunday morning, when Andy Maser and I fly to Kinshasa–the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)–with a case of collection vials and the goal of saving a species.  Here’s the back story: Continue reading

Organization of The Day: Elephant Pepper Trust

Posted in Africa: Elephants, Organization of The Day with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by kendickjerkins

When human-wildlife conflict results in the deaths of wildlife, the outcome can be far-reaching for those populations. Such situations are further amplified when they lead to human deaths as well. Human-wildlife conflict can be caused by a number of factors, but is most commonly agriculture-related. In Africa (and Asia), farmers often find themselves in a gruesome battle defending their livelihood against relentlessly hungry elephants that raid their crop fields.

From beating drums to deploying fireworks to attempting to chase elephants away (which frequently results in human deaths), farmers are often left sleep-deprived and profitless from their agricultural investments. That is until 2002 when stars aligned and a chance meeting between Australian businessman, Michael Gravina, and elephant biologist, Dr. Loki Osborne, resulted in the Elephant Pepper Development Trust (EPDT) and gave new hope to small-scale farmers plagued with elephant problems. Methods for deterring the hungry elephants are only effective if they involve minimal costs and provide long-term solutions. EPDT struck gold when they discovered that elephants are inherently repelled by the smell of chili peppers.

Chilies are easy to grow as they survive in some of the more extreme conditions found in Africa that other crops cannot survive in, are money-making cash crops, and are unpalatable and revolting to most mammal “pests”. EPDT trains local farmers how to implement the use of chilies into their farming practices in a number of ways. Chilies can be planted to create an elephant-repellent buffer zone between valuable crops and wooded elephant habitat. Farmers can also saturate simple string fences with chili grease to discourage elephants from entering. At night (the time when crops are typically raided by the giant pachyderms), briquettes made of chilies and elephant dung can be burned to keep elephants away. Though often skeptical at first, once farmers see the success of these methods playing out for their neighbors, they become sold on these sustainable ideas and seek help from EPDT immediately.

Currently, the Trust is working with communities in areas of Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Namibia with great success, and uses Educational Demonstration sites to educate farmers about their methods.To increase benefits from the use of chilies, EPDT has joined with African Spices Pvt Ltd. to buy surplus chilies from the farmers which are then used to create delicious chili-based, “uniquely African” blends that are sold commercially as an organic, fair trade product. In this way, the farmers profit from the crops that have been protected by the chili methods, from the chili crop, and from the peace of mind brought to them as a result of all of these factors. Elephant conflicts become almost non-existent, preventing the death and injuries of both humans and elephants in a win-win situation.

10% of profits from “Elephant Pepper” products are given back to EPDT to be used for improving and expanding their program to more farmers and communities. This program also provides a way for the global community to become involved with elephant conservation by purchasing the delicious products and supporting the cause. EPDT’s problem animal control methods help to eliminate serious human-wildlife conflicts and can be used to do the same in other areas of the world where elephants and humans have been battling to the death.

To learn more, please visit their website

Organization of The Day: WildlifeNOW

Posted in Africa: Elephants, Africa: Lions, Africa: Primates, Africa: Rhinos, Organization of The Day with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2010 by kendickjerkins


George Adamson was a legendary figure in the world of wildlife. He devoted his life to his many lions that he was able to reintroduce into the wild, becoming the infamous ‘lion man.’ In 1989, George Adamson’s life ended devastatingly, murdered by a group of Somali Bandits. Fortunately, his legacy lives on through Tony Fitzjohn, who spent nearly 18 years with Adamson learning all the tricks of the trade from building roads to organizing anti-poaching units. Together this dynamic duo created Kora National Park, encompassing 1200 square miles of land that lays adjacent to Tsavo National Park (Kenya’s largest National Park), creating a massive amount of landscape dedicated to protection and preservation.

These two extraordinary men also fought many battles against bandits and poachers, created airstrips, cut more than 300 miles of bush roads and reintroduced more than 30 lions and 10 leopards back into the wild. Today, Fitzjohn carries on the spirit of Adamson as his protégé. Recently, WildlifeNOW focuses its efforts on the highly endangered rhinos, African Wild Dogs, and elephants. Their accomplishments consist of establishing the first successful rhino sanctuary in Tanzania which is now a highly patrolled, 30 square mile sanctuary. Their veterinary program has made groundbreaking progress in the research of diseases, hoping to one day contribute to immunizations of the African Wild Dogs. After a devastating decrease in population of elephants, WildlifeNOW has around 1,000 elephants roaming the reserve in the wet season.

Additionally, for the past three decades WildlifeNOW has been successful in reintroducing zoo animals back into the wild. Tanzania, being one of the poorest countries, has hunted wildlife for the survival of themselves and their families. To help local communities WildlifeNOW has created an outreach program so that the surrounding villages benefit from the reserve. Their outreach program has provided medical assistance, funded the building of a secondary school, improved water supplies and much more. Their goal is not only to sustain wildlife, but to reverse the damage that has been done. Tony Fitzjohn has spent a lot of time traveling the world, educating the public on issues of wildlife preservation. However, he is now moving back to Kora, where he and Adamson started their magnificent journey, to bring the area back to life and re-introduce more lions into the wild.

To learn more, please visit their website

Organization of The Day: Lewa Conservancy

Posted in Africa: Elephants, Africa: Lions, Africa: Primates, Africa: Rhinos, Organization of The Day with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2010 by kendickjerkins


Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

During the 1970s population of black rhinos had dropped from 20,000 to fewer than 300, putting these animals in danger of becoming extinct. Since then, thanks to the Lewa Conservancy, over 40,000 acres has been dedicated to over 70 different animals. Since the 1970s Lewa has been able to double the population of rhinos! Lewa also lends a helping hand to the surrounding communities.

Their annual safaricom marathon has helped raise over 2,000,000, they have been able to build over 10 schools, establish forestry programs, support hospitals, provide free treatment to those injured by wildlife, as well as put projects in place such as tracker dog units to help the conservancy. They have even started a womens micro-credit program. The surrounding communities are impoverished and this program gives these women a chance to become more independent. They are given the chance to train and become entrepreneurs, hoping to reduce poverty and facilitate gender equity. Lewa’s efforts not only help out the animals in need, but the people as well.

To Learn More, please visit their site

Organization of The Day: The Mara Conservancy

Posted in Africa: Elephants, Africa: Lions, Africa: Primates, Africa: Rhinos, Organization of The Day with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2010 by kendickjerkins

Mara Conservancy

Management of the Mara Triangle was falling apart, until 2001, when Mara Conservancy stepped in and took control over the triangle. Their programs include anti-poaching and de-snaring patrols, as well as a mobile veterinary unit that is always on the move. These units help animals that have been snared by cutting wires and treating open wounds, giving the animals a chance to survive.

The help of the conservancy extends to surrounding communities creating a ripple effect that in turn helps protect wildlife. They have started a project that brings bio-gas to surrounding homes. Bio gas reduces smoke within homes, preventing women from having to search for wood. Because of this, the depletion of surrounding forests is reduced as well as human-wildlife conflict, an obstacle that faces many conservationists.

Additionally, they’ve brought toilets to 5 villages and plan to construct more. Female genital mutilation is a huge problem in surrounding communities and Mara has educated them in hopes to stop the mutilation. They’ve also reduced revenge killing of predators by giving livestock guardians and replacing the livestock when possible. With the reduction of revenge killing, better patrol of the area, veterinarians in place and their efforts in reaching out to the community Mara Conservancy has taken huge strides in the protection of wildlife.

To Learn More about the Conservancy & the Mara Triangle, click here.