From Drones to Disney, Smart Minds Are Saving Africa's Elephants, Tapping Into Their Acestral Fear Of Honeybees

bees and elephants-4118-.jpg

From Drones to Disney, Smart Minds Are Saving Africa's Elephants, Tapping Into Their Acestral Fear Of Honeybees

Send in the Drones

Today's news is focused on a different form of innovation in the struggle to save African elephants from extinction.

In 2016, researchers from Duke University went to Gabon to monitor the country's declining elephant herds. The team took along three drones for the purpose of counting the elephants, following their herds and mapping their migration patterns. 

Describing the project, The Atlantic wrote: "The elephants noticed the drones, which hovered anywhere from 25 feet to 300 feet above them. And it wasn’t just that the elephants noticed them; in many cases, the elephants were clearly agitated. Some of them took off running. In at least one case, an elephant used her trunk to hurl mud in the drone’s direction. “She had her baby with her,” said Missy Cummings, the director of Duke’s Robotics Lab."

Initially confused, the researchers soon made the connection between the reactions of the elephants and the fact that the drones sounded like bees. 

Air Shepherd, a program launched by the Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation, is also simulating the threat of bee stings in a successful effort to trigger the same response among elephants as the real-deal experience.

The program launched in Malawi, where researchers discovered that the noise of quadcopters could spook elephants. “They sound like bees,” explains Otto Werdmuller Von Elgg, the program's head of drone operations. In addition to its anti-poaching efforts, Air Shepherd now also flies the buzzing quadcopters along crop fences and around Liwonde National Park as an elephant deterrent. Drones are not yet legal in every African country, but Von Elgg thinks the idea will eventually fly in more locations. “One drone is enough to move a herd of 100 elephants,” he says.

This 2017 PBS segment shot in Tanzania showcases the effective intersection of drones and elephants in that country. The researchers remark that while elephants frequently become wise to efforts to manage them, so far they are not hip to the reality that the drones are not real bees. This may be due to the ancestral memories that elephants possess. Since bees have been a problem for elephants for thousands of years -- or longer -- it may take a very long time to eliminate this fearful memory.  When there is a mix of drones and real honeybees in an area, the elephants may never learn to ignore drones while fleeing from honeybees. 

Arizona Muse Joins Julianne Moore In Celebrating Chopard's Move To 100% Ethical Gold

Arizona-Muse-Chopard-Baselworld-2018-mini-.jpg

Arizona Muse Joins Julianne Moore In Celebrating Chopard's Move To 100% Ethical Gold

Chopard made a landmark announcement on March 22 that by July 22, the Swiss maison will only use ethical gold in all its jewelry and watch creations. Long-time friends of Chopard including Colin and Livia Firth, Julianne Moore and Arizona Muse joined Chopard's Caroline Scheufele and Karl Friedrich Scheufele in making the announcement. 

The commitment to sustainability is a long one. More than 30 years ago Chopard brought all its jewelry-making processes in-house in order to guarantee control of every aspect of their relationship with miners as well as promises made to Chopard clients. 

In 2013 the Maison made the decision to invest directly in artisanal gold, to increase its availability to the larger market. The company has a long-standing relationship with Olivia and Colin Firth, who champion sustainability through their Green Carpet Collections. Chopard defines “ethical gold” as gold acquired from responsible sources that have been verified to meet international best practices. From July 2018 Chopard gold will be responsibly sourced from either artisanal small-scale mines in the Swiss Better Gold Association (SBGA), Fairmined and Fairtrade schemes, or from the RJC Chain of Custody gold through Chopard’s partnership with RJC-certified refineries.

Holt Renfrew Supports Doutzen Kroes' Knot On My Planet Campaign, Lensed By Chris Colls

Doutzen-Kroes-Holt-Renfrew-Knot-Planet-01-620x803.jpg

Holt Renfrew Supports Doutzen Kroes' Knot On My Planet Campaign, Lensed By Chris Colls

The beautiful, inspiring supermodel Doutzen Kroes teams up with Canada's Holt Renfrew to support Doutzen's 'Knot On My Planet' activism. Chris Colls is behind the lens, capturing the Holt Renfrew x Knot On My Planet‘s Spring 2018 campaign to support the Elephant Crisis Fund./ Makeup by Sil Bruinsma; hair by Panos Papandrianos

If we educate people about the crisis, if we share more stories and make this bigger, I feel positive that African elephants will be here for our children to see in the wild. We have to stay hopeful for the future, always.” – Doutzen Kroes

Will Sara Sampaio Also Become A Graff Muse For The 'Peace' Diamond Campaign?

Rapaport-peace-diamond-.jpg
Sara-Sampaio-Graff-Diamonds-Campaign02 (1).jpg

Portuguese model and VS Angel Sara Sampaio is the new face of Graff Diamonds.Lensed by Patrick Demarchelier for Graff's Green Lady campaign Sara shines wearing a pair of 50 carat emerald cut diamond earrings as well as a 35 carat emerald cut D Flawless diamond ring. 

{. . . }

The 'Peace' Diamond From Sierre Leone

AOC hasn't written about diamonds and blood diamonds for several years, but the journey to market of the 'Peace' diamond caught our attention.

It was Laurence Graff who won the Dec. 2017 bidding in New York, acquiring the so-called 'Peace' diamond from the government of Sierra Leone. 

The stone is the third largest diamond in the country's history and the 14th biggest ever discovered worldwide, according to the Rapaport Group, the jewelry auction organization that helped bring the stone to auction. Note that the Rapaport Group is also a leader in fair trade and ethical diamond mining.

The 'Peace' diamond arrived in New York for the December 2017 auction with a cloud over its head. At an earlier auction in Sierra Leone, the diamond brought only $7.8 million at auction and did not meet the floor price.

Because the 'Peace' diamond brought even less money at $6.5 million in New York than the $7.8 million rejected in Sierra Leone, disappointment is understandable. 

“What is the value of the life of a child in Sierra Leone? What is the value of clean water? That’s the value, that’s here. And that’s what Laurence Graff is buying,” said Chairman of Rapaport Group, Martin Rapaport. Note that I'm not clear if Rapaport's comments came before or after the sale. But they appeared in a March 5, 2018 article on Africanews.com, talking about Sierra Leone's history in blood diamonds. According to World Bank data, Sierra Leone’s gross national income per capita stood at $620 in 2015.

Related. This story is unfolding in several parts, one more interesting than the next. This is the first chapter -- modified tonight based on new research. 

Related Reading

Sara Sampaio Launches Graff's Green Lady Diamonds Campaign. Will Sara Also Take On The 'Peace' Diamond Project?

Sara-Sampaio-Graff-Diamonds-Campaign02.jpg

Sara Sampaio Launches Graff's Green Lady Diamonds Campaign. Will Sara Also Take On The 'Peace' Diamond Project?

Portuguese model and VS Angel Sara Sampaio is the new face of Graff Diamonds. Lensed by Patrick Demarchelier for Graff's Green Lady campaign Sara shines wearing a pair of 50 carat emerald cut diamond earrings as well as a 35 carat emerald cut D Flawless diamond ring. 

In November 2015 How To Spend It Magazine interviewed Laurence Graff, chairman of Graff Diamonds, in advance of the sale of an exceptional diamond called Blue Moon, in advance of its Sotheby's sale for $48.5m. 

Vivienne Becker amplifies the impact Laurence Graff has had on the fine jewelry business with his pioneering mine-to-market business model. Graff brought together "the disparate sectors of the traditional fragmented diamond supply chain, with its total disconnect between the miners at the source, the cutters and dealers and the artistry of the finished jewels."

The 'Peace' Diamond From Sierre Leone

AOC hasn't written about diamonds and blood diamonds for several years, but the journey to market of the 'Peace' diamond caught our attention.

It was Laurence Graff who won the Dec. 2017 bidding in New York, acquiring the so-called 'Peace' diamond from the government of Sierra Leone.