Israel Proposes Protecting Woolly Mammoth Ivory To Save Commingled Poached Elephant Ivory


Woolly mammoths are long extinct for a minimum of 10,000 years in most global locations. Initially, many conservationists hoped that the discovery of long-frozen mammoth remains — including their tusks — would take pressure off the poaching of African elephants for their ivory.

It appears that those hopes are now dashed, with an acknowledement that the legal transport of mammoth ivory often moves with its cousin’s ivory as part of the shipment. As a result, Israel has proposed that mammoths become protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, (CITES) closing a loophole in which freshly-slaughtered tusks are transported as legal mammoth ivory. Such a decision would mark the first time an extinct species is listed as protected under Cities.

“They are often intermingled in shipment and retail displays, and are fashioned in a similar style. To the untrained eye it’s very difficult to distinguish between them,” said Iris Ho, senior specialist in wildlife programmes and policy at Humane Society International (HSI). “There is currently no international regulatory regime to track and monitor the commercial trade in mammoth ivory.”

A Move To Make Extinct Woolly Mammoths A Protected Species

Kitty Block, the president of HSI, said in The Guardian: “With ivory traffickers exploiting the long-extinct mammoth so they can further exploit imperilled elephants, nations must unite to end the poaching epidemic and ensure all ivory markets are closed. The time to act is now, before we lose them forever.”

The proposal to protect mammoth ivory needs the support of two-third of parties represented at the Cities conference taking place in Sri Lanka in May. The meeting is expected to be contentious without the ivory discussion because nine African countries are pushing to reclassify the elephants of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe from Appendix II to I, offering maximum protection for the species.

However, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe seek to weaken existing restrictions on their ability to export existing ivory stockpiles, refusing to burn them as Kenya has done. Zambia is also seeking to downgrade its elephants from Appendix I to II, in order to legally export raw ivory.

Lupita Nyong'o Narrates Award-Winning 'My Africa' Virtual Reality Film For Elephant Conservation

My Africa documentary elephant rescue.jpg

A virtual reality film ‘My Africa’, narrated by Oscar-winning film star Lupita Nyong’o and supported by The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, is among the winners of the annual Jackson Hole Science Media Awards.

The nine-minute film won top honors in the Virtual Reality/360° Storytelling category for “effectively using 360 technology and resources to advance an appreciation or understanding of a scientific discipline, discovery or principle.”

The film which was commissioned by Global environmental organization Conservation International which supports community-led wildlife conservation in Northern Kenya —is available in 7 languages including English, French, Mandarin, Portuguese, Samburu, Spanish and Swahili.

Directed by David Allen, the project was captured with virtual reality cameras in the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy in Samburu County of northern Kenya at the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, the first elephant orphanage in Africa owned and operated by the local community. In a region where conservation has traditionally been pursued by outsiders, Reteti — and the surrounding conservancy organization, Northern Rangelands Trust — offer a model grounded in local leadership and traditional knowledge, explains Creative Planet Network.

At the center of the film is Naltwasha Leripe, a young woman from the Samburu community who lets us into the community's daily life of tending livestock, digging "singing" wells deep into dry riverbanks and rescuing an orphaned baby elephant.

Lupita Nyong’o narrates the film from the perspective of Naltwasha, emphasizing the inter-relationships of the people living in Samburu County with the land, water and wildlife. .

Naltwasha Leripe, the young woman’s vision of her community in   Samburu County narrated by Lupita NNyongo’o in ‘My Africa’.

Naltwasha Leripe, the young woman’s vision of her community in Samburu County narrated by Lupita NNyongo’o in ‘My Africa’.

The conservation efforts in the community-owned Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy have become a first line of defense against the bloody poaching syndicates that previously decimated Kenya’s wildlife populations. Today the community has become staunch allies of the wildlife seeing them as invaluable assets and profiting from the proceeds that come from ecotourism.

"My Africa" was produced for Conservation International by Passion Planet in association with Vision3 while distribution support was provided by glassy baby. Here is the short documentary in its entirety.

In September AOC touched base with Doutzen Kroes and her project #Knot On My Planet, supported by The Tiffany Foundation

This summer, Doutzen was in Kenya for luxury brand LOEWE and Knot On My Planet, working with Samburu women on special collection bags supporting elephant conservation.

Our June article on luxury camping in northern Kenya addressed the community-based animal conservation programs addressed in the ‘My Africa’ video. Land ownership and lease relationships with luxury hotel companies for safari camps are also a key innovation in how local communities can prosper from luxury travel without abandoning their traditional roots and evolving lifestyles by selling off tribal lands.

Lupita Nyong’o Archives @ AOC

Tanzania's Elephant Population Hit Extremely Hard, Losing About 70% In Last Decade

After being collared and revived an elephant makes its way back to its herd in Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

After being collared and revived an elephant makes its way back to its herd in Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

The global elephant populations is in a state of crisis in many countries. Tanzania is now a key center of Africa's poaching crisis, after a government census analyzing the nation's elephant population from 2009 to 2014 revealed a catastrophic loss of 60% of its elephants in just five years. 

Revealing elephant declines far greater than expected, the census estimated Tanzania's elephant population in 2014 at 43,330, down from 109,051 in 2009. Fast forward to 2018, and Tanzania's Selous Game Reserve has lost almost 90% of the park's elephants over the past 40 years. Forty years ago, 100,000 elephants roamed Selous, located in southern Tanzania, and today the number is estimated to be 15,200. 

"Tanzania has been extremely hard hit by the latest elephant poaching crisis that has hit the African continent for 10 years," Bas Huijbregts, WWF's African species manager, told CNN.

In an effort to get a grip on the situation, a new project launched by the Tanzanian government, with support from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), is the country's largest ever elephant collaring effort to protect the rapidly declining population. And while we applaud this effort, only about 60 elephants will be collared over 12 months. 

The rangers will be able to track and identify Selous' elephants, responding in real-time when they are under threat. Satellite collaring is an established method of tracking wildlife and bolstering efforts to save species under threat, especially in such large areas.