I hope you are well and want to thank you again for your valuable support!
Since the last update we have been diligently working on several fronts, but our primary focus continues to be helping Myanmar’s elephants through various projects in the country.
BUILDING ELECTRIC FENCES
We are providing materials necessary to install electric fences in rural villages that are in desperate need of this fencing. Each village we are working in has roughly 15-20 families. These families grow paddy, beans, lemongrass, sesame, sugarcane and cassava plants and without these fences they could lose all their crops, food for themselves and their livelihoods. Due to severe deforestation in the country caused by a century of uncontrolled logging, access to natural food sources for the elephants are pushing them to raid these local crops. This is why these elephants are in such danger because the villagers turn to killing them to protect their crops and their families - which is why these fences are so critical. Please take a look at our new video regarding this growing issue in Myanmar.
We are planning our next trip to Myanmar – most likely in October – to continue filming our documentary regarding the numerous issues facing the country and the impact they are having on the country's elephant population. This will be our third trip to the country and our hopes are to finalize filming this year and have the film ready for the film festival circuit early in 2020. This is a critical component of our educational efforts. In case you missed our short film with footage from our first trip I hope you will take a look.
As you know from our last update we signed an agreement with the Myanmar government to help with the relocation of elephants that are subject to human-elephant conflict and in areas of increased poaching. We are continuing our preparations to execute this project, but relocating elephants is a complicated process. In addition to its complexity, it is also controversial among some animal welfare organizations and so we must move forward in a very methodical manner to ensure that we address the concerns that relevant stakeholders have in the relocation effort. The primary concerns when relocating elephants fall into the following areas:
We have spent the last few months discussing this project with experts around the world to fully understand their concerns and to find the right people to help ensure these concerns are alleviated. This is important to address one of the key parts of our agreement which is to establish and agree to the best practices to ensure the health and safety of the elephants during relocation. These discussions are continuing, and we hope to designate a small team of experts to work on this project soon. Once this team is finalized, they will travel to Myanmar to address two important parts of our agreement with the government:
We understand the need to move quickly to execute this agreement and begin the relocation efforts, but we feel strongly that we must be systematic in our planning and will take the right amount of time to make certain this effort is in the best interest of the elephants and those working to ensure their safety and protection.
COMMUNITY AND SANCTUARY
We continue to do the work necessary to get the support and approvals to build our community and sanctuary in Myanmar. Given the complexities of working with the Myanmar government and the importance to ensure that this project is in the best interest of the elephants, the environment, and the local communities, this process is slow but we remain optimistic about its ultimate success. If you haven’t taken a closer look at our plan I hope you will visit our website to learn more.
As you can see, we continue to push forward with our projects in Myanmar and your support as been invaluable! Thank you again and please don't hesitate to email me if you have any questions, comments or concerns about our efforts.
All the best,
PS:I hope you will take time to visit The Elephant Times to check out our latest blogs and podcasts.
I hope all is well.
As I briefly discussed in my last update, we have developed a three-prong strategy that is designed to provide immediate protections to elephants while developing long term sustainable solutions to end this epic struggle. They are:
1 | END THE MARKET FOR IVORY AND OTHER ELEPHANT PARTS AND THE INHUMANE TREATMENT OF ELEPHANTS - We will confront any government anywhere in the world whose policies and actions or in-actions contribute to the senseless slaughter and inhumane treatment of elephants.
2 | RELOCATE ELEPHANTS WHO ARE IN DANGER TO SAFETY - We will relocate elephants from areas where they are in danger due to human-elephant conflicts, environmental challenges, inhumane treatment, or poachers.
3 | DEVELOP HUMANE ECONOMIES THAT WILL PROVIDE PERPETUAL FUNDING FOR THE CARE AND PROTECTION OF WILD AND CAPTIVE ELEPHANTS - We will create a safe, secure place where elephants live in peace by fostering an environment through innovative corporate, government, and non-profit partnerships, where protecting elephants and ensuring their protection produces prosperity for the people. This solution based on free and fair market principles will prove that ensuring the safety and security of an elephant is more valuable to governments, communities, and the people than a dead one.
We are making great progress in each area. In the first prong, we have been very active in pushing back on President Trump and his administration’s efforts to support the senseless killing of elephants. We have undertaken a campaign to push Trump to restore the import ban that includes requesting documents that we believe will show questionable activities by Secretary of Interior Zinke in pushing for the ban and the creation of the International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC) which is simply designed to push countries to allow for the slaughter of elephants so they can be imported back into the United States. We have also undertaken an earned media campaign designed to raise awareness of these actions. As part of this we have started our Horton Series of Editorial Cartoons which highlight Trump’s actions which we distribute via all our social and digital media platforms. If you don’t currently follow us on Twitter and Facebook I hope you will, so you can receive these cartoons and our other interesting and educational posts.
As to our third prong, we are continuing our work in Myanmar to build our sustainable long-term funding solution for the protection of elephants. As part of that effort, we are developing a short film to highlight the challenges elephants are facing in Myanmar. Here is a preview.. We will be heading to Myanmar early next year for a month of filming.
Because of you we are making tremendous progress. Thank you for your belief in us and our mission.
All the best,
To save elephants we have a three-prong strategy - limit the demand of ivory and elephant skin, relocate elephants from areas where they are in danger to safe zones, and build sanctuaries where elephants can be safe and get the care they need so they can live their lives as elephants should. You have been a strong supporter of saving elephants and especially in helping us further our efforts to build a state-of-the-art sanctuary in Myanmar where we will be able to provide continuous safety, care, and support to thousands of timber elephants that are in jeopardy of being slaughtered for their skin and ivory. We will be travelling there the last week of July to pick locations for the sanctuary.
But in addition to our ongoing sanctuary efforts in Myanmar, we have beefed up our efforts in limiting the demand for ivory and other elephant parts which is critical to our overall goal of bringing an end to the senseless slaughter of these majestic creatures. As part of those efforts, we are working to limit the impact of President Trump’s pro elephant hunting policies. Trump’s decision to allow for the import of elephant trophies into the U.S. has had a tremendous impact on increasing the demand to kill elephants by wealthy trophy hunters.
To end this, the first step was to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Interior for all documents relating to the reversal of the importation of elephant trophies policy outlined in a March 1, 2018 memorandum from the United States Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service. We also requested all documents relating to the establishment of the International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC), announced on November 8, 2017 by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, and documents relating to the involvement by President Donald J. Trump and members of his family, including Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, in the selection of members of the IWCC and the reversal of the Fish and Wildlife Service policy on importation of elephant trophies.
The IWCC’s charter demonstrates the Council’s mandate to promote hunting as the primary international wildlife conservation strategy, which is inconsistent with past U.S. wildlife conservation efforts, and runs contrary to expert research on the issue. We are opposed to this approach based on strong evidence that the protection of wildlife and the creation of a humane economy of wildlife ecotourism is a far superior conservation strategy that not only benefits elephants and other wildlife, but also promotes stability and prosperity in regions where wildlife is threatened. This is the foundation for our efforts in Myanmar which you have generously supported.
Here are some key quotes from the press conference we held announcing the filing of the FOIA request:
William Kristol, Board member of The Elephant Project and Editor of The Weekly Standard stated, “Efforts pursued by The Elephant Project to end illegal poaching and wildlife trafficking while fostering a humane economy of ecotourism and research will help bring jobs and prosperity to challenged regions and promote growth and stability. Unfortunately, The Trump Administration appears more inclined to serve the interests of the big game trophy-hunting lobby and Trump family associates rather than threatened wildlife species and U.S. national security interests.”
“The Trump Administration is reversing hard fought gains made over the past several decades in the fight to protect elephants,” stated Elephant Project Founder Dane Waters. “The United States had been a leader in the world’s wildlife conservation efforts, but we are now abdicating that leadership role by prioritizing the wishes of trophy hunters above the preservation of elephants, a keystone species that is essential to the ecosystem. The protection of elephants and other threatened wildlife is a test of moral leadership and character. With these proposed policy changes, the current administration is failing that test.”
"It is deeply disappointing to see the Trump Administration sanction the senseless slaughter of animals," stated The Elephant Project Advisory Board member Joe Trippi. "The vast majority of Americans — Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike — oppose big game trophy hunting of elephants and lions. The Administration should respect the will of the American people and protect these majestic animals."
“Transparency is essential for democracy, including at the Department of the Interior,” asserted Adam M. Roberts, senior advisor to The Elephant Project. “The plight of African elephants remains fragile across their range, and if the Trump Administration is going to renew America’s involvement in elephant slaughter—in the name of sport—the American people have a right to know what influence was levied to lead to such a fatal and reckless decision.”
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a supporter of The Elephant Project, said it best: "We need to stop killing these animals -- take a photo, not a shot."
Our FOIA request aims to shed light on the selection process for members of the IWCC, and whether qualified candidates who are opposed to big game hunting as a conservation strategy were denied membership on the Council. This will help us build the case to demand the dissolution of the IWCC which will also help put pressure on President Trump to reimpose the ban on bringing elephant trophies into the U.S. – which will go a long way in helping end the demand for elephant trophies.
Your donations continue to support our efforts in Myanmar which are critical to saving Myanmar’s timber elephants. But only by executing all parts of our three-prong strategy can we bring an end to the senseless slaughter of these animals and with your continued support we will prevail.
Thank you for your support!
Hello again from Nigeria.
I know you just heard from me earlier this week, but I wanted to give you an additional update on our efforts in Nigeria. Just yesterday this news article was published Thailand Seizes More Than 450k Worth of Elephant Tusks . What it makes clear, that even with recent events in China to limit the ivory trade, the need for vigilance remains stronger than ever to bring an end to the black-market trade in ivory. The tusks referenced in the story originated in Nigeria and highlights the need for quick action in the country which The Elephant Project is working to help enact.
When I posted this article yesterday, it was amazing how many people, including Nigerians, said that there were no elephants in Nigeria and thought that I was crazy. This just simply points out the critical importance of what we are doing in the country – if people don’t know elephants exist in the country how can people be persuaded to help them. Only by shining the light on a problem can people see the need to fix it.
Working with our Advisory Board member Nigerian Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, we are developing a series of solutions to help stop the slaughter of the 350 forgotten elephants left in the country. But like many countries where elephants are in peril, there are immense challenges – but we are optimistic that with Senator Murray-Bruce’s support we can have an impact.
There are many components to our efforts in Nigeria but the top three are:
1) Increase awareness of the plight of these elephants and hopefully through that increased awareness will come the grassroots and political support necessary to implement these solutions. This will be accomplished through digital and social media, outreach to news outlets both in and out of Nigeria, and hopefully through documentary and film efforts.
2) Working with the government to increase eco-tourism opportunities which will include lessening visa restrictions for people to visit the country and pushing for tax, regulatory and security changes that will allow for the growth in eco-tourism businesses – which will also help benefit Nigerians. Our philosophy is simple, show people that a live elephant has more value to them personally than a dead elephant and they will work to protect them.
3) Working with the government, and other NGO’s, to ensure that Nigeria meets its mandates and responsibilities set forth in the CITES treaty. Meeting these mandates are critical to the long term protection of elephants, and other imperiled species in the country.
There is much work to be done, but with your support, we are making progress.
Thanks again for your generosity,
All the best,
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