‘Fantastic day for elephants’: court rejects ivory ban challenge

Antique dealers fail in high court bid to overturn world-leading blanket ban on

Owen Bowcott
Tue 5 Nov 2019 17.45 GMT First published on Tue 5 Nov 2019 15.17 GMT

Antique dealers have failed in an attempt to overturn a total ban on ivory
trading being introduced by the government after the high court ruled the
legislation did not breach European law.

Conservation groups, who argued that any dilution of the ban would
revitalise illegal elephant poaching, welcomed the decision, which they said
would preserve the UK’s position as a world leader in the fight against the
ivory trade.

Last month, a small number of antique dealers challenged the ban in the high
court, arguing that sales of “cultural heritage” objects had no impact on
the market for illegally plundered tusks.

The 2018 Ivory Act, which attracted cross-party support, has yet to come
into force. It criminalises trade in all ivory artefacts with a few artistic
exemptions. The prohibition was championed by the former environment
secretary Michael Gove, who pledged to introduce “one of the world’s
toughest bans on ivory sales to protect elephants for future generations”.

The high court claim was brought in the name of a newly formed company,
Friends of Antique Cultural Treasures (Fact), but funds were channelled via
the British Antique Dealers’ Association (Bada). The dealers also said the
ban undermined the European convention on human rights by interfering with
individuals’ property rights.

Responding to the judgment, Mary Rice, the chief executive of the
Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), said: “This is a victory for
common sense and one which maintains the UK’s position as a global leader
when it comes to fighting the illegal ivory trade.”

The EIA is part of a coalition of 11 conservation organisations that
supported the Ivory Act, arguing that any legal trade in ivory provides
cover for the illegal trade because it is difficult to distinguish between
antique and newly carved ivory. The UK is one of the world’s leading
exporters of antique ivory, particularly to China and Hong Kong.

The environment secretary, Theresa Villiers, said: “I welcome today’s ruling
by the high court which upholds the UK’s commitment to ban the ivory trade.

“We will move forward and make sure the ban comes into operation as soon as
possible to protect wildlife and the environment.”

The European commission is considering further restrictions on ivory trade
across the EU, based in part on the UK’s Ivory Act. Other countries, such as
Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, have introduced, or are considering,
similar legislation.

John Stephenson, the chief executive of the campaign group Stop Ivory, said:
“Challenges to the new legislation fly in the face of British public
opinion, which increasingly puts the conservation of nature before profit.
We hope that’s the end of the matter and that the government can get on with
implementing the act, without further distractions.”

Conservationists estimate that 55 African elephants are poached every day,
which they say is an unsustainable rate of loss. David Cowdrey, the head of
policy and campaigns at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: “We
are delighted to hear that the high court has rejected the antiques lobby’s
bid to overturn the Ivory Act. It is a fantastic day for elephants, and for
everyone that has fought so hard to make the UK’s ivory ban one of the
toughest in the world.”

Elephant Hunts to Start in Botswana at Likely Discount to Rivals

  • Botswana government to sell rights to shoot 158 elephants
  • Country has courted controversy by lifting hunting ban in May

is reintroducing elephant hunts and is likely to sell licenses to kill the animals at a discount to its neighbors. That could further inflame the controversy that’s threatening a $2 billion tourism industry after a five-year ban on hunting was lifted.

The government will auction licenses to hunting operators for the right to shoot an elephant but is yet to decide on the minimum price it will set, said Kitso Mokaila, the country’s environment minister. Botswana will allow the killing of 158 elephants in trophy hunts this year.

An additional administrative fee of 20,000 pula ($1,834) for each of 72 elephant hunting licenses designated for foreigners has already been agreed on, according to government documents seen by Bloomberg. In neighboring Zimbabwe, the right to shoot an elephant costs at least $21,000.

Conservationists worldwide have opposed the plan, warning that tourists may go elsewhere.

“It’s a very reasonable price,” said Dries van Coller, president of the Professional Hunters Association in South Africa. “They would rather proceed with caution, and see how it goes.”

President Mokgweetsi Masisi put elephants at the center of the Botswana’s politics ahead of October elections, breaking ranks with his predecessor Ian Khama, who imposed the hunting ban and garnered international praise for Botswana’s wildlife policies.

Still, by lifting the hunting ban earlier this year, Botswana has brought itself in line with its neighbors. The number of hunting licenses are below the 400 cap it set itself, and compares with 500 licenses in Zimbabwe and 90 in Namibia. In South Africa, foreign hunters generated 1.95 billion rand ($133 million) in 2017.

To read more about the lifting of the hunting ban click here

Less than 50 elephants are shot in South Africa annually and Zambia has allocated 37 licenses for this year.

The all-in cost of an elephant hunt typically involves several hundred dollars a day for the professional hunters who accompany the tourists, as well as accommodation and taxidermy fees. Hunts can last 10 to 18 days on average. Most trophy hunters in southern Africa come from the U.S.

“We want to start off cautiously and steadily to see if all that we want under the guidelines can be done properly,” Mokaila said. The sales will start soon, he added.

Tourism, mainly in the form of photographic safaris around the country’s Okavango and Chobe reasons, accounts for a fifth of Botswana’s economy.

CITES agreement to ban sending wild elephants to zoos a victory for legacy of Swaziland


The end of the elephant-to-zoo trade marked by today’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species decision in Geneva is a victory for Friends of Animals efforts to make sure that no other pachyderms would suffer the cruelty of being ripped from the wild for a life in captivity and that the 18 elephants destined for U.S. zoos in 2016 would be the last to ever have to endure this.

The story of the Swaziland elephants that were sent to three U.S. zoos despite Friends of Animals efforts to keep them in the wild was spotlighted in a July New York Times Magazine cover story “Zoos Called it a ‘Rescue.’ But are the Elephants Really Safe?” by Charles Siebert.

The three zoos, Dallas Zoo, Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas and the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, had obtained permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to import the elephants in 2016 from a national park in Swaziland overseen by Big Game Parks.

FoA filed a lawsuit claiming that the FWS had a mandatory duty under the National Environmental Policy Act to fully evaluate and disclose whether the elephants, as a result of captivity, would suffer social, psychological, behavioral and physical impacts for the rest of their lives. But ahead of the scheduled March 17, 2016 hearing and without informing the court, a plane was secretly sent from Kansas City on March 5 to transport the elephants to the U.S.

“No other elephants should be drugged and crated, hauled off to a foreign place to spend the next 50 years feeling like captives,” said FoA Wildlife Law Program Director Michael Harris. “The Swaziland elephants will suffer in captivity, there is no doubt of that, but to them we must credit the decision today to end this practice.”

While the U.S. delegation to CITES opposed the agreement, FoA President Priscilla Feral said it is a vital step at a time when elephant populations in Africa are plummeting.

“In the last three years, we kept the story of the Swaziland elephants alive and delivered a PR nightmare for the zoos involved,’’ she said. “It’s gratifying to learn that despite the disappointing performance of the U.S. delegation, CITES passed a trade rule banning the exportation of African elephants to all zoos. Being able to deliver on our goal that they would be the last elephants to be robbed of their freedom and families is rewarding, especially in these difficult political times.”

CITES agreement to ban sending wild elephants to zoos a victory for legacy of Swaziland 18

Protesters Demand Freedom for Bronx Zoo Elephant, Happy


AUGUST 12, 2019 BY As crowds entered the Bronx Zoo on Saturday, August 10th, dozens of activists with the Nonhuman Rights Project staged a protest at the entrance to demand that the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the zoo, release an elephant named Happy to a sanctuary after holding her captive in a small enclosure since 1977.

Happy is a 48 year old wild-born Asian elephant who was captured in Thailand and brought to the United States in the 1970s.  She has been held captive in the Bronx Zoo since 1977 and has lived alone in a barren one acre enclosure for the past 13 years. During the winter month, she is intensively confined to a small cement cell.

During the winter months, Happy (not pictured here) is held in this barren enclosure in the Bronx Zoo

“Elephants are social animals who need the companionship of other elephants,” said Kevin Schneider, the Executive Director of the Nonhuman Rights Project, “It’s no wonder that we see her swaying and engaging in other unnatural behaviors that indicate distress and suffering.”

Activists with the Nonhuman Rights Project demand that the Wildlife Conservation Society release Happy, an elephant held captive at the zoo since 1977, to a sanctuary

Both of the elephant sanctuaries in the United States, the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and the Performing Animal Welfare Society in California, have agreed to take Happy at no cost to the Bronx Zoo, but the WCS has refused to let her go.  “The Wildlife Conservation Society acknowledged in 2006 that keeping Happy alone would be inhumane, so we don’t understand why they won’t release her from captivity,” said Schneider. “They either don’t want to acknowledge that Happy’s solitary confinement for the past 13 years has been cruel , or they don’t want to cave into pressure from animal rights advocates.”

During the warm months, Happy is held captive and alone in a one acre enclosure.

In 2018, the Nonhuman Rights Project filed a petition for a common law writ of habeas corpus in New York Supreme Court demanding recognition of Happy’s legal personhood and her fundamental right to bodily liberty. Happy is first elephant in the world to have a habeas corpus hearing to determine the lawfulness of her imprisonment.

As litigation proceeds, public support for the Happy’s freedom has grown. In June, two elected officials made public statements encouraging the WCS to free Happy. Corey Johnson, the Speaker of the New York City Council, wrote, “Happy and all elephants need more space and resources than the zoo can provide, plain and simple.  I urge the Bronx Zoo, which first planned to close the elephant exhibit back in 2006, to finally transfer Happy to one of two recommended sanctuaries so that she can enjoy the company of other elephants and the benefits afforded to a facility specifically designed to meet her needs.”  In a tweet, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has voiced her opposition to solitary confinement for prison inmates, said that “The team and I are looking into what we can do” to free Happy.

In 2015, the animal advocacy group In Defense of Animals ranked the Bronx Zoo the fifth worst zoo in the United States for elephants. “The Bronx Zoo does not have the space, the resources, or the weather conditions that elephants need to live a reasonably healthy life. Shame on the Bronx Zoo for sentencing “Happy” to what is likely the most unhappy of sentences for an elephant: a life of self­ aware solitary confinement.”

Change.org petition demanding an end to Happy’s solitary confinement has garnered over one million signatures.

Yes, I’m a hunter. My targets are duplicity, lies and cruelty

 We are left to contemplate the needless deaths of keystone animals like lions Skye, Cecil and Voortrekker – not dusty old males hunters claim they hunt, but beautiful creatures in the prime of their lives destined to bolster someone’s ego and bragging rights, says the writer. Photo: Charlie Lynam)  Less

178 Reactions

The trophy hunting industry is on the wrong side of history, serves the macabre leisure pursuits of a handful of the wealthy elite and yet, bizarrely, we environment writers are the ones vilified for trying to call it to account.

As every journalist knows, a disaster without a face is just a number. You tell the bigger story through the individual. Exactly a year ago, that face was a beautiful pride male lion named Skye. Last month it was the huge male desert-dwelling elephant named Voortrekker. Four years ago it was the lion, Cecil.

Trophy hunters don’t like the animals they shoot having names. It enables the public to identify with them as individuals. And as individuals, they easily become a synecdoche – a lens – through which to assess trophy hunting as a sport.

That makes hunters and their apologists uncomfortable. Rather keep it scientific, clinical. We’re just cropping ageing game in a well-regulated sport. It’s sustainable and helps local communities. It keeps cows and goats out of the wilderness.

News that questions this version of reality is hotly contested. Each story written by environmental writers like Elise Tempelhoff, Ross Harvey, Ian Michler, Simon Bloch, John Grobler, Louzel Lombard Steyn or myself never fails to elicit angry rebuttals in support of hunting. Here are a few among the many:

Kent journalism professor Keith Somerville claims those opposing hunting are card-stacking facts or falsehoods and cherry-picking (though he misses the irony that he does just that). What we write, in other words, is not news, but propaganda.

Swedish hunter Jens Ulrik Høgh complains that those who support trophy hunting are being “actively demonised, outnumbered, interrupted and treated like the scum of the earth”. Really?

In response to an article about the killing of Voortrekker, US-based Safari Club International (SCI) posted that the writer “John Grobler et al. seem to focus on bringing disrepute upon communal conservancies and sustainable hunting in Namibia. Their relentless rhetoric has fuelled the fervour of many desktop anti-hunting social media activists.”

It fails to mention, of course, that the SCI hunting achievement programme and awards fuel a global guiding and outfitting industry and drives binge hunting for many of the rarest animals on earth.

The pro-hunting Conservation Frontlines website sees the conflict being between “various hunting organisations and a coterie of short-attention-span journalists and tourism operators who style themselves as conservationists”.

Hunter Ron Thomson is always quick to rush into print to kill the messenger and defend the right to gun down elephants. His speciality seems to be mass culling. He claims Botswana has doubled its elephant population (in fact the population has been stable for 19 years). He recommends shooting half of them (around 50,000) and ruminates on the limitation posed by insufficient abattoirs.

The noise in defence of trophy hunting is understandable – it’s getting a very bad name and there’s growing public pushback.

Conservation Frontlines writers Malan Lindeque and Rosalia Lileka have the solution: just rebrand it. Remove all reference to “sport” or “fun”, reposition it as “conservation organisation hunts” and ensure that hunting “demonstrably contributes to conservation”. But of course, do not for a moment question whether it’s okay to kill wild animals.

As a journalist – a real one and not, as depicted, a greenie propagandist – the barrage of criticism has an effect. It’s exhausting having to rebut the same old hoary arguments.

Are we environmental writers and NGOs really completely blind to the virtues of trophy hunting? Well no, I don’t think so. The UN Report on Biodiversity out two months ago was a wake-up call. It warned that about a million species are on the brink of extinction, including many of the species being hunted for pleasure. A Born Free report just out: Trophy Hunting – Busting the Myths and Exposing the Cruelty, has alarming figures on the volume of trophies.

It found that between 2008 and 2017, close to 300,000 trophy items derived from more than 300 threatened animal species were exported from more than 100 countries. Here are some:

“These figures only reflect those trophies derived from species that are protected by international agreement, the export of which is subject to an international permitting system,” the report says.

“When you consider the many trophies derived from the hunters’ own countries, for which official records may not exist or are much more difficult to obtain, these figures represent the tip of a very large iceberg.”

report by the non-partisan US Congressional Research Service backs up the high carcass volumes. Between 2013 and 2017 the US granted import permits for 32,100 black bears, 10,122 sandhill cranes, 2,645 African lions, 2,552 chacma baboons, and 2,148 mountain zebras.

The Born Free report documents the cruelty of trophy hunting, its failure to support conservation, the cheating of local communities out of hunting revenues, and the complete disregard for animal welfare. And this in a world where the populations of the animals that trophy hunters target are, for the most part, plummeting.

Hunters, the report says, claim the fees they pay to government agencies, hunting outfitters, taxidermists and shipping companies benefit wildlife conservation, local communities and the economies of the countries where trophy hunting takes place.

“They also often claim that by targeting problem or redundant animals their activities represent a legitimate form of wildlife management. But their claims do not withstand scrutiny.”

Their major motivation, says the report, appears to be admiration and affirmation from fellow hunters, which they increasingly seek through social media and other online platforms. “The trophy hunting industry encourages this behaviour by offering awards for the number and types of animals bagged by hunters, and the variety of methods and weapons used to kill them.

“Despite their claims, trophy hunters do not generally target problem, redundant or old and infirm animals. They prefer to set their sights on animals with impressive traits – the darkest manes, the biggest tusks, the longest horns.

“This often results in the killing of key individuals, removing vital genetic resources and causing disruption to family groups, populations and, by extension, the wider ecosystems of which they form a part.”

Then there’s the money.

Back in 2013, South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs estimated trophy hunting generated around R1-billion. In that year non-consumptive tourism contributed R323-billion.

A report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2009 estimated the annual hunting turnover for 11 countries in Africa that permit big game hunting was 0.06% of their combined annual GDP, generating an average of just $1.1 per hectare.

An analysis of data published by the pro-hunting International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation found much the same. It noted that hunting companies contribute on average 3% of their revenues to communities living in hunting areas. The vast majority of their turnover goes to government agencies, outfitters and individuals located in national capitals or overseas.

In Zambia, the government’s Wildlife Department is committed by law to returning a 50% share of trophy licence fees and 20% of hunting area concession fees to Community Resources Boards (CRBs) and chiefs in areas where trophy hunting takes place.

However, Born Free’s investigation found that little, if any, of this money ever reaches them. As a result, local people have a negative attitude towards trophy hunting, accusing the government and Department of National Parks and Wildlife of corrupt practices and of exploiting wildlife for the benefit of others, including officials, outfitters and professional hunting guides.

Of particular concern to Born Free in its report was the generally neglected welfare of the animals hunted, an issue often derided by the hunting fraternity. While in most countries there are strict rules about the killing of farm animals, no such protections apply to wild animals.

“While some hunting organisations acknowledge that trophy hunters have a responsibility to avoid inflicting undue suffering, many offer awards for methods of killing a trophy animal which might include the use of bows and arrows, handguns, or ‘traditional’ weapons such as muzzleloaders or spears. These methods clearly do not prioritise the welfare of the target animal and are likely to increase the possibility of suffering.”

Because heads are displayed, it says, there’s the increasing probability that a body shot will be favoured, reducing the likelihood that a clean kill will be achieved and increasing the possibility that the animal will suffer.

“In order to give wild animals a secure future,” concludes the Born Free report, “we must learn to treat them with far greater respect and find alternative ways of realising value from wild animals and nature through non-lethal, ecologically and economically sustainable practices that will benefit wild animals and people alike.”

Now let’s step back for a moment and consider. There are very few NGOs and environmental journalists documenting the activities of a wealthy and often callous hunting industry and supportive governments which turn their face away from corruption and animal cruelty.

The trophy hunting industry is on the wrong side of history, serves the macabre leisure pursuits of a handful of the wealthy elite and yet, bizarrely, we are the ones vilified for trying to call it to account.

That industry doesn’t approve and we get vilified for the temerity to challenge it.

We could all be social reporters or cover crime, do the social beat or become sports writers. But, I’ll be honest, it’s the duplicity, lies and cruelty threaded through the hunting industry that keeps me hammering away at environmental issues.

The smokescreen of deception thrown around the hunting of Skye in Greater Kruger was a red flag screaming “Investigate Me”, which the parliamentary Environmental Committee did. Along the way, Kruger Park was roasted for failure to obey a parliamentary instruction. But in the end, nothing came of it. After all, the hunter had a government-issued licence.

So we’re left to contemplate the needless death of keystone animals like Skye, Cecil and Voortrekker – not dusty old males hunters claim they hunt, but beautiful creatures in the prime of their lives destined to bolster someone’s ego and bragging rights.

It’s a sad reflection of our species. Permit me to conclude with a (slightly altered) verse from Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan:

How many ears must one man have
Before he can hear creatures cry?
Yes and how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many creatures have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind. DM

Zimbabwe Ready to Sell Elephants to ‘Anyone Who Wants Wildlife’

  • Planned sale of elephants to Angola will help reduce ‘excess’
  • Zimbabwe tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira says in interview

Zimbabwe plans to sell elephants to Angola and is prepared to ship wild animals to any other interested countries as the southern African nation seeks to reduce its elephant population due to growing conflict between people and wildlife.

“We have no predetermined market for elephant sales, we are open to everyone who wants our wildlife,” Tourism Minister Prisca Mupfumira said in an interview on the sidelines of a wildlife summit in Victoria Falls. “The main problem is landmines in Angola, so we are trying to assist them by having a fund to deal with those before we send the animals.” Millions of landmines were used in Angola’s 27-year civil war that ended in 2002 and many have yet to be cleared.

Leaders of the four southern African nations that are home to more than half of the world’s African elephants gathered in Zimbabwe on Tuesday to discuss a common management policy and reiterate calls on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to relax some of its rules, including a moratorium on ivory sales.

The four countries – Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana – joined forces earlier this year to lobby CITES ahead of a global conference scheduled for August. They say they should be free to decide how to deal with their wildlife, and income from sales of ivory stockpiles can be used for conservation. Botswana says it has too many elephants, while Mupfumira said Zimbabwe had an “excess” of 30,000 of the animals.

Namibian President Hage Geingob and Zambia’s Edgar Lungu told delegates at the summit that the rights of communities living among elephants are being overlooked and there should be a “new deal” with CITES that allows them to benefit from wildlife. President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana, who oversaw the lifting of a hunting ban in May to enable villagers to shoot some elephants if they destroy crops, made similar comments.

Zimbabwe has already sold African elephants to China in recent years. The West African nation of Gambia, which doesn’t have any pachyderms, has also expressed interest, Mupfumira said.

“They said come and teach us and send us technical know-how,” she said. “We must allow free movement, and we must also decide – its our own resource.”




A Listicle by the Center for Biological Diversity

The U.S. government is in charge of saving and protecting more than 1,622 animals and plants on the endangered species list. Over the past four decades, the Endangered Species Act has saved 99 percent of the species under its care from extinction. The Trump administration, however, threatens to undermine that success through a deadly combination of drastic budget cuts, policy changes, neglect and abandonment of programs that have proven worthwhile. Here are the 10 species mostly likely to be driven extinct by the Trump administration.

Download a PDF of this listicle.

African elephant1. African Elephant
Endangered Species Act protected since 1978

African elephants are highly intelligent and social animals. They display grief, altruism, compassion and self-awareness. Elephants rely on their long-term memories, coupled with seasonal cues, to travel vast distances in close-knit herds to find water and food throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Tragically, these elephants — Earth’s largest land mammals — are being slaughtered for their ivory tusks at rates that are causing severe population declines across the continent. Habitat loss, human-elephant conflict and political instability pose additional and significant long-term challenges to the elephants’ survival.

Trump effect

Despite plummeting populations, the Trump administration is slashing $1 million from the African Elephant Conservation Fund, which provides financial support for essential protection activities, especially anti-poaching efforts. And in November 2017, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reversed an Obama administration ban on importing elephant trophies from Zimbabwe.


Chinook salmon2. Upper Columbia River Spring-run Chinook Salmon
Endangered Species Act protected since 1999

In the Pacific Northwest, salmon are cultural icons. They are critical to the region’s ecosystem, returning ocean nutrients to rivers that benefit both people and wildlife.Chinook, also called “king” salmon, are the largest salmon species, with adults often exceeding 40 pounds. Once found in abundance, hydropower development and irrigation diversions, along with water storage and commercial salmon harvest, threaten the species’ existence. There is now a high risk they will go extinct.


Trump effect

Despite the chinook’s critically imperiled status, the Trump administration is eliminating funding for the Washington Regional Fisheries Enhancement Group, which supports statewide salmon recovery efforts including habitat restoration and hatcheries. The administration’s budget also eliminates funding for Long Live the Kings, a nonprofit working to restore wild salmon and support sustainable fishing.


Florida grasshopper sparrow3. Florida Grasshopper Sparrow
Endangered Species Act protected since 1986

The Florida grasshopper sparrow is generally recognized as North America’s most endangered bird. Only a few inches long and weighing barely 1 ounce, these nonmigratory ground-dwellers are found only in Florida’s dry prairie. Today, more than 90 percent of these prairies are gone, lost to pastures, citrus, sod and pine farms. In just two decades, the population declined by nearly 95 percent. Before Hurricane Irma in September 2017, it was projected that there may be as few as 10 females in the wild for the 2018 breeding season. Now that number is likely lower.

A captive breeding program was initiated in 2014 to give the birds a chance at survival. The program has been instrumental in the fight to save the Florida grasshopper sparrow from extinction.


Trump effect

The Trump administration has eliminated critical federal funding for this program. It’s unclear where or how the program will raise enough money to continue operating. Without these funds, the Florida grasshopper sparrow will likely go extinct in the near future.


Whooping crane4. Whooping Crane
Endangered Species Act protected since 1967

The whooping crane is one of the rarest — and tallest — birds in North America. Standing 5 feet tall with a wingspan of 7 feet or more, the crane has become a nationally recognized symbol of endangered species. The population was once widespread, but due to hunting and habitat destruction the last migrating flock plummeted to just 15 birds before it was eventually protected in 1967. Today there are only about 500 whooping cranes left in the wild. Scientists have long recognized the risk that all or most of these birds could be wiped out from a single event such as a hurricane, disease outbreak, toxic spill or prolonged drought.

To help save the whooping crane from extinction, a captive breeding program was created at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland in 1966. At that time, just 42 birds remained. Viewed as a model of wildlife conservation, for 51 years the program successfully bred whooping cranes for release into the wild, helping establish additional populations to ensure the bird’s survival.


Trump effect

Federal funding for the $1.5 million breeding program was cut in October 2017 and all full-time employees were assigned new duties. The Patuxent whooping cranes will either join the wild flocks or be shipped to other breeding centers or zoos in the coming year, dealing a death blow to this successful captive breeding program.


Oahu tree smail5. Oahu Tree Snail
Endangered Species Act protected since 1981

Oahu tree snails have been described as the “jewels of the forest” because of the colorful patterns of their shells. The snails were once so abundant and popular that their shells were used in Hawaiian folklore and lei and other ornaments. Sadly, up to 90 percent of Hawaii’s 750 known terrestrial snails have already been lost to extinction. The entire genus of the Oahu tree snail — which consisted of roughly 41 different species of tree snails found only on the island of Oahu — is highly endangered and at least half of the species are believed to be extinct.

Today, only 11 of the 41 Oahu tree snail species can be found. One is down to only a single individual. The primary threats are habitat loss and predation by introduced animals such as rosy snails, rats and chameleons. The Snail Extinction Prevention Program (SEP) was created to protect Hawaii’s most at-risk snail species, including the Oahu tree snail. This program utilizes captive propagation, emergency field actions and reintroductions into the wild.

Trump effect

The Trump administration’s proposal to eliminate the federal competitive State Wildlife Grant Program, cut general endangered species recovery funding and prioritize delisting species rather than preventing extinctions will make it even harder to save these snails.


Hawaiian tree cotton, or koki‘o6. Hawaiian Tree Cotton, or Koki‘o
Endangered Species Act protected since 1984

The koki‘o, or Hawaiian tree cotton, is one of the rarest, most spectacular trees in the world. Growing to a height of nearly 33 feet with star-shaped leaves and large red flowers, it is extremely endangered in its native habitat on the Big Island of Hawaii. Hawaii’s dry forests have decreased by almost 90 percent. Today, only four wild koki‘o trees grow in the remaining habitat. Hawaii’s Plant Extinction Prevention Program (PEPP) and the state of Hawaii are working to save the last of the Hawaiian cotton trees and hundreds of other plant species that have fewer than 50 individuals. Before PEPP, Hawaii was losing approximately one plant species every year. Since its creation in 2003, PEPP has not let any of the 238 plant species under its care go extinct, including the koki‘o. 


Trump effect

The Trump administration has proposed cutting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s budget by 8.6 percent overall, and the agency cut PEPP’s budget by 50 percent. Additional cuts are also expected for 2018.


Puerto Rican parrot7. Puerto Rican Parrot
Endangered Species Act protected since 1967

The bright green Puerto Rican parrot — recognizable for its red forehead and white-ringed eyes — was once widespread and abundant in the island’s old-growth forests. By the late 1600s, there were approximately 1 million birds. However, after decades of habitat destruction and poaching, along with recent natural disasters like hurricanes Irma and Maria, the population has plummeted. There are only about 500 left, mostly spread across captive-breeding and release facilities and wild populations in El Yunque and the Rio Abajo state forests. Most of the wild population in El Yunque — about 50 to 55 birds — remains unaccounted for after Hurricane Maria.

As with most of the critically endangered species on this list, the parrot is being saved by a variety of federal programs aimed at preventing extinction.


Trump effect

Proposed budget cuts to endangered species recovery programs will reduce funding for critical efforts like captive propagation and habitat restoration. In addition, the Trump administration’s most recent request for hurricane relief was only $44 billion — half of what Congress is expected to provide — and delays the full funding request for Puerto Rico aid. The Trump proposal would have provided no funding to restore any wildlife refuges in Puerto Rico and no funds to address impacts from the hurricanes on endangered species like the Puerto Rican parrot.


Red wolf8. Red Wolf
Endangered Species Act protected since 1967

Red wolves are some of the most endangered carnivores in the world. The wolves were once widely distributed throughout the southeastern United States. But they were nearly exterminated due to fear they might kill livestock. The population fell so precipitously that in 1975, 17 red wolves were put into a captive breeding program to stop extinction. But in 1980, red wolves were declared extinct in the wild. The captive breeding program eventually got the wild population up to 130 wolves in 2006.

Unfortunately, the population began to decline and crashed in 2014. At the beginning of 2016, only 45 red wolves remained in the wild. Mismanagement, illegal killing and hybridization with coyotes are the main threats to red wolves.


Trump effect

Instead of strengthening protections, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service withdrew its support of red wolf recovery and stopped releasing captive wolves into the wild. The agency has even issued permits to landowners allowing them to shoot and kill red wolves on their property. Under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke — who voted against protections for endangered species 100 percent of the time during his congressional stint — the future of the red wolf is bleak.


North Atlantic right whale9. North Atlantic right whale
Endangered Species Act protected since 1970

The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered of all large whales and can weigh up to 150,000 pounds and grow as long as 48 feet. A long history of human exploitation, coupled with recent threats like entanglement in fishing gear, ship strikes and seismic oil and gas surveys, has made current population trends so dire that experts predict the whale could vanish within 20 years. Only about 450 right whales remain. Seventeen were killed in 2017 after being hit by boats or tangled in fishing gear. Of the remaining population, as few as 100 are breeding females.

Trump effect

Despite the urgent need for increased recovery efforts, the Trump administration is slashing the National Marine Fisheries Service’s protected resources budget by $5 million and completely eliminating funding for the Marine Mammal Commission — an independent, science-based oversight agency that has been instrumental in right whale conservation efforts. On top of that, the Trump administration is pushing for expanded oil and gas drilling in areas that include prime right whale habitat.


Laurel dace10. Laurel Dace
Endangered Species Act protected since 2011

The laurel dace is a small red and black fish that is on the brink of extinction. Named after the laurel bushes that grow along streams in Tennessee’s Cumberland Mountains, the fish is found in only three creeks and threatened by drought, water pollution and invasive species. It desperately needs recovery money for captive propagation, landowner outreach, land acquisition and conservation easements. Due to the Southeast’s ongoing severe drought, by the end of 2016 the species was on the cusp of extinction, so some fish were rescued from drying pools and taken to the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute to prevent the species from being lost forever.

The laurel dace, along with dozens of other Southeast species, could be saved with adequate recovery funding.


Trump effect

The Trump administration is not providing enough resources to fully fund the recovery of the laurel dace and other unique species that are facing imminent extinction due to lack of funding for recovery efforts.


African elephant poaching has declined, but study warns they are still vulnerable

A Kenya Wildlife Services ranger stands guard by a stack of elephant tusks piled up onto pyres in preparation for a historic destruction of illegal ivory and rhino-horn confiscated mostly from poachers in Nairobi's national park. A study released last month found that the mortality rate for African elephants has declined to 4% in 2017, down from 10% in 2011.

(CNN)Fifteen years ago, half a million African elephants roamed the continent.

The animals were moved off endangered lists, and the population even seemed to be going up in some areas.
Then, because of poaching, those numbers dropped. Drastically.
Africa lost more than 100,000 elephants between 2006 and 2015, the worst poaching surge since the 1980s, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Now there’s a bit of good news.
new study finds that the number of elephants dying from poaching is declining, with a mortality rate of 10% in 2011 falling to 4% in 2017.
The cause? Reduced ivory demand, specifically from Chinese markets — the biggest driver behind poaching in Africa, according to the study, which appeared last month in the journal Nature Communications.

When the value of ivory goes up, so does poaching

It’s basic supply and demand, according to the study.
The supply for ivory, which poachers get from the elephants’ tusks, is always low, but when demand is high, more people try to meet that demand. China banned all trade in ivory in 2017, which may have helped blunt demand, the study says.
But trade and poaching bans in China and in Africa have also had the negative effect of driving the value of ivory up.
Researchers also said that law enforcement in the areas can be inadequate in the face of thriving illegal markets. And police corruption compounds the problem, the study said.

Poverty is one of the biggest motivators for poaching

Poverty plays the biggest role in perpetuating the illegal trade, the researchers said. There tended to be more poaching in areas with higher poverty density, leading researchers to suggest that the decline in poaching will not be sustainable without a decline in poverty.
Investing in law enforcement isn’t enough, the study says.
“The effect of alleviating poverty and reducing corruption at the site-level might be other (potentially more effective) approaches, that should be promoted more,” Severin Hauenstein, one of the researchers involved in the study, told CNN.
The relationship between elephants and financial strain isn’t seen only in poaching. Last month, Botswana removed its elephant hunting ban, partly in an effort to monetize conservation efforts. Zimbabwe made $2.7 million after selling more than 90 elephants to China and Dubai.
To put it simply, until the people are living in better conditions, elephants will continue to be targeted.

Elephant Remembers Old Trainer in Emotional Reunion


Stephanie Officer
Ad 00:35 – up next: “Elephant Reunites With Old Trainer”
Elephant Reunites With Old Trainer

As the adage goes — an elephant never forgets.After 35 years, Kristy the Asian elephant still has fond memories of her former zookeeper, Peter Adamson. He was Kristy’s trainer in the early ’70s and ’80s, when she lived at a zoo in Scotland that is now closed.

The pair reunited at the Neunkircher Zoo in Germany while Adamson was visiting friends in Germany.

He found out Kristy was still alive at 52 years old and still healthy. The average lifespan for Asian elephants is 48 years.

Adamson contacted the zoo and officials arranged the emotional reunion.

As that reunion unfolded, a pair of baby elephants got a second chance at life.

a close up of a man: Kristy the Asian elephant was reunited with her trainer after more than 30 years.© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Kristy the Asian elephant was reunited with her trainer after more than 30 years.The calves somehow slipped into a pit in Sri Lanka, struggling there for three hours before wildlife officials brought in an excavator to dig an escape route.

It took a little upper body strength, some wiggling and a little bit of help before both tots were able to climb out.

Wildlife officials used loud crackers to chase the calves back into the wild, so they could run right back to their mothers — capping an adventure they may never forget, either.


‘Boycott Jimmy Johns’ Trends After CEO’s Hunting Obsession Exposed

by  | April 27, 2019

There should be no doubt in how fiendish an act hunting can be. Nonetheless, many people find their cup of tea in the ruthless “sport.” Just recently, CEO of Jimmy John’s, Jimmy John Liautaud’s hunting obsession was exposed on Twitter, and a new hashtag has been making its rounds on the internet reading, #BoycottJimmyJohns. Read on to know more about ‘Boycott Jimmy Johns’ hashtag that went viral on Twitter.

Boycott Jimmy Johns
Photo by Loïc Fürhoff on Unsplash

You might also like:

‘Boycott Jimmy Johns’ Trends After CEO’s Hunting Obsession Exposed

The CEO of the gourmet sandwich chain, Jimmy John Liautaud, has a hunting obsession and the fact is quite well documented. Years back, a website allegedly revealed the CEO’s images with him posing with killed “trophy” animals like a leopard and an elephant.

More recently, Twitter user Yossarian317 posted a macabre image which features the sandwich chain’s CEO posing with two thumbs up, sitting on the corpse of a huge elephant he allegedly hunted and killed. The tweet garnered some 28k re-tweets and 22k likes.

Twitter user Yossarian317 tweeted the post with the caption:

“Owner of Jimmy Johns celebrating the killing of a beautiful animal. Remember next time you want a sub. Please retweet!”

Credit: @yossarian317/ Twitter
‘Boycott Jimmy Johns’ Trends After CEO’s Hunting Obsession Exposed

And within a blink of an eye, twitter outpoured their aghast and anger on the image with comments flooding in. A user wrote:

Credit: @tarastrong/ Twitter

“Despicable, unfathomable, disgusting. The owner of @jimmyjohns. Sorry about your tiny penis, Jim. I’m sure glad there’s lots and lots of other sandwich places.”

Credit: @RobWoodson26/ Twitter

Another user said: “Will never go to Jimmy Johns again!”

Credit: @LeilaniMunter/ Twitter
‘Boycott Jimmy Johns’ Trends After CEO’s Hunting Obsession Exposed

“Do we start a #BoycottJimmyJohns trend??,” added another user.

How Can Killing be Fun?

Hunting as a sport is unfortunately still enjoyed by many. Some hunting instances take place on private enclosed lands where enforcing the law can be difficult. Hunters reportedly pay to kill native and exotic species in what it is called a “canned hunt.” Do you find anything exciting or sporty in succumbing animals to death in enclosed lands where they can’t escape? I don’t.

Animal rights activist groups like PETA are encouraging people to boycott Jimmy Johns, like the trending hashtag, and are referring to sandwich shops like Subway, which does not support trophy hunting. What do you think? Going vegan is surely an all-in-one boycott to every single animal abuse happening on earth. Let me know your views in the comments.