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Hope For Stronger Protection Of African Elephants At CITES

By Gini Cowell

In the months leading up to every CITES conference there is usually mounting pressure from conservationists, activists, officials and individuals to implement a full ban on trade in products of species at threat of exploitation and destruction. This year it is the same. Kenya is one of the countries actively leading the drive to place all African Elephants back on Appendix I (elephant populations in four countries still remain on Appendix II) and add giraffes as a listed species under CITES, among other legislative appeals.

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The 18th Conference of the Parties is planned to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka and has, understandably, been postponed to October which gives more time in the decision making and for the public’s voice to be heard. Endangered species of wild fauna and flora are depending on stronger protective measures either through implementation of stricter controls on certain trades in wildlife products or by banning certain trades entirely. The latter often leads to contentious debate and there has been enormous and widespread public demand for stricter controls of trade, especially pertaining to species at high risk of precipitous decline in population. The outcome of the last CITES conference was deeply disappointing for those who were pushing to have all African Elephants upgraded to the ‘Appendix I’ protective status. Presently African elephant populations in all remaining range states are on Appendix I except for in Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa and Botswana – some of the same countries who have been unitedly opposed to a complete ban during past conferences and maintain this stance today. The majority of African countries have their elephant populations listed on Appendix I and are against trade, so why is it an issue? In a nutshell, elephants vulnerable to ivory trade and therefore poaching anywhere imperil elephants everywhere. Even if one local population of elephants is appearing to thrive, there is another population elsewhere fighting for survival. Any conservation approach, in my opinion, must include the species as a whole. As an example, Botswana has the largest elephant population in Africa and Southern Africa claim to have an overall healthy population of elephants but this is not a uniform trend throughout all other elephant range states sadly. A multitude of enormous illegal ivory seizures including a 9 ton shipment said to be the largest in a long time from this year alone indicate a sobering, undeniable fact: elephants are still dying for their ivory on a frightening scale.
The pro-trade bloc of Southern African countries consistently state that because the southern part of the continent represents about 60% of Africa’s elephant population and that their elephant numbers are well managed, it makes sense to allow them to sell registered elephant ivory to profit conservation of the species. Let’s talk about that briefly. I am curious to know whether there has been a recorded instance of successfully sustained legal trade in ivory in recent history, because to my knowledge there is not. A prime example which suggests the absolute opposite is that from 1977 until 1989 all African Elephants were listed on CITES Appendix II, during this same time period a horrific poaching epidemic of catastrophic proportions took place, costing the lives of thousands of elephants and causing the overall African Elephant population to fall from more than one million to a staggering estimate of less than 600,000. In October 1989 after prolonged debate it was finally agreed that the African Elephant would be up-listed to Appendix I which effectively banned all trade in ivory. Many across the world regarded this single legislative action, combined with huge awareness of the plight of Elephants, to have brought poaching to a near halt not long afterwards and allowed remaining populations to recover slowly. Between 1997 and 2008 CITES downlisted some elephant populations back onto Appendix II and sanctioned the sales of large quantities of ivory from government stockpiles in some countries in what was referred to as “one off” sales, within the immediate following years this decision saw thousands of African Elephants killed – a 30% decline in African savanna elephants and a 60% decline in African forest elephants. The traumatic effects of which are still very visible today.
Even the smallest loophole has been shown to incentivize a surge in trafficking and buying of illegal ivory and it is widely believed that these so called one off sales, most especially the 2008 sale of around 110 tons of ivory, were significant contributing factors to the poaching crisis which has devastated the elephant populations of East Africa and elsewhere in the following years since. So again, how do you sustain any kind of trade when the demand completely overshadows the supply? Recent studies on this have revealed that there are not enough elephants in the wild today to sustainably meet the demands of ivory consumers without forcing the species into extinction. Additionally let’s not forget what decades of research on elephants has taught us because it cannot be ignored and must surely go hand in hand with any decisions related to the conservation of this species – though certain populations may be much bigger and steadier than others, elephants are a slow reproductive species and they are extremely sensitive to intrusive human disturbance. Such high losses within a population and among families of elephants has shown clear signs of complete devastation to the intricate societies of this sentient species.
I for one hope that history won’t repeat itself with another consequential decision that would trigger the further slaughter of wild elephant populations. After all, “No Trade, No Market” and vice versa. Ultimately, the future of more than one entire species is at stake and will be affected by the decisions made at CITES CoP18 and many, including myself, hope for an outcome which places the best interests of wildlife first and foremost. Kenya was the first country to destroy their ivory stockpiles in 1989, sending a powerful message that the heinous, commercial and bloody trade in ivory would not be tolerated but instead be treated as the crime that it is.

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Hopefully this year Kenya will again, together with a number of fellow African countries, inspire the world at large to stand firm on their commitment to safeguarding a future for elephants and other wildlife species. African Elephants are one of the most intelligent, unique and socially advanced species on the planet. There should be no debate necessary and no uncertainty whatsoever when it comes to securing a future for the world’s remaining elephants.

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Elephant Aware 2019 First Quarter Operational Report

The scene in this photo, of a majestic elephant roaming wild and free, is what so many of us in conservation endeavor to achieve for this species and all wildlife. The new year arrived with new challenges and for our team that means a renewed commitment to our mission which is to secure a future for African elephants but this also encompasses the bigger picture of safeguarding the vast array of biodiversity in the Mara ecosystem as well as the crucial wild habitat. Together with our partners we will continue to work everyday to ensure that elephants like Olarriponi [pictured] may also continue to live peacefully in their natural environment.

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Rains in January and February helped replenish the area’s water sources and promote regrowth of vegetation, much to the delight of the elephants and all wildlife. When soft, green grass is in ready supply elephants don’t hesitate to take advantage.

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In the first three months of this year the Elephant Aware team have covered approximately 9050 kilometres (5,623 miles) in overall vehicle and motorbike patrols. The rangers have walked an estimated 6,800 kilometres on their daily foot patrols since the start of 2019!

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“Jamhuri” who was born on the 12th of December 2017 is now over a year old and he is almost twice as big! He is already growing into his own unique character and from what we can tell he is a little handful! Jamhuri is always busy learning new things under the watchful eyes of his mother and matriarch Eseseri, as well as his entire family of elephants!

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Giraffes are another species our team at Elephant Aware works daily to protect and considering the plight of many giraffe populations across the continent primarily due to poaching for bushmeat and dwindling habitat, it is with good reason. The Elephant Aware team have had countless incidents of helping giraffes out of fenced land where they can seriously injure themselves without assistance, monitoring giraffes with injuries and on a few occasions calling in veterinary assistance for a giraffe in need. As one of the world’s most iconic animals giraffes need more attention from the global community and increased support for their protection if they are to have a future in the wild.

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Handsome Oloropilé, an iconic bull elephant of the Mara ecosystem, enjoying a bit of mud on a hot day in February. Because of his age and his experience, Oloropilé is a very important member of this elephant population. He came into musth again at the same time as last year and hopefully that means there will be more generations of elephants carrying his precious genes in the future. We have known Oloropilé for many years and it is always such an enormous privilege to spend time in his awe inspiring presence.

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A tiny newborn elephant born on the night of the 3rd of March in the Elephant Aware camp! We heard a great amount of elephant commotion next to the camp in the night and due to the nature of the noise we knew instantly that something of a celebration was taking place and we suspected that it was an elephant birth. The next morning it was obvious from the stained and trampled ground as well as the scattered remains of the birth sac that indeed the Loilale herd had welcomed a new member to their family. Later in the day we caught up with the young, first time mother and her infant, still a bit wobbly but already slowly familiarizing herself with elephant life.

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This lovely female is called Norkinye and she is one of the elephants we talk about quite often as we have known her for many years. She is very iconic with her almost convergent tusks and “frilly ears” which have acquired a number of notches and tears over the years. To us of course Norkinye is beautiful and not just because of her appearance, she has a fearless and defiant personality which is incredibly admirable. On the countless occasions when our team is privileged enough to observe this elephant family we have noticed how protective Norkinye is of her herd but there are rare moments when she relaxes around us and we get to see Norkinye’s sweet side – she is the proud mother of a young calf and it is obvious how much he is treasured. After spending so much time around elephants in the wild and gaining a tremendous insight into their lives, our team view elephants as unique individuals who deserve their place on this planet as much anyone. Sadly not everyone shares this sentiment and we must all continue to fight for a future for elephants in their natural habitats.

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The Elephant Aware rangers monitoring a large aggregation of more than 100 elephants on the 11th of March. Shortly before this photo was taken a herd of cattle were approaching the elephants, their herder unaware of the elephants and the rangers quickly stepped in with vehicle backup and prevented potential conflict from occurring.

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A GOOD REMINDER TO NEVER LEAVE ANY LITTER BEHIND

On the morning of the 12th, while we were closely monitoring a herd of elephants we noticed this young male with a plastic water bottle in his mouth! He was carrying the bottle with him for a while, seeming to find great amusement in a foreign object.

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We aren’t sure where he found it but we waited and followed him from a distance and when he finally dropped it Ranger Sirere immediately collected it so it could be later disposed of properly. This is a strong reminder of the many reasons why you should never litter and always be respectful of the natural environment.

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Two days later Subat, a bull we are very familiar with, came into the area and we found him in full musth and on a determined mission to seek out any estrous females to mate with in the area. The Loilale herd happened to be close by, though inside a lugga (small riverbed) where the rangers could not see them well. We certainly hope Subat was successful. Being one of the males we have known for many years makes Subat all the more special to our team and it is always a thrill to spend time learning more and more about his life.

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The Elephant Aware rangers are on foot for the majority of their daily patrols and this is an irreplaceable tool for effective wildlife conservation as it allows them to access hotspot areas where no vehicle can venture and to the top of hills which are an essential part of the ecosystem.

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In late March while observing a family herd of elephants we were quite surprised to find Meure (Meyuré) in musth as we normally see him in musth in August. Males in his age bracket can enter into the sexually heightened state of musth twice in a year and as they get older their musth cycle becomes more defined, synchronous with a time of year when there is more food availability. Aside from being a sexual advertisement, musth is usually also a sign of good health in bull elephants.

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Lovely Nelion/Namunyak walking closely past us, displaying trust and familiarity towards our team. She is a member of the Loilale herd who we have monitored for many years. As you can see she has an ‘outstanding’ tear in her left ear which she acquired years ago, we dont know the exact circumstances of how it happened but it appears to have healed and it has become one of her most distinguishing features. We are hoping she will have a little one on the way soon after we saw Meure courting her and staying by her side in typical musth ‘guarding’ behaviour almost 22 months ago.

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In other elephant news Eseseri, the matriarch of the Loilale herd, recently broke her left tusk! We think it happened while she was breaking the branch of a tree or possibly while shoving another elephant. When elephants break their tusks close to the roots or pulp cavity it can be very painful and we therefore hope that this was not the case for Eseseri. Even after breaking her tusk and altering her appearance considerably, to us Eseseri is always a beautiful and wise female who commands the respect of all within her presence.

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Two of the Elephant Aware rangers successfully completed a two week refresher training course held at the nearby Nashulai Community Conservancy in early March and we are all very proud of their accomplishment which is an added testament to the commitment they have for their roles as wildlife guardians.

20190401_153452We are well into 2019 and we would like to take this opportunity to thank our many supporters again for helping us to continue in our dedicated efforts to protect elephants and other species in the Mara ecosystem.

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To directly support the work of Elephant Aware please visit: https://elephantawareblog.wordpress.com/donate/

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Elephant Aware December 2018 Operational Report

The month of December began with busy ranger patrols. The rangers mostly patrol on foot with vehicle support. This allows them to access key wildlife areas which are inaccessible by vehicle. Our team cover a large area everyday as part of our daily work and efforts to protect wildlife.

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The photo below was taken recently while on a patrol showing an elephant in a hill following a traditional route not far way from a house. This scene is becoming more typical in areas where both elephant and people live and is a circumstance we often find on daily patrols. It illustrates how communities like this one live alongside species like elephants everyday and depicts a certain amount of tolerance on both sides which is crucial. It also shows the need for the rangers’ constant presence and the importance of the work our team does to avoid conflict and promote harmony between wildlife and humans. The glaring truth is that wildlife is running out of space and it is up to all of us to find solutions for a peaceful coexistence between humans and the natural world. It really comes down to SHARING space peacefully and this is no easy or straightforward task but it is imperative in order to secure a future for elephants and other wildlife.

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This poignant photo of a herd of elephants fleeing from people was captured during a ranger operation on the 9th of December which luckily prevented harm to the people, livestock and elephants concerned. The elephants had a brief few moments of panic during the situation but they soon calmed down thanks to the wise guidance of their experienced matriarch, Mayan and partly because they recognised our vehicle, our voices and we believe the elephants knew we were trying to help. As depicted in this scene, it has been very dry and at times the dust was so thick that we could not even see the elephants or the cows and our team had to act quickly on skill, training and years of experience. This incident represents an increasingly common problem that is occurring on a widespread scale in traditional elephant ranges and elephants as well as other wildlife species are being forced to change some of their habits and adapt to living in closer proximity with people than ever before. fb_img_1548243343200

Moving forward finding a solution to achieve a peaceful coexistence which would ultimately secure a future for elephants is not in any way simple but it is possible through collaborative (between conservation stakeholders), inclusive (of communities) and compassionate (towards both wildlife and people) conservation.

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After continuously monitoring this lovely female elephant for almost two weeks and reporting it immediately she was treated yesterday afternoon for two very serious spear injuries by Dr. Edward of the DSWT / KWS veterinary unit. The vet team were flown in by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust plane in an amazing effort to help an elephant in need. Once the Elephant was darted and immobilized, we were able to see clearly for the first time that she is a young female in her 20s as she had previously remained in thick bush. Her wounds are undoubtedly inflicted by humans and she is in a very weakened state. In this scenario it was very apparent that there is still no better protective force for elephants than well trained rangers with a boots on the ground approach and though technology certainly enhances these conservation methods, the fundamental basis to effective conservation is pure dedication. The Elephant Aware rangers had to keep up with this elephant in difficult and challenging terrain (in a hill, in thick bush and in a river) for the past 12 days straight. This is surely a testament to their capacity to find and stick with elephants in trouble. This female still has a long way to go before she is fully recovered and the Elephant Aware team will be keeping a close watch over her in the coming weeks and informing the vets on her progress. Because of the urgent nature of her circumstances, we knew that this elephant needed immediate attention due to the severity of her badly infected wounds and rapidly deteriorating condition. In light of that, all of us at Elephant Aware are tremendously grateful to the DSWT and Kenya Wildlife Service for their swift response and excellent emergency service which Kenya is lucky to have and which has given this elephant a chance of survival. After crosschecking we found that this elephant is in fact Naseyian and we are familiar with her family herd. Today the rangers are watching over Naseyian again and she appears to have a visible spring in her step! Her appetite has increased from yesterday which we are happy to see and the strong antibiotics applied to her should be busy working to heal her slowly but steadily. Of course it is our hope that this elephant will heal completely and that she will soon rejoin other elephants.

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Some members of the Loilale Women’s Group, supported by Elephant Aware and our partners, pose with individual elephants they have named. This women’s group has grown in 2018 and are continuing to progress through various micro self-help projects.

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2018 was a year with many ups and downs, enormous challenges, tragedies, countless long days and wonderful milestones as well. Small triumphs were achieved through the dedicated hard work of our team and in collaboration with our partners.

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All of us at Elephant Aware are tremendously grateful for the wide support we receive, for our many friends, excellent partners and we hope to continue our important work in the new year.

Images copyright: Elephant Aware

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Elephant Aware November 2018 Operational Report

November started out as a very dry month following previous months of drought which has taken its toll on the area. This has forced wildlife and especially species like elephants to venture into community settlements in search of water.

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Lovely Nosentui and her herd seen on our patrol recently! She is one of many individual elephants we have come to know well over the years and as a result the rangers recognise her instantly. This makes it all the more special to spend time with this familiar elephant family which is also vitally important to the work of the rangers and essential for gaining a better understanding of Nosentui’s movement patterns, who her elefriends are, in turn giving our team a broader picture of the areas that need more of a focus in securing. Together with our partners, Elephant Aware is actively helping to protect the Mara elephant population.

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More than one subspecies of giraffes have now been labelled as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List for threatened wildlife due to the severity of their plight which rapidly brings them nearer to extinction. Giraffes need the highest measures of protection implemented to ensure they have a future in the wild. Please, wherever you are, join the many of us fighting to safeguard this species. The time to act is now – speak out, give support, sign petitions, join the general outcry and let the world know that giraffes are important to our planet.

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On the 22nd of November Elephant Aware, the Mara Mobile Vet Unit, the Mara Siana Conservancy and the Kenya Wildlife Service teams together spent many hours trying to help this female elephant after she had fallen into a river. It was quickly discovered that she had been badly injured by three poisoned arrows and it seems she had fallen from a steep river bank, likely during the attack and this resulted in her being partly paralyzed to where she could not move her back legs at all. Despite tremendous effort from everyone to get her out and back onto her feet, thereby saving her life, it was to no avail and the kindest option was to euthanize this poor elephant to prevent enormous further suffering, a decision which was very difficult to make. All evidence points to a poaching attempt which ultimately and cruelly cost this elephant her life. Needless to say this tragic incident has left all of us deeply heartbroken and we are thankful to everyone for trying so hard to save this elephant, as is the intention with every wildlife species in need of help. The rangers will continue patrolling within this remote and key area to try and find the perpetrators in a joint effort together with the authorities. It is our hope that this beautiful elephant who left such an impression on all of us will be at peace now and certainly never forgotten as we keep on in our collective endeavor to protect her species.

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The rangers having a quick briefing at the start of an extensive foot patrol and surveillance operation through some hill ranges which are part of a key wildlife corridor early this morning. These rangers cover many kilometres on foot everyday as part of their daily work, together with their back-up teams and must be commended for their outstanding efforts to protect wildlife everyday.

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Towards the end of the month the rangers were busy as usual watching over multiple herds of elephants every single day and working alongside community members to prevent Human-Elephant-Conflict. This is something our team does daily and it is of vital importance in securing a future for elephants and other wildlife of the Mara ecosystem.

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The Elephant Aware project has been running for just about 10 years now, though our conservation work in Siana officially started in 2007. In that time we are proud to say our team has achieved some fantastic goals. Our daily operational output has expanded enormously and through our work we have been able to help better community livelihoods and improve wildlife security in the area.

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Once again, we are profoundly grateful to all of our supporters and we could not do our important work without your continuous support. Ashe oleng!

 

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Elephant Aware October 2018 Operational Report

The month of October began with the celebration of World Habitat Day. All of us at Elephant Aware feel there is a particular need to highlight how important wild habitats and wild ecosystems are for many reasons but especially because they are depended upon for the survival of many wildlife and birdlife species. Habitat protection has always been a priority for our team at Elephant Aware and over the years we have contributed to the security of very crucial areas where we operate. It is however a fact that vast swathes of wild habitat are being lost to human development at a rapid rate and we must all work together to safeguard our global natural heritage.

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In our area of operation people and wildlife, especially elephants, live in close proximity and therefore preventing potential Human-Elephant-Conflict is a priority in our efforts. Here the Elephant Aware rangers walk along a fence line to inform community members of elephants that are nearby.

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We are now seeing a number of the elephant calves born at the end of last year and at the beginning of this year getting bigger already!

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Norkinyei and her youngest calf recently.

Norkinyei is one of a number of females in the area who has a young calf and we are delighted that these little ones are doing so well under the dedicated care of their mothers and families.

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Despite the area being very dry, the rangers are continuing to monitor large herds of elephants which is all the more in important when water sources are limited and wildlife often are forced to venture close to human settlements in search of any. One of our main objectives is to prevent potentially dangerous encounters between people and species like elephants and to promote harmony all around. This is no easy task but many years of experience has proved vitally useful to our team and the good work of the project.

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The 20th of October marked Mashujaa (Heroes) Day and we celebrated heroes around the world, both human and animal. In this case we made sure to highlight RANGERS who work daily to protect elephants and all wildlife, wild ecosystems and biodiversity. Rangers are known to be at the forefront of conservation as guardians of endangered wildlife especially but they are a great deal more fundamental to the overall endeavour of conservation, they are the thin green line safeguarding what remains of our planet’s irreplaceable natural world and everyday they need YOUR SUPPORT. We take our hats off to these dedicated rangers and all of our team at Elephant Aware and rangers everywhere committed to ensuring a future for species such as elephants. Thank you for your very important efforts and keep up the excellent work!

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This is a special scene we sometimes come across on our patrols, napping elephants! Though it is not uncommon to see elephant calves laying down for a rest, adults doing the same thing is not seen quite as much. We were quietly observing Mbatiany, a bull elephant we are very familiar with, all morning on the 21st and then during the heat of the day he decided to have a siesta under a shady tree, perfectly aware of our presence though we kept a distance so as not to disturb him. His friend Osupat, another iconic bull well known to us over many years, watched over him from some nearby bush throughout his nap and almost an hour later Mbatiany awoke and rejoined Osupat. The two bulls are friends and we often see them together. Such endearing loyalty and affection between bull elephants is something we frequently see and it really shows how amazing they are as individuals and as a species. In our experience we find that people are quite often unaware of this behaviour in elephants and understandably assume there is something wrong with the elephant in question. Thankfully this is part of what elephants occasionally do as they, like humans, feel very sleepy at times and need a refreshing nap amid their busy daily activities!

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Osupat and Mbatiany [above] are two real walking treasures of the Mara ecosystem and of Kenya. Mbatiany is over 40 years old and Osupat is approaching 50 putting them both in an age bracket that is vitally important to the gene pool of this elephant population. They are two bulls whom we have known for many years, we have watched them grow bigger and we have recorded noticeable changes in their appearance such as a broken tusk, additional ear notches and abscesses that are now healed but which were inflicted by humans in the past. Both of these handsome elephants are representative of why the work of our team at Elephant Aware is so essential and must continue to secure a future for precious gentle giants like Osupat and Mbatiany, who just by existing contribute to the tourism revenue and conservation benefits of the country.

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We are all hoping for some rain to arrive soon and alleviate some of the pressures associated with the drought, which affects all of the area’s inhabitants. We are now three quarters way through the year and with all of the rangers and team at Elephant Aware covering an average of approximately 4000 kilometres (around 2,500 miles!)  of foot patrols per month, since the beginning of the year this would total to an estimated 40,000 kilometres or almost 25,000 miles of foot patrols! The project vehicles have equally covered a huge mileage of approximately 35,000 kilometres (around 22,000 miles) combined over the last 10 months! The project motorbike has also done a good share of groundwork averaging around 1000 kilometres each month. This gives some insight into how much work behind the scenes goes into Elephant Aware’s daily dedication to protect elephants and other wildlife in the Mara ecosystem and our conitnuous community outreach. This also shows how much work it takes in conservation in general. As always, we are tremendously grateful to our friends and supporters for helping Elephant Aware to continue in our essential conservation efforts.

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Elephant Aware September 2018 Operational Report

In early September the rangers helped move this young bull out of a fenced plot of land one morning when he went down to a nearby river for a drink at around noon which subsequently led him onto the opposite bank and into someone’s fenced land, in search of some tasty vegetation and perhaps something of an adventurous whim as he appeared a little restless. Because this was in community land there was also a lot of human activity in the vicinity from livestock herders to women collecting water from the same river but luckily our team were on hand and busy keeping all people in the area a safe distance away from the bulls in an effort to avoid Human-Elephant-Conflict. The rangers managed to encourage the young bull who ventured over the fence back out to where his older and seemingly more experienced friend waited patiently, all the while trying to keep both people and the elephants calm. We are thankful for the cooperation all around and for the peaceful outcome of the situation. The work the Elephant Aware rangers do on a daily basis to help protect elephants and ensure harmony between Maasai communities and elephants is of vital importance to overall conservation in the Greater Mara ecosystem. The ultimate fact is that elephants, as well as other species, are running out of space and solutions to this enormous problem depend on the collective widespread effort by conservation stakeholders like Elephant Aware that are actively working to prevent Human-Elephant-Conflict and ensure a future for elephants in these areas.

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Everyday the Elephant Aware rangers are conscientious of keeping the areas they patrol in free of litter in addition to their continuous wildlife protection work and on most days they collect a lot of rubbish discarded by people which we then dispose of responsibly, something which our team has consistently put an effort into for many years. This is very important in striving to lessen our overall human footprint and maintain an eco-friendly attitude towards this magnificent wilderness area. We would like to take this opportunity to share a friendly reminder to anyone visiting the Maasai Mara ecosystem as well to please be mindful of the environment around you and never leave behind any litter which is not only damaging to the surrounding flora but it is also detrimental to wildlife. We can all do our part to help protect these precious wilderness areas if we simply care more and if we are all more considerate of the natural world.

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While the Mara Siana Conservancy and Elephant Aware ranger unit were on a routine extensive foot patrol in a range of hills on the morning of the 15th they received a report of a relatively fresh elephant carcass and soon after found the location in some nearby hills on a steep slope, in thick woodland in community land and made the initial report to the authorities. The Elephant Aware and Mara Siana Conservancy backup teams immediately responded and went to the scene, discovering an adult female elephant dead with her tusks intact. The carcass looked to be between 24-48 hours old and the signs indicated there was minimal predation. The cause of death is suspected to be from a spear. The rangers remained close to the carcass all afternoon to guard the scene so as to preserve any evidence and ensure that the ivory did not fall into the wrong hands, until the Kenya Wildlife Service arrived to remove the tusks as per lawful procedure. Investigations are underway and our teams will be continuing their routine surveillance patrols, while keeping an even closer watch on this area. One female elephant is said to represent the lives and wellbeing of as many as 10 elephants and in addition this female appeared to have been lactating before she was killed. This is yet another devastating loss for the Mara elephant population and for Kenya.

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The rangers of Elephant Aware received a report on the 16th of September of an injured elephant and our team had been searching nonstop for the elephant since then in an attempt to help her. On the morning of the 19th Bushtops Camps and Conservancy informed us that they had sighted a badly injured female elephant and our team immediately responded by rushing to the location. A family herd of around 10 elephants were milling in and out of thick croton bush and eventually the young female emerged into the open though her movements were very slow and she appeared to be in a great amount of pain. We instantly saw a horrific gaping wound on her back which was clearly caused by a large spear. It is entirely possible that this poor elephant was injured during the same incident which cost the life of another female elephant recently. We called Dr. Limo and team from The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust /Kenya Wildlife Service Mara veterinary unit right away and later that afternoon the young female was successfully anaesthetized and during examination of the wound Dr. Limo discovered it was roughly 2 feet deep and very infected! The wound was carefully cleaned out and antibiotics were applied as per procedure. About 40 minutes later the revival drug was administered and she got back to her feet with great effort and returned to her calf and herd. There is no doubt that the lifesaving treatment this young elephant, still at the beginning of her adult life and with a young calf, received today has increased her chances of survival which would have otherwise been in higher jeopardy due to the severity of her injury. Dr. Limo, Felix, Vasco, the entire vet team, Nick, Liz and the Elephant Aware rangers, the Bushtops team, the Mara Siana Conservancy team and everyone present went to work under very challenging conditions and with the added complication of heavy rain (which is nonetheless quite appreciated!) which truly is a testament to the dedication of all involved in the operation. Thank you to the Mara Mobile Vet Unit, the Bushtops management for their swift reporting, the Mara Siana Conservancy, and the Elephant Aware team for the continuous great work each does for wildlife in the Mara ecosystem.

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The Elephant Aware rangers and team were busy giving a Conservation Education session at one of the community schools on the 28th. The students were very enthusiastic and learned a lot from the informative discussion we had on the importance of wildlife to the Mara ecosystem and to the Maasai people, solutions on how to live more harmoniously with wild animals to avoid conflict between both and they also enjoyed the educational conservation film which has been a useful tool. Elephant Aware has continuously visited numerous local community schools through our conservation education initiative for almost 10 years now and it has proved to be an essential aspect of our daily work to protect wildlife. By portraying species such as elephants more positively to children and actively seeking solutions for a peaceful coexistence between communities of people and wildlife, we will hopefully help these young Kenyans to grow up with an increased passion to secure their own natural heritage.

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September was another busy month for our team at Elephant Aware with productive community engagement and a great amount of elephant activity in the area. We were very delighted to see so many of the young calves born earlier in the year growing so fast!

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With the area becoming increasingly dry water sources have equally become few and far between. The rangers are working around the clock to prevent any potential Human-Elephant-Conflict incidents which often occur in the vicinity of water – an essential lifeline for all of the area’s inhabitants. We are hoping for rain to alleviate some of the pressures brought on by drought which creates challenges for people and wildlife alike.

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All of us at Elephant Aware are tremendously grateful to each and everyone of our supporters who have helped the important work of the Elephant Aware rangers and team to continue to make a difference in securing elephants and other wildlife species in the Mara ecosystem and especially within our area of operation in Siana.

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Elephant Aware August 2018 Operational Report

At the beginning of August the area had become quite dry and many of the water sources no longer had any water for wildlife. Because of this, Human-Elephant-Conflict has also been on the rise as wildlife, livestock and people compete for natural resources on the same land. Our team were delighted to see a number of familiar elephants, including Mbatiany [pictured] a bull we have known for many years. The rangers had several sightings of him at the beginning of August and as he was not in musth, his personality was much calmer! Based on past observations of Mbatiany, we expect him to go back into musth in around late October which seems to be his pattern.

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Busy elephant movements keep our team busy as well as the rangers must keep up with various groups of elephants on a daily basis to ensure that they do not go too close to human settlements or encounter any problems with people, an increasing challenge in 2018 where species like elephants are having to live in closer proximity to humans than ever before in many of their traditional habitats.

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Above is a photo of a long fence line on a privately owned plot of land in the middle of unprotected wild habitat. Sadly this is an issue which is occurring across the country due to a lack of spatial planning and land use changes over the last few years. There are ongoing efforts to encourage better spatial planning and protection of wildlife corridors, which Elephant Aware is pleased to be involved in, and this will hopefully lead to a more wildlife and environment friendly approach to land utilization within these areas.

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On the 12th of August our team and many around the world celebrated World Elephant Day to highlight the plight as well as the importance of elephants to our global community. The underlying message on #WorldElephantDay is this: Elephants face enormous challenges, from the anthropogenic demand for their tusks to the ever shrinking habitat they depend on, and they must be protected through a widespread concerted conservation effort if we are to secure a future for this important and iconic species.

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Later in the month on the 20th of August Oloropilé, a beautiful bull elephant in his prime who we have known for many years, was treated for a spear wound by Dr. Limo, Felix and their brilliant team from the Mara Mobile Vet Unit. Oloropilé is well known to us, and to the vet team, as he has been treated for various injuries in the past that were each inflicted by people. Because he is both named and registered on the Mara elephant database, it proves to be very helpful in such cases as it instantly provides everyone present, especially the veterinary team, with “background” information on the particular elephant in need of assistance. The rangers of Elephant Aware found Oloropilé on the previous morning on the 18th in thick bush and it was not until the evening of the next day that Oloropilé finally emerged out of the thicket and walked up to our vehicle – practically showing us the wound on the inside of his front right leg! It was clear that the leg was largely swollen as well and Oloropilé was walking with a noticeable limping gait. We immediately informed the vet team and the operation was successfully carried out the following morning. Once Oloropilé had been anaesthetized, which was a task in itself, Dr. Limo cleaned out the wound thoroughly and administered the necessary antibiotics which will help in the healing process as well as to alleviate any pain associated with such a nasty injury. It is suspected that Oloropilé was injured as the result of Human-Elephant-Conflict, a rampant threat to elephants across the country, and indeed, the continent. At almost 50 years old, Oloropilé is placed within an age bracket which makes him a crucial member of his species and sadly elephants of his ranking are becoming fewer everyday, a fact which is devastating for African elephant populations. This being the case means that protecting bulls like Oloropilé, true walking treasures of the ecosystem, is of utmost importance and all of us who were involved in the efforts to help Oloropilé are profoundly grateful for the outcome and for the positive prognosis of Oloropilé’s recuperation. Huge thanks must once again go to the Mara Vet Team for their rapid response and fantastic work.

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Our team have consistently monitored Oloropilé in the months since his treatment, which is an enormous task, or rather a labour of love as we view it and we have been updating the Mara Mobile Vet Unit on his progress as well.  It pleases us tremendously to say that so far so good and he appears to be healing at a steady pace with the help of ‘his group’ of bull elephants who have been equally committed to watching over their friend.

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Ranger Siranka of Elephant Aware completed an in depth three week training course for senior rangers and wardens from conservancies across the Mara ecosystem on the 24th of August. He was awarded a certificate for completing this supervisory training/NCO course. This will enhance his capacity to lead ranger patrols and serves as a promotion for him in his career as a wildlife ranger. Well done to Siranka and all other Rangers and Wardens who completed the training! All of us at Elephant Aware are very proud of Ranger Siranka’s dedication and hard work.

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August was another eventful month as we worked around the clock to try and reduce HEC in our area of operation and ensure that elephants and community members coexist more safely and thereby ultimately protect elephants. The Elephant Aware rangers helped prevent a multitude of conflict incidents thanks to the dedication, experience and swift response from our entire team. We collaborate closely with our neighbouring community in all of our conservation efforts and this is vitally important for the long-term security of any wildlife species. We are also thankful to our numerous partners both near and far for their conitnuous support which is enormously helpful in keeping our rangers boots on the ground and our team working in the field everyday to secure a future for elephants and other wildlife.