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Elephants

The Herd is Growing

From Ellen DeGeneres to Lupita Nyong'o and Lang Lang, we are blown away by the global support for the #JoinTheHerd campaign to make this the Year of the Elephant, when we put an end to the ivory trade and allow elephant populations to recover. 

In Africa, Ivory Trafficking Controlled By a Powerful Few

The multi billion-dollar ivory trade is controlled by a small number of kingpins who are moving tusks through the Kenyan port of Mombasa, according to an expert panel at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

In a June paper published in the journal Science, University of Washington conservation biologist Samuel Wasser and his colleagues compared DNA samples from African elephant populations with samples extracted from elephant tusks seized between 1996 and 2014. From this genetic analysis, they found two primary poaching hotspots in the continent: one East Africa (particularly Tanzania) and another in protected areas spanning parts of Cameroon, Gabon and the Republic of Congo.

Since the study was published, Wasser analyzed another sample of seized tusks found to be freshly poached, moving rapidly from poaching sites to seaports where they are smuggled.

“Not only have we showed that the number of kingpins are fairly limited, because the hotspots are very few, but also we’re showing that there are probably one or two major dealers that are moving all of this ivory out of Mombasa,” Wasser said during the panel.

Read more about the panel via AFP/Hong Kong Free Press.            

The Story Behind the #JoinTheHerd Elephant

Since our Thursday launch of the #JointheHerd campaign at YearoftheElephant.org, we've received dozens of emails asking who took the iconic photo of a bull elephant now seen in tens of thousands of #JoinTheHerd photos online.

The photographer is Australian-born Shannon Benson, who gives us the backstory:

I was in an area called the Klaserie, which is part of the greater Kruger region of South Africa. It was an early morning drive, and as the sun was rising and we were considering heading back to camp, this majestic beauty appeared as if from nowhere. He confidently swayed his way toward the vehicle.

It was the largest bull elephant I had seen to date, and I was filled with awe, excitement and admittedly intimidation. This shot was captured just before I couldn't zoom back any further while trying to keep him within frame. After that I simply took some close up shots as he passed right by the Land Cruiser and continued on his way. After that I finally took a breath again!

Follow Shannon on Instagram at @shannon__wild

World Celebrities ‘Join the Herd’ to Fight for Africa’s Elephants

Actors, musicians, authors and athletes "joining the herd" Thursday on social media represent five continents and include Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, Yao Ming (former NBA star), Yoko Ono, Ian Somerhalder (Vampire Diaries) & Nikki Reed (The Twilight Saga), Alikiba (Tanzanian music artist), Lang Lang (virtuoso pianist), Maggie Q (Nikita and Scandal), Sir Trevor McDonald (British news presenter), Bo Derek (actress and longtime WildAid ambassador), Kristin Bauer (actress, HBO’s True Blood), Laurie David (American environmental activist), Tony Jaa (Furious 7), Amy Tan (author, The Joy Luck Club), and Li Bingbing (China’s most famous actress).

Launched internationally in both English and Mandarin, the campaign encourages anyone who cares about elephants to #JoinTheHerd by changing their social media profile photo at YearoftheElephant.org or even learn to say the greeting in Chinese. To coincide with the upcoming Chinese New Year, visitors to the website are encouraged to join a cast of celebrities in wishing their social media friends and followers a “Happy Year of the Elephant” — a new twist on welcoming the Chinese Zodiac’s Year of the Monkey on February 8.

Continue reading ... 

Facing Public Pressure, Hong Kong Will Phase Out Ivory Trade

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (far left) meets with conservation advocates including WildAid's Alex Hofford (right)

HONG KONG (13 January 2016) —In his Annual Policy Address, Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced that the government will legislate a ban on local elephant ivory sales, joining mainland China and the United States in a global effort to end Africa’s elephant poaching crisis that has claimed up to 33,000 elephants a year.

Responding to several hidden camera investigations into the city's ivory trade released last fall, Hong Kong environment officials had previously said they are “open-minded” to the possibility of ending legal ivory sales reversing their previous position that the trade was “strictly regulated.”

Leung also announced that maximum penalties for endangered species trafficking would be sharply increased to seven years imprisonment, compared with the current two years under Hong Kong's Endangered Species Ordinance.

“History has shown that legal ivory sales only serve to provide a cover for illegal trade, which fuels the rampant poaching we see across Africa. Hong Kong has always been the epicenter of that trade, so we congratulate CY Leung and the government for this historic step. Coupled with a 50% drop in ivory prices in China over the last 18 months, the end of the crisis may be in sight,” said WildAid CEO Peter Knights. 

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