Category Archives: Wildlife Activists

“Sambo” Forced Out of Retirement

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Two years after she was walked out of the city in the middle of the night to a quiet life of retirement on the outskirts of the capital, Sambo, Phnom Penh’s iconic and much-beloved elephant, might soon be back at work entertaining tourists. Funding for her recently concluded rehabilitation program now gone, her owner is insisting he has little choice but to begin showcasing her once more at Wat Phnom, a decision contested by the elephant rescue organisation that bankrolled her two-year sabbatical.

Sin Sorn, who owns Sambo, says that as the pair are no longer supported by the Elephant Asia Rescue and Survival foundation (EARS), he cannot afford to pay for her food and medical care without the steady income he earned for the more than 20 years that she was a tourist attraction at the temple.

The decades that 54-year-old Sambo spent walking on hard concrete and gravel while giving rides resulted in a painful abscess on a foot, overgrown toenails and a host of other issues, causing her to limp. A veterinarian retained by EARS warned in 2012 that a further deterioration in her “painfully lame” condition could lead Sambo to collapse on the city’s streets, Sorn agreed to move her to a plot of land for rest and medical treatment. That contract expired in March, leaving EARS and Sorn at loggerheads about what happens next.

“I do not have money to support her anymore. I will bring her back to Wat Phnom, but I will not allow people to ride her while she walks like in the past,” Sorn said yesterday at the sandy Phnom Penh Thmey compound where Sambo has lived since February 2012, as the elephant shovelled sugar cane into its mouth behind him. “I spend $15 a day just on Sambo’s food … [In the city], she will just stand in one place and tourists or people can touch her, take photos with her or buy fruits that I will sell to feed her.”

EARS has spent $45,000 over the two-year period paying for Sambo’s medical care and a monthly compensation package for Sorn to help fund an assistant caregiver, food, electricity and water and to cover his loss of earnings.

Sambo’s feet are in a far better condition than before, but EARS founder and CEO Louise Rogerson says sending her back to the city would be the worst possible decision for the elephant’s welfare. “She’s never going to fully recover 100 per cent, but what we’ve done is given her an intensive medical program over the last two years,” she said. “It has been a very slow rehabilitation process, there is absolutely no way she can go back to the city. It would be impossible for her to walk on hot tarmac roads.… It would basically be animal cruelty.”

EARS has offered to fund Sambo’s retirement at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre in Takeo province or at the Elephant Valley Project in Mondulkiri province instead, but Sorn has rejected these options. He says he would prefer to move her to a piece of land in Kampong Speu province that his son has said he will purchase if donors help with her upkeep and medical costs. EARS has rejected that land as unsuitable for the elephant’s long-term retirement.

“I want to appeal to everyone in Cambodia and overseas and other organisations to help my Sambo. But not EARS. I want those who love elephants to help my elephant directly through me, because I am the owner of the elephant and I am taking care of her every day,” Sorn said.

He declined to explain why he no longer wanted any support from EARS, citing “personal issues” with the organisation. Sorn also brushed off concerns about Sambo’s health and any doubts of his commitment to care for her in the city. “Sambo has lived with me since she was 8 years old and I consider her my daughter. So I want to stay with Sambo until I die.”

Rogerson is clear, however, that Sambo “deserves a better life after 30 years of standing in the city”. “He’s pleading poverty and that he can’t afford to feed her, but that’s not the case. We can continue on an agreement if he wants to consider his elephant first and return her to her natural habitat with other elephants,” she said.

Wildlife protection officials from the forestry administration will visit Sambo this week to evaluate her health and determine whether the elephant can return to the city, Phnom Tamao sanctuary director Rattanak Pich said. The Ministry of Information has also offered its compound on Monivong Boulevard as a possible sleeping place for Sambo if she returns to the city, Minister Khieu Kanharith said.

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Article published in the Phnom Pehn Post
by Kevin Ponniah and Mom Kunthear

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, Inc.
Christopher J. Gervais, Founder & CEO
Christopher@WCFF.org
Facebook.com/WCFForg
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
Twitter: @WCFF_org
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Fracking in Everglades

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“Fracking” in Everglades on temporary hold

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) ordered the Dan A. Hughes Company, LP to stop all exploratory “fracking-like” drilling activities at five wells in Collier County, on the edge of the Everglades, until further notice, saying that the DEP will review results of monitoring efforts by the company.

The “fracking-like” drilling refers to a request from the company to the DEP which “proposed an enhanced extraction procedure that had not previously been used in Florida.” According to the DEP, the Dan A. Hughes Company proposed injecting a dissolving solution at sufficient pressure to create some openings in the oil-bearing rock formation, which would then be propped open with sand in pursuit of enhanced oil production. The department subsequently requested that the company not move forward until additional information could be collected.

Ignoring the DEP’s request, the Dan A. Hughes Company commenced the “fracking-like” extraction method and in December 2013, officials caught the company conducting “unauthorized activities” at a well south of Lake Trafford in Collier County, northeast of Naples, FL.

The possibility of groundwater contamination worries opponents of oil and gas drilling in the area, as well as the fact that the ecologically fragile region is already endangered by agricultural runoff, invasive species, rising sea levels due to climate changeand other threats. Because of environmental damage due to construction and the chance of potential oil spills, drilling poses far too great a risk to wildlife.

Locally, resistance has been building to potential oil and gas operations and recently, Sen. Nelson (D-FL) wrote a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asking that they investigate the company’s illegal drilling practices. “We cannot tolerate expanded industrial drilling activities that pose a threat to the drinking and surface water so close to the Florida Everglades. The recent discovery of a fracking-like incident there raises serious concerns about whether outside wildcatters would soil one of the world’s great environmental treasures,” Sen. Nelson’s letter read.

Hopefully, Sen. Nelson’s letter, along with the work of non-profit organizations like South Florida Wildlands Association and concerned citizens, will help draw nation-wide attention to the contentious issue.

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“Fracking” is not worth the destruction of the Biodiversity of this unique ecosystem

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Potential victim of Everglades “fracking”

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 The everglades is not one ecosystem but many, no where else on earth is there a place like this

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, Inc.
Christopher J. Gervais, Founder & CEO
Christopher@WCFF.org
Facebook.com/WCFForg
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Instagram: WCFF_org

 

Slaughter of Dolphins in Peru

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Dolphins are being slaughtered by Peruvian fisherman to be used for shark bait

An international effort to end the brutal slaughter of dolphins in Peru was announced today by a coalition of marine conservation organizations. The campaign is aimed at fishing practices that rely on killing dolphins to use as shark bait.

Video of the slaughter of dolphins and the catch of undersized sharks off the coast of Peru was obtained by the Peruvian NGO Mundo Azul in cooperation with Florida-based BlueVoice. Based on calculations of the number of fishing boats and undercover testimony documenting the numbers of dolphins taken it is estimated that between five and fifteen thousand dolphins are killed yearly.

The coalition announced it had conducted undercover surveys of the sale of dolphin meat and found several locations where illegal sales were taking place. But the number was few relative to years past, perhaps indicating the sale of dolphin meat is being driven underground. Jones and Austermuhle announced there will be continuous surveys of fish markets over coming months and that a network of concerned citizens has been formed to report violations of dolphin protection laws to Mundo Azul’s office in Lima.

In addition the coalition offered a bounty of $500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone harming dolphins. “We want the fishermen to know they cannot carry on their dolphin killing and meat sales without exposure”, said Hardy Jones, executive director of BlueVoice.

The coalition called on the Peruvian government to both enforce existing laws and enact legislation banning harpoons on fishing boats. “Harpoons are used solely to kill dolphins and banning them would save the lives of thousands of dolphins,” said Austermuhle.

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Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, Inc.
Christopher J. Gervais, Founder & CEO
Christopher@WCFF.org
Facebook.com/WCFForg
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Instagram: WCFF_org

 

End to Circus Elephants in USA?

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Representative Jim Moran (D-VA) has reintroduced the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act (TEAPA) to Congress. If this bill passes, it would restrict the use of exotic, and non-domesticated animals by traveling circuses in the United States.

The Bill is being pushed by Animal Defenders International (ADI), which has successfully lobbied thirty countries to ban, or limit the use of animals in traveling circuses. TEAPA aims to end the use of exotic and wild animals in circuses, because they are subjected to cramped quarters, and forced to perform under fear of being physically assaulted if they refuse.

“Magnificent wild animals have no place in a traveling circus, and with this bill, the US joins almost 30 countries across the world that have taken action to end the suffering. Due to the very nature of the traveling circus, wild animals cannot move around or exercise naturally, they live their whole lives chained or tied up, or in small cages that fit on the back of a truck. Our investigations have also shown that violence to control animals is part of circus culture; animals are beaten, whipped and electric shocked to make them perform tricks. This brutality has no place in modern society,” said ADI President Jan Creamer.

ADI has been working with Moran, and is supplying members of Congress with detailed evidence of animal abuse in traveling circuses. “From video and photographic evidence, it’s clear that traveling circuses aren’t providing the proper living conditions for exotic animals. This legislation is intended to target the most egregious situations involving exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses,” said Moran. “The mounting evidence of inhumane treatment and the growing public concern for these animals demands that we reconsider what are appropriate living conditions for these intelligent, social creatures,” he added.

ADI estimates that around three hundred wild animals tour the United States with circuses. Already, over forty local ordinances have been passed in twenty states, but ADI argues that it is vital the issue be addressed federally, because a circus may train animals in one state, but move them between a dozen, or more states during the year.

The Bill would see the United States join almost thirty diverse countries that have already passed similar legislation including Austria, Belgium, Greece, India, Bolivia, Colombia and Panama. Other countries that are currently considering legislation include Great Britain, Brazil and Mexico. British Prime Minister David Cameron, recently promised that a ban would be passed within the next twelve months.

In October 2013, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to ban the use of bullhooks and “other implements and tools designed to inflict pain for the purpose of training and controlling the behavior of elephants” in circuses and traveling shows within the county. Stephen Payne, vice president of Field Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. “Really what this bill does is it bans the use of the guide for our circus. We’ll be unable to bring Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey back to the city of Los Angeles.” The bill is not go in effect until 2017

Judging from the amount of countries that have already banned the use of wild animals in circuses, it is fair to say that animal circuses are no longer an acceptable form of entertainment. Shows with human performers such as ‘Cirque de Soleil’ are rapidly growing in popularity.

Images below were taken at Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus Elephant “Training Facility”. Here baby elephants are taken away from their mothers and beaten until submission so they will perform tricks for human amusement

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 Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, Inc.
Christopher J. Gervais, Founder & CEO
http://www.WCFF.org
Facebook.com/WCFForg
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
Twitter: @WCFF_org

 

 

 

Virunga National Park Warden Shot

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Chief Warden, Emmanuel de Merode shot in an ambush

Emmanuel de Merode, Chief Warden of Africa’s oldest national park – Virunga – has been shot in an ambush while driving to the Congolese national park head quarters in Rumangabo. His vehicle was ambushed by unknown gunmen. The Belgian foreign minister has stated that the country will launch an inquiry into the ambush of its citizen.

de Merode has reportedly been shot a number of times and is currently in a stable but critical condition in hospital. He is in intensive care recovering from the operation to remove the bullets. He is believed to be in the Heal Africa Hospital at Goma.

de Merode was travelling alone at the time and he was rescued by an Congolese army unit who evacuated him to hospital. He is due to be airlifted from Goma to a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya when the opportunity arises. de Merode is a member of the Belgian royalty and he was made chief warden of the Virunga National Park in 2008. He has remained at the park throughout the troubles and civil war that has impacted the park and is well respected by the staff that serve under him as well as conservationists across Africa.

ImageWWF Director of Conservation, Lasse Gustavsson, paid tribute to de Merode, “Emmanuel is a dedicated conservationist putting his life on the line every day to protect Virunga National Park, its rangers, its endangered species and the people that depend on the park for their livelihoods. I know how much Emmanuel loves this park. He continues to be a source of inspiration to those around him and I wish him a swift recovery.”

The gunmen remain unknown but the region still contain many militias and rebel groups. Warden Emmanuel de Merode, “was shot in the chest,” North Kivu provincial governor Julien Paluku told AFP, following the attack 30 kilometres (20 miles) north of the capital Goma. Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders tweeted his best wishes for De Merode’s swift recovery, adding that “we are opening an enquiry”, into the apparent ambush.

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