WH says decision on elephant and lion trophies brought back to U.S. not final but…

At the White House press briefing Thursday afternoon, spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters when asked about the reported policy shift referencing the ban on elephant trophies lifted and whether he changed his views on hunting, Sanders replied:

“Actually, there hasn’t been an announcement that’s been finalized on this front. Until that’s done, I wouldn’t consider anything final.”

Sanders then referred questions to the Department of the Interior, which oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service. Of particular interest when referring to what Sanders stated, it would seem the decision has already been made. The ban on elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia is expected to be reversed on Friday morning when the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision is published in the Federal Register. Currently however, the decision is available for public inspection. It will take effect barring a last minute intervention.

November 16, 2017 – The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) will begin issuing permits to allow the import of sport-hunted trophies from elephants hunted in Zimbabwe, on or after January 21, 2016, and on or before December 31, 2018, for import permit applications that meet all other applicable requirements. More information on this decision can be found in our Questions & Answers.

The decision to allow trophy hunters who kill elephants and lions in two African countries to bring the endangered animals home as trophies continues to outrage humane groups, animal lovers and animal activists.
In an apparent “win-win” for the NRA and the Safari Club International, a hunting advocacy group, it was all  cheers about the reversal on Tuesday morning as their website recognized how the Fish and Wildlife Services claimed hunting is beneficial to wildlife and that these range countries know how to manage their elephant populations. There has been no legitimate proof supporting the claims that killing elephants is good for the species. One has to really wonder how much these trophy hunters will make on the profit selling the ivory tusks of the elephants they kill?
 The Humane Society of the United States contends many problems still remain with Zimbabwe’s elephant management plan, including corruption, lack of government support and poaching.

“Let’s be clear: elephants are on the list of threatened species; the global community has rallied to stem the ivory trade; and now, the U.S. government is giving American trophy hunters the green light to kill them,” wrote Wayne Pacelle, the organization’s president and CEO.

And there’s more. As (FWS) announced it was lifting a ban on the import of elephant “trophies” from Zimbabwe and Zambia, it also  published new guidelines that showed lions shot in the two African countries will also be eligible to be mounted on those trophy room walls in the United States.

President Trump has previously spoken out against hunting after photos of his eldest sons, Don Jr. and Eric, posing with trophies, provoked criticism. When a photo of Don Jr. holding a severed elephant tail went viral over social media, Trump addressed the issue on Twitter in March 2012.

“I’m not a hunter and don’t approve of killing animals. I strongly disagree with my sons who are hunters, but they acted legally and did what lots of hunters do,” Trump wrote.

Read yesterday’s article here.

(Photo of elephants to become trophies again Breakthrough.org)

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Elephant and lion trophies brought back to U.S. legal again says Trump

In another reversal of an Obama policy, prohibiting the importation of endangered animals back to the United States, has been overturned by the Trump administration. The restrictions were put in place to discourage the hunting and poaching of animals that are on the threatened species and who have been targeted for their ivory. In 2015, the Fish and Wildlife Service suspended the import of trophy hunted elephants citing the lack of any statistics relevant to conservation efforts.

On Wednesday, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will allow trophy hunters to legally bring back their killed wildlife, which now removes restrictions on permits. In a newly created arm of the Department of the Interior, the International Wildlife Conservation Council states it wants to bring:

“…economic benefits that result from U.S. citizens traveling to foreign nations to engage in hunting.”

The IWCC contends overturning the previous rules will benefit “human populations.” There is no supporting research to accompany this latest “conservation” platitude, yet the council states that hunting in Zimbabwe and Zambia will help their conservation efforts. In support of the latest policy is the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action executive director, Chris Cox:

“This is a significant step forward in having hunting receive the recognition it deserves as a tool of sound wildlife management, which has been all but buried in the previous administration.”

ABCNews reports the government has not actually announced the policy change yet, but it was  announced at a wildlife forum in South Africa this week, according to Safari Club International, which filed a lawsuit to block the 2014 ban.

Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric Trump are big game hunters and have posted many photos of their hunting exploits, including posing with an elephant’s severed tail and a leopard drawing the ire of animal advocates and humane organizations worldwide. The brothers continue to take hunting trips although they have not been posting their photos. According to Buzz Feed, Trump Jr. ditched his Secret Service protection  in September to go hunting in the Canadian wilderness. He calls hunting “a great way to see the world,” and is pictured holding an elephant’s tail he had just severed.

And if you’re wondering where else all this is coming from, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, whose department includes the Fish and Wildlife Service, he speaks of remembering the days he went on family hunting trips and now wants more families to experience. After installing the arcade game called “Big Buck Hunter” in the department’s cafeteria, he had this to say:

“Some of my best memories are hunting and fishing with my dad and granddad, and then later teaching my own kids to hunt and fish. That’s something I want more families to experience.”

For most Americans, it is hard to forget the Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer who shot Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe, sparking an outrage for killing one of the most beloved African lion that some say his hunting group lured away from the sanctuary with food just so the lion could be shot; that safari hunt for Cecil cost Palmer $50,000 and months of ridicule and criticism.

As for the elephants in Zimbabwe, their population continues to decline, and in the past hunters have always chosen to chase the healthiest and the largest elephants to garner a more impressive trophy.

Most Americans oppose big game hunting and say it should be illegal. In response to this latest government reversal, Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States responded with the following, citing Zimbabwe politics:

“This jarring announcement comes on the same day that global news sources report that Mr. Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s aging dictator, is under house arrest following a military coup. This fact in and of itself highlights the absurdity and illegal nature of the FWS decision to find that Zimbabwe is capable of ensuring that elephant conservation and trophy hunting are properly managed. During the last two years, poachers in the country have poisoned several dozen elephants, including young calves.”

Pacelle continues:

“Government officials cash in by capturing elephant calves who are still dependent on their mothers and exporting them to China for use in zoos. Perhaps not surprisingly, a hunting outfitter advertised elephant hunts in Zimbabwe as soon as the SCI announcement was made public. It’s a venal and nefarious, pay-to-slay arrangement that Zimbabwe has set up with the trophy hunting industry.”

“Let’s be clear: elephants are on the list of threatened species; the global community has rallied to stem the ivory trade; and now, the U.S. government is giving American trophy hunters the green light to kill them.”

Read the previous article about Cecil the Lion.

(Photo courtesy of Dan McBride)

(Additional photo of Trump holding tail via Facebook)

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Nosey the elephant finally on her way to retirement

In Moulton, Alabama, Nosey the elephant was led onto a trailer headed to an elephant sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee – on her way to retirement; at least we all hope. Earlier on Thursday, a judge in Lawrence County ordered county officials to seize the elephant and four horses affiliated to a small family traveling circus.

According to WhntNews19, the decision about the animals comes following accusations of mistreatment and animal neglect and abuse. At the three-hour hearing, an elephant behavioral expert, a retired veterinarian and the Lawrence County animal control officer along with circus owners testified. The company called American Family Circus had been transporting the animals from Orlando to Gadsden and stopped in Moulton for brake repairs where they had been for the last several days.

Calls to Animal Services prompted officers to examine Nosey; according to the District Attorney’s Office, Nosey had marks on her legs from being chained. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) promised they won’t stop fighting for Nosey and other imprisoned elephants until they are all free:

“The lame elephant found tightly chained, confined in her own waste, and without proper shelter, was removed from conditions very familiar to all who have tracked her abuse for years. PETA thanks local authorities for seizing Nosey and the court for its decision today to transfer this long-suffering elephant into caring hands. PETA pledges to continue working in her behalf until she’s settled in a spacious sanctuary home at last.”

So what about Nosey? Taken from her mother at two-years-old and shipped from Africa to the United States, Nosey has been forced to perform her entire life. Why doesn’t she get to retire from performing, from giving rides, from traveling around the country in a small, cramped prison on wheels?  For anyone not familiar with her, she is a 35-year-old African elephant with the Great American Family Circus; she is owned by Florida resident Hugo “Tom” Liebel who has and continues to cart her across the country for the last 30 years.

Advocates continued to peacefully protest Nosey’s sad plight. Nosey’s owners disagreed and stated they regard the elephant as part of their family and insisted she is treated very well. To the contrary however, the owners have been cited by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for nearly 200 animal-welfare violations; the most recent appearing this past June:

“June 16, 2017: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) denied Liebel’s application to renew his permit to possess Nosey in Florida on the grounds that he “withheld itinerary information” and submitted “materially false information” to the agency. Liebel had told the FWC that he didn’t have any current travel itineraries, which the agency confirmed was false.”

Concerned animal lovers just want Nosey retired to a sanctuary where she can live and mingle with other elephants. For nearly her entire life, the elephant has lived a solitary existence. During the past few years, government officials have become involved fighting for her freedom; urging the Secretary of Agriculture to remove Nosey. In 2016, New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak sponsored a bill called “Nosey’s Law” which would end the traveling circus elephants across the state of New Jersey – making it the first state to enforce such a law that animal lovers across the country continue to support.

The Liebel family do have some supporters, but mostly owners of other animal acts who also travel around with their four-legged performers – willing or unwilling. It’s not much of a convincing platform supporting circus elephants forced to perform as most of the American population have spoken out against all animal acts in circuses.

We have long regarded elephants as being extremely intelligent and possessing deep emotions towards their herds and their offspring. Isn’t it about time, Nosey got to be an elephant and live by her own rules?

Follow along on the Facebook page Nosey the Elephant Needs our Help.

Read previous article here.

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Hunters capture baby elephants twisting their trunks and kicking them for Chinese zoos

More than a dozen frightened, wild baby elephants have been captured by Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks), from the Hwange National Park to be sold to Chinese zoos. Zimparks is responsible for conserving wildlife and wilderness resources in the national parks. It all happened early in the morning of August 8, and according to the Guardian, the capture of these baby elephants are kept top secret. You will soon read why.

First, the herd is identified, and then operatives use helicopters to chase and sedate the babies with rifles. When the first elephant falls down, the pilot uses his helicopter to scare the rest of the herd away that would have come to the fallen elephant’s rescue. The team lands, and when the other elephants disperse, the captured baby is is tied up and dragged to the trailers. When five babies were all captured and loaded onto the trailer, the images became heartbreaking.

“Finally in the most disturbing part of the footage,” the Guardian explains, “a small female elephant, likely around five years old, is seen standing in the trailer. Her body is tied tightly to the vehicle by two ropes. Only minutes after being taken from the wild, the animal still groggy from the sedative, is unable to understand that the officials want her to back into the truck, so they smack her on the body, twist her trunk, pull her by the tail and repeatedly kick her in the head with their boots.”

In total, 14 elephants were captured, although the operatives had planned to round up 30 to 40 except one of their helicopters crashed during the operation. The elephants were then kept at a holding facility where they all huddled together out of sheer panic. Elephant Voices, an organization assessing the condition of captured elephants, wrote the following in their report:

“These tasks are our least favourite because the little elephants are so distressed, and the videos and images so heart-wrenching, so gruesome to watch. It is distressing, too, because the zoos that import these young elephants seem to be completely immune to the long-term suffering they cause. But having studied elephants for 40 years we feel we have to do our very best to stop a truly abusive practice…”

Baby elephants are completely dependent on their mothers until two years of age and are not fully weaned until they are five. Many of the calves displayed stressed behaviors recognizable by trunk twisting, curling their trunks under, swinging, head shaking and other nervous motions. The names of the zoos the babies were heading to were not identified, but obviously all were legal. Unfortunately animal welfare is of little interest, and although the criteria sets forth the treatment and care must be “appropriate and acceptable,” no one knows how care is even graded.

According to the Humane Society International, little information is ever provided as to the elephants imported from Zimbabwe, and even when traced to where they were being kept in zoos, many looked sick and ill cared for with sunken eyes and mottled coats. And questions as to why the elephants were being sold were answered with explanations ranging from drought and poaching to the little ones being sold to repay off military debts.

CITES, the only organization available to control/restrict the buying and selling of live animals across international borders, has come under fire for its lack of concern and falling short of the needs of elephants to be placed where there is space, social networks and healthy living environments.

“There is no international treaty to monitor or prevent the terrible suffering that wild capture causes to so many individuals and their families, nor any that concerns itself with preventing the captive lives of deprivation that lie ahead.”

China seems to be making a ton of money on importing the elephants, and while  Zimbabwe is an eager partner and zoo visitors love watching elephants, these guys are laughing all the way to the bank – the losers however are the elephants – the ones here and those left behind.

(Photos of baby elephants via the Guardian screenshots)

Check out the exclusive  heartbreaking Guardian video:

 

Elephant tramples hunter who was trying to kill him

A 46-year-old hunter from Argentina was killed when one the elephants that he was trying to kill trampled him to death. The hunter, has been identified as Jose Monzalvez – the deadly incident happened on Saturday afternoon at a private wildlife area outside of Kalkfeld, Namibia.

According to the New York Post, Monzalvez was with a group of hunters at the time – the elephant responsible for the man’s death was in a herd being targeted by the hunting group. The elephant charged at the man before he could fire his weapon.

In May, a professional South African big game hunter was killed when an injured elephant collapsed on him. Read the story here.


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Baby elephant killed in auto accident on Malaysia highway

A young elephant was found dead on the side of the road in a pool of blood recently after he was killed in an auto accident in a Malaysia national park area. According to authorities at the Perak Department of Wildlife and National Parks, the two-year-old elephant’s body was found along the roadside of the Gerik-Jeli Highway.

It is believed the baby had been hit on the head, and he died instantly. By the time authorities arrived, the elephant family had already left. As Malaysia develops, elephants need to be respected and allowed to roam freely and safely. The incident drew a lot of anger on social media, as many area residents expressed their sadness for wildlife and  how these animals continue to lose their homes;  paying the ultimate price – their lives.

Signs along the highway warn drivers of elephant crossings, and although authorities state accidents like this rarely happen, environmentalists fear the increasing destruction of the animals’ habitat have forced elephants to venture out closer to roadways. The BBCNews report drivers are being urged to be “extra careful” when using the highways.

“We have already erected signboards to notify motorists that there would be elephant crossings along the stretch of the highway,” stated Loo Kean Seong, director of the parks in Perak. “So they need to be more responsible, especially when they are driving late at night or early in the morning.”

On the Facebook group, Management & Ecology of Malaysian Elephants,  advocates for wildlife state the signs are easy to read, and they are there for a purpose.

“When you see a sign that states slow down, just slow down. It’s a simple thing to do. It’s still their home so just respect it.”

How does anyone miss seeing an elephant on the road Facebook readers continue to ask? Tragically it makes us lose faith in humanity. Did the driver even stop and stay with the baby while he died? Rest in peace baby. You will be missed.

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(Photos via Alicia Solana Mena/Meme via Management & Ecology of Malaysian Elephants)

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South African big game hunter crushed by elephant falling on top of him

In Zimbabwe, a professional South African big game hunter was killed on Friday after an elephant shot by a member of the group fell. Theunis Botha, 51, had been walking with his friends when three female elephants rushed in front of the men. According to News24, Botha fired his gun, but a fourth elephant approached from the side, and just as another member of the hunting party shot the animal, the elephant collapsed on top of Botha.

The incident occurred near Hwange National Park when the men accidentally came upon a herd of breeding elephants according to Zimparks spokesperson, Simukai Nyasha. The Telegraph reports Botha had been a frequent hunter leading leopard and lion hunting safaris with his pack of dogs. The website Game Hounds Safaris described his hunting method as using “Monteria hunts” in southern Africa. Dogs are trained to track deer and boar and then drive the animals towards the hunters who then shoot. Botha refined the hunting with his large tracker hounds trained to hunt leopards.

Botha would often travel to the United States searching for wealthy Americans to take part in his southern African safaris.

(Photos of game hunter screenshot via News24)

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Herd comes to rescue of young elephant when its trunk is grabbed by crocodile

An elephant herd took revenge on an attacking crocodile one week ago, while a young elephant was drinking water at a lake in Liwonde National Park in Malawi and a crocodile leaped out of the water and grabbed the elephant’s trunk. According to the eyewitness, Alexander Makanga, who recorded the entire frightening event, stated initially the others backed away as the young elephant shook his trunk frantically back and forth to get the reptile to release him.

And then came a member of the herd who delivered a powerful blow to the offending beast by charging at it and knocking it back to the ground.

 “I did not realize the severity of the situation until I had finished recording. Absolutely insane. This happened just few meters from the boat,” wrote Makanga online, who now lives in the United Kingdom and is a biomedical scientist.

According to Makanga’s Facebook page, the entire herd trumpeted all at once seemingly to signal the baby elephant was safe and there wasn’t anything else to see.

It may be the reptiles have been all meeting their formidable opponents lately and have been losing in the fight to kill large prey. Just last week a wild horse in Gainesville, Florida kicked the scales off of an alligator protecting his herd. As has been said for those keeping scores – animals – 2 and reptiles – 0.

Check out Alexander Makanga’s YouTube of the scary encounter: (Lucky baby elephant for sure!)

 

 

 

 

Atork the Elephant suffered 2-hours before dying after authorities used AK-47

Tourists visiting eastern Cambodia who wanted better pictures of a 60-year-old elephant and begged the handler to unchain the animal, watched as police opened fire on Atork the elephant after he trampled his owner to death before going on a rampage. According to the Daily Mail, the elephant named suffered for two hours before he died after police shot him three times.

Witnesses reported Atork and his female mate Me Krapum had been released from their shackles when tourists wanted to get better photos of the elephants, but soon after, the owner of the male elephant, Choeung Team, 47, was found dead as Atork went on a rampage – destroying several homes and damaging a police vehicle. Authorities wouldn’t wait for wildlife experts from the nearby Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center to arrive to tranquilize the elephant- stating they were afraid lives were in danger.

It is not known why tranquilizers were not available locally to be used on Atork, however it has been reported fireworks and a water cannon were used to scare him, but none of that worked. And when the police fired with AK-47 rifles at Atork; hitting him in the head, heart and leg, the huge animal fell to the ground. Me Krapum’s handler told news media that tears ran down the female elephant’s face as she watched her beloved mate slowly die in agony. Her handler quickly took her away – in fear she would become fierce over her mate’s death.

Atork was the family’s “money tree”; just another tragic lesson keeping animals cruelly shackled. The handler’s widow was allowed to keep Atork’s tusks, but the family is liable for the damage. Atork and Choeung were buried near each other. It is not known exactly why Atork became so violent, but when male elephants are in musth (surge of hormones in male elephants for mating) they can become very aggressive. Then there is also the incredible intelligence of elephants who “never forget.” Asian training techniques often involve “breaking the will” approach to baby elephants where their movements are restricted and they are beaten into submission. It is unknown what makes an elephant “snap” later in life.

Rest in peace Atork. We are sorry humans abused you for giving tourists rides and performing in shows; just another disturbing reminder of animal cruelty in other forms.

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(Photo and video via World News)

Video is graphic and may not be suitable for all viewers:

 

Shameful: Elephant is starving in Venezuela zoo because they can’t afford to feed her

In the Curicuao Zoo in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, Ruperta the elephant is starving to death. The zoo claims they cannot afford to feed her, however officials have turned away concerned citizens and animal advocates who have brought food to the 46-year-old elephant stating there may be some “bad intentions.”

According to the Daily Mail, the head of the Venezuela’s National Parks Institute Marlene Sifontes issued the following statement:

“There is food, but there is not enough variety. They are feeding her only with auyama (a type of pumpkin) and papaya, but it is not covering what she really needs.”

Ruperta’s gaunt body, with her ribs showing through her sagging skin, have been shared online.  Caracas’ El Universal reported that Ruperta  suffers from diarrhea and dehydration, but when neighbors tried to bring carrots and oranges to the elephant over the weekend, the donations were turned away by zoo officials citing sanitary issues. Days later, as the ire boiled over from well-wishers, the zoo released a statement:

“Workers are not allowed to receive donations, because while there are people with good feelings, there are others with bad intentions.”

Román Camacho, the reporter who originally broke the story, took the pictures, and has since stated in a country where hunger abounds, the crisis has become so severe that the only African elephant in all of Venezuela needs help. The elephant had been reported to have fallen, which media claims has been a result of malnutrition, Venezuelan officials insists it was just a simple slip.

Elephants can eat up to 330 pounds of food a day, and the concern remains high on social media importance.

“…this is INHUMANE and INFURIATING. spread the word to help these beautiful creatures that so much deserve a better life,” Paris Jackson, daughter of the late Michael Jackson tweeted on March 26.

Maribel Garcia, the animal rights activist who confirmed the reports on Ruperta’s health, told Fox News that the elephant, who should be weighing seven tons, currently weighs in at four tons.

“Elephants feed on carrots, grass, vegetables, fruits and bamboo leaves,” she said. “We believe that the diet of just pumpkins and the absence of her veterinarian who has treated her for more than 10 years influenced the elephant to be in that state.”

In addition to Ruperta suffering, there have been reports of the lack of basic cleaning supplies at the zoo as well as food for the animals. Unconfirmed reports state at least 50 other zoo denizens have died from starvation. A starving jaguar has been removed from public view, and a horse once on display is gone – advocates fear the animals are being killed to be used as food.

Still Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the country’s socialist leader denies the claims the elephant is starving claiming it is all a conspiracy theory by enemies trying to demoralize the country.

(Photo of elephant is starving via Twitter and R. Camacho)

Check out her video.