Category Archives: Support Appeals

Thank you for your support!

We like to thank those of you having supported our cause through WildlifeDirect – Michelle P. in particular! We hope for your continued support through our online donation option via ElephantVoices.org. – All contributions towards elephants and our work are much appreciated!

You might like to read some of our reflections from CITES (CoP15) in Doha, where elephants won a couple of major victories, and furthermore go through some media coverage related to the devastating ivory trade.

Warm greetings, Joyce and Petter

Appeal for support related to our Sri Lanka project

As we continue to plan for the next phase of our Minneriya-Kaudulla Elephant Project, we have been following the dramatic situation in Sri Lanka along with the rest of the world. We look forward to a peaceful future for all Sri Lankans!

It is more critical than ever to ensure the reduction of conflict between elephants and people – a goal at the core of our project. Marketing of beautiful Sri Lanka including Minneriya’s and Kaudulla’s elephants could in itself contribute toward a new era – from all perspectives sustainable tourism will be important for people AND for the conservation of wildlife.

Manori GunawardenaOur Sri Lankan colleague, Manori Gunawardena, will be visiting us from 15th to 25 June. With new developments we have lots of planning issues to deal with as well as adding some 300 individual elephants into the project’s elephant ID database on our high-speed internet connection. Prior to Manori’s working visit with us, she will attend a GIS course at Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC to learn mapping techniques that are an integral part of the project. The cost for the course is covered by Smithsonian Institute.

The remainder of the budget for Manori’s travel from 30th May to 25 June is:

Flights: Colombo – UK – Washington – UK – Norway – Colombo, $1626
Lodging Washington: $1120
Visa UK and Norway, and airport transfer DC: $240

ElephantVoices is committed to cover the total cost of $2986, and in the current financial climate any contribution is highly welcome!

Cheers, Petter and Joyce

On the way to the US to meet elephant friends AND elephants!

Dear WD Visitor!

For those of you living in the US: Sandip Roy Chowdhury will be talking with Joyce Poole on “New America Now: Dispatches from the New Majority,” which airs Friday Nov 14th at 1:00 p.m. and repeats Sunday at 3:00 p.m. on KALW, 91.7 FM.

You can hear an interview with Joyce on AnimalVoices, an alternative radio in Vancouver, here. The interview with Karl Losken was aired on 31st October.

At 4 am this morning we were awoken by two alarm clocks – not wanting to risk that one would let us down. A couple of hours later we departed for our two week event and fundraising tour in California. We’re looking forward to see friends, elephant supporters and even elephants (at PAWS, where we have a joint event on Saturday 15th Nov.), while at the same time experience the excitement of an historical election. With strong roots in Kenya (and plenty of other good reasons, too) no-one should be surprised that we are happy that Barack Obama will soon be the new President of the United States of America. We are among those convinced that he will strengthen America in a way that will be good for everyone. Barack is Kiswahili for blessing and he is indeed a blessing.

Waiting at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam for our next flight, we watched another BBC news piece describing the impact of increased ivory poaching on the world’s biggest land mammal – and expressing fears that the recent ivory auctions, sanctioned by CITES, will stimulate that growing threat. More and more elephants are succumbing to poaching fueled by the ivory trade and the press needs to bring this to the world’s attention.

Despite difficult times for the financial markets around the world, and for most of us as a consequence, we are hopeful that the people we meet during our California tour will continue to support our elephant conservation work. In the coming year we will be devoting a large portion of our time to our elephant conservation project in Sri Lanka.

We are also very grateful for any contributions towards our work from WildlifeDirect visitors!

Best wishes, Petter and Joyce

Busy days – WD blog-writing – thank you for your support!

These are extremely busy days, with elephant-related issues following us around the clock, and work priorities are high on the agenda. Collaborating with people in different time-zones adds to the feeling that we live in a small, global society, although it does steal some sleep!
Joyce holding lecture at school near Udawalawe
Sri Lankans love elephants, despite an increasing number of human-elephant conflicts. ElephantVoices’ new project aims to reduce conflicts by creating more ownership towards solutions and consequences related to elephants and their conservation. Education and online access to project data are key words in the project. In the photo Joyce talks about elephants in front of a school-class near Udawalawe National Park.

Education is a core part of ElephantVoices’ goal – and even our blog here on WildlifeDirect is a consequence of that. We want share our knowledge and passion for elephants with you and, concurrently, stimulate interest in supporting elephant conservation and our work.

We have enjoyed participating on WD so far, and are happy to report back that your contributions have helped us to repair our field vehicle in Kenya. It is now ready for our next field trip which will take place between January and March 2009. Contributions through WD have also given us a much needed super-portable Asus Eee 901 computer, which Joyce has been using to write her field diary from Minneriya-Kaudulla – parts of which have been uploaded to this blog. The tiny Asus is a very lap-friendly device with a super-long battery which will serve her well for her 24 hour journey back to Norway… In other words – your support helps us do our job for elephants.

And this is partly how we see our blog efforts – writing the blog IS actually quite a lot of work. We provide you readers with news, experiences and facts from a world that not many have the possibility to be a part of. Those of you who do have the opportunity to support us may feel more connected with work that you believe is important. A win-win situation – for elephants, us, you.
Joyce recording in Udawalawe Transit home in 2003
Joyce “churping” – while recording during ElephantVoices’ visit to Udawalawe Transit Home 2003. Our friend R. Myunideen Mohamed, then Park Warden in Yala East National Park, is following a special kind of interview with curiousity…

We appreciate whatever you do for elephants – and continue to promise that if you support our work with a donation we will do our best to give you value for money. Elephants need and deserve no less.

It will be more quiet from Joyce now, by the way, she is soon at the end of this hectic start-up session of our new Sri Lanka research and conservation project. A couple of lectures and meetings in Colombo remain – and then, once she is back in the office, plenty of preparations related to field-work follow-up, proposal writing, web/database-development and our fund-raising trip to California in November await us. But that’s another story…

We’re happy to know that you are following our work – and we welcome any contributions!

Best wishes, Petter

Starting new elephant conservation project in Sri Lanka

Back in 2003 Joyce and I visited Sri Lanka for a conference and to look into work carried out by Lalith Seneviratne and his team on human-elephant conflicts which was being sponsored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. While we were there we had the good fortune to be taken on a two week safari by Lalith to visit five different national parks with elephants. Our favourite place was Minneriya NP where, during the dry season, several hundred elephants gather to feed upon the new grass exposed by the receding waters of a reservoir.

During the short time we were there we saw incredible behavior – a musth male, greetings, contact calling, a newly born infant brought to the car, a defensive wall of curious elephants and a female with all the personality you could ask for – like a good Amboseli experience. The female mentioned tried to chase tourists away, and for some reason didn’t seem to realize that we were difference from normal visitors…! Check out a short video clip showing how she kicks our car in quite a clever manner (and breaks the light).
Joyce recording in Minneriya with Lalith Seneviratne
Joyce on left recording in Minneriya with Lalith in the driver’s seat.

While we were in Sri Lanka we also met an unusual woman named Manori Gunawardena, who told us that she would like to study Asian elephant social behavior with us. She has many years of experience working in Yala with the elephant research group there as well as doing conservation work in both India and Sri Lanka – moving elephants and looking into landscape and corridor issues – but her true love is social behavior and she has wanted to start a project along the lines of Amboseli for many years.
Elephant enjoying the tank in Minneriya NP
Elephant enjoying the tank in Minneriya NP
Group of elephants enjoying the tank in Minneriya NP built by elephants centuries ago.

Ever since then we have had the urge to do a study of Asian elephants, holding back both because of commitments in Kenya and the unrest on Sri Lanka. But now we’re starting – in Minneriya-Kaudulla in North Central Sri Lanka – we believe it is urgent and are willing to go for it. Together with Manori we will develop and maintain a long-term study of social behavior and demography of the Minneriya-Kaudulla elephant population along the lines of the Amboseli study – naturally with a special focus on communication. We think that such a study – that uses the individual recognition approach – will benefit conservation and welfare of Asian elephants and is long overdue. And our involvement in this project will allow us to speak with more authority for both species. We will spend about a month a year in Minneriya and we are very excited about it! We’ll continue our Amboseli work as well.

We are currently rebuilding ElephantVoices to include our new outlook and so that we can finally host more of our vocalization-related work (audio) – which will now include both species. Baby in Minneriya National Park
Although human elephant conflict is significantly worse in Asia than it is in Africa, elephants in Asia benefit from the historic and cultural identity its people have with them. Visitors to Sri Lankan national parks are predominantly country nationals. Our Minneriya-Kaudulla Elephant Project will capitalise on this cultural identity with elephants by encouraging the public to participate in the study and by contributing educational material toward a special elephant program being developed for area schools. Making the project’s elephant ID database accessible online and stimulating local people and national park visitors to become familiar with individual elephants, to photograph them and to send in behavioral and geographical information, we aim to give people a sense of ownership and a connection with individual wild elephants. This exchange of information will provide the project with vital information about associations, behavior, habitat use and areas of conflict, while simultaneously inspiring wonder in the behavior and voices of elephants thus increasing understanding and decreasing conflict.
Group of elephants and tourist in Minneriya NP
Lots of tourists visit the elephant “gathering” in beautiful Minneriya every year, a majority are Sri Lankans.

Manori has secured local funding for the start up of the project – more fund raising efforts will have to be on our agenda in the months to come. All contributions are very welcome! We hope you will follow our new project closely. Joyce is joining Manori for a kick-off field-trip during second half of September.

Appeal for support – new laptop with elephants voices

j_p_working.jpgDear All,

Portable computers are vital for the work that Petter and I are doing, and my 6-year-old Compaq has needed to retire for some time! Several key functions does not work… The worst aspect of it is that the sound system has gone silent – which isn’t great for someone who works on elephant communication. A “cheap” dollar makes it sensible to buy a replacement when I am in the US on an elephant-related task in late August. We do understand that some of you may feel that computers are rather boring items compared to other field equipment, but without one I can’t do any field work and neither can I bring what I do to share with you when I am on lecture tours. We would be extremely grateful if you would be willing to contribute towards this resource.

We’re happy that the numbers of visitors on our blog is steadily increasing – and any donation is an inspiration to continue what we do for elephants! Thank you for caring!

Best wishes, Joyce

Fundraising for elephants – California visit in November

We would like to inform all visitors to our blog that we will be in California on a fundraising trip later this year. We plan to be in the San Francisco from 7 to 14 November and in Los Angeles 14 – 20 November. We are already busy planning various events. If you are from California we would certainly be grateful for ideas or input regarding our visit – and you can also send an email to us if you want to be invited to any of the events being arranged.

Our research on elephant cognition and communication, our scientific and popular publications, our advocacy work for elephants, our website updates are all dependent on individuals like you. Our blog is just a tiny window into the work we do and we encourage you to visit our website, www.ElephantVoices.org to get a better picture. To continue to protect elephants we need your support.

Best wishes, Petter and Joyce

ElephantVoices and Kenyan web-developers – appeal for support

I can now say “jambo” or “habari” here from Nairobi, where I arrived Friday night after a pleasant flight from Europe with KLM. I used the many hours of travelling to prepare for several meetings in Nairobi during the coming week. Unfortunately, I will not be visiting our AERP colleagues and elephant friends in Amboseli on this 10 day trip.

My first job yesterday morning was to collect our field vehicle, a strong and rustic looking (read: beaten up) ’93 Toyota Landcruiser, from a workshop in Karen, Nairobi. The 4-wheel-drive has been there since we left in the middle of January, and three months and kshs 141,740 (approx. USD 2,300) later it’s back on the road. Some of you may remember our appeal in December – sadly the bill ended up worse than we feared especially considering the substantial costs that we incurred even during our last stay. Being a car on Kenyan roads is no joke… Hopefully, the car the elephants know so well won’t give us any trouble for a long time!

petter-in-car-with-several-eles450.jpg

One of the many other tasks I have is to work with a Kenyan web- and database-programmer who we hope will become a close collaborator of ElephantVoices. We have several databases that we want to get online in the next few months – one of which is our long-awaited elephant calls database. Kenya has a large contingent of clever IT-people, and we always try to use local partners in our work. Support for Kenyans is especially important right now. The economy and people’s livlihoods are really suffering as a consequence of the unrest and the collapse in the tourism industry following the December 27th election.

We are very grateful for any support toward our use of Kenyan programming capacity to get our elephant calls database online – so that you all can listen to elephant sounds and learn more about how they communicate. While I admittedly enjoy computer-work and html-coding, the efficiency of ElephantVoices depends on our ability to have high focus on the many elephant-related issues lined up. ElephantVoices and WildlifeDirect are only two of many channels through which we are trying to reach out.

Thank you for following our work!

Petter

Appeal and thanks for support!

New versions of software for photo and video editing are high on our priority list right now. They are essential to our educational outreach, including for this blog on WildlifeDirect, for our website, ElephantVoices, and for lectures.

And after spending a couple of months in a workshop in Nairobi our research vehicle will soon be ready again for Kenya’s rather bumpy roads and the bush.

We are extremely grateful for contributions towards the substantial costs of these two items. We know that there are so many good causes out there worth supporting – and we hope that you make ours one of them.

Meanwhile, we thank Keith M. for an open donation of USD 25.

Best wishes, Petter and Joyce
joyce_car_mike_wd.jpg

FIELD VEHICLE PROBLEMS – APPEAL FOR SUPPORT

Joyce and Petter here,

ElephantVoices' field vehicle

While we frantically prepare for our field trip to Kenya (we depart tomorrow December 14th) we receive a message that our field vehicle, a rugged 1993 model Toyota Landcruiser, desperately needs repair. As you can see from the pictures, it meets some tough challenges in Amboseli. During the last couple of weeks another researcher has been using it, but because of starting problems it is currently “out of business”. The long list written by a mechanic in Amboseli makes us despair:

  • Fuse box, which needs replaced due to a short, which results in overheating and the fuses melting
  • Replace rear shock absorbers (x2) as they are very worn and leaking. (TZ reccomends the gas type)
  • The universal joint on the prop shaft needs replacing as it is worn and there is a lot of play.
  • Replace the top link bushes, which are both worn and cracked.
  • The rear silencer is very old and worn and in need of replacement.
  • The stabiliser bushes at the front of the car are exhibiting a lot of play and need to be looked at.
  • The oil seal on the transfer box is leaking oil.
  • Both tire rod ends are very worn and must be replaced as a matter of urgency.
  • The hub oil seals are leaking on both thr front right and left wheels.
  • Both rear stabiliser bushes need replaced.
  • Finally, the front arm bushes are worn, especially on the left hand side.

We are arranging to have the immediate problems dealt with as a matter of urgency, but will have to assess the rest of the long list when we are in Kenya. Being an old bush-car we may have to accept some peculiarities… We are extremely grateful for any contribution towards meeting the substantial costs we will have to face – our dear old Landcruiser is vital for our work and the elephants are totally relaxed around it.

And now the final packing before our AM departure tomorrow… You’ll hear more about our field vehicle and other issues later!