Thank you!

We’re very grateful for contributions from Alyne F., Gunn E., Anna M., Jeffrey H. and Michelle P. – your support is much appreciated! We hope you will visit during next week! soon back online – Ringling case

We have been quiet for a long time here on WildlifeDirect, mainly because we’re working so hard to get our new and substantially expanded back online. The new website is much more than a presentation of what we do – it is, and will increasingly be, a bank of information for anyone interested in elephants – their basic behavior, communication and welfare – in the wild and in captivity. As wild elephants are squeezed into smaller and smaller spaces there are a growing number of issues that affect their welfare and survival and we will be highlighting these. The website will be available in a week or so – we’ll inform you as soon as it goes online.

Circus Agora's new elephant...One of issues that has taken time and effort over many years, is Joyce’s participation as expert witness in the Ringling case. After 8 years of preparation (4 for Joyce) the case was finally heard in February. You will find a recent news update on KTNV ABC about the case here, and a link to Court Filings and Exhibits for the Ringling Bros. Elephant Abuse Case here. The verdict will be delivered by Judge Sullivan in a few weeks time.

Over the last four years we have also been working to convince the Norwegian government to ban the use of elephants in Norwegian circuses. One of three currently on the road, Circus Agora, decided to act before being told to and went animal-free this year. To show our support for the change we attended a performance when they were in town a couple of weeks ago. We were truly impressed by their program, and hope that more and more circuses around the world will follow suit. Circus Agora still has an elephant as a mascot – but this one has four legs and two bodies – one front and one back! Fair enough…

We wish all WD visitors and bloggers a great summer!

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

Matriarch and world renown Echo dies

It is very sad that Echo, the Matriarch of our primary study group in Kenya, has died. She has been the leader of her family for over 36 years and through all of the research, books and media attention that has focused on her, she has become an icon for elephants. You can read the message from ATE Director Cynthia Moss here.  Our thoughts are with Echo’s family – as this will be a disturbing time for them – with Cynthia, Soila, Norah, Katito and Robert in Amboseli, who have kept up with Echo’s daily life for so many years. All of us who knew Echo have been touched by her gentleness and wisdom, and many of us have sought solace in her presence during difficult times.

Echo has been mentioned in a few posts here on WildlifeDirect. Whenever we think of the Amboseli elephants, we think of Echo. During our field visit in December 2007 – January 2008 we did worry about Echo – since she looked thin and weak – and we are convinced that the ongoing drought has contributed to her demise.

We feel priviledged having been able to spend so much time with this gentle, caring, and wise elephant, who has been such an excellent leader for the EB family for decades.

Listen to the voice of Echo in a Let’s Go Call:

Echo and Emily Kate
Echo and Emily Kate in January 2007


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Thank you for your continued interest in the 1,500 elephants of Amboseli – Echo will live on as a symbol of them.

Kind wishes, Joyce and Petter

Mind and Movement: Meeting the interests of elephants

Several WD visitors have asked us where they can get a copy of the book An Elephant In The Room: The Science and Well-Being of Elephants in Captivity. We do know that the book will be made available on, but we are also aware that that may still take a bit of time. We will keep you updated. The opening chapter in the book, Mind and Movement: Meeting the interests of elephants, is written by ElephantVoices’ Joyce Poole and Petter Granli. You may open and download the chapter here (.pdf-file, 2,2 mb).
The Science and Well-Being of Elephants in Captivity
Cover photos by Petter Granli, ElephantVoices.

Elephant conference at PAWS, California, 24 to 26 April

The Performing Animal Welfare Society’s (PAWS) 25th Anniversary Gala and Conference takes place at ARK2000 in San Andreas, California, from 24 to 26 April. Joyce is one of the keynote speakers, and will participate throughout the conference.  Join leading wildlife and captive wildlife experts for an interactive full 3-Day Conference!


We’re very grateful for contributions from Dermot C. and John B., and continued support from Anna M. and Michelle P. Support is much needed – and appreciated! offline for a few weeks

We would like you to be aware that will be offline for a few weeks, while we continue to rebuild and expand the site. The new version will improve the site’s look and functionality, and allow you online access to more of our data. We plan to launch the new site in late March.

You will be able to manage your news subscription through the new version – and hope you will continue to follow and support our work.

Welcome back!

Trumpets, Petter

Notes from the field – from Blake

One of the few bright spots in this uncommonly dry February that we find ourselves in, has been being able to observe a certain young elephant by the name of Cathy. Although only ten years old, Cathy has consistently displayed the characteristics of a future matriarch. Every time we come across the CB family, which she belongs to, she immediately catches our attention with her antics. She is exceptionally loquacious and has especially taken an interest in being an allomother to all of the calves in the family.

Any time there is a skirmish amongst the calves, Cathy is sure to be found pacifying both parties until all is calm again. Aside from her innate motherly qualities that she regularly displays, it is her assertiveness that truly defines her. She is the first to greet arriving family members, she already gives “Let’s Go” rumbles to move the family along, and she can often be seen giving “Contact Calls” to get in touch with distant family members. This may not seem too significant, but let me remind you that she’s 10! This family has many older, dominant females and yet this young, precocious female has shown matriarchal attributes that far exceed her years.

Until next time!

Cheers, Blake (Murray)

Members of CB family
Cathy with three calves from the CB family.  She is the largest one, second from the right. (Photo: Blake Murray)

Amboseli elephants dusting
Amboseli elephants dusting (Photo: P. Granli)

Amboseli elephant baby stuck in well – and to orphanage

After a early morning recording session last week Blake and I were told by our ATE research assistant Katito Sayialel that an elephant baby was reported stuck in a well west of Amboseli National Park. We decided to go together, and followed behind the cloud of dust from the Amboseli Elephant Research Project vehicle. Despite lots of “shadows” in terms of cellphone contact with the maasai that had called the AERP team it didn’t take long before we found the right location a few meters from the Tanzanian border. Helpful maasai with cows and donkeys were all around, and told us that the baby had been in the well and struggling since last night.

To get a 400 pound elephant baby out of a well is not a piece of cake. And one thing is to get it up, another is to avoid ending up in the middle of an upset elephant family when the baby cries for help. Katito decided that we should try to look for the baby’s family, to find out how realistic it would be to get the baby back to them after a rescue. She also got in contact with Kenya Wildlife Service, to get their advice and assistance.  Baby in well
The well was not deeper than 1,2 meter, but deep enough to make it impossible for the less than one year old baby to get out.

Blake recording
Since Blake’s job for ElephantVoices during a 10 week field stay is to record rare calls, we had to try to get the low and very sad-sounding complaints from the baby on our Nagra digital recorder.

After having tried for quite some time to locate the family, and fearing that the baby could get serious injuries by the numerous attempts to get up, we had to take a decision what to do. Katito had already been in contact with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (their Orphans Project) in Nairobi, and they were ready to come and pick up the baby by plane. We decided to lift the baby carefully up with ropes around the belly together with our maasai friends. Next step was to get him into the back of our rustic Landcruiser – the first elephant passenger ever… Luckily we had a foam-pad (normally used as camera support) to provide as head-rest.

Baby in toyota
The baby was for natural reasons exhausted when finally out of the well, and quickly fell asleep when safe and sound in our field vehicle. In the photo we’re at the Amboseli airstrip waiting for Sheldricks people.

The baby was well fed and looked strong and not too uneasy when arriving at the air strip, and an hour afterwards she was on the way to the orphanage in Nairobi with the very experienced Sheldrick staff that came to pick her up.

I’m of course not happy at all that a baby elephant got separated from her family – but I do think what happened was the best solution considering the circumstances. That Blake and I had a very different day from what we expected is part of our story. We’re crossing our fingers for the baby from the well.

Cheers, Petter