An Open Letter to Friends of ANAW

The year 2016 has been a year of celebrations, successes, and milestones.  If you are receiving the ANAW holiday direct mail piece you will be reading about my meeting Jos Ngonyo in 2005 and the friendship between our families that continues to grow.  Indeed, the network of friends is a concentric ripple that extends far beyond just our families and friends, to also include what we now have started  in the name of conservation and animal welfare.

The organization we create is a reciprocal door into the countries we represent, the U.S. to Kenya and Kenya to the U.S.  From the perspective of the University of Denver, this is a gateway opportunity for students of the Graduate School of Social Work to meet Kenyans in their homes and in their lives.  This year, for the three groups of visiting private practice veterinarians, it is service to the communities of pet and livestock owners. For Kenyans, it is an introduction to people in North America, an exchange of ideas, aspirations, and future possibilities. ANAW is our mutual gateway.

For the animals in Kenya, it is advocacy and people communicating and doing for those that cannot speak for themselves.  ANAW stopped the road construction across the Serengeti with significant help from Serengeti Watch, brings attention to the encroachment of another roadway, a railroad, across Nairobi National Park, expands Animal Welfare Clubs into the curriculum of 33 Nairobi schools, facilitates the continued efforts for adding animal welfare to the country’s national curriculum, works with the judiciary and countless others to remove trapping wire while advocating for ending bushmeat consumption.

It has been said that in life we need three things.  “Someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to”.  ANAW, for many of us, has become part of our lives, with the mission, and the people on both sides of the Atlantic striving to make the world a better place for all living creatures.

I wish to take this opportunity to say thank you to the Board of Directors and staff in Denver that makes the transmission of funds to Nairobi possible.  From left to right, Philip Tedeschi, Bob Uttaro, David Gies, Richard Reading, Janet Rumfelt, Kristen Nelson, Professor James Nakansa (ANAW in Nairobi), Richard Male, Maria Galter, and Jos Ngonyo.  Not pictured are Arielle Giddens, Nehemiah Rotich and Keith Gehring.

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If you are interested in more of the particulars please visit the ANAW websites, http://www.anaw.org and http://www.anaw-usa.org.

ANAW is not eligible to be reviewed by Charity Navigators because our assets are less than $1,000,000.  Until we can reach this threshold, and in the interest of staking our reputation as a reputable and worthy nonprofit organization, our 2015 Audit is available upon request, for anyone wishing to learn more about us.  Also, our 990 tax returns can be accessed at www.guidestar.org.

Best wishes for this holiday season.

David Gies,

ANAW-USA Board President

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Rurpell’s Eagle and White-backed vultures

Thursday, with Munir Viranti and Darcy Ogada, of the director of the East Africa Peregrine Fund office, and Richard Reading, consultant and Africa Network for Animal Welfare-USA board member, I visited a location near Nanyuki where several White-backed vultures and one Rurpell’s eagle had been poisoned, probably unintentionally in an attempt by the local people there to retaliate.  It seems lions had killed one or two cows so baited meat was distributed throughout the area.  The unintended consequence was the poisoning of these birds.  Regrettably human-animal conflicts are common throughout Africa as pastoralists compete for grazing location.

Poachers intentionally kill vultures to avoid detection after slaughtering elephants.  It is a terrible reality that the vultures of Africa are at risk of endangerment and extinction.

 

Pathways Kenya 2016

Colorado State University has raised the bar for convening its Pathway conferences outside Colorado. This was the fifth conference organized by the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and the first outside Colorado.  About a third of the participants were students and wildlife guardians, rangers and young people from all over Kenya.  The exchange of ideas and information sharing was top notch.   Including so many local enthusiastic young people interested in conservation was brilliant of the organizers.

University of Denver faculty and the One Health team were represented with the presence of Dean James Herbert Williams and professors Philip Tedeschi and Richard Reading.  Representing the Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) were Josphat Ngonyo, executive director, and Ambassador Nehemiah Rotich, president of the board.  Staff and adviser to ANAW, Kahindi Lekalhaile, was there  along with myself representing the Africa Network for Animal Welfare-USA (ANAW-USA).

Kahindi Lekalhaile, who  grew-up near Nanyuki, presented the keynote address kicking off the conference along with the Munir Virani, the director of The Peregrine Fund.  Not present but appreciated by me personally was Meme Kinoti, Chair of the Management of Nonprofit Management department at Regis University in Denver.  Kinoti, a Kenyan, collaborated on developing the ANAW presentations.

Pictures here are the Mt Kenya Fairmont Safari Lodge (complete with a disturbing array of elephant and wildlife trophies) Tom Serfass facilitating a session,  Philip Tedeschi, DU and ANAW-USA Board Chairman, Josphat Ngonyo Executive Director of ANAW and David Gies also for ANAW-USA.

Several scientific  papers were presented covering topics of wildlife and fishery management, humane wildlife conflict, case studies for resolving conflicts and creating conservation, integrating social science into One Health to inform policy, aspects of hunting, zoonotic disease transmission and the conservation revolution taking place in East Africa and other parts of the world through community based efforts.

The ANAW team presented on the importance of civil society and voluntary association in mediating attitudes for addressing wildlife crimes.  Our talk emphasized observed changes taking place showing the will of Kenya to stop poaching.  For example, the courts are dishing out harsh penalties now for elephant and rhino poaching.  An example is a recent sentencing to life in prison to a major supplier for  transporting ivory through Kenyan boarders.  Kenya has the unfortunate distinction for being largest exit point for ivory leaving Africa to China.

These changes taking place are not the result of just ANAW hammering away on the problems.  For the judiciary work, especially in real time monitory of the courts Wildlife Direct and Paula Kahumbu along with the support of the Africa Wildlife foundation and countless other organizations and funders are recognized.

Wildlife Census Taking at Nairobi National Park

The Great Zebra & Giraffe Count 2015flyer1

Every year the Kenya Wildlife Service conducts wildlife counts inside Nairobi National Park, the headquarters for the David Sheldrick Trust.  This year it coincided with World Wildlife Day.  The count includes the entire park.  Eunice Robai and I were on hand to represent the Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) and participated one March 2, 2015.  Our assignment was to drive to the east most loop of the National Park photographing all the Zebra and Giraffe within viewing range.

The count was unique this year because Image Based Ecological Information System, IBEIS (www.IBEIS.org) implemented a pilot project using photography, GPS technology and innovative software to document baseline data identifying migration patterns, individual animals, adjustments due to drought, grazing competition and implications for species moving through protected and unprotected corridors.  The team included Dan Rubenstein of Princeton University, Tanya Berger-Wolf, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chuck Steward, Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Jason Holmberg, of Wild Me (www.wildme.org).

This information is valuable to wildlife managers and has potentially broad application for tacking elephant movement as well.  While we were not tracking elephants we were successful in identifying new animals for the data base.  The systemP1120079 works by loading pictures and GPS coordinates into the IBEIS software and “tagging” individual animals.  The most difficult part of the exercise was finding zebras and giraffes that were standing in a left profile position.  This was one of the criteria for taking the image of any animal.

Here is the report identifying any animal new to the database.  Also, pictured her are Chuck Steward, David Gies, Dan Rubenstein, and Eunice Robai.

Colorado’s Petition to Stop the Ilegal Sale of Ivory

Please sign our petition:

If you have been following my posts, you know the efforts taking place around the world to stop the killing of elephants and rhinos.  I live in Colorado and invest a fair amount of time working and being in Kenya.  It seems remote but it is not, to bring the issue of poaching home to Colorado.  The world is such a small place and there is so much human life crowding out and competing for a spot to live on this tiny planet.  One way we can support countries in Africa is to visit them.  This is difficult because security is an issue.   This is changing as the threat of terrorism is an international issue and will diminish.  Indeed, I have don’t hesitate to invite people and friends to Kenya.  But you don’t have to participate in the economic development through travel to support a growing democracy.

The other thing one can do, regardless of where you live, is sign our petition banning the illegal sale and commercialization of animal products in Colorado.  It doesn’t matter where you live.  The petition is about demonstrating that people care and what the slaughter to end.  If you live in Colorado, all the better to sign the petition and add your name to the change we hope to bring about.

It matters to the elephants.  It matters more to our humanity.

BBC News uncovers need for training freight handlers to identify animal trafficing

On February 7, 2015, the BBC News Science & Environment division published a report about the lack of preparedness among freight and shipping handlers for identifying animal parts transported across international boarders.  Among the findings and statements:

  • Poaching of rhinos in South Africa reached a record of 1,215 last year
  • Tigers have been killed off to a level that is 5% of what the population was a century ago.  There are approximately 3,000 tigers left in all the world
  • Smugglers are learning new tricks to disguise horn and ivory
  • Asian ivory carvers are moving into Africa to practice their trade

The article is noteworthy because it is describing the lengths criminals pursue to evade detection.  All this is fueled by consumer demand for animal parts.  Bangles, or bracelets are easily disguised as plastic.  There are few techniques for testing the composition of items declared as something that is not horn or ivory.   Ivory bracelets are labeled  “vintage” or “antique”.  Shipping handlers are stymied and have little recourse but to accept the shipment as is.  How can they question the age of an item?  In practice the burden of proof of age falls to the agent and veracity of the owner shipping the item.

Today, I did a search on eBay and found many bangles for sale that look like ivory.  EBay prohibits the sale of ivory on its site because eBay doesn’t accept the documentation of age from owners.  I wonder if anything slips through and is published for sale?  Perhaps someone reading this blog knows how on-line marketing groups like eBay monitor bangles and ivory-looking objects.  I would be interested in knowing more.  I don’t want to disparage legitimate dealers, but who monitors the claims that ivory is pre-ban and can they prove it?  The volume of pre-ban bangles for sale on the Internet is impressive.  I found one pre-ban bangle priced at $700.

Ivory carvers from China moving to Africa to ply their trade is disturbing.  It puts tradespeople closer to the source of ivory and bone further encouraging demand.  It also suggests the markets in China are expanding.  Edmond and Stiles, in their landmark 2008 publication, Ivory Markets in the U.S.A, identified fewer than 200 ivory carvers in this country (pages 21-23).  In the U.S., carves worked ivory for knife-handles, billiard cues, jewelery, musical instruments, scrimshanders, restored antiques, netsuke and handgun grips.  I’m not aware of an inventory of carvers since this publication which suggests the trades are dying out in the U.S.  The news in the BBC article suggest the trade in carving ivory is far from dead.

This is all the more reason for the bringing attention to the expanding markets worldwide.   We should not be complacent that the poaching of African wildlife is going away.  We might be hopeful the situation is changing.  Fewer elephants were poached in Kenya in 2014 than in 2013.  However, the observations about animal trafficking and general preparedness to identify, arrest and prosecute criminals is not encouraging.

Finally, selling ivory is still a problem for us in the United States.  The purchase of ivory  feeds supply lines and commerce requiring more dead elephants.  A colleague visited San Francisco California last month (January 2015) and took these store front snapshots.  If the American public wants to buy ivory, there still is a lot of it for sale.

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