Columbus Zoo & Aquarium grant brings electricity to the bush

Thanks to our recent grant from the CCMC of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium we now have solar power in camp making our lives so much easier and more productive. There were a few delays getting all the equipment together due to logistics and suppliers but I can happily report that all parts are now in camp and we are fitting the final two panels as I type.

Our current camp is in the Khumaga campsite of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks and they are kindly loaning us a room in one of their buildings for our office.  Whilst the tin roof makes it very hot in the current temperatures (102oF) it is nice to know that as long as we keep the windows shut when we are not there we can protect our valuables from the monkeys.

Office

Elephants for Africa office

The office is also convenient as it means we can secure the solar panels to the top of the building opposite in full sunlight and away from the elephants and other wildlife, but not from the monkeys alas but they have not done anything to them and they appear to be of little interest to them.

SolarPanelsWe now have enough power for our car fridge to keep solutions and elephant dung cool, when it is not in the vehicle, charging of computers as well as other equipment (including endless mobile phones from our camp companions, which keeps relationships good) and lights which is fantastic and a vast improvement from head torches and paraffin lanterns.

All of the Elephants for Africa team would like to express immense gratitude for the continued support of our research and educational efforts from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

 

Jubilant Elephants

2012 is a year of celebration for the United Kingdom with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games. In keeping with the spirit of celebration in the UK this year, ELEPHANTS FOR AFRICA have made these special Jubilant elephant badges.

For just £2 plus £1 P&P within the UK* you can be the proud owner of a Jubilant Elephant. To order email order@elephantsforafrica.org or pay through paypal to the same address.

Elephant Facts:

Since Queen Elizabeth II took to the throne of the United Kingdom in 1952 we have lost an estimated 871,000-4,530,000 (65-90%) African elephants.

Since the modern Day Olympics started in 1896 we have lost between 6,530,000 – 9,530,000 (93-95%) of the world’s African elephants.

  • Today there an estimated 470,000 African elephants.
  • We are currently loosing 100-200 per day to the illegal ivory trade

(*Additional postal charges may apply for supporters outside of the UK)

 

 

Chicago Zoological Society Visit

A few days after we had said goodbye to Andrew Smith of Memphis Zoo, Dr Ricardo Stanoss, Director of Education and international Training of the Chicago Zoological Society was due to arrive. I set off from camp at 0600 and went via the Phuduhudu Gate, having breakfast at the gate and catching up with the ladies Dudu and Black Korhaan who man (or woman) the gate.

I had given myself all morning to send emails and the grease the CV joints of Ellie. Mphoeng and I had greased them in our mechanics workshop when we dropped off Andrew Smith, and he had advised to top them up when we got to camp as the grease would have warmed and created some space. We tried doing his but the grease gun had broken, so when I got to town I exchanged it at MotoVac and headed to the mechanics with an hour to go before Ricardo was due to arrive.  This should have been plenty of time but………. when I was finishing off the last wheel the nipple of the grease gun  had fallen off into the CV joint. Thankfully I noticed before driving off.

So I then had to try and fish it out with a magnet. Thankfully Charlie Ellis (friend and ex-EfA researcher) was able to meet Ricardo and they arrived whilst I was under the car coated in oil. It was not the initial image I wanted for our funders ‘hi here is the organised and professional researcher you are funding’, but hey they got an idea of the skills you need to be a field biologist.

Trying to sort out the CV joint

Thankfully Ricardo, as well as a colleague is a good friend so was very cool about the situation.  I was failing to get the nipple out, thankfully a professional mechanic saw my distress and took over and two hours after planned we headed off.  I was hoping that this would be the only saga for his trip………

Still trying

Win £500 for Elephants For Africa

One of the way we raise much needed funds is through www.Giveacar.co.uk

They have a competition at the moment and we would love you to enter on our behalf. So if you are off somewhere exciting for holidays, or leave somewhere exotic or going somewhere fun (e.g. Wimbledon or the Olympics) please have a go for fun if nothing else :)|

COMPETITION What you have to do: Print off an A4 (or larger!) piece of paper, displaying the Giveacar logo and your charity logo side by side as large as possible. The aim is to take a picture of you holding this picture with an incredible background view e.g. in front of the Eiffel Tower, Grand Canyon, Pyramids at Giza or Skegness. The winner (as judged by the Team) will be whoever gets the logos in front of the most interesting/impressive background.

The Prize: Elephants For Africa will be featured on our homepage until you receive at least £500 in donations.

How to enter: All you need to do is:

  • Email us on info@ElephantsForAfrica.org and I will send you a word document.
  • Print it on A4
  • Then just take your sign away, take a snap and send it to us at charity@giveacar.co.uk.
  • Don’t forget to include your name, the charity’s name and where the pic is taken. The competition opens at 12 Noon on July 10th and ends on 12 Noon on September 1st.

Terms and conditions: Erm, ‘clean’ pictures only please. Final decision on winner is made by Giveacar. Entries by email only.

Andrew Smith from Memphis Zoo visits the research

Andrew Smith of Memphis Zoo recently joined us in the field. He had won a grant from the Zoo and the Conservation Action Network to support our work and part of the grant covered his travel to our camp.

In spite of his jet lag he soon settled into camp life and our simply way of living. H even took to vegetarianism quite well, although I am sure he soon made up for that when he returned back home!

We had a wonderful time meeting new elephants and he was quite taken by one in particular, so much so that I let him name him (not a common event). After much contemplation and I trying to guess what it would be, he came up with Boda Fett (the bounty hunter in Star Wars).

Apart from the all the lovely animal sightings, starry nights and beautiful scenery there had been none of he usual sagas of getting stuck, flat tyres etc.  BUT……. I speak too soon. Andrew had a flight out on Sunday and so we headed to town on the Saturday. We left early as we had a meeting at Moreomaoto Library about the un-coming workshop.  This involved a short trip to the National Park Gate and then a wait for OT the ferryman to bring the ferry across. Since the Boteti River flooded in 2009, this cut off access to the Park through this gate so some entrepreneur transported a pontoon ferry down and charging £12 per trip. I tell you I wish I had thought of that, it would certainly help with funding.

I had made Mphoeng drive as he was used to driving a manual and Ellie is an automatic. He had been doing really well on the roads in the park and so it was time for him to tactical the tricky ferry. The trick is to drive very slowly (a little difficult in Ellie as she really likes to go) and to follow OT’s instructions. He got on perfectly, getting off was another story…….. I was distracted, as OT had given me the receipt book to fill in. OT had parked in a funny place which involved the car having to go into water not on to the sand; Mphoeng was keen to get onto the sand and instead of following OT instructions aimed for the sand and Ellie came off the ramps. The first I knew of it was a very loud bang and bump. After a few seconds of shocked silence I jumped out into the fetid cow poo filled water and saw that he wheels were not on the ramp. Further inspection revealed that she was resting on her diff!!!!!!!!



I stomped around in the water for a while and, I have to admit, swearing a little, thinking of a solution. OT was shouting at me, Andrew was hiding in the car and Mphoeng was just shaking his head from side to side saying ‘Oh No’ repetitively.

Our first attempt to get her off was to jack her on the side and get her back onto the ramp, unfortunately due to the wind and water current this failed miserably and we only ended up giving Ellie her first bush scar. Next we tried to jack from behind, this combined with taking the ramp off and an hour’s blood sweat and tears we got her off.  We then had to reassemble the ferry and wash our poo-covered legs and we were finally off on our way.

 

So Andrew had experienced Africa, the wildlife, the landscape and the saying ‘Make a Plan’.

Boda Fett the elephant Andrew Smith named

Masters Degree for Boyce-Zero Scholarship student

Mr Mphoeng Ofithile gains Masters degree

Mphoeng and Kate Celebrating

It is with huge pride that we announce that Mr Mphoeng Ofithile, our first Boyce-Zero Scholarship student, has successfully defended his Masters thesis at an oral exam at the University of Bristol in the UK this afternoon.  CONGRATULATIONS Mphoeng.

Mphoeng joined Elephants For Africa in 2008 and developed his Masters plan after learning the ropes and understanding what area of research would be of most interest to him.  He has grown to become a very important part of our team and upon his return to Botswana in July will be project leader for our project on the Boteti River.

The Boyce-Zero Scholarship program was started by Elephants For Africa in memory of two passionate conservationists who gave their all to Botswana and her wildlife. The scholarship is aimed at local conservationists to help them develop their career.

 

 

About Elephants for Africa

Elephants for Africa (EfA) is a registered charity in England and Wales (1122027) dedicated to elephant conservation through research and education.  Officially registered in 2007, the charity has grown from the success of a research project established by Dr Kate Evans in the Okavango Delta in 2002.

Mphoeng with his Examiners

EfA conducts a broad range of scientific research projects that aim to address the fundamental conservation issues facing the African elephant, both in the wild and in captivity. Additionally, it supports educational initiatives designed to enable people to live in harmony with wildlife.

For more information, please contact

Dr Kate Evans, Founder and Director of Research & Education Kate@ElephantsForAfrica.org

 

www.ElephantsForAfrica.org

Elephants For Africa Donation to Moreomaoto Village Library

Neo and Golang are the wonderful librarians at Moreomaoto Village Library, who are working tirelessly to make the library available to the village for reading, learning and so much more.

We have just held our first, of hopefully many, Cycle of Inquiry Workshops for environmental educators with our great friend and colleague Dr Ricardo Stanoss of Chicago Zoological Society and they have helped us organise this with the village.

Whilst we were unpacking our camp we came across a lot of novels and reference books we had little need for and decided to donate them to the library. Novels are one area they were lacking in so they were very pleased for the items.  I am busy collecting the required documentation so I can become a member as they have some great craft books there I am eager to read.

The move to Khumaga

Two months since packing up camp in the Delta and some time off to re-group the day had come to return to our research. I had flown into Maun four days before and Mphoeng met me in town having enjoyed quality time with his family in Serowe. We spent those four days running around Maun town from dawn to dusk collecting supplies and making sure all was ready for the Saturday when we would load it all up and move.

We had arranged with local truck driver Jimmy and his brother Frank, to meet at the container we had borrowed from Tony Tiler (thanks Tony) at 0700 on the Saturday morning. The container is right by the only nightclub in Maun, ‘Trekkers’ and it was certainly a big night there on Friday as the road was covered in broken glass. Thankfully some people were already there tidying up but I was a little nervous as we had to drive off-road a little, trying to avoid the beer and cider bottles. We waited and waited for Jimmy and Frank and then I decided to go and fill up with fuel and then they arrived at 0745. I left the boys to load up the goodies and by the time I had filled up with fuel they were ready. We had a table to pick up from Northern Building supplies, which could not fit into Ellie the car.  They headed for Phuduhudu (Steenbok) Gate, the entrance to our new home and we meet them there. There is another way in through Khumaga but with the Boteti River down now there is a car ferry, which is not large enough to take a truck, so he had to endure 30km of sandy off-road.

The Park Manager, Mr Obert Gwapela had kindly allowed us to camp in the old Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) camp near Khumaga gate, and once we had off loaded we said farewell to Frank and admired our new camp. Unfortunately it was in a bit of a state as the DWNP are busy taking down some old buildings which are surplus to requirements so we decided to help them out and pile all the rubble in one place, so that was our weekend activity and it soon looked a little more like home. The owners of SKL Camps, Ren and Connie Mbulawa (www.sklcamps.co.bw) are supporting us through access to water and ablutions. No hot water, but at the moment it is hot here so cold water is just fine. Winter will be a different story. Bhrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

In amongst all the sorting and unpacking we got to go out in the park and enjoy our first elephant sighting and a plethora of wildlife, including hoards of Zebra and wildebeest busy migrating.

 

It has been a busy time to date with learning the area and getting to know new elephants, we hope to see some of our old friends from the Delta but to date no luck. There are big old bulls and we are already getting to know some of the characters including Boba Fett (named by Andrew Smith of Memphis Zoo who is visiting at the moment).

My first week in the Delta!

So I have now been with the research team for just over a week , having joined them to look into Elephant parasite transmission in the Delta. I’ve already fallen in love with the area, the wildlife and the people.  I am looking at parasites in wild elephants, the Abu herd and in as many grazers as I can get samples from (so lots of poo collecting!) to try and get idea of factors affecting parasite burden, and to see if elephants and other grazers may be sharing the same parasites. There is a lovely new (air conditioned!!) lab at Abu camp, where I can use microscope to look through my samples, and already I am getting some very interesting results.

I am joining Kate and Danielle on their drives, giving me an opportunity to collect samples. Most of the animals so far have been fairly obliging in their sample donations (except for the zebra, who, it appears, never go to the toilet). It is rather like an extended treasure hunt.  Collecting samples from the Abu herd is an absolute pleasure, aided by the presence of Wrona, the 1 month old elephant calf.  She is very playful, and even at her young age, she is able to push me straight over! It is very amusing to be walking with such a big and beautiful herd to the sound of the mahouts shouting ‘poo Abu, poo ’ (it is uncanny how often the herd actually respond to these requests, it appears that they will do anything for their mahouts!!).

Warona

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple of days ago, we saw a group of banded mongooses and their new born offspring. We managed to get a close look at the babies, before the mums responded to their offspring’s (amazingly loud) calling, by picking up the babies in their mouths and scampering off. Unbelievably cute. We also had an encounter with baby bush babies the to other night around the dinner table. Two small black objects made a dive to the ground from a tree and on closer inspection, it was clear they were very young and tiny baby bushbabies (I must admit, they did look a bit like baby rats). Kate put them in tissue and offered them to mum, she was so brave she almost got them out of Kate’s hands! They were then put on the roof where they were collected, and we have our fingers crossed that the mum chooses a less precarious tree for her offspring!   

Banded Mongoose Babies

 

But its not only cute animals that end up at our diner table, we are also joined by occasional hyena, who  gives the impression that if you weren’t careful, would take the meat right off your plates. We also had the pleasure of being visited by a snake, who dropped out of a tree into our eating area. Needless to say, following a brief period of chaos, we continued our lunch with our feet on our chairs.

 

 

Anyway, my first week here has been brilliant and I very much look forward to the rest of my time here!!!!

 

By: Lydia Baines

Christmas Time!

The Holiday season is here and with Christmas right around the corner we invite you to browse at some of our Elephants for Africa items for sale! We have paintings from some of the top wildlife artists in the U.K as well as merchandise like our adorable elephant Christmas cards. Also included in this brochure is our elephant adoption sign up, which is very popular especially for kids. We thank you for your support and wish you a Elefun Christmas!
You can view our flyer by clicking the link below…..