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Jan - Striving To Protect Wildlife and Encourage Responsible Tourism Practices Wed, 24 Jul 2024 00:16:54 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Wild War Elephants

Excellent video showing terrified elephants due to the recent war in Mozambique along with poaching, and Joyce Poole trying to help elephants overcome their fear of all humans and vehicles.

News Wed, 06 Jun 2012 21:13:40 +0000
Fading Spots: A Mother’s Story’s-story’s-story

Wonderful story by Mary Wykstra, cheetah researcher, as she follows "Mom's" cheetah family.


News Thu, 12 Apr 2012 21:58:13 +0000
Antony John Mence - Obituary

                                                                                                                      Antony John Mence.


                                                                                                         24th January, 1924--  7th March, 2012.


Ngaserai lies south of Amboseli National Park and west of Mount Kilimanjaro. It is a dusty expanse of an almost barren land. The soil is alkaline from volcanic ash spewed out of the great mountain hundreds of years ago.  It is also quite close to the Meerschaum mine. At certain times of the year when there is enough forage, herds of zebra, wildebeest and eland abound here. There is a migratory north/south pattern accentuated by the seasons.


In the mid 1960’s an attempt to domesticate some of these animals and to start a breeding nucleus was undertaken by The College of African Wildlife Management under the leadership of Tony Mence who was then the second principal of the College. The captured animals were then to be domesticated on a ranch on the slopes of west Kilimanjaro.     

I recall when Tony Mence was driving a short-wheel-base Land Rover without doors across these plains at speeds averaging 60 miles per hour.  I sat next to him and to his left. The chase involved separating young animals of about two to three months from the main herd and then as the Land Rover drew closer to reach out and grab the zebra or wildebeest by the tail while the Land Rover was slowly brought to a halt. I prided myself in being the leader of a motley crew of trainee wardens, who with each foray managed to grab either a zebra or a wildebeest by the tail!


For several days, we continued this exercise with Tony who never said a word or put anyone down for failing or bungling up the exercise. One day we were again with Tony on a chase. The zebra were on his side and he accelerated the Land Rover until it was close enough for him to reach the tail of a three month old zebra foal, grabbed it with one hand, held on while at the same time bringing the Land Rover to a complete stop. Here was a man whose devil-may-care style separated the boys from the men!


 Tony arrived in Tanganyika on 11th April, 1951. He immediately joined the Ministry of Lands, Forest & Wildlife as a Senior Game Warden.  He was stationed in various parts of Tanganyika including   Mbeya,Tabora and The Ngorongo Crater. Initially he worked with C.J.P. Ionides, better known as the Snake Man at Liwale south of the vast Selous Game Reserve. Tony was one of few wardens, who unlike his colleagues with military training was a highly qualified zoologist.

In 1953 he met Mona and they got married inSingida that year.  First daughter, Vibeke was born in Mbeya on 1/09/54.  Second daughter, Karen was born inTabora on 27/06/1957.


Towards the last quarter of 1960, Howard Hawks an American movie   director came to Arusha to film the movie ‘Hatari’ with John Wayne in the lead role. The High-powered field unit had descended on the surprised inhabitants of Arusha like a whirlwind. Impressed by Tony’s ability to ride a wild rhino with the nonchalance of a bronco-busting cowboy, Paramount Film Corporation pestered him with requests for his services. They wanted him to double for one of their highly paid stars, but neither his wife nor the Government shared Paramount’s enthusiasm for the idea!


However, Tony provided technical expertise since some of the scenes and ‘shoots’ required the capture of buffalo and rhino using the old and dangerous method of lassoing the animals while chasing them on rugged terrain. In 1960, Tony and his family were living on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater and his home later became Rhino Lodge. Many of the scenes where John Wayne with his ‘capture’ crew lassoed wild animals were shot in the Ngorongoro Crater and a few at Lake Manyara.

While at Hardy Kruger’s Momella Lodge, John Wayne, who loved children often, spent time with Tony’s two daughters, Vibeke and Karen and with Howard Hawk’s son spinning yarns about wild animals.



Tony was born in Birmingham, the eldest child of Harold a surgeon and Ida a teacher whose other children included Margaret and Alan.  

From 1932 – 37 – he attended West House Prep school, Birmingham and then went on to Denstone College, Staffordshire on a Scholarship from 1937 to 1941. From 1941 – 43 Tony attended The University of Birmingham studying Human Anatomy & Physics.

The Second World War, interrupted his studies, and he then joined The Royal Marine Commandos, where he learnt bush craft and survival skills, serving time in Hong Kong and the Pacific between 1945/6. He also served in The Middle East from 1946 to 1947.

Tony went back to resume his studies from 1948- 50 at The University of Wales (Bangor) and obtained a Degree in Zoology & Agriculture.

 From April 11th 1951 to 1962 Tony served in Tanganyika as a Game Warden in the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Wildlife as a Senior Game Warden. He was stationed in various places including, Mbeya, Tabora and Ngorongoro Crater. In 1961 as a former commissioned officer with the The Royal Marine Commando Unit during the war, he utilized these skills not only in administrative duties but also in wildlife management. Specifically these included field work in wildlife conservation, research, game translocation, capture and control where they posed threats to human life. Tony was also involved in the   development and enhancement of natural ecosystems, game reserves, implementation and enforcement of game laws,  economicutilisationof wildlife resources, publicity to promote public understanding and awareness of wildlife conservation and the training of all ranks of wildlife personnel. 


Besides writing a series of instructional radio scripts for the schools’ service of the Tanganyika Broadcasting Corporation, he also wrote the wildlife section of Ngorongoro Crater’s management in between 1960/61. Tony was also the 1961 – Liaison Officer for the Tanganyika Government’s delegate to IUCN/CCTA Symposium at Arusha. The main impact of the conference was the presentation of  the 'Arusha Manifesto' signed by Dr. Julius Nyerere and in which he accepted Tanganyika’s trusteeship of its wildlife, pristine areas recognised for protection and the hope that other countries would assist scientifically and financially. 


Between 1962 and 1963 Tony was first deputy Chief Game Warden and finally acting Chief Game Warden of Tanzania and was based in Dar-es-salaam. During this period, Tony was also on the board of trustees of Tanzania National Parks and an advisor to the Government. He was also on the governing body of The College of African Wildlife Management (CAWM).

In 1964 he was offered a post with UNESCO in Ethiopia, but declined preferring to return to the UK. From 1964-66 Tony worked at Edinburgh Zoo in all aspects of care and management of the animals in this 75--acre Zoological park, supervision of the keeping staff, diet, handling and treatment of animals of all species became his direct responsibility.  Here, he was also involved in a fair amount of lectures and educational talks.


In 1966 Tony succeeded Dr. Hugh Lamprey as the principal of the College of African Wildlife Management at Mweka, Tanzania. At this time, Dr.Hugh Lamprey became the director of the Serengeti Research Institute which co-ordinated various wildlife research projects with Dr. R.M. Laws of The Tsavo Research Institute in Kenya.

It was between 1967 and 1969 that I got to know Tony very well and to benefit from his vast lore concerning animal behaviour, administration and leadership qualities in personnel management.


Early morning in October of 1967 Tony and I flew in the College Super Cub from Moshi and continued to Arusha, then across the Maasai Plains south to Dodoma. After lunch we refuelled the aircraft and continued in a south-east direction and arrived at Ifakara at about 4.p.m. We landed on an improvised airstrip along a maize Shamba which Dave King, a Canadian lecturer at Mweka had cleared with a 4 X 4 Unimog for us to land.  This was the time of the annual cull of elephants, buffalo and hippos south of the Kilombero River and along the western fringes of the Selous Game reserve. It was the policy of the Tanzania government to ‘crop’ a limited number of animals annually which caused great havoc to the sugarcane scheme at Ifakara.  In those days, the Selous Game Reserve had an estimated 100,000 elephants. This task was undertaken by the College of African Wildlife Management and its students who were wardens sponsored by their various African countries to train at the College.


We spent one month in often inhospitable areas which were hot, humid and infested with Tse-tse flies. At the end of this exercise many of us were suffering from Malaria, tick Typhus, dysentery and even Bilharzia!


 Tony remained the Principal of Mweka until 1974.  He then left to join the IUCN at its headquarters in Morges, Switzerland. He worked at IUCN in Switzerland until 1980 when he was transferred to the UK to establish IUCN's Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, which then became The World Conservation Monitoring Centre on the same site.

Tony retired from IUCN in 1983 but continued to undertake various consulting assignments on its behalf until 1990.


 This is what Tom Gilbert of the U.S. National Parks Service, Tony’s Mweka colleague had to say :-


“In a session that I helped organize on approaches that can be used to create environmental awareness and respect for nature, Tony made the important observation that to achieve this goal and ensure acceptance of environmental education programs, keen insight, acquaintance with social, spiritual and psychological attitudesof local people was necessary. We both recognized that there would probably always be too few people working in the field of environmental education, and that it was essential to obtain the understanding and collaboration of teachers. This was the rationale under Tony’s leadership for starting the relationships between Mweka and the Marangu Teacher Training College on Kilimanjaro, and Egerton College in Kenya.

Tony also, represented CAWM, and participated in the 2nd World Conference on National Parks held in the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks, from September 18-27 of 1972. Here, he made some important observations about development and training of personnel. He said that the Mweka curriculum contained a strong element of ecological understanding as well as exposure to a wide spectrum of practical skills necessary for proper management of wildlife areas and parks.”

Tony considered himself very fortunate to have worked and enjoyed a personally rewarding career in natural resource management and the opportunity of passing it all on. He recalls in particular his involvement together with colleagues in the development of new techniques, which are now standard practice, as well as their management application in many forms and in many countries. 


There are so many game wardens in many African countries, who trained and studied under Tony Mence at Mweka. Many of our present day Game Wardens in Kenya owe a debt of gratitude to Tony for the many things they learned at Mweka.


Tony is due be buried in Stanford-in-the-Vale’s village church on March, 26th 2012.

There is no better tribute one can pay Tony, who was to many of us a larger-than-life individual, and who had a special place in our hearts; In conclusion I can think of no better and fitting tribute than to quote England’s greatest bard:

“His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘This was a man!’ ”


Mohamed Ismail

Phoenix, Arizona.


"My soul gave me good counsel,
teaching me that the lamp which I carry does not belong to me,
and the song that I sing was not generated from within me.
Even if I walk with light, I am not the light;
and if I am a taut-stringed lute, I am not the lute-player."



News Tue, 20 Mar 2012 20:27:13 +0000
News from Amboseli Trust for Elephants - February 2012

News from the Amboseli Trust for Elephants
January - February 2012

Dear Jan,
It's a new year with new hopes and fears for elephants. The extraordinary baby boom in Amboseli gives us hope. Watching these tiny calves coming into the world and learning how to walk, how to use their trunks and finding out how much fun it is to play with other calves fills one with joy. None of us on the project ever tires of watching the newborns and delighting in their antics.

At the same time we fear for their future. Will they be able to live to 60+ years or will their lives be cut short by a poacher's bullet, a spear or a poisoned cabbage? In this issue we report on TRAFFIC's alarming figures for confiscations of illegal ivory. The demand for ivory is growing and is truly frightening.

Even if the ivory trade could be brought under control, there is the additional fear that elephant habitat will be gone in 10, 20, 30 years.

We at ATE think there is a future for elephants but we have to work extremely hard to secure it. We can't just give up and say we are up against immovable forces and there is nothing we can do about it. Public awareness about the magnificence of elephants and their crucial ecological role in savannahs and forests will help and it is one of our main goals to make sure people know what the Earth would lose if elephants were to go extinct.

Please help us to spread the word.

With thanks for your concern and support,

Cynthia Moss
Amboseli Trust for Elephants
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Jemima's Albino Calf
The first ever recorded albino calf in Amboseli with mother Jemima
Two Albino Calves

After nearly 40 years of documenting elephant births in Amboseli we recorded the first ever albino calf in December. That was amazing and rare enough but now we have a second albino calf. Both are males. The second one was first seen on 29 January. What's happening?

Albinism occurs when both parents contribute genetically recessive alleles (genes), although there are some extremely rare forms when only one parent is responsible. An albino offspring can by produced by two non-albinistic parents and obviously this is what has happened in Amboseli.

We suspect that one of Amboseli's bulls, who has only recently reached the age of being able to successfully mate with females, is carrying the genes for albinism. In the cases were he has impregnated a female who also has the genes there is the possibility of producing an albino calf.

If the male is very active we could expect even more pale calves, but we hope not. Although albino animals grow normally and are generally healthy, they are in danger of skin problems including cancer. Elephants protect their skin from sunburn by mudsplashing and dusting, creating a kind of sunblock. Let's hope that these calves learn to do that quickly. In the meantime, they are seeking shade under their mothers.

We know it is possible for albino elephants to survive in the wild, and these calves were both born to experienced mothers. It is very tempting to imagine what they will look like when they are fully grown. We hope that Amboseli may be home to two magnificent "white" bull elephants in the future.

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2011: A 'Horrible Year' for Elephants - Harvey Croze    

Everyone by now has probably seen newclips summarizing the recent report from the IUCN TRAFFIC monitoring unit: An 'Annus Horribilis' for African Elephants, which for some odd reason, borrows a Latin epithet primarily from the Queen's 1992 Guildhall speech inspired by manifold family problems in the house of Windsor.

Back to elephants. TRAFFIC, drawing on the data gleaned by its ETIS (the Elephant Trade Information System), announced with refreshing candor for an intergovernmental organ, that '2011 has seen a record number of large ivory seizures globally, reflecting the sharp rise in illegal ivory trade underway since 2007.'
The report (which can be read here) makes the point that the number of seizures of illegal ivory jumped from an average of around four a year since 2000 -- bad enough considering the volumes of ivory concerned -- to a record high of three times that last year.

The final 2011 tally of 13 seizures amounting to 26,676 kg (52,200 lb) represents the deaths of at the very least 3,400 elephants.

But the picture is much grimmer. As the graph shows, the cumulative number of elephants killed to fill out the TRAFFIC decadal table is not less than 15,000 elephants killed since 2000.

International ivory seizures 2001-11 (black) and estimate of minimum cumulative total of elephants killed for the ivory (red).
And the real figure is probably several times that, since no one knows how many illegal shipments of ivory are NOT seized (a widely-held estimate: only 10% of illegal drug or endangered pet-trade shipments are intercepted, a factor that would suggest some 150,000 elephants could been killed over the decade).

Most illegal shipments, TRAFFIC acknowledged, end up either in Thailand or China, where the demand by the nouveau-riche is growing rapidly.

The premium price of illegal ivory is approaching the price of drugs, which, we have learned, are hugely difficult and expensive to control by police action alone.

The ONLY answer is to educate the billion-plus newly-moneyed consumers with the message that using ivory is supremely un-cool, and only elephants should wear ivory.

The History of the MA Family
 The MA family was first sighted and photographed on March 26, 1975. It appeared to be a small family, and therefore it should have been a simple group to work out, but it never was. There were six members present that first day including two adult females. It was not until six months later that I saw them again and got better photographs of them. Over the next six months and actually up until 1978 I struggled to figure out who belonged to the MA family.   

The problem was that the MAs were closely bonded to the WAs led by the matriarch Wendy. These two families seemed to be constantly interchanging members. Eventually I decided that there were three adult females in the MA family and I named them Mariana, Mabel and Marcia. Mariana was definitely the matriarch, acting as the leader and defender of the group. I estimated that she was born in 1945. Mabel was the next oldest, but considerably younger than Mariana, and thought to be born around 1957; and Marcia was the youngest, just
a teenager, born around 1960.
Mariana Leading Family
Mariana leading her family and the WA

In 1975 there was only one young calf in the family and this was a male belonging to Mariana. Just the tiny tips of his tusks were showing in November 1975, which indicated that he was about two years old and thus born in 1973.

There was also a juvenile male, 10-12 years old, who was thought to be Mariana's older son. He was given the number M118. Another slightly older male was sometimes with the family and sometimes not. It was difficult to say if he was definitely a member of the family. He was called M88.

To complicate matters further there were sometimes one or two other juveniles with the MAs. To this day I do not know if one of the young juvenile females was a true member who died before I knew her properly or a member of another family. One young female turned out to be Winnie of the WAs. Some of the other youngsters who associated with the MA family belonged to three other families that formed a bond group with the MAs.

I eventually discovered that the MAs were members of the largest bond group in the Amboseli population. Bond groups consist of families that appear to have a special relationship with one another. They spend more time with each other than with any other families in the population, and when they meet they greet with a particular ceremony, and when they are together they move together in a coordinated way. In total there were five families in this bond group: the MAs, WAs, VAs, LAs and CAs. The various members of these families were the source of my confusion over sorting out what originally seemed a small, neat family of six.

To read the whole history of the MA family go to the the ATE Website.
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Amboseli Book Chapter Summary: 1. The Amboseli Elephants, Introduction    

Chapter 1, The Amboseli Elephants: Introduction (C. Moss, H. Croze & P. Lee), sets the scene historically and in substance.  When Cynthia and Harvey each moved from their elephant work in Tanzania - with Iain Douglas-Hamilton in Lake Manyara National Park, and with the Serengeti Research Institute, respectively - they joined forces in 1972 to start a systematic study of the Amboseli population called the Amboseli Elephant Research Project, AERP.

There were fewer than 800 elephants back then. Thanks to the intolerance of Maasai inhabitants of the ecosystem to interlopers, the elephants had been relatively untouched by the poaching scourge of the 1970s. It appeared to be a perfect population for baseline studies on elephant social and reproductive behavior, and population dynamics.   The chapter lays out the three main elephantine threads of the book: longevity, size and intelligence, with a fourth dimension -  the future of the population in its ecosystem - looming in the background.

The threads define the special fabric of both AERP and the elephants themselves. Only a long-term project (which even so has only been working for just over half an elephant's potential lifespan), working with a population of known individuals, could capture the physical, developmental and social ebbs and flows of a large-brained, big-bodied, highly intelligent and communicative social animal. Imagine trying to capture the story of The Sopranos in just one episode. Impossible.     

Thus the editors and chapter authors decided to present a three-decade slice - from 1972 to 2002 - of the life and times of the Amboseli elephants, the longest studied and best known population in the world. Much of the information presented in the book is new, or newly analyzed, to augment and build upon the 100-plus peer-reviewed papers that form the AERP canon of scientific literature.

The first chapter features a house-keeping box with definitions of terms used throughout the book. We eschew the bovine term 'herd', and refer instead to 'groups': Cow-calf group, bull group, mixed group and so on. Everyone must know by now that the smallest elephant group is a family unit, led by a matriarch. Adult females come into estrus, nutrition allowing, and males have more or less annual periods of musth, during which high testosterone levels move them to compete for female attention.

The book is laid out in five parts. One establishes the ecological, temporal and human context of the population in an ecosystem that is larger by twenty times than the protected central confines of Amboseli National Park. Two details how the elephants make a living in the Amboseli habitat and the impacts on their population dynamics and distribution. Three comprises an exploration of elephant behavior and communications, rounded out with intriguing perspectives on cognition.  Four examines the complex nature of elephant society and the consequences for female and male reproductive success. And Five looks at the trials and tribulations of elephants in Amboseli's fast-changing human context, finishing with a look to the future of the elephants and the ecosystem.   
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As I put the finishing touches on this issue of the newsletter word has come from Katito of two more new calves, bringing the number to 100 calves born since mid-October. We've never had anything like this happen before. In the previous baby boom it took more than a year to hit 100. And we're expecting even more calves!

More than anything we want to assure that there is a future for these new lives. We need your support.

Cynthia Moss
Amboseli Trust for Elephants


To learn more about the Amboseli elephants go to:

News Wed, 22 Feb 2012 13:44:22 +0000
Enriching Encounter With the Wild

A walk into Haller Park is a walk into a rich nature park where flora and fauna peacefully co-exist.

News Tue, 21 Feb 2012 19:28:07 +0000
‘Bush meat orphans appeal to the Supreme Court of Uganda’‘bush-meat-orphans-appeal-to-the-supreme-court-of-uganda’‘bush-meat-orphans-appeal-to-the-supreme-court-of-uganda’

Tens of hundreds of  ‘orphan –children’ of animals living  in the Albertine  Graben have today appealed to the supreme court of Uganda for a bigger punishment to all human beings implicated in bush meat trade.

News Tue, 17 Jan 2012 16:41:29 +0000
Kenya turned into ivory trade hub

Kenya has become a transit point for contraband ivory, it was revealed on Friday.  Kenya Wildlife Services director Julius Kipng’etich said poachers from Congo, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia were shipping their illegal cargo through the Mombasa port to Asia.

News Sat, 17 Dec 2011 00:21:25 +0000
China's black market boosts deadly ivory trade

Elephant tusks are highly sought after for use in Chinese sculpture, name seals and jewelry, and according to a survey conducted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), rising demand in China's black market has become the most powerful drive for the illegal international ivory trade.

News Wed, 14 Dec 2011 21:36:27 +0000
Deadly trade: rhino horn poaching surges

A marked increase in rhino horn poaching has been blamed on the growing Chinese population in Africa. On safari in Kenya, Jessica Hatcher seeks the perspective of some of China's richest and most infuential figures

News Sat, 10 Dec 2011 19:45:29 +0000
Interview with conservation legend, Richard Leakey ]]> News Sat, 10 Dec 2011 19:10:01 +0000