11 Elephants Rescued From Bomb Crater

Late last month, Wildlife Alliance assisted in saving eleven wild elephants from a grim death. Community members living near Keo Siema Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri province saw the herd stuck in a large hole created by a U.S. B52 bomb during the Vietnam War and united to help. The elephants likely wandered into the pit to drink and bathe but were then unable to climb back up the steep walls. Judging by how exhausted they were when found, they were likely stuck for a few days, and had the villagers not intervened when they did, would not have survived much longer. The villagers immediately called the provincial environment department, which united Wildlife Alliance and other conservation organizations, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and Elephant Livelihood Initiative Environment (ELIE), to help. The groups and villagers worked together to dig into the side of the crater and lay down logs and tree branches to create a ramp for the elephants to walk up. While ten of the elephants were able to escape this way, the youngest was too exhausted and needed to be pulled up with ropes. It took an hour to get the baby out, but the rest of the herd could be heard waiting in the nearby forest. The loss of these elephants – three adult females and eight juveniles – would have been a devastating loss for Cambodia’s conservation efforts. The Mondulkiri Department of Environment is considering building a slope at one end of the pond or a surrounding fence to prevent this from happening in the future. 

Wildlife Alliance is dedicated to protecting Asian elephants and Cambodia’s other iconic species. Please make a donation today to ensure that we can continue to conduct emergency rescue operations like this one.

An Elephant was Electrocuted Last Night

med_res.jpg

A gentle giant was electrocuted last night after he hit the electric fence that was set up by Kirirom hydropower, 3 kilometers from Kirirom National Park, near an area where our rangers patrol. Locals called our rangers for help.

Elephants may be one of the largest and strongest creatures in the animal kingdom but they are no match for an electric fence as one mammal was found dead on Tuesday night. The local villagers are mourning the gentle giant. RIP

Wildlife Alliance is transporting the elephant to our Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center today. A funeral will be held tomorrow morning with monks chanting at the Center. If you wish to donate please visit go to http://www.wildlifealliance.org/donate, then click on "Care for Rescued Animals" button. Thank you for your support.

Thanks to our rangers from Chambok Ranger Patrol Station, SreAmbel Ranger Patrol Station to the site.

Chhouk, the Elephant, Receives a New Prosthetic Foot

Chhouk, our young disabled male elephant, recently received a new prosthetic foot. At ten years old, Chhouk continues to grow quickly and is going through prosthetics just as fast! Late last year, the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics (CSPO) fitted Chhouk and made him a new shoe. The new design is lighter, stronger, and quicker for our staff to change. The new shoe quickly got Chhouk’s approval and he was running around his enclosure within minutes of trying on the new shoe! 

Chhouk was found in 2007, at less than a year old, wandering alone in the forest in Northeast Cambodia. He had not only lost his foot to a poacher’s snare, but he was also gravely ill from the infected wound and severely malnourished. To gain his trust, our rescuers cared for him in the forest for two weeks before transporting him to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center where specialists were able to heal his wounds. Unfortunately, Chhouk’s lower leg had to be amputated but was replaced by a prosthesis from CSPO, which has changed his life completely. Our elephant keepers have trained Chhouk using only reward based positive reinforcement in order to effectively change his prosthetic leg. He is the first elephant in Cambodia to receive a prosthesis and is celebrated as a successful rescue story. Asian elephants are nearly full size at 15 years old, but continue to grow in size and weight until they are around 20-25 years old! At this rate, Chhouk will continue to outgrow his prosthetic legs, but thanks to the diligence of his keepers and CSPO, Chhouk won’t let his disability slow him down! 

You can help care for Chhouk and ensure he continues to get new prosthetic legs as he needs them by sponsoring him monthly!

Good New for Elephants: China Bans Ivory Trade

On the heels of one of Cambodia’s biggest ivory busts in history, China recently announced that it will ban the sale of ivory by the end of 2017. Following years of international pressure, this announcement will shut down the largest ivory market in the world. Estimates suggest that at least 50 to 70 percent of smuggled ivory ends up in China where it is legally sold in showrooms. 

This news is the biggest sign of hope for the iconic African elephant since the poaching crisis began. In just ten years, more than 100,000 elephants have been killed in order to supply the demand for ivory, largely driven by China. These poaching rates have been responsible for driving elephants to the edge of extinction. 

While Cambodia is not a major ivory market, its role as a transit country has contributed to illegal ivory trafficking. On December 16, Cambodia intercepted a shipment of 1.3 metric tons of ivory destined for China. The smuggled animal parts were hidden in the midst of rare timber logs shipped from Mozambique. In total, Cambodian Customs officers, Wildlife Alliance, and the U.S. Embassy discovered 640 elephant tusks and pieces, 10 cheetah skulls and 82 kilograms of bones, and 137 kilograms of pangolin scales. 

This is Cambodia’s 19th bust of African ivory or rhino horn since 2014. In the past, Cambodia has been known as an easy transit country of illicit goods en-route to China through porous borders. However, increased law enforcement is changing Cambodia’s reputation among international smugglers. The high number of ivory and rhino horn seizures in recent years is evidence of greater attention by Cambodian law enforcement to intercepting illegal wildlife smuggled by sea, air and land. 

While China’s ban on the sale of ivory is encouraging, this policy will only be effective if it is properly enforced. Help the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team continue to work with custom officials to intercept more ivory destined for China by making a donation today. 

Cambodia Busts Major Ivory Smuggling From Mozambique to China

Our hearts go out to the 300 elephants that were killed for greed and whose tusks were smuggled from Mozambique to Cambodia. Wildlife Alliance vows to seek justice for these slaughtered elephants. We will do everything we can to get the Vietnamese national arrested and put in jail.

These nobles were massacred after massive smuggling to China. Cambodia was just a transit country. The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia did a stellar job in scanning three containers and suspected something was wrong with this shipment. Customs officers spent several days unloading the logs and turning them on all sides to figure out where the ivory was hidden.

Finally, on Friday afternoon, they zeroed in on three logs that were emptied of their wood and a solid wooden cover were nailed on the top. When the coffins were opened they revealed a thick white wax substance, in which hundreds of tusks, pangolin scales and cheetah bones were ensconced. To read more about the bust please click on our press release. You can also read the story in the The Cambodia Daily.

Wildlife Alliance CEO, Suwanna Gauntlett, Key Note Speaker at Animal Rescue Event

On Saturday, November 12, Wildlife Alliance founder and CEO, Suwanna Gauntlett, will be speaking at the Four Pillars Productions ‘Rescue Me!’ event in Toronto, Canada.  Suwanna will be speaking about wildlife trafficking and the daily perils of ending the trade.  The one day animal fundraising event will raise awareness and discuss issues related to “rescuing” domestic, farm, wild and marine animals. In addition to speeches from high profile animal rescuers, the event will also feature a silent auction, as well as photography, poetry and art displays.  Event attendees will also receive an animal print, autographed by Suwanna or one of the other speakers at the event. 

If you are near Toronto and would like hear stories from Wildlife Alliance’s founder, you can purchase tickets here.  Proceeds raised from this event will be donated to Wildlife Alliance and the other animal foundations featured at the event. 

Celebrating 10 Years of Zero Elephant Poaching

This year, Wildlife Alliance is celebrating ten years of zero elephant poaching in the Cardamom Rainforest.  This monumental achievement is a result of the direct protection Wildlife Alliance has provided.  In the early 2000s, the Cardamom Rainforest was a hotspot for elephant and tiger poaching.  Between 2000 and 2006, 37 wild Asian elephants were poached in the Cardamoms.  In response to this crisis, Wildlife Alliance partnered with the Cambodian government to increase effective patrolling and law enforcement.  “Achieving zero elephant poaching for more than a decade in the Cardamoms is a fantastic achievement and demonstrates that investing in law enforcement is the best way to achieve conservation results,” says Wildlife Alliance’s CEO, Suwanna Gauntlett. 

Since 2006, the Southern Cardamom Forest Protection Program (SCFPP) rangers have gone on over 24,000 patrols, have removed over 140,000 snares, and have sent 300 offenders to court, leaving the forests they protect safe for elephants to roam free.  Dr. Thomas Gray, Wildlife Alliance’s Director of Science, explained, “With the global poaching crisis, an estimated 30,000 elephants are being killed yearly to supply increasing demand for illegal ivory products. Thus, we cannot be complacent.” By directly protecting the 1.7 million acres (720,000 hectares) of the South West Elephant Corridor, Wildlife Alliance is providing the endangered Asian elephant with a safe corridor to move between protected landscapes.

Join the Elephant Alliance today to help us ensure that Cambodia goes another decade without any elephant poaching!

A Decade of Zero Elephants Poaching in Cardamom Rainforest

Press conference, August 10, 2016:  On World Elephant Day (12th August) conservation non-profit organization Wildlife Alliance celebrates its achievement of Zero Poaching for the Asian elephant population of the Cardamom Rainforest in the last decade.

In the early 2000s the Cardamom Rainforest was an elephant and tiger poaching hotspot – between 2000 and in 2006, 37 wild Asian elephants were poached in the Cardamoms. In a response to this poaching crisis Wildlife Alliance has been supporting the Royal Government of Cambodia in 2002 with effective patrolling and law enforcement across the landscape. Since 2006, over 24,000 multi-agency law enforcement patrols have removed more than 140,000 snares and sent 300 offenders to court. For more details, read our press release in English and Khmer.

One 'Lucky' Elephant

Lucky: a fitting name for the young female elephant who has made a full recovery from her brush with death at the beginning of last year. In February 2015, Lucky contracted Endotheliotropic Elephant Herpes Virus, a virus fatal to over 90% of the elephants who contract it.  Over a year later, Lucky is finally off all medication, is gaining weight and getting back to her old, healthy self.  By December 2015, Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC) staff was still injecting Lucky every other day with 500mg of the corticosteroid that helped save her life.  Her caretakers gradually reduced her medication until three months ago when she was finally healthy enough to stop receiving medication.  Although she has recovered from the virus, the illness severely harmed Lucky’s immune system and she contracts frequent infections which are treated as they come. 

Lucky’s treatments, which cost over $40,000, were made possible by many generous donors.  We would like to thank them for the immediate support they provided during the first critical stages of her illness.  Although it was a large expense, the life of this magnificent endangered animal is priceless.  Lucky has been at PTWRC for fifteen years after she was rescued at just six months of age.  She has become our Elephant Ambassador and has touched the hearts of thousands and has inspired the next generation of conservationists and environmentalists in Cambodia.  She even acted as an adoptive mother when the injured elephant Chhouk arrived at the center.  Lucky is an incredible animal that continues to inspire us all.  We are happy to have her back to her old cheeky self, once again throwing dirt and water at visitors when she doesn’t get enough attention from them. 

Ivory Smuggler Arrested in Cambodia

Last month, in a landmark win for wildlife and counter-trafficking efforts, an ivory bust was processed through the Cambodian courts for the first time. The suspect was arrested in Siem Reap airport, where he was caught trying to smuggle 15 elephant tusks weighing 43 kg, 11 pieces of dried elephant tails weighing 1.9 kg, and 0.2 kg of claws and fangs of an unidentified big cat. Airport officials pulled the smuggler aside for questioning after finding his travel route suspicious. Flying from Angola, the trader stopped in Ethiopia, South Korea and Cambodia, before finally heading to his home country of Vietnam. The Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT) is cooperating with local officials to find the buyers, whom they believe live locally. The perpetrator has been charged with two counts of smuggling, and if found guilty could face 5 to 10 years in prison.

This case is also significant because it is the first time that the WRRT has been invited by customs officials to assist in a bust, and demonstrates to criminal networks that the government is taking international wildlife trafficking seriously. Strengthening ties with border and airport customs has been a major focus of the WRRT over the past three years, and this increased cooperation has already led to several successful seizures, including three tons of ivory seized at Sihanoukville harbor in May 2014. The WRRT, in conjunction with Wildlife Alliance’s Kouprey Express Mobile Environmental Education Team, has led several training sessions with customs officials to help improve the awareness of airport staff on the proper identification of wildlife as well as to help identify trafficking methods used by traders that transport wildlife through airfreight. These trainings have been very well received, and have proved to be beneficial in building the capacity of customs officials to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade.

Wildlife Alliance has found that Cambodia is increasingly being targeted as a trade route for ivory being transported to Vietnam and China, where it is estimated to be worth over $2,000 per kilogram on the black market. With the senseless slaughter of elephants continuing at unprecedented rates, it is clear that every country involved in the trade must work together to ramp up their efforts to save elephants from extinction. In Cambodia, Wildlife Alliance is directly addressing the illegal wildlife trade by strengthening law enforcement, while also reducing demand and increasing awareness through education and outreach. Join us in putting an end to the illegal ivory trade by donating today.

The WRRT is a Forestry Administration law enforcement unit led by the Forestry Administration, in cooperation with the Military Police, with technical and financial support from Wildlife Alliance.

Camera Trap Captures Rare Footage of Elephant Herd in the Southern Cardamom Mountains

For the first time ever, a herd of wild elephants were caught on camera in the Southern Cardamoms of Cambodia. While elephant sightings by locals have been on the rise since 2012, this is the first time elephants have been caught on camera in this part of the country. The discovery of this herd is important confirmation that Wildlife Alliance’s efforts to protect vital wildlife habitat is helping elephant populations recover. 

There are less than 35,000 Asian elephants remaining in the wild, and only an estimated 200 elephants in Cambodia. Between 2001 and 2002, 37 elephants were reported killed in the Southern Cardamoms preceding the implementation of Wildlife Alliance’s forest protection program. Since 2006, there have been zero deaths reported. Wildlife Alliance, in partnership with the Royal Government of Cambodia, operates six forest ranger stations whose mandate is to safeguard 1.7 million acres of tropical rainforest. The Southern Cardamoms are part of a mosaic of Protected Areas and Protected Forests that form Cambodia’s largest intact forest and one of Asia’s last remaining elephant corridors. Wildlife Alliance’s constant monitoring, repeated awareness campaigns, and strict enforcement of wildlife laws has curbed forest crime in the Southern Cardamoms and given elephant populations an opportunity to rebound. As increasing pressure is being placed on the remaining elephant habitat, and human-elephant conflict is expected to rise, it is important for Wildlife Alliance to continue its comprehensive conservation plan to ensure that this globally significant species is protected. 

Help our rangers continue to protect this very special herd of elephants by making a gift towards elephant habitat protection today!

At a Crossroads

In the last three years, the world has faced crisis levels of wildlife poaching and trafficking. Stories of poachers armed with automatic weapons carrying out coordinated attacks on herds of elephants make headlines every other week. Rhino horns estimated to be worth $100,000-300,000 led to the death of thousands of rhinos in South Africa in the past few years, a dramatic increase since the thirteen deaths in 2007. The increasingly sophisticated and large-scale nature of the attacks indicated that wildlife trafficking had escalated from a conservation issue to a worldwide criminal enterprise that was connected to terrorism. Driven by the sharp rise in demand for rare wildlife products in countries like China and Vietnam, the wildlife trade is estimated to be worth $19 billion. It is the fourth largest worldwide criminal trade, lagging behind only drug trafficking, counterfeiting and human trafficking.

It is clear that we are at a crossroads where we must choose between taking apart the illegal wildlife network, or letting the last few species of mega-fauna slip into extinction. Wildlife Alliance believes, now more than ever, that direct action is required to hinder wildlife crime. Since 2001, we have rescued more than 61,000 animals from poachers and illegal wildlife traders, and have dramatically driven down the buying and selling of wildlife in Cambodia. It is critical for us to make 2015 a year of increased cross-border communication and cooperation. Wildlife trafficking is not just a regional problem – but a global issue with ramifications of massive proportions. Wildlife Alliance has proven that its approach to cracking down on this illegal trade is effective and in 2015 we hope to share these successes with our neighbors and counterparts in a coordinated effort to end wildlife poaching and trafficking once and for all.

Join the fight, make a gift towards our wildlife rescue unit, and help stop the senseless slaughter.

3 Tons of Ivory Seized in Record Bust

On May 9, 2014 Cambodian authorities confiscated 3 tons (6,000 lbs) of ivory entering the country through Sihanoukville Port. Customs officials found 108 bags of the illegal product hidden among beans in a large shipping container from Malaysia. Believed to be from South Africa, this is the largest amount of ivory ever seized in Cambodia. This is also the third major ivory seizure in Cambodia in 2014. It has become evident that ivory traders are targeting the country as a new transit route to China and Vietnam.

This bust comes only a week after the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT) held its first training session with customs officials at Sihanoukville. The WRRT has been conducting training sessions with customs and border officials to help better identify illegal animal products and wildlife trafficking methods. Serving as Cambodia’s national task force for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN), the WRRT is also cooperating with member countries to coordinate efforts to help detect ivory trade networks operating within Cambodia.

We would like to congratulate the Cambodia Customs Department for cracking down on the illicit trade. At a time when elephant populations across the globe are falling, this kind of commitment is crucial. Wildlife Alliance will continue its cooperation with the Customs Department in the framework of ASEAN-WEN in the months to come. We are looking forward to our next training with the Customs officers at Sihanoukville Port on May 20, 2014.