Sunday, March 17, 2013

Guy's Elephant Walk - Let's Save the Elephants

Many of us have been reviewing the awful news from Africa about the current widespread elephant poaching.

As readers of these posts know, I fell in love with these splendid creatures when I was living in Kenya in 2009-2010, and the news of the poaching has upset me very much. When I was in Kenya, one of my most positive impressions was of the work being done over the past several years by the Kenya government - and by the Kenya Wildlife Service - in taking a strong approach against poaching. There is even - I was told - a "shoot-to-kill" law that allows anyone observing poaching to shoot the poachers. Whether that's true or not (it sounds a little apocryphal, doesn't it?), it's still impressive to learn about what's been done, and I was very touched to see the memorial in Nairobi National Park (shown here) to the slaughtered elephants.

Things seem to have changed now, for the worse. Not only in Kenya but throughout Africa there has been a tremendous upsurge in the destruction of elephants (of both the savanna elephants and the forest elephants) and the poaching seems to be getting worse. It's simply heart-breaking to read about what's happening.

It's a ghastly situation, and while I don't think I'm qualified to offer any scientific or even sociological advice about how we got to this stage in society, or to advise about what can be done, I'm very concerned. There are people doing very good work on this problem and our thoughts and prayers are with them as they try to alleviate the horrors of this heinous crime.

There's been much in the press about the situation, and as I say, I've been following this latest outbreak for a while now, mostly in The New York Times. A good collection of articles is here, and today's collection of photographs (Slaughter of the African Elephants) is one of the most touching photo essays I've seen in a long time. The accompanying article by WSC's Samantha Strindberg and Fiona Maisels is equally touching, and informing. It's a call to action, and we must take action.

What can we do? I suppose there are a variety of ways to get involved. For me, I hope to be doing a little something by getting involved in some fund-raising for research and the fight against poaching.

Here's what I'm going to do.

On April 27th, the Wildlife Conservation Society (which we New Yorkers still call "The Bronx Zoo") will sponsor the fifth annual WCS Run for the Wild, a 5k run/walk dedicated to these splendid creatures (and, yes, this post is titled Guy's Elephant Walk - I'm not a runner and I don't want to give any mistaken impressions about my athletic abilities!).

So this is my invitation to readers to support my walk with the WCS. My appeal is posted here (if the link doesn't open correctly, it's

When I lived in Kenya, thanks to the skills of Charles Ombongi Masese - my driver and now one of my best friends - I was lucky to be able to go off on safari almost every 2nd or 3rd week-end. Charles is a skilled safari driver and one of the best game spotters I've ever met (he is going to be my driver when I return to Kenya in June).

If you're interested in any of my blog posts from my time in Kenya, including the posts about the elephants, here are some links. On this screen, if you look to the left of the screen ("Blog Archive"), check out the archive between January 2010 all the way up to mid-February 2011. Specially recommended is "My Sunday Elephant" (May 29, 2010), with my good buddy pictured here in this photo. There are plenty of other elephant stories, too, including a description of my first visit to Nairobi's famous "Elephant Orphanage" (May 31, 2010).

As you can see, elephants are Mr. Guy's big thing (no pun intended). And all joking aside, I hope you'll join with me in supporting the Wildlife Conservation Society's efforts on April 27th on behalf of the world's elephant population. Go here to learn more and to make a contribution. And if you can, I would love to have you with me for my elephant walk. Sign up if you can join me. Let's raise lots of money for helping the WCS in its work with our beloved elephants.

1 comment:

Davis Erin Anderson said...

Thank you for publicizing the Run for the Wild, Guy. Although I've yet to go on Safari, I've been a long time fan of elephants of all varieties (there's video of my second grade research project on the African Savannah Elephant); it is absolutely critical to do what we can to aid the situation. I'm inspired by your participation and am working to build a team of walkers (and one runner, so far) to join you on April 27. Hopefully I'll run into you there!