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TOPIC: elephants


Nepal’s Elephants Threaten The Farmers Who Used To Worship Them

Sick of dealing with dangerous marauding elephants, farmers in Mechinagar are changing their crops and focusing on livestock, but conservationists warn that pivoting won’t solve the problem for good.

JHAPA— Villagers in eastern Jhapa, on the border with India, used to perform puja for elephants and leave them bananas, regarding them as avatars of the god Ganesh. But that was before droves of them began rampaging their villages. Now, half a century later, after deaths, injuries and extensive crop damage, the mood has shifted.“

Half my life has been spent keeping elephant watch,” says Motilal Bhujel, 56, a farmer in Bahundangi village, in the municipality of Mechinagar. In the last decade, according to the division forest office, 58 people have been killed and 79 injured in Jhapa district; at least 16 elephants — classified as endangered in Nepal — have also lost their lives. As human-elephant conflict has escalated in recent years, villagers say they have tried many tactics to deter the animals: burning haystacks, banging on steel plates, laying down rope slathered in grease and chile powder. Increasingly, they are changing what they grow — forgoing rice in favor of tea, betelnut and lemongrass, for instance — to keep rampaging elephants away.

Residents of Mechinagar say that human-elephant conflict began in the early 1970s but has intensified recently. Five years ago, two to four elephants would encroach on rice and maize fields between June and November, around harvest season; now, as many as 60 enter settlements well into February.

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What Elephant Intelligence Can Teach Humans About Getting Along

Experts say that understanding how the giant mammals weigh risk and reward could help prevent clashes with people.

In 2018, news spread around Saroj Duru’s village that four elephants had gathered at a nearby lake. Such creatures didn’t typically visit her region in central India — they were known to stay further north in more forested habitats — and so, out of curiosity, Duru and her neighbors walked down to see them.

The elephants rested in the water as people jostled at the shore, trying to get a closer look. Others climbed trees for a better view. After an hour of savoring the thrill of seeing such large animals, Duru headed back home. She was not sure when she would see them again.

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Do Elephants Have The Right To File A Lawsuit Against Their Zoo?

Animal rights activists in Argentina are testing the limits of democratic rights on behalf of elephants they say are being mistreated at the Buenos Aires Zoo.

BUENOS AIRES — Ever heard the one about the elephant and his lawyer? In a landmark lawsuit that aims to "grant rights' to animals, an Argentine NGO is taking the capital's zoo to court for the cruel treatment it says it has inflicted on three of its elephants. The action followed a groundbreaking 2014 ruling by a city court that recognized Sandra, an orangutan that had spent 20 years in the city's zoo in deplorable conditions, as a "non human subject" with rights that included not being mistreated.

This time, the city's environmental court has accepted that the Association of Civil Servants and Attorneys for the Rights of Animals (AFADA) can represent the elephants, identifying the animals as potential victims of abuse that are "incapable of exercizing their rights alone, which makes action by an attorney necessary." This would be the first such ruling in Argentina recognizing people — in this current case, an NGO — as legal representatives of animals.

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Sri Lanka Show

The Dehiwala Zoo in Sri Lanka is one of the oldest zoos in Asia. It used to be a sanctuary for orphaned baby elephants, but when we visited it, the huge nursery — actually the largest herd of captive elephants in the world — had moved to nearby Pinnawala . There were only a couple pachyderms left, performing tricks like standing up on their hind legs and waving their trunks.

Christophe Châtelot

In Gabon, Ecotourism Vs. Elephant Poachers

MINKEBE — Seen from the helicopter, the canopy of Minkébé National Park, in northern Gabon, looks like a green carpet that stretches to the horizon. The immobile uniformity is only broken up here and there by the veins of muddy rivers or a flock of birds flying. There’s no road or village here near the Cameroon and Congo borders.

Minkébé is a miracle of biodiversity that’s been carefully preserved from human attacks. Well, almost.

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Delicate Like An Elephant

Elephants, symbols of steadfastness and mental strength in Buddhist culture, are a recurring motif in Sri Lankan sculpture. Some of the finest examples can be found in Anuradhapura, the former center of Theravada Buddhism.


Old But Gold

Considering the remarkably preserved state of these stone elephant bas-reliefs, you would never guess that Anuradhapura, one of Sri Lanka’s ancient capitals, is actually among the oldest cities in the world. Perhaps that’s what this Buddhist monk was thinking about too?

Laurence Carame

What Threatens The Survival Of Africa's ''Big Five''

War, famine and poaching are taking direct aim at the signature five beasts of Africa's savannah that Ernest Hemingway once made legendary. What can be done now to save them?

More than a thousand rhinoceros were shot for their horns in 2013 alone. And tens of thousands of elephants have been slaughtered to supply the illicit ivory trade in Asia. The illegal animal trade in Africa is booming as never before, leading scientists to predict that some of the big five may soon be extinct.

They are the iconic beasts of the savannah — elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and cape buffalo — the big game Hemingway described in The Snows of Kilimanjaro in the 1930s. But now, all but the buffalo appear on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list of species threatened with extinction.

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Cuteness Overload: Elephants Cuddle Each Other For Comfort

As it turns out, elephants don’t just have good memories, but are also able to sense when others are in distress and console them — by cuddling them.

According to a new study, their version of a snuggle and a “shh, don’t worry, I’m here,” are chirping and a trunk hug, Le Temps reports. Just like people, they reassure their companions with physical contact and oral communication.

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Maureen Grisot

The Heavy Lifting To Save Ivory Coast's Endangered Elephants

DALOA — The Ivory Coast was on the verge of losing its last forest elephants. It is a risk with some bitter irony, as elephants are the emblem of the nation.

So a rescue operation like those already carried out in Zambia and Malawi, but unprecedented in West Africa, was launched at the end of July: the transfer of several of the pachyderms — five tons each — from the outskirts of Daloa, in the center of the county, 400 kilometers further south to the Azagny National Park.

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Laurence Caramel

In Tanzania, People And Lions Face Off Over Wildlife Corridors

LOIBOR SIRET - Laly Lichtenfeld has reason to be cautious. White outsiders have left some painful memories in this region of vast plains in the north of Tanzania. Thousands of people were expropriated to create the nearby national parks of Tarangire and Manyara, as well as the Serengeti, further north on the Kenyan border. In East Africa, there are few tribes who have paid as heavy a tribute to conservation as the Maasai. A third of Tanzania is a designated protected area, three times more than the world average.

Laly is a white American who has devoted most of her life to lions, the subject of her Yale doctoral thesis in social ecology. She founded the wildlife conservation organization African People and Wildlife, and lives at the top of a hill overlooking the savannah. It sounds romantic, like the stories of many of the Westerners who have figured in African history since colonial times. But the reality in Loibor Siret is tougher.

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