EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT NOVEMBER, 2003
We've been very busy at AERP this fall and I want to share some of the news with you. First, thanks to all of you who responded to the "Bad Bull" crisis and our urgent plea for funds. Your prompt and generous support diffused a tense situation and saved Bad Bull's life.
In September, Cynthia spent 3 ˝ weeks in the U.S., during which time we worked in our Massachusetts office; held a Board of Directors meeting; met with donors and friends of AERP; and drove to Yarmouth Port for a two-day meeting with the International Fund of Animal Welfare (IFAW). While at IFAW, we met with IFAW President Fred O'Regan and with Chris Tuite and Grace Gabriel, who head the Wildlife and Habitat department.
Cynthia even found time to give a presentation to a local high school science class, which was full of eager students and (we hope) future conservationists!
Cynthia and I then traveled to New York, where Cynthia met with board members and donors. I was very pleased to be able to arrange a meeting with Kathy Meyer, the Washington-based attorney who represented a coalition of elephant advocates, including AERP, in our attempt to stop the importation of baby elephants from Swaziland for U.S. zoos. Although the case was not successful, the effort was a valiant one and we continue to work with Kathy and her firm, Meyer and Glitzenstein, on other elephant advocacy issues, including the current attempt by the Fish and Wildlife Service to gut the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
The FWS, capitulating to intense lobbying efforts by the zoo, circus and trophy-hunting industries, is attempting to significantly weaken the ESA. If the proposed changes go into effect, they will allow zoos and circuses to buy exotic endangered species, such as elephants, by simply claiming that the money spent to purchase the animals will be used for "conservation" efforts. Such a move would be a disaster and would completely subvert the original intent of the ESA. The comment period on this proposed regulation change has been extended to December 10, 2003. Please write to the FWS now, letting them know that you oppose any weakening of the Endangered Species Act. You can send your comments to: Chief, Division of Conservation and Classification, USFWS, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 420, Arlington, VA. 22203. (Copies of AERP/AERP's letters on the Swaziland and ESA cases are available on our web site http://elephanttrust.org/letter.htm).
In mid-October, I went to Kenya to work with AERP staff on issues ranging from accounting and fund-raising to elephant advocacy. Purity Waweru, ATE office manager, Pooja Bhandari, ATE accountant, and I had very productive meetings on office systems; Dr. Rob Malpas, an old friend of AERP and head of his own consulting firm, coached us all on a new accounting package that will make us even more efficient; and Cynthia, Joyce, Petter, Harvey and I spent some quality time discussing organizational structure and future directions for elephant advocacy.
I also spent a week in Amboseli, where Cynthia, Soila Sayialel-- AERP's Project Manager--and I attended a workshop organized by the Kenya Wildlife Coalition, which was extremely productive in facilitating new connections between the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Kenya Wildlife Service, and NGO's.
(Workshop attendees, including (l-r) Pat Awori, Kenya Wildlife Coalition/Pan-African Wildlife Conservation Network; Cynthia Moss; Dr. Evans Mukolwe, Kenya Wildlife Service Director; Dr. Newton Kulundu, Environment Minister; and Rachel Arunga, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.)
My stay in Amboseli was a time of renewing friendships, human and elephant alike! It was wonderful spending time with Soila, Norah and Katito and meeting Katito's son, Chaka, for the first time.
I was also delighted to be in the Camp when a group from the Oakland Zoo, led by AERP's great friend, Colleen Kinzley, visited. They spent an afternoon with us, talking with Cynthia and sharing cross-continent elephant news. One of the highlights of their visit was Echo's unexpected appearance in Camp. It seemed to all of us that she had come especially to see the Oakland folks and to thank them for their years of support!
I was also delighted to see many elephant "friends," some of whom grazed frequently near our tents during my stay.
Among the elephants I was especially happy to see were "Beckwith" and her young calf, "Betts." Beckwith was named by AERP's good friend and donor, Jane Beckwith, and Betts is named for Jane's mother, a long-time conservationist and visitor to Amboseli.
As always, it was a privilege to spend time with the EB's -to see Echo, Emily Kate, Ella and especially Ebony, whose high spirits have not lessened one bit as she has grown up. She trumpeted and flapped her ears at the Land Rover while I tried to get a good photo of her antics. I didn't succeed! But I did get this nice shot of Ella and one of Echo.
On another afternoon, I got to watch the OA's-- including Odette, Olive, Odessa and others-have a lovely swim. Here's a shot of their matriarch, Orlanda, as she paused near our truck.
I was also pleased to see the KB's and Kijana, who is still with his family but will probably soon be going "independent." Kijana was named by our friends at the Oakland Zoo, as part of AERP's naming program.
I came home not only with wonderful "elephant memories," but also with an urgent mission to convey to our supporters. We desperately need a new vehicle for AERP. Right now, there is only one working car in the research Camp and the lack of a second vehicle is hampering important work! If Soila, for example, is delivering "consolation" payments or doing community outreach, then Norah and Katito cannot conduct daily elephant monitoring. Similarly, if monitoring is in progress, every other Project task has to wait! Having a second vehicle is vital-especially now. AERP's quick action is often the only thing that diffuses human/elephant conflict and saves both elephant and human lives. Please help the AERP team protect the elephants! Send a donation if you can. Or forward this request to others who might help. You can make checks out to AERP and mail them to 10 State Street, Newburyport, Ma. 01950.
As always, if you have any questions or suggestions-or if you need more information about our work-please call me at (863) 471-0743. Thank you for your ongoing support and for always "being there" when the elephants need you.
All best, Betsy Swart Executive Director 10 State Street Newburyport, Ma. 01950 info©elephanttrust.org