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Friday, May 22, 2009

Save the elephants in Mali!

"Mali is a beautiful, landlocked desert country in North West Africa. Perhaps best known for its rich cultural diversity, Mali is also home to the northernmost herd of African elephants. One of the very last herd of elephants in the arid Sahel, this herd is also unique because of its annual migration - circumscribing an area of over 24,000 square kilometers, the herd has the longest recorded migration route of any elephants." (source: Source of Image: Source of Map of Mali:

"The "last desert elephants in West Africa" have "adapted to survive in the harsh conditions" they face, Save the Elephants said Monday. But now, the group says, conditions have gone from bad to worse, and they are living "on the margin of what is ecologically viable."
Save the Elephants distributed new pictures Monday that depict the devastating drought and the struggle for survival in Mali , one of the poorest nations in the world.
"Six elephants have already been found dead," the group wrote in a news release accompanying the photos.
"Four others, including three calves, were recently extracted from a shallow well into which they had fallen when searching for water. Only the largest survived."
The youngest are in the most danger, since their smaller trunks can't reach deep into the few remaining wells, the group said.
The worst drought in 26 years is threatening the existence of the "last desert elephants in West Africa," the northernmost herds in the continent, Save the Elephants said.

The animals, now numbering only about 350 to 450, have been called "the last elephants of Timbuktu," said Jake Wall, a scientist with Save the Elephants. Each year, the elephants trek farther on the fringes of the Sahara to find water. They have the longest migration route of any in the continent, traveling "in a counterclockwise circle" of about 700 kilometers (435 miles), Save the Elephants said."

"Biologist Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants. " and other scientists and conservationists are tracking this small herd of nomadic elephants to see where and when they migrate. In 2000, researchers attached GPS collars to nine elephants; they later recovered three working units. The high-tech data (from animals dubbed Ahni, Elmehdi and Doppit Gromoppit) confirmed what some elephant-watchers had suspected for decades: the pachyderms follow a vast, counterclockwise route dotted with temporary and permanent watering holes. They linger at a lake on the northern edge of their range until the rains begin in June, then head south, eventually crossing briefly into northern Burkina Faso.

The goal of ongoing tracking projects, Martin says, is to identify "choke points"—corridors the elephants must traverse to complete their migration. The WILD Foundation, Save the Elephants and other organizations are providing recommendations to the World Bank for a $9 million project to protect Mali's natural resources. By documenting where the elephants roam, not just from water hole to water hole but in search of fodder and cover, people can avoid blocking their routes with permanent settlements."

"The drought in the Sahel in the 1970's created a shortage of watering holes," says Namory Traore, a director at Mali’s National Centre for Nature Conservation. As climate change affects more people in this desert country, Lake Banzena has become one of the last remaining water sources for both animals and people. The nearby Lake Gossi, about 150 kilometres south of Gao, has begun to dry out, and there are fears that the region can no longer support even this smaller elephant population. The World Bank-funded biodiversity project is designed to protect both animals and humans in drought-prone regions. Its main focus is to facilitate elephants' passage through inhabited areas.The elephants migrate counter-clockwise, covering a 450 kilometre circular route across northern Mali. After spending the dry season at Lake Banzena, they then head south to Burkina Faso.

"The problem we have is the lack of water. We have excellent pasture, but there is often not enough water for elephants and humans to share," says herder Tambura. But the elephants are actually helping herders find water, according to conservationist Traore. "The best water sources are hidden in the the forestand the elephants open it up by trampling down the bush and exposing the grass to light. They break off small branches, which goats cannot reach. Often you'll see a herder with his goats following the elephants through the forest."

Locals learn to work with, and appreciate, their seasonal neighbors forest, and the elephants open it up by trampling down the bush and exposing the grass to light. They break off small branches, which goats cannot reach. Often you'll see a herder with his goats following the elephants through the forest." Traore says elephants have become an integral part of the planting season. "Many herders and farmers take the arrival of the elephants as the start of the rainy season. They won't plant until they see them, because the elephants won't move until they're sure they can find water." The PCVBGE project says local communities have an economic incentive to save the elephants. source:

Facts about Mali:
(1) Geographic location: Mali lies in Western Africa, southwest of Algeria and east of Mauritania.
(2) Size: 1.24 million sq km, slightly less than twice the size of Texas, US. Mali is West Africa's biggest country. The Sahara desert covers the northern part of Mali so the terrain is mostly flat with some rolling northern plains covered by sand; there's savanna in south and rugged hills in the northeast. Mali's climate is subtropical to arid. It is very hot and dry from February to June; rainy, humid, and mild from June to November; and cool and dry from November to February. The lowest point is the Senegal River at 23m and the highest point is at Hombori Tondo which measures 1,155m. Mali is a landlocked country.
(3) Population:11.7 million people live in Mali. Life expectancy is around 49 years. Birth rate is on average 7.4 per woman. Literacy rate is just over 46%.
(4) Languages used: French (official), Bambara 80%, and numerous other African languages.
(5) Ethnic Groups found in Mali : Mande 50% (Bambara, Malinke, Soninke), Peul 17%, Voltaic 12%, Songhai 6%, Tuareg and Moor 10%, and other 5%.

(6)Religions practised by the population: Muslim 90%, indigenous beliefs 9%, Christian 1%.
(7)Political History: The Sudanese Republic and Senegal became independent of France in 1960 as the Mali Federation. When Senegal withdrew after only a few months, what formerly made up the Sudanese Republic was renamed Mali. Rule by dictatorship was brought to a close in 1991 by a coup that ushered in democratic government. President Alpha Konare won Mali's first democratic presidential election in 1992 and was reelected in 1997. In keeping with Mali's two-term constitutional limit, Konare stepped down in 2002 and was succeeded by Amadou Toure.

(8)Economic Overview: Mali is among the poorest countries in the world, with 65% of its land area desert or semidesert and with a highly unequal distribution of income. Economic activity is largely confined to the riverine area irrigated by the Niger. About 10% of the population is nomadic and some 80% of the labor force is engaged in farming and fishing. Industrial activity is concentrated on processing farm commodities. Mali is heavily dependent on foreign aid and vulnerable to fluctuations in world prices for cotton, its main export, along with gold. The government has continued its successful implementation of an IMF-recommended structural adjustment program that is helping the economy grow, diversify, and attract foreign investment. Mali's adherence to economic reform and the 50% devaluation of the CFA franc in January 1994 have pushed up economic growth to a sturdy 5% average in 1996-2006. Worker remittances and external trade routes for the landlocked country have been jeopardized by continued unrest in neighboring Cote d'Ivoire.

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.