Top Spy Agencies Help Break Wildlife Trafficking Rings

Publication: NBC News   Date: April 21, 2015   View Article

Call them the spies who love elephants (or rhinos or tigers).

The top spy agencies in the U.S. are sharing intelligence and personnel to bust international wildlife trafficking rings, which rake in more than $20 billion a year in the trade of everything from elephant ivory and rhino horn to the bladders of a Mexican fish.

Without intelligence of the sort used to fight drug and sex traffickers, according to experts, some of the planet’s most iconic creatures face extinction.

“We didn’t have the same resources to fight this trade that other agencies had,” Edward Grace, the deputy chief of law enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said. “That is a gap we are filling in now.”

“Extinct” Pygmy Elephants Found Living on Borneo

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 23, 2008   View Article

A gift exchange between Asian rulers several centuries ago may have inadvertently saved a population of elephants from extinction, according to a new study.

Where Elephants Tread, Geckos Thrive, Study Finds

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 1, 2008   View Article

As elephants bash and browse through the trees of the African savanna, they create nooks and crannies for little geckos to hide from predators and the hot sun, according to a new study.

The research shows that the population of Kenya dwarf geckos increases proportionally with the number of trees with limbs snapped, trunks split, bark stripped, and branches fallen in the wake of an elephant run-in.

Elephants Distinguish Human Friends From Foes by Smell

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 18, 2007   View Article

The mere whiff of a Maasai man’s clothing is enough to strike fear in African elephants and send them thundering to the safety of tall grasses, according to a new study.

Maasai men have been known to occasionally spear elephants, perhaps as a ritual to show virility.

Elephants Recognize Selves in Mirror, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 30, 2006   View Article

Elephants can recognize themselves in mirrors, according to a new study. Humans, great apes, and dolphins are the only other animals known to possess this form of self-awareness.

All of these animals also lead socially complex lives and display empathy—concern and understanding of another’s feelings—researchers report.

Illegal Ivory Trade Boosted by Angola Craft Markets, Conservationists Say

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 27, 2006   View Article

Sky-high demand is feeding a renewed flood of illegal ivory sales in Africa, posing a serious threat to the continent’s elephants, conservationists say.

“The ivory trade is starting to come back, and it’s really a concern,” said Tom Milliken, eastern and southern Africa director for TRAFFIC who is based in Harare, Zimbabwe.

African Elephants Avoid Hills, Satellite Tracking Shows

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 3, 2006   View Article

African savannah elephants avoid traipsing up hills, even if the hills have an abundance of food, according to a study that tracked the animals’ movements over several years.

Scientists believe climbing hills costs elephants too much energy.

The finding suggests that conservationists must consider topography as they develop plans to protect elephants, said Fritz Vollrath, a zoologist at England’s University of Oxford.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach