JUMBO UPDATE 20 September 2013
I am writing todays update with my WAR (Wildlife At Risk) hat on.
A few months ago a lovely lady Christina Russo sent me an email. She is a journalist and conservationist who is passionate about doing something to create awareness for the plight of elephants and had met a good friend Dr Catherine Wood in the USA who had suggested that she contact me. Christina was wanting to do research on elephant orphanages and whether they were still relevant in today’s climate where so many baby elephants are slaughtered together with their parents, this is a subject that I am very passionate about as I feel that it is even more relevant than ever before as the numbers of elephants decrease the rescue and saving of even a single elephant is that much more relevant as if numbers keep decreasing in the current drastic fashion the few elephants that have been saved may make the difference between having a big enough gene pool for the survival of the species or not.
Many phone calls and emails later we decided that it would be better for Christina to use the WAR vehicle for her research instead of Jumbo as Jumbo is limited to only Malawi and WAR is multinational and addresses all of the aspects of anti-poaching, education and orphan rescue and so would provide her with access to more scenarios. She really needed to visit an orphanage with a number of elephants in residence as well as a release facility to get a full understanding of the process and so we put her in touch with Rachael of the elephant orphanage in Zambia (another mentor of mine) as Rachael is a lovely open lady who is happy to share her knowledge and experience for the good of elephants all over the world.
Christina wrote a lovely article for National geographic the link to which has been included at the end of this post.
I just thought that perhaps this would be a good time to explain how and why I got involved with WAR in addition to Jumbo.
A year ago I was at my lowest ebb, little Moses was really ill after his op. I had tried everything that I could think of, all the vets that I had spoken to had told me that we had tried everything and there was nothing more that I could do. Louise had just put down the phone from speaking to our greatest star Dr Ian Parsons (I was a bit of an emotional wreck and didn’t want Ian to hear me sobbing over the phone and so Louise made the call for me to ask if there was anything at all else that we could do to help Moses and cure his diarrhoea). I had heard Ian telling Lou to prepare me for Moses passing as it was a miracle that he had survived this long and he was very unlikely to make the night. – Louise proceeded to tell me that Ian said all was well and I should just keep positive!!!! Moses and I settled in for the night with me cuddling him and telling him that he just had to keep on fighting for just one more night and Louise went back to her cottage. A few hours later she was back full of excitement as she had just received a Facebook message from a lady called Marleen who had worked with baby elephants and was offering her help, we face booked her back and got her phone number to call her straight away as this was one more ray of hope. Marleen was our saving angel that night and her help gave Moses another 4 months of happy life. The numerous phone calls and emails between Marleen and I forged a strong friendship based on the fact that we are both passionate about doing whatever we can to help little eles and other wildlife at risk and trying to share our knowledge and create a network of likeminded people.
Marleen has done all of the hard work registering WAR and is doing a fantastic job with creating networks between various anti-poaching groups and security consultants whilst I have come in to head up the emergency rescue team and to travel to places where people need help to set up an orphanage and to train people to look after orphans particularly during those first vital days when the baby is traumatised and very vulnerable. Timing is so critical with these little guys and delays of even a few hours in getting the right milk formula into the baby and starting to deal with their emotional and physical needs can make the difference between life and death which is why WAR believes that it is so important to set up networks of people in as many countries as possible who can immediately react to news of poaching incidents and resultant orphans and of course the sharing of information and experiences between all of these networks will help us to advance in leaps and bounds with methods to deal with various problems and situations.