Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Elephant No. 130: Quick Sketch for the #Elegram Project

For today's elephant, I did a quick sketch with coloured pencils. Although I didn't have a lot of time today, I wanted to produce something in support of The Nature Conservancy's #Elegram Project, which aims at collecting 20,000 elephant images by the end of August 2015.

Why 20,000? Because that's the estimated number of baby elephants born each year—elephants that deserve our protection. Once The Nature Conservancy reaches its target of 20,000 #elegrams, it will receive a whopping $150,000 from private donors to help with elephant conservation and anti-poaching initiatives in Africa. With elephants being killed at an estimated 100 per day in Africa, there is no time to lose.

You can also take part in this great initiative. you don't need to be an artist, and you don't need to produce a polished creation. All of the elephants I created for the original Elephant a Day blog, as well the ones I created for this newer blog, have already been uploaded. Some of them are truly hideous, and others are ridiculous, but they all count. Yours counts too, so don't be shy.

To read more on the campaign, please click here. And, if you're a resident of the United States, your #elegram also gives you a chance to win a great prize pack. For sweepstakes rules, please click here.

Here's how you can help:
  1. Make an elephant in any medium. Squish together something from clay or plasticene. Draw or paint with anything from magic markers to lipstick. Make a piece of jewellery, fibre art, a stuffed toy, a wire sculpture, soap, an apple pie. Anything goes, as long as it's an elephant. (And don't worry: you retain copyright to any elephant you create.)
  2. Take a digital photograph of your creation, scan it, or save your digital art.
  3. Go to the Nature Conservancy #elegram webpage and click on "Upload Your Elegram" at the bottom of the page.
  4. Upload your image, fill in a few bits of text, hit "Submit", and you're done.
Making an elephant—or two, or three, or twenty—may not seem like much, but there is strength in numbers. Every #elegram posted brings The Nature Conservancy in Africa closer to its goal, and closer to the resources it needs to keep the world's largest land animal from extinction in the wild. For status updates, you can follow the #Elegram Project on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr.

Thank you. Africa's elephants thank you, too.

Elephant Lore of the Day

Today's elephant lore is adapted from the original Elephant a Day blog.

In 1999, Iain Douglas-Hamilton and his team from Save the Elephants tagged 14 African elephants with GPS collars, and monitored their movements over a period of several months. The resulting data revealed an fascinating phenomenon: elephants sometimes plan their migrations with almost military precision.

Some of the most interesting data came from a small herd in Laikipia in northern Kenya. The three members of this herd—a male and two females—remained in one place during the day, grazing happily. At nightfall, however, they often sprinted as far as 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) under cover of darkness.

At first, researchers were mystified. Elephants will normally move just a short distance away once they've exhausted a grazing area. These elephants were making mad late-night dashes. Although elephants often range across vast distances, it is highly unusual for them to run so far and so fast at night.

Then the team realized that the places in which the elephants stayed during the day were usually national parks or game preserves, where anti-poaching patrols are frequent. The places they crossed in a hurry were places where heavy poaching had occurred.

It is still unknown how elephants can tell the difference. There are no fences or demarcations to indicate areas in which poaching is prohibited, and encounters between a specific herd and poachers are not frequent enough to allow the elephants to develop an accurate map of where danger lies.

It is believed that elephants are likely combining their own experiences with the experiences of others. This knowledge is then communicated using a large repertoire of vocalizations, often over vast distances. Researchers are still astonished, however, at how precisely elephants stay within safe zones, suggesting that their conversations and spatial knowledge are far more sophisticated than anyone realized.

Elephant running, Savuti, Botswana.
Photo: iStockphoto/Liz Leyden

To Support Elephant Welfare

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