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Books 1-10.
Books 11-20.
Books 21-30.
Books 31-40.
Books 41-50.
Books 51-60.
Books 61-70.

71. The Elephant's Secret Sense by Caitlin O'Connell. Rather disjointed scientific memoir; O'Connell has worked on several studies into seismic communication, i.e. the way that elephants can "hear" each other (also other animals, vehicles, and possibly earthquakes) over long distances by reading vibrations through the fatty tissue and bones in their feet. Also interesting are some of the observations she makes about bull society; until fairly recently biologists thought bulls were mainly solitary, but it turns out that many of them travel together in loose groups. My problems with the book are mainly structural, in that there is almost no attempt to be chronological and many of the chapters had an unclear thesis (if they had one at all).
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Keepers at the Ayutthaya-Elephant Kraal in Thailand gave their elephants a paint job to draw attention from the national frenzy over a newborn panda cub.

India's Forest Department has proposed building the first State-run Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre for captive elephants at Tiruchi. "The centre would have experienced mahouts, veterinary facility, elephant shelter, feeding area, treatment shed, ramp, dung pits, elephant walking path, fodder plot, circular ponds, water facility and a kitchen."

Investigators are using DNA evidence to trace the sources of illegal ivory. "DNA fingerprinting helped investigators three years ago to make the largest seizure of illegal ivory since the global trade ban went into effect in 1989 - 10 tons of ivory contained in two separate shipments. All of the ivory was traced to a small area near the border of Tanzania and Mozambique."
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The Philadelphia Zoo's two remaining elephants, Kallie and Bette, are being moved to the Pittsburgh Zoo's 724-acre International Conservation Center. Despite the protests, this seems like a good move, or at least a step in the right direction.

Follow-up to the reports of poisoned Sumatran elephants in my last update: the Sumatran government estimates that fifteen elephants have died of cyanide-laced fruit in the past year.

CITES (The International Convention on Trade in Endangered Species) has authorized an increase in the number of elephants Mozambique is allowed to kill annually.

Paleontologist Emmanuel Gheerbrant has discovered a 4-5kg (about the size of a rabbit) elephant ancestor, called Eritherium azzouzorum. It's one of the oldest ungulates (i.e. hoofed mammals) related to elephants. Eritherium lacked a trunk, but it had an enlarged front incisor which presaged the tusks of its modern descendants.
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I'm going to try to be regular about this again. Of course, I'm about to head out traveling for two weeks, so "regular" may be a relative term for a bit.

It appears that Indonesian villagers poisoned four rare Sumatran elephants, probably to protect their palm oil plantations. Last month two male elephants were poisoned with cyanide-laced pineapples in the same area.

Kenya--which is still in the midst of a drought--has seen a wave of elephant killings by poachers, who are also killing other wildlife for food. Also in Kenya, work to excavate a rock quarry in Amboseli Park may cut off wildlife migration corridors for elephants and other animals.

Lastly, some good news from Kenya: a pilot study has found that fences made from wire, wood, and beehives can be an effective deterrent against elephant raids on farms. Seems the elephants recognize the shape and smell of the beehives and steer clear: "The bees aren't likely to be able to sting though an elephant's thick hide. But they can and do sting elephants around the eyes and inside the trunk. It seems that this only has to happen once for an elephant never to forget the experience."


May. 18th, 2009 01:31 pm
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Yeah, I'm against elephants in zoos, but damn if this little girl isn't adorable:

Click on the pic for more. They're supposed to announce her name tomorrow.
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Books 1-10.
Books 11-20.
21. Hmong and American: Stories of Transition to a Strange Land by Sue Murphy Mote.
22. Meet Me In the Moon Room by Ray Vukcevich.
23. Children of Rondo: Transcriptions of Rondo Oral History Interviews edited by Kimberly K. Zielinski.
24. The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry.

25. The Cowboy and His Elephant by Malcolm MacPherson. I came close to giving up on this book after the first chapter, which is a speculative account of the titular elephant's life before her entire family was slaughtered; partly because it repeated so many things I've already read about how elephants live, partly because it was so depressing, and partly because it had a bit too much of the mystical fever that some writers get when they talk about elephants and forget about facts. (I'm looking at you, Modoc, AKA The Worst Elephant Book Ever Written.) But after that first chapter things pick up, as we meet Bob, rancher, animal lover, Texaco heir, and Marlboro man, who ends up adopting the orphaned elephant and helping her through the trauma of losing her world. Yeah, it's that kind of story, and I kept trying to fact-check it because it seems pretty far-fetched, but as far as I can tell this is basically a true story--MacPherson was a well-respected journalist (at least, according to Gawker) and it seems unlikely he'd jeopardize his credibility by making up feel-good animal stories. Anyway, overall a pleasant, if light, human/elephant interest story.
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1. Dollhouse premieres tonight. I am warily giddy. I am also mindful that I watched BTVS the night it premiered, decided it wasn't worth my time, and only got hooked on it a year later. Also that Angel's first few episodes were rather shitty. Only Firefly hooked me from the start. So even though Dollhouse's premise has much more potential for skeeviness, I'm going to give it a few episodes to find its feet.

2. Periodic Table of the Elephants. (Via [ profile] jaylake.)

3. I don't think you heard me before: DEADWOOD VALENTINES!!! They are the best and probably most offensive thing you will see today.

4. I ended up seeing New In Town with my folks, because we Minnesotans like to see our local color reflected back at us. (Well, maybe like is the wrong word.) It was actually worse than you'd expect. It was like someone pitched Fargo meets Gung Ho, wrote the script over a weekend and hired a flagpole to do the cinematography. Oh, and filmed it in Canada. Plus Harry Connick, Jr. = Never Good. And was J.K. Simmons wearing a fatsuit, or what?

5. I have been thinking about [ profile] mrissa's One Year Closer to Balance thing. It's actually fairly apt for me right now, because until recently my life has been overbalanced in one big way, in that everything was pretty much weighted towards writing. And lately I've been thinking, there are other things. Which doesn't mean that writing won't be important, still, but that I have been realizing that my life is, in fact, unbalanced and that needs to change. I am in the process of figuring out how to do this. Which is a short and fairly lazy way of saying that I am thinking about this too.
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1. Haddayr pointed me to this story about animal communications in relation to natural disasters, particularly the tsunami, and focusing on elephants and infrasound. Good stuff.

2. I am in the midst of a renaissance of the album. For a long while I've mostly listened to my music on shuffle, because I liked to pretend I had my own radio station. This week I am enjoying settling in with one artist for a while. Lots of PJ Harvey, for some reason.

3. Have you heard about Titanoboa? Is it not the most awesome thing ever? (Yes. It is.)

4. I have a sudden need to re-watch The Wild Bunch, but I don't have it on DVD and I no longer have a VCR. I believe this is what is referred to as a TECHNOLOGY FAIL.

5. Fanboys opens in selected cities this weekend; I was going to tell all of you in those cities to go see it, but early indications from RottenTomatoes are that all the fucking around has made it into a shitty movie. Shame.
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1. This dude read Superpowers and liked it a lot. "[I]t's fantastic. In the post- Bryan Singer world, where heroes in other mediums than comics no longer have to wear spandex, this is how individuals with powers in this day and age should be written. I *highly* recommend this one."

2. French scientist surprised that elephants are not water-hole bullies. I don't . . . what?

3. I ended up nuking my Twitter account, because trying to keep up with it was actually stressing me out. I can't keep up with my own daily life, so I guess trying to keep up with everyone else's just isn't going to work.

4. Fuck You, Penguin is perfect for those who like to pretend cute animals don't matter to them. Thanks to Shana for the link.

5. Finally, there is this, which I cannot explain:

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Zoo elephants live far shorter lives than their counterparts in the wild; according to a study published in Science--between 22 and 39 years shorter. Naturally the zoo administrators are saying that facts aren't true.
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The four-year-old bull elephant, called either 'Big Brother' or 'Xiguang', was captured in 2005 in southwest China by traders who used bananas spiked with heroin to control him.

Makes me want to kill. On the other hand:

A year of methadone injections at five times the human dosage . . . helped wean Xiguang off his addiction.
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First, the good (or at least hopeful) news. The Christian Science Monitor is running a four-part series on the Kenyan election, compromise, and aftermath. From part one, yesterday:

In the next five weeks, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and a team of African statesmen and women, known as The Panel of Eminent African Personalities, they achieve what few thought was possible: a cessation of fighting and a power-sharing deal to put Kenya back together again.

[Graça] Machel's presence, along with Mr. Annan, and former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, would provide important ballast. Machel and Annan are part of The Elders, a dozen experienced leaders from around the world, set up in 2007 by Mr. Mandela and others to address global problems.

At a time when Kenya's angry "young turks" were whipping up the emotions that fed violence, these African elders had the calming influence of a stern grandparent, in front of whom one doesn't misbehave.

In news distressing enough that I've been putting off posting about it, elephant poaching in Africa is at a critical level, higher in fact than the rate before the ivory ban was put into effect:

Evidence gathered from recent major ivory seizures shows conclusively that the ivory is not coming from a broad geographic area but rather that hunters are targeting specific herds. With such information, [University of Washington biology professor Samuel] Wasser said, authorities can beef up enforcement efforts and focus them in specific areas where poaching is known to occur as a means of preventing elephants from being killed. But that will only happen if there is sufficient public pressure to marshal funding for a much larger international effort to halt the poaching.

. . .

"The situation is worse than ever before and the public is unaware," he said, "It's very serious because elephants are an incredibly important species. They keep habitats open so other species that depend on such ecosystems can use them. Without elephants, there will be major habitat changes, with negative effects on the many species that depend on the lost habitat.

"Elephants also are a major part of ecotourism, which is an important source of hard currency for many African countries."
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How To Hide An Elephant. (Via [ profile] used_songs.)
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This made me smile, but I'd like this better if that guy at the beginning wasn't carrying the stick.


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April 2011

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