TODD EASTERLING

N O V E L I S T

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Help save the elephant

CBS NEWSMarch 9, 2014

Stepping up the fight against elephant poachers


http://www.cbsnews.com/news/stepping-up-the-fight-against-elephant-poachers/

​NIGHT STALKERS too cowardly to show themselves by day are threatening the very survival of the African elephant. We caution that what our Cover Story shows this morning may be difficult to watch. It comes to us from M. Sanjayan, a CBS News contributor who has since joined the group Conservation International.

As a cloudless day yields to a moonlit night in this savannah in Northern Kenya, a dozen wildlife rangers armed with automatic weapons begin their nightly patrol.

Tonight, the team is on edge, says Commander John Palmieri.

"They give us a big, big worry," he said, as there is more poaching on the full moon.

And it is a deadly business. Six Kenyan rangers and three times as many poachers have been killed in gun battles the last two years.

Each night, rangers go up to an observation point at higher ground, then sit all night long and scour these valleys, looking for any sign of movement, or a gunshot.

Night vision goggles help spot elephants -- and see potential human threats.

For this night at least, it was all quiet for Nature's so-called "great masterpiece."

​The African elephant is the largest mammal to walk the Earth; a majestic creature that shares many noble characteristics with humans -- strong family units and maternal bonds, intelligence, longevity and, yes, terrific memories.

Also, like us, they seem to grieve, and appear to mourn their dead, a trait which, tragically, has been on display far too often of late.

Some 25,000 elephants a year are now being lost to poachers in Africa."It's the worst that it's been in the last 30 years," said Ian Craig. "It's a steady deterioration, and it's getting worse."

The Kenyan-born Craig leads conservation efforts for the Northern Rangelands Trust, an innovative partnership of nearly 20 wildlife conservancies.

In years past, said Craig, the typical poacher was a solitary local simply trying to feed his family. Today, though, foreign criminal syndicates with sophisticated equipment kill viciously and in ever greater numbers.

In an infamous 2012 episode, an estimated 300 elephants were gunned down in Cameroon right inside a national park.

So who's behind it?

"I think clearly China is driving this, or it's coming from the Far East," said Craig. "Ninety percent of the ivory being picked up in Nairobi Airport, or Kenya's port of entry and exit, is with Chinese nationals.

"Despite laws banning the harvest and sale of ivory, it remains a powerful status symbol in China and the Far East, where it is used commonly to make artworks and religious icons.

​The economic boom there has pushed ivory prices through the roof -- and rejuvenated the poaching economy in Africa.

The price on an elephant's head, Craig said, is about $2,000, or $2,500 to the gunman. "So it's several years' worth of wages from that elephant," said Sanjayan.

And therefore, said Craig, "People are prepared to risk their lives to kill them."You hear about ivory wars, said Sanjayan, but it doesn't seem real until one comes across an elephant's carcass ... the animal had no chance against being shot by automatic weapons, no chance at all.

And then, it comes flooding right at you, and you can't escape the fact that people are willing to kill something this big just for a tooth.

There are some encouraging signs.

This past January, China crushed six tons of illegal ivory, and Hong Kong pledged to destroy 28 tons over the next two years.

Kenya has also enacted tougher anti-poaching laws. One smuggler faces seven years in jail.

But the poaching continues . . . and protecting elephants has become an arms race. Kenya spends tens of millions of dollars a year on its 3,000-member wildlife ranger force. Tracking dogs hunt poachers in the field and detect ivory being smuggled. Digital radio systems now connect rangers with observation posts throughout the country. And GPS collars can track family groups of elephants in real time. They've even built wildlife "underpasses" beneath highways, allowing elephants to travel safely through historic migration corridors.Just as important, is getting locals invested in wildlife. In many areas, tribesmen don't just lead tours, they run the preserves.Profits from tourism help communities understand that living elephants can be more valuable than dead ones. "They're seeing these new lodges developing," said Ian Craig. "They're seeing better security for themselves. They're seeing money being generated from tourism going into education. And so where these benefits are clean and clear to communities, it's working."But changing attitudes takes time -- and time is NOT on the elephant's side. From a high of 1.3 million African elephants in the late 1970s, poaching reduced populations to critical levels by 1980. The numbers are plummeting again: there are only about 500,000 elephants left. If poaching continues unchecked, African elephants could be functionally extinct in our lifetime. In an extraordinary attempt to save the life of just one animal, a Kenyan veterinarian armed with a tranquilizer dart shot Mountain Bull, a 6-ton local legend who's been targeted by poachers for his massive tusks. This magnificent bull elephant has already had lots of interaction with poachers; in one incident alone, he's been shot 8 times -- the slugs are still within his body -- but he has survived. Now conservationists and rangers are doing something dramatic: they're taking off part of his tusks in the hopes that it will make him less of a target. The operation was over quickly, and eventually the noble giant wobbled to his feet and headed back to the bush to hopefully live out his days in peace.But the threat for thousands like him remains. Craig worries that unless the lust for ivory is controlled, the elephant may not survive."The supply here is finite," he said. "This isn't gold. This isn't diamonds. This is even more precious, because it's been grown by an animal, and we're killing that animal to supply that demand."
"From Dolly to Curing Human Disease: Sir Ian Wilmut at TEDxSalford"


what is "de-extinction"?

Learn about exiting new efforts to bring back endangered species.
Stewart Brand: The dawn of de-extinction. Are you ready? (TED Talks)

Dr. Hal Broxmeyer

Hal Broxmeyer is a pioneer in cord blood transplantation. He also kindly offered input which helped Todd Easterling on The Miracle Man.

Technical advisers to todd easterling

Sir Ian Wilmut

Dr. Wilmut is the first person to clone a mammal. He graciously reviewed portions of The Miracle Man and provided input. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his achievement, which will surely go down in history as a seminal event. If you've ever wondered 

The Miracle Man (a novel)


  • Best Seller in Literary Fiction Action & AdventureLiterary Fiction Romance, and Suspense, Mysteries & Medical Thrillers. On March Hot New Releases.
  • Published March 1st. Top 1% of all/4.4 million Amazon fiction & non-fiction Kindle books.
  • A new novel from the author of The First Witness (Over a year on 8 Best Sellers lists, as high as #1).

When her thirteen-year-old daughter's life is threatened, the mother, Katie, takes matters into her own hands to try and protect her and inadvertently finds herself swept into a romantic and exotic, far from home breathtaking adventure. David Stein, as Senior Editor at Simon and Schuster said, "Strong writing, strong characters, solidly researched, exciting novel. Great love scenes, powerful imagery. A very strong novel..." San Diego, California author Todd Easterling, originally discovered by the Jay Garon-Brooke Literary Agency of master novelist John Grisham fame, demonstrates genre crossover into the romantic suspense, medical suspense, family life, and adventure arena in this exciting, well-written high concept literary novel which was inspired by the brilliant works of Nicholas Sparks and Nicholas Evans (The Horse Whisperer), and pays homage to classics from Ernest Hemingway (The Snows of Kilimanjaro) and Karin Blixen/Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa. The author paints vivid atmospheric settings, real world dilemmas, and sympathetic characters who leave an indelible impact on the reader in this touching story of life, death, rebirth, the protective love between a mother and daughter, and the passion possible between a man and a woman.
     
     On a mission to take control of what has threatened to destroy everything that's important to her, Katie leaves behind her life in Kentucky horse country, where she works for a thoroughbred breeding and genetics facility, and finds herself on an unexpected dangerous adventure in Africa pursuing the world's most renowned expert on genetics, a doctor devoted to saving and bringing back endangered species in the amazing new field known asde-extinction. To ensure accuracy with technical aspects of the story, the author enlisted the help of celebrated experts including Nobel Prize nominee Sir Ian Wilmut, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his astonishing breakthrough in cloning a mammal (Dolly the sheep), and Dr. Hal Broxmeyer, who pioneered work in a revolutionary new procedure.