Laurel Neme's Wildlife Blog Sat, 02 Jul 2016 02:10:01 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb (Laurel Neme) Kids have power to influence international wildlife issues Kids' voices are powerful. They think about what CAN be done, instead of why it can't. That's why I love it when I'm asked "what can I do to help?"

It's a great question, with some great answers.

For kids, I think the easiest thing to start with is to share their passion with classmates, because they're already friends. Kids can talk about the difficulties orangutans or elephants or rhinos (or whatever animal you're interest in) are facing. They can share their knowledge through class projects or reports.

Kids should look outside their school, too, and think about friends or family that are in other social circles. They can help spread  ideas too. 

Another powerful method is to share stories. Kids can write a status on Facebook or send a letter to newspapers. They can educate people around them, especially their parents.

I agree wholeheartedly with a young anti-ivory activist from Hong Kong that I wrote about in February 2013, Celia Ho, who believes young people's voices can be far more powerful than grown ups.  

It's true. Young people’s voices are always noticed by others.

But the first step is to care and make global connections. To know that their ideas matter and that they DO have power. That's why I write. To help folks care.

While my story of Orangutan Houdini doesn't deal directly with current threats to orangutans in the wild, teachers can connect the story with current issues such as loss of habitat due to palm oil production. Many of these topics are included in my Teacher's Guide to Orangutan Houdini (available on my website here).

I'll be speaking on Making Global Connections at Bear Pond Books this Saturday, January 24, 2015.

For more, see:


]]> (Laurel Neme) The WildLife Blog Wed, 21 Jan 2015 21:35:13 +0000 features Orangutan Houdini I'm thrilled to have had my book, Orangutan Houdini, featured by, which calls it "full of charm" and "sure to capture the hearts of readers, no matter the age."

You can read the full review and interview with me here.


Orangutan Houdini is the true story of a clever orangutan who kept outsmarting zookeepers and escaped from his enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska. Photo courtesy of Laurel Neme.Orangutan Houdini is the true story of a clever orangutan who kept outsmarting zookeepers and escaped from his enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska. 

]]> (Laurel Neme) The WildLife Blog Thu, 08 Jan 2015 00:45:48 +0000
Kids' Home Library calls Orangutan Houdini a book that will provoke 'wows' Kids' Home Library calls my book ORANGUTAN HOUDINI a "thoughtful, amazing true story" that "is indeed a book that will provoke "wows.""

All I can say is: wow. I'm thrilled.


]]> (Laurel Neme) The WildLife Blog Mon, 01 Dec 2014 06:52:52 +0000
Blog calls ORANGUTAN HOUDINI delightful and perfect for learning about primates Thrilled by latest review of my book ORANGUTAN HOUDINI which calls it a "delight" and "perfect as a jumping off point for learning about primates and endangered animals."

Joy Makin' Mamas blog says: "As a story book, this is delightful all by itself. As a jumping off point for learning about primates, endangered animals, and non-local species, it’s perfect."

She also says: Raising children with an appreciation for our natural world requires that we show them that world in every way we possibly can. Visiting our nations best zoos and natural parks, going outside and building a rain garden, observing the comings and goings of birds, squirrels, lizards, butterflies, bees, and other everyday animals are all great ways of doing this. But to bring home the lesson about how amazing the creatures of our world are, sometimes you really just need a book. Because the world is so vast and life is so abundant you could never, ever, ever expose your child to every amazing living thing in the world without the help of books."

I agree. Books help expose us to this vast world filled with amazing creatures. It's why I write...and delight in sharing stories.

Orangutan Houdini by Laurel Neme Joy Makin Mamas Review

]]> (Laurel Neme) The WildLife Blog Mon, 01 Dec 2014 06:26:17 +0000
Circus Lion Rescue Thoroughly enjoyed interviewing Jan Creamer, Animal Defense International, and meeting the lions she's rescued from circuses in Peru. Amazing to see mistreated lions on the path to freedom.

You can read the Q&A in my article on National Geographic.

]]> (Laurel Neme) The WildLife Blog Mon, 01 Dec 2014 05:33:13 +0000
Sy Montgomery endorses Orangutan Houdini Honored my new picture book ORANGUTAN HOUDINI is endorsed by author & adventurer Sy Montgomery. Hear her TEDx talk about how animals think and feel.

]]> (Laurel Neme) The WildLife Blog Sat, 22 Nov 2014 23:40:44 +0000
Chinese diplomats collude with Tanzanian officials to smuggle ivory Stunning NYT article ties Chinese Presidential delegation to illegal ivory purchases with collusion of Tanzanian officials. Scary to think how much involvement exists by high-level authorities on both sides of black market supply and demand.


]]> (Laurel Neme) The WildLife Blog Fri, 07 Nov 2014 00:00:18 +0000
Kenya Wildlife Service forensics lab a step closer to opening Kenya Wildlife Service forensics lab is a step closer to opening. Much is promised but challenges remain. Article in Kenya's The Star reviews progress. See:


The Star (Nairobi)
13 October 2014

Kenya: KWS Plans Sh100 Million DNA Lab to Catch Poachers


CONVICTION rates for crimes arising from handling of wildlife trophies will soon rise after the Kenya wildlife Service opens a Sh100 million forensic laboratory later this year.

The laboratory, to be housed at the KWS headquarters in Lang'ata, will also help to trace the origin of trophies confiscated, a move likely to cut international syndicates.

A recent report - Out of Africa: Mapping the Global Trade in Illicit Elephant Ivory by Born free USA - cited Mombasa as the conduit of most illegal ivory seizures worldwide in 2013-2014.

The report says Mombasa replaced Dar Es Salaam port, which previously had the highest number of seizures globally.

The report says once ivory has been hacked off an elephant, there is an abrupt transfer from the poachers to more professional trafficking networks capable of nesting their illicit activities within the legal international trade and transportation systems.

It adds that between 2009 and June 2014, 18,817 kilogrammes of ivory were seized at the Mombasa port.

Last week, a Germanbased company, Qiagen, donated a machine to the Kenya Wildlife Service, for use in the planned genetics and forensic laboratory.

Courts are now expected to rely on watertight forensic evidence for convictions.

Speaking while receiving the automated nucleic acid extraction machine from Qiagen in Nairobi, KWS director William Kiprono said it will enhance prosecution through forensic investigations.

"The forensic and genetic lab will enable us execute our overall mandate of conserving and managing wildlife since it will help in disease diagnosis, surveillance and monitoring. It also acts as major deterrent to poaching activities as it will greatly enhance the ability of law enforcement agencies to secure prosecutions,"Kiprono said.

The KWS has already trained personnel how to operate the machine in South Africa and another team is expected to travel to London next week for further training.

Kiprono called for more organisations to help the service equip the new lab. The lab will be commissioned towards the end of this year and is expected to bring to an end lack of substantial evidence, which has seen several suspected poachers evade justice.

The government has pumped in about Sh50 million, Kiprono said, but Sh100 million more is needed for the lab to meet international standards.

KWS normally sends some samples to other countries such as South Africa for analysis but with the new lab, the government is expected to save on both time and costs.

Qiagen business manager Oriana Zoghbi lauded KWS for its efforts against poaching, saying the machine will have positive implications in conservation for many years.

"We believe what we have to offer in the field of molecular biology will give KWS the opportunity to further expand biodiversity research and monitoring division and continue to conserve and manage wildlife," she said.

Kenya's tough poaching law has also netted foreigners flying through Kenya with illegal ivory.

Kiprono says such people should face the Kenyan law regardless of where they sourced their ivory products.

He said KWS will use the lab to carry out DNA profiling (also called genetic fingerprinting) to identify suspects by their respective DNA profiles.

DNA profiles are encrypted sets of letters that reflect a person's unique DNA makeup.

The new technology is in line with recommendations made at the last Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, which recognised that illegal trade in elephant specimens is an international problem that requires all elephant range states and consumer states to take urgent and concerted efforts to combat it.

]]> (Laurel Neme) The WildLife Blog Tue, 14 Oct 2014 23:29:16 +0000
Orangutans at center of unfolding revolution in palm oil market Recent shifts in the palm oil market are exciting and positive news for orangutans and other endangered species, like tigers and elephants. It's been a domino effect that is prompting more and more companies to announce deforestation-free policies. However, it is incumbent on us to ensure they live up to their promises.

You can read more on this consumer revolution in my article published on National Geographic that lays out how Endangered Orangutans Gain From Eco-Friendly Shifts in Palm Oil Market.

]]> (Laurel Neme) The WildLife Blog Tue, 14 Oct 2014 00:08:22 +0000