Authors Guild announces new books by members

Authors Guild

New Books by Members



This week’s recent and upcoming books by our members include titles by David A. Adler, Kathy Caple, Doreen Cronin, Lisa Doan, G. Brian Karas, Michelle Knudsen, Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Laurel Neme, Jon Scieszka, Marilyn Singer, R.L. Stine, and Dianne White. Titles below the jump.


David A. Adler: The Squirting Donuts


Kathy Caple: A Night at the Zoo


Doreen Cronin (and Kevin Cornell, Illus.): The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken: The Next Misadventure


Lisa Doan (and Ivica Stevanovic, Illus.): Jack and the Wild Life


G. Brian Karas: As an Oak Tree Grows


Michelle Knudsen: Evil Librarian


Jacqueline Briggs Martin (and Hayelin Choi): Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious


Laurel Neme (and Kathie Kelleher. Illus.): Orangutan Houdini


Jon Scieszka (Ed.): Complete Nothing


Marilyn Singer (and Lynne Avril, Illus.): I’m Gonna Climb a Montain in my Patent Leather Shoes


R.L. Stine: Party Games


Dianne White (and Beth Krommes, Illus.): Blue on Blue


Treehugger cites Laurel Neme's article on Difficulties of Destroying Ivory

US to destroy 6 ton illegal ivory stockpile

If you're starting to hear more news about elephant and rhino poaching, it's no surprise. The wildlife trafficking crisis has been growing in recent years, but the United States seems to be gearing up to do much more to fight the problem.

On July 1, President Obama issued an Executive Order on the issue of combating wildlife trafficking. With that order, Obama established a cabinet-level Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking and ordered it to present a plan of action on how the US should address the trafficking crisis.

We're beginning to see the fruits of their labor. On Monday, the White House announced a series of steps they are taking to combat this crisis, including that the United States will be destroying its 6 ton stockpile of illegal ivory it has been collecting for 25 years. More on that below.

Also on Monday, the White House announced the establishment of an Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking, which is made up of chief executives from major wildlife groups, as well as other legal and financial partners.

This is an important step for these groups to be coordinating in this way, because, as one of those members, Cristian Samper, President and Chief Executive Officer of Wildlife Conservation Society, told Juliet Eilperin in mid-July, "elephant poaching has reached such a crisis point that the world’s leading conservation groups are launching a coordinated strategy to address the problem."

Eilperin had also reported that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made combating elephant poaching one of her new causes.

Clinton was at the White House Forum to Counter Wildlife Trafficking on Monday and had this to say about the issue:

“Illegal poaching and trafficking also represent an economic and security challenge in Africa and beyond. Wildlife trafficking has become more organized, more lucrative and more dangerous than ever before. Poachers now use helicopters, automatic weapons, night vision goggles, satellite phones to overwhelm and even murder park rangers and other local authorities.”

Clinton also spoke out against the consumer demand for ivory that fuels this killing:

A zero-tolerance strategy was the only way to stop wildlife trafficking, Clinton said.

"You can't be a little bit OK with buying ivory goods, because that opens the floodgates. Therefore we are doing everything we can to stop the trafficking, stop the demand and stop the killing," Clinton said.

Aside from the high-profile attention being given to this important issue, one of the biggest pieces of news announced Monday was that the United States will be destroying a 6 ton stockpile of illegal ivory it has been collecting for 25 years.

John R. Platt at Scientific American explains where the stockpile is kept and what it consists of:

Whole elephant tusks. Carved ivory figurines and statues. Ivory knives, jewelry, chopsticks and trinkets. Six tons of this stuff, all of it illegal, sits in a secure warehouse where box after cardboard box rests alongside wooden pallets that overflow their bloody bounty onto the floor.

No, this isn’t in China or South Africa or Japan. It’s in the U.S.—Denver to be specific.

That’s the site of the National Wildlife Property Repository, where illegal products seized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), customs agents and other officials line the shelves and hallways.

Platt goes on to note that there is some disagreement over what to do with the ivory:

U.S. authorities are prohibited from selling seized items but have debated whether destroying them is the best approach. Ivory sell-offs in 2008 and 2010 supported by the 178-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna proved controversial. Even if U.S. officials could sell seized ivory, some say it would not make a dent in illegal market demand.

Grinding up all ivory in October "will make more room in our warehouse," repository supervisor Bernadette Atencio said.

She fears it will fill again soon.

I fear it will too, because I don't think crushing this stockpile will do much more than make room in that warehouse.

In August, I wrote about how five tons of elephant tusks were burned in the Philippines and how China wasn't sure what they should do with their stockpile of confiscated tusks.

It upset me to think that these pieces of history would be burned, but at the time, I hadn't seen this fascinating piece by Laurel Neme at National Geographic on how difficult it is to destroy ivory by burning.

Unless the fire is sustained at high temperatures for long periods of time, burning does not destroy elephant ivory. Instead, it chars the exterior and leaves the inside intact.

Consider what happens with human teeth. Whether subjected to fiery car crashes or raging house fires, these tiny pieces endure. That’s why they’re used for identification when everything else is annihilated.

Even in the cremation process, teeth survive. (A processor often pulverizes the unburned teeth into a fine powder.)

This means that some of the tusks that were burned could have been recovered from the fire and reintroduced to the market.

This is why the US stockpile in Denver will be crushed with rock grinders instead of burned. However, as Neme explains, even this poses challenges:

Yet even crushing is difficult, as the Philippines discovered during a failed test a day before the destruction event. Authorities experimented with a road roller, but it got nowhere.

Officials then spent the evening sawing tusks, assuming that smaller pieces would be easier to crush.

That didn’t work.

At the main event, the road roller left the ivory pieces unchanged, so workers switched to hammering the tusk fragments with the scoop of a backhoe—and then incinerating them at a crematorium for animals.

I'm assuming we have some better equipment and will be able to crush these tusks sufficiently, but I'm still left wondering if this is the smartest thing to do.

© CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images

In my piece in August, I suggested that if the goal is to stop poaching, we need to educate people about the crisis and create such a stigma around owning ivory that few people want to buy it. So rather than hiding the seized ivory in a warehouse or burning or crushing it away from the public eye, I suggested that perhaps using it as art would be a better way to dissuade poachers, while also raising awareness about the issue.

To be clear, I don't mean making objects of beauty to be admired or sold to collectors.

And I don't mean giving the tusks out to artists to use in whatever fashion they want.

When I wrote that there should be a major art exhibit displaying elephant tusks, I am picturing something that is going to be disturbing, but powerful and ultimately inspiring for all attendees.

Here's how I first explained it a few weeks ago:

We can read about 1,000 tusks being confiscated or the many tons that are sitting in storage, but I think the tusks need to be seen for the horror of poaching to be fully appreciated.

Imagine walking into a room with walls covered from floor to ceiling in white elephant tusks. Perhaps there's a glossy, deep red floor for contrast and a symbolic nod to the bloody ways these tusks are obtained by poachers.

In another room, individual tusks are paired with photographs of the macabre scenes from where the elephants were killed or left to die. Educational materials in the style of a museum would educate visitors on the poaching crisis and how the ivory market leads to these horrific acts. Revenue from admission could go to anti-poaching organizations.

To make something like that happen, the Clinton Foundation or this Task Force or an artist like Ai Wei Wei or someone of his calibre would need to sit down together and come up with a way to publicly display the horrors these poachers have committed.

Would that not have a stronger impact on the public than hearing that 6 tons were ground to dust or cremated in some industrial facility?

I've read conflicting reports as to whether the grinding of the US stockpile will be public or not. I'm hoping to find out soon, because this is an important distinction.

I don't think crushing these tusks in private will make as powerful of an impact. And if it is public, where is it going to happen? Are the rock crushers in a quarry somewhere? Or will they be brought out onto the Washington Mall? Or Times Square? By "public" do they simply mean "open to the public" but not televised or broadcast? If that is the case, this too leaves much to be desired.

My point here is that elephants may be extinct in a matter of decades and we're talking about how to destroy stockpiles of evidence of their existence. Is this the wisest choice?

I've suggested this major art exhibit as a very public event to highlight this crisis, but even that could be incorporated into the eventual destruction of the ivory. If the US and other governments are convinced that crushing these tusks is the way to go, I'm willing to concede that for security reasons, it is wise to just rid ourselves of these stockpiles. But I cannot understand how it makes sense to just crush, burn and erase these things from existence and think it is really making that big of a difference.

We live in a time where everything can become media. If there is not a ceremony, a place or a visual to come together for shared global mourning over these losses, how are we going to really learn?

USA Today Cites Laurel Neme's Work

The following USA Today article disputes Laurel Neme's Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times on Terrorism and the Ivory Trade.


Illegal ivory may not be funding African terror group


NAIROBI, Kenya — Hollywood director Kathryn Bigelow has made a 3-minute animated short called Last Days, telling the story of ivory poaching and the threat it poses to elephants. The film begins in the markets of Beijing and New York, then rewinds to Africa, where elephants are being hunted and killed at an astonishing rate.

It is mostly a 2-D animation but also features footage from last year's Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi because, according to Bigelow's film, Al Shabaab, the Somalia-based al-Qaeda group responsible for the attack, earns money from poaching elephants.

Terrorists killing elephants to fund their atrocities is a powerful, troubling story that deftly taps two hot-button issues linking them in one awful, unified narrative. No wonder it grabs attention.

But is it true?

At first glance the weight of evidence for poaching funding terrorism appears overwhelming.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks about it on behalf of the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative; so does her former British counterpart William Hague and an array of U.S. legislators.

Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta linked ivory and the Westgate attack in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. The former head of the Kenya Wildlife Service and the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime have highlighted Shabaab's role in elephant poaching, while many of the world's leading elephant protection advocates and charities eagerly repeat the allegations.

Unsurprisingly, the world's press has plastered the Shabaab-ivory story across their pages and websites, and the story gained new momentum in the wake of the 2013 Westgate attack.

"Al Shabaab mounted September's attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall in which more than 70 people died. By some estimates, just 10 tusks would have been enough to finance that operation," said Britain's Daily Mail.

The U.K.'s Independent reported on the issue as part of its campaign to protect elephants. The New Yorker has made passing reference to the link as if it were accepted fact. Slate and New Scientist have both posted on the subject. The Financial Times has expanded the allegations to include rhino poaching. We here at GlobalPost have also reported on the issue.

The trouble is that all of the above reference the same study published online by a U.S.-registered nonprofit called the Elephant Action League (EAL) in early 2013.

"Africa's White Gold of Jihad: al-Shabaab and Conflict Ivory" outlines findings from what the EAL describes as an 18-month undercover investigation and asserts that Shabaab earns "up to 40%" of its income from poaching and trading illegal ivory.

"According to a source within the militant group, between one to three tons of ivory, fetching a price of roughly US $200 per kilo, pass through the ports in southern Somalia every month. A quick calculation puts Shabaab's monthly income from ivory at between US $200,000 and US $600,000," the report states.

The citing of a single, unnamed source and the scale of the claim has led some to question the veracity of the investigation on which media reports, advocacy, fund-raising and increasingly policy is based.

Nir Kalron, chief executive of Tel Aviv-based Maisha Consulting, conducted the investigation back in 2010. He said the version published by EAL is "a journalistic summary" and insisted that his sources cited in the report were reliable and cross-referenced. He added that he has video and photographic evidence to back the thesis that Shabaab is involved in the ivory trade, if not the figures.

"You could argue that that had we put a more deep disclaimer on that specific piece of evidence, of one to three tons a month saying 'an unconfirmed source claimed,' then we wouldn't be in this debate," said Kalron, "but the bottom line is confirmed 150 percent and we stand 200% behind our sources and our work."

"The numbers aren't really important, the facts are important, and the facts are that there is ivory being trafficked through Somalia, there is ivory in Somalia," he said.

In the days after the Westgate attack Kalron and the EAL's executive director Andrea Crosta, together with author Laurel Neme, wrote op-eds in the Los Angeles Times and National Geographic. Similar arguments were published in the opinion pages of The New York Times, Washington Post and elsewhere.

Yet there is a great degree of skepticism among others who have investigated the link, and come up with nothing.

"It's total nonsense," said Christian Nelleman, one of the authors of "The Environmental Crime Crisis" published this year by global anti-crime agency Interpol and the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP).

Nelleman's research failed to find any evidence to back claims that Shabaab was shipping an amount of ivory equivalent to "3,600 elephants per year … or nearly all ivory from killed elephants from west, central and eastern Africa." The report concluded that EAL's findings were "highly unreliable."

The EAL's Crosta bristled at the criticism. He said that Interpol and UNEP "always criticized our research and yet they were the only two organizations that never bothered to get in touch with us to ask (for) more info."

"The current elephant crisis happened under UNEP and Interpol's watch, so my suggestion (to them) is to be more humble and collaborative," he said.

But it is not just Interpol and UNEP who have raised questions about the investigation.

The leading authority on the illegal wildlife trade is monitoring network TRAFFIC. The organization's elephant and rhino program coordinator Tom Milliken said of the report: "TRAFFIC has never been able to verify the claim that 40% of al-Shabaab's revenues is related to ivory trade."

"Operationally, Al Shabaab lies well beyond most extant large elephant populations so it is difficult to see how they could possibly sustain ivory trade on the scale that EAL claim," said Milliken.

"Occasional, opportunistic trafficking in small volumes of ivory is a possibility, but not sustained large-scale involvement in the trade," he said.

Milliken runs the Elephant Trade Information System for CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), which has been gathering information on ivory seizures since 1989. In that database, "Somalia is noticeably absent from any hint of trade," he said. Somalia has only been implicated in 10 seizures totaling a tiny 39 kgs in 25 years, most recently in 2003, before Shabaab formed.

Nelleman agreed that the possibility some people linked to Shabaab (or, just some Somalis) may have some involvement in the illegal ivory trade could not be ruled out, but argued that it was a "peripheral" activity at best. For Shabaab there are less risky, highly lucrative and much closer sources of income, including charcoal, taxation and extortion.

"The whole issue of terrorists getting income from poaching is vastly exaggerated," said Nelleman.

The U.N. Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritrea, investigators tasked with uncovering Shabaab's sources of finance, has never found evidence of ivory trading in any of its reports.

Matt Bryden, director of Nairobi-based Sahan Research, ran the U.N. Monitoring Group for four years until 2012. "We saw nothing and we heard nothing about ivory, and that's strange because we were looking at the exact same smuggling routes," he said.

Bryden said a more likely scenario might be one in which Somali poachers, who have operated in Kenya for years, smuggle their contraband through Shabaab territory paying taxes along the way. He said this would represent a barely significant source of funding for the terrorist group.

Despite the paucity of evidence, Shabaab is routinely lumped in with the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and Sudan's janjaweed militias, both of which have a well-documented involvement in poaching. Recently, Nigeria-based terror group Boko Haram has also been slipped into the terrorism-ivory discussion, though without apparent evidence.

There is no doubt Africa's poaching crisis needs addressing. Those responsible are sophisticated, well-resourced, well-equipped and well-armed criminal gangs that pose a very real threat to security in the often-poor countries where elephants are still found.

Shifting attention toward the alleged involvement of terrorists has seemed to distract from the real and likely much bigger poaching threats posed by criminal gangs and, to a lesser extent, armed militias. Yet environmental activists have eagerly repeated the terrorism allegations. After all, it's a good story: it grabs attention and therefore funds.

At a panel discussion after Bigelow's film was shown at the New York Film Festival in September, the Point Break and Zero Dark Thirty director was joined by, among others, the chief executive of WildAid, an animal charity that will help distribute the film. "It's not about the facts," said Peter Knights, "it's about the emotion."

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

Animal Investigators is on CNN's List of "Must Reads"

17+ must-reads on illegal wildlife trade

By John D. Sutter, CNN
updated 12:52 PM EDT, Tue March 18, 2014
A black dehorned rhinoceros is followed by a calf in South Africa in 2012.
A black dehorned rhinoceros is followed by a calf in South Africa in 2012.

  • NEW: The list grows with more suggested reading
  • The next Change the List series will focus on wildlife trafficking
  • Readers voted for John Sutter to cover that topic as part of the project
  • Sutter asks Twitter followers to help him create a list of "must-reads" on trafficking

Editor's note: John D. Sutter is a columnist for CNN Opinion and creator of CNN's Change the List project. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. E-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

(CNN) -- The illegal trade in animals is emptying ecosystems and pushing rare species toward extinction. I know this is a topic you care deeply about, because 13,276 of you voted for me to cover wildlife trafficking as part of CNN's Change the List effort.

Those of you who didn't vote should get interested, too. The illegal trade in wildlife is valued at $19 billion per year, according to a 2013 report from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and it's known to finance the drug trade and illegal arms trade as well.

Plus, the trade is fodder for some amazing stories -- stories of desperate poachers, daring park rangers and bizarre little creatures in need of protection.

Related: Poachers are prey in the Congo

John D. Sutter
John D. Sutter

I asked my Twitter followers last week to help me come up with a list of must-read books and must-watch documentaries on the subject of the global wildlife trade. The start of that list is below. Have other suggestions? Leave a note in the comments and I might add your book, documentary, article or podcast to this list.

Related: 99 must-reads on income inequality

And look for more on this soon. The next Change the List project will focus on the illegal wildlife trade. You'll find the stories here at CNN Opinion, at, and on my Twitter and Facebook feeds. The books on this list will help inform that story.

Until then, here's the list. Thanks for your help in sharing and growing it:

1. "Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers and the Hunt for Nature's Bounty," by Craig Welch (From Amazon: "'Shell Games' is a cops-and-robbers tale set in a double-crossing world where smugglers fight turf wars over some of the world's strangest marine creatures.")

2. "Anything that Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters and the Making of a New American Food Culture," by Dana Goodyear (I read this book late last year and loved it. It's not exactly on the wildlife trade, per se, but as Goodyear "sets out to meet the people who are stretching our notions of what is edible," as the The Times put it in a review, she also explores people in the United States who are eating rare and endangered animals, including a restaurant in Santa Monica, California, that was busted serving whale.)

3. "Killing for Profit," by Julian Rademeyer ("On the black markets of Southeast Asia, rhino horn is worth more than gold, cocaine and heroin," the book's site says. This catalogs a "two-year-long investigation into a dangerous criminal underworld.")

4. "The Lizard King: True Crimes and Passions of the World's Greatest Reptile Smugglers," by Bryan Christy (From Amazon: "Imagine 'The Sopranos,' with snakes!")

5. "Black Market: Inside the Endangered Species Trade in Asia," by Ben Davies

6. "Trading to Extinction," by Patrick Brown (A black-and-white photo book of 10 years of work documenting the wildlife trade.)

7. "Animal Investigators: How the World's First Wildlife Forensics Lab Is Solving Crimes and Saving Endangered Species," by Laurel Neme ("CSI for wildlife.")

8. "The Tiger: A True Story of Vengence and Survival," by John Vaillant (I'm a couple chapters into this and the suspense is gripping and the writing is eloquent -- and it sounds like it just gets better. From The New York Times review: "The structure of John Vaillant's book echoes that of 'Moby-Dick,' alternating a gripping chase narrative with dense explanations of the culture and ecology surrounding that chase. 'Jaws' fans will recognize the dramatic strategy of keeping the beast offstage as much as possible to allow terror to fill in the blanks, as well as a certain lurid detail at the book's end, which I won't reveal.")

9. "Love, Life and Elephants," by Daphne Sheldrick (A memoir by "the first person ever to have successfully hand-reared newborn elephants.")

10. "Conflict Tiger," by Sasha Snow (A documentary that inspired Vaillant's book. "In the forests of the Russian Far East, an inexperienced and foolhardy poacher triggers an infamous series of tiger attacks on people." Watch a preview on Vimeo.)

11. "Battle for the Elephants," by John Heminway (2013 National Geographic special, which you can watch online via

12. "The Last Rhino," by Jonah Hull (Al Jazeera "examines the poaching industry from South Africa to Asia.)

13. "Ivory, Horn and Blood: Behind the Elephant and Rhinoceros Poaching Crisis," by Ronald Orenstein

14. "Policing International Trade in Endangered Species," by Rosalind Reeve (Examines the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, more commonly known as CITES.)

15. "Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species are Being Rescued from the Brink," by Jane Goodall

16. "The Last Great Ape," by Ofir Drori and David McDannald

17. "Behind the Schemes," iTunes podcast by Annamiticus

UPDATE: More must-reads!

Thanks to dozens of you for suggesting additions to this list. Some of your picks are below. Keep them coming in the comments section at the bottom of this story. Also, check out a wildlife-trafficking-focused Twitter list I created with your help.

18. "Trafficking: A Memoir of an Undercover Game Warden," by Tony Latham

19. "Bear Sanctuary," by Victor Watkins

20. "The Last Rhinos: My Battle to Save One of the World's Greatest Creatures," by Lawrence Anthony

21. "Game Wars: The Undercover Pursuit of Wildlife Poachers," by Marc Reisner (1993)

22. "Winged Obsession: The Pursuit of the World's Most Notorious Butterfly Smuggler," by Jessica Speart

23. "Sold into Extinction," by Jacqueline Schneider (A criminologist's perspective)

24. "To Save an Elephant," by Allan Thornton and Dave Currey

25. "Stolen World: A Tale of Reptiles, Smugglers and Skulduggery," by Jennie Erin Smith

Going, Going, Gone! Animal Trafficking Threatens Many Endangered Species

From Living Green Magazine:

Going, Going, Gone! Animal Trafficking Threatens Many Endangered Species

November 15, 2012

caged bear
By Erin McLaughlin

If you’re like most people, you have read heart wrenching stories and perhaps watched documentaries about the illicit trading of drugs, weapons, women, and children. But how often do you hear about the illegal trafficking of our planet’s most endangered wildlife?

Animal trafficking is a horrific and widespread problem that has gone largely ignored in mainstream global media – until now.

As a 20 billion dollar industry, animal trafficking has made its mark on the black market rather quietly compared to drug and arms dealing, yet remains the third largest illegal activity in the eyes of the United Nations and the second largest for Interpol.

The estimation of some 38 million wild animals being captured and sold in Brazil alone is enough to get people’s attention, isn’t it? Perhaps not. The fact that an overwhelming ten to ninety percent of animals captured die during their treacherous journey is partly why the issue remains unnoticed by the global media.

It doesn’t help that a relatively small percentage of wildlife trade is considered legal and regulated and thus ‘okay’ by some standards. According to Dr. Laurel A. Neme, an international consultant specializing in natural resource management and wildlife advocacy with extensive experience working with global environmental organizations, the small risks and penalties associated with animal trafficking, especially the trading of endangered species, give any organization with the proper methods the ability to import and export as easily as they please.

This is in part because authorities have a difficult time catching these criminals as a result of massive land areas where they trade, very limited numbers of enforcement officers patrolling in these remote places and, until recently, few proper wildlife forensic labs in which to link evidence to the criminals. The rate at which criminals are apprehended in most regions is less than ten percent.

Arguably much worse is the way the animals themselves are handled and transported. By taping beaks and mouths shut and stuffing highly sought after tropical birds and monkeys into stockings and hidden compartments of suitcases, traffickers are able to ensure their goods get across the border without a voice, and often without eyesight. Many birds end up with perforated eyes so that they can’t react to the light and are squished into objects like PVC tubes or basketballs. A staggering number of animals are captured for pet trade specifically and endangered species sold live are drugged and abused every step of the way.

Once captured, endangered primates, tigers, birds, and reptiles are just some of the species marketed as exotic pets. Other jeopardized species end up as coats and fashion accessories, home décor, imported exotic meats, or as nothing more than chemical compounds in traditional medicines.

The legal wildlife trade by itself reportedly includes over 25,000 primates, 2 to 3 million birds, 10 million reptile skins, and over 500 million tropical fish. It’s painful to imagine how many illegally trafficked animals die under the radar for these products every year, every day. The actual number remains unknown.

To traffickers, the value of these animals who have evolved over millions of years and, let’s be honest, deserve to be on this earth just as much as we do based on that principle alone, is nothing but a dollar sign. Dr. Neme’s studies and extensive research speak for themselves. “Ounce for ounce, products such as rhino horn and deer musk can be worth more than gold or cocaine,” she states.

Additionally, Dr. Neme reported on a study done by the United Kingdom office of the International Fund for Animal Welfare which covered five areas of the English product trade market over the course of seven days. Products (i.e. animals) ranged anywhere from a $70,000 live two-year-old Siberian tiger, $65,000 chimpanzees, and an $8,200 seven-year-old gorilla. Elephant products alone amounted to over 5,500 individual listings in that time period with single ivory sculptures hitting the $18,000 mark.

“[The IFAW study] revealed well over 9,000 separate offerings by private individuals and traders. Of these, about three-quarters (6,750) were from protected species whose trade was illegal,” Dr. Neme concluded.

If these animals manage to be rescued from traffickers, they are often too weak or ill to be released back into the wild, especially infants who have not learned how to properly fend for themselves. In these cases the animals are kept in captivity until they can be shipped back to their country of origin. When they can’t find a home at a care center to be rehabilitated, they’re as good as dead. With global deforestation, poaching, and climate changes, don’t these animals have it hard enough as it is?

Imagine twenty years from now showing our children or grandchildren pictures of Bengal tigers and African elephants, Toco toucans and Spider monkeys, because photographs are the only remnants of these creatures.

Fortunately, illegal animal trafficking isn’t an untouchable problem. It also isn’t an issue solely for Africa or Asia or any of the countries where the most famous of our endangered species originate. It’s happening everywhere and, as it’s largely an issue still in the dark, it’s up to all of us to bring it to the surface and take action.

Learn about and donate to organizations like the Wildlife Alliance which use funds to rescue animals from illegal trade practices and support ranger patrols to protect wildlife and their habitats. Give back and spread awareness about the shelters that house rescued animals and forensic labs that prove their captors guilty.

In the absence of stricter government laws and regulations, the best way to combat illegal animal trafficking and help these animals is to simply give them a voice before its too late.

For more information on Dr. Laurel A. Neme, please visit her website at

Erin McLaughlin returned to Canada to focus on writing and publishing after earning a BA degree in English at the University of Toledo (Ohio). As a freelance writer, proofreader, and copywriter based near Toronto, Ontario, Erin has collaborated with marketing and industrial companies around the province and continues to build on a passionate interest in eco-conservation while working directly with the founder of Rain Tees and Andira International. She has explored parts of the United States, Canada, Europe, and China, and is working towards publishing fiction.

Environmental News from Living Green Magazine – Where Green Is Read

Elephants slaughtered, orphan found in latest Africa poaching

From World News on NBC News:

Elephants slaughtered, orphan found in latest Africa poaching

By Miguel Llanos, NBC News

SOS Elephants

These elephants are part of the herd that saw more than 30 members slaughtered.

The government of Chad said it was searching for poachers who slaughtered part of an elephant herd, while a conservation group said it had found an orphaned infant near the slaughter site.

SOS Elephants, which is based in the Central African nation of Chad, said it had counted more than 30 carcasses in the slaughter on Tuesday.

Poachers on horseback fired on the herd, which was across the river from an educational site run by the nonprofit.

The group said on its Facebook page that since the slaughter happened deep inside Chad it was probably the work of a local poaching gang, not armed groups from neighboring countries.Photos posted on the page showed elephants with their trunks cut off, indicating the poachers were after the tusks. The illegal ivory trade is booming across Africa due to demand from Asia for ivory trinkets.

SOS Elephants founder Stephanie Vergniault noted that the slaughter was near an oil refinery run by a Chinese company, CNPC. In the past, she posted, "several of their employees" have been caught at the Chad airport "with ivory in their luggage."

SOS Elephants

One of the slaughtered elephants, with its trunk hacked off.

Vergniault on Saturday told NBC News she had contacted the security chief at the airport and he promised to get "his people to double check all luggage, mainly the luggage belonging to the Chinese."

On the Facebook page, Vergniault added it was "very likely" the orphaned infant's mother was among the elephants killed. "Very sad, very hard moments," she wrote.

Vergniault urged Chad to create a special law enforcement unit to protect its elephants, and stiffen prison time for poaching. "The poachers need to go 20 years to jail, not 2 years!" she posted.

A wildlife activist who has followed the work of SOS Elephants said getting milk supplies for the orphaned elephant will be critical.

SOS Elephants

This orphaned elephant, nicknamed Savi, did not survive after her mother was slaughtered in an earlier poaching incident. SOS Elephants founder Stephanie Vergniault is with her.

"It's difficult to raise elephants, and one problem is getting the right milk formula -- which is very expensive and is shipped from Europe," Laurel Neme told NBC News.

Nicknamed Toto, the 3-week-old male will possibly be shipped to a large elephant shelter in Kenya, said Neme, who tracks wildlife issues on her website.

"Hopefully what will happen," said Neme, who noted Toto stands a better chance than another recent orphan, nicknamed Savi, that died.

Chad's elephant population is estimated at around 3,000 — a sharp drop since the 1980s, when it had around 20,000, according to SOS Elephants.

"Tomorrow will be simply too late," Prince William warns as Africa's magnificent wild animals are mercilessly and illegally poached at a rate not seen for decades.

The slaughter occurred as nations that are part of a wildlife treaty met to work out issues such as the illegal ivory trade.

As those talks wrapped up Friday, a motion by some African nations to allow the legal sale of ivory from elephants not killed by poachers was tabled for a later meeting.

Conservation groups urged signatories of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to oppose the move, and to get tougher on the illegal wildlife trade.

TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network funded by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said elephant and rhino poaching are at record levels and that countries where poaching is rampant should be barred from the international trade in wildlife.

"We should not be shy about using CITES trade suspensions as an international tool to prevent a full-blown elephant crisis," said TRAFFIC's Tom Milliken said in a statement issued by the WWF on Friday.

Just days after Rock Center aired Harry Smith's report, "The Last Stand," on the growing epidemic of illegal rhino poaching in South Africa, three of the rhinos featured in the report were attacked by poachers. Rock Center's Harry Smith reports.

On Monday, WWF said in a report that "the illegal killing of elephants in Africa is at the highest levels ever recorded, and the epicenter for poaching is Central Africa where elephant populations are experiencing localized extinctions."

Central African governments this week announced a plan to protect their wildlife, but its effectiveness is a question mark.

"It is critical that the plan is rapidly implemented because time is running out for the elephants of this region," Colman O Criodain, WWF’s wildlife trade specialist, said in the statement.

Review of ANIMAL INVESTIGATORS in Uganda's Daily Monitor

I'm honored that my book ANIMAL INVESTIGATORS received such a great review in the Daily Monitor of Uganda, a country on the front lines of wildlife trafficking. I'm particularly humbled because the reviewer is a Senior Warden Investigator for the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

As seen on the Sierra Club - The Green Life

The Green Life—Wednesday Book Roundup: Books By and About Eco-Heroes such as Jeff Corwin and Laurel Neme

Sierra Club-The Green Life Web Site Screen Shot

Animal Investigators: How the World's First Wildlife Forensics Lab Is Solving Crimes and Saving Endangered Species (by Laurel A. Neme, $25, Simon and Schuster, Apr. 2009): This book offers a fascinating glimpse into the animal kingdom’s CSI equivalent: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory. It's a one-of-a-kind institution fully dedicated to investigating wildlife crimes and staffed by scientists who painstakingly piece together the physical evidence needed to bring criminals to justice. Neme examines three particular cases involving bear gallbladders, walrus heads, and a feathered headdress from the Amazon, detailing the challenges researchers faced and how they overcame them to help stem illegal hunting and trafficking. It’s a technical read, but conservationists and the science-minded will appreciate the in-depth look at this critical line of work.

Laurel Neme: Wildlife Crime Documentation

By Rebekah K. Murray

Page from LSA Fall 2009 on Laurel Neme

They were dead: dozens of elephants with missing tusks. It was 1992, and Tanzania’s chief wildlife officer, Musa Mohammed Lyimo, suspected that the elephants had been killed for their ivory tusks. But how could he prove it?

Eight years later, Laurel Neme (’85, M.P.P. ’86) sat in Lyimo’s office and heard what happened. Scientists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory discovered that the poachers used agricultural chemicals as poison. The poison was injected into pumpkins, a favorite treat for elephants, and then scattered around watering holes. With poison, the tusks easily slip out of the elephant a few days after the animal dies.

While explaining this to Neme, Lyimo’s phone rang. There was a report of hippos being poisoned for their ivory teeth. “I realized this wasn’t going to stop, and I wanted to do something about it,” says Neme, an environmental public policy consultant at the time.

“Almost every protected species is affected,” Neme says, adding that wildlife smuggling may be worth as much as $20 billion annually, ranking just behind drugs and human trafficking

Neme began researching and writing about the cases sent to the world’s only wildlife forensics lab, which opened in 1989 in Ashland, Oregon. Her book, Animal Investigators: How the World’s First Wildlife Forensics Lab is Solving Crimes and Saving Endangered Species, was published by Scribner last spring. It’s written as a true-crime novel and shows how forensic science can link poachers and dealers to their crimes. Elephants are just one species affected. The illegal trade includes bear gallbladders, rare feathers, tiger teeth, and more. “Almost every protected species is affected,” Neme says, adding that wildlife smuggling may be worth as much as $20 billion annually, ranking just behind drugs and human trafficking.

What’s more, poachers aren’t just poverty-stricken lone hunters, Neme says. Organized crime networks and terrorist groups are involved. News reports have accused a Somali warlord, Sudan’s Janjaweed militia, rogue military gangs in Congo, and al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic militants of poaching to fund their activities.

To prove that a crime has occurred, wildlife agents must show that the affected animals are protected species. That’s where the lab comes in. Just like in police crime labs, scientists at the wildlife forensics lab use evidence such as fingerprints, tire tracks, bullets, gunshot residue, poisons, and DNA to reveal what might have happened to the animal and to identify possible suspects. But the wildlife scientists have an extra job. If they’re given a gallbladder, paw, feather, or even pills, they have to identify which animal species the sample is from. The 24 scientists at the wildlife forensics lab deal with over 30,000 species and handle an average of 600 cases a year.

“I hope people will become aware that wildlife trafficking is really an issue,” Neme says.

It’s also not a problem confined to Africa or Asia. Remember the dead elephants? Who would think of buying those tusks?

“The United States is one of the biggest importers of illegal elephant ivory,” Neme says. “I hope people will start to think about what they buy.”

Click here to download full PDF: 3.4 MB

The Wildlife Professional - Fall 2009

Finding Clues in Bones and Bile


By J. Jeffrey Root, Ph.D., and Antoinette J. Piaggio, Ph.D.

Article as seen in The Wildlife Professional

As seen on Peachy Green, August 15, 2009

Screen shot of

A fantastic, exciting and revealing read! Neme takes us deep into the dark world of wildlife exploitation with a thrill level and suspense rivaling.

International News Program of the Brazilian Federal Police (DPF)

International News Program of the Brazilian Federal Police (DPF)


 Year 1 – Number 1 – June 30th, 2009

Last February, the Minister of Justice, Tarso Genro, and the Director General of Brazilian Federal Police, Luiz Fernando Corrêa, visited for the very first time the headquarters of International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO – Interpol) in Lyon/France. There, they got together with the Secretary General Ronald Noble in order to deal with the appointment of the first Federal Police Liaison Officer for that International Organization.

Click here to read full PDF (2.7MB)

The Warden's Words

Warden's Words

I hope you are enjoying the 25th anniversary issue of International Game Warden magazine. This magazine has seen many changes, including three publishers and editors, in its quarter century of existence, but information about game warden books has been a fixture for most of its life. Some of the early issues had full page reviews of just one book, and later issues included lists of books, provided by a number of readers of the day. In 1994, avid reader, book collector and Iowa Game Warden, Bob Mullen was one of the people who provided lists of books to the magazine. He then approached editor Don Hastings and asked him if he'd like a recurring book review column in the magazine. Obviously he did, as the “Rathouse Reader” debuted in the Winter 1994-95 issue. The column remained a regular feature in the magazine until the Fall 2003 issue, which was printed shortly after Bob's retirement. Bob would usually write a short review of four or five books in each column in a straight-forward, no-nonsense style. His columns were often embellished with a short tale about “The Rookie” and his latest goof-up or stupid question. Upon retirement Bob and his wife decided to move into a smaller home, and with no room for his large collection of game warden books, he donated them to the North American Wildlife Enforcement Museum and then ramped things up for the next phase of his life.

Click here to read full PDF article (360K)

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