African wildlife films at Rotterdam festival

This video is the trailer of the film Africa’s Trees of Life – Sausage Tree.

The organisers of the Wildlife Film Festival in Rotterdam in the Netherlands write about it:

With a new perspective and fresh approach to wildlife filmmaking this film tells the story of the predators and animals that live in Nsefu along Zambia’s Luangwa River. A mother leopard finds the perfect place to ambush her prey. She shares her territory with a pride of lions and their nine cubs. Powerful lionesses hunt down a warthog and a buffalo and introduce the two-month-old cubs to their first solid meal. In the river, hippo bulls fight to protect their part of the river, and hundreds of crocodiles feed on the body of the loser.

The anchor of the film is an iconic tree – the Sausage Tree – easily recognizable within the vast landscape of the South Luangwa Valley. The harsh reality brought on by the winter drought plays out in the shade of the sausage tree which throws a life line to the hippos, giraffes, elephants, antelopes and baboons of the area. Large fruits and crimson flowers keep the herbivores well fed when all other vegetation is withered and dry.

With specialized low light cameras we follow a hippo on its secretive night mission to find the nutritious fallen fruits. Then he pays it forward by dispersing the sausage tree’s seeds in his dung. Cameras in the tree capture the macro insect life that revolves around the flowers. Bees collect pollen and nectar and, at the same time, fertilize the flowers. The same cameras placed on the branches film birds, baboons, vervet monkeys and squirrels drinking the abundant nectar. Below them, puku, impalas and bushbuck eat the fallen flowers.

This video is the film Zakouma.

The Rotterdam festival organisers write about it:

Between the Sahara desert and lush forests in the center of the continent of Africa, there is an intermediate band, made of savanna, thorny scrub, forest gallery and rocky outcrops.

In this region, six months in the year, not a drop of water falls, and animals persist in seeking the last ponds. The other half of the year, this desert place becomes a quagmire and all animals are in a flooded landscape by torrential rains. Few nature places are unspoiled in this region. But there is a real jewel in the heart of the Sahel: Zakouma National Park in Chad!

Dictatorial friends of United States governments

Former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre gesturing as he leaves a Dakar courthouse after a hearing on June 3, 2015. An official truth commission report in 1992 accused his regime of committing some 40,000 political murders -- although only 4,000 victims were officially named. (Photo: Sey Llousey/AFP/Getty Images)

From the Washington Post in the USA:

Five human rights abusers backed by the U.S. whom you never heard of

By Sudarsan Raghavan

September 8 at 5:18 PM

You’ve probably never heard of Hissene Habre, but you should have.

Your taxes helped fund his brutal regime in Chad in the 1980s for eight years. The former dictator was one of Washington’s many “men” in sub-Saharan Africa. Backed by American dollars, they brutalized their own people in the name of fighting communism or terrorism. They were feted by American presidents and invited to state dinners in Washington, even as they jailed and tortured anyone they deemed a threat to their way of life.

In Habre, the United States and its close ally France saw a way to counter Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. Brought to power by covert CIA support under the Reagan administration, Habre’s security forces were trained by key American allies, including Israel and Saudi Arabia. Habre used them generously and lethally: His secret police are accused of killing some 40,000 people in political prisons between 1982 and 1990, according to findings by a Chadian truth commission. An additional 200,000 had been unjustly imprisoned and tortured.

Now, Habre is finally being held accountable. His trial for allegedly perpetrating crimes against humanity and war crimes began this week in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, where Habre, 72, has lived in exile, peacefully, for the past quarter-century. A special court, formed especially to prosecute him, will serve as a test of whether African nations, who have a long history of dictators among them, have the power and the will to punish one of its own members.

On Monday, Habre was hauled into court by masked guards as he shouted in protest and tried to resist being seated inside the court.

Justice could soon be served for all the relatives of Habre’s victims. But the support of vicious human rights abusers remains an integral part of U.S. foreign policy.

Here are five of the most egregious U.S.-backed violators operating today that Americans have never heard of.

[1.] Islam Karimov — president of Uzbekistan … has brutally quashed all political opposition and jailed dissidents and journalists. Human rights activists speak of forced child labor and systematic oppression of anyone who poses a threat to the regime. The most infamous abuse occurred in 2005,  when Karimov’s security forces fired into a crowd of demonstrators in the city of Andijan, killing hundreds, according to activists.

Now, the Obama administration is courting Karimov, seeing Uzbekistan as vital to U.S. goals in Afghanistan, as well as to fend off the growing presence of the Islamic State in Central Asia. This year, the United States gave about 300 armored vehicles to Karimov’s military, the largest donation of military hardware from the U.S. to a former Soviet Central Asian country.

2. Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa — king of Bahrain

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa waves to reporters after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Sept. 8. (Photo: Christophe Ena/AP)

The Sunni Muslim monarchy, led by Khalifa, cracked down heavily on largely Shiite protesters during 2011 Arab Spring revolutions with the help of soldiers from neighboring Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. More than 30 were killed, mostly at the hands of Bahraini security forces, and hundreds more were wounded, according to human rights groups. Hundreds more were arrested and scores faced trials before a military court.

Washington has significant geopolitical interests in Bahrain. Key U.S. ally Saudi Arabia backs Bahrain, and the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet  is stationed in Bahrain. So it comes as no surprise that the U.S., after initially criticizing the monarchy for the crackdown, has resumed military aid to a nation that the watchdog group Freedom House describes as “Not free.”

Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman have criticized Freedom House for excessively criticizing states opposed to US interests while being unduly sympathetic to regimes supportive of US interests. Eg, Craig Murray, the British ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004, wrote that the executive director of Freedom House told him in 2003 that the group decided to back off from its efforts to spotlight human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, because some Republican board members (in Murray’s words) “expressed concern that Freedom House was failing to keep in sight the need to promote freedom in the widest sense, by giving full support to U.S. and coalition forces”. Human rights abuses in Uzbekistan at the time included treatment of prisoners who were killed by “immersion in boiling liquid,” and by strapping on a gas mask and blocking the filters, Murray reported.

Apparently, not even pro-establishment, United States government-subsidized Freedom House succeeds in labeling unfree Bahrain ‘free’. They had to leave that ‘honour’ to Rupert Murdoch and various far right ‘think tank’ sycophants of the Bahraini absolute monarchy.

“The Obama Administration’s  decision to lift the hold on military assistance to Bahrain cannot be attributed to improvements in political rights or civil liberties in Bahrain because no such improvements exist,” Mark P. Lagon, president  of Freedom House, said this summer in a statement. “Thousands of Bahrainis remain imprisoned  for voicing opposition to the government, and reports of torture are widespread. If anything, punishment and discrimination for ordinary Bahrainis is deepening.  As a result of its latest decision, the United States has stepped away from trying to improve respect there for fundamental human rights.”

3. Emomali Rahmon — president of Tajikistan

Under Rahmon, Tajikistan’s human rights abuses have grown. He has cracked down hard on political opponents as well as independent media. His security forces routinely use torture to obtain confessions, according to Human Rights Watch. They have also targeted lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, and cracked down on religious freedoms. Freedom House describes the country as “Not free.” Last month, the group said that a banning of an opposition by Rahmon’s government confirms that the country is now a “dictatorship.”

Rahmon, in a 2010 U.S. diplomatic cable leaked by Wikileaks, was described, along with his family, as playing “hardball to protect their business interests, no matter the cost to the economy writ large.” It described a culture of “cronyism and corruption” plaguing the country. The United States, though, considers Rahman as vital to American interests in Afghanistan and preventing Islamic militancy and opium smuggling from spreading into Central Asia.

In late August, Gen. Lloyd Austin III, head of U.S. Central Command, visited Rahmon in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, to discuss bilateral cooperation in counterterrorism and to fight the drug trade.

[4.] Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov — president of Turkmenistan

Berdymukhamedov, who came to power in 2006, presides over one of the world’s most repressive nations. Virtually every basic right — from freedom of expression to media to religion — is denied. Berdymukhamedov and his relatives control all aspects of public life. According to Human Rights Watch, relatives of people jailed during  waves of mass arrests in the late 1990s and early 2000s still do not have any information about their fates.

Berdymukhamedov, though, has allowed U.S. military aircraft en route to Afghanistan to fly through his country’s air space. Also attractive to U.S. interests in the region is Turkmenistan’s vast gas reserves — the largest in Central Asia. He has discussed strengthening energy relationships with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Washington views Turkmenistan as a vital piece of its goal to bolster Afghanistan’s economy by creating a new “Silk Road” — investment projects and regional trade blocs that would bring economic growth and stability to Central Asia. Chief among the projects is a long-proposed gas pipeline that would flow from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India via Afghanistan.

This year, Freedom House named Turkmenistan one of its 10 “worst of the worst” nations in terms of democracy, human rights and other basic freedoms. The list includes North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Central African Republic — and Uzbekistan and Equatorial Guinea.

[5.] Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo — president of Equatorial Guinea

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, president of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, and wife Constancia Mangue De Obiang arrive for a dinner hosted by President Obama for the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit on Aug. 5, 2014. (Photo: Susan Walsh/AP)

He’s Africa’s longest-reigning autocrat, in power since 1979. Oil-rich Equatorial Guinea is one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Obiang and his family own luxury properties around the world, drive expensive cars and fly in a private jet, as the vast majority of his people live in dire poverty, and one fifth of children die before age 5.

There is virtually no freedom of the press, no political opposition. Allegations of torture of political prisoners abound. Washington has long sought to keep strong ties with Obiang because of Equatorial Guinea’s oil reserves, seen as a way to lessen dependence on Middle East crude. U.S. oil companies are one of Equatorial Guinea’s largest investors, playing a lead role in oil and gas exploration and extraction. Last year, during the U.S.-Africa leaders summit, President Obama posed for a photo with Obiang and his wife, who were his guests at a White House dinner. The magazine Mother Jones at the time labeled Obiang one of Obama’s “5 most atrocious dinner guests.”

Sudarsan Raghavan has been The Post‘s Kabul bureau chief since 2014. He was previously based in Nairobi and Baghdad for the Post.

Welsh cuckoo flies to Chad in Africa

This video from Britain says about itself:

BTO Cuckoo Tracking Project – the story so far

26 April 2013

A recap of the BTO Cuckoo Tracking project, covering some of the findings, highlights and what’s coming next.

Thank you to all our sponsors and supporters for making this important project possible.

Follow the progress of the Cuckoos and maybe sponsor one –

From Wales Online:

His wings may be just 23cm long but he’s just flown 3,000 miles – this is ‘David’ the cuckoo from Ceredigion

17:08, 2 September 2015

Updated 17:16, 2 September 2015

By Liz Day

The British Trust for Ornithology is researching the migration of cuckoos. ‘David’ was tagged in Ceredigion and has just crossed the Sahara

His wings are just 23cm long and he has flown more than 3,000 miles in the last two months – meet “David” the cuckoo from Ceredigion.

David is blogging every step of his trip, with a little help from the British Trust for Ornithology, who are hoping his journey will help to shed light on population decline.

And since leaving Wales on July 10, David has flown thousands of miles passing through the likes of France and Italy to Bosnia and Montenegro and most recently crossing the Sahara.

‘We need to understand its cycle’

Chris Hewson, senior research ecologist, said: “We have lost more than half the number of cuckoos in the UK over the last 20 years.

“Clearly we need to understand all aspects of the cuckoo’s annual cycle before we can begin to suggest what might be driving the decline.”

In 2011, researchers launched a satellite tracking programme with the aim of discovering the causes of the decline. Five birds were fitted with satellite tags and monitored during their migration.

According to the trust, although cuckoos had been well studied during breeding season in the UK, little was known about the routes they take to Africa or where they spend the winter months.

‘We have learnt a lot of vital information’

Mr Hewson added: “If we can pinpoint areas of importance, then we can look at whether there are pressures which could explain the losses of the British cuckoo.

“We have learnt a lot of vital information which will help save our cuckoos but, there is still more to discover.”

According to the researchers, catching cuckoos is “not an easy task”, as they are known for their ability to escape from nets.

Male cuckoos like to sit in tall trees, so in order to catch them, the ringer has to persuade them to fly low.

They use large-mesh “mist nets”, made from fine nylon mesh, suspended between two bushes in a V-shape and play a recording of a female to lure them in.

Schoolchildren named birds

A model of a female cuckoo is also placed on a pole next to the net, attracting the males to mate.

When a bird is caught, a tag weighing 5g is attached to its body – about 4% of the body weight of an adult male.

The tags are solar-powered, transmitting for 10 hours and then going into sleep mode for 48 hours, to allow the solar panel to recharge the battery.

Most of the cuckoos tagged are adult males because they are larger and able to carry the tag more easily.

This year, 10 cuckoos are being tracked. The birds – Derek, Dudley, Coo, Charlie, Stanley, Larry, Peckham, Vigilamus and Disco Tony – were named by schools as part of a competition.

For more information, visit

David’s journey

July 10 – David leaves Wales. He is the last of the tagged cuckoos to leave the UK. He flies 560 miles to the north of France.

July 24 – He leaves France and travels east to the Po Valley in Italy.

July 28 – David flies east to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

August 3 – His tag shows he has flown 130 miles to western Montenegro. He rests near Lovcen National Park.

August 26 – He flies south from Montenegro, covering 1,160 miles in three days.

August 29 – David crosses the Mediterranean Sea and reaches Libya.

September 1 – He crosses the Sahara Desert and reaches central Chad.

Good African elephant news

This video says about itself:

The Elephant Documentary

24 July 2013

Elephants are large mammals of the family Elephantidae and the order Proboscidea. Traditionally, two species are recognised, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), although some evidence suggests that African bush elephants and African forest elephants are separate species (L. africana and L. cyclotis respectively). Elephants are scattered throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. They are the only surviving proboscideans; extinct species include mammoths and mastodons. The largest living terrestrial animals, male African elephants can reach a height of 4 m (13 ft) and weigh 7,000 kg (15,000 lb). These animals have several distinctive features, including a long proboscis or trunk used for many purposes, particularly for grasping objects. Their incisors grow into tusks, which serve as tools for moving objects and digging and as weapons for fighting. The elephant’s large ear flaps help to control the temperature of its body. African elephants have larger ears and concave backs while Asian elephants have smaller ears and convex or level backs.

Elephants are herbivorous and can be found in different habitats including savannahs, forests, deserts and marshes. They prefer to stay near water. They are considered to be keystone species due to their impact on their environments. Other animals tend to keep their distance, and predators such as lions, tigers, hyenas and wild dogs usually target only the young elephants (or “calves”).

Females (“cows”) tend to live in family groups, which can consist of one female with her calves or several related females with offspring. The latter are led by the oldest cow, known as the matriarch. Elephants have a fission-fusion society in which multiple family groups come together to socialise. Males (“bulls”) leave their family groups when they reach puberty, and may live alone or with other males. Adult bulls mostly interact with family groups when looking for a mate and enter a state of increased testosterone and aggression known as musth, which helps them gain dominance and reproductive success. Calves are the centre of attention in their family groups and rely on their mothers for as long as three years. Elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild. They communicate by touch, sight, and sound; elephants use infrasound, and seismic communication over long distances. Elephant intelligence has been compared with that of primates and cetaceans. They appear to have self-awareness and show empathy for dying or dead individuals of their kind.

African elephants are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), while the Asian elephant is classed as endangered. One of the biggest threats to elephant populations is the ivory trade, as the animals are poached for their ivory tusks. Other threats to wild elephants include habitat destruction and conflicts with local people. Elephants are used as working animals in Asia. In the past they were used in war; today, they are often put on display in zoos and circuses. Elephants are highly recognisable and have been featured in art, folklore, religion, literature and popular culture.

From Wildlife Extra:

Elephant births at Zakouma National Park in Chad represent a big win against the poachers

January 2014: The birth of 21 elephant calves at Zakouma National Park in the Republic of Chad, one of the last strongholds for migratory herds of savannah elephants in the central African region, has been welcomed as a turnaround in the fortunes of the park’s beleaguered elephant herds.

Poaching had reduced the Park’s elephant population from 4,000 to 450 between 2006 and 2010, leaving the traumatised herd too stressed to breed. Although African Parks stabilised the population after it took over the management of Zakouma in 2010, only five calves were born between 2010 and 2013.

Rian Labuschagne, Zakouma’s Park Manager, said that a lion study they carried out around 2005 found that elephant calves made up 23 per cent of the big cats’ diet at that time. “It was a direct result of the then rampant poaching that left substantial numbers of calves orphaned and easy prey for the lions,” he said.

The flush of elephant calves sighted by Labuschagne and his team shortly before Christmas now changes the status of Zakouma’s elephant population from “stable” to a “definite increase in numbers” and is testimony to the success of the intensive anti-poaching strategy implemented from late 2010 by African Parks, a non-profit organisation that takes on total responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities.

Anti-poaching measures have included the year-round deployment of patrols and specialised anti-poaching technology in the extended elephant range, aerial support for patrols, the fitting of satellite collars to individual elephants and establishing a park-wide radio communication system. They have also implemented increased intelligence-gathering and a reward system for information. As a result, there has been no poaching of elephants in Zakouma for more than two years.

Labuschagne concluded: “We are thrilled that Zakouma’s elephant numbers are now growing but are mindful of the continual challenges that we face. At the moment we are implementing major new anti-poaching initiatives to combat ongoing threats that now include the deteriorating situation in the Central African Republic to the south of us.”

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Endangered Dama gazelle on Sahara camera trap

This video from the USA is called Critically endangered dama gazelle born at Smithsonian’s National Zoo takes its first step.

From Wildlife Extra:

Camera traps capture Critically Endangered Dama gazelle in Sahara

Barbary sheep, caracal and poachers also caught on camera

October 2013. Listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Dama gazelle is one of the world’s rarest and most endangered antelopes. Formerly common across its grassland habitats of the Sahelian zone of Africa, it now only exists in a small handful of tiny, isolated populations in Niger and Chad.

Overhunting means just 300 Dama gazelle left in the wild

With overhunting by far the major cause for its demise, the Dama gazelle is also prone to encroachment of its preferred habitats by livestock development and agriculture, as well by severe drought and desertification. In all, there are probably no more than 300 Dama gazelles in the wild today.

Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF) has been working to conserve the gazelle for several years and the need for more nonintrusive ways of monitoring the presence and distribution of this shy and highly vulnerable species are urgently required to formulate viable management plans.

Community engagement

In recent years, hunters from the local population of Toubou pastoralists have been the gazelles’ main threat, with animals being shot opportunistically in ones and twos. Work with the herders and their community leaders is, however, having a positive impact.

Recognizing the value of working closely with the local people to conserve the gazelle, the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute recently donated $10,000 to employ community game guards with a Dama gazelle-specific mandate to work with the local community. The two guards were recruited from among the local Toubou people to help SCF in its efforts to raise awareness locally about the plight of the Dama gazelle and serve as both ambassadors and protectors for the Dama conservation effort. The guards provide a vital link between SCF and the local people and their activities include assisting in the installation and maintenance of the camera trap grids.

Barbary sheep and caracal

The first batch of data from the camera traps is just now being analysed. As could be expected, other species besides the Dama gazelle have been caught on camera. We are particularly thrilled to report sightings of both the Barbary sheep and the locally very rare and elusive African lynx or caracal. Also captured on camera are armed poachers looking no doubt for Barbary sheep and Dama gazelles. The images was [sic] taken just several hours apart.

With this type of data and information we are far better set than before to identify hotspots for extra surveillance and key areas of passage used by the animals as they move between areas of grazing, shade, etc.

The impact that visual evidence of wildlife presence and threats is also a key factor in mobilizing support locally for action and increased vigilance.

December 2013: The world’s largest tropical desert, the Sahara, has suffered a catastrophic collapse of its wildlife populations according to a study led by the Wildlife Conservation Society and Zoological Society of London: here.

African Parks, a non-profit organisation that manages eight national parks and protected areas in seven countries, has announced that it has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Chad to assess the challenges and opportunities that would result from setting up the area of Ennedi as a protected one: here.

Sudanese dictator welcomed by Libya, Chad regimes

This is a video about racist lynching of Libyans under the new regime because of the colour of their skins.

In the ‘new’ post-NATO war Libya, Libyans, African migrant workers and almost everybody else, including United States ambassadors, have to fear for their lives. The new rulers of Libya are allies of the NATO governments.

So is the dictator of Chad, Idriss Deby. He is a long time favourite of French governments, already under Sarkozy, predecessor of the present president Hollande.

From the Sudan Tribune:

Sudan: Bashir to Visit Chad, Libya Despite ICC Warrant

11 February 2013

Khartoum — The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir will travel to Chad and Libya this weekend to attend two events, a government sponsored website reported today.

The state-linked Sudanese Media Center (SMC) quoting press sources said that Chadian president Idriss Deby invited Bashir to the Community of Sahel-Saharan (CEN-SAD) summit during his stop in Khartoum last week.

Chad is a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC) which has issued two arrest warrants for Bashir on ten counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed in Sudan‘s western region of Darfur.

The ten-year Darfur conflict in western Sudan, on the border with Chad, has claimed 300,000 lives according to the United Nations. The Khartoum government puts the toll at 10,000.

Bashir’s previous visits to Chad in 2010 and 2011 were strongly criticized by the European Union and human rights groups in light of Ndjamena’s refusal to arrest Bashir.

During Chad’s thorny relations with Sudan, president Deby vowed to execute the arrest warrant against Bashir and rejected AU resolutions granting him immunity. However, as relations improved Deby reversed his position.

The AU summit that took place in Addis Ababa last month omitted the usual mention of urging its members to ignore ICC warrant against Bashir. A source told Sudan Tribune that African diplomats did not believe this was a pressing issue warranting discussion this time around.

SMC said that Bashir may head to Libya afterwards to attend the celebrations commemorating the outbreak of the revolution that toppled the regime of late leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The website noted that Bashir was invited by the Libyan leadership to attend but said that tensions in the North African country may not allow for the celebration to take place.

Ironically, Bashir was one of the very few leaders in 2009 who attended Gaddafi’s celebration of the coup which brought him to power forty years ago.

Following Gaddafi’s fall and demise in 2011 Bashir lashed out at Libya’s strongman saying that he was causing harm to Sudan through the years and revealed that Sudan provided support to rebels who launched a military campaign to unseat him.

Libya is not a member of the ICC and therefore has no obligation to detain Bashir. But it was the National Transitional Council (NTC), which took control of the country, that asked the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2011 to refer the situation in Libya to the Hague tribunal in order to investigate possible crimes committed following the uprising against Gaddafi.

This would mark Bashir’s second visit to Libya since Gaddafi’s removal.

THERE are many players in a protest — the sign makers, the rabble rousers, the logisticians. And then there are the political cartoonists, who sketch the events unfolding on the streets and, if they are like [Sudanese] Khalid Albaih, inspire even more tumult: here.

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda accused the United Nations on Wednesday of prolonging the conflict in Darfur by failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes: here.

African elephant using tool, video

This video says about itself:

Elephant using a stick to clean beneath its toe nails


Jan 22, 2013

This video was taken in Amboseli National Park in Kenya by one of our UK based consultants Lily. The elephants had been feeding in the marshes – you can see that the elephant is wet and in some of the distant shots has a waterline running along her body. When she got out, she noticed this stick and took some time using her foot and trunk to get it in exactly the correct position.

Once she had, she anchored it with her full weight on her left foot and used its sharp end to clean between the toes and under the nails of her right foot. Whether she had mud or maybe a small stone wedged there from the bottom of the marsh it was impossible to see, but she certainly knew exactly what she was trying to do, and succeeded in doing it.

Elephants have been recorded using sticks before, to scratch themselves with or using foliage to swat insects. We’ve never seen one clean their toe nails before. If you have, let us know.

February 2013. The BBC was criticized in some (short-sighted) quarters recently for showing the death of a baby elephant during a drought in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. New research has shown that this is not an uncommon event as young elephants are twice as likely to die during a hot dry spell as normal: here.

March 2013. At least 89 elephants have been killed by poachers in Chad, according to local officials, in one of the region’s worst poaching incidents since the massacre of more than 300 elephants in Cameroon’s Bouba N’Djida National Park in February 2012: here.

Baby elephant rescued after anti-poaching flight in Kenya: here.