New research finds that poaching harms more than just the elephants who are killed.
Female elephant orphans face a hard-knock life compared to their counterparts with surviving mothers, and that doesn’t bode well for the species’ ability to bounce back from the poaching crisis, which kills some 30,000 elephants each year.
While youngsters whose mothers are killed by poachers may enjoy the protection of relatives, new research published in September in the journal Animal Behavior suggests that it doesn’t make up for the lack of nurturing by biological mothers.
“[Orphans] can adapt socially, but that misses the whole picture,” says Shifra Goldenberg, an international project manager working on elephant conservation at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the lead author of the study. “They might be grouping up with a family, and they might be looking like they’re just doing fine, but it turns out that they may not have the same access to resources that the other elephants have.”
In other words: It takes a lot more effort for an orphaned elephant to grow up when it doesn’t have the loving protection of its biological mother.
“If they don’t have the same resources that other elephants have access to, they might take longer to reproduce,” Goldenberg says. “They might have a harder time surviving illness; they might be more stressed. They might not start having calves at the same age. They might not be able to keep their calves alive if they have calves.”
A “Legacy of Destruction”
The study monitored the behavior of young elephants in northern Kenya around Buffalo Springs National Reserve and Samburu National Reserve. Biologists have studied elephants in this region for decades, so their demographics, movements, and other behaviors were already well understood, making this population ideal to study.
In 2009 poachers began targeting the animals in this area, especially focusing on older females because of their large tusks, according to Goldenberg. “There was this legacy of destruction in the population,” she says.
To understand what effects the loss of mothers has on surviving young, Goldenberg and her coauthor George Wittemyer, both at Colorado State University, set up this study.
They decided to focus on three groups of young females: those that lost their mothers but stayed in their herd, those that lost their mothers and took the unusual step of joining another herd, and those with mothers, for comparison. The researchers watched their behavior, recording friendly situations as well as those in which the other elephants acted aggressively towards the orphans, pushing or chasing them, for example.
Goldenberg and Wittemyer's analysis showed that compared to non-orphans, the orphans faced more aggression during their upbringing. Those orphans that dispersed into a different herd than the one they were born into saw an even higher level of aggression.
Furthermore, while orphaned elephants and elephants with mothers received the same amount of affection from other elephants in the herd, orphaned elephants received less affection overall because they didn't have mothers tending to them.
Is It All in Their Heads?
Gay Bradshaw, an ecologist, psychologist, and the cofounder and director of Kerulos Center for Nonviolence, a nonprofit focused on inspiring change in humans that will lead to a better psychological well-being in animals, says that many of these young elephants are also mentally traumatized from losing their mothers and other close matriarchs in their herds.
Bradshaw criticizes this orphaned elephant study for ignoring the neuropsychology of the elephants. She says that the psychological effects of trauma, which can last for decades according to some research, are pervasive in African elephants herds, affecting both the orphans and the older females, who may have lost family members themselves while young.
“If we are really trying to save elephants, we have to treat them like the populations who are survivors of genocides,” she says. “The collective psyche has started to break down.”
Joyce Poole, the co-founder and co-director of ElephantVoices was not involved with Goldenberg’s research but has studied elephants in Kenya for decades. She says this new research is not surprising and that it adds to the body of evidence that poaching has long-lasting effects.
“The implication is that such higher levels of aggression will be associated with higher levels of stress, which will translate into lower levels of survival,” she says, adding that in populations she has studied, poaching causes physical and psychological scars detectable more than 20 years later.
Goldenberg says that investigating psychological trauma wasn’t in the scope of her study, but the next step would be to determine if the increased aggression the orphans face actually does have consequences for their long-term survival and reproductive success.
“The cost to elephants of mass killing for ivory is not just one of numbers. It is the myriad of consequences to the individual lives of survivors and how these negatively impact the network and functioning of relationships in their society,” Poole says. “Elephants, after all, are a lot like us.”
Source: National Geographic
MTN Group Ltd. and its bankers have provided more documents that may reduce Nigeria’s $8.1 billion claim on the South African wireless carrier, which could be resolved soon, Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele said.
The central bank alleged in late August that MTN and four banks -- Standard Chartered Plc, Citigroup Inc., Stanbic IBTC Plc and Diamond Bank Plc -- illegally repatriated money from Nigeria and that the company should return $8.1 billion. The local regulator also fined the four banks a combined $16 million.
Speaking to reporters in London on Sunday, Emefiele said he expected that the new information would help cut the size of the claim and that the matter would be resolved “amicably.”
“I don’t think it will be at $8.1 billion having provided documents,” Emefiele said, adding his staff is studying the documents and he hoped to make a decision on the matter in a “couple of weeks.”
MTN sought an injunction in early September to buy itself time and fight the claim in its biggest market, which wiped as much as 36 percent off its market value within two weeks.
The central bank has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to deny MTN’s request and said the company should pay an annualized 15 percent interest on the dividends until the matter is ruled upon, and then 10 percent until the whole sum is paid, according to legal documents filed by the regulator.
“They will see they have been given a fair hearing,’’ Emefiele said. “More information has been provided and I’m very optimistic that matters are going to be resolved amicably.’’
Emefiele said the clash with MTN had taken a “global dimension” that it didn’t need to and that he was keen to demonstrate to international investors how open the Nigerian market is, calling the MTN matter “isolated’’ and no reason “for anyone to lose any sleep.’’
“This is not a matter that should have blown so openly,’’ he said. “Nigeria is a country that happens to be very, very open.’’
MTN Chief Financial Officer Ralph Mupita said earlier this month the spat in Nigeria may cause the carrier to reconsider raising cash through an initial public offering of its local unit in Lagos. Instead, MTN may list the business by way of introduction, which places existing securities on the exchange.
Travelers probably won’t be rushing to praise the airlines for it, but industry investors should find a lot to love in an innovation that offers just a smidgen more wiggle room for twice the money.
As budget coach seats become more cramped, and business class gets more luxurious and pricey, demand has swelled for an in-between option that will give flyers a little more comfort without breaking the bank on long overseas flights. That’s how the “premium- economy” seats offered in a growing percentage of international jet fleets have become one of the most lucrative innovations in modern flying.
Travelers pay prices that are broadly double -- and sometimes triple -- economy fares. And here’s the brilliant part from an airline’s perspective: In adding this cash-generating cabin, they incur only modestly higher costs without siphoning affluent travelers from their posher cabins. U.S. airlines are rushing to add the offering, which was pioneered by international rivals.
“Anytime you can get paid double for something that doesn’t cost you double to produce, that’s a pretty good place to be for any company,” said Seth Kaplan, editor of trade journal Airline Weekly, noting that the premium cabin “doesn’t take up twice the real estate, the food doesn’t cost twice as much.”
The premium-economy cabin, pioneered in the early 1990s in Taiwan and the U.K., typically offers wider seats with more legroom, nicer meal service and larger video screens. The option has become a must-have for long-haul international carriers because of passenger demand and the profit it generates above regular economy seats.
The push for premium economy is also getting a boost from the revenue limitations of the swankier seats in first and business class. Those plusher berths aren’t the most reliable cash generators for big international airlines because so many of them are consumed by loyalty-program upgrades.
Meanwhile at the other end of the airplane, in back, the spread of ultra low-cost airlines into long-haul flying has pinched industry income from economy fares.
A round-trip American Airlines Group Inc. nonstop flight from Los Angeles to London flying Nov. 14-21, was priced at $1,791.41 in premium economy -- nearly triple the economy fare of $577 on the same trip.
A premium seat on a Delta Air Lines Inc. nonstop from Detroit to Tokyo for those dates was $2,803.41 -- $1,602 more than the economy fare. On Qantas, the gap between the two cabins was more than $2,000 for its Dallas-Sydney nonstop flight, which was $3,673 round-trip in premium economy.
Even with that markup, premium-economy fares remain thousands cheaper than business and first class.
On some network airlines, the premium-economy cabin probably commands the highest profit margins on the entire aircraft, said Jude Bricker, chief executive officer of Sun Country Airlines Inc., which designates 27 seats as premium economy on its Boeing Co. 737s. “This is all about giving people what they are willing to pay for,” he said.
Early next year, United Continental Holdings Inc. will become the third major U.S. carrier, after Delta and American, to offer a premium-economy cabin. Emirates, the world’s largest airline by international traffic, plans to have it in 2020.
American was the first U.S. carrier to introduce the new cabin feature in late 2016 on its 787-9 Dreamliners. It plans to offer the seating on 124 long-haul planes by mid-2019. In testament to the cabin’s earning power, American is yanking eight business-class seats from its 20 Boeing 787-8s to replace them with 28 new premium-economy seats.
Delta will have comparable “Premium Select” seats on its full wide-body fleet by 2021, including 18 of its 777-200 jets by the end of next year.
United currently has 24 premium-economy seats flying on six Boeing 777s, but is still developing the amenities it will offer on a full “Premium Plus” product to debut early next year.
“It has the potential to be a fantastic product for the airline and our customers and our shareholders, but we’re at early days,” Andrew Nocella, United’s chief commercial officer, said in an interview, calling the carrier “anxious to catch up” with other airlines flying the cabin. The carrier is still trying to determine the ideal mix of economy, premium-economy and business-class seating for each aircraft and region, he said.
“Getting that calculation correct so you can size each cabin appropriately is fundamental,” said Nocella, a former American executive who was involved in that airline’s decision to add the new cabins. Both carriers use Rockwell Collins Inc.’s MiQ seat for their premium-economy sections, which is also used in American’s business class on some Airbus single-aisle aircraft.
Flights over 14 hours offer the best opportunity to provide multi-leveled products to serve customers, said Phil Capps, head of customer experience at Qantas Airways Ltd., which began selling premium economy a decade ago with the arrival of its first Airbus SE A380s. “This is really tapping into unmet demand that has been sitting in the economy cabin for some years,” he said.
Premium economy dates to 1992 when EVA Airways Corp. and Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. introduced it within months of each other.
The new cabin “was just kind of inevitable” as many international airlines phased out first class and made business-class cabins more luxurious, while steerage sections became increasingly austere, Airline Weekly’s Kaplan said. Given the opulence in the front of modern long-haul airplanes, including such accouterments as flat beds, gourmet dining, lush bedding and extravagant wines and liquors, “What used to be business class is now called premium economy,” he said.
Moreover, premium economy represents a growth opportunity for North American carriers since the product is still a novelty in the U.S. and Canada. Premium-economy bookings jumped 78 percent in North America between 2015 and 2017, but dipped 13 percent globally, led by declines in Europe and the Middle East, according to booking data from Carlson Wagonlit Travel.
The cabin can also help airlines reserve business and first class for their very top customers by offering another upgrade option to those in economy, Kaplan said. Even so, the inventory is likely to be tightly restricted for people who are cashing in miles. The premium-economy cabins “are not there to help people with miles, they’re there to generate cash,” he said.
Business and first-class cabin performance is flat globally, accounting for 31 percent of passenger revenues and 5.1 percent of traffic in the first half of this year, unchanged from the same period of 2017, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Premium economy’s growth will be fueled by both leisure travelers looking for something more comfortable than standard economy, and by businesses that won’t pay for first class anymore but may be willing to ante up for a premium-economy seat, said Perry Flint, a spokesman for IATA, a trade group representing airlines.
“Only around a quarter of our clients have policies that explicitly allow their travelers to book this cabin class, suggesting that there’s still a lot of room for growth for premium economy in corporate travel,” said Michael Valkevich, a Carlson Wagonlit vice president in Singapore.
Cape Town International Airport was named Africa’s Leading Airport for the second consecutive year at the 25th World Travel Awards Africa & Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony.
Senior executives from travel companies‚ operators and destinations were at the ceremony‚ held at the Durban International Convention Centre on Saturday night.
“Cape Town International Airport is honoured to once again receive this very important accolade. Being named Africa’s Leading Airport for the second year is extremely gratifying and reinforces the hard work and commitment to excellence demonstrated at this airport in the past 12 months‚” said Cape Town International Airport spokesperson Deidre Davids.
Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) said in a statement that the awards were recognised across the globe as the ultimate independently assessed travel accolade‚ voted for by travel and tourism professionals and consumers worldwide.
"Airports Company South Africa is delighted to be named among the travel sector’s top performers of 2018‚ with both OR Tambo International and Cape Town International airports also being nominated for the World’s Leading Airport 2018‚ which will be announced at the World Travel Awards Grand Final Gala Ceremony on December 1 2018 in Lisbon‚ Portugal.
"Cape Town remains a firm destination of choice for global travellers and over the past few years Cape Town International Airport has shown sustained growth in passenger numbers with a 5.3% increase year on year in 2017. Growth in international passengers has been in double digits for the past few years.
"The airport exceeded the 10 million passenger-per-year milestone for the first time in December 2016‚ which repeated again in December 2017 when passenger numbers significantly exceeded this mark‚" said Acsa.