Obituaries [Jan/Feb 2000]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2000:

Alice Elizabeth Leigh Coldwell, 104, died November 5 in San Francisco. Born in Oakland, she graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1917 and soon afterward married Cedric Sayle Coldwell, son of the founder of the Coldwell Banker real estate empire. A member of the St. Moritz Ice Skating Club, she cofounded the San Francisco Figure Skating Club; won the Women’s California Indoor Skating Championship in 1934, at age 39; and two years later won the California Indoor Figure Skating Pairs Championship. Her athletic energy carried over into her later interest in animal welfare. The Pets Unlimited adoption shelter and animal hospital she founded with her friend Carter Dowling in 1947 was the first no-kill shelter of serious size in San Francisco. It now has annual income of $4.3 million a year and assets of $2.7 million––making it, though only the third largest shelter in the city, larger than the biggest shelter in many other cities of comparable size.

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BOOKS: Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home

Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home and other unexplained powers of animals

by Rupert Sheldrake

Crown Publishers (201 East 50th St., New York, NY 10022), 1999.

350 pages, $25.00, hardcover


Spend enough time around animals, of any species, and after a while an observant person will discover that they frequently know some things well before humans. Some of this has a simple explanation: most mammals and birds have keener hearing than humans, most mammals also have a sharper sense of smell, and cats and many other mammals have built-in night vision. Rats even see in the ultraviolet spectrum.

But some other phenomena are harder to explain. One is how come many dogs and some cats seem to know when a favorite person is coming home, and occupy a characteristic greeting location not used at other times, even when the person may still be aloft in an airplane or just getting ready to leave work. Even harder to explain is how come such animals are often able to anticipate unusual changes in the person’s schedule.

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BOOKS: The Camel’s Nose

THE CAMEL’S NOSE: Memoirs of a Curious Scientist

by Knut Schmidt-Nielsen

Island Press (1718 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20009), 1998.

339 pages. $24.94 hardback.


“It has been said that the primary function of schools is to impart enough facts to make children stop asking questions,” Knut Schmidt-Nielsen opens in a passage quoted by more than just a few of his reviewers. “Some, with whom the schools do not succeed, become scientists.”

In his preface, Schmidt-Nielsen elaborates, “This is a personal story of a life spent in science. It tells about curiosity, about finding out and finding answers. The questions I have tried to answer have been very straightfoward, perhaps even simple: Do marine birds drink sea water? How do camels in hot deserts manage for days without drinking when humans could not? How can kangaroo rats live in the desert without water? How can snails find water in the most barren deserts? Can crab-eating frogs really survive in sea water?

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In Kenya, the zoo that isn’t

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2000:

NAIROBI––Nairobi Safari Walk manager Samuel M. Ngethe and naturalist Joyce Engoke are emphatic that the Kenya Wildlife Service animal orphanage between the KWS headquarters and Nairobi National Park is not a zoo.

The term “zoo” has bad connotations for KWS, associated with brutal wildlife captures and exports, and with colonial menageries. Some such menageries in other African nations have been stranded ever since in old-fashioned cement-and-steel cages. Others starved––or were eaten by starving people––during bloody civil wars.

Even as ANIMAL PEOPLE visited, Karl Amman of the Kenya-based Bushmeat Project and Sarah Scarth, from the Johannesburg office of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, sought help for an effort to rescue more than 100 animals including 12 chimps from the Kinshasa National Zoo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Scarth told a November 18 press conference that about two-thirds of the Kinshasa collection had already starved or been killed during the Congolese fighting.

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Kenya Wildlife Service turns cor-

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2000:

NAIROBI––Kenyan foreign minister Bonaya Godana announced on December 23 that Nairobi has been selected as host city for the permanent headquarters of the sixnation Task Force for Cooperative Enforcement Operations Directed at Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora.

The task force was created by the 1994 Lusaka Agreement. The choice of Nairobi as permanent host city amounts to an international vote of confidence in both the stability of Kenya and the capability and integrity of the Kenya Wildlife Service.

As KWS goes, so goes Kenya itself––an economic and historical lesson well known to KWS director Nehemiah Rotich.

Rotich succeeded to his office in July 1999, having previously been among the closest longtime observers and critics of KWS in his former position as founder and director of the East African Wildlife Society. Rotich had also served––twice––on the KWS board of trustees. His 1998 resignation in opposition to former KWS director David Western’s proposal to introduce trophy hunting was reportedly the beginning of the end of Western’s disastrous regime of nearly six years.

Soon thereafter, Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi replaced Western with previous KWS director Richard Leakey. But the second Leakey regime at KWS lasted only six months before arap Moi promoted Leakey to head the entire Kenyan civil service, and appointed Rotich, who never before worked in government, to succeed Leakey.

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Youth for Conservation desnares Tsavo

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2000:

NAIROBI––Youth for Conservation, with the motto “Wildlife Our Heritage,” describes itself as an association of “post-school young persons regardless of race, creed, or gender who abound in conservation interest and wish to perpetuate it.”

Care For The Wild managing director Chris Jordan describes it as “A group of young lawyers, teachers, accountants, and programmers who are too well qualified and not well enough connected to find places right now in the Kenyan economy, who are too much attached to their love of the Kenyan environment to want to leave it and seek their fortune elsewhere. Many of them got their education abroad, and came back,” Jordan emphasizes. “These young people are the future of the nation. Rather than stagnate and wait for the economy to need them, they pitched in and put their talents to work.”

Jordan averes that the YfC members are some of the most dedicated people he’s met in conservation anywhere. For facilities they have only a closet-sized office at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust animal orphanage. Material assets consist of a second-or-third-hand computer, and a newly received grant of $1,000 from the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

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A video vision for Africa

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2000:

NAIROBI––Simon Trevor, 60, “flew to Africa in a light aircraft with his family in 1946,” his curriculum vitae begins. “He was educated in Zimbabwe and South Africa.”

After working on some of the major dam projects along the Zambesi River as a teenager, beginning at Kariba in 1955, Trevor joined the Kenya Wildlife Service at age 20, serving for four years as a game warden at Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks.

What Trevor really wanted to do, though, was make films about animals––especially films that would persuade people to save animals and their habitat. In 1963, therefore, just as kenya was becoming an independent nation, Trevor left KWS to film the international effort to rescue wildlife from the rising water behind the Kariba dam.

Trevor’s first full-length feature film was The African Elephant (1970); he was nominated for an Academy Award.

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A matriarch remembers– by Daphne Sheldrick, M.B.E.

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2000:

People often ask me, “When did you first start fostering orphaned animals?”

The answer is that I started young. I was born in Kenya, and grew up on a highland farm. Throughout my childhood, farmhands brought young animals to our home. The first orphan I cared for on my own was a little duiker antelope called Bushy. I was only three, but I spent all my waking hours with him. Eventually he answered the call of the wild, as all wild creatures must. I wept my first tears for a loved one.

My husband, David Sheldrick, was first warden of Tsavo East National Park, an untamed wilderness which is a haven for wildlife. We lived there from the time the park was created in 1948.

Tsavo was established not for its wealth of wildlife, however, but simply because it was a large chunk of country not suitable for either plowing or grazing. Then, the habitat favored the browsing species, such as elephants and black rhinos, both present in large numbers, as were dik-dik, lesser kuku, and gerenuk. Grazers were few. You couldn’t see anything. An impenetrable wall of bush was broken only by elephant trails.

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Hunting for the truth of animal and land deals

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2000:

BEIJING, NAIROBI––A pending application to sell tigers and a black leopard to a Chinese zoo which has fed live animals to carnivores, filed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by International Animal Exchange Inc., has in common with a dubious land deal involving the William Holden Wildlife Foundation in Kenya that in each case a Hunt brother, from Ferndale, Michigan, allegedly signed key documents.

And the brothers, longtime business partners, have often before been accused of sleazy dealings.

R. Brian Hunt applied on behalf of IAE to send the tigers and leopard to the Beijing Badaling Wild Animal Park, one of several major Chinese zoos named in ongoing international campaigns against live feeding.

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