Friday, December 9, 2016

Happy 100th Birthday Kirk Douglas from Palm Springs Guru & your fans world-wide

Kirk Douglas Turns 100: A Tribute to the Screen Legend and 6 Essential Movies

Kirk Douglas (Credit: Everett Collection)Kirk Douglas (Photo: Everett Collection)
By Carrie Rickey
Kirk Douglas resembles an Easter Island monolith, only with blue eyes and a cleft chin. His face, disproportionately large, is primeval, while his acting is intense and modern.
While not (yet) as enduring as the South Seas statuary, the prolific actor celebrates his 100th birthday on Dec. 9. He is one of the last great 1950s stars still standing.
Douglas once boasted that he made his career playing sons of bitches. This is not quite accurate. What is true is that he was a star who didn’t much care about cultivating a sympathetic persona. Mostly he played tenacious guys, like the real-life gladiator-hero that led a slave uprising against Rome in Spartacus. Or like Jonathan Shields, the opportunistic producer estranged from friends and lovers in The Bad and the Beautiful. Or Vincent van Gogh, the moody post-Impressionist who pushes away those who care for him in Lust for Life.
The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch in 1916 in the upstate New York hamlet of Amsterdam. He was the fourth child — and only boy — of seven siblings.
As Douglas told it his 1988 autobiography The Ragman’s Son, his family was so poor that Issur and his father employed the peasant method of insulation: Through spring and summer, they collected horse manure, and in the fall, they spread it around the base of their house to keep the heat in. Poverty didn’t insulate Issur from dreams of acting. He was hooked from the moment he recited a poem in kindergarten, and the class applauded. “I liked that sound,” he wrote. “I still do.”
His father’s lack of ambition stoked Issur’s own. The son worked many jobs to save money for college and enrolled as a work-study student at St. Lawrence University. Even then, he was magnetic: Despite the pervasive anti-Semitism on campus, he was elected student-body president.
After a brief career on Broadway (during which he changed his name) and an even briefer stint in the Navy (during which he married Diana Dill, his first wife and mother to his son Michael), he went to California. Douglas’ friend Lauren Bacall, who had a teenage crush on the actor, talked him up to Casablanca and True Grit producer Hal Wallis. The actor would spend his next 70 years in Los Angeles, 62 of them (and counting) with his second wife Anne.
Kirk Douglas in 'Spartacus' (Photo: Everett Collection)Kirk Douglas in ‘Spartacus’ (Photo: Everett Collection)
First, he was an electric actor. Then, he was one of the first actor-producers, tapping a young director named Stanley Kubrick for Paths of Glory (1957) and Spartacus (1960). Douglas bought the rights to Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, thinking he might play outlaw asylum inmate Randle McMurphy on screen. After assigning the rights to son Michael, he reluctantly ceded the lead to Jack Nicholson for the 1975 movie. In the 1970s, Douglas started writing — novels, memoirs, and more memoirs. In all, he has three Oscar nominations and one honorary statuette to his name. He has bounced back from heart surgery, a stroke, and other medical setbacks. He may very well be immortal.
Though Douglas made many great films in the 1940s — including Champion (1949) — and in the 1960s — including Lonely Are the Brave (1962) — the essential Douglas performances are between 1950 and 1960. His specialty was driven, often self-destructive, men who have trouble making emotional connections. It’s a recurring theme in his films, especially these six:
Young Man With a Horn (1950)
As jazz trumpeter Rick Martin (loosely based on cornetist Bix Beiderbecke), Douglas struggles to hit that unattainable high note to the exclusion of all else. He wrestles with his horn, scarcely noticing adoring looks from singer Jo Jordan (Doris Day). One thing that diverts Rick from his music is the troubled, closeted Amy North (Lauren Bacall). Douglas gives a remarkably physical performance, both virile and vulnerable. (Available on iTunes)
Watch a trailer for ‘Young Man With a Horn' 

Ace in the Hole (1951) 
Douglas plays Art Tatum, a disgraced New York reporter who lands at an Albuquerque daily and then finds the story of a lifetime. On a hunt for Native American artifacts, the owner of a trading post is trapped in a cave collapse. Tatum insinuates himself into the lives of the man’s family and prolongs the rescue effort in order to sell an exclusive to a New York paper. This opera of cynicism directed by Billy Wilder boasts Douglas’ most brazenly opportunistic performance. He’s like a boxer taking pleasure in hitting below the belt. (Available on Amazon, YouTube, Vudu, and Google Play)

Detective Story (1951)
William Wyler’s adaptation of Sidney Kingsley’s play about a day in the life of New York’s 21st precinct revolves around self-righteous Det. McLeod (Douglas) and his attempts to prosecute an abortionist (George Macready). Not unlike his counterpart in Ace in the Hole, McLeod is a professional who crosses ethical lines and judges everyone but himself. (Available on iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, Vudu, and Google Play)

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
This Vincente Minnelli Hollywood melodrama is perhaps the most purely enjoyable film on the Douglas filmography. He plays charismatic producer Jonathan Shields who serially makes and exploits a director (Barry Sullivan), a starlet (Lana Turner), and a screenwriter (Dick Powell), marshaling his considerable powers of seduction to woo them before revealing his full fury. (Available on Amazon, YouTube, Vudu, and Google Play)
Lust for Life (1956) 
Douglas is superb in Minnelli’s riveting character study of Vincent van Gogh, obsessive, depressive, and socially awkward. (To keep himself off-balance, the actor kept one shoe untied.) Here, the rage Douglas ordinarily expresses at other characters is expressed inward. The result is a classic portrait of the artist as both creator and destroyer. (Available on iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, Vudu, and Google Play)

Spartacus (1960) 
Broadswords and sandals! When Douglas asked for the part of Ben-Hur and was denied, he optioned the story of the slave who comes to lead a rebellion against the Romans. As ultimately directed by Kubrick (after original director Anthony Mann was removed), Spartacus is a rousing story of Roman patricians enjoying gladiatorial combat until one of the gladiators escapes and assembles an army. Subtle, Douglas is not. But as Spartacus, his brute strength, righteousness, and sensitivity to fellow slave Varinia (Jean Simmons), makes this the most satisfying of epics. (Available on iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, Vudu, and Google Play)

Watch Douglas in ‘Spartacus:’ 

Palm Springs Guru joins Kirk Douglas fans in Palm Springs, the greater Palm Springs area, the Coachella Valley, all across America and around the world in wishing Kirk Douglas a very happy 100th birthday. 

Palm Springs remembers and loves our former resident. God Bless Kirk Douglas.

Thank you Yahoo for providing this excellent article. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

G is for Google. What's new from Google - Shared by Palm Springs Guru

G is for Google
As Sergey and I wrote in the original founders letter 11 years ago, “Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.” As part of that, we also said that you could expect us to make “smaller bets in areas that might seem very speculative or even strange when compared to our current businesses.” From the start, we’ve always strived to do more, and to do important and meaningful things with the resources we have.

We did a lot of things that seemed crazy at the time. Many of those crazy things now have over a billion users, like Google Maps, YouTube, Chrome, and Android. And we haven’t stopped there. We are still trying to do things other people think are crazy but we are super excited about.

We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes. But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant.

Our company is operating well today, but we think we can make it cleaner and more accountable. So we are creating a new company, called Alphabet. I am really excited to be running Alphabet as CEO with help from my capable partner, Sergey, as President.

What is Alphabet? Alphabet is mostly a collection of companies. The largest of which, of course, is Google. This newer Google is a bit slimmed down, with the companies that are pretty far afield of our main internet products contained in Alphabet instead. What do we mean by far afield? Good examples are our health efforts: Life Sciences (that works on the glucose-sensing contact lens), and Calico (focused on longevity). Fundamentally, we believe this allows us more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren’t very related.

Alphabet is about businesses prospering through strong leaders and independence. In general, our model is to have a strong CEO who runs each business, with Sergey and me in service to them as needed. We will rigorously handle capital allocation and work to make sure each business is executing well. We’ll also make sure we have a great CEO for each business, and we’ll determine their compensation. In addition, with this new structure we plan to implement segment reporting for our Q4 results, where Google financials will be provided separately than those for the rest of Alphabet businesses as a whole.

This new structure will allow us to keep tremendous focus on the extraordinary opportunities we have inside of Google. A key part of this is Sundar Pichai. Sundar has been saying the things I would have said (and sometimes better!) for quite some time now, and I’ve been tremendously enjoying our work together. He has really stepped up since October of last year, when he took on product and engineering responsibility for our internet businesses. Sergey and I have been super excited about his progress and dedication to the company. And it is clear to us and our board that it is time for Sundar to be CEO of Google. I feel very fortunate to have someone as talented as he is to run the slightly slimmed down Google and this frees up time for me to continue to scale our aspirations. I have been spending quite a bit of time with Sundar, helping him and the company in any way I can, and I will of course continue to do that. Google itself is also making all sorts of new products, and I know Sundar will always be focused on innovation—continuing to stretch boundaries. I know he deeply cares that we can continue to make big strides on our core mission to organize the world’s information. Recent launches like Google Photos and Google Now using machine learning are amazing progress. Google also has some services that are run with their own identity, like YouTube. Susan is doing a great job as CEO, running a strong brand and driving incredible growth.

Sergey and I are seriously in the business of starting new things. Alphabet will also include our X lab, which incubates new efforts like Wing, our drone delivery effort. We are also stoked about growing our investment arms, Ventures and Capital, as part of this new structure.

Alphabet Inc. will replace Google Inc. as the publicly-traded entity and all shares of Google will automatically convert into the same number of shares of Alphabet, with all of the same rights. Google will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alphabet. Our two classes of shares will continue to trade on Nasdaq as GOOGL and GOOG.

For Sergey and me this is a very exciting new chapter in the life of Google—the birth of Alphabet. We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search! We also like that it means alpha‑bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for! I should add that we are not intending for this to be a big consumer brand with related products—the whole point is that Alphabet companies should have independence and develop their own brands.
We are excited about…
  • Getting more ambitious things done.
  • Taking the long-term view.
  • Empowering great entrepreneurs and companies to flourish.
  • Investing at the scale of the opportunities and resources we see.
  • Improving the transparency and oversight of what we’re doing.
  • Making Google even better through greater focus.
  • And hopefully… as a result of all this, improving the lives of as many people as we can.
What could be better? No wonder we are excited to get to work with everyone in the Alphabet family. Don’t worry, we’re still getting used to the name too!

Larry Page

Palm Springs Guru, as well as people in Palm Springs, the greater Palm Springs area, across the entire Coachela Valley, throughout California, and around the world, is a regular user of many things Google.

Thank you Google. Best wishes for continued success.

You can read the original article at

Monday, October 17, 2016

Thank you Google; You are a Role Model in Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

As the daughter of a Mexican immigrant, sharing Latino culture with my wider community is a daily part of life. From practicing Mexican folk dances with classmates to introducing neighbors to our favorite traditional foods, my family is always grateful to share our experiences as Latinos in the U.S. That's why I've been excited to help with Google's celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month — a time to reflect on and celebrate the contributions Latinos make to our company and our country.
Latino Heritage and Cultures collection
To kick off Hispanic Heritage Month, Google Arts & Culture published a dedicated collection of artifacts, archives and stories of Latino Heritage and Cultures from across the Americas. You can explore influences of Latino art and expression from ancient civilizations like the Aztec and the Inca from today’s modern street art in Puerto Rico, Argentina, and the United States. In total, the collection includes 55 institutions from 11 countries, 14K artifacts and artworks, 117 expertly curated exhibits, and 180+ virtual tours of heritage and cultural sites. See some highlights in our video:

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month on Google Arts & Culture

HOLA celebrations at Google
We also celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month across Google’s campuses, where members and allies of HOLA, the Hispanic Googler Network, promoted Latino culture, leadership and civic engagement. On September 16, 50 Googlers from across the globe gathered in Washington, D.C., for a three-day Leadership Summit. There, we met with organizations like Voto Latino, brainstorming ideas on how to get out the vote; advised local organizations like the Latin American Youth Career Center and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation using digital tools in the classroom; and mentored students from the Georgetown Scholarship Program pursuing careers in technology.

HOLA members continued the HHM festivities in their home offices. Googlers in Mountain View hosted the rock band ManĂ¡, who spoke about their interest in social good and music. And just earlier this week, we welcomed Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, who discussed the importance of access to Latino mentors, the value of immigrants in the American workforce, and the necessity of technology for 21st century careers. You can meet some of our HOLA members on our Instagram account.
Members of HOLA host Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month
Support for Latino students and families
At Google, we understand that diverse and inclusive environments are essential to building products and solutions that work for everyone. That’s why we invest in increasing educational opportunities for students of all backgrounds to pursue futures in technology. This month is committing $1 million to local Silicon Valley organizations to help close these gaps in educational success for Latino students and families.
Across the U.S., Latino students aren’t being adequately prepared for college experiences or college level math. In our own backyard, Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, 73 percent of Hispanic high school juniors do not meet math standards — compared to 34 percent overall. So we’re providing Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) $750,000 to support its work narrowing the achievement gap through its student-focused programs, school district policy support, and collaborations with business communities to bring innovation into the classroom. Googlers are already active volunteers with SVEF’s summer intervention program, Elevate Math. has also committed $250,000 to the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley (HFSV), which aims to increase high school and college graduation rates for Latino students. Over the course of the next two years, HFSV will conduct Spanish-speaking Parent Education Academies that will reach parents of low-income, Latino students who are at-risk of falling off track. These workshops will ensure Latino parents are knowledgeable about the local education system and how best to support their children to achieve academic results and fulfilling careers.

As Hispanic Heritage Month 2016 comes to a close, we look forward to continuing our support of the Latino community — at Google and beyond!

Palm Springs Guru joins the people in Palm Springs, the greater Palm Springs area, the entire Coachella Valley, all of California and across the USA in thanking Google for acknowledging Hispanic Heritage Month and their participation in this important part of American life.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Throwback Thursday - Arnold Palmer - Shared by Palm Springs Guru

Golf’s most beloved figure, Arnold Palmer, dies at 87.

Arnold Palmer was well known and beloved in Palm Springs and our greater Palm Springs area.


My wife and I are going to Arnold Palmer's restaurant in La Quinta, California


We will honor Arnold Palmer's life and legacy while enjoying, the world-famous, Arnold Palmer drink.


Arnold Palmer enjoyed Palm Springs and the greater Palm Springs area.  He spent a lot of time here.


Arnold Palmer knew that Palm Springs is the perfect place to visit, shop, stop, dine, stay, work, play, relax, refresh and rejuvenate.


Arnold, we miss you, R.I.P. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Motivation Monday - Respect - Shared by Palm Springs Guru

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. ~Bryant H. McGill

Palm Springs Guru believes that respect, given and received, can begin with listening.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Happy Birthday U.S. Air Force - 1947 to 2016 and 69 years old!

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Air Force
Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein, and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air
Force James A. Cody released the following message in honor of the Air
Force’s 69th birthday:

To the Airmen of the United States Air Force:

On the 69th birthday of our United States Air Force, we salute you - the
dedicated Airmen providing unrivaled Airpower for America - as we
celebrate the establishment of the United States Air Force as a separate
service. We remember our proud heritage and honor those who advocated
for an independent Air Force, passing on to us the responsibility for
continued innovation and leadership in the air, space, and cyber

Today, our Air Force delivers Global Vigilance, Global
Reach, and Global Power with unmatched effectiveness. With tens of
thousands of Airmen supporting combatant commanders from deployed
locations and many more directly contributing from their home stations,
the United States Air Force is absolutely essential to prevailing in
every joint fight.

America depends on our remarkable Total Force
of Active Duty, Guard, Reserve, and Civilian Airmen who have never
failed to answer our Nation’s call. We thank you and your family for
your service, sacrifice, and commitment to the defense of our Nation.
Happy 69th birthday United States Air Force!

Read the original posting at

The Palm Springs Guru is retired from the U.S. Air Force and proud to have served in the U.S. Air Force.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Fire Department Friday - Knight in Modern Armor

Firefighting is America's most dangerous profession. Thankfully, the firefighters of today have a lot of training and technology to help protect them.

Firefighters, the brave men and women who respond to fires, medical emergencies and other calls are, indeed, America's Heroes.

Today, take time to thank a firefighter.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Throwback Thursday - Gene Wilder & Gilda Radner - Shared by Palm Springs Guru

Remembering two great comedians and wonderful people. The original article is posted on the blog at
The following statement was published by The Cancer Support Community regarding the death of Gene Wilder.

It is with great sadness that we learned today of the passing of Gene Wilder, the iconic actor, screenwriter, author and advocate.An honorary board member of the Cancer Support Community, Gene was instrumental in the 1991 founding of Gilda’s Club, named in honor of his late wife, comedienne Gilda Radner. During her battle with ovarian cancer, Gilda was a member of The Wellness Community in Santa Monica, California and wrote about her experience in her book, It’s Always Something.

In 2009, The Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club Worldwide joined forces to become the Cancer Support Community, with more than 46 affiliates around the world. Both Gilda’s Club and the Cancer Support Community locations offer an array of professionally led social and emotional support programs for people with cancer and their families.

“Gene was a great friend and supporter to Gilda’s Club. His support was monumental during the founding of Gilda’s Club, and he remained a strong advocate for the vital programs and shared mission of our two legacy organizations,” said Joanna Bull, Founder of Gilda’s Club Worldwide. “Gene had promised Gilda that no one should face cancer alone, a vow that moved Gilda’s Club forward as he served as its celebrity spokesperson.

That promise was held over many years and supported in every way by his widow, Karen. The Cancer Support Community and Gilda’s Club are grateful, and we are diminished by the ending of Gene’s wonderful life.”

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Gene Wilder during this difficult time.

Palm Springs Guru, along with fans in Palm Springs, the entire Coachella Valley, all across the United States of America and around the world, remembers Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner.

It is important to look at  Please do it now.

Thank you to the Cancer Support Community; your work honors the memory of Gene and Gilda. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Motivation Monday - Gratitude - Shared by Palm Springs Guru

What are you grateful for?
Palm Springs Guru is grateful for many things. 

I am grateful for the 100,000 people who have looked at this blog.

Thank you to blog visitors from Palm Springs, the greater Palm Springs area, the Coachella Valley, throughout California, across America, and around the world.

Palm Springs Guru plans to keep on going and growing. 

Please tell your family and friends about this blog and the Palm Springs Guru.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

100,000 Visitors & Growing; Palm Springs Guru is Celebrating!

100,000 Visitors & Growing! Palm Springs Guru is celebrating!

My celebration begins with a thank you to Bill Feingold, 

Bill Feingold graciously granted me, The Palm Springs Guru, a wonderful and fascinating interview which was posted on this blog during July 28-29-30, 2014. 

We did not know one another at the time of the interview.

Now, two years later, my spouse Helaine and I are proud to be friends with Bill.

Bill Feingold helped me reach this significant 100,000 visitor milestone.

Palm Springs Guru like many other people in Palm Springs, the greater Palm Springs area, the Coachella Valley, throughout California, across the United States of America and around the world love listening to The Bill Feingold Show, Featuring Kevin Holmes.

Tune in to Monday through Friday from 6AM to 9AM. You will be glad you did.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Civility - Theme For August, 2016 - Shared by Palm Springs Guru

Palm Springs Guru theme for this month is civility.

Civility is the act of showing regard for others by being polite, like the civility you showed in speaking kindly to someone who has hurt your feelings.
Civility comes from the Latin word civilis, meaning "relating to public life, befitting a citizen," in other words, being friendly and nice to everyone. When you show civility, you use kindness and good manners. You are respectful, even if you do not like that person very much. Civility can also mean formal politeness, like your behavior at a fancy dinner.

Friday, August 26, 2016

National Dog Day - Shared by Palm Springs Guru

Every one I know loves dogs!
Palm Springs Guru like so many people in Palm Springs, the greater Palm Springs area, the Coachella Valley, all across America and around the globe loves dogs.

Ask any one about their dog and you will hear delightful stories and probably see some wonderful cell phone photos.

Please visit this website:

Monday, August 22, 2016

Motivation Monday - Civility - Palm Springs Guru Theme for August

Civility; together we can make a difference.
Palm Springs Guru like so many people in Palm Springs, the greater Palm Springs area, our Coachella Valley, throughout California, across the USA and around the planet earth appreciates civility.

Civility makes life better. Let's be civil to one another. Together we can make a difference.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Throwback Thursday - Ronald W. Regan - Remembered by Palm Springs Guru

Ronald W. Regan: 40th President of the United States of America
Ronald Regan knew and appreciated Palm Springs, the greater Palm Springs area and the entire Coachella Valley. Ronald W. Regan, actor, California Governor and  President of the United States of America knew that Palm Springs was the perfect place to visit, shop, dine, stay, work, play, relax, refresh, rejuvenate and enjoy.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Motivation Monday - Civility - Theme for August - Shared by Palm Springs Guru

Civility is summed up in four steps in this graphic by Ty Howard.
Thank you Ty Howard for this beautiful graphic. Palm Springs Guru encourages everyone to visit

Friday, August 12, 2016

World Elephant Day 2016 - Shared by Palm Springs Guru

World Elephant Day 2016

Two Cheers on World Elephant Day 2016

Things have improved since the dark days of 2011 and 2012 when ivory poaching across Africa appeared to be spiralling out of control and conservations began to contemplate the unthinkable: the extinction of the African elephant. On World Elephant Day 2016 there are grounds for cautious optimism.


In 2016, the mean estimate of the Proportion of Illegally Killed Elephants (PIKE) dropped below 5 percent for first time since 2009, according to a report prepared for the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) of CITES to be held in Johannesburg in September. PIKE is a key measure of poaching pressure and the 5 percent level is significant as this is considered to be the normal growth rate of elephant populations. So PIKE levels above 5 percent mean that elephant populations are likely to be declining; levels below 5 percent imply the possibility of recovery.
Prices of raw ivory in China dropped by more than 50 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to the latest survey by Save The Elephants (STE) researchers Esmond Martin and Lucy Vigne. This provides welcome evidence of a fall in the consumer demand that has been fuelling the poaching crisis since the start of the decade.
These figures should be treated with caution. Data on elephant populations, poaching and the ivory trade is notoriously hard to verify, and causal relations between trends almost impossible to prove. Nevertheless the balance of evidence suggests hard work by governments, wildlife protection agencies, NGOs and campaigners in civil society organisations is making a difference. Maybe, just maybe, we have turned a corner at last.
Key initiatives over the last year have included the historic joint statement by the presidents of China and the USA that their two governments intend to halt all commercial trade in ivory, and bonfires of ivory stocks in a number of countries–notably Kenya’s massive burn of its entire 105 tonne ivory stockpile at the end of April. Statements and actions like these are evidence of a growing global consensus around a total ban in ivory trade across the planet.
Equally encouraging, African countries are asserting their right, and acknowledging their duty, to lead the fight to save Africa’s elephants. Both the Giants Club, led by the Presidents of Botswana, Gabon, Kenya and Uganda, and the 29-nation African Elephant Coalition (AECs) have played an increasingly prominent role over the past year.
Paula Kahumbu delivers posters and presents a petition demanding the arrest of suspected ivory trafficker Feisal Mohamed Ali letter to the Inspector General of Police, David Kimaiyo, at his Nairobi office, 12 August 2014 Photograph: WildlifeDirect
The conviction and imprisonment of the ivory trafficker Feisal Ali Mohamed in Mombasa last month serves as a warning to high-level traffickers that they can no longer assume they are untouchable, and an inspiration to other African countries to emulate Kenya’s get-tough approach to wildlife crime. In Tanzania, ongoing proceedings against alleged “Ivory Queen” Yang Fenglan shows the determination of the authorities to cut off supply routes to China from a country that has lost more than 60 percent of its elephants since 2009.
Nevertheless, it is too soon to assert that Africa’s elephants are safe. The sudden and dramatic rise in poaching between 2009 and 2011 shows how quickly things can get out of control. Overall positive trends on poaching mask continuing crises in countries such as Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo where poaching continues on an industrial scale. Equally worrying is the sharp rise in poaching in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, until recently one of the most secure sites for elephants on the continent.
As consumer demand slows in China, traffickers have lost no time in moving in to expand other markets. According to recent reports by STE and the Environmental Investigation Agency, the ivory trade is booming in Vietnam  and Japan, two countries where the illegal trade is tolerated and whose governments have stood aside from global anti-poaching efforts.
In Japan, the legal domestic trade serves as the cover for massive inflows of illegal imports. The authors of the EIA report conclude that “no meaningful control exists even at the most basic level”. This highlights the fact that, in the market place, illegal and legal ivory are impossible to tell apart. In this context the recent decision of the EU not to support the AEC’s call for a global trade ban at CoP 17 is disappointing, to say the least.
Potentially even more dangerous, but thankfully unlikely to succeed, are the requests to CoP 17 by Zimbabwe and Namibia to remove their elephants from CITES protection, allowing them to sell their stockpiles. The arguments made by governments of these countries betray a view of elephants as simply one more commodity to be exploited. They are setting themselves apart from the growing consensus that elephants are worth more alive, and recognition that elephants have intrinsic, spiritual and cultural values that are just as important as any economic benefits they give rise to.
There must also be concern that the immediate threat from poaching is distracting attention away from other developing threats that are potentially as deadly as the poachers’ guns. Human population growth leads to loss and degradation of natural habitats, including in designated protected areas. Large-scale infrastructure project further fragment natural landscapes, cutting across vital migration routes on which elephants depend.
The effect of all this is to reduce the space for elephants and brings humans and elephants into ever-closer, often dangerous proximity. Human-elephant conflict turns people against elephants and erodes the public support that is essential for any successful conservation strategy. In 2016 alone, seven people have been killed in the Kajiado County (home of the famous Amboseli elephants), and at least eight elephants have be killed in retaliation by angered Maasai warriors who attack the elephants using spears.

The challenge for conservationists is to turn around the debate, so that it is no longer just about “saving”elephants, but focuses on building new, positive and mutually beneficial relations between humans and elephants.

In Kenya we can see the outlines of strategy to convert this vision into a reality. Our aim is to link anti-poaching campaigns to poverty alleviation initiatives and wider efforts to tackle corruption and strengthen democracy. This makes sense, since studies have consistently shown that elephant sites where high levels of poverty prevail (as measured by subnational infant mortality rates), and countries with poor governance scores (as measured by Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index), tend to experience higher poaching levels.
Follow NTV Wild on Facebook
NTV Wild on Facebook
A key first step is to bring Africans back into contact with wildlife. Most Africans today are increasingly moving to cities and have never even seen their continent’s iconic wildlife, not even on TV. ‘NTV Wild’ and a companion talk show called NTV Wild Talk  is a ground-breaking series that screens award-winning documentaries and informed debates about wildlife on prime-time Kenyan TV. This hugely successful series is transforming public attitudes and helping to mainstream wildlife conservation in policy debates.
Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 7.43.58 PM
Design sample for a conservation poster
NTV Wild is a collaboration between a national TV station called NTV, WildlifeDirect and the Kenya Wildlife Service. Our goal is to educate our people about wildlife and to inspire everyone to become a conservationist. We shine a light on heroes at the front line, communities, scientists, rangers, companies, children, and tour guides. The show links in to other initiatives to bring Kenyans into closer contact with wildlife, such as wildlife clubs in schools, citizen science projects, and the promotion of domestic wildlife tourism—opening up access by Kenyans to our country’s national parks.
The logic of this approach is simple. Informed citizens who appreciate the value of wildlife are more likely to support efforts to protect it—and be outraged by the ease with which all too often those accused of ivory trafficking are able to walk free from the courts.
The recent conviction of ivory trafficker Feisal Ali Mohamed, following a prolonged campaign by civil society organisations to expose and prevent irregularities in the judicial process, sent a positive message to Kenyans worried about corruption that justice can be achieved. In this way anti-poaching campaigns resonate with more general concerns about corruption and the need to strengthen democracy.
The private sector has emerged as a key supporter of NTV Wild. Private businesses like Safarilink, Fairmont Group and Serena Hotels provide travel and accommodation to NTV film crews. They sponsor campaigns and offer prizes, such as overnight stays in national parks, for on-air and online competitions. Their involvement reflects a conviction that wildlife conservation is good for business.
Women Ambassadors for Elephants
At a local level, this vision is embodied by the Oltome-Nadupo Women’s Company (the name means “successful elephant” in the Maasai language), a business venture set up by women in Amboseli. The women members of the company have given up commercial horticulture—one of the principal ‘conflict zones’ with elephants—in favor of more wildlife-friendly, and profitable, income-generating activities, including the production of beaded denim jackets for sale in fashion outlets in Nairobi and London. Today the women have stated that they are ambassadors for elephants and have started a door-to-door education campaign in their area.
It’s hard not to be hugely enthusiastic — from where we sit in Kenya, a new paradigm is emerging for socioeconomic development in Amboseli and other similar areas across Africa. Poor communities that currently view wildlife as a threat are transformed into dynamic local economies, where the local cultural and wildlife heritage is seen as both a source of pride and a profitable business opportunity.
And we are not the only ones making a difference on the ground; Kenya is home to many exciting elephant projects by organizations like the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Tsavo Trust, Big Life Foundation, Mara Elephant Project, Elephant Voices, Save the Elephants, Amboseli Trust for Elephants, Space for Giants, Freeland Foundation, Born Free Foundation, African Wildlife Foundation, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and so many others. There’s a reason that they are all in Kenya. It’s because Kenyans are ready to accept this diverse support.
But to save elephants, we have to replicate and expand our dreams and actions to a much a wider level. This is no less than to inspire a new vision for the future of Africa, in which the well-being of humans and wildlife, including elephants, are inextricably linked.

People in cities: Watch elephants playing at the waterhole on a live cam at any time. Turn up the volume and listen to the birds.

kRCPKAck_400x400Dr. Paula Kahumbu is the CEO of Kenyan Conservation NGO WildlifeDirect and is leading the hard-hitting Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign with Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta. Hands Off Our Elephants is a campaign to restore Kenyan leadership in elephant conservation through behaviour change at all levels of society, from rural communities, to business leaders and political decision makers. 
She is a Kenyan conservationist with a PhD from Princeton University where she studied Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and conducted her field research on elephants in Kenya 
In addition to running WildlifeDirect Paula lectures undergraduate community conservation at Princeton during an annual field course in Kenya. 
Paula is the winner of the Whitley Award 2014, Brand Kenya Ambassador (2013), Presidential award Order of the Grand Warrior (2013), winner of the National Geographic/Howard Buffet Conservation Leader for Africa (2011) and is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer (2011).
She formerly worked for the Kenya Wildlife Service and ran the CITES office and headed the Kenyan delegation. In 2005 she joined Bamburi Cement and ran Lafarge Eco Systems, a company that specializes in forest restoration of limestone quarries. She is a board member of Lewa and the Soysambu Conservancies, a well as Jane Goodall Institute Kenya. 
Paula is also an accomplished writer and she has co-authored a global best selling children’s book on a true story about a hippopotamus and a tortoise called Owen and Mzee: the true story of a remarkable friendship, it’s sequel Owen and Mzee: the language of Friendships, and Looking for Miza a story about an orphaned mountain gorilla in Democratic Republic of Congo in the same series.
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Thank you Paula Kahumbu of Wildlife Direct and Hands off our Elephants Campaign in A Voice for Elephants for this wonderful , interesting and educational article. Keep up the good work.