How Groo Grew Elephant News


Njoki Kibanya

Date Published

Fifteen years ago Melissa Groo took on the challenge of creating an Elephant News Service to keep all of the people interested in the science, management, and conservation of elephants informed of the latest happenings in Africa, Asia and around the world. Melissa was so successful that the name Melissa Groo became synonymous with the latest Elephant News, and “did you see the story on Groo?” became a common refrain in elephant conference coffee breaks!

It all began in 2001, when Melissa – then a writer, photographer and committed elephant conservationist who worked on Katy Payne’s Elephant Listening Project – began scouring the world for news stories, research results, new publications, conference details and other resources concerning wild elephants and the ivory trade to share with Save the Elephants News Service subscribers.

Even in the age of Google Searches, the Elephant News Service is still gathering subscribers, and we continue to receive testimonials as to the importance of the service. Currently 1,400 people receive news of African elephants, over 800 get news from Asia and nearly 500 subscribe to science updates. In 2010, the Smithsonian approached Melissa to help with press information for a paper analysing Human Elephant Conflict in Asia and this was published in the journal Gajah with Melissa as second author. (Doyle, S. et al. 2010. Human-elephant conflict—What can we learn from the news?)

Melissa lives in upstate New York and is also a professional wildlife photographer and has received several honours and awards in photography contests, most recently winning the Audubon Grand Prize, in April 2015. Melissa has now decided to dedicate herself full time to photography and has therefore handed the baton to a new team to continue her work.

While we are of course sad that she is leaving, we are most grateful for her over 15 years of dedication to keeping the world informed of the challenges elephants face, and we wish her the very best in the future! It will certainly be a glowing one – one look at Melissa’s website will leave you in no doubt as to her glowing prospects as a wildlife photographer!

If you’re not already a subscriber, you can sign up for the news service here