Friday, 19 April 2019

Massive ivory haul seized in China

In one of the biggest busts in recent years, Chinese officials have seized 2,748 elephant tusks weighing more than 7 tonnes, the General Administration of Customs announced earlier this week. The ivory was confiscated during a joint operation by customs authorities and police across six provinces on March 30.

Most of the ivory, which had been smuggled from Africa, was found hidden inside several wooden boxes in an abandoned factory, Sun Zhijie, director of the administration’s anti-smuggling bureau, told local media at a press conference. Some 20 suspects have been detained for questioning.

“This is the biggest amount of ivory seized in a single case independently investigated by the anti-smuggling bureau of the General Administration of Customs,” Sun said, according to the South China Morning Post.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Second 12-tonne haul of pangolin scales seized in less than a week in Singapore

SINGAPORE - Less than a week after a record 12.9 tonnes of pangolin scales were seized from a container by the authorities here, another 12.7 tonnes have been uncovered in a joint operation by the National Parks Board (NParks), Singapore Customs and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

The 40ft (12m) container that was on its way by ship from Nigeria to Vietnam was declared to contain "cassia seeds" but was found on Monday (April 8) to be holding the animal parts, estimated to be worth about $51.6 million, in 474 bags at the Pasir Panjang Scanning Station.

The haul came from two species, the white-bellied tree pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis) and the giant ground pangolin (Smutsia gigantea) and are likely to have come from 21,000 pangolins.

The scales of the pangolin, believed to be the world's most highly trafficked mammal, are in high demand in Asia for use in traditional Chinese medicine despite there being no proven medical benefit from their use.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Massive rhino horn seizure in Hong Kong


Hong Kong customs seized HK$16.5 million (US$2.1 million) worth of rhino horns in transshipment cargo at the airport on Friday, marking a record haul of products related to the endangered species.

The smuggled items from South Africa were declared as vehicle parts destined for Malaysia. X-ray images of the cargo had raised suspicions and officers acted on a tip-off. Authorities found 82.5kg of suspected rhino horns and body parts in the consignment.

No arrests were made, and a senior customs source said they believed no local offenders were involved in the case.

According to the source, authorities have been monitoring smuggling trends with rhino horn being sought after in China and Southeast Asia for its perceived medicinal properties. “South Africa is home to most of the world’s rhino population and therefore, is a common source of smuggled rhino horns,” the source said.

Seizures of wildlife products have been on the rise last year and totalled 270 tonnes, a threefold increase in quantity from the year before.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

People's indiscriminate land use is wrecking the Maasai Mara

New research shows how activities like farming, erecting fences and settlements are hemming in the core protected areas of Kenya's  Maasai Mara. This is putting huge pressure on the environment. Grasslands are being reduced and becoming fragmented, and more prone to damage by the stress of climate change.

Between 1977 and 2016 The number of fenced plots has increased by more than 20% since 2010 outside of the core protected area. The number of new bomas was rising in parts of the Mara by up to three new bomas per square kilometre per year. There was also a massive increase in the number of sheep and goats (276.2%) and a slight decrease in the number of cattle (9.4%) in the Narok region in Kenya.

Livestock paths were prevalent and visible up to 5km or more inside te core areas. This illegal grazing is in competion with the wildlife and reduces the quantity and quality of food available.

From 1977 to 2016, illegal incursions into the Maasai Mara national reserve by cattle increased by 1053% and by sheep and goats by 1174%.

The numbers of resident wildlife species declined by between 40% and 87%. In addition, 63.5% fewer migratory wildebeest used the reserve.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Large scale elephant poaching is still alive and well

Customs officials at Da Nang’s Tien Sa Port in central Vietnam on Tuesday seized 9.12 tons of elephant tusks hidden in timber containers.

This is the biggest ivory seizure in recent years, police say. Preliminary investigations show that the containers were imported to Tien Sa from Congo, Africa. Last October, police and customs officials in Da Nang seized 10 tons of elephant tusks and pangolin scales trafficked from Nigeria to Tien Sa.

The seizure provides yet more evidence that organised criminal syndicates continue to exploit Vietnam as a hub for illegal wildlife trade ...

Vietnam outlawed ivory trade in 1992, but the country remains a top market for ivory products prized locally for decorative and medicinal purposes, according to conservation groups.

The country is also a busy thoroughfare for tusks trafficked from Africa destined for other parts of Asia, conservationists say. A report from the Environmental Investigation Agency, a London-based NGO, last year ranked Vietnam among the top 10 countries for ivory smuggling.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Finally: justice for rhino paochers after 10 years

Three poachers are finally convicted of killing a rhino in KwaZulu-Natal: A magistrate lost his patience after a decade of delays -- prosecution and defence sources estimated that somewhere between 12 and 25 defence attorneys had been engaged and later dismissed by the accused.

One of the world's longest rhino poaching trials came to a swift and decisive conclusion on Monday, 25 March when a Durban magistrate lost patience after nearly 10 years of "deliberate and unreasonable delays" by three men who tried, but ultimately failed, to drag out their trial indefinitely.
Convicting all three poachers based on the "overwhelming evidence" placed before him, senior Regional Court Magistrate Logan Naidoo declared that it would have been a travesty to allow the three men to continue holding the justice system to ransom any longer.

The three men, Muntugokwakhe Khoza, 50, Ayanda Buthelezi, 40, and SANDF officer Mduduzi Xulu, 51, were arrested on 26 August, 2009, hours after a rhino was gunned down in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve -- the world cradle of white rhino conservation, where this species was brought back from the brink of extinction almost a century ago by the Natal Parks Board.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Biggest ever seizure of pangolin parts

On the 11th of February 2019  the biggest ever seizure of pangolin parts was made from two locations in Sabah, Borneo.

From the two locations, authorities uncovered 29.8 tonnes of pangolinsand their parts.

The haul included about 1,800 boxes full of frozen pangolins stuffed inside three refrigerated containers, 572 more frozen pangolins in six freezers, 61 live pangolins in cages and in a car boot and 361 kg of pangolin scales. Two bear paws and carcasses of four flying fox were also recovered.

Pangolins, a group of unique African and Asian scaly mammals, are considered to be one of the most heavily trafficked wild mammals in the world. They are hunted and traded for their meat, scales, and other body parts, and used as traditional medicines in parts of Africa and Asia.

Of the eight pangolin species, four are found in Africa. These are the white‐bellied, black‐bellied, giant, and Temminck's ground pangolin. Three of these species live in Central African forests. The tree-dwelling white-bellied and black-bellied pangolins, weighing approximately 1.5 to 3kg (comparable to a small rabbit), and the ground-dwelling giant pangolin can weigh up to 33kg (the weight of a small Labrador dog).

For Central African forests in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo, we estimated that at least 400,000 pangolins are hunted annually for meat.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Head of Tanzania's Anti-poaching Unit suspended.

The head of Anti poaching in northern Tanzania , Mr Said Mnkeni has been suspended from duty. Allegations are that he has colluded with poaching gangs by giving them a heads up as to the anti poaching units plans and schedules of where they will be in the area.

Arusha Regional Commissioner (RC) Mrisho Gambo said Mnkeni's suspension was a result of his conniving with the poaching suspects, leading to the killings of 35 giraffes in the Longido district over two years.

Mr Mnkeni was a member of a committee investigating wildlife deaths in the region.

According to Mr Gambo, arrested poaching suspects were walking scot-free under Mr Mnkeni's watch.
"His office was also issuing contradicting reports on the rate of giraffe and other wildlife killings," he alleged.
Mr Gambo was referring to an incident where the KDU northern zone office put the number of giraffe killings at three, while the Longido Wildlife Officer registered nine killings.

 Corruption is alive and well - more needs to be done to root it out as one criminal at this level can do untold amounts of damage to conservation efforts. But it's better than it was five years ago.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Biggest ever seizure of pangolin scales

Hong Kong Customs seized a container en route from Nigeria to mainland China with ivory and pangolin scales worth HK$62 million

The container was believed to be destined for mainland China, for use in traditional medicine and  sculptures.

The haul included more than 8.2 tonnes of scales from thousands of endangered pangolins, with an estimated street value of HK$42 million.

It was the biggest seizure of pangolin scales, by value AND weight, ever in the city.


 Somebody please nuke China

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Poaching threatens to wipe out some species in Angola

Mbanza Kongo — some animal species under protection regime with highlights to elephants and African forest buffalo, are on the verge of extinction due to poaching, said on Friday in Mbanza Kongo, the head of the Forest Development Institute (IDF), João Domingos.
Speaking to ANGOP, the official pointed out the corridors of Casa da Telha / Soyo and Musserra / Rio Loge as the main localities of the province where the indiscriminate killing of these animal species is frequently verified.
According to the source, these hunters are operating outside the law, since the IDF General Directorate suspended the hunting license issued five years ago to allow the repopulation of protected animals in the region.