Monday, 29 December 2014

Boss of major rhino poaching syndicate arrested in South Africa

A 45-year-old man said to be the kingpin of rhino horn poaching in KwaZulu-Natal has been arrested. His wife, and his second-in-command were arrested in a separate swoop in Hluhluwe.

Barend Lottering of Nyathi Anti-Poaching Unit said the swoop was the culmination of an eight-month intelligence-driven operation. Lottering warned that while it appeared they had a water-tight case against the man because he had been caught in possession of a rhino horn, he had already evaded prosecution on several occasions.

“This man is the leader of KZN’s biggest rhino-poaching syndicate and about 80 percent of the horns
in the province go through his hands.

While the man claims he is unemployed, the Asset Forfeiture Unit seized six luxury vehicles from his premises including a BMW X5 and a 3-series, a Mercedes Kompressor, a Toyota Land Cruiser and a
Prada. The vehicles are valued at a total of R3 million. According to sources who walked through the man’s house, 3km outside Manguzi in Northern Zululand, evidence of ready cash was everywhere.

Lets hope this time the evidence doesn't go missing and they aren't foolish enough to let him out
on bail.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Poachers snares in Uganda

Recent efforts by the Uganda Wildlife Authority have reduced the incidents of finding poachers wire snares from 7000 a year to just one or two a week.

Snares are indiscriminate killers, often catching animals that weren't the intended target and always causing a slow and painful death. Many of the endangered Rothschild's Giraffes of Murchison Falls National Park have been lost in the way.

War threatens the remaining wildlife populations in South Sudan

Ongoing violence in South Sudan is threatening whats left of the Wildlife with extinction, according to WCS conservationists in the Country.

Species in danger include elephants, giraffe, Nile Lechwe, Tiang and many more. In the 1970's there were 80,000 elephants in S Sudan, the number is now only 2500.

Every dry season combatants from both rebel and government forces see these animals as a massive source of bush meat.

From 2010 WCS has been running a programme to secure all the remaining elephant populations.This has involved intelligence-led enforcement, elephant monitoring, community based conservation partnerships and Protected Area management.

However since the current hostilities broke out in December 2013 as many as 30% of all elephants may have been killed.

Despite the war, WCS has been continuing its field work, supported by USAID, and GEF/UNDP, and private donors Paul G. Allen Foundation and Enlyst Fund, in cooperation with local communities.

Field activities involve raising awareness of the need for urgent wildlife protection, terrestrial and
aerial monitoring of wildlife populations, threats, and human activity, securing Park infrastructure,
supporting anti-poaching and anti-trafficking operations, expanding community conservation partnerships and livelihoods activities. These actions have contributed to the securing of protected area infrastructures, and protection of key wildlife populations (including elephant and giraffe) in several areas, but much more needs to be done.

Read this story in much more detail at at

Friday, 5 December 2014

Canadian rhino horn smuggler pleads guilty in New York court

Xiao Ju Guan, also know as Tony Guan, a Canadian antiques dealer, pleaded guilty November 25 in a federal court in New York City to attempting to smuggle rhinoceros horns from New York to Canada.

Guan was arrested in March as part of Operation Crash, a nationwide crackdown on illegal trafficking in rhinoceros horns, for his role in smuggling rhinoceros horns as well as items carved from elephant ivory and coral from auction houses throughout the United States to Canada, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

As part of his plea, Guan admitted that he, and others acting at his direction, smuggled more than
$400,000 of rhino horns and sculptures made from elephant ivory and coral from various U.S. auction houses to Canada.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 13, 2015.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Kenya's Elephant population is increasing.

The number of elephants has increased to 35,720, despite poaching in various parts of the country.

Kenya Wildlife Service director William Kiprono said the elephant population was 34,000 two years ago. He said measures put in place to stop poaching are bearing fruit.

However, he also reported that the number of tourists visiting parks has dropped by half due to fears of insecurity.

"Kenya is largely a safe country, especially within the parks, but the few cases of insecurity, especially at the Coast, cause panic among tourists," he said.

Ebola has also played its part as people don't seem to realise just how big Africa is and how far away Liberia is from Kenya. It is closer to London than Kenya.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Baby elephants abducted in Zimbabwe destined for Chinese Zoo

The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF), has issued a disturbing report claiming that wildlife in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park is being abducted and shipped to Chinese zoos.
This has apparently been going in since April. Tourists are now reporting that they are seeing the capture of baby animals in the Park.

So far 34 baby elephants between the ages of 2 ½ and 5 years old, 7 lions and about 10 sable antelope have been rounded up for shipping but investigators were not allowed to get close enough to the compound to photograph as security there has become extremely tight. It is expected that the animals will be shipped by container trucks to Maputo in Mozambique where they will be transferred to a livestock freighter and sent on an arduous sea passage to China.

In 2013 three young Zimbabwean elephants were transported to China. One died as a result of the freezing conditions and the remaining two are now in poor health. There were six more elephants earmarked but they were returned to the wild after ZCTF brought a high court application against the wildlife management authority.

 - See more at:

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Mozambique is doing next to nothing to halt poaching in the country

In a year long investigation, started in November last year and supported by photographic and documentary evidence, Oxpecker’s Estacios Valoi revealed how a number of administrative, judicial and tax authorities in Cabo Delgado and Niassa provinces were complicit with the poaching syndicates, enabling poachers to gain access to weapons and protected areas and turning a blind eye to ivory and other illegal goods being smuggled through Mozambican ports, airports and borders.

His report reads: “… documents show that, despite the laws, officials are facilitating these crimes. Some sell weapons and ammunition, military uniforms and boots, and others expedite the release of detainees and make evidence disappear. The investigation discovered 15 cases involving armed poachers in the Quirimbas National Park, from between 2009 and 2013, which were forwarded to the criminal investigation police, the prosecuting attorney and the provincial court – with no outcome. Even some poachers who had been brazenly walking around with AK-47s were released.”

The report goes on to tell how a “deposit” of 15 000 meticais can allegedly secure a poachers release from prison and how the district administrator of the Cabo Delgado province, Ancuabe Eusébia Celestino, and the chief secretary of the village of Muaja, Horace Radio, arm poachers with weapons to cull “problem” elephants around the Quirimbas National Park. This despite the fact that they have no authority to kill animals – so called “problem” animals must be dealt with by the provincial department of agriculture.

In September this year environmentalists warned that between 1500 and 1800 elephants in northern
Mozambique are being poached per year. According to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) Niassa’s elephant population was reduced from 20 374 in 2009 to less than 13000 in 2013. In the Quirimbas National Park, the elephant population is now estimated at about 790 elephants.

 Mozambique is one of Africa’s main transit hubs for the trafficking of ivory to Asian markets – a great deal of which is shipped out through the northern region’s main port, Pemba.The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has previously criticised Mozambique for being one of the world’s worst failures in combating poaching.

 In 2013 the country, together with Vietnam, was ordered to come up with an action plan to substantially increase its efforts against poaching and illegal ivory trade or face tough international trade sanctions.Although it was late to respond to Cites’ call, Mozambique has thus far managed to escape sanctions through a number of superficial measures. It has passed draft legislation that will, in theory, increase penalties against poachers. Whereas in the past poachers were slapped with a small fine they could now face prison sentences of between eight and 12 years, and fines of between $4 425 and $88 500.

 The draft, however, still needs to leap the hurdles of bureaucracy before it is passed into law. Given
Mozambique’s record of poor implementation at a judicial level, it remains to be seen how effective the law will be in terms of actual prosecution. In 2013, for example, Mozambique showed a considerable increase in the number of fines issued for poaching related crimes, yet less than 3% of those fines were ever paid.

In April this year Mozambique signed a memorandum of understanding with South Africa in which the two parties agreed to strengthen relations to enhance the protection of endangered species. Part of the agreement was to adhere to CITES and other relevant international, regional and sub-regional conventions and protocols. The terms remain vague, however, and an implementation agreement has yet to be signed.Most recently Mozambique forged an agreement with South Africa which supports the development of dedicated anti-poaching operations in and around Limpopo National Park, which joins the northern part of Kruger to form the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and Conservation Area.

 On the surface, Mozambique has recently made a great commitment in the war against poaching, but on the ground nothing has changed and the drafts and agreements serve as mere bluster to hold international sanctions at bay. This is particularly evident in the north of Mozambique where the systematic slaughter of elephants continues, aided and, in cases, instigated by government officials who claim to be protecting them.

The Environmental Investigation Agency and the International Rhino Foundation have petitioned the Obama government to take action against Mozambique under the Pelly amendment – which authorises the US to impose sanctions on any country that contravenes an international conservation agreement. In this case the CITES agreements.Although it has paid lip service to CITES, Mozambique has effectively cocked a snoot at the international community by dragging its heels and failing to take measures to halt poaching.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Manta Ray parts worth $671 million to the tourist industry have been intercepted in Bali

The  Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of the Republic of Indonesia and the WCS (Wildlife
Conservation Society’s) Wildlife Crimes Unit have made their largest seizure of manta ray gills and
arrested one person. The 103kg of gill plates represented 85 manta rays and each was worth $7.8 million to the Indonesian dive industry over its lifetime.

The raid took place on 7th November when officials, working on part of a larger investigation, at a house near to the  Pengambengan Negara fisheries landing area in Bali.

The latest raid follows on from follows three arrests earlier this month and in October involving illegal trade of manta ray meat and gill plates, sawfish snouts, and sea turtle meat.

While the financial loss of the 85 rays to the fisheries industry has been put at $20,000 by the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries it is the loss to the tourism industry that really shows the devastation that poachers and illegal fisheries are having on the country.

The 103 kg of gill plates is thought to have come from about 85 individual manta rays. Each manta ray would normally live for 40 years in the wild and are a major tourist draw bringing in divers from across the world to swim with these amazing fish.

Recent studies have shown that each manta ray of Indonesia brings in just under $200,000 a year in tourist income or about $7.9 million over it’s 40 year lifetime. To discover the equivalent of 85 dead manta rays in one raid is a major blow to the industry.

With the value of live manta rays being many more time that of a dead manta ray – the gill plates fetch between $250 and $500 a kilo in the markets of China – authorities need to get serious in tackling the trade.

The law in Indonesia was changed in February this year to make rays protected throughout its territorial waters. The waters of Indonesia at 6 million sq. kilometres is now the largest safe haven for rays in the World.

Sentencing for those caught trading or catching manta rays have also been increased recently. Those caught now face up to 6 years in prison with a fine of up to $125,000.

Another good reason to burn Ivory

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has launched a special investigation after it was discovered that ivory worth more than $1 million was stolen from protected stockpiles in the country. Routine checks by the Uganda Wildlife Authority noted that there was a shortfall of 1.33 tonnes of tusks recovered from poachers.

The special investigation has been launched amid fears that staff from the Uganda Wildlife Authority are working closely with traffickers to remove seized ivory.

The investigation is being led by the Ugandan Inspectorate General of Government – the country’s anti-corruption specialists.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

40 000 Maasai told to leave homeland in Loliondo as foreign hunters move in

Tanzania has been accused of reneging on its promise to 40 000 Maasai pastoralists by going ahead with plans to evict them and turn their ancestral land into a reserve for the royal family of Dubai to hunt big game. The compamy involved is the Ortelo Business Corporation (OBC), a luxury safari company set up by a UAE official close to the royal family. The OBC has operated in Loliondo for more than 20 years with clients reportedly including Prince Andrew.

Activists celebrated last year when the government said it had backed down over a proposed 1 500 sq km “wildlife corridor” bordering the Serengeti National Park that would serve a commercial hunting and safari company based in the United Arab Emirates.Now the deal appears to be back on and the Maasai have been ordered to leave their traditional lands by the end of the year.

Maasai representatives will meet the prime minister, Mizengo Pinda, in Dodoma today to express their anger. They insist the sale of the land would rob them of their heritage and directly or indirectly affect the livelihoods of 80 000 people. The area is crucial for grazing livestock on which the nomadic Maasai depend.

An international campaign against the hunting reserve was led last year by the online activism site, whose Stop the Serengeti Sell-off petition attracted more than 1.7 million signatures and led to coordinated email and Twitter protests.Alex Wilks, campaign director for Avaaz, said: “The Maasai stare out from every tourism poster, but Tanzania’s government wants to kick them off their land so foreign royalty can hunt elephants there. Almost two million people around the world have backed the Maasai’s call for president Jakaya Kikwete to fulfil his promise to let them stay where they’ve always lived. Treating the Maasai as the great unwanted would be a disaster for Tanzania’s reputation.”

A spokesperson for Tanzania’s natural resources and tourism ministry said : “It’s the first I’ve heard of it. I’m currently out of the office and can’t comment properly.”

I'm thinking that the Loliondo is essentially part of the Serengeti ecosystem, so they want to shoot those same animals the people like you and I pay a lot of money to go and see, and donate a lot more to conservation groups to help protect. This is madness. Hunting should be banned.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Giraffes are increasingly in the poachers sights

The Tanzanian national animal, the Giraffe, is increasingly becoming endangered as poachers have now turned their attention to the species.

The biggest ruminant and the tallest mammal, the Giraffe has the honour of featuring on the prestigious court of arms of several governmental institutions and the Tanzanian currency.

In 1998 the IUCN estimated the total number of Giraffe in Africa to exceed 140 000. By 2012, it was estimated that they had dropped to fewer than 80 000 individuals; indeed, in some areas traditionally regarded as prime giraffe real estate, numbers had dropped by 65 per cent.

There are nine subspecies, the commonest in East Africa are the Reticulated Giraffe and the Maasai Giraffe. Reticulated Giraffes are found in Kenya North of the Tana River, Ethiopia and Uganda. The numbers of these have dropped from 28000 in 1998 to about 4700 today.

Maasai Giraffes are found throughout the rest of Kenya and Tanzania and are the most numerous subspecies, with about 37000 left. Still a very low number.

Giraffes are now on the receiving end of poachers bullets with their illegal slaughter becoming more widespread in various parts of East Africa.

There is a pervasive rumour that the marrow from the thigh bone of a Giraffe is a cure for HIV, and this is fueling the killing. The meat is also in demand by the bushmeat trade.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The United States will partner with China and African countries to tackle the poaching crisis

The United States will partner with China and African countries to root out the menace of poaching, a visiting U.S. high-level official said on Monday.

Catherine A. Novelli, the Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Monday that Washington will offer material and technical assistance to revitalize the fight against wildlife crimes in Africa.

Delegates from eight African countries, China and the United States have attended a conference on wildlife trafficking in Tanzania to explore new strategies to contain wildlife crimes.

The U.S. official said Washington will forge a partnership with China to strengthen response to wildlife crimes in Africa, stressing that China has responded positively to a request by the United States to support war against poaching of African elephants and rhinos.

"It was encouraging to witness a size-able delegation of Chinese officials attend the wildlife trafficking conference in Tanzania. Our Chinese colleagues are responding positively to anti- poaching message," Novelli said.

America and China have agreed on a raft of interventions to halt wildlife trafficking in Africa, she said, noting that both countries have rallied behind public awareness targeting tourists, businesses and ordinary citizens.

The United States has also endorsed several legislative and policy tools to boost the war against
environmental crimes in Africa.

Of course it would help if China banned the sale of Ivory.

South Africa tries to justify legal rhino horn sales again

South Africa is trying to have us believe that it is seeing success in combating rhino poaching in recent months and, to ensure the trend continues, the country is considering legalising trade in rhino horns to stop the killing of the animals.

Rose Masela, head of national wildlife information management at the South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), said her department has covered some ground in slowing the rate of rhino poaching.

“If we hadn't made the interventions that we did we'd probably be seeing the rhino population going toward extinction maybe in the next few years,” Masela told journalists from the Foreign Correspondents' Association of Southern Africa yesterday at Bloomberg's Johannesburg office.

So how come we are on course to lose More rhinos this year than last year? (979 so far this year -1004 last year)

Adding, Masela said legalizing the trade in rhino horn is one solution government is mulling. She said this will drive down the price of rhino horns, hitting the poachers in the pocket in the process. “There's very little we can do about the belief in the use of rhino horn that exists in other countries. Legalization would be a more medium-term solution,” she said.

The next step could be proposing to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, an international agreement between governments, that rhino horn trade be legalized, said Masela.

Have they learned Nothing after the same proposal was passed in 2003 and 105,000kg of Ivory was sold to China and Japan in order to flood the market, reduce the price to stop the poaching. Look where we are now!

The demand is insatiable;the price of ivory has skyrocketed from US $5/kg in 1989 to a wholesale price of US $2,100/kg in China in 2014. Retail prices are said to be much higher.

Why do I get the feeling that some people are set to make a lot of money from this?

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Extracts from Speech by the Chinese Ambassador Dr. Lu Youqing On the Regional Summit to Stop Wildlife Crime and Advance Wildlife Conservation held in Arusha Tanzania.

"As a member country of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the Chinese government has always attached great importance to the protection of wildlife, promulgated a series of laws and regulations, and set up a National Inter-Agency CITES Enforcement Collaboration Group (NICECG) mechanism. Chinese State Forestry Administration has set up a special armed anti-poaching team."

"China leads the world on severe punishment in cases of wild animal protection violation including ivory smuggling and its products. It has also actively participated in international law enforcement cooperation to crack down criminal activities on smuggling and trade of ivory and its products. In February 2013, the Chinese government carried out successfully Operation COBRA, a cross-continent joint special operation to combat illegal wildlife trade together with 22 countries in Asia and Africa."

"The Chinese Embassy in Tanzania holds a tough attitudes to wildlife crime and requested all the Chinese citizens in Tanzania abide by Tanzania law and never involve in any wildlife crime."

"Wildlife conservation and bio-diversity protection is to safeguard our common home and is a shared task of all countries. In the fight of anti-poaching and illegal wildlife trade, Chinese government is always together with Tanzania and all countries in the world."

So, if all this is true WHY DON'T THEY BAN THE SALE OF IVORY IN CHINA  instead of turning a blind eye to the illegal Ivory imports - stolen from African countries who they claim to be friends with?

China could put a stop to the poaching, the loss of life and the decimation of the World's Treasures by a single act of  Leadership.

Three Rhino carcasses found in Kunene region of Namibia

Three Black Rhino carcasses were discovered in the Kunene region this week, two weeks after another carcass of a black rhino bull was found in Etosha.

This discovery brings Namibia's official total loss of rhinos to poachers this year to a record high of
18, comprising 15 black and three white rhino. Some claim the number could be higher.

A look at recent statistics shows that at least 26 rhinos, black and white, have been poached in Namibia since 2009, mostly this year.

The decision to dehorn Namibia's rhinos, in an attempt to combat the rhino poaching crisis in the country, has met a mixed response. The strategy's costs, its effectiveness and the opportunity for corruption have all been cited as challenges. Furthermore, a source with close ties to rhino conservation in Namibia said law enforcement probes into rhino poaching "leave much to be desired".

Namibia's tourism industry is the third largest contributor to the country's GDP and the killing of iconic wildlife negatively impacts Namibia's reputation as a tourist destination, decreasing tourism's
contribution to the treasury.

Friday, 7 November 2014

New EIA Report: Vanishing Point – Criminality, Corruption and the Devastation of Tanzania’s Elephants

A new report reveals that Chinese-led criminal gangs are conspiring with corrupt Tanzanian officials to traffic huge amounts of ivory, a trade which has caused half of Tanzania’s elephants to be poached in the past five years – even diplomatic visits by high-level Chinese Government delegations have been used to smuggle ivory.

In the major new report Vanishing Point – Criminality, Corruption and the Devastation of Tanzania’s Elephants, released on the eve of a major regional wildlife crime summit in Tanzania, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) details how the country’s elephants are being slaughtered in vast numbers to feed a resurgent ivory trade in China.

In December 2013, an official visit by a Chinese naval task force to Tanzania’s capital city port of Dar es Salaam spurred a major surge in business for ivory traders, with one dealer boasting of making US$50 000 from sales to naval personnel. In addition, a Chinese national was caught trying to enter the port with 81 illegal tusks intended for two mid-ranking Chinese naval officers.

Earlier that year, in March, the visit of a large official delegation accompanying Chinese President Xi Jinping to Tanzania created a boom in illegal ivory sales and caused local prices to double.

Tanzania is the largest source of poached ivory in the world and China the largest importer of smuggled tusks. Tanzania’s world famous Selous Reserve has seen its elephant population plunge by 67 per cent in just four years, from 38 975 animals to 13 084. Based on available evidence, Tanzania has lost more elephants to poaching during this period than any other country – 10 000 in 2013 alone, equivalent to 30 a day.

Vanishing Point further reveals how some politicians from Tanzania’s ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party and well-connected business people use their influence to protect ivory traffickers. In 2013, former Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Khamis Kagasheki named four CCM MPs as involved in elephant poaching and stated: “This business involves rich people and politicians who have formed a very sophisticated network.”

A year earlier, a secret list of the main culprits behind the crisis was handed to Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete by intelligence sources, containing the names of prominent politicians and business people regarded as untouchable due to links to the CCM; most people on the list have not been investigated further or arrested.

As far back as 2006, EIA investigators were told by Mwenge suppliers that some Chinese embassy staff were major buyers of their ivory. An official of Tanzania’s wildlife department even offered to sell the investigators tusks from the Government’s ivory storeroom and to put them in touch with a dealer who could provide ivory from the Selous Reserve.

EIA Executive Director Mary Rice said: “This report shows clearly that without a zero tolerance approach, the future of Tanzania’s elephants and its tourism industry are extremely precarious. The ivory trade must be disrupted at all levels of criminality, the entire prosecution chain needs to be systemically restructured, corruption rooted out and all stakeholders, including communities exploited by the criminal syndicates and those on the front lines of enforcement, given unequivocal support. All trade in ivory, including all domestic sales, must be resolutely banned in China which has failed to comply with CITES ivory controls.”

- See more at:

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Tanzania Praised for Anti Poaching efforts in Selous

THE international community has complimented Tanzania for her anti-poaching drive after going for four months without a single reported killing of an elephant in the Selous Game Reserve, the largest in Africa.

The Selous was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 due to the diversity of its wildlife and undisturbed nature.

The reserve covers a total area of 54,600 sq km (21,100 sq miles) and has additional buffer zones.
Speaking recently during a joint Selous expedition, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, expressed satisfaction with the ongoing coordinated efforts in combating wildlife poaching and trade.He noted that application of sophisticated preventive measures in addition to commitment among game rangers has helped to improve the situation dramatically. "Control over poaching is a commendable achievement. Purchase of a surveillance helicopter and hire of game rangers made a big difference," Mr Nyalandu said.

Results from a wildlife census conducted in October and November, 2013, show a dramatic decline in elephants in the area to just 13084. Wildlife surveys taken in the Selous in 1976 indicated that some 109,419 elephants inhabited the area.

The reserve has suffered such a heavy elephant poaching for ivory, that in the last four years alone, the Selous has lost 67 per cent of its elephants. It's one of Tanzania's, if not Africa's, most brutal killing fields.

Recently, the government officially established the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA), an independent organ which will not only help increase revenues through Tanzania's national parks, forests and game reserves but also improve significantly wildlife conservation techniques.

It was announced that in the 2014/15 financial year an additional 500 game rangers would be hired to bring to 930 the number of rangers on the ground. These will be deployed to cover the designated wildlife habitat of 112,000 square kilometres.

Rhino Smugglers arrested on flight from Maputo

Maputo — The South African authorities have announced the seizure on Friday of the largest ever haul of rhinoceros horns. Embarrassingly for the Mozambican authorities, the horns were being transported on a plane that had come from Maputo. The final destination of the two smugglers was Vietnam, where rhino horn is peddled as a miracle cure for everything from hangovers to cancer.

Two men, whose names were not revealed, were intercepted in the international departures section of
Johannesburg airport, after a detector dog reacted very strongly to one of their bags. Between them, the two men were found to be carrying 34 large pieces of rhino horn, weighing a total of 41 kilos, which Muller described as "the single biggest rhino horn seizure ever".

The two Vietnamese citizens had been travelling on the scheduled Qatar Airways flight from Maputo to Doha. This flight makes a short stop in Johannesburg, and the passengers from Maputo are normally asked to stay on board. Following a tip off the passengers were asked to disembark with their hand luggage.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Good news for Mozambique’s anti-poaching efforts

A historic agreement between the government of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano Foundation and Peace Parks Foundation will strengthen Mozambique’s efforts to combat wildlife crime by supporting the development of dedicated anti-poaching operations in and around Limpopo National Park, an integral component of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and Conservation Area.

The project implementation contracts signed in Maputo on 29 October 2014 follow on the memorandum of understanding between Mozambique and South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs in the field of biodiversity, conservation and management, signed on 19 April 2014. The Department of Environmental Affairs chairs the Rhino Protection Programme Steering Committee, which also includes South African National Parks, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Peace Parks Foundation.

Mr Werner Myburgh, Peace Parks Foundation CEO explains that the agreements will see current efforts to combat wildlife crime in and around the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and Conservation Area being expanded, with effectively more efforts on multiple fronts. “Many of the actions will be taken jointly by Mozambique and South Africa. Wildlife crime is often transnational by nature and transfrontier conservation areas and agreements such as these signed today, offer an important platform to counter the decimation of our protected species.”

The project makes provision for the upgrading of field communications technology used by rangers, as well as a shared radio communications systems across the international border. The agreement further includes providing training and equipment to rangers and improving rangers’ working conditions in Limpopo National Park, which abuts Kruger National Park. Together the two parks form a core component of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.An essential component of this project entails supporting the judicial system in Mozambique to effectively implement the new Conservation Areas Act that will bring about much stiffer penalties for anyone involved in illicit wildlife product trafficking.

Cooperation with the Mozambican government will also be extended via Peace Parks Foundation’s partnership with the Joaquim Chissano Foundation’s Wildlife Preservation Initiative. This includes launching an anti-poaching and counter-trafficking programme and the deployment of sniffer dogs on trafficking routes. A noteworthy element of this programme is the establishment of research capabilities in Mozambique to support the effectiveness of the programme and policy making.

Four or five elelphants a day are being killed in Mozambique

Most of Mozambique's elephants are found in the far north, in the Niassa National Reserve, and in the Quirimbas national park. Four per cent live in the south (in Maputo and Gaza provinces, mostly along the border with South Africa), and 30 per cent live in the centre of the country, mostly in Tete.

It is the Niassa and Quirimbas elephant herds that are being annihilated by organised criminal gangs, in what is described as a national disaster.

An aerial survey of the Quirimbas Park in 2013 found 854 live elephants, and 811 carcasses. A similar survey in the Niassa Reserve in 2011 found 12,029 live elephants and 2,627 carcasses. Estimates are that one elephant a day is being killed in the Quirimbas park and three or four a day in the Niassa reserve.

Mozambique is now seen internationally as one of the countries which is not taking action against elephant poaching. The lax attitude of the authorities can be seen from the fact that ivory is publicly on sale in Maputo. Buyers (Asian) can pick up raw and worked ivory at markets in the capital, under the noses of the police. Almost half of the poachers in Niassa are Tanzanian - but they depend on corrupt officials on both sides of the border to get the ivory out and to purchase more ammunition.

Recently poison has been used on at least five small lakes in Tete. This method kills not only elephants, but anything else that drinks at the lakes.

Criticism is levelled at the slow and inadequate response of the police and courts. Even when poachers are caught and fined, the fines are often not paid. This harms the morale of the game wardens, who are entitled to 50 per cent of the fines. The police failed to recognise the authority of game wardens, even though the law entitles the wardens to carry guns, and obliges the police to collaborate in protecting wildlife resources.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Rapid Response Team trained for anti poaching activities in Ruaha NP Tanzania

The Tanzanian government, working with the SPANEST  (Strengthening the Protected Areas Network in Southern Tanzania) project is training a rapid response team (RRT) that will be deployed to handle incidents of poaching in Ruaha National Park and surrounding area. The RRT, about 38 selected rangers, is currently being trained by international experts on sophisticated combat techniques and handling of communication equipment such as GPS systems and firearms.

SPANEST has been conducting anti-poaching campaigns around the more than 64 villages living around GRL and GKKL areas, trained TANAPA rangers, and did maintenance of roads around the park. One of the chievements recorded so far by  the SPANEST project is a 56 per cent decrease of poaching in Ruaha National Park where a total of 36 elephants were killed in 2013/2014 compared to 82 in 2012/13.

(I suspect these figures are very much on the low side but the trend is what is important).

Also, over 400 kilometres of roadwork in RNP have been maintained using a motor grader provided by SPANEST which has improved accessibility to the park and helped to improve response times to suspected incidents of poaching.

Park Chief Warden, Dr Christopher Timbuka said poaching incidents have gone down by about 60 per cent, attributing the achievements to combined efforts from stakeholders and government's 'Operation Tokomeza.' "'Operation Tokomeza' helped us a lot, we have a mountain of firearms seized following the government's special operation in our stores," he said, explaining that they are still continuing with anti-poaching efforts through the government's National Task Force.

"We are now continuing with the task force on anti-poaching, seizing arms and arresting poachers, and I can say that this year the situation is very good," he added. Although he didn't have statistics readily available, Dr Timbuka said between July and October this year there have been very few incidents of poaching.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

United Nations launches an emergency fund to fight elephant poachers in the Garamba National Park

The United Nations Rapid Response Facility has launched an emergency appeal to raise funds to fight elephant poachers in the Garamba National Park in the DR Congo.

Despite increased action by Garamba National Park rangers (run by African Parks), between April and July this year 78 elephants were killed. This represents 4% of the parks elephant population.

The main perpetrators are armed groups, of which most important is the Lord’s Resistance Army. There are also incursions from groups in South Sudan  and others within the DRC such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR),and also possible  illegal military involvement from Uganda

The Rapid Response Facility, a collaboration between the United Nations and Flora and Fauna International, has launched an emergency appeal to help boost anti-poaching patrols in the park. The appeal will add to the funds already given to the ICCN (Congolese Nature Conservation Institute) and African Parks Network.

While parts of DR Congo are beginning to return to normal following large-scale civil war and military unrest the Garamba National Park is in eastern DR Congo which is still effectively a war zone. A number of rebel groups, predominately from Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi have failed to disarm or leave the country.

There are fears that poaching could increase dramatically over the next few months as rebels try to maximise their income from exploiting the Garamba National Park and its surroundings before the UN deadline to disarm expires. The major rebel groups have been given till January to disarm or leave the country.

After January the United Nations have threatened to launch major military operations in partnership with the DR Congo military against the rebels.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Rhino poachers shot and arrested in the Kruger

SANParks rangers shot and killed a suspected rhino poacher in the Kruger National Park on Saturday morning, according to Limpopo police.

The park rangers noticed three men within the Punda Maria - Boxahuku Mountains at the Kruger National Park and ordered them to stop. The men allegedly shot at the rangers, who then returned fire.One suspect died at the scene and another sustained gunshot wounds to his left knee and right thigh. The third suspect surrendered and was arrested.

One hunting rifle with 11 rounds of ammunition, an axe, a knife and three cellphones were confiscated.

The deceased suspect was believed to be wearing a Mozambican soldier's uniform while the other two were  dressed in the SANParks uniform.

The surviving suspected poachers are facing a range of charges including rhino poaching, attempted murder, trespassing, possession of an unlicensed firearm and impersonating a SANParks official.

Meanwhile, in a joint operation conducted on Friday, the South African Police Service and SANParks arrested five suspected poachers in the Tshokwane Section of the Kruger National Park.
The five were arrested after two vehicles, suspected of being involved in rhino poaching activities, were stopped and searched.

A .375 hunting rifle, silencer and ammunition and other poaching related equipment were recovered in the operation.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

When the buying stops, the killing can too

Pangolins are now the most highly trafficked mammals in the world. Sadly these mammals might become extinct before they become known to the general public.

We always hear about elephants and rhinos being threatened but rarely is there any coverage on pangolins.

These cute, armour-plated creatures are being illegally trafficked to East Asia for both their meat and
their scales, which are – like rhino horn and manta ray gills – used in traditional medicines. The Asian Pangolins have been completely decimated and now the African Species are being heavily targeted.

It is only because of such high demand that illegal poachers have been trafficking and slaughtering
thousands of pangolins a year. ‘When the buying stops, the killing can too.’

Monday, 20 October 2014

Australia to ban import of lion trophies from South Africa

A permanent ban on the importation of lion parts, including trophies, is planned by Australia. This was announced after South African conservationist Ian Michler met with Australian Environment Minister, Greg Hunt and other Ministers of Parliament in Canberra earlier this month.

Canned lion hunting, or ‘captive’ hunting as the breeders and hunters refer to it, is a type of hunting
where lions are bred specifically to be shot in confined areas. Around 700 hundred a year are killed. What anyone gets out of this baffles me - there's no proper hunting skill involved in shooting a semi tame disoriented lion in a paddock.

There are now over 100 facilities, containing between 6 000 and 8 000 predators in South Africa. Cubs are also bred to supply the ‘walking with lions’ industry. These places offer visitors the opportunity to interact with lion cubs and sub-adults under the pretext of conserving them. Again, it is ridiculous to let cubs interact with humans and then somehow think they can safely be released into the wild.

Instead of being used for any purpose connected with conservation, many of the lions are sold on for
canned hunting once they become too boisterous for punters to walk with them.

South Africa seems incapable and unwilling to do anything to curb this barbarous industry.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

UN Envoy calls for increased efforts to protect Garamba National Park

During a visit to the 4900km2 Garamba National Park, the top UN official in the Democratic Republic of
Congo (DRC) urged national and international actors to step up efforts in preserving the natural resources
and rich biodiversity of the Park  which is located in the north-eastern part of the country bordering
South Sudan and close to Uganda.

"Armed group activity is eastern DRC is largely funded by the proceeds from illegal trade and trafficking
of the country's rich natural resources," said Mr. Martin Kobler, who heads the UN Organisation
Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO)."Our efforts to track down these negative forces must also address the drivers of the conflict," he added in a statement released by his office today.

Poaching has greatly reduced the wildlife population in the Garamba National Park. Despite intensified
anti-poaching efforts, more than 60 elephants have been killed in the Park only since April 2014.The main perpetrators are armed groups, of which most dangerous is the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). It is
also thought that there is probable Military involvement as a Hind helicopter with Military style paintwork
has been observed over the Park on several occasions and families of elephants have been found dead  -
shot through the head from above. The tusks and trunks had disappeared and no trace of the poachers was ever found.

Mr. Kobler also prasied the efforts of the park rangers and others who help to protect Garamba. The park
has been run by African Parks, in partnership with the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la
Nature (ICCN) since late 2005.

Also with Mr. Kobler on his park visit were the Deputy United States Ambassador, the Moroccan Ambassador and members of the MONUSCO team.

Chinese Internet companies to stop trading in Wildlife products

Chinese internet companies will begin to stop the online trading of wildlife and wildlife products from Friday.

At a seminar in Hangzhou City in east China’s Zhejiang Province, representatives of nine well known
companies, including Alibaba and Tencent, promised not to provide any opportunities for promotion and trading of wildlife and related products on their platforms.

The companies called on the public to boycott wildlife products to protect rare species. Trading online has made such activities easier to execute and easier to conceal, said an official overseeing import and export of rare species.

An investigation in eight Chinese cities by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, found 3300 elephant tusks and 330 stores selling illegal ivory.

Dealers often use instant messaging services and online threads to spread their messages, making
enforcement of the law all the more difficult, according to International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

UNEP-GEF Rhino Project launched in South Africa

Environment Minister Edna Molewa on Wednesday announced the official launch of the UNEP-GEF Rhino Project.

“The project is aimed at strengthening law enforcement capabilities to combat wildlife crime, with a specific
focus on rhino,” she told reporters in Pretoria.

The co-operation agreement between the United Nations Environment Programme and her department was signed on 8th of May this year. Key partners include the SA Police Service, the University of Pretoria’s Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL), SANParks, CITES, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

“The UNEP-GEF Rhino Project seeks to strengthen our law enforcement capabilities through improved forensic capacity, strengthened data gathering systems, and enhanced co-operation mechanisms at an international level,” Molewa said.

Speaking at the event, deputy director general legal authorisation, compliance and enforcement, Ishaam Abader, said forensic technology, which involved DNA sampling of rhino horns, would aid the prosecution of poachers and smugglers.

“The use of the forensic technology is actually for better prosecution. For example, if we can identify where
a particular rhino came from using forensic technology, we can then assist in the prosecution of cases.”
Chief director enforcement Frances Craigie said the project would help build up a rhino DNA database.
The project’s focus was on the use of forensic technology to combat rhino poaching, information sharing and
analysis among national law enforcement agencies, and co-operation and exchange of information at an
international level.

Interpol to establish Environmental Crime office in Nairobi

The International police organisation Interpol announced  on Tuesday that it would establish a team to target ivory trafficking and more generally, environmental crime, in Africa.

The new team, based in Nairobi, will help further Interpol's Project Wisdom, which combats elephant and rhinoceros poaching and the illegal trade of ivory, AFP reported.

"The global fight against illegal trafficking has just been given a significant boost," said Australian High Commissioner Geoff Tooth as the initiative was unveiled at the Australian High Commission in Kenya.

Incidents of Vulture poisoning in Namibia on the increase

The poisoning of vultures in the Northeast parts of the country is believed to have had far reaching consequences for them beyond the boundaries of Namibia.

Poisoning incidents where large numbers of vultures perished have increased. It is thought that the vulture
populations from Namibia, Botswana and possibly Zambia and Zimbabwe could be affected. This was revealed by the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Uahekua Herunga on Wednesday in commemoration of the International Vulture Day. Herunga said widespread use of poison to control predators in the farming areas of Namibia, historically contributed to the decline in vulture populations throughout the country.

In Namibia, the Lappet-face, the White-backed, White-headed and the Hooded vultures are listed as endangered, while the Cape and the Egyptian vultures are already extinct. The current population of Vultures in Namibia is unknown.

"We need to raise the awareness, and the education of the general public if we are to put a stop to the
unnecessary killing of wildlife species and the endangering of human lives through irresponsible poison use. I
believe that many irresponsible uses of poisons and pesticides results from lack of awareness and education," the minister said.

Namibia is a summer feeding post for many African-Eurasian migrant bird species. Pesticides are  thought to be a key reason for the decline in the number of birds migrating to Southern Africa. Other wildlife at risk
includes all birds of prey, insect-eating mammals such as aardwolfs, hedgehogs and pangolins, insect and seed eating birds, water-fowl, insects, amphibians and fish.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Malawi to tackle long term increases in poaching

Lilongwe — Weak wildlife legislation and lower fines imposed on poachers, have been blamed as being a major factor for the increase of illegal ivory and other wildlife poaching within the country.

Director for National Parks and Wildlife in the Ministry of Information and Tourism, Brighton Kumchedwa said this in an interview on the sidelines of the celebration of World Animal Day which falls on 2nd of October.

"The highest penalty that has been given to the culprits so far is K1 million which is not enough. And the inconsistencies in giving out theses penalties by the Magistrates is another drawback as well, some are imposing a lower fine and other a bigger one," he said.

According to available figures, the national population of elephants is down to 2000 from 4000 ten years ago. In Kasungu alone, the country had 2000 elephants in the late 1980's but there are now only 150 remaining.

Most of the Ivory is destined for the illegal markets in China.

Mr Kumchedwa further stated that "We have also come up with a team of security agents of the government that includes Police, MDF, immigration, ACB and so many others. We have been working as a team from April this year and this has improved the situation as wildlife cases are being handled in courts. That is a result of efforts that government is putting in by pulling together all stakeholders who matter in as far conservation of wildlife is concerned".

The government has also engaged the private sector in the conservation of wildlife as it plans to concession out Liwonde National Park and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve just like it did with Majete Game Reserve to African Parks.

Good - they are doing a fantastic job in difficult areas such as Garamba in Dr Congo and Zakouma in Chad.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

New report highlights East African ports involved in Ivory smuggling

A new report has revealed that Chinese ivory traffickers are present in virtually every African country and operate at every point along the supply chain.

The report, "Out of Africa: Mapping the Global Trade in Illicit Elephant Ivory" was commissioned by Born Free USA and C4ADS (a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to data-driven analysis and evidence-based reporting of conflict and security issues worldwide).

The three biggest culprits are Dar Es Salaam, Mombasa and Zanzibar.

A thought

Why won't any of the Western Nations impose sanctions on China until they do something to about stopping Ivory Sales in that country?  Are we all slaves to profit and greed.? Why not send them the Bill for anti poaching measures? They are stealing National resources and selling them publicly and openly in China.

How can this be?

Monday, 22 September 2014

Global March for Elephants and Rhinos

The Global March for Elephants and Rhinos (GMFER) is taking place in more than 120 cities across the world on October 4 this year. It will see the delivery of memoranda of demand and proposed changes to South Africa’s legislation delivered to key government representatives across the globe.

Foreign offices of the infamous “Gang of 19″ countries will be receiving these documents from march organisers on six continents, from as far afield as Toronto in Canada and the New Zealand capital of Auckland. The “Gang of 19″ are: Angola, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Lao People’s Republic, Malaysia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Philippines, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda and Vietnam. These are the countries considered to be the most complicit in driving the illegal wildlife trade, specifically where ivory and rhino horn are concerned.

The memoranda also draw attention to the forgotten victims of the illegal wildlife trade – species like lion, tiger and pangolin – all of which are targeted for their highly lucrative body parts and which face extinction if the tide of slaughter is not turned back.

See details of where to march at :

Friday, 19 September 2014

Hawks arrest major Rhino poaching syndicate members

The alleged kingpin of one of South Africa’s biggest and most violent rhino poaching syndicates,
accused of obtaining 84 rhino horns via illegal means, was arrested on Friday morning in front of the
Pretoria North Magistrate’s Court.

Among the other syndicate members arrested was the alleged right-hand-man, a Warrant Officer for the Organised Crime Unit in Pretoria, as well as the alleged kingpin’s wife, attorney, brother, a pilot and a professional poacher.

Nine of members of the syndicate were arrested, while another one of the members handed himself over to police.

The syndicate is believed to be responsible for the brutal slaughter and mutilation of 24 rhino, including a pregnant  cow and a small calf, in state and privately owned reserves around the country
between June 2008 and June 2012. Of the poached rhino, 22 were darted with a potent drug, known as M99, used by poachers to knock out rhinos. The other two rhino were shot with a firearm.
Only two of the poached rhino survived the attacks.

The syndicate operated in the Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North-West, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State.

Tthe syndicate’s main aim was to sell as many horns as possible to the Eastern black market, specifically Vietnam.

The syndicate is alleged to have obtained up to 84 rhino horns by poaching rhino, as well as stealing
the horns and obtaining them in other illegal ways: 41 of the horns were taken from 24 rhino that were poached; 14 horns were stolen – some  taken from a government building in Giyani – and 29 were obtained by other means.

The 10 suspects are expected to appear in Hatfield court in Pretoria on Monday.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Tanzania in anti poaching coalition

Tanzania has agreed to form a task force together with the United States, China, Germany, European Union, World Bank and the United Nations Development Programs (UNDP) to control and curb illegal poaching, trafficking and export of ivory in the region.

Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism Nyalandu Lazaro said that the government has decided to seek support of international organizations in order to convince the world to stop purchasing ivory and other wildlife products.

"We want to make sure game reserves and official from the ministry and other departments are getting proper training to tackle the menace in Tanzania," he said."The development partners have agreed to support the government of Tanzania with the proper resources such as weapons, cars, technology, communication devices and training to ensure that elephant killing is abolished."

"We will scale up the efforts and call for action against such illegal activities at international level", he promised.

Personally I'm a bit baffled by the Chinese involvement in this. If they are sincere in their wish to help then why not just BAN IVORY SALES IN CHINA?

And all the coalitions in the World won't do much good if they don't root out the Corruption and Involvement in poaching activities at home.

UN-Backed Protection for Sharks comes into effect

From the 14th of September, international trade in specimens of five shark species and all manta ray species, including their meat, gills and fins,needs to be accompanied by permits and certificates confirming that they have been harvested sustainably and legally, as new United Nations-backed trade protections go into effect.

"Regulating international trade in these shark and manta ray species is critical to their survival and is a very tangible way of helping to protect the biodiversity of our oceans," said John Scanlon, Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in a press release.

The new controls adopted by the CITES will apply to the oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini), great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran), smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena), porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) and manta rays (Manta spp.), as they are now included in CITES Appendix II.

Sharks and manta rays are consumed in many parts of the world. Shark fin soup is served at important events such as weddings and banquets in parts of Asia, while fish and chip meals are often made rom shark meat in Europe.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Satao's Law presented to United States Congress

A new bill, in honour of Satao, a Kenyan ‘big tusker’ elephant recently killed by poachers, has been put before Congress in the US. It would give the US government the power to introduce trade sanctions against countries that do not do enough to tackle poaching and the trade in illegal wildlife.

The new bill being introduced by Peter DeFazio from Oregon will enable the government to impose greater sanctions that can currently be done under the CITES agreement. The US would be able to increase or widen trade sanctions unilateraly.

Under CITIES there is already the provision to put implement trade sanctions against countries in regard to international trading of species listed under the CITES agreement.

Whether the US government will take advantage of this new bill if passed, is debatable. The US has not yet been willing to impose sanctions on countries such as Iceland for its whaling activities.

Tarangire National Park to trial UAVs in anti poaching operations

Tarangire National Park is trialing a pilot program in deployment of special
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for surveillance of wildlife and to search for

"The trial aerial scrutiny will be conducted later this September and the second
one is expected to come up in October," said Mr Michael Chambers, the Director of
Bathawk-Recon, an organization which is introducing the idea of aerial
surveillance to Tanzania.

The use of UAVs  for aerial survey and wildlife patrols aims at  greatly reducing, the slaughter of elephants, rhinos and other wildlife species by poaching gangs. The initiative is being implemented through Bathawk-Recon (BHR, a leading International organization and Tanzanian limited liability company, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) with support from the Elephant Survival Organization (ESO).

"The equipment will fly over parks covering as much area as possible using
advanced high definition video and Infra-red equipment," stated Mr. Chambers who
is also the BHR Communications and Strategy officer. The participation of the
private sector in the war against poaching is vital to help ensure success in the
global war against the illegal killing of wildlife.

Tarangire is a great place to watch Elephants, as they love to congregate around
the river in large family groups. The Park is around 2600 sq km, but is
part of a 30000 sq km ecosystem as for much of the year outside the dry
season many of the animals leave the park and head into the Maasai steppes.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Will America use sanctions on Mozambique for failing to curb poaching?

Environmentalists are formally urging President Barack Obama to enact trade sanctions on Mozambique over the country’s alleged chronic facilitation of elephant and rhinoceros poaching through broad swathes of southern Africa.

Investigators say substantial evidence exists of Mozambique’s failure to abide by international conventions against wildlife trafficking, including to back up allegations of state complicity.
“We believe that there are ex-military officials who are providing political protection to the [trafficking] syndicates who are arming and funding these poaching teams."

A new petition, publicly announced Wednesday, now provides evidence on the issue and urges the president to make use of legal authorities to encourage Mozambique to crack down on poachers.

Friday, 12 September 2014

KWS quotes ludicrous figure for Elephant poaching in Kenya

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said Wednesday (September 10th) that the number of animals killed by poachers in recent years is declining and that the "poaching menace was under control", Kenya's Daily Nation reported.

"Statistics show a decline in poaching cases since 2012 and there is a different trend contrary to what some lobby groups have been portraying," KWS Director William Kibet Kiprono said.
"Our sustained efforts in dealing with poaching cartels have been successful and I can say the worst is now behind us," he said. He said that studies show a drop in animal deaths since 2012.
"Up to the end of last month, Kenya had lost 116 elephants and 26 rhinos to poachers. Comparatively, we are winning this war because in 2012 we lost 384 elephants and 30 rhinos while in 2011, some 289 elephants and 29 rhinos were killed," he said.

In an unusual demonstration of solidarity, two Kenyan newspapers earlier this month dismissed KWS claims that poaching is under control as false, pressuring the government to declare a national disaster.

So how do they expalin that 117 elephant carcasses were found on the Kenyan side in a July aerial survey of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem? That's more than the total they are quoting for the year.
And let's not forget the killing of Satao and Mountain Bull, and numerous others in Samburu and Tsavo.

Are they covering up to try and avoid alarming any potential tourists.

Either somebody is lying, or very bad at arithmetic.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Six professional poachers arrested in Niassa

Six suspected poachers were arrested in Niassa (Mozambique) on 7 September 2014 in a joint operation conducted by the Mecula District police, Luwire scouts and Niassa National Reserve WCS scouts.The arrests were the result of a 10 month investigation.

12 tusks and two rifles were confiscated at the time of the arrest. Two of the largest tusks, 23 kilograms or 57 pounds each, were from an elephant about 40 years old.

Officials estimated that this group of poachers has killed 39 elephants this year alone based on interviews with the suspects. In addition, this arrest is a major crack down on one of five well-organised groups suspected of poaching elephants in Niassa. “This is an important raid that has shut down a group of poachers responsible for killing many of Niassa’s elephants” said Alastair Nelson, Director of the WCS Mozambique Program.

WCS President and CEO Cristian Samper, who is currently in Niassa, said: “With this arrest we have charged a shooter, porters and poacher informers who are driving the elephant crisis in Niassa Reserve."

There are thought to be about 13 000 elephants remaining in Niassa National Reserve which is in northern Mozambique. The reserve holds Mozambique’s largest remaining population of elephants. WCS has been co-managing the reserve with the Mozambique government since 2012.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Richard Leakey - Hero of the First Elephant War - returns to the Maasai Mara

Richard Leakey, former Director of KWS, has returned to the Maasai Mara.
Leakey is back saving elephants and other endangered species threatened by poachers. 69 year old Leakey has made this trip with his protégé, Dr Paula Kahumbu, who now heads up Wildlife Direct, the activist organisation he founded in 2006. This Despite a liver transplant last September and two previous Kidney transplants.

Leakey and Kahumbu have used the power of social media, to engaged their fellow Kenyans in citizen conservation. Kahumbu says there is now an unprecedented groundswell of “citizen concern”, a significant shift in public engagement. The slogan “My elephants, my heritage” is constantly re­tweeted because “elephants are part of our heritage,” she says. Kenyans are beginning to realize that their heritage is being stolen and are no longer prepared to put up with it.

Most recently, Leakey and Kahumba made waves by accusing the Kenyan government of protecting international poaching networks. Leakey levelled these accusations after one of Kenya’s last big tuskers, the magnificent 45 year old Satao, was found dead in Tsavo National Park with its enormous tusks hacked off and presumably already smuggled out of the country. He said there was “no question that there’s very high level protection of individuals who engage in the illegal export of elephant ivory and rhino horn.”

Associates of a well known Kenyan businessman, Feisal Mohamed Ali, were arrested in June in Mombasa with some 228 tusks and 74 ivory pieces weighing some 2 100kg. Although a warrant was issued for Feisal’s arrest, he remains free. Leakey and Kahumbu refer to this as an example of highlevel protection and Kahumbu says, “There are probably another 10 Feisels operating in Kenya right now.”

Such accusations of corruption directed at African administrations and their business connections frequently invite serious trouble, as Leakey knows from his previous experience.  He lost both legs in an Aeroplane crash in 1993 which he firmly believes was an attempt to kill him because of his previous anti poaching efforts, in what I term the First Elephant War, in the 1980s.

Leakey cites recent evidence of corruption within the KWS – six senior deputy directors were recently suspended and more than 30 KWS rangers have also been suspended – as reason to radically reform the organisation. He has also made a formal request to President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare a state of national emergency on wildlife poaching.

At the time of writing the president has not responded.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

200 Forest Elephants tusks seized in Cameroon

Around 200 tusks from forest elephants killed in Cameroon and Gabon have been intercepted at the Yaounde-Nsimalen International Airport. They were bound for Asia - where else.

Conservationists say almost 12,000 elephants have been killed in Central African countries since 2004. It is estimated that there has been a 62% decline in forest elephant numbers during this period.
Cameroon authorities said the tusks came from  near the border with Gabon where elephant poaching has been rife.

Wildlife official Issola Dipanda supervised the operation to seize the tusks at the airport after a tip-off from locals. He said that although the poachers escaped, efforts are being made to find them.
Gabon, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo are home to more than half of Africa's forest elephants - the smallest of the African species.

Their Ivory is highly valued for jewellery and other products in Asian markets because of the hardness and unusual pinkish colour.

Until we stop the demand from Asia, all the anti poaching work in the World will do little else but buy a few more years to save the Elephant from extinction in the Wild.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Video footage shows why Green Mile Safari (hunting) Company is banned in Tanzania

Some horrifying footage has been released of hunting and wild animal abuse in Tanzania , by clients of a company known as Green Mile Safari.

The Company has been caught allowing its clients to hunt protected animals with semi-automatic weapons, shoot animals from jeeps, run over animals with jeeps, and otherwise torture animals before killing them.  There is also footage of capturing a baby zebra and torturing it while it cries and tries to get away.

Green Mile Safari, which several Tanzanian media outlets have suggested is well-connected politically, has now had its license revoked by Lazaro Nyalandu, the country’s Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism. The footage itself has been seen by members of Tanzania’s parliament, who did nothing about it, but it has not, until now, been released to the public. The company, which is owned by Awadh Ally Abdullah and Abdullah Bin Butti Alhamed of the United Arab Emirates is trying to fight the ban allegedly using its political connections..

I find this totally sickening, and so if you want to view the video and get more details please use the following link.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

192 Elephant Carcasses found in Maasai Mara

The World Wide Fund for Nature has raised the red-flag after 192 elephant carcasses were found in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem during an aerial survey.
Of the carcasses with no tusks, 117 are on the Kenyan side while 75 in Tanzania.
Robert Ndetei from WWF said 84 per cent of the carcasses were outside the Masai Mara Game Reserve.
"An aerial report released on Thursday in Arusha has revealed a worrying number of elephant carcasses in the world famous Mara-Serengeti ecosystem," he said in Naivasha yesterday.

This makes me Question the KWS figures quoted only a couple of weeks ago - see "Kenya Poaching Figures", published on 15th August, below.

A new Report from Born Free

A new report reveals that, between 2009 and June 2014, there were more than 90 large-scale ivory seizures, collectively weighing almost 170 tons, which bear the hallmarks of international organized crime. At a 10% interception rate, this would amount to approximately 229,729 elephants killed and trafficked in fewer than six years.
Today, the ivory trade is operating at its highest level since the 1989 commercial ivory trade ban. 2013 appears to have been the worst year on record, with nearly 50 tons of ivory seized that were linked to organized criminal networks.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Kenya Poaching Figures

KWS said that so far this year they have lost 26 Rhino and 111 Elephants

Thursday, 14 August 2014

South Africa to Increase Anti Rhino Poaching Measures

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa says South Africa will build on its robust measures to curb the incidence of rhino poaching within its borders.

Minister Molewa said government is cognisant of the fact that rhino poaching is a multibillion dollar worldwide illicit trade. This, she said, was the reason they would put in more emphasis on the Integrated Strategic Management approach to save rhinos from poachers.

"... That is why we will continue to strengthen holistic and integrated interventions and explore new innovative options to ensure the long-term survival of the species," Minister Molewa said.
She added that forensic technology, including DNA analysis, in the judicial process will be introduced to support the successful prosecution of alleged wildlife criminals.

National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega said she has directed a team of detectives trained in wildlife crime investigations, forensics experts, the SA Police Service air wing, the flying squad and the dog unit to assist the SANParks Board with current investigations on poaching.

"This additional team will attend to all the outstanding and new crime scenes and continue to do proper crime scene investigation and management," said Phiyega.

She pleaded with communities living around game reserves to continue playing their role in helping police arrest the poachers.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

South Africa may move 500 Rhinos from the Kruger national Park

South African authorities have announced a plan to move up to 500 rhino from Kruger National Park to other area areas where they are at less risk from poachers.

The operation will focus on areas of high poaching activity within Kruger, such as the park’s eastern border with Mozambique, where desperately poor people from villages in the area are easily tempted to poach rhinos for their horns by the prospect of quick money.

The rhino could be moved to other state-owned provincial parks, private parks and communal areas. The environment ministry said nearby countries, such as Botswana and Zambia, may also be the recipients of some of them. Botswana is an ideal home for the rhinos, as it has vast  remote areas of sparsely-populated wilderness that are difficult to access.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Elephant Killed with Spears in Laikipia

A 30-year-old elephant was killed by poachers at the Laikipia Nature Conservancy ranch yesterday.(Monday) Its tusks and tail were taken.

The conservancy's director, Kuki Gallman, said that the carcass was found deep in the forest by patrolling security guards.

"The carcass was still fresh by the time we arrived there," she said.
She said the killers have changed tactics as they realised guns are noisy and attract attention and they killed the elephant with spears dipped in poison.
Gallman said poachers are hiding among illegal herders in Laikipia county.
"These herders are causing a lot of problems. Aside from escalating poaching activities, they are also grazing on local people's crops and stealing livestock," she said.

The poachers who killed the elephant are thought to have entered the ranch via the southern route bordering Baringo to evade the guards.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

African leaders meet to Discuss Poaching

This week is the US African Leaders Summit, bringing together 50 African leaders and President Obama. Topics of discussion during the three-day summit include security, trade and governance.
During the wildlife trafficking discussion, Tanzania’s President, Jakaya Kikwete, seemed frustrated over the lack of unity throughout neighboring countries. The elephants are killed in Tanzania,” said Kikwete, “but the consignment [of ivory] came from Kampala, Uganda. And moved through Mombasa,” the main port of Kenya. “So there is definitely need for working together.”
The President of Togo, Faure Gnassingbe, expressed concern over elephant poaching, which is ironic as there are no elephants there. He stated tusks confiscated in Hong Kong and Malaysia were traced back to Togo.

After months of investigating the source of ivory was discovered. He said “Many of those tusks came from…(he then turned apologetically toward his left to Gabon’s President, Ali Bongo Ondimba)….my friend’s country.”
Gnassingbe went on to say that until the US brought this up, Gabon had never mentioned the issue of poaching. In fact, this is the first time many of them have had this discussion in a group setting. This begs the question “Why is there no continental strategy to end poaching?”

When asked what they would like from the US to combat poaching, the overall consensus was equipment. The ranger death toll is escalating, as they are deep in a war in which they are outmanned, outgunned and under trained.
 Namibia asked for helicopters, Tanzania requested night vision goggles, Togo wants infrared scanners, and Gabon-military support.

But in addition, Ondimba apprehensively brought up the “elephant in the room”; diplomatic pressure on China, stating-

 “Let’s kill the market. We’ll save the animals, we’ll also save human beings.”

A Question

How is it that the World Bank and various governments can find $200 million in a matter of weeks to Combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and yet it takes years of lobbying and campaigning to raise even a few million to help save Elephants from Extinction?

It saddens me to know that the money is there and could be used to make a huge amount of progress to stop the Slaughter that is taking place every day.

When will the Governments of the Western World get serious about stopping the killing.

Monday, 4 August 2014

More Elephant Poaching in the Kruger NP

Another elephant has been killed for its tusks by poachers in Parfuri,  in the Northern sector of the Kruger National Park, a few kilometers from the Mozambican and Zimbabwean borders.

Nobody has as yet been arrested in connection with the crime, as the poachers are no doubt long gone across the border. Only a couple of months ago another elephant was killed in the area, and still the SA government denies that there is a poaching problem.

There is an urgent need for committed action from the SA government to stop the escallation of poaching in the country.

“Elephant poaching has been happening for a while now in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, so we did expect that it would at some stage reach our area,” said SANparks spokesperson William Mabasa. The Parfuri region of KNP is particularly open to penetration by poachers because it is so close to the Mozambican and Zimbabwean borders.

A report in July 2013 concluded that rogue South African hunting operators were orchestrating poaching operations in the area, particularly rhino. Independent intelligence sources  uncovered documents implicating local safari units in aiding and abetting Mozambican poachers by supplying them with ammunition, finding buyers for the horns and bribing South African officials and Mozambican politicians. They claim to have passed on the information to South African authorities, but have heard nothing more about it.

It's just a trickle at the moment but it could so easily become a flood.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Smaller Elephants in Ruaha?

I have recently returned from Ruaha and Selous in Tanzania. I had a great 10 day safari with fantastic and very knowledgeable guides. I renewed previous acquaintances and friendships and spoke to a lot of people about the current poaching problems.

Among the many observations that were made was the apparent decrease in average size of elephants in Ruaha. I can attest to this as I also noticed that they seemed a little smaller than the ones I'd seen in Tarangire in 2013.

                                                       Small looking elephant in Ruaha

Smaller elephants with smaller tusks, and quite a few tuskless ones as well. The prevailing thought is that most of the bigger older Tuskers have been shot, and consequently the genes for large Ivory are not getting passed on. Whether this 'selection' is resulting in smaller elephants as well is anyone's guess. Maybe they are just younger animals in Ruaha.

I have no science to back this up. Just what my eyes are telling me.

                                         Tarangire elephants seem to be a little bigger on average

Rhino Poacher gets 77 years jail

A Rhino Poacher has been sentenced to 77 years in Prison. His name is Mandla Chuke and he was caught in the Kruger NP in 2011 where he had killed three rhino calves. He was sentenced at Nelspruit Magistrates Court on the 22nd July.

A good result - but he's just a small fish in the game. With the current price of Rhino horn ($70000 per kilo at the retail end)  the middle men will  still be offering enough cash to temp yet more desperate youths to have a go.

Far better if the South African Government made serious efforts to address the problem and its links to big business in the country.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Call for trade embargo against Mozambique for failure to address poaching issues

Two international environmental organizations have called on the US government to implement trade sanctions against Mozambique for its official complicity in the ongoing rampant slaughter of elephants and rhinos by Mozambican nationals not only within Mozambique but also in South Africa and Tanzania.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) filed the petition under the Pelly amendment – which authorizes the US to impose sanctions on any country that contravenes an international conservation agreement, in this case various CITES agreements.

Since 2010, Mozambican poachers have been involved in the the deaths of almost 1 900 rhinos in South Africa, as well as tens of thousands of elephants poached for their ivory in Mozambique and Tanzania. At the CITES meeting in March 2013, Mozambique was singled out for their lack of action to tackle poaching – and has narrowly avoided CITES backed sanctions by passing (but failing to implement) improved wildlife legislation.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

South African hunting operators connected to poaching activities

South African hunting operators have been connected to trans-border poaching activities. According to independent intelligence sources who have been scrutinising these hunters since 2011, they have informed the South African government of the operators’ activities, but have received no feedback on whether the issue has been investigated.
Currently it seems more attention is being focused by the Department of Environmental Affairs on attempting to push through an application to legally sell its 18-ton stockpile of rhino horn, than to enforce any real action against poaching.

Friday, 11 July 2014

More Elephant Cyanide Poisoning Cases in Zambezi

Four elephants have died from cyanide poisoning at Zambezi National Park.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers discovered the dead animals in the park just outside Victoria Falls along the Zambezi River early this week, an official confirmed.

Zimparks public relations manager Caroline Washaya-Moyo said the killing of the animals comes as a shock, a year following a similar poisoning incident left more than 100 jumbos dead at the Hwange National Park.
She said the parks authority learnt that the elephants were poisoned from a natural salt lick in the park, which had been laced with cyanide.
"Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority confirms that four elephants died from suspected cyanide poisoning in Zambezi National Park," said Washaya-Moyo.

I wonder how many other animals were also killed as a result of this. Vultures and scavengers almost certainly.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

USAID announces more than $210 Million for Conservation projects

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah has announced more than $210 million to conserve nature in more than 50 countries, including an anticipated $40 million to combat wildlife trafficking, as a first measure in the Agency's first-ever Biodiversity Policy. The Biodiversity Policy ensures that USAID focuses its work on globally-significant biodiversity, from the Amazon basin to the coral reefs of Southeast Asia, to the vast grasslands of East Africa, applying scientific and research-motivated approaches to support sustainable biodiversity conservation and development outcomes.

Kenya Poaching Numbers

According to KWS Poachers have killed 97 elephants and at least 18 rhinos in Kenya so far this year while 59 rhinos and 302 elephants were killed last year.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Poaching Onslaught from all sides in Garamba National Park DRC

African Parks has intensified its anti-poaching efforts in eastern DRC to counter the poaching onslaught that has beset Garamba National Park in the past two months. A total of 68 elephants have been poached since mid-April, representing about 4% of the total population.

In mid-May, African Parks reported that 33 elephants had been killed in the five weeks prior, indicating a concerted attack on the park’s elephant population.

Despite intensified anti-poaching efforts since then, the total has risen to 68 elephants in the past two months, at least nine of them shot from a helicopter. On one occasion hand grenades were used against the Park’s rangers by Sudanese poachers. For the first time the brains of elephants have also been removed, together with tusks and genitals.

African Parks’ investigations have revealed that the poaching is emanating from four different sources: Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgents, armed groups from South Sudan, poachers operating from a helicopter, and renegade members of the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC).

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Ol Jorgi Ranch Ranger Killed in Laikipia (Kenya) Raid

A Kenya Wildlife Service Ranger attached to Ol Jorgi Ranch in Laikipia North Sub-county was shot dead by suspected poachers on Monday night. Paul Harrison Lelesepei, 25 was with other rangers  guarding the sanctuary when they were attacked by suspected rhino poachers.
According to the KWS senior warden in charge of Mountain region Aggrey Maumo, the rangers were patrolling the ranch at the border with Loldaiga hill ranch when they were apprehended by the poachers. Maumo said there was a gun battle and the ranger was shot and died while being taken to Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital. The Director said there were two gangs of poachers in and around the ranch that night.
"One gang was inside the ranch already while another was outside. Our rangers had no information about the other gang that was inside and were caught unawares during the shootout with the other that was outside" Maumo said. The poachers managed to flee without any arrest made so far, with Maumo saying that they have leads. He said that all rhino sanctuaries in Laikipia have become a target for poachers with Ol Jorgi experiencing several attacks where five rhinos have been killed in the past six months.

These rangers are absolute Heroes. They have my deepest admiration.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

One ton of pangolin scales from South Africa seized in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Customs authorities have seized just over one ton of pangolin scales from a shipping container which arrived from South Africa.

This is the second interception in Hong Kong of a shipment of pangolin scales from the African continent in just eight months, following the seizure of 320 kilograms of pangolin scales in October 2013. In this case, 40 bags totaling 1 000 kilograms of pangolin scales were detected in a container (declared as “plastic pet”) at the Kwai Chung cargo examination compound. While the scales are presumably those of African pangolins, the precise species is not known at this time.

In 2013, an estimated 8125 pangolins were confiscated in 49 instances of illegal trade across 13 countries.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Poaching tops Agenda at First UN Environment Meeting in Nairobi

Poaching and other types of illegal trade in wildlife are set to top the agenda at the first ever United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) to be held in Nairobi in June.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said they are planning to table a report on the growing trade and the threat it poses at the meeting.

"This is not a small thing. The threat it poses is not to be underestimated," he reiterated, "because we are confronted with a battle that we're not winning."

And while Steiner admitted that there remains an absence of empirical evidence directly linking poaching to terrorism, he maintained that it did not negate the very real possibility that one fed the other.
Kenya's Permanent Representative to UNEP Martin Kimani said "Elephant and rhino poaching are something the government is fighting day and night to eradicate so we're happy to put our heads together with the rest of the world and host this very important conversation,"

Steiner said that the meeting would inject some much needed impetus into the fight. The subject will be raised at the highest levels with over 100 government representatives expected at the UNEA meeting between June 23 and 27.

"We need to address the consumer end because there will be no point to poaching if there is no market for the trophies. And with China being one of the biggest consumers of ivory we're already holding exhibitions there, in train stations and elsewhere, to sensitise the public on the high price there is to pay for that trophy, that mythical cure," he said.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Ethiopa establishes Taskforce to Safeguard Protected Wildlife Areas

A national taskforce has been established by the Ethiopian Wild Life Conservative Authority (EWCA) in collaboration with Population, Health and Environment Ethiopia Consortium (PHEEC), to safeguard protected natural environments and wildlife.

The taskforce will take corrective measures up on receiving reports about violations of conservation and management rules. It will also mobilize technical and financial resources necessary for effective park management and monitor the effectiveness of the regional level taskforces at implementing proposed action plans.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

First Elephant Poached in Kruger for 10 years

And so it begins...

It was only a matter of time before poachers would decide to move in on South Africa's large elephant population. This comes only days after Envoronment Minister Edna Molewa said there was no ivory poaching problem in South Africa.

Well there is now.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Poaching in Cameroon

Cameroon said its soldiers have shot and killed five suspected poachers who had been killing elephants in the West Africa country. The military said some of those killed were Janjaweed militiamen from Sudan.
The heavily armed poachers were caught operating in the Waza National Park.

A spokesperson for Cameroon's military, Colonel Didier Badjeck, said soldiers who have been patrolling to protect the wildlife responded, and in the ensuing gun battle, five of the poachers were killed.

He said the rapid intervention battalion of the Cameroon army had been deployed in the park with expert shooters and logistics. To aid them, air and land patrols were organized. Ten horses, more than 2,000 bullets and 88 elephant tusks were seized and handed to the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife.
More than 1,000 elephants live in the park, which located in far northern Cameroon, near borders with Nigeria and Chad.

Last year, 100 elephants were killed in Cameroon, an improvement over 2012 when 300 of the animals were felled by poachers' bullets.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Unbelievable statement by SA Environment Minister

Addressing a crowd at a ceremony to sign an anti-poaching agreement between South Africa and Mozambique in the Kruger National Park earlier this month, Edna Molewa, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, mentioned in a speech signifying her departments move toward a possible trade in rhino horn, that “we do think that it could (win the war on rhino poaching)… just taking it from the lessons we have learnt from ivory. We did an ivory once-off sale and elephant poaching has not been a problem since.”

Technically this statement isn't a crime but it damn well ought to be.

China pledges $100 million to combat poaching in Africa

China, a notorious source of demand for a massive illegal wildlife trade, is stepping up its game to save wildlife with a massive $100 million donation to combat poaching in Africa. The Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, has pledged $100 million to combat poaching in Africa during a visit to the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.

The funds will surely be helpful to curb supply of wildlife products in Africa, but meanwhile campaigns are working to stem demand from Chinese consumers, who value exotic animal products in traditional medicine and ivory ornaments.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Zimbabwe: Elephant Conservationist gives up in the face of illegal land takeover in Hwange NP

The fallout over an 'illegal' land claim in the Hwange National Park has seen one of the country's top elephant conservationists close down a key elephant conservation project.

The Zimbabwe 'Presidential Elephant Conservation Project' was founded and has been run by Sharon Pincott since 2001, with the aim of protecting the Presidential Elephant Herd, a unique herd of wild elephants that are meant to be protected by Presidential decree. In 2011 Pincott successfully lobbied Robert Mugabe to re-pledge his support for the elephant herd. This was in the face of land invasions, poaching and other threats to Zimbabwe's elephant population.

Sharon Pincott announced on Monday that she is stopping her work. The announcement has followed a worsening fight caused by the takeover of a piece of land in the Hwange National Park, which serves as the herd's home range.

The land in the Kanondo area has been claimed by a woman who insists she has an inheritance claim to the land, despite a 2013 directive by Zimbabwe's Cabinet that offer letters for the land be withdrawn. In what has been described as a case that "so reeks of incompetence and lack of care, of ignorance, of greed, of covering butts, of back-handers, and of the corruption that this country is supposedly, right now, trying to stamp out," the Cabinet directive of 2013 has been ignored. Instead, the Kanondo land claimant has forged ahead with the building of a safari lodge.

Concern has been raised amid reports that she is the sister of a known Zimbabwean hunting safari operator named Rodger Madangure.

Sounds like they're all going to die.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Mozambique: New Stiffer Penalties for Poaching

The Assembly of the Republic on 9 April unanimously passed the first reading of a bill on conservation areas, which dramatically increases the penalties for poaching, particularly of endangered species.

The bill proposes prison sentences of between eight and 12 years for people who kill, without a licence, any protected species, or who use banned fishing gear, such as explosives or toxic substances. The same penalty will apply to people who set forests or woodlands on fire (poachers often use fire to drive animals into the open).
Anybody using illegal firearms or snares can be sentenced to two years imprisonment.

In addition, those found guilty of the illegal exploitation, storage, transport or sale of protected species will be fined between 50 and 1,000 times the minimum monthly national wage in force in the public administration (at current exchange rates, that would be a fine of between US$4,425 and US$88,500).

Violation of the provisions of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) could result in a fine of up to a thousand times the national minimum wage. So ivory or rhino poachers, if caught, are looking at a prison term of 12 years and a fine of US$90,000.

Friday, 11 April 2014

KWS Suspends Six Top Officers Over Poaching

The Kenya Wildlife Service has suspended six senior officers suspected of mismanagement and poaching. Sources at KWS said the five are just the first casualties and more changes are coming. "They will be investigated for their lack of contribution to end poaching and mismanagement," said an official who did not wish to be named.

A sixth officer, KWS deputy director Patrick Omondi, who is abroad will be informed of his suspension immediately he lands at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

The suspensions were announced in a statement yesterday by Environment PS Richard Lesiyampe. "The five senior officers have been asked to proceed on leave to pave way for investigations into operations at the Kenya Wildlife Service," reads the statement. Lesiyampe said the decision was taken after consultations between the ministry and the KWS management.

The five are deputy director of finance and administration William Waweru, deputy director of security Julius Kimani, deputy director of corporate services Tom Sipul, head of finance Wesley Isanda and head of procurement Christopher Oludhe.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Rhino Poaching on the increase in Namibia

Three Chinese men have been arrested for trafficking Rhino horns in Namibia as they tried to leave the country.

A total of 14 Rhino horns as well as a Leopard skin were found in their suitcases. The three Chinese men, charged with possession of specially protected resources, wrapped the rhino horns in plastic and foil and loosely tucked them between clothes in the suitcases. The three were about to board a flight to Hong Kong when their bags were scanned and the horns were found.

The three Chinese men had visited Namibia several times in the past.

In a separate incident two hand reared six year old White Rhinos were killed on a farm on the outskirts of Windhoek this week.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Botswana says NO to canned hunting

In a statement recently published on the official website of the Republic of Botswana Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism the country declares its position on the practice of canned hunting and its plans to ban the practice. The statement reads as follows:
Botswana is opposed to “canned hunting” the practice in which large carnivores such as lions or other wildlife species are raised in captivity and hunted in small camps with no room for escape or to elude the hunter. These animals are often raised in inhumane conditions in close contact with humans.

The Government of Botswana is committed to conserving our biodiversity, large carnivores included and does not tolerate cruelty to our wildlife in any form. Efforts are underway to strengthen legislation to ensure that this abhorrent and unethical practice does not find its way into Botswana under any guise. Botswana will closely scrutinize all requests to export wildlife to any destination.

I hope they make the President of Botswana a Saint.