Thursday 27 February 2014

Tanzania Sacks Wildlife Director over Incompetence

The Tanzanian government has announced the sacking of the director for wildlife, Alexander Songorwa, for failure to do his work properly.

Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu told a press conference that Songorwa and his assistant, who was also suspended, failed to oversee operation Tokomeza Ujangili (the anti- poaching operation).

The operation, aiming to weed out poaching and illegal ivory trade in various parts of the country, including evacuating those grazing animals in conservation areas, was suspended last November following reports of killings of animals, their owners and innocent citizens.

After the operation was suspended, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete sacked four government ministers following accusations of abuses committed by security forces. He made the dismissals after reports of arbitrary murder, rape, torture and extortion of innocent civilians by members of the anti-poaching crackdown.

Monday 24 February 2014

Kenya loses six Rhinos in a week

Six rhinos have been killed in the last one week in spite of new anti-poaching laws that stipulate hefty fines or life imprisonment for offenders. One more rhino was wounded by poachers and is fighting for its life at Ol Pejeta ranch in Laikipia.

The six were killed in Solio and Ol Jogi ranches and Nakuru National Park, according to independent reports. Poachers killed two rhinos from each of the three conservancy areas and chopped off the horns.
The rising wave has startled conservationists, who fear Kenya's new punitive law may not have deterred poachers. Kenya is home to just over 1000 Rhinos.

Tuesday 11 February 2014

The United States of America Bans Ivory Trading

The United States have announced a ban on the commercial trade of elephant ivory, which will enhance our efforts to protect iconic species like elephants and rhinos by prohibiting the import, export, or resale within the United States of elephant ivory except in a very limited number of circumstances.

The ban will include the following:
Prohibit commercial import of African elephant ivory: All commercial imports of African elephant ivory, including antiques, will be prohibited.
Prohibit commercial export of elephant ivory: All commercial exports will be prohibited, except for bona fide antiques, certain noncommercial items, and in exceptional circumstances permitted under the Endangered Species Act.
Significantly restrict domestic resale of elephant ivory: A proposed rule that will reaffirm and clarify that sales across state lines are prohibited, except for bona fide antiques, and will prohibit sales within a state unless the seller can demonstrate an item was lawfully imported prior to 1990 for African elephants and 1975 for Asian elephants, or under an exemption document.
Clarify the definition of “antique”: To qualify as an antique, an item must be more than 100 years old and meet other requirements under the Endangered Species Act. The onus will now fall on the importer, exporter, or seller to demonstrate that an item meets these criteria.
Restore Endangered Species Act protection for African elephants: We will revoke a previous Fish and Wildlife Service special rule that had relaxed Endangered Species Act restrictions on African elephant ivory trade.
Support limited sport-hunting of African elephants: It will limit the number of African elephant sport-hunted trophies that an individual can import to two per hunter per year.

Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London has agreed key actions to stamp out the illegal wildlife trade.

During the conference, chaired by Foreign Secretary William Hague and attended by the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, world leaders from over forty nations vowed to help save iconic species from the brink of extinction.

The London Declaration contains commitments for practical steps to end the illegal trade in rhino horn, tiger parts and elephant tusks that fuels criminal activity worth over $19 billion each year. The trade also undermines economic opportunity in developing countries, and threatens the survival of entire species.
Key states, including Botswana, Chad, China, Gabon, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Tanzania, and Vietnam, alongside the United States and Russia, have signed up to actions that will help eradicate the demand for wildlife products, strengthen law enforcement, and support the development of sustainable livelihoods for communities affected by wildlife crime.

These include:
Support for continuing the existing international ban on commercial trade in elephant ivory.
Renouncing the use of products within governments from species threatened with extinction.
Amending legislation to make poaching and wildlife trafficking “serious crimes” under the terms of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
Strengthening cross-border co-ordination and support for regional wildlife law enforcement networks.
Further analysis to better understand the links between wildlife crime and other organised crime and corruption, and to explore links to terrorism.

The conference heard first-hand from the Presidents of Botswana, Chad, Gabon and Tanzania, and the Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, who announced the proposal of an Elephant Protection Initiative to secure new funding from private and public sources for the implementation of the African Elephant Action Plan.

The plan includes commitment to an extended moratorium on ivory sales, as well as plans to put ivory stocks beyond economic use. The UK Government announced it would provide support to help the Initiative get up and running.

Botswana has now announced that it will host a further Conference in early 2015 to review progress against the commitments made in the London Declaration.

Monday 10 February 2014

China Leads International Wildlife Crime Bust

Beijing — Tonnes of illegal animal products have been seized and over 400 suspects arrested in an China-led sting against international wildlife crime, authorities said on Monday.

The operation cleaned up over 350 cases, capturing more than 3 tonnes of ivory and its products, over 1,000 hides, 36 rhino horns and a large number of other wildlife products, said the China Endangered Species Import and Export Management Office.

The operation, codenamed Cobra II, was co-organized by China, the United States, South Africa, the Lusaka Agreement Task Force, the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network, and the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network.

China's authorities, including forestry, customs, police, judiciary and quarantine departments, put more than 100,000 staff on the operation, and uncovered over 200 cases involving more than 250 suspects.
China sent enforcement staff to Kenya for the first time, to arrest an ivory trafficking suspect and host lectures on wildlife protection.

Credit where it's due, it was a great effort