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has an inheritance claim to the land, despite a 2013 directive by Zimbabwe's Cabinet that offer letters for the land be withdrawn.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.