Tuesday 22 December 2015

Tanzania sentences four Chines rhino horn smugglers to 20 years in jail

Mbeya — Four Chinese were yesterday sentenced to 20 years in jail after being convicted of smuggling 11 rhino horns worth Sh902 million.

The Chinese nationals were also ordered to pay Sh10.8 billion in fines

They were detained  on 17th November  last month at the Tanzania-Malawi border post of Kasumulu in Kyela District and were found to be hiding the horns in a fake fuel tank in the Toyota Hilux that they were driving from Malawi.

May there be many more sentences like that one handed out.

Good news from Kenya

Since 2013, according to the latest estimates, elephant deaths from poaching in Kenya are down by 80% and deaths of rhinos by 90%. This is a success story that deserves to be more widely known.

Attributable to: 

Implementation of the new 2013 Wildlife Act which raises poaching to the level of a serious crime, and dishes out fines and jail sentences accordingly

Community involvement and a new sense of  Kenya's wildlife being a National Treasure and an important economic resource.

Government Buy in. Reorganization of KWS and money available to recruit more rangers. A new commitment to Conservation.

Realization the Ivory poaching not only funds terrorism but can destabilize whole countries.

Social media has spread the word effectively and more people care and therefore voice their concerns.

Monday 21 December 2015

Lions given protection by the Endangered Species Act in the US.

Five months after a lion named Cecil was shot and killed in Zimbabwe by a Minnesota dentist, the Obama administration has decided to place lions in Africa under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, an action that will set a higher bar for hunters who want to bring lion trophies into the United States.

Lions in Central and West Africa will be listed as endangered, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, which is expected to announce the change today. Lions in southern and East Africa will be classified as threatened, with a special rule that prods countries to regulate sport hunting of lions in ways that promote conservation.

The Importing of lions from countries where they are endangered will be almost completely prohibited.

From Countries where they are threatened the hunters  will have to show that the imports were “legally obtained” from countries that have “a scientifically sound management programme that benefits  the subspecies in the wild,” according to the US wildlife service.

Latest estimates are that there are only around 900 lions in  Central and West Africa and around 20000 in the wild in Southern and East Africa.

Tuesday 8 December 2015

The price of illegal ivory has almost halved

The price of illegal raw ivory in China has almost halved over the past 18 months, according to
new research to be published by Save the Elephants.

Raw ivory prices had tripled in price between 2010 and 2014. The value of raw Ivory was up to
$2100 per kilo, meaning the average elephant was carrying tusks worth around $32000. But by
November 2015 the price had dropped to $1100 per kilo. Still a very expensive and lucrative
commodity, but indicating that perhaps it was getting difficult to sell and maybe it was not
quite such an attractive proposition.

Ivory carvers and sellers are reporting a slump in sales, probably due to increased awareness
by the public of how ivory is obtained, coupled with a downturn in the economy and increased
government efforts to stop illegal ivory sales and regulate the trade.

During President Xi Jinping’s September visit to the USA, he issued a historic joint statement
with President Obama stating that their two governments will halt the commercial trade in ivory. However no timetable was given and it needs to be implemented sooner rather than later.

In Africa there is no indication that the ivory poaching crisis has slackened, even though in
some areas some progress is being made, and time is running out for many elephant populations.

The Chinese government’s strong statements could have been a major driver in the drop in price
but this would likely be reversed if words aren't put into deeds very soon.

For instance the situation in Selous in Tanzania seems to have stabilised (with a low level of
elephants left), but no one really knows what is going on in Ruaha where 1000 elephants a month
were being lost in 2014, and poaching seems to be spreading south and west, with more reports
from Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia coming in.

The last thing we need now is for any dumbass politician to suggest selling off their ivory
stockpile. This would only serve to fan the flames which may be starting to die down a little.

Friday 4 December 2015

Lewa head of anti poaching wins Tusk award

A Kenyan ranger from a conservancy in Laikipia has won the inaugural Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award by Prince William for his war against poaching.

The head of anti-poaching unit at Lewa and the Northern Rangelands Trust, Mr Edward Ndiritu,
received the prize from His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge in London last week.

Mr Ndiritu said that he would like to thank his team back at Lewa and the Northern Rangelands
Trust for this award. Were it not for them and their bravery, he said he would not be standing
there today.

In 2014, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the Northern Rangelands Trust brought their anti-
poaching operations under a centralised command.

This has enabled more effective responses to incidents and better sharing of intelligence and
it has also allowed community conservancies to benefit from Lewa's anti-poaching resources.

Glad to see Kenya is making concerted efforts to combat elephant and rhino poaching these days. The formation of the Community Conservancies in the Northern Rangelands has been a huge step forward in empowering local people to look after their national resources.

Friday 27 November 2015

South Africa lifts ban on domestic trade in rhino horn

A full bench of the High Court in Pretoria has the overturned government's moratorium on rhino
horn trading because there was not enough public consultation, and has also made a decision to lift
the ban on the DOMESTIC rhino horn trade.

Judges Francis Legodi, Vivian Tlhapi and Myron Dewrance granted an order to two of South
Africa's largest rhino breeders, John Hume and Johan Krüger, to set aside the moratorium which
has been in place since 2009.

A couple of questions spring immediately to mind.

Who is going to buy the rhino horn locally and for what purpose?

If Asian buyers were allowed to come into the country and buy it, what would they do with it 
since commercial international trade in rhino horn is still prohibited in terms of the 
provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)?

It seems to me that it would be illegal for them to take it out of the country. But since they
are adept at smuggling whole horns across the border I would say it would be a piece of cake
for them to hide some ground up horn and disappear it.

This is truly stupid. Has nothing been learned from the knock on effects of previous 
elephant ivory sales which were meant to flood the market and depress the price. Some people
will be gleefully rubbing their hands together already.

Thursday 26 November 2015

Major South African rhino poaching ring smashed

Twelve people believed to be the kingpins of a rhino poaching syndicate operating in Gauteng
and North West have been arrested after a joint operation by law enforcement agencies including
the Hawks.

Hawks spokesperson, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said law enforcement officers had been on the
trail of the group for two years.

Thirteen illegal firearms (eight rifles and five pistols), three small scales, one electrical
hacksaw, four rhino horns, chopped rhino horns, R1.1m in cash and eight luxury vehicles were
found and confiscated during the operation. The value ofthe seized items was estimated to be

The suspects could be facing charges of money laundering and racketeering, possession of
unlicensed firearms and ammunition as well as corruption.

Eight people charged for cyanide poisoning of elephants in Zimbabwe

A joint operation between Police and the Parks and Wildlife Department has netted eight villagers who are believed to be part of a poaching syndicate that has been poisoning elephants in the Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.

Close to seventy elephants have been found poisoned by cyanide in the last three months at different locations within the Park.

One of those arrested was found in possession of a pair of  tusks weighing 26kg and valued at $6, 500, and was sentenced to ten years in jail.

Others received fines for being in possession of cyanide without a license or for illegal possession of firearms. Three of the men are still being investigated.

Poachers renewed the attack three months ago in the national park and officials from the Parks and Wildlife department have expressed concern over trivialisation of the cases by the courts.

Is this just the tip of the iceberg?

Kenya to burn its entire stockpile of Ivory

Kenya’s wildlife authority has vowed to destroy the east African country’s vast ivory stockpile which is nine times more than the largest pile torched so far.

In March, Kenyan President set fire to 15 tons of Ivory, the largest amount ever burned at once in Africa.

The remaining stockpile of ivory weighs 137 tonnes and would dwarf that.

Veteran conservationist Richard Leakey, who is once again boss of the government’s Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), said the ivory would be destroyed in the year ahead.

“I am absolutely sure” it will be destroyed, Leakey told reporters, promising “quite a dramatic event”, without giving further details.

The average weight of a pair of elephant tusks is approximately 36kg, so the stockpile represents about 3,820 dead elephants

The ivory includes tusks seized from poachers, and also any that has been recovered from animals that died a natural death.

I have visited the burning site in Nairobi National Park and seen the huge pits of charred and broken ivory pieces, grey or sometimes still white in colour. It was an emotional place to stand and contemplate the sheer numbers of gentle giants that they represent, and the shame and embarrassment of being a member of the human race. We are worse than animals, as we are endowed with the brains to know better.

Monday 23 November 2015

Rhino poaching in Namibia

The carcasses of another two black rhinos that had been killed for their horns were found in the south-western part of Etosha National Park early last week.

One of the animals was a cow that had been dehorned by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism
in May. It was nevertheless killed by poachers who then removed the remaining stumps of the
animal's horns. It had a calf, which was missing as of Friday.

The other rhino had not been dehorned, and it was found on Tuesday minus its horns.

Namibia has so far this year lost at least 79 rhinos to poaching.

Twenty-five rhinos were poached in Namibia last year,  four were poached in 2013, two in 2012, and only one in 2011.

What is even more upsetting is that Namibia holds a large number of Black rhinos which are critically endangered with numbers World wide of only around 4000 individuals.

So much for the notion that hunting in Namibia is aiding conservation and stopping poaching.

Corruption and elephant poaching in Zimbabwe

Rory Young works for Chengeta Wildlife, a non-profit organisation that was registered in the
United States last year to support the efforts of Zimbabwe wildlife conservationists.

He believes that his anti-poaching training operations in the Kariba area were about to make
real headway when he was suddenly summoned to report to the Central Intelligence Organisation

A few days after the encounter with the secret service, he had left Zimbabwe for good and the
country's loss had become Malawi's gain.

"When I protested that I had been given a two-year residence permit in order to train anti-
poaching personnel, that I was training police with the authority of police headquarters and
with the permission of the appropriate authority for the area, I was told to shut up, that they
were above the police, and that even if I had done nothing wrong, they would find a reason to
arrest me and throw away the key unless I stayed away from the area and did no training in
Zimbabwe." he said.

Young said that the CIO wanted him and other conservationists far away from Matusadona and
Nyaminyami National Parks.

Many conservationists think that rogue members of the country's security forces have a hand in
the resurgent cases of cyanide elephant poaching that has seen more than 60 elephants killed
for their ivory in Hwange alone.

While the actual killing may be done by some of the desperate locals suffering from extreme 
poverty, it very unlikely that the illegal export of such quantities could be facilitated without the knowledge and involvement of corrupt senior officials of government agencies.

Thursday 19 November 2015

Is this the end of canned lion hunting?

 A motion has been passed at the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA) AGM that disassociates PHASA with the captive-bred lion industry until such a time that the industry can convince PHASA and the IUCN that the practice is beneficial to lion conservation. (Which will be never)

Canned lion breeders and supporters were outvoted 147 to 103.

European Parliament members recently were showed the film 'Blood Lions'. As a consequence of this, the UK government has decided to meet next week for a full debate on the conservation status of lions, including the role played by all forms of trophy hunting.

Well done Ian Michler, who made the documentary. The man is a wildlife hero. Let's leave lions in peace and hope they multiply.

Thursday 29 October 2015

Some facts about hunting Lions in Zimbabwe with reference to the killing of Cecil

From an interview with lion researcher Brent Stapelkamp who worked with Cecil in Hwange.

First, there was no hunting quota on lions this year in the Gwaai area. The minimum age of lion
that can be hunted is six years. Last year in 2014 only one lion out of the five shot in the
area was above the age of six. One of those lions was just 2 years old. So this year, the hunters were penalised, and the quota was removed from the landowners. Cecil was supposed to be 100% safe because there was no lion hunting allowed this year.

Second, the Zimbabwe law says that if you’re hunting a lion you must have a parks ranger with
you. There was no parks ranger present.

Third, the hunter shot Cecil with a compound bow. The law says you must have a special permit
for that, as well as ranger present on a bow hunt.

Fourth, the hunt permit was bought on a quota swap, which is illegal. The hunting operator
bought the permit from an area elsewhere in the country, which had no lions. Then he came to
the area next to Hwange and hunted Cecil with an illegal permit.

Fifth, there were no hunt return forms, no tax invoice, and no one in an official position in
parks knew they were hunting – all of which is illegal.

- See more at: http://africageographic.com/blog/aftermath-cecil-interview-lion-researcher-

Does anyone honestly believe that Walter Palmer didn't know any of this when he arranged to 
shoot Cecil by baiting him with a carcass in a private area right next to the reserve? 

Given that the story goes that the other pride male - Jericho - fed from the carcass first, but
the hunters didn't try for him, it would suggest that they knew exactly what they were doing and which lion they wanted to kill. Could they have failed to notice his collar? No, Cecil's demise was well planned and badly executed. Eleven hours between being shot and dying is a long time to be in pain.

So why did the Government of Zimbabwe drop the call for the extradition of Palmer? Because they don't want to lose the flow of dollars from foreign hunters. Stuff the legality.

Meanwhile the strongest and genetically the best equipped to survive lions continue to be 
killed, thus ensuring the that the genes from the weaker and less fit lions get passed on. And
there is the fallout from killing a pride male where another male will move in and kill all the 
cubs left by the previous incumbent. 

And then the hunters can put another bait out at a later date and kill him too.

It's complete lunacy.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Some good news about rhinos

Zimbabwe appears to be winning the battle to save its  rhino population against  poachers as the number killed has gone down significantly from 60 animals in 2013 to six in the past 15 months.

Figures released by wildlife organisations  to mark the World Rhino Day, show that
rhino poaching is on the decline after the government and conservation experts adopted a raft
of measures including stiff prison terms for convicted poachers.

Dehorning the rhinos and satellite tracking has also helped curb poaching, in the process
boosting the country's tourism.

In the late 1980s, Zimbabwe had a rhino population of about 2,000 but the numbers have crashed
to around 760.

The International Rhino Foundation, which has been working with a local conservation trust, the
Lowveld Rhino Trust (LRT), said the decrease in rhino poaching can be attributed to anti-
poaching efforts, tracking and monitoring.

Many rhinos have also been moved from high-risk areas in Hwange and the Zambezi Valley
to safer areas in the Lowveld and private conservancies while local communities have also
cooperated in building support for rhino conservation.

Over the last three to four years, the rhino population has been growing annually between five
and 10 percent, which is great news for the species future in Zimbabwe.

Cyanide Poisoning of elephants in Zimbabwe

A Zimbabwe parks official says that 22 more elephants have been killed by cyanide poisoning in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.

This brings the number of elephants poisoned by poachers in October in this southern Africa country to 62. In early October, the parks reported three incidents in which 40 elephants were killed by cyanide poisoning. Three were killed in the Kariba area because they ate oranges laced with cyanide. The rest were killed in Hwange National Park

In 2013, more than 200 elephants died from cyanide poisoning in Hwange. Cyanide is an indiscriminate killer as, if added to a waterhole it will kill anything that drinks there. It has killed a large number of game animals and birds - and will even kill vultures if they feed off the carcasses.

Cyanide is widely used in Zimbabwe's mining industry and is easy to obtain.

Elephant poaching on the increase in Kruger

At least 19 elephants have been killed in Kruger National Park since January, and 12 of those were killed in September and October.

This is compared to only two elephant deaths in the KNP in 2014.

The first elephant poaching incident in 10 years occurred in the Pafuri section of the park in May last year.

It's coming - now that East Africa has been decimated the poachers are moving to where there 
are bigger herds left.

Thursday 8 October 2015

"Queen of Ivory" arrested in Tanzania

A Chinese woman who has been dubbed "The Queen of Ivory" has been arrested in Tanzania

She was amongst a number of high level Chinese ivory traffickers who have been arrested. The woman, named Yang Fen Glan, has been observed by a wildlife trafficking unit from Tanzania's National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit for more than a year before the arrests were made.

She is thought to be the head of a network which trafficked a huge amount of ivory going back at least as far as 2006. She has confessed to many crimes and could face 20-30 years in jail.

Hopefully she will provide information leading to the arrest of other major traffickers and corrupt government officials.

Let's not let corruption and bribery screw this one up.

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Zimbabwe: More elephants killed by cyanide poisoning

11 elephants have died as a result of another cyanide poisoning incident in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.

Also a number of vultures have died after feeding offthecarcasses. Possibly other scavengers have died as well.

Whether the tusks have been removed or not by poachers has not been made public as yet.

Last month three elephants died in Kariba after eating cyanide laced oranges.

Friday 25 September 2015


WASHINGTON (Sept. 25, 2015) — In a historic accord to save Africa’s elephants from a poaching crisis killing 33,000 elephants annually, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping agreed Friday to end commercial ivory sales in the United States and China.

The United States and China commit to enact nearly complete bans on ivory import and export, including significant and timely restrictions on the import of ivory as hunting trophies, and to take significant and timely steps to halt the domestic commercial trade of ivory.  The two sides decided to further cooperate in joint training, technical exchanges, information sharing, and public education on combating wildlife trafficking, and enhance international law enforcement cooperation in this field. The United States and China decided to cooperate with other nations in a comprehensive effort to combat wildlife trafficking.


Thursday 17 September 2015

Cecil Hunter arrested in Zimbabwe

Police in Zimbabwe have arrested Theo Bronkhorst, the professional hunter behind the killing of
Cecil the lion, following the discovery of 29 sable antelope allegedly being smuggled to South
Africa, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

Separate reports say that the professional hunter is under suspicion for illegally importing 29 sables from Zambia.

Conservation group the Bhejane Trust confirmed the sable were found in three 4x4 trucks that
were trying to illegally cross the South African border near Beitbridge at the weekend.

The sable, thought to be of the sub-species kirkii, which typically have longer horns than their southern cousins, may well be part of a larger consignment South African breeders and hunters have been trying to smuggle out of Zambia since 2009.

I note that Walter Palmer is back in business in the US. Still protesting his innocence - does he take us all for complete fools? It seems he will get away with it - again.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Great Elephant Census results in Zimbabwe

The results of the “Great Elephant Census” in Zimbabwe show that the countrywide population is down by some 6% (Total = 82 - 83000) from 2001, The figures seem support the dual problems of high levels of poaching in some localities and high densities of elephant in others.

The Middle Zambezi Valley area, including Chirisa Safari Area; Chizarira National Park; Chete Safari Area; Matusadona National Park, Charara Safari Area and Sijarira Forest, shows a marked decline in numbers from about 14000 in 2001 to 3500 in 2014. Poaching seems to be the main cause, although some were shot for reasons such as crop raiding.

The Lower Zambezi Valley, including the hunting-based Safari Areas and Mana Pools National Park, showed that the numbers are down by some 40%, from about 20000 to 14000. Although only the southern and eastern boundaries of these areas are bordered by communal land.

Most of the middle and lower Zambezi regions, both protected area and communal land, are used for trophy hunting.

The population of elephant in Hwange National Park and the Matetsi Complex has increased by about 10% to between 50-55000.

I have to ask how, when compared to the results for Hwange National Park, does the Zimbabwe trophy hunting industry  back it’s claims of substantial contributions to wildlife conservation and protection in the areas in which it operates. Admittedly there are some notable exceptions, but the hunters are always stating that hunting protects the wildlife stocks. Well, not everywhere.

Sunday 30 August 2015

Tanzania's Elephant population summary

In general, the national census which was a follow up to the 2009 nationwide census revealed a decrease of 65,721 elephants from 109, 051 to only 43,330 elephants, an equivalent of a 60.3 per cent drop in a span of five years.

Areas which recorded a decrease in the elephant numbers include the Malagarasi-Moyozi ecosystem which recorded an 81 per cent decrease well from 15,198 in 2009 to 2,953.

In the Kilimanjaro ecosystem the number fell from 450 to 100, a decrease of 77.8 per cent.

The census recorded a considerable increase in the Selous-Mikumi ecosystem from 13,000 herds in 2013 to 15,217, an increase of 2000.  The increase is linked to improved management as well as the support received from conservation partners. Bear in mind that there were around 70000 elephants in Selous alone in 2006. They have been severely massacred.

The Serengeti which is the World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve of mankind saw an impressive 98 per cent increase from 3,068 in 2009 to 6,087 in 2014.

In the Tarangire ecosystem, a 64 per cent increase was recorded from 2,561 in 2009 to 4,202 in 2014. Tarangire, according to the data, has the highest elephant population density in the world.

The census recorded a 108 per cent increase in Rubondo from 49 in 2009 to 102 in 2014, while the population in Katavi-Rukwa remained stable with 6,396 in the same period.

Ruaha-Rungwa is in dispute. Census showed a decrease from 20,000 to 8200 from 2013 to 2014. The Government believes these numbers are wrong and is organising a new search starting in November to try and find the missing elephants

I hope I am wrong but I suspect what is left of them will be found in Ivory shops in Hong Kong and China.

Friday 28 August 2015

African Parks to help running Tanzania's Wildlife Reserves

The Government of Tanzania has shared the disastrous results of the Great Elephant Census in their country, and they have promised action. Leaders acknowledged the losses, and have pledged to reinforce their commitment to protecting elephant populations where they need it most. The Great Elephant Census sincerely applauds Tanzania’s recognition of the gravity of this situation and for applying the preliminary data to inform conservation strategies in elephant ecosystems across the country. The Government of Tanzania has already announced the following measures;
  •  Tanzania is bringing in the African Parks Network to run the Burigi and Biharamulo wildlife reserves and is working to conclude negotiations on that agreement.
  • The northern sector of the Selous Game Reserve, where Vuclan is working with the Frankfurt Zoological Society to combat poaching on the ground, will be devoted exclusively to photographic tourism, the government will let the existing hunting concessions in that area lapse, and will bring in TANAPA, which runs the Tanzanian National Parks, to help run the area.
  • Increase the number of rangers deployed to the Rungwa Game Reserve.
  • Increase the resources and personnel deployed to Tarangire to prevent what happened in the Selous and Rungwa from happening there.

    It sounds good but will it actually get off the ground? Will the Tanzanian staff get the resources they need to effectively combat the poachers of is it just more gum bumping by politicians to try and save their sorry arses?

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Tanzania government is to break up the Game Department and move responsibility to the Tanzania Wildlife Authority

The government of Tanzania is to break up the Game Department as one way towards helping to revive the country's elephant numbers, depleted due to rampant poaching.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism thinks it can increase the number of elephants to 100,000 over the next five years.

Lazaro Nyalandu, Minister of tourism and Natural Resources, said the government had decided to dismantle the Game Department which was previously under his Ministry and transfer personnel to the Tanzania Wildlife Authority, which is now being restructured into a completely new agency.

The new agency will be responsible for over 120,000 square kilometres (46,332 square miles) of land.

He also said the number of poachers that are being apprehended is dropping drastically.
"The drop comes from the government effort to increase the number on man-patrol since February last year," he said.

But he would be able to say that  - if there are no eles left then the poachers will move on.

The Minister called for more help from the international community in terms of funding and technical support.

A 2014 survey indicated that the elephant population in the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem, in Tanzania's undeveloped south, crashed from 20,000 in the previous year to 8,272. So to protect the remaining elephants in Ruaha-Rungwa, the government is already doubling the number of game rangers to 140. Furthermore it is committed to provide transportation, weaponry and uniforms for them to work
efficiently. By the end of 2014, they had hired another 1000 rangers to be deployed throughout the country.

Tanzania and Mozambique have signed a bilateral agreement to protect the Selous-Niassa Corridor, which will become the world's largest protected area.

Not that Mozambique is providing any protection worth a damn to the Niassa reserve. Mozambique has lost 50% of its elephants in just five years, mostly in this area. Government, the police and the judiciary all complicit in the killing.

He has also signed a new agreement with his Zambian counterpart to protect the Miombo woodland.This woodland is about 2.5 million square kilometers of land criss crossing Tanzania and Zambia, a crucial habit for the elephants to multiply in.

I hope this is more than just a PR excerise.

Friday 7 August 2015

China donates $2 million worth of conservation hardware to Zimbabwe

China yesterday donated $2,3 million worth of equipment to be used to curb the illegal hunting
and poaching of game in this country. An additional $100 000 was added to help set up a Zim-
China foundation for the protection of wildlife.

The equipment donated by China includes lorries, SUVs, pick-up trucks, mobile radios, telescopes and tents.

Zimparks director Mr Edson Chidziya said an additional $20 million was required for all the
operational support to reduce poaching and other problems.

"We do have the operational costs which are affecting us and we need an additional $20 million
for refurbishment and rehabilitation for our parks which include roads, infrastructure in the
parks and game park fences."

Good start for China. But rather than run a PR exercise why doesn't China do something big and
STOP the legal trade in Ivory forthwith.

Thursday 6 August 2015

UK gives £5 million to help fight against wildlife crime

Up to £5 million of UK Government funding will made available to initiatives around the world
to help tackle the cruel trade in rhino horn, elephant ivory and other illegal wildlife
products, Defra Minister Rory Stewart has announced .

Poaching is rife in parts of Africa, with 1,293 rhinos killed last year and over 20,000
elephant deaths attributed to poaching in 2013.

The UK is playing a leading role in global efforts to tackle the illegal wildlife trade, which
involves international criminal networks and undermines the economies of our trading partners
in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Round Two of the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund will support practical action against
wildlife crime by strengthening law enforcement, reducing demand for illegal products and by
helping communities develop sustainable conservation schemes.

It's peanuts compared to what we are happy to give to places like Pakistan, or waste on weapons, but every little helps.  However, the World still hasn't fully woken up to this problem. We all want to see wildlife healthy and protected but we don't seem to want to provide the funds to achieve it. A Global fund ought to be set up as its a Global problem and we ALL want to be able to enjoy the World's wildlife.

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Two arrested for killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe

Authorities in Zimbabwe are trying track down a Spanish hunter who paid park guides $55,000
(£35,000) for the pleasure of killing Cecil, one of Africa’s most famous lions, who was the star
attraction of Hwange National Park. He was found skinned and headless on the outskirts of the
park. The two people who accompanied the hunter have already been arrested.

The 13-year-old lion, wearing a GPS collar, was tricked into leaving the park, by hunters who used an animal carcass to tempt him out, and then shot with a bow and arrow. The hunters then tracked the dying animal for 40 hours before they finished it off with a rifle.

This  technique of enticing lions out of parks is commonly used so that so called hunters can “legally” kill protected lions.

Cecil was currently father to six cubs; they will now be killed by whichever new male moves in
to take over his pride, in order to encourage the lionesses to mate.

He was part of an Oxford University study looking into the impact of sports hunting on lions
living in the safari area surrounding the national park. The research found that 34 of 62 tagged lions died during the study period. 24 were shot by sport hunters. Sport hunters in the safari areas surrounding the park killed 72% of tagged adult males from the study area.

Cecil was the Hwange's biggest tourist attraction. The amount of money he generated from
photography in a couple of weeks far exceeds the one off payment that someone accepted for his

This is unethical hunting at its worst. I hope they find who did it and stick one of his arrows 
where the sun doesn't shine. What an utter waste of a beautiful animal.

A complete review of lion hunting, including "canned hunting'"is called for and the whole messy business should be stopped for good.

Friday 24 July 2015

African Parks to manage Liwonde National Park and NKhotakota Wildlife Reserve in Malawi

African Parks is pleased to announce that it has concluded an agreement with the Government of Malawi to manage and operate Liwonde

National Park and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve for 20 years. The agreement follows an application and evaluation process administered by the Public Private Partnership Commission in which African Parks emerged as the preferred partner to manage the two protected areas.

This is great news for Malawi's Wildlife. African Parks is THE best Wildlife management company out there - they do it properly and are uncorruptable.

Monday 13 July 2015

EU bans ivory trophy imports from Tanzania and Mozambique

EU chiefs have ordered the ban on elephant hunting trophies from Tanzania and Mozambique
because of the threat posed to the animals by poachers. There is already a ban on importing the
trophies from Zambia. The decision was taken by an EU scientific committee, which rules on
whether hunting trophy imports are sustainable.

Previously, Tanzania and Mozambique were each permitted to export tusks from 100 elephants
every year into the EU as hunting trophies. However, both countries have seen a significant
decline in elephant numbers due to soaring levels of poaching.  Tanzania has lot 65% of its
elephant population in just five years and currently only has 43000 elephants in total in the
whole country.

Mozambique has similarly lost around 50% in just five years and may only have 13000 elephants

The European Union’s decision is the latest milestone in the campaign to crack down on the
slaughter of thousands of rare beasts every year by poachers who sell ivory and skins for huge

- See more at: http://africageographic.com/blog/eu-bans-import-of-hunting-trophies-from-

Friday 12 June 2015

Is demand for ivory in China diminishing?

Demand for ivory in China may have either remained stable or even decreased slightly in 2014 and the first half of 2015, new data suggests. Ivory (illegally) offered for sale online in China fetched similar prices in 2014 as it had the previous year. In contrast, from 2010 to 2013 the price tripled. The number of official ivory carving factories and retail outlets in the country has decreased substantially for the first time since licensing began.

Monday 1 June 2015

Tanzanian Government admits the country is an elephant slaughterhouse

Today, Tanzania has announced the preliminary results from the aerial surveys in Tanzania that were conducted as part of the Great Elephant Census (GEC).

The figures released today show the east African country’s elephant population, once among Africa’s largest, has fallen to 43,330, a drop of several thousand from the previous survey. In 1976 Tanzania boasted seven times as many elephants.

Announcing the results of a new aerial survey the Tanzanian Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu claimed the figures were a “mixed bag” with increases in some areas overshadowed by a dramatic fall in the Ruaha area from 20,000 in 2013 to 8,272 last year.

The announcement confirmed an ITV News report earlier this year which was “categorically denied” at the time by the National Parks authority.

Mr Nyalandu announced a number of measures to combat poaching including an increase in the number of rangers in the affected areas, new funding for anti-poaching efforts and a national law enforcement strategy to address the lack of successful prosecutions for poaching.

Why has this gone on so long? Will anything realy be done about it? We are running out of time.
This is one post I really wished I'd never be writing.


Friday 15 May 2015

Mozambique police seize huge amount of ivory and rhino horns

The Mozambican police on Tuesday seized about 1.3 tonnes of ivory and rhinoceros horns from a house in the southern city of Matola.

This is the largest seizure of illicit wildlife products in Mozambican history. The haul consisted of 340 elephant tusks, weighing 1,160 kilos, and 65 rhino horns, weighing 124 kilos.

The criminal gang involved in this trafficking had thus killed 170 elephants and 65 rhinos. The police arrested a Chinese citizen who seemed to be living alone in the house. The police hope he will lead them to other members of the trafficking ring.

The seizure has a street value of over 6.3 million dollars.

Since both species of African rhinoceros, the black and the white, are believed to be extinct in southern Mozambique, the 65 horns seized in Matola almost certainly come from animals poached in South Africa.

Between January and April the poaching gangs killed 393 South African rhinos, an 18 per cent increase on the same period in 2014.

The ivory could have come from Mozambican or South African animals.

Zimbabwe in danger of losing its vulture population

Increased incidents of poisoning in Zimbabwe's national parks could wipe out the vulture population.
Vultures are listed as specially protected animals in Zimbabwe under the sixth schedule of the Parks and Wildlife Act.

Vultures have been dying in large numbers locally after feeding on animals that have been poisoned. There has been widespread poaching of wildlife across the country's national parks and conservancies, with poachers resorting to the use of cyanide and other veterinary and agricultural chemicals  to kill their prey.

Vultures are also killed as a result of eating dead cattle that were treated with Diclofenac by farmers. It causes kidney failure and makes their eggs infertile.

There was an incident in Gonarezhou National Park where over 191 vulture birds were killed after devouring carcases of animals that had died from poisoning.

Two years ago, Hwange National Park was also a scene of the killing of 300 elephants through
cyanide, which led to the death of several vultures.

Poachers also try to poison vultures so that they will not attract attention to carcasses of slaughtered wildlife.

There are six species of vultures found in Zimbabwe namely the lappet-faced; the hooded, the
white-headed; the palmnut, Ruppell's griffon and the white-backed.

Vultures are late maturing birds that lay only two eggs every four years, and have a very slow
population recovery rate from incidents like this.

Vulture feathers are used in traditional witchcraft in parts of Africa. The brains of vultures, when eaten, are  thought to be good for the prediction of events and social ills, and also to improve eyesight.

Over the past few years vultures have showed an alarmingly fast decline all over Africa and Asia.In places populations are down by over 90%. This has consequences for clearing up up dead animals, an increase in the number of vermin and feral dogs, and the spread of disease.

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Sixty rhinos poached in Namibia so far this year

As predicted, rhino poaching has ramped up in Namibia. The number of known rhinos killed now
syands at 60 so far this year, mostly in Etosha NP.

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has increased the reward from N$30000 to $60000 to anyone with information on the latest incidences in the Etosha National Park. According to statistics from MET, the number of rhinos poached in Etosha now stands at 54, while the other carcasses were discovered in the Kunene's Palmwag tourism concession area.

Last year Namibia lost 24 rhinos from poachers compared to 60 discovered this year Additionally, at least 78 elephants were poached in 2014, while 23 have been lost this year.

Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba ShifetaS admitted that some officials from the ministry were indeed involved in poaching, saying many are used to shoot the animals for a trans-national syndicate.

The number of police officers has been increased from 40 to 140 to increase law enforcement presence in the park. In addition Aerial patrols are being carried out.

Sad to say this was entirely expected. Southern Africa will also start to see a lot more elephant poaching now that the Tanzania and Mozambique populations are being cleaned out.

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Tanzania to deploy five hundred new rangers by July

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism last week said it will recruit and deploy 500 rangers and 111 wildlife officers by July to combat poaching.

This will be coupled with an increase inter-agency national and international cooperation to fortify wildlife protection as means to restrict poaching.

Lazaro Nyalandu, Tanzania's Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism said that as efforts to curb poaching and reinforce wildlife protection continue, his Ministry has increased the number of patrols in protected areas from 73,619 in 2012 to 125,124 in 2014.

This has resulted in an increased number of poachers being caught, including confiscation of a large number of firearms confiscated. He said the number court cases related to poaching and which are proceeding has risen from 349 in 2012 to 539 in 2014.

He also said that the government has managed to conclude a total of 1190 cases from 2012 to date meaning that the investment on patrol is paying-off.

"We have also commissioned a census to give us the current and up to date count of the elephant
population," he said.

I wonder how that will compare with  the numbers given in the report discussed on this blog on 26th 
April which stated that "Half the elephants in Ruaha National Park in Tanzania have been killed by poachers in the last year"

Monday 11 May 2015

Two men arrested carrying rhino horn in Vietnam

Two men carrying 31 rhinoceros horns worth an estimated one million dollars were arrested by
police in Vietnam, a police official said on Monday.

Police discovered the horns on Saturday, said a police spokesman at Nghe An provincial police
department in central Vietnam.

Doan Duy Dinh and Le Thanh Trung, both aged 32, were caught with 37kg of horns in three bags at
a railway station.

According to Dinh an unidentified man had hired him to transport the consignment from Ho Chi
Minh City to Nghe An for $1 850, police said.

Thursday 30 April 2015

Chinese delegate at Elephant Summit asks about buying elephant penis

The African Elephant Summit – a follow up of the first Elephant Summit in 2013 in Gaborone, Botswana to discuss the emerging “Elephant Crisis”, co-hosted by IUCN – was organised in March by the Government of Botswana with financial support from a few
donors. This meeting was attended by government delegates up to the level of permanent secretaries (except for Angola whose Minister attended) and by NGO and IGO representatives.

A rather interesting comment by a senior member of the Chinese delegation was a side query to the range state members on whether there is any interest in selling other parts of the dead elephant to the Chinese market, e.g. the trunk and reproductive organs, namely the penis! This was apparently not meant as a joke and was said in the sitting session of all the Technical Heads chaired by the Wildlife Minister of Botswana.

Is this really the Chinese idea of conservation. They just don't get it do they!

Monday 27 April 2015

Richard Leakey appointed chairman of KWS

Mr. Leakey gained world recognition in the 1980's when as Director General of the KWS, he instituted a shoot-to-kill policy that helped stem the high levels of poaching of Kenya's wildlife at the time.

Mr. Leakey has had a challenging relationship with the Kenyan Government as a result of his outspoken criticism of the current poaching crisis. In a speech last year, Mr. Leakey said "that poachers had an extraordinary level of international criminal backing effectively operating with outrageous impunity, killing our elephants and rhinos at levels that will make them extinct within the country."
Great news for Kenya's Wildlife - if he can survive the political infighting that will surely occur. But good on Mr Kenyatta for appointing him.

Malawi declares war on wildlife crime

President Prof. Peter Mutharika has warned all those involved in wildlife crime Malawi is now fully equipped and ready and able to stop them.

Mutharika made a statement on Saturday at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe on his return from the Congressional International Conventional Gala (ICCG) in the United States of America.

"We now have enough resources to combat crime against wildlife and I warn all poachers, ivory smugglers and those who destroy wildlife that this is now war; your time is over," said Mutharika who has also been honoured at the gala as a gallant fighter of crime against wildlife.

He also asked all Malawians to join in the fight against wildlife criminals.

This is the sort of leadership and commitment from the top that Africa needs to win this battle.

Second huge ivory haul in Thailand in less than a week

More than three tonnes of elephant ivory has been found at a Thai port stashed in a container shipped from Kenya, custom officials said on Monday.

It is the second huge haul of tusks from Africa in less than a week.

The discovery, which would be worth millions of dollars on the black market, was destined for Laos where the illegal ivory trade flourishes.

Some 511 pieces of ivory were found on April 25 in a container "marked as tea leaves transported from Mombasa, Kenya, and on to Laos", Thailand customs said in a statement.

Sunday 26 April 2015

Half the Elephants in Tanzania's Ruaha National Park killed by poachers in one year

Half the elephants in Ruaha National Park in Tanzania have been killed by poachers in the last year year, according to new figures. Elephant numbers in the Park have dropped from 8,500 in 2014 to just over 4,200 now.

In the Ruaha-Rungwa-Muhesi ecosystem, the slaughter is even worse. Only 8,200 elephants remain, down from over 20,000 a year ago, researchers say.

The proportion of bull elephants older than 40, prized by poachers for their enormous tusks, had reduced by 72%.

Although the researchers found fewer carcasses than expected given such a dramatic fall in numbers they do not think the elephants have migrated and concluded there is “compelling evidence that a major mortality has taken place.”

The Tanzanian government received the report in January this year but has so far hushed it up, citing the need for “secondary validation.” Conservationists believe it is more likely to be due to embarrassment, and also the fact that wildlife tourism accounts for 16% of Tanzania’s economy and the government does not want to adversely affect the number of people visiting the country.

The findings are part of the Great Elephant Census, an ongoing two-year project to conduct an aerial survey of elephant numbers and distribution across all of the range states in Africa. It is due to complete at the end of this year.

They run counter to recent statements from the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA). In August last year they furiously denied allegations of an increase in poaching in Ruaha claiming  that wildlife protection was in “good order.”

Well they would, wouldn't they.

                                           Poached elephant in Ruaha - June 2014. Maybe it  ran before
                                                       it died of its wounds and the poachers never got what little 
                                                        ivory it wore

 And while we are on the subject of poaching and corruption. What happened to the report presented to the President of Tanzania by Khamis Kagasheki  before he was relieved of his position as Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism in late 2013, which named the names of government ministers alleged to be heavily involved in large scale poaching operations? None have been investigated.

But the final blame must lie with China. When will China STOP the Sale of Ivory.  As I see it they are stealing another nation's resources and openly selling them on their streets. It is STOLEN PROPERTY. Why aren't the World's governments bringing pressure to bear on them to close down this barbaric industry?

Thursday 23 April 2015

Thailand's biggest ever ivory bust

Thai customs officials have seized four tons of ivory worth $6 million, authorities said on Monday, in what the department called the largest bust of its kind in Thailand’s history.

The elephant tusks were hidden in bags containing dried beans in containers originating from
the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Thai Customs Department said in a statement, and were
bound for Laos.

Thailand was given until the end of March to take measures to shut down domestic trade in ivory
or face sanctions under the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species

“We consider this the biggest seizure in Thai history. We believe that this ivory was due to be
sold to customers in China, Vietnam and Thailand,” the Thai Customs Department said in a statement.

Much of the ivory smuggled into Thailand from other countries is turned into ornaments that are
shipped to China and Vietnam to meet burgeoning demand.

In January, Thailand passed new legislation to regulate and control the possession and trade of
ivory. Under the law, possession of African ivory for sale in Thailand is prohibited.

Four Mpumalunga men get fifteen years each for rhino poaching

Four Mpumalanga men convicted of trespassing and illegal hunting in the Kruger National Park
were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment each.

They were found guilty of trespassing, carrying out a restricted activity in the game reserve
and possession of illegal firearms and ammunition.

State Prosecutoe Isbet Erwee said the accused showed no respect for the law and they also intimidated witnesses. “Unfortunately we have no proof whether it was the first time they hunted illegally in the park or not. They were well organised, armed with firearms for the crime with a place for entering. The rangers have to be thanked for their level of handling poaching… with helicopter on standby. These men are from the country and they are a disgrace as it is commonly foreigners from Mozambique who usually commit such crimes,” she said.

Magistrate André Geldenhuys said “You show no remorse. You even tried misleading the court. You
are arrogant, disrespectful and greedy. You were working for a syndicate and you obtained the
firearms illegally. You are sentenced to five years each for count one. Count two and three will go together and the sentence is 10 years each, meaning a total of 15 imprisonment in jail each,”.

Monday 20 April 2015

Zimbabwe elephant populations show dramatic declines in some areas

The results of the “Great Elephant Census” in Zimbabwe show that the countrywide population is down by some 6% (Total = 82 - 83000) from 2001, The figures seem support the dual problems of high levels of poaching in some localities and high densities of elephant in others.

The Middle Zambezi Valley area, including Chirisa Safari Area; Chizarira National Park; Chete Safari Area; Matusadona National Park, Charara Safari Area and Sijarira Forest, shows a marked decline in numbers from about 14000 in 2001 to 3500 in 2014. Poaching seems to be the main cause, although some were shot for reasons such as crop raiding.

The Lower Zambezi Valley, including the hunting-based Safari Areas and Mana Pools National Park, showed that the numbers are down by some 40%, from about 20000 to 14000. Although only the southern and eastern boundaries of these areas are bordered by communal land.

Most of the middle and lower Zambezi regions, both protected area and communal land, are used for trophy hunting.

I have to ask how, when compared to the results for Hwange National Park, does the Zimbabwe trophy hunting industry back its claims of substantial contributions to wildlife conservation and protection in the areas in which it operates. Admittedly there are some notable exceptions, but the hunters are always stating that hunting protects the wildlife stocks virtually everywhere that they operate.

The population of elephant in Hwange National Park and the Matetsi Complex has increased by about 10% to between 50-55000. This is a major problem as it is above the carrying capacity for the area. But I also wonder why so many artificial waterholes are made available to them in the dry season, instead of closing some down and encouraging them to migrate into Botswana.

Rhino poaching in Zimbabwe

Poaching has reached alarming levels in the country's national parks and Zimbabwe risks being expelled from the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) after losing about 30 percent of its rhino population in less than three years. CITES is an international body who duty is to regulate and supervise the trade among members states on endangered species.

The country is believed to have lost about 200 rhinos since 2012, a figure animal welfare groups consider too high.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Rhino poachers in Court in SA

Polokwane - Five alleged rhino poachers have appeared in the Phalaborwa Magistrate’s Court, Limpopo police said on Tuesday.

The five, who were arrested in two incidents in the Gravelotte area over the weekend, had their cases postponed to April 20, spokesperson Colonel Ronel Otto said. Three of them were arrested on a nature reserve in the Harmony area around 21:00 on Saturday. Police had been tipped off that they were about to shoot a rhino. Their car was stopped on a gravel road and a .303 rifle with a silencer, 12 rounds of ammunition, two axes and knives were confiscated. The other two were caught later. In their car, police found a .375 hunting rifle, two silencers, ammunition, an axe, panga, and knife. The serial numbers of both rifles had been filed off. 

Police have arrested 21 suspected poachers in Limpopo since the beginning on March. Sentences of up to 11 years in jail have been handed out.

Monday 13 April 2015

Poaching ramps up in Namibia

Seven carcasses of poached rhinos having been discovered in the Etosha National Park so far
this year.

This brings the number of rhinos killed by poachers in Namibia's premier wildlife
refuge since October last year up to 11, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment
and Tourism, Simeon Negumbo, announced in a media statement on Friday.

The remains of five rhinos suspected to have been killed by poachers, have also been found in the Kunene region since the start of the year, Negumbo said.

The country has lost 24 rhinos and a reported 76 elephants to poaching in 2014.

Since February this year, the carcasses of 11 elephants that had been killed by poachers have also been found in the north-east of the country, Negumbo announced. Nine elephant carcasses were found in the Zambezi region, while two were reported from Kavango East.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Four out of five rhino poachers in South Africa come from neighbouring Mozambique

Four out of five rhino poachers in South Africa come from neighbouring Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries, where villagers are tempted by the promise of money. Cathy Dean, international director of Save the Rhino said: “Mozambique’s record since the London conference has been abysmal. Its first report came late and is barely worth the paper it’s written on. It’s a real failure of intent.”
The scale of impunity was vividly illustrated when Bartholomäus Grill, a German journalist with Der Spiegel, went to Mozambique to investigate the supply chain from South Africa through middlemen to the horns’ ultimate buyers in Vietnam, where they fetch up to $65,000 a kilo – more valuable than gold. When he visited the home of a notorious poaching kingpin, Grill was taken hostage by an angry mob and threatened with death. Far from offering help, the local police appeared to be under the kingpin’s thumb.

Sanctions should be applied to Mozambique to make them tighten up on their anti poaching laws. At the moment the new laws that have been passed are largely being ignored.

Pangolin poachers caught in Zimbabwe

Police in Zimbabwe have arrested 12 poachers of endangered pangolin so far this year and eight of them have already been handed heavy jail sentences, a pangolin protection trust said on Monday. The Tikki Hywood Trust called the clampdown "encouraging”.

The poachers were arrested in seven separate cases between January and March. They come from Harare, Nyamapanda in eastern Zimbabwe and Guruve and Kwekwe in central Zimbabwe, the trust said in a statement.

Tuesday 31 March 2015

Seventeen Rhino horns seized in Mozambique town

The Mozambican police last week seized 17 rhinoceros horns in the southern city of Matola.

The horns were in a Toyota Land Cruiser which was supposedly being driven to the northern city of Pemba. They were hidden inside the lining of the vehicle's boot.

Three men were arrested. They claimed to know nothing of the rhino horns. One man said that some Vietnamese friends had brought him from Pemba to Maputo to pick up the Toyota and drive it back to Pemba.

Several revent attempts to smuggle rhino horn through Maputo have been detected and so the smugglers may be trying to use other airports in Mozambique

Since the rhinoceros is extinct in southern Mozambique, it is more than likely that the 17 horns were taken from rhinos poached in South Africa's Kruger National Park.

Good - but Mozambique still hasn't satisfied the CITIES requirements in terms of its anto rhino horn smuggling action plan, and needs to do much more about this and also about elephant ivory poaching in Niassa National Park.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

So now, after the Ivory disaster of 2008 South Africa wants to legalise the trade in Rhino horn

In 2008, because South Africa’s elephant herds were growing, South Africa, along with Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, was permitted under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to sell its stockpiled ivory, accumulated from natural deaths and managed culls, to “accredited traders” in China and Japan.

It’s now generally agreed that the sales were poorly designed and executed, and rekindled a dwindling market and opened the doors for illegal ivory to be laundered along with the legal sale.
Moreover, South Africa has since been suspected of misappropriation of funds raised from its sale.

A public hearing will take place on 25 and 26 March near Johannesburg to discuss the legalised trade in rhino horn.

Let's face it, someone somewhere wants to get their hands on the cash from the sale of the estimated $1 billon stockpile of rhino horn that the government holds. They are prepared to ignore the lessons of history to achieve this.

Rhinos are in more than enough trouble as it is without the trade being stimulated by the sale of yet more horn.

We all know that manageing it properly would cease to happen as soon as the twin scourges of greed and corruption became involved, regardless of what was promised.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Official complicity in Mozambican elephant slaughter

Extracts from a report released by the Oxpeckers organisation.

Environmentalists warned in mid-September that killing for ivory by organised syndicates was being carried out on an “industrialised” scale – between 1,500 and 1,800 elephants are being poached a year, mostly in northern Mozambique.

In Niassa National Reserve, the country’s largest game reserve, the World Conservation Society (WCS) counted 22 poached elephants in the first two weeks of September alone.“The killing of elephants in the north of Mozambique is reaching proportions never seen before. The killing of elephants is being industrialised,” said Carlos Pareira, an advisor to the WCS.

Between 2009 and 2013 Niassa’s elephant population was reduced from 20,374 to less than 13,000. According to the reserve’s administrator, Cornélio Miguel, an average of five elephants are now being killed there daily.

In the Quirimbas National Park, the elephant population was reduced from about 2,000 in 2008 to 517 by 2011, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF). Baldeu Chande, the administrator of Quirimbas, estimates the park now has a maximum of 790 elephants.

The investigation, started in November 2013, reveals a web of official complicity in the slaughter among administrative, judicial and tax authorities in the northern provinces of Cabo Delgado and Niassa.

The poaching networks on the ground consist of armed hunters: Mozambicans, Tanzanians, Somalis with high-calibre weapons. They smuggle their illegal proceeds through Mozambican ports, airports and borders, destined mainly for China or Vietnam.

Documents show that officials are facilitating these crimes. Some sell weapons and ammunition, military uniforms and boots, and others facilitate the release of detainees and the disappearance of evidence.

The investigation discovered 15 cases involving armed poachers in the Quirimbas National Park, dating to 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 brazenly walking around with AK47s were released.

One syndicate comprising four alleged poachers was arrested in Quirimbas in 2010 after killing three elephants. Charges were laid against Manuel Kachupa, Jorge Salimo, Luis Assima and Antonio Amisse, but they were released.

In another operation against the same group in 2011, 106 rounds of AK47 ammunition and 104,114 Meticais in cash were seized. This time Luis Assima, head of the group, got wind of the arrests and left the day before with another accused, Manuel Kachupa, to hunt with three automatic weapons.

Kachupa is a ringleader, but appears untouchable. In August 2011 he was captured with more than 90,000 Meticais in cash and a week later he was released after paying a “deposit” of 20,000 Meticais. In another case, after he was caught chasing a group of six elephants, he managed to escape with a rifle, ammunition and three elephant tails. He was re-captured and detained in the maximum security prison, but four days later he was released.

In the province of Cabo Delgado, the administrator of the district, Ancuabe Eusebia Celestino, and the chief secretary of the village of Muaja, Horace Radio, provided weapons used in the killing of so-called “problem” elephants which they said were destroying farms around the Quirimbas National Park.

In Quirimbas the administration has no autonomy to kill or cull elephants, either inside or outside the park. “Problem” animals must be dealt with by the provincial department of agriculture, and they must inform the park that they will send men to drive but not to slaughter the animal.

Of the elephants slaughtered on orders from the administrator during the past four years, neither the park administration nor the provincial directorate of agriculture of Cabo Delgado received any ivory. These facts were confirmed by both institutions.

Cabo Delgado police commander Dora Manuel Manjate, is accused of facilitating the passage of ivory, rubies and other illicit products for Chinese clientele. According to the security sources, Chinese clientele have contributed towards a new home and vehicle for Manjate – “a 4×4, one of those newer types, a make not assigned by the police.”

One of our sources in the harbour said that recently, at the behest of the commander Manjate, a policeman who tried searching a forestry container was locked up in a cell for eight days. “We’re afraid to search a container in the port when it belongs to Mofid.”

After confirmation in the geography department and from a member of the municipal council of Pemba, we tracked down commander Manjate’s home, located about 200m from the beach with a stunning side view of the sea. On entering the house, we found Mozambican workers and a Chinese company, CN-Balcony Buildings, busy with construction. According to them, the construction will cost in the region of one million one hundred thousand Meticais.

Research for this year-long investigation is supported by documentary and photographic evidence. The investigation was funded by The Fund For Investigative Journalism (FIJ).

For the full story go to  http://oxpeckers.org/2014/09/official-complicity-in-mozambican-elephant-slaughter/

Drones to be used as anti rhino poaching tools in Africa

Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology designed by Spanish engineers may be used to fight rhino poachers in national parks in Africa and elsewhere.

Four researchers from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) in Barcelona worked with Hemav, a company that promotes UAV and drone solutions, to design the drone. The drone is fitted with thermal vision and communications that can report suspicious activities in real time. It can also be used to find animals and build up a map of their movements.

The drone is made of styrofaom and has a battery powered electric motor which can keep it aloft for about an hour. It has a pre programmable auto pilot and onboard GPS so that it can be sent on a defined mission. It is much cheaper thn conventional helicopters and aeroplanes, and so could be viable even in smaller parks that do not make a lot of money from tourism.

Hemav is negotiating with parks in Ethiopia, Rwanda and South Africa. There is also interest from places in Brazil and Asia.

Sounds like a good idea to me - cost effective and a very powerful tool in the poaching war

Friday 20 March 2015

Kenya High Court blocks bail for ivory poacher Fesial Mohammed Ali

Mombasa (Kenya) (AFP) - Kenyan prosecutors on Thursday successfully blocked a controversial decision to grant bail to the suspected ringleader of a global ivory smuggling gang, arguing he may again try to flee the country.

Appealing to the High Court, a top state prosecutor said the judge who agreed to allow Feisal Mohammed Ali out of custody pending trial had "completely ignored the fact that he is a fugitive who was brought to court under a warrant of arrest".

Ali is charged with possession of and dealing in elephant tusks weighing more than two tonnes -- equivalent to at least 114 slaughtered elephants and worth an estimated $4.5 million (4.2 million euros). He was arrested while on the run in neighbouring Tanzania.

The appeal came the day after a Mombasa court agreed to release Ali on a 10 million shilling (102,000 euro) bond on medical grounds, with the magistrate saying he did not believe Ali -- who denies all charges -- would would try to flee again.

That decision was met with outrage among wildlife campaigners, who said setting him free undermined a case seen as a test of Kenya's willingness and ability to prosecute cases linked to the mounting slaughter of African wildlife.

Paula Kahumbu, head of the conservation organisation Wildlife Direct, had branded the bail ruling as "ridiculous", while Frank Pope of Save the Elephants labelled it "depressing".

The ivory haul to which Ali has been linked was discovered by Kenyan police in June when they raided a car dealership in Mombasa, after which Ali fled to Tanzania.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

William Hague to be chairman of a task force on illegal wildlife trade for United for Wildlife

William Hague has agreed to be the chairman of a task force on the illegal wildlife trade for the Duke  of Cambridge's umbrella organisation United for Wildlife, which brings together conservation groups from all over the world to share ideas and put pressure on governments and industry.

 In central Africa, terrorist groups such as the Lords Resistance Army, Al Shabaab and Boko Haram are among the poachers killing 35,000 elephants a year for tusks that can sell for huge sums of money. Following the recent ban on Ivory imports into China, prices have jumped by 20%

The figures are stark, but William Hague has no doubt the problem can be successfully tackled.“As with the drug trade, the long-term solution is to eliminate demand,” he says, “but in this case we have an advantage we don’t have with drugs: this is not an addiction. This is an industry that only operates in a small number of countries and only among a small minority of their people, so it can be resolved.” 

Friday 27 February 2015

Poachers kill baby rhinos in Save Valley Zimbabwe

Poachers in the Save valley in Zimbabwe killed two small black rhino for their horns. One was about nine months old and the other about three years old. They bioth shared the same mother, who was also shot and wounded. The horn on the younger one only weighed about 40 grams.

The mother was treated for her wounds, and at first appeard to make a quick recovery, but died seven months later from a bone marrow infection in her leg caused by one of the poachers bullets lodged in it.

There are less than 500 black rhino left in Zimbabwe. According to official figures rhino poaching is declining in Zimbabwe. There were 52 killed in 2010 and only 16 in 2013.

 Bryce Clemence of Anti-Poaching and Tracking Specialists (ATS) and his team of trained rangers have been operating in the private Save Valley Conservancy since April 2012. He felt that although they kept having thee setbacks he was optimistic about the future for rhinos in Zimbabwe.

China announces a one year ivory import ban

China has announced a one-year ban on the import of ivory carvings amid mounting criticism over the country’s role in the annual slaughter of thousands of African elephants.

The ban was announced on the website of China’s State Administration of Forestry on Thursday. Xinhua, China’s official news agency, said authorities would evaluate the temporary ban’s impact on the killing of elephants in Africa, which last year reached “critically high levels”, according to the United Nations.

China has faced severe criticism for the role the country’s thirst for ivory plays in the annual slaughter of thousands of elephants outside its borders.

Thursday’s announcement of a one-year ban on the import of ivory carvings falls well short of demands made earlier this month by Sir David Attenborough and a host of other leading conservationaists for a complete ban on the trade of ivory in China.

The moratorium was “window dressing,” the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency said, according to Associated Press. ”It is unfortunate that [Beijing has] not announced a much-needed policy change by banning all domestic trade in ivory — this is the policy change that could actually make a difference for elephants in Africa,” Shruti Suresh, wildlife campaigner from the group, was quoted as saying.

- See more at: http://africageographic.com/blog/china-announces-one-year-ivory-ban/#sthash.TauhRKdY.dpuf

And what about imports of raw ivory?
China has announced a one-year ban on the import of ivory carvings amid mounting criticism over the country’s role in the annual slaughter of thousands of African elephants.
china ivory ban
In an open letter to Xi Jinping, right, David Attenborough urges the Communist Party leader to take action © EPA/EPA
The move comes days before Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, is expected to raise the plight of African elephants during a tour of China and follows recent calls from Sir David Attenborough and other conservationists for a total ban on China’s domestic ivory trade.
The ban was announced on the website of China’s State Administration of Forestry on Thursday. Xinhua, China’s official news agency, said authorities would evaluate the temporary ban’s impact on the killing of elephants in Africa, which last year reached “critically high levels”, according to the United Nations.
The Duke of Cambridge, who is known for his wildlife activism, is likely to highlight the dismal situation facing Africa’s dwindling elephant populations during a three-day trip to China next week.
On Wednesday the Duke will travel to Xishuangbanna in China’s southwest province of Yunnan to visit an elephant rehabilitation centre. The region has been the focus of major government efforts to protect Asian wild elephants in recent years and their work has received praise for reducing poaching and helping elephant populations recover.
However, China has faced severe criticism for the role the country’s thirst for ivory plays in the annual slaughter of thousands of elephants outside its borders.
Xi Jinping needed to completely ban China’s domestic ivory trade in order to help halt the killings of African elephants, Sir David Attenborough and a group of campaigners said earlier this month in an open letter to China’s president. “Unless urgent actions are taken by the international community, and China in particular, to stop this demand, the killing of elephants will continue unabated and could lead to their extinction in much of their range areas within a short time – possibly as little as 10 years,” they wrote.
Thursday’s announcement of a one-year ban on the import of ivory carvings falls well short of those demands.
The moratorium was “window dressing,” the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency said, according to Associated Press. ”It is unfortunate that [Beijing has] not announced a much-needed policy change by banning all domestic trade in ivory — this is the policy change that could actually make a difference for elephants in Africa,” Shruti Suresh, wildlife campaigner from the group, was quoted as saying.
- See more at: http://africageographic.com/blog/china-announces-one-year-ivory-ban/#sthash.TauhRKdY.dpuf

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Garamba NP in Democratic Republic of Congo receives $2 million Grant from Howard G Buffet Foundation

African Parks’ efforts to resolve the poaching crisis in Garamba National Park have been bolstered by a$2 million grant from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation (HGBF), a private foundation in the United States.

The funding was used to purchase a Eurocopter (Airbus) AS 350 B3 model helicopter, designed to accommodate a pilot plus five rangers with sufficient weapons and equipment for a 10-day patrol. It is equipped with night vision capabilities and has been fully-fitted for African Parks’ law enforcement operations.

Elephant-poaching by well-armed criminal groups (at least one of which is poaching from a military helicopter), by the Lord’s Resistance Army and by local armed groups, reached unprecedented levels during 2014.

Peter Fernhead, CEO of African Parks said "As a conservation organisation we are not in the business of fighting guerrilla armies, rogue military units or criminal groups but when their activities threaten the survival of the protected areas for which we are responsible, we are compelled to act".

African Parks is a non-profit organisation that takes on total responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments, wildlife organisations and local communities.

- See more at: http://africageographic.com/blog/garamba-national-park-gets-2-million-donation/#sthash.J2OHl5EO.dpuf

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Hundreds of Blue Cranes poisoned in South Africa's Northern Cape

In a massive blow to the population of South Africa’s national bird, between 200 and a thousand blue cranes have been poisoned, allegedly by a well-known Northern Cape farmer.

The farmer, from the Richmond district in the Northern Cape, allegedly poisoned the birds over a
period of three years since 2012.

The birds were apparently attracted to newly planted fields and pivots on his farm, which is designated as a sheep and cattle farm, further raising the possible contravention of land use and
irrigation development laws by the farmer.

Farm workers dipped corn in a poison called Temic, also known as “Two Step” or Aldicarb, to deliberately poison the birds. The workers then collected the carcasses of the dead birds and buried them in porcupine and aardvark holes

Around 20 years ago there were about 100000 and today there are less than 20000.

- See more at: http://africageographic.com/blog/blue-crane-massacre/#sthash.disym5HF.dpuf

EU closes trophy exporting loopholes

The European Commission has closed a major loophole exploited by criminal gangs trafficking in high-value hunting trophies that carry tusks and horns.

According to the new requirements, hunting trophies of six listed, threatened or endangered species obtained through the result of sustainable hunting will have to be accompanied by an import permit indicating details of the legal hunt. The legislation aims to specifically address issues around the illegal imports, by introducing the mandatory requirement of hunting-trophy import permits for the species.

The six species covered under the new regulations are the African elephant, Southern white rhinoceros, African lion, Hippopotamus, Polar bear and Argali sheep.

Last December 19 people were charged in the Czech Republic for illegal trafficking of rhino horns that were obtained from pseudo hunts in South Africa. The so called hunts were connected Vietnamese syndicates based in the Czezh Republic.

The hunters were exporting the horns from Soth Africa as trophies, but them signing them over to the gangs. Authorities believe that over 100 horns have been shippedto Vietnam from the Eu in this manner.

Several other Vietnamese traffickers have been arrested in the EU in 2014 , with large quantities of Ivory being recovered as well as Lion and Tiger parts.

The new import permits will also allow the EU to prohibit imports of trophies from countries where the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations’ Scientific Review Group has decided that trophy hunting of the species is not sustainable. As of today no further imports of lion trophies from Benin, Burkina Faso, and Cameroon, where the populations have plummeted due to over-hunting and human wildlife conflict, will be permitted by the EU.

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Serval Poacher gets four years jail in Malawi

 Malawi’s Kasungu magistrates handed out a record sentence recently of four years in prison to a man who killed a Serval cat. Ganizani Nkhata went to prison for four years because he couldn't  pay a fine of MK450 000 (US$1 000) after he poached the cat in Kasungu National Park in August 2014.

The serval had been rescued and subsequently released back into the wild by local wildlife charity, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust. Servals are small spotted cats, sometimes mistaken for leopards.

On the 12th August they lost the data but not the signal from a tracking collar tat was being used to log the cat's movements in the Park.

They signal finally pointed to the house of the accused person where it was hidden.

The Senior Resident Magistrate made it clear that he wanted to show that wildlife crime was being taken seriously by the authorities and that the very future of Malawi’s wildlife, and indeed tourism and the economy, were being threatened by this type of activity.

Great idea! They should try it in Tanzania.

Serval Cat

Monday 2 February 2015

Poaching in Kenya down by half in 2014

The latest government figures show that the incidence of poaching has reduced by half from 2013.
The figures are expected to drop further after Kenya Wildlife Service clarified that no animal has
been poached this year.

KWS acting director general William Kiprono said poaching of elephants in Kenya has gone down by 47 per cent. At least 300 elephants were killed in 2013, but this fell to 164 last year. He said rhino poaching went down 40 per cent from 59 in 2013 to 35 last year. "This was made possible through concerted efforts by KWS, the communities and other stakeholders. It shows that poaching can finally be eradicated".

Thursday 29 January 2015

Ivory and Pangolin skins seized at Uganda's Entebbe Airport

A very large haul of Ivory and pangolin scales were discovered by Wildlife suveillance teams at
Entebbe Airport on Sunday.

There were over 700Kg of ivory and 2 TONS of pangolin skins in  three boxes due for export.
Raw ivory sells for around $2 100 a kg at markets in China, according to Save the Elephants.The
scaly-skinned pangolin is used in traditional medicine in China, with exploding demand in Asia
making it one of the most trafficked mammals in the world.

The boxes had been labelled as communications equipment, and had been cleared for export by customs officials. Their lame excuse was that the boxes were too heavy to be scanned by X-ray machines, but wildlife surveillance teams insisted they must be searched. So the customs officials were obviously in on it.

Three people including a customs officer, a clerk and a truck driver have been arrested. Uganda is a key transit country for the illegal trade in ivory, especially from  the huge rain forests of the Democratic Repuiblic of the Congo

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Kenyan Ivory smuggler denied bail

In a rare moment of common sense, the Kenyan auth orities have denied bail to suspected ivory smuggler Feisal Mohammed over evading investigations by a Mombasa court on Friday.

Senior Principal Magistrate Justus Kituku said Mohammed resorted to running away from justice knowing the charges he was facing in Kenya.

The Mombasa businessman was arrested in Tanzania in a joint operation with local police and Interpol.

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Rhino poachers killed in Kruger

Two suspected Rhino poachers were shot dead on Monday after they opened fire on rangers in South Africa's Kruger National Park, a park spokesman said.

The rangers were on patrol when they came across a trio of armed men who started shooting.
However, two of the men were killed while a third escaped.They had equipment on them that is integral to rhino poaching, including an axe which would be used for cutting off the horns.

The clash took place in the far south of the vast park, which is the size of Israel.

I'd have said they were more than 'suspected poachers'. I doubt they were on a photographic safari.

Monday 5 January 2015

Elephant numbers in parts of Zimbabwe dropped by 40% since 2001

The elephant population of the Zambezi Valley in Zimbabwe has decreased by more than 40 percent  in the last 13 years. It is almost entirely due to rise in poaching, A new survey released this month as part ofthe Pan African elephant survey confirms the figures.  Some Preliminary Results show that elephant numbers decreased by about 75 percent in the combined Matusadona and Chizarira areas.

"While for example the Zambezi valley has dropped from 19 000 to 13 000 elephants since the census in 2001, we also need to remember that if you take into account that an elephant population under no stress increases at about seven percent per year, we have probably lost more than just 6 000 elephants in this area," said a spokesperson.

Poaching has been out of control in Central and East Africa for several years and has clearly already reached Zimbabwe.

Given the apparent callous disregard for the fate of the so called 'Presidential Herd' last year, I wonder what the Government will do to curb the rampant decimation of the elephant population in the Country.

Friday 2 January 2015

Ivory stolen from secure storage in Zambia

Thieves have broken into one of the high security rooms at the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA)
regional office in Livingstone and stolen more than 30 pieces of ivory tusks worth about K1 million.

Three ZAWA officers at the station and five other people, among them a local taxi driver
allegedly used to ferry the valuable commodity, have been arrested by police.

Amazing isn't it that this continues to happen. Corruption is rife. They'd be better off burning all this confiscated Ivory, thus removing any possibility of it being used for financial gain.