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.