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.