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 Kr├╝ger, 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.