Thursday 24 March 2016

Chinese poachers sentenced to 30 years jail in Tanzania

Two Chinese poachers were recently sentenced to 30 years in jail each or ordered to pay a record Sh108.7 billion fine in one of the heaviest sentences aimed at curbing the illegal ivory trade.

The Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court found Xu Fujie, 31, and Huang Gin, 51, guilty of illegally possessing 706 pieces of elephants tusks.

They were each ordered to pay Sh 54.3 billion fine or face the lengthy sentence of a whole three decades behind bars.

The jailing of the two is the latest in a series of heavy court judgments that has seen several Chinese and Tanzanians handed long jail sentences. This appears to be a renewed anti-poaching drive.

Magistrate Mkeha also convicted the Chinese of attempting to bribe the police and officers from the wildlife department with Sh30.2 million. For this, they will serve five years in jail, and pay a Sh 1 million fine. However, the Chinese were acquitted of charges of possessing a bullet cartridge.

Magistrate Mkeha said the court had been satisfied with the testimony from nine prosecution witnesses and exhibits. “Considering the evidence adduced in court and the huge loss that the nation has suffered for the killing of 226 elephants, it is obvious the accused are a real threat to the elephant generation within the boundaries of our country,” said the magistrate. Evidence provided by nine prosecution witnesses proved the offence beyond all reasonable doubts, he said.

State lawyers, Faraja Nchimbi and Paul Kadushi, had asked the court to mete out a severe punishment, saying between 2010 and December 2013 a total of 892 elephants were killed in Tanzania’s national parks.

I do think that last statement is a slight underestimate by about 40000 !

The convicts entered the country in 2010 and stayed for three years until 2013 when they were arrested at Kifaru Street, Mikocheni B in Kinondoni District, Dar es Salaam. The duo posed as garlic importers and marine product exporters. The seized tusks were found in sacks of garlic in the house where the two lived. They had killed, he said, a quarter of all elephants killed in the country between 2010 and 2013.

Mr Nchimbi told the court that there was sufficient reason to believe the two Chinese were ring leaders and financiers of an elephant poaching syndicate in the country. The dramatic arrest of the convicts was led by the then Tourism minister Khamis Kagasheki, who found the tusks cleverly mixed with shell and garlic to avoid suspicion. The tusks the duo were caught with weighed 1.8 tonnes and had an estimated value of $3.1 million (Sh5.4 billion).

Bring back Khamis Kagasheki !

Thursday 17 March 2016

Angola proposes to ban the trade in ivory

Luanda — A decree banning the sale of ivory and its derivatives will be presented Friday in Luanda by the Multi-sector Commission against environmental crimes.

The decree will shut down ivory sale outlets, like the Luanda's Benfica handicrafts market.

The measure to curb ivory trade (and rhino horn) includes the deployment of a crime unit at Luanda's 4 de Fevereiro International Airport and in the localities of Maria Teresa (Cuanza Norte) and Bengo

The Minister of the Environment, F├ítima Jardim, said that trade of ivory artifacts  will cease to exist in the country as a means to curb poaching.

Monday 14 March 2016

Namibia: Police arrest five for rhino and elephant poaching

The police arrested five people in three different regions on Saturday for poaching rhino horns and elephant tusks.

One man was arrested in Kavango East for possession of elephant tusks, while two men were arrested in Opuwo for possession of rhino horns. Two more suspects were arrested in Khomas Region on suspicion of poaching rhinos, the police said yesterday.

The four poaching suspects, two from Windhoek and two from Kunene, will appear together in the Katutura Magistrate's Court this week.

The latest arrests bring to eight the number of people arrested this year in connection with poaching, or being found in possession of rhino horns and elephant tusks.

Last year 22 people were arrested for poaching, or being in possession of rhino horns and elephant tusks, according to police statistics.Twenty-nine carcasses were found in the Etosha National Park and five at Palmwag/Klip River since January.

Last August Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta questioned the conduct of prosecutors who recommend bail for suspected poachers, while crucial investigations are still ongoing. Shifeta said it is frustrating for law enforcement officials, who are working tirelessly to nab poachers, when prosecutors propose bail for suspects: "We've arrested a lot of people, including a police officer in Windhoek. I understand the police officer was given bail of N$25 000 and I asked why he was given bail. The prosecutors are supposed to deny bail. I heard they proposed bail on two occasions."

At least half the World's population of black rhinos live in Namibia (2000+ in Namibia).

Tanzania to form elite anti poaching force

Tanzania is working on a new security strategy that will help curb poaching of elephants and other crimes against wildlife within and outside protected areas. It is hoped to be operational by 2017

The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Jumanne Maghembe said the new security strategy will involve training a special force that will be equipped with modern and high-tech surveillance equipment to detect elephant poachers and other criminals operating inside Tanzania's protected parks.

Conservationists estimate that more than 13,000 elephants were poached in Tanzania in 2015 alone.

A 15% increase in poaching was noted in the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem that year.

Commemorating the World Elephant Day in August 2015, conservationists put the number of elephants killed by poachers between 2011 and 2015 at about 65,721.

Between 1970 and 1980 poaching and killing of elephants in Tanzania saw their population decline to 55,000. However, the international ban on the sale of ivory and other elephant products together with highly effective anti-poaching operations resulted in elephant populations increasing to an estimated 130,000 in 2005 and 110,000 in 2009, according to WWF in Tanzania.

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Poachers poison an elephant and hundreds of other animals in Kruger National Park

Rangers in the Kruger National Park have found an elephant carcass, 110 dead white-backed vultures, two male lions and two black-backed jackals killed by wildlife poisoning on the 27th of February.

The elephant's body was found with gun shots to its head. The tusks had been removed and then its carcass was laced with poison.. Scavengers in the vicinity of the elephant  were poisoned after feeding from  the remains.

This type of poaching is the very worst, if you can categorise it. It is indiscriminate in a similar manner to the use of snares, but acts on so many other creatures in the food chain.  The poachers use the poison, usually cyanide, to kill off vultures which may alert rangers to their recent whereabouts away by circling overhead.

This technique is more common in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, where there have been several incidents off mass deaths in recent months.

More poached rhinos found in Namibia

Thirty-four poached rhino carcasses have been discovered so far this year by aerial and foot patrols in the Etosha National Park and Palmwag/Klip River areas of the Kunene Region. Twenty nine  were found in Etosha National Park and five at Palmwag/Klip River.