Friday 15 December 2017

Ivory intercepted at Robert Mugabe International Airport belonged to Grace Mugabe

A 200kg consignment of ivory that the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) intercepted at the Robert Mugabe International Airport on Monday belonged to former First Lady Grace Mugabe.

The ivory, which was stashed in four boxes was intercepted yesterday with the help of the country’s security agencies who were on duty at the airport according to ZBC news site.

Two people, who are alleged to have been facilitating the movement of the consignment have been identified as Robert Mugabe’s aides following the interception and investigations have pointed to Grace Mugabe as the owner of the contraband.

Grace was accompanying her husband Robert on Monday evening, an official said. They are expected to make a stop-over in Malaysia, where their daughter, Bona, is expecting a second child.

No arrests have been made.


Thursday 30 November 2017

Chinese customs make biggest ever pangolin scales seizure

Shenzhen Customs announced on Wednesday that it cracked a case of 11.9 tons of pangolin scales smuggled from Africa, the largest volume in any single case found by the country’s customs.

The scales are estimated to come from at least 20,000 pangolins, a species listed in Appendix I at the 17th Congress of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna last year, which bans all international trade of pangolins and their products.

Two suspects in the case, surnamed Li, from East China’s Shandong province and He, from East China’s Anhui province, have been issued arrest warrants, said Chen Qunfang, deputy chief of Dapeng Customs affiliated with Shenzhen Customs.

Thursday 2 November 2017

Forest elephants down two thirds in eight years

Wildlife censuses carried out in four Central African countries have revealed that forest elephant populations have declined by approximately 66% over eight years in an area covering almost 6 million hectares. These declines are attributed to the illegal killing of elephants for their ivory. However, there are indications that lower levels of poaching have occurred within protected areas, underscoring the role of protected areas as safe refuge for wildlife.

WWF, in collaboration with the respective country ministries in charge of wildlife and various partners, conducted the censuses between 2014 and 2016. The inventories were carried out in key protected areas (representing 20% of the survey area) and surrounding zones (logging concessions, hunting areas and other land use types) in Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Gabon. The censuses focused on forest elephants, great apes (chimpanzees and gorillas) and additional data were collected on levels of human activities.

Published in a WWF Central Africa Biomonitoring report, the results indicate an estimated 9,500 forest elephants and 59,000 great apes (weaned, independent individuals) across the survey area. The studies revealed a 66% decline in elephant population between 2008 and 2016 across the landscapes but indicate stable populations of great apes. The figures for elephants are particularly alarming in the Cameroon segment of Tri-national Dja-Odzala-Minkebe (TRIDOM) transboundary conservation landscape where their numbers have declined by more than 70% in less than a decade.

Sunday 29 October 2017

Thirty six rhino poachers arrested in Kruger NP in three weeks

Thirty six suspected rhino poachers have been arrested in the Kruger National Park and Hluhluwe Game Reserve in the last three weeks. The arrests have been effected by the Rhino 8 Task Team.

 Brigadier Vish Naidoo, national police spokesperson, said since the beginning of October to date, some members of the task team were able to arrest the 36 suspects in the areas of Acornhoek, Calcutta, Hazyview, Elukwatini and Skhukuza (Mpumalanga), Hluhluwe, Mtubatuba (kwaZulu-Natal) and Hoedspruit and Phalaborwa (Limpopo).

During these arrests the team also confiscated four motor vehicles including a VW Golf, a Ford Ranger Wildtrack, a Nissan Navara; 12 unlicensed firearms including rifles; a variety of ammunition, silencers,  a hacksaw,  axes, knives, 27 cellphones and three rhino horns as well an elephant tusk.

"Most of these suspects have since appeared in various courts on charges of unlawful possession of firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, possession of dangerous weapon/s, trespassing, hunting a protected animal, kidnapping, assault, possession of remains of a wild animal, in terms of the Immigration Act for either being illegally in the country/without proper documentation and/or possession of suspected stolen property," Naidoo said.

He added that despite a multitude of arrests by the Rhino 8 Task Team, there still seems to be greater persistence by suspects wanting to poach rhino. It is with hoped that the arrest of these 36 suspects would serve as a warning and deterrent to other potential poachers.

"The strategies we have in place now are intended to significantly reduce the chances of poachers. We applaud the communities for their continued support in fighting this scourge. With this growing help from the communities, the days of poachers are certainly numbered. Poachers are warned that over and above facing criminal prosecution, we are coming after their ill-gotten gains in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act," Naidoo said.

Thursday 19 October 2017

Tour operators launch a de-snaring program in the Serengeti

Tour operators have launched a 'de-snaring programme', which aims to fight the rampant snares set by local bush meat mongers to catch wildlife within the country's flagship Serengeti National Park.

The use of wire snares is a large-scale poaching method targeting wildlife species for bush meat, including the wildebeest. Snares are non selective and catch many other wild animals including elephants and carnivores such as lions.

The illegal use of snares is common throughout Africa and is partly responsible for massive declines in the number of wildlife. A knock on effect of this is that carnivores find it increasingly difficult to find food and turn to killing livestock. This conflict inevitability outrages pastoralists who kill the predators.

The project, which is being funded by tourism investors was inaugurated in Arusha, the country's designated safari capital, during the commemoration of 18th Anniversary of the death of Julius Nyerere.

The De-snaring Programme, which started in Mid-April, 2017 had so far managed to remove 7,331 snares. 384 animals were found trapped in Snares and about 100 were released alive.

For his part, Serengeti National Park Chief Warden, Mr William Mwakilema said that the park faces shortages of rangers to be able to effectively fight against illegal activities within the park. He estimates they need another 82 rangers.

Tanzania has dedicated nearly 30 per cent of its surface area of 945,203 square kilometers to wildlife conservation, but is under funded to police it properly.

 Giraffe with snare round its neck. The snare 
was broken off but could easily catch up again

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Two of East Africa's most wanted poachers arrested

Two of East Africa's most wanted wildlife criminals have been arrested in Malawi for their involvement in the illegal trade of ivory.

Brothers Chancy and Patrick Kaunda of Malawi, who were the subjects of Interpol Red Notices issued at the request of Tanzania, are suspected of trying to export 781 elephant tusks from Tanzania to Malawi without the proper permits in 2013.

Wednesday 2 August 2017

Irregularities in the death of Cecil's son Xanda

 Original Article by Conservation Action Trust.

The death of Cecil’s son, Xanda at the hands of trophy hunters on 7 July is mired in confusion. He was shot just outside Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, near the spot his father had been killed by American bow hunting dentist, Walter Palmer.

It was claimed that Xanda was shot legally as part of an approved quota – seven lions are allowed to be hunted per year in the area outside the park. Yet, like the death of his father, questions have been raised surrounding the circumstances of Xanda’s death. The lion just six years old was considered fair game however, he had a GPS collar and was the head of a pride with several cubs that resided within the protection of the national park that prohibits hunting.

A statement released by the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association stated that Xanda had been ousted from his pride and had moved permanently out of the park. However, this is contradicted by researchers from the University of Oxford who had been tracking Xanda, and say that the six-year old lion was the head of his own pride consisting of three lionesses and had seven young cubs between 12 and 18 months old.

It also seems clear that Xanda’s killing contravenes the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority policy, which states that male lions of any age known to be heading prides or known to be part of a coalition heading prides with dependent cubs of 18 months old or less, should not be hunted. Neither should any lion fitted with a collar.

As a result, the Humane Society International (HSI), has sent a letter to Oppah Muchinguri, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Environment, Water and Climate of Zimbabwe, calling on her government to investigate these irregularities.

Audrey Delsink, Executive Director of Humane Society International/Africa, said: “With so many irregularities shrouding the killing of Xanda, we urge the Government of Zimbabwe to hold the people involved in his death accountable if they are found to have acted in an illegal manner.”
The death of Xanda also means that his seven offspring face an unlikely future. “Sadly, Xanda’s death means his cubs are vulnerable to infanticide leading to further unnecessary loss of animals already threatened with extinction,” says Delsink.

Currently, there are fewer than 30,000 lions left in Africa whose range has been reduced to 8 percent of their former range primarily as a result from loss of habitat, poaching and poorly regulated trophy hunting. A report conducted by Economists at Large found that trophy hunting is not economically significant in African countries, with the total economic contribution of trophy hunters at most estimated at 0.03 percent of gross domestic product in the countries studied.

Delsink says this latest incident in Zimbabwe “just highlights further the destructive nature of the trophy hunting industry. At minimum, Zimbabwe must conduct a full investigation and not allow Xanda’s remains to leave the country as a trophy.”

The HSI letter has also requested that Zimbabwe officials bring legal action against the trophy hunters if warranted, prevent the export of the trophy and establish a five-kilometer no-hunting zone around Hwange National Park.

Trophy hunting is just so illogically stupid, It's like killing the goose that lays the golden egg.
And what right does a trophy hunter have to deprive me of my right to see that same lion?

A young lion in Ruaha Tanzania

Friday 30 June 2017

Lion bone trade promotes canned lion hunting

According to a Conservation Action Trust report in 2016, according to Panthera, 90% of lion carcasses found in the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique all had their skulls, teeth, and claws removed while rates of poisoning lions specifically for bones increased dramatically in Niassa National Reserve in northern Mozambique. In Namibia, 42% of lions killed in the Caprivi had their skeletons removed.

According to wildlife investigator, Karl Amann, the trade is fueling the demand in Asia. The south-east Asian country now dominates the lion-bone market.
Amann says the CITES trade data base shows that  between 2009 and 2015 Laos has bought over 2000 complete lion skeletons from South Africa. This excludes the 2 300 bones and 40 skulls sold separately as incomplete skeletons”

Lion bones arrive in Laos but are then illegally exported to Vietnam without the requisite CITES export permits. Here they are boiled down, compacted into a cake bar and sold at a price of around US$1000 (currently R12 830 - R12.83/$) to consumers who add it to rice wine.

South Africa has just given permission for the export of 800 lion skeletons, ostensibly from the canned lion hunting industry. But will this encourage poachers to leave the wild lion population alone?  In any case, canned lion hunting is abhorrent. People are worse than animals. 

Monday 12 June 2017

Thousands of poachers arrested in Tanzania over the last year

A TOTAL of 3,185 poachers have been caught in the act and apprehended. Among them 1,539 have been arraigned in courts of law since July 2016, according to the Permanent Secretary with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Major General Gaudence Milanzi.

In similar vein, a total of 270 guns and 1,058 rounds of ammunition have been seized by the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA) during the period under review.

It seems there is so much more government buy in since John Magafuli was elected.

Major ivory smuggling ring broken

A cross-border African task-force has arrested several key members of an ivory smuggling pipeline that covertly moved tons of elephant tusks from Africa to Asia.

Details of the intensive six-week clandestine operation were released in Nairobi on Friday, the culmination of a crackdown by the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) and its multi-agency partners.

Seven key players of a syndicate that smuggled 1 ton of elephant tusks from Uganda to Singapore via Kenya in one instance alone, were among those arrested.

The operation was the culmination of 18 months of investigation in 8 countries by numerous agencies.

Tuesday 6 June 2017

Major ivory trafficker jailed in the DRC

Northern Congo’s notorious elephant poacher and ivory trafficker Daring Dissaka, 39, has been convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment. Connected to international ivory networks, Dissaka’s imprisonment represents another significant step forward for the Republic of Congo’s justice system and forest elephant conservation in Central Africa.

Thursday 25 May 2017

White-backed vultures poisoned

Around 94 white-backed vulures have died in what appears to have been a poisoning incident brought about by poachers near the Zimbabwe Mozambique border.

The poachers had poisoned an elephant (probably with cyanide)   and the vultures had fed off it.

This is a common practise in the area. Poachers poison waterholes to kill elephants and unfortunately anything else that either drinks the water or eats the meat suffers as well.

As it is the peak breeding season for the vultures this may be a double blow as many chicks may have also been lost.

Monday 15 May 2017

Nine rhinos found butchered in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi reserve

Nine new rhino carcasses have been found at the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in South Africa.

The gruesome find adds weight to fears that the park, which was where white rhino conservation started when they were on the brink of extinction,  has become the new ground zero in the battle to save the species. Deaths of rhinos have increased as poachers are finding it more difficult to operate in the Kruger. 

This is despite the fact the domestic ban on rhino horn trade was effectively lifted when the Constitutional Court, in April, rejected a government appeal to preserve a 2009 ban on the domestic trade.

Conservationists have long argued that rather than stem the poaching of rhinos, the lifting of the ban would just encourage the demand for rhino horn and escalate the problems they are facing.

It appears that South Africa has learned no lessons from the debacle of the 'one off' ivory sale in 2008 which was going to depress the price of ivory and put an end to serious elephant poaching and help save the species.  Once again the might $$$ beats all common sense and the rhinos are now in even more danger.

Thursday 11 May 2017

Rhino poaching King Pin arrested in Viet Nam

Good news from Viet Nam: A suspected rhino horn kingpin, Nguyen Mau Chien, was arrested on 27 April 2017 along with two members of a wildlife trafficking ring. Chien is suspected to be a leader of a major criminal network that traffics rhino horn, ivory, tiger parts and other high-value illegal wildlife products into Viet Nam

Over the past five years, he has been expanding his operation into Africa where his networks have been focusing mainly on rhino horn, elephant ivory and pangolin scales.

Wednesday 15 March 2017

Huge rhino horn seizure in Thailand

Twenty-one rhino horns worth an estimated $5m have been seized in Thailand after being found in luggage sent from Ethiopia in the biggest such haul in years.
The seizure comes days after 300kg of elephant ivory was also impounded in the country.
Thailand is seen as a transit point for the illegal trafficking of wildlife.

Wednesday 1 March 2017

China sees sharp decline in Ivory smuggling in 2016

The amount of smuggled ivory tracked down in China fell 80 percent in 2016 from previous peak years, the State Forestry Administration (SFA) said Sunday.

Liu Dongsheng, deputy head of the SFA, made the remarks at the opening ceremony of a wildlife protection campaign, without specifying detailed numbers.

China will stop commercial processing and sales of ivory by the end of this year. Last year, it imposed a three-year ban on ivory imports in an escalated fight against illegal trading of wild animals and plants.

The number of illegal wildlife trade cases has been on the decline since last year, said Liu.

Meanwhile, the numbers of critically endangered species in China, including giant pandas, crested ibis, Yangtze alligators and Tibetan antelopes, have been increasing steadily, he said.

China's newly-revised law on wild animal protection took effect at the start of this year, imposing harsher punishment on overkilling and illegal utilization of wild animals. 
 Now let's not forget the fate of the pangolin in all this good news.

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Rhino sanctuary at Thula Thula attacked by criminals

In a brutal manifestation of how sickening and bad the rhino poaching situation is in South Africa, On the night of 20 February 2017 five men broke in and attacked the staff at Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage. They killed two baby rhinos, care-givers were savagely beaten and a young woman was sexually assaulted.

The team from Operation Rhino 7 – the national South African Police Service anti-poaching programme – were alerted and have already impounded a vehicle and rifle and arrested 2 men in nearby Ermelo. They are still looking for the other three.

Just how low can so called human beings sink in the pursuit of greed in the rhino poaching industry?

This must make the South African Government take heed and do something, instead of fueling the industry by legalizing the sale of rhino horn.

Thursday 16 February 2017

Malaysia: Seven ‘most wanted’ elephant poachers arrested

On February 10, Malaysian authorities arrested seven of the country’s “most wanted” elephant poachers in Kelantan, Malaysia.

The men, believed to have killed at least 15 Asian elephants over a period of four years, were caught in a joint operation between the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) and Malaysia’s Armed Forces, near the Taman Negara National Park in Gua Musang in Kelantan.