Friday 19 April 2019

Massive ivory haul seized in China

In one of the biggest busts in recent years, Chinese officials have seized 2,748 elephant tusks weighing more than 7 tonnes, the General Administration of Customs announced earlier this week. The ivory was confiscated during a joint operation by customs authorities and police across six provinces on March 30.

Most of the ivory, which had been smuggled from Africa, was found hidden inside several wooden boxes in an abandoned factory, Sun Zhijie, director of the administration’s anti-smuggling bureau, told local media at a press conference. Some 20 suspects have been detained for questioning.

“This is the biggest amount of ivory seized in a single case independently investigated by the anti-smuggling bureau of the General Administration of Customs,” Sun said, according to the South China Morning Post.

Wednesday 10 April 2019

Second 12-tonne haul of pangolin scales seized in less than a week in Singapore

SINGAPORE - Less than a week after a record 12.9 tonnes of pangolin scales were seized from a container by the authorities here, another 12.7 tonnes have been uncovered in a joint operation by the National Parks Board (NParks), Singapore Customs and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

The 40ft (12m) container that was on its way by ship from Nigeria to Vietnam was declared to contain "cassia seeds" but was found on Monday (April 8) to be holding the animal parts, estimated to be worth about $51.6 million, in 474 bags at the Pasir Panjang Scanning Station.

The haul came from two species, the white-bellied tree pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis) and the giant ground pangolin (Smutsia gigantea) and are likely to have come from 21,000 pangolins.

The scales of the pangolin, believed to be the world's most highly trafficked mammal, are in high demand in Asia for use in traditional Chinese medicine despite there being no proven medical benefit from their use.

Monday 8 April 2019

Massive rhino horn seizure in Hong Kong

Hong Kong customs seized HK$16.5 million (US$2.1 million) worth of rhino horns in transshipment cargo at the airport on Friday, marking a record haul of products related to the endangered species.

The smuggled items from South Africa were declared as vehicle parts destined for Malaysia. X-ray images of the cargo had raised suspicions and officers acted on a tip-off. Authorities found 82.5kg of suspected rhino horns and body parts in the consignment.

No arrests were made, and a senior customs source said they believed no local offenders were involved in the case.

According to the source, authorities have been monitoring smuggling trends with rhino horn being sought after in China and Southeast Asia for its perceived medicinal properties. “South Africa is home to most of the world’s rhino population and therefore, is a common source of smuggled rhino horns,” the source said.

Seizures of wildlife products have been on the rise last year and totalled 270 tonnes, a threefold increase in quantity from the year before.

Wednesday 3 April 2019

People's indiscriminate land use is wrecking the Maasai Mara

New research shows how activities like farming, erecting fences and settlements are hemming in the core protected areas of Kenya's  Maasai Mara. This is putting huge pressure on the environment. Grasslands are being reduced and becoming fragmented, and more prone to damage by the stress of climate change.

Between 1977 and 2016 The number of fenced plots has increased by more than 20% since 2010 outside of the core protected area. The number of new bomas was rising in parts of the Mara by up to three new bomas per square kilometre per year. There was also a massive increase in the number of sheep and goats (276.2%) and a slight decrease in the number of cattle (9.4%) in the Narok region in Kenya.

Livestock paths were prevalent and visible up to 5km or more inside te core areas. This illegal grazing is in competion with the wildlife and reduces the quantity and quality of food available.

From 1977 to 2016, illegal incursions into the Maasai Mara national reserve by cattle increased by 1053% and by sheep and goats by 1174%.

The numbers of resident wildlife species declined by between 40% and 87%. In addition, 63.5% fewer migratory wildebeest used the reserve.