Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Irish citizens nabbed for rhino horn smuggling in Colorado, US

Two Irish men have been sentenced to six months in prison and three years probation along with a $17,600 fine for the attempted theft of rhinoceros horns, out of Denver, Colorado and bound for Ireland.

Richard O’Brien and Michael Hegarty, from Rathkeale, County Limerick, were sentenced after they tried to do a deal with an undercover US Fish and Wildlife Service agent on November 13, 2010. The US Attorney’s Office explained to the Denver Post that the men had purchased four rhino horns from the agent for approximately $17,600.

The pair said they would not get caught transferring the illegal animal horns from the US to Ireland. They explained that they would deliver the horns along with some antiques to antique store which would then ship the contraband to Ireland.

Agents arrested the men shortly after the sale took place. The exportation or importation of rhino horns to or from the US is prohibited by U.S. law and CITES, a multilateral treaty of which the United States and the Republic of Ireland are parties.

After the arrest agents found passports, luggage, a chest of drawers, four large packing boxes and shrink wrap, which they believe was intended to pack the horns.

The pair argued in court that they had not tried to smuggle anything and their due process right were violated. Chief US District Justice Wiley Daniel rejected their claims. They eventually pleaded guilty. There is still not word on the third suspect in the crime known as John Sullivan.

Steve Oberholtzer, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said “The illegal trafficking in rhinoceros horns fuels the dangerous poaching situations we see in Africa, and that poaching has contributed to most species of rhino being listed as endangered. We will continue to pursue investigations into the unlawful trafficking in imperiled wildlife, and we’re pleased that these men were held accountable for their crimes.”

Both of the men charged hail from the village of Rathkeale, County Limerick. The village has a populations of 1,700, half of whom are members of the Travelling community.

Source: Irish Central News

South Africa: Anti-poaching war goes airborne

Two KwaZulu-Natal game rangers are taking to the sky in the war against rhino poaching.

Lawrence Munro and Dirk Swart, section rangers in Hlhuhluwe-Imfolozi game reserve, decided they would have to go back to school when they heard that Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife had been offered a spotter plane to help track down rhino poachers.

Neither Munro nor Swart knew how to fly. So earlier this year they enrolled for flying lessons and yesterday afternoon the ranger-pilots landed at the Hluhluwe aerodrome at the controls of a new Bantam B22 microlight.

The aircraft – sponsored by the conservation groups WWF South Africa, Save the Rhino International, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Hluhluwe and Imfolozi honorary wildlife officers – is powered by a three-litre, six-cylinder motor and has a flying range of about four hours.

Bheki Khoza, the executive director of Ezemvelo, said he was confident that the spotter plane would enable his staff to intensify the war against well-funded horn poaching syndicates. In the first five months of this year, poachers killed at least 160 rhinos across the country, 12 of them in KZN.

Munro said he had been trying to persuade Ezemvelo for more than 10 years of the need for aerial surveillance capacity in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, the cradle of rhino conservation in the country.

“Rhino poaching is nothing new, but over the years I knew that it was going to get worse because of the growth in value of rhino horns and criminal syndicates.The Bantam spotter is much cheaper to operate than a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft and easy to land on bush airstrips.”

Source: The Mercury

South Africa: anti-poaching lab in crisis

THE South African laboratory at the forefront of the high-tech battle against rhino poachers is facing a severe funding crisis.

The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL) ,which is based at University of Pretoria’s Onderstepoort campus, is spearheading efforts to establish a comprehensive international rhino DNA database and is using cutting-edge forensic science to help convict poachers.

But to date, the rhino DNA project — dubbed RhoDIS after the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) — has received only R100 000 in funding, donated last year by SA Breweries.

“The R100 000 was used solely to make up 1 000 DNA kits for collecting samples,” VGL’s director, Dr Cindy Harper, said this week. “As to the rest who pledged funding, nothing … Absolutely not a single cent from anybody.”

In January, South African National Parks (SANParks) announced the development of the rhino DNA sample kit and said funding for the project would be “provided by SANParks and other private funders”.

According to a press release issued at the time, “SANParks will use funds from the ivory sale of 2009 to contribute to the project.” None of the funding has materialised.

Harper says the rhino DNA project has “easily cost us close to R1 million”.

The laboratory, and its staff of four, are largely dependent on private funding and income from VGL’s equine genetic testing service to do their work.

“The lab is run like a business. The university does not give us a single cent, a salary or a single piece of equipment. They give us office space. Horses are our main income and that money is used towards the [rhino project],” Harper says.

“The bigger the project gets, the more difficult it gets to make it sustainable.”

Since the end of 2009, VGL’s staff have processed and added nearly 1 000 DNA profiles for individual rhinos to the RhoDIS database.

They are also actively involved in nearly 50 rhino poaching cases.

“We get all the forensic samples from each poaching incident,” Dr Harper explains. “It is not just horns, but samples taken from clothing and tools used, that we then try and match to a carcass.”

Last year, as a direct result of their work, a Vietnamese bagman for a rhino-poaching syndicate was jailed for ten years.

Xuan Hoang was caught at O.R. Tambo International with seven rhino horns. The horns, which had been taken from four rhino, were linked through DNA testing by VGL to a poaching incident that occurred just days before the arrest.

Harper believes South Africa has to develop its own forensic and DNA capabilities to combat wildlife crimes.

“Rhinos are a good example of what needs to be done to profile other animals. We have to build that capacity here. We can’t depend on people overseas.”

But despite the funding constraints, she is determined to continue with the project.

“The reason we’ve done it is because of our passion for it … Giving up at a point where it is starting to make a difference is a pretty stupid thing to do, so we’ll continue with it, but we definitely need to look at making this sustainable.”

There are about 20 000 rhinos in South Africa which is home to 70% of the world’s rhino population.

So far this year, 162 rhinos have been reportedly killed by poachers in South Africa, far higher than the same period last year. Seventeen alleged poachers have been shot dead and 99 arrested.

Source: The Witness

African, Asian elephant range states to bare fangs in eradicating poaching syndicates

NEW DELHI — Representatives of eight countries with large wild elephant populations pledged Tuesday to eradicate poaching of the animals and smuggling of ivory to ensure their survival for future generations.

The environment ministers and officials from Asia and Africa also urged all 50 nations with significant numbers of elephants to meet in two years to adopt a shared vision for promoting their conservation and welfare.

Delegates at Tuesday's "Elephant 8 Ministerial Meet" underscored threats to elephant habitats from mining, deforestation and land development.

Although the threat to elephants is not as dramatic as that facing tigers, the steady decline of their population is worrying, Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said.

"Unlike the tiger, which faces a crisis of extinction, the elephant in India faces a crisis of attrition," he said. In less than a century, the number of Asian elephants has fallen by 50 percent.

According to the Switzerland-based International Union for Conservation of Nature, 38,500 to 52,500 wild elephants survive in Asia and another 15,000 in captivity.

The larger African elephant, although more numerous, is also listed as an endangered species, subject to threats from poachers, mining and deforestation. There are around 470,000 to 690,000 African elephants.

Environment ministers or officials from Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Botswana, Congo, Kenya and Tanzania attended the meeting in New Delhi.

Source: CBS News

Masai Mara under siege: 1500 poachers arrested since 2001

Populations of wildlife species in the world-renowned Masai Mara reserve in Kenya have crashed in the past three decades, according to research published in the Journal of Zoology.

Numbers of impala, warthog, giraffe, topi and Coke's hartebeest have declined by over 70%, say scientists. Even fewer survive beyond the reserve in the wider Mara, where buffalo and wild dogs have all but disappeared, while huge numbers of wildebeest no longer pass through the region on their epic migration.

However, numbers of cattle grazing in the reserve have increased by more than 1100% per cent, although it is illegal for them to so do.

"The status of Masai Mara as a prime conservation area and premier tourist draw card in Kenya may soon be in jeopardy,” said Dr Joseph Ogutu Senior statistician in the Bio-informatics unit of the University of Hohenheim

This explosion in the numbers of domestic livestock grazing in the Mara region of south-west Kenya, including within the Masai Mara national reserve, is one of the principal reasons wildlife has disappeared, say the scientists who conducted the research.

Dr Joseph Ogutu, a senior statistician in the Bioinformatics unit of the University of Hohenheim, Germany conducted the study with colleagues there and at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya.

They already knew that populations of some large mammals were declining in the Masai Mara, based on an earlier study published in 2009. But this only examined seven species, over a 15 year period, using limited sampling techniques. So to get a fuller picture, the team looked at data gathered since aerial monitoring of Kenya's wildlife began in 1977.

This covered 12 species of large mammal, ostriches and livestock, and allowed the team to calculate trends in wildlife numbers over a 33-year period across the entire reserve, and in the Masai pastoral ranches adjoining the reserve.

The data also allowed the scientists to investigate whether numbers of migratory wildebeest and zebra coming into the Mara each year have reduced.

"We were very surprised by what we found," Dr Ogutu told the BBC. "The Mara has lost more than two thirds of its wildlife." Of the 13 large species studied, only ostriches and elephants had not fared badly outside of the reserve, while inside the Masai Mara only eland, Grant's gazelle and ostrich showed any signs of population recovery in the past decade.

The declines are particularly surprising, say the scientists, as they had expected animal populations to have recovered since 2000-2001. That is when major conservancy efforts, and an increase in local policing, began in an attempt to protect the wildlife there.

"But to our great surprise, the extreme wildlife declines have continued unabated in the Mara," says Dr Ogutu. "The great wildebeest migration now involves 64% fewer animals than it did in the early 1980s," he adds.

That is despite numbers of wildebeest on the Serengeti, where the migratory animals that cross the Mara come from, staying relatively unchanged. Zebra numbers are falling. During the wet season, when there is no migration, resident wildebeest in the reserve have all but disappeared, falling by 97%.

Zebra numbers residing inside the reserve have also fallen by three-quarters. There appear to be three main causes of these dramatic declines: the activities of poachers, changing land use patterns in ranches within the Mara, and an increase in the number and range of livestock held on these ranches.

According to Dr Ogutu, over 1500 poachers have been arrested within the Mara conservancy between 2001 and 2010, with more than 17,300 snares collected by rangers in the same period. "Poaching continues to be a major menace," he says. But the boon in livestock numbers can be just as damaging.

"Not only have numbers of cattle, sheep and goats increased but their distribution has widened, with the density of cattle increasing more than three-fold and that of sheep and goats more than seven fold up to 5km inside the reserve.

"Sadly though, wildlife distribution has contracted throughout the entire Mara region in the same period." Heavy grazing by these livestock is thought to be displacing the natural fauna. It may also be making the larger species more vulnerable to starvation during the recurrent severe droughts that have struck the Mara in recent decades.

This competition may be what has already driven out the buffalo, say the scientists. The expansion of settlements, fences and livestock numbers need to be regulated if these declines in wildlife are to be arrested, they propose, as well as bringing down poaching levels.

"Otherwise, the status of Masai Mara as a prime conservation area and premier tourist draw card in Kenya may soon be in jeopardy," says Dr Ogutu.

Source: BBC

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Zim moots heavy sentences for elephant, rhino poachers

The Zimbabwean Parliament will soon amend the Parks and Wild Life Act, to provide for heavy mandatory prison sentences of 9 or 11 years for poaching of specially protected animals, particularly rhinoceros. [Posted on Parliamentary Notice: General Laws Amendment Act, Section 11.]

110 elephant, rhino poachers arrested in Zim since early 2010..

Behold, a scourge that is called poaching is threatening to gnaw our natural endowments in the forests and condemn us to the empty days that Europe is in the throes of.

Everyday, poachers rove our skies spotting elephants and rhinos for that deadly and greedy kill, not for the pot - in the village we kill small game for the pot - but for the equally treacherous 13 pieces of silver.

And a worldwide network or syndicates have been developed for the sole purpose of killing rhinos and elephants, endangered animal species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangers Species, for profit.

The Europeans, the Chinese and other Far Eastern peoples are involved in fueling the poaching scourge in Zimbabwe.

And with them are the locals that perform the gory deeds for a song, who are
high-tech equipped to the teeth by their benefactor. Among them, are our former servicemen - soldiers, policemen and former wildlife rangers.

If they are arrested, they get away with murder - having a slap on the wrist as punishment. This is a strong case for more concerted efforts internationally, stringent measures and deterrent sentences.

A brief look on the elephant and rhino, for example, will suffice. Consider the gestation periods of the two. It takes two years for a baby elephant or rhino to be conceived and born - and about six or so months for an average game.

Add another four years that the beast grows into adulthood and possibly another year it will be an offspring-bearing adult.That makes seven years the time that you can replace - or can a dead one be replaced - an elephant or rhino.

Now turn to the punishment that our courts have meted out to poachers and related offenders and it is a sorry picture. While the punishment against offenders has been evidently lenient, there have also been delays in investigating, prosecuting and punishing the same.

The National Parks and Wildlife Authority has released a report on poaching cases for the period September 2010 and April 18 2011.

The data shows that 47 rhino poachers have been arrested while 58 were also arrested for elephant poaching. Five elephant poachers were killed in combat with rangers while two rhino poachers were short and killed.

Of the cases that came before the courts, 11 have been finalised while 28 are outstanding. What with a bail of less than US$100, each poacher? This against the value of an elephant of US$20 000 and the value of a rhino being US$125 000.

This villager's full import is that the judiciary should complement the national anti-poaching process by giving deterrent sentences and restrictive bail conditions.
Relevant Links

The village soothsayer, says in one such case a poacher caught with 26 pieces of ivory, which translates to 13 elephant tusks, was released on US$50 bail because the magistrate in question had not seen a live elephant, let alone a rhino and hence lacked appreciation.

Neither was the magistrate in question aware of how much time it takes to have one elephant grow to adulthood.There is certainly need to instill a sense of understanding and appreciation on our judiciary, for in this poaching lies the demise of our national heritage, the demise of our elephant, rhino and gnu.

"The time is now. The time to act is now. The time to join hands as a nation to avert poaching is now and in our failure lies our failure. Yes in our failure lies our failure. Look at South Africa, a rhino is poached everyday," says the village soothsayer.

Adapted from an unknown Zimbabwean patriot's cry for rhino justice

Friday, May 27, 2011

Will naming Africa's small arms suppliers to stop poaching?

Realising the significant role played by the easy accessibility of small arms such as AK47 rifles, sub-machine guns and heavy machine guns which in turn aids and abetting the poaching of rhino and elephant, we will shift our focus to exposing the countries that supply such arms to Africa.

My hope is that these suppliers can realise that apart from fueling politically-based civil strife, the arms they supply to Africa are also responsible for the massive and reckless slaughter of not only elephant and rhinos, but all animals that have commercial value across Africa. It wont be long before we publish the first instalment.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

African Gorillas find help..a little bit of it

A gorilla species that's been called Africa's most-endangered primate has found an advocate in a League City girl.

Berit Doolittle, 11, learned about the Cross River Gorilla from her mother Daniette Hunter, who home-schools her in League City. Wildlife advocates say this particular species inhabits just a small region along the border between Nigeria and Cameroon, and its numbers may be below 300.

"She saw there were only 300 left, and she said, 'What are we going to do?'" Hunter says. Between February and early May, Berit surprised her mother by zealously firing up a fund-raising campaign, going door-to-door in her neighborhood, reaching out-of-town families, and recruiting a third-grade class at Bay Area Charter School to help.

"To put a little drive into her at the beginning, [Berit's grandfather] said, 'Whatever you raise, I'll match,' thinking she'd probably raise $40," Hunter says. It turns out Berit was able to raise $350—often a dollar bill or a handful of change at a time—and her grandfather honored his promise, bringing the total to $700. Hunter says her daughter did most of the work in collecting funds, while she and Berit's father pitched in $20.

Berit's goal was actually $1,000, but with the $700 raised, she and Hunter set out in search of a charity that would use that money for conservation efforts. They chose to send a check to the UK-based African Conservation Foundation.

Hunter says Berit has done all the research without a great deal of help from her parents. On the phone, Hunter has to double-check her information with Berit, who sounds very well-versed in the Cross River Gorilla's plight.

"One of the things that disturbed us the most was the bush-meat aspect of why the gorillas were taken," Hunter says. "It's not enough to set up an area and say, 'Don't hunt here.' They actually try to give alternatives to the local people."

Consulting Berit, she also notes that the species faces dangers from poaching, deforestation, and human viruses.

"I'm a biologist by training, and I'm thinking, 'There's nothing you can do,'" Hunter says. "I have this totally cynical worldview, but she's like, 'No, we can do something!'"

Monday, May 23, 2011

Collared elephants killed at Mount Kenya national park

Nairobi - Four of seven elephants outfitted with GPS tracking collars have been killed on the forested slopes of Mount Kenya in recent months only a short hike from the rustic cabin where Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton, conservation officials say.

Save The Elephants fitted seven animals near Mount Kenya with collars over the last year to track their movements. More than half have been killed, and the group's founder, Iain Douglas-Hamilton, said Tuesday he's worried about what may be happening to the elephants who aren't collared.

“We've uncovered a poaching crisis near Mount Kenya that we didn't know about before,” he said.

Douglas-Hamilton said the mountain's dense forest makes it difficult for rangers to patrol and protect elephants who have not been collared.

Save The Elephants official Lucy King said the group suspects the rise in poaching in northern Kenya is linked to a high demand for ivory in Asia.

“We're seeing a lot of Chinese nationals caught in the airport in Kenya with ivory in their luggage,” she said. “We have to assume the Chinese are involved at some level.”

Kenya has more than 30,000 elephants, so the deaths of four do not threaten its population.

The first killing came in October, the same month the royal couple travelled to a rustic log cabin where the two fished in a nearby pond and bundled up for chilly nights at high altitude. It's not known publicly if the two saw any elephants on their trip, but one of the four poached beasts died only 5 miles (8 kilometres) from the cabin, King said.

An elephant named Marani was shot to death in October. A second shooting death came in February. Two others were killed last month, including one suspected shooting death and one death caused by a snare.

Douglas-Hamilton described the agony of the last death, after a team member hiked through thick mountain terrain and through two gorges to find the starved corpse.

“She had been snared with a big rope round her leg and was tied to a tree,” he said. “In her last days she had thrashed around and flattened the vegetation, but he found her emaciated. She must have died of lack of food and water.”

Susie Weeks, who lives near the 17,057-foot (5,199-meter) mountain for her work with The Mount Kenya Trust, said the region is “rife” with snares and traps. She said ivory poaching began on the mountain in 2009 and has steadily increased.

“Although the snares seem to be laid for smaller game, like buffalo, we find dead elephant calves in these brutal and indiscriminate traps, and amputated or snared calves wondering around with serious infections they cannot possibly survive,” she said.

Save the Elephants tracks the real-time movements of elephants it outfits with GPS collars, and the beasts' paths are traced on a special Google Earth mapping program. When an elephant stops moving on the map, the conservationists watching the elephants know there is a problem.

King said poachers shot one of the special collars with two AK-47 bullets. She said that suggests the poachers believe the collars increase the chances they might be caught.

Save The Elephants said more ranger patrols and financial support are needed on Mount Kenya to combat the attacks. - Sapap-AP

Another Chinese national nabbed for ivory smuggling

Kampala - UGANDA Wildlife Authority (UWA) on Thursday intercepted a Chinese national with 34 pieces of ivory weighing 1kg at Entebbe International Airport.

According to Josephine Alupo, an officer in charge of criminal investigations at the Civil Aviation Authority, Engineer Wu Linfei, 38, was intercepted as he tried to check in on a flight to China.

Alupo said the airport security personnel found the ivory in Linfei's luggage. "We noticed a substance that looked like ivory in his luggage, which made us very curious," said Alupo.

The ivory, which had been treated, consisted of chopsticks, house decorations and bungles worth sh100m.

Lunfei said the ivory was a present from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he has been living for two years.

"We also arrested John Onyango of aviation security, who was trying to receive a bribe of $150 (about sh357,750) in order to allow the Chinese man go with the ivory," Alupo said.

UWA public relations officer Lillian Nsubuga explained that poachers had slaughtered elephants for ivory. "Eight elephants have so far been killed," she said.

Sea turtles on the verge of extinction in Mozambican waters

Maput0 - At least eight fishermen from the coastal district of Moma in Nampula, northern Mozambique, were arrested in connection with the illegal capture of sea turtles, a protected species which is endangered.

The capture and sale of sea turtle is banned in many states in the world, including Mozambique, since the species are in danger of extinction. Worldwide, there are only seven types of sea turtles, five of which occur along the Mozambican coast.

Thus, detainees must answer in court, accused of having violated the law to capture about 40 turtles. They were recently arrested by Mozambican police (MRP) in response to a popular complaint. The Ministry of Fisheries and agents of the MRP went to the field where they found nine live turtles still held by fishermen.

These were sent back to the sea, according to the newspaper "Noticias". Still in place, the authorities recovered a total of four carcasses of turtles that had already been killed by the perpetrators. Commenting on the illegal hunting of sea turtle biologist Alice Costa, from the Worldwide Fund for Nature, said that eating the flesh of those animals is an ancient practice, a habit responsible for the lack of such animals.

Costa said that besides the flesh of the turtle, appreciated by humans, Mozambique poaching of these animals is also motivated by the pursuit of the turtle shell used to manufacture ornaments such as bracelets, armor for glasses and other items.
Sea turtles also contribute to the maintenance of marine ecosystems, as, for example, they feed of beings (called "living waters") predator of fish larvae.

Thus, the fact that the turtles eliminate the "living water" provides an environment for the reproduction of fish that is a source of income and basic food to many coastal communities in Mozambique. "The hunting of turtles is a reality and we should all join efforts to end these practices, promoting environmental education and denouncing those who even though are still prohibited the practice.

Source: Noticias Newspaper

Sh500 million ivory haul intercepted at Uganda's Entebbe Airport

By Jean Ankunda

Uganda’s tourism industry continues to suffer from poaching as the illegal trade in products from the endangered species, especially elephants, increases.

Just last week, customs, Civil Aviation Authority and security officers seized five kilogrammes of ivory at Entebbe International Airport that was being smuggled out of the country by a Chinese national.

Mr. Lu Guowei, who had been booked on an Emirates flight to Dubai, was in possession of an illegal consignment estimated at Shs500 million. Guowei had 30 pieces of processed ivory including seven pendants, four chop sticks, four sculptures, two necklaces, four beaded bangles, five molded pieces, three oval pieces and a comb.

It is estimated that to get the five kilogrammes of ivory, at least two to three elephants must have been killed. Elephants are protected under an Appendix I listing of Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) law, with international trade for commercial purposes being strictly prohibited.

Within a period of about two months, about four cases of a similar nature have been reported which indicates an increase in poaching.

Elephants can be spotted on Uganda wildlife safaris that take you to the various national parks in the country that host a good number of these huge animals which can easily be seen.

Source: Uganda Safari & Travel News.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Africa to Torch Seized Ivory in Show of Disgust At the Killing of Elephants

Nairobi — In another dramatic show of Africa's hatred against the killing of the African elephant, the continent's wildlife-range states plan to torch tons of stockpiles of ivory in the depth of Kenya's Tsavo National Park next July, according to highly-placed sources within the wildlife sector.

The burn, what conservationists describe as a "leap of faith in the conservation of the elephant", will cap a series of activities to include a meeting of ministers from countries teeming with wildlife, that include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Dr Congo, Zambia and Lesotho.

The ministers will then launch the first African Elephant Law Enforcement Day as well as the African Wildlife Enforcement Monitoring System in Nairobi. It is still not clear the quantity of tusks to be reduced to ashes. But the source said "over 10 tons", to include the 6.5 ton (531 elephant tusks) consignment seized in Singapore in June 2002 and later traced to Zambia, will be set ablaze.

This contraband is safeguarded at the Kenya Wildlife Service, which headquarters the Lusaka Agreement Taskforce (LATF) - a meeting of nine African countries to stop illegal trade in animals and plants.It is instructional to note that the 6.5-ton cache of ivory was once at the centre of a diplomatic incident between Kenya and Zambia when a section of the Lusaka Parliament demanded it back.

According to a source at the LATF, the agency expected to coordinate the burning, the event will demonstrate yet again Africa's disgust at the killing of its wildlife, a resource that brings in eight of the 10 shillings earned by the tourism industry.

"It is going to be another historical event. And it will send a clear message to the whole world that Africa is ready to cooperate to conserve its heritage and economic resource," he said.

Contacted, Paul Udoto, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) spokesperson, said, thus: "I know there's going to be an important activity soon, probably in July". But he couldn't confirm the plan to torch the ivory.

Experts regard the ivory burn as another first by Kenya, a country that spearheaded the ban on international trade in elephant and rhino horns in 1989. On July 18, 1989, former President Moi flamed 12 tons of ivory, in a historic gesture that transfixed the world to the plight of the African elephant.

The site where $1 million (Sh83 million) worth of ivory went up in smoke is symbolically preserved in the heart of Nairobi National Park. Said Moi: "To stop the poacher, the trader must be also be stopped and to stop the trader, the final buyer must be convinced not to buy ivory ... I appeal to people all over the world to stop buying ivory."

The same year, 1989, palaentolgist Richard Leakey rallied the world round the elephant as well as rhino threatened by poachers.Kenya's elephant population had plunged from 130,000 to 26,000 in just 10 years prior to the ban, at the hand of poachers. Since then, Kenya has made huge seizures of contraband ivory. Today it has 65 tons of ivory stockpiles.

That the country is sternly opposed to resumption of trade in ivory, some or most of this pile will be destructed to send a message to the world that any dealings in elephant tusks would be detrimental to Africa's wildlife.

However, other sources say the Cabinet will have to decide on what to do with Kenya's ivory pile-up ahead of the July date."I am told that the Cabinet will have to decide by July. But the rest, ivory sourced outside Kenya, will be burned. That I am sure about."

Exactly 22 years separate the planned event in Tsavo and the historical torching by President Moi. Yet those in the conservation circles predict another round of controversy drawing the pro-elephant lobby against an emerging voice by a host of African countries, Tanzania included, pressuring the international community to lift the ban on trans-boundary trade in ivory.

Tanzania is a key source. Not just for the ivory trafficked through Kenya but also in terms of seizures worldwide. Two years ago, the country accounted for half of the world's 24-tonne seizure of ivory. Most of it came from the 54,600 square kilometres Selous Game Reserve and is shipped through Dar es Salaam and Mombasa ports.

Two years ago, Tanzanian authorities appealed to the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the global agency that slammed the ban on trade in ivory and rhino horns, to temporarily lift the moratorium to enable it dispose 89.8 tons of ivory stockpile.

Authorities in the country had expected to raise funds from the sale to help it manage some of its wildlife conservation programmes. Experts in wildlife matters are convinced Tanzania is in a technical bind - and are hardly surprised the neighbouring country may not be comfortable with the planned destruction of ivory at Tsavo next July.

Tanzania's recurrent budget for the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism for 2010/11 was a paltry TSh65.5 billion (Sh3.8 billion) which can be recouped through the sale of just 20 tons of ivory. (KWS's budget is Sh7 billion)

"I am waiting to see how it plays out. Will Tanzania be part of the ivory burning event?" asks a scientist who formerly worked at the African Wildlife Foundation. "There are fundamental differences in conservation approaches between the two countries, Kenya and Tanzania."

It is instructional to note that the plan to torch ivory comes barely a week after Kenya made one of its largest recoveries yet, a 1.3-ton ivory cache suspected to originate in DR Congo.

"Preliminary results show that the bulk of tusks were of forest elephants," said Mr Udoto. "It is not conclusive but (the ivory) is likely to have come from Congo." (Kenya's elephant is the savannah type). "We have to do an elaborate DNA test to be sure about the exact origin of the tusks."

Kenya is emerging as the world's largest transit point for illicit ivory. The amount of contraband ivory recovered here has jumped up nine-fold in the past five years, from 620 kilos in 2005 to 5.7 tons last year, according to recent tally by LATF. Over three tons of elephant tusks have been recovered this year alone.

"We are losing species of high value," says Hadley Becha, a former executive director of East African Wildlife Society (EAWLS), who now heads thenon-governmental organization, Community Action for Nature Conservation (CANCO). "We have to cooperate at the regional level to stem the flow of illicit ivory."

Much of contraband ivory is sourced outside the country, and wildlife experts pick Tanzania and DR Congo as key supplies. South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe also account for the ivory that passes through Kenya to Asia.

Indeed, last week's seizure points to two conveyor belts that pour into Kenya: One forks out from central Africa, specifically, the DR Congo, and the other emerges in southern Africa -- as far down as South Africa. Various reasons can explain the sheer amount recovered in Kenya: The country has an enabling environment for criminals to operate; authorities are very hawk-eyed they bust the syndicates easily.

Kenya's advanced telecommunication industry enables organised criminals to easily hawk their merchandise using high technology methods.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is among Africa's three key exit points for ivory, others being Addis Ababa and Johannesburg. These are the only airports in Africa that serve the world - and thus a choice for the criminals seeking the Asian markets.

Interestingly though, the criminals use prominent airlines with deep networks to Asia, such Kenya Airways, the Emirates and Ethiopian Airlines. These remain the greatest targets by the illicit merchants.

Yet, as KWS authorities say, the sheer size of seizures betrays Kenya's vigilance. "Kenya is doing very well (in terms of vigilance). Those (criminals) trying to pass through Nairobi find it a tall order," says Udoto. KWS has two canine units at JKIA and Moi Airport, in Mombasa.

Source: All-Africa.com

Friday, May 20, 2011

SA army kills three poachers in Kruger National Park

South African Defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu says the National Defence will fight fire with fire in order to douse the poaching crisis affecting the country's parks.

The statement comes after troops deployed on anti-poaching patrols killed three poachers inside the Kruger National Park near the border with Mozambique, she said poachers had to know the army would "fight fire with fire".

On Wednesday this week, an SANDF patrol was shot at by poachers in the Houtbosrand area in the north of the park. The troops returned fire, killing the three men.

An AK-47 assault rifle, a Bruno .458 hunting rifle, two axes and two cellphones were found in the men's possession.

The SANDF started guarding the park's borders in April last year, following a surge in rhino poaching.

"The SANDF will do anything to protect our national assets; we will not allow criminals to do as they wish in our parks. We also want to send a very strong message that poachers who shoot at soldiers must know that we will return fire with fire."

She said the SANDF and SA National Parks would co-operate to protect the country's national parks.

"The co-operation will include joint operations, sharing of information and training."

Sisulu said that by the end of 2013, the SANDF would be patrolling the full length of South Africa's land borders with Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia.

Source: Timeslive.co.za

Ivory, turtle and falcon smugglers arrested in West Central Africa

In Gabon, undercover agents posing as smugglers picked up 16 dealers in possession of 150kg of illegal polished ivory. The haul, estimated to be worth about £90,000 on the international market and probably destined for China, the world's leading market for "white gold", was going via Nigeria, one of the main smuggling routes.

All 16 were remanded in custody, having been refused bail following the operation, which focused on a hotel, a local market and a sculptor's studio following a long investigation…..

In Cameroon, three dealers trading 17 turtle shells were arrested. A cargo of 1,000 African grey parrots worth an estimated £65,000 was intercepted being smuggled into Nigeria and a policeman was arrested on suspicion of accepting a £2,000 bribe to release it and allow it on its way.

The operation in the Central African Republic recovered seven leopard skins, two lion skins and two tusks concealed beneath a pile of cowhides in a dealer's truck. He was arrested. The skins were thought to be destined for Europe or the US to decorate wealthy homes. On the same day, wildlife activists in Ouesso in the north of Congo-Brazzaville found a further 30kg of ivory.

As Ofir Drori, the founder of Laga, pointed out, the poachers do not work alone: "Wildlife extinction doesn't start with poachers, it starts with wealthy white-collar criminals who have been operating in central Africa for over 20 years."

Source: The Guardian

Hippo poaching worry in Zimbabwe

Karen Paolillo is an uncommon kind of nanny. No diaper bag. No bottles. No blankets. And she dares not lay a hand on the babies. But she might just win an award for "Nanny of the Year" after all.

Originally from England, Karen and her French husband Jean-Roger have been held hostage, shot at and stricken more times with malaria than with a common cold. Yet they continue to stand guard over the hippos of Zimbabwe and all forms of other wildlife as the founders of a special organization known as the Turgwe Hippo Trust. With inconceivable bravery, these two wildlife guardians have saved countless animals from death by snare or shotgun and the hippo population is slowly rebounding with the birth of new calves because of their intervention.

She saved them from drought, but can she save them from Man?

The fact is that Karen and Jean Paoillo are wardens in a land where a dusty line separates life from death. Their story begins in 1991 when a devastating drought began to claim the wildlife along the Tugwe River. Lowveld hippo populations plummeted to a small herd of just 13 animals and other species of native wildlife nearly disappeared.

Determined not to see life extinguished, Karen and Jean appealed to the international community for help and got to work drilling a deep earth pump, excavating a massive pond and trucking in loads of vegetation to feed the animals. For more than a year, they kept the animals alive this way until the rains returned.

But life in Zimbabwe has become even harder for human and animal due to the upside down politics of President Mugabe, who attempted to mend the racial divide by running white farmers off their land, which led to severe food shortages. This former bread basket of Africa is a place of tremendous beauty and deep-seeded struggle all at once.

The Poachers Tried to Murder Her Husband

Rather than retreat, the Paolillos continue their battle to keep the animals alive and that puts them directly at odds with some very dangerous poachers who would like to see them dead. Not so long ago, they nearly succeeded.

Karen and Jean-Roger go on daily patrols to collect the snares and, on occasion, cut a wild animal free from the noose that has already traped it. Recently, one of the poachers narrowly missed Jean-Roger as he attempted to shoot him in the head with an arrow. And the punishment for this crime? Well, the perpetrator was served with community service at a nearby school.

Yes, life is hard here, but hope is very much alive. "The birth of BonBon is calf number 45 born since the drought. The four babies born in the last two months make the hardships of the previous decade worthwhile and prove to us that there is a future for these wonderful animals." Karens says.

Source: care2.com

Eight lions poisoned to death Kenya

May 2011. Conservationists have warned that Kenya's lion population is in danger of becoming extinct within a few years if nothing is done to stem a wave of poisonings that have already left at least eight lions dead in recent weeks.

In the latest incident, the carcasses of two lionesses and a young male were found in late April near Lemek, apparently killed in retaliation for attacking domestic cattle. In their investigation, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) arrested a local cattle herder who admitted he had used a pesticide to poison the lions.

Suspected carbofuran
The suspect showed investigators a container with the remains of the poison he had used to lace a cow carcass that the lions ultimately ate. The container had traces of a pink powder that the authorities suspect is a form of carbofuran - a deadly pesticide commonly used in the horticultural industry. KWS has sent samples of both the lion carcasses and the pink substance for toxicological tests to confirm what it was that killed the predators.

KWS took the suspect to the police but despite the evidence and his admission of guilt, he was released shortly after. According to anonymous sources, a local politician intervened on his behalf.

This incident brings to 8 the number of confirmed lions poisonings in recent weeks across southern Kenya; the other five occurring near the Amboseli National Park.

Less than 2000 lions left in Kenya

In their National Conservation and Management strategy for Lions and Hyenas, the Kenya Wildlife Service estimates that only 1,970 lions remain across the country, and said "poisoning is perhaps the greatest threat to predators and scavenging birds".

KWS confirms that 2010 has started off badly for lions - in addition to 8 confirmed poisonings, more than 10 other lions have been killed in other circumstances; A lion was shot in or near Buffalo Springs Reserve, Samburu District, by local police, while others have been speared near Amboseli National Park

The situation is now so serious that the conservationist and chairman of WildlifeDirect Dr Richard Leakey has again called for the government to take action.

"The future of tourism in Kenya is at risk if dangerous pesticides like Carbofuran (sold locally as Furadan) remain on the market. Time and again, we've seen these substances used to slaughter our national heritage and destroy one of our greatest economic assets. Yet the authorities continually fail to follow up cases of abuse and prosecute the culprits. The Kenyan government must show that it is serious and take swift action to ban deadly pesticides like Furadan and enforce the law.

"If we fail to put a stop to poisonings, our lions could go extinct in a matter of years; a catastrophic loss for anyone who cares about our national heritage, but also a devastating blow to the tourism industry that currently brings in hundreds of millions of dollars to our economy. "

Carbofuran is the active ingredient in pesticides most widely used to kill wildlife such as lions and leopards. It is also used to kill fish and birds for human consumption. Carbofuran is a neurotoxin that is deadly to fish, birds, cats and even humans. Kenyan conservationists are calling on the Ministry of Agriculture to ban the pesticide due to its environmental impacts.

Banned in EU and USA
It is not permitted for use in the European Union where authorization for its' use was withdrawn in 2007. Nor can it be used in the USA where it is produced due to a recent decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that revoked all tolerance for carbofuran residues on food.

This means that carbofuran residues must not be found on locally produced and imported food items. The decision was implemented on the 31st December 2009.These decisions could affect Kenyan food exports if the product remains in use on export crops. In addition, Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency recently conducted the risk and value assessments for carbofuran and its end-uses on food and feed crops and also recommends a ban of the product.

Conservationists in USA have conducted an online petition and gathered more than 80,000 signatures urging the Kenyan Government to do the same.

After incidents of lion poisoning in Kenya became public in 2008, the manufacturers of Furadan, FMC withdrew Furadan from Kenyan shelves. However, the product is still not officially banned and can be found in some agro-vet stores. The active ingredient, carbofuran, is still available in other over-the-counter pesticides.

Source: Wildlife Extra

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is Groenewald the link to Vietnamese ivory syndicates?

Eyewitness News can reveal that alleged rhino poaching kingpin Dawie Groenewald bought more than 30 rhinos from the South African National Parks (SANParks) over a period of just two months last year.

Eyewitness News is in possession of a detailed transaction record which forms part of a police case against an alleged Vietnamese smuggler. But SANParks said there was nothing unusual about the sale and it could not have known Groenewald would be implicated in poaching.

Records show that it was to Groenewald’s farm, labelled an “animal slaughterhouse” in the media, that SANParks sold 36 rhinos between early June and late July last year. Some of the animals had horns measuring 65cm.

Police have now finished searching the Limpopo farm, finding around 30 live rhinos and a number of carcasses.

SANParks has defended the sale saying it was not unprecedented. But it said it is reviewing the entire procedure and plans to improve the vetting process.

Groenewald was arrested in September along with two vets and eight others. At least 232 rhino have been killed for their horns in South Africa this year.

–By Alex Eliseev, Eye Witness News, 29/10/2010

SA cops torture conservationist as poachers butcher his rhino and calf

Pretoria High Court judge Hans Fabricius had to personally phone the Naboomspruit cops – demanding to know why his urgent court order to release MediCross founder and wildlife conservationist Dr Walter Ward was not carried out.

Ward was arrested with his foreman Saki Kekana on Friday-night on his private rhino-protectorate, the farm Lweni 5km outside Naboomspruit. Police arrived with claims they had a ‘tipoff ‘ that he had “unlicensed weapons’ in his safe.

However Dr Ward told Beeld that all his weapons were legally registered and that he had sent all the documentary proof to the police well before his arrest – but never got a response from them. The Naboomspruit cops claimed when they arrived enmasse at Lweni, that they had a ‘search-order’ to open his safe, but refused to show it to the businessman.

They arrested the businessman with Kekana and dumped them in a cell of seven trial-awaiting prisoners who then proceeded to beat up Dr Ward and rob him.

This was a two-pronged police operation: while Ward was being beaten up in a police-cell, the police’s anti-poaching unit also were still investigating the past week’s discovery that one of his valuable rhino-cows was murdered, her horn cut off – and the toes of her small calf also removed. This is the 140th rhino killed in South Africa over the past four months.

Dr Ward said that he had paid R75,000 for the rhino last year – and had her horn removed precisely to protect the endangered creatures against the aggressive, highly-sophisticated poacher gangs which are decimating South Africa’s endangered rhinos, hunting them down with helicopters.

South Africa is losing the war against the rhino-poachers

Over the past four months alone, a total of 140 rhinos were shot dead for their horns in South Africa ; more than one day. Last year some 300 rhinos were killed in SA, in 2009 there were 84 killed; and In 2007, a total of 13 rhinos were shot dead for their horns.

After judge Fabricius issued the emergency court order for his immediate release from police custody, however, the Naboomspruit police adamantly refused to release Ward from the police-cells, with a local low-level cop obtusely refusing to honour the High Court order – claiming he ‘needed his commander’s permission’ first.

Brig. Hangweni Mulaudzi of the Limpopo SA Police Force claimed that they confiscated nine ‘illegal’ hunting rifles, a pistol and 1,944 rounds of ammo from his safe: and Sapa writes that Ward again appeared on May 3 at 7:42am in the Naboomspruit/Mokgophong court.

Thus far in 2011, a total of 140 rhinos were already shot dead for their horns in South Africa. that’s more than one rhino biting the dust each day. That’s even more than last year, when some 300 rhinos were killed in South Africa.

Source: nl-Aid.com (Netherlands Aid)

Another rhino slaughtered in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Poachers armed with AK47 rifles last week gunned down another black rhino in the Intensive Conservation Area around the prestigious Sinamatela range of the Hwange National Park and engaged parks rangers in a fierce gunbattle before fleeing the scene without their booty.

Although the horn was recovered, the poachers escaped and none have been arrested so far. Matabeleland North provincial police deputy officer commanding Assistant Commissioner Musarashana Mabunda said the rhino was killed by poachers who abandoned an axe and a loaded AK 47 rifle and fled the scene without de-horning the animal.

"On May 12, gunshots were heard some 15 kilometres from Number 3 village in the Sinamatela area. When parks rangers attended to the scene, there was a confrontation with the poachers who then ran away leaving the AK47 and an axe. Police attended the scene and the horn, worth around US$120 000, was recovered," he said.

Assistant Commissioner Mabunda said there is a serious upsurge in big game poaching in the safari areas throughout Matabeleland North while armed crimes were all too common. "There has also been an increase in gun crimes such as stock theft, robbery of service stations and lodges all along the Zambezi River and big game poaching is a big problem in the safari areas."

The killing is the second within a month following the death of the de-horned Save Conservancy Valley rhino that was shot five times but regained consciousness after poachers had de-stumped and left it for dead. Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force chairman Johnny Rodriguez said the slaughter of the rhino in Sinamatela is distressing and blamed it on the lack of an effective anti-poaching strategy.

"This is the second death this month after the Save Valley Conservancy one which died last week after nearly a fortnight in intensive care. But all this points to the lack of a coherent, effective anti-poaching strategy. The battle against poaching will never be one as long the parks, the security services people and those high up in ZANU PF and government remain players in this carnage," Rodriguez said. Fourteen rhinos have been gunned down by poachers in game sanctuaries across the country since the beginning of the year.

South Africa, which faces the same problem of rhino and elephant poaching, has deployed its armed forces to the Kruger National Park and other poacher infested zones along the border with Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Although the poaching continues as eveidenced by the killing of two black rhinos in the Northern Province last week, the army's anti-poaching operations have netted several Mozambican and South African syndicates who were operating in the Greater Kruger zone.

No comment could be obtained from the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Two rhinos killed in Kenya's prestigious Masai Mara park

11 May 2011. In the last 2 weeks, 2 white rhino have been poached on the world famous Masai Mara reserve, despite the fact that they were allegedly under 24 hour surveillance. Somewhere in Africa, a rhino is being killed every day for its horns, and at that rate it will be just a few years before they are all gone. This is yet another incident in a disgustingly long line of similar brutal poaching atrocities.

Relocation to Nairobi National
In response, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) successfully carried out a translocation exercise of a white rhino from the Maasai Mara to the Nairobi National Park (NNP).

The 16-year old male rhino which previously lived at a private ranch in Ol Choro Roua area in the Mara had been frequently crossing over to the communities in the area further increasing the dangers to its life.

KWS Southern Conservation Area Assistant Director, Mr. Wilson Korir, said that the move was taken to protect the rhino and provide it with a safe and secure habitat. However the KWS failed to mention that the relocation was carried out to protect the rhino from the poachers that have already killed the two mentioned above.

The white rhino will join 11 others currently living at the park that were brought in last year from Lake Nakuru National Park in a similar exercise. The translocation will enhance and increase the genetic breeding structure of the current rhino population at the park.

Source: Wildlife Extra (UK)

Ghana: West Africa's premier e-waste dumping site

An investigation by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has revealed that tons of e-waste from the United Kingdom has been shipped illegally in underground trade to developing countries in Africa for disposal.

Environment Waste Controls (EWC), which runs the waste and recycling for the public and private sector, has admitted that electronic equipment from one of their sites has ended up in West Africa after being exported by a third party company.

As part of their investigation, EIA staff visited waste collection sites run by EWC and learned that some of the electronic waste was being collected and shipped to Nigeria and Ghana. According to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Resources Regulations 2006, as long as the e-waste being exported were tested and deemed properly working it would be permissible to be shipped.

However, investigators hid tracking devices in television sets that were broken beyond repair and left them at the waste collection site. After a couple of weeks, GPS signals showed that one set had been exported to Nigeria, while another had been shipped to Ghana.

The EIA believes that this is not an isolated incident, and that proper checks were not always carried out. They say that the broken television sets should have been disposed of in the UK or shipped to a developed country instead of Africa.

The EWC has fully cooperated with the investigation and has given a statement saying, ”This is unacceptable and EWC has put in place measures to prevent a reoccurrence of this practice and to undertake a full investigation in cooperation with the regulator and relevant authorities. We have instructed all our sub contractors that no electronic equipment deposited at designated collection facilities operated by EWC should leave the UK until further notice.”

Source: greenanswers.com

Conservation foundations to pay informants to combat rhino poachers

JACKSONVILLE, Florida --(Ammoland.com)- Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF) and The WILD Foundation (WILD) announced that they are working together to combat rhino poaching in South Africa through the Rhino Informant Incentive Fund (RIIF).

The RIIF provides financial incentives to economically underdeveloped rural communities where rhino poachers reside.

Local individuals will act as informants, to assist local law enforcement in apprehending poachers and confiscation of horns, weapons, or equipment.

“SCIF has successfully concentrated many of our financial resources into anti-poaching efforts in the last few years,” said SCIF President Joseph Hosmer. “We are excited to work with The WILD Foundation through our contribution to the Rhino Informant Incentive Fund. By working collaboratively against international poaching we will ensure sustainable-use conservation and hunting can continue.”

“We already see results with the first prosecution, validating further investment. The support by SCIF is instrumental in this regard, and is being matched by local, privately donated funds within South Africa. Thank you to the hunting community for continuing your role in sustainable use conservation,” stated WILD President Vance Martin.

“SCIF is ready to continue our anti-poaching projects throughout Africa and we hope that members of the hunting fraternity will consider making a donation to SCIF, so that we can increase our investments there,” concluded Hosmer.

Recent poaching has again been attributed to a growing international demand for rhino horn in Far East Asia where it is used in traditional medicine. Professional criminal syndicates are using technology to their advantage, such as helicopters, with the aid of night vision and GPS tracking equipment. WILD’s founder and SCIF’s 2008 International Conservationist of the Year, Dr. Ian Player is leading the grassroots effort in South Africa to help combat the criminal syndicates.

To make a donation to SCIF please contact SCIF’s Development Department at (520) 620-1220 ext. 485 and make your tax deductible gift today.

Contact: Nelson Freeman, media@safriclub.org or Emily Loose, emily@wild.org

Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that funds and manages worldwide programs dedicated to wildlife conservation, outdoor education, and humanitarian services. Since 2000, SCIF has provided $47 million to these causes around the world. Visit www.safariclubfoundation.org for more information.

The WILD Foundation – As the hub of the global wilderness conservation movement, The WILD Foundation (a Boulder, Colo based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization) is the only international organization dedicated entirely to wilderness protection around the world. Our vision is to protect at least half of the planet’s land and water in an interconnected way to support all life on Earth – Nature Needs Half™. www.wild.org.
Tags: African Hunting, Conservation News, Poaching, Safari Club International, SCI, SCIF, The Wild Foundation

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Taos Man Accused Of Poaching 39 Animals & Throwing Evidence Into Gorge
Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 at 9:12 AM

Taos Man Accused Of Poaching 39 Animals & Throwing Evidence Into Gorge
New Mexico Game and Fish

New Mexico Game and Fish

TAOS, NM --(Ammoland.com)- A Taos man with a history of wildlife crimes has been charged with 39 counts of poaching in connection with the illegal killing and possession of 29 deer, five bears, one cougar and four elk through August 2010.

Ray Cortez, 25, also is accused of outfitting without a license and throwing the carcasses of several deer and elk off the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. He pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to appear for a pre-trial hearing April 19 before Taos Magistrate Betty J. Martinez.

Cortez previously was convicted of hunting cougars in a closed area, hunting cougars without a license, hunting turkeys during a closed season, and violating the Valle Vidal summer closure.

The current charges against Cortez were filed Jan. 21 following an investigation by Department of Game and Fish officers that included three search warrants that turned up evidence alleging that Cortez possessed numerous game animal parts but no licenses or carcass tags to show legal ownership. A charge of tampering with evidence was filed after officers rappelled into the Rio Grande Gorge and recovered heads and carcasses of 12 deer and five elk.

Because of his earlier convictions, Cortez could face substantial enhanced criminal penalties. Many of the confiscated deer were trophy size, which subject him to possible enhanced civil penalties to reimburse the state for the loss of valuable game animals.

The Department of Game and Fish encourages anyone with information about wildlife crimes to call Operation Game Thief toll-free at (800) 432-4263. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for rewards in information leads to charges being filed.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rhino rangers walk across South Africa to raise funds for anti-poaching war

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, April 28, 2011 (ENS) - Two game rangers dedicated to rhino conservation will take the first step of a walk from the northern border to the southern tip of South Africa on May 2. Their goal - raising public awareness and funds to fight the poachers that have killed over 500 South African rhinos in the past two years.

Veteran game ranger Paul Jennings and former ranger Sboniso Phakati, called Spoon, conceived the Rights for Rhinos campaign journey in response to illegal rhino killings in South Africa that have nearly tripled from 122 in 2009 to 333 last year.

"The world has to be educated about the plight of the rhino and how important it is for mankind to be a part of conservation efforts to save these beautiful animals," says Jennings.
Rhino and calf in Amakhala, South Africa (Photo by Marv Gillibrand)

The Rights for Rhinos walk is the realization of a long-held dream for Jennings, who developed a strong bond with rhinos during seven years as a rhino capture officer with the Natal Parks Board's game capture unit, which specialized in the relocation of rhino and other species.

"Rhino are very close to my heart," says Jennings, who has witnessed the atrocities inflicted on the animals for their horns. "The methods used are often exceptionally cruel and the animals suffer immense pain before dying of their wounds," he says.

"I want to give back to these majestic creatures that are at the mercy of callous killers. Conservation education, especially among the youth, is part of a drive to halt the mass extermination of our rhino."

Jennings and Phakati will stop at schools along their 1,700 km (1,056 mile) route to talk about the importance of conservation.

Phakati is a public relations specialist with Protrack, a private anti-poaching unit which formed the Hoedspruit Rhino Watch to patrol the Manyeleti Reserve for poachers.

Early in 2011, Phakati attended his first rhino autopsy on a farm in the area. He described the sight as "heart-wrenching" and says it made him realize that he wants to reach as many people as possible to make them understand how pointless rhino killings are and how many rhinos are still paying the price.
From left, Paul Jennings, Ian Player and Sboniso Phakati (Photo courtesy Rights for Rhinos)

"We need to get more youth involved in raising awareness about what's happening to our common heritage," he said.

Nissan South Africa is supporting Rights for Rhinos by providing a back-up vehicle for the walk, Adidas is providing shoes and clothing, and RO3 Oasis is providing super oxygenated water for the walk, which is expected to take about three months.

The two rangers have attracted the support of environmental statesman Dr. Ian Player, 84, for their Rights for Rhinos walk.

Dr. Player spearheaded Operation Rhino, which saved the last few southern white rhinos from extinction, and founded the multi-racial Wilderness Leadership School. He championed protected status for the Umfolozi and St. Lucia Wilderness Areas, the first wilderness areas to be designated in South Africa and on the African continent.

"It is imperative that the plight of these animals is brought into the spotlight, and the Rights for Rhinos walk will achieve this," Dr. Player said.

"We all share this Earth and evolved together," he said. "We all have an equal right to a place under the Sun and that all wild creatures are man's brothers and sisters."

The South African authorities are taking rhino poaching seriously.

Earlier this month, two men were each sentenced to 20 years in prison for illegally hunting a rhinoceros and unlawfully possessing firearms and ammunition in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park on December 25, 2009.
Poached rhino horns (Photo by Challenge4aCause)

Both men were wounded and another suspect was killed during a shoot-out with park rangers before they were taken into custody.

Ballistic analysis linked the firearms to a dead rhino found nearby and the horns recovered were linked by DNA analysis to the same carcass. This is the first successful prosecution in which a DNA comparison was used in securing a conviction in a case of illegal rhino hunting in South Africa.

On their Rights for Rhinos walk, Jennings and Phakati will be raising funds for the Game Rangers Association of Africa to assist identified reserves combat rhino poaching.

Resources will be directed at improved education programs, more efficient rhino protection equipment, and superior intelligence-gathering, currently carried out in tandem with law enforcement agencies.

The demand for rhino horn has recently increased based on an unsubstantiated rumor that grinding and drinking the horn substance, keratin, can cure cancer.

Keratin is a type of protein found in human skin, hair, and nails and the hooves and horns of animals. Keratins are used as diagnostic tumor markers, but have no role in curing cancer.

Nevertheless, rhino poaching reached an all-time high in Africa last year. The wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC states that between 2000 and 2007, South Africa averaged about 12 rhino poached each year. But in 2008, the figure reached 78, and by 2010 it hit an unprecedented 333 animals. Already this year, more than 80 rhino have been poached.

Dr. Richard Emslie, scientific officer for the IUCN Species Survival Commission's African Rhino Specialist Group expressed concern for rhino survival after a meeting of Africa's top rhino experts in South Africa in March.

"Although good biological management and anti-poaching efforts have led to modest population gains for both species of African rhino, we are still very concerned about the increasing involvement of organized criminal poaching networks, and that, unless the rapid escalation in poaching in recent years can be halted, continental rhino numbers could once again start to decline," he said.

Black rhinos, Diceros bicornis, currently number 4,840, up from 4,240 in 2007.

White rhinos, Ceratotherium simum, are more numerous, with a population of 20,150, up from 17,500 in 2007, according to the IUCN.

Population numbers are increasing, but with the rise in poaching, there is still cause for concern due to inadequate funding to combat well-equipped, sophisticated organized wildlife crime syndicates.

Source: Environmental News Service

SA needs new strategies to combat rhino poaching, says Endangered Wildlife Trust

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) said the country needed new strategies to protect its rhino population of approximately 19 500 - 22 000. Over the past four years, there had been an increase in the number of rhinos being poached for their horns in South Africa, with the amount standing on 330 for 2010. The EWT warned that this crime is increasing.

Chief Executive officer of the EWT, Yolan Friedman said that they have a few new strategies in place including working with international orginisations that were trying to unpack the trade routes, understanding the drivers in the recent increase of poaching, improving security of rhino's in private ownership, assisting in investigative work and working with a number of agencies operating at the borders and airports to improve personnel training and detection efforts in terms of wildlife.

She said that rhino poaching has become a syndication crime. "Any organisation who claims that what they are going to do is going to make a difference, I think is wrong and ourselves, we are not going to promise that at the end of the year we've also managed to half rhino poaching. We have to accept, unfortunately that rhino poaching is no longer just a wildlife crime it is a part of organised crime," Friedmann said.

She said one of the contributors to the increase was the use of horns for medicinal use in especially the Middle East.

"There are allegations of rhino horn being used for medicinal use in Vietnam as a cure for cancer and other ailments."

"And certainly if we see the amount of money that is going into poaching of rhino, there must be a much more desperate consumer market in the East. But those things still have to be proven and put into black and white - so there is a bit of speculation around it. We know it's a new market, we know it's a more affluent market and we know that there is definitely a new use out there and it very likely has a medicinal property. Whether it's a traditional or new one, I think still has to be proven," she said.

Chairperson of SA Gold Coin Exchange's Chairperson, Alan Demby hands over a check to Yolan Friedmann for the EWT.

Friedmann said that there a lot of investigations were underway in South Africa but that it was far too easy to export horns out of the country. She continued that the chances of curbing the number of poached rhinos by the end of the year was small considering that between 144 and 150 have already been killed this year alone.

She said that removing the horns might cause more harm for the rhino in SA, than in countries such as Namibia and Zimbabwe, where the living conditions were easier.

"The trust was training various officials at border posts on rhino horn detection. Less than 10 percent of poached rhino horns are being seized," Friedmann said.

Source: Jacaranda FM, South Africa

Rhino poaching on the rise in SA

ELIZABETH JACKSON: In South Africa, the first trial of a radical attempt to reduce rhino poaching in private game reserves has been hailed as promising.

In the past three years, rhino poaching in southern Africa, home to the largest remaining populations of rhino, has escalated dramatically, so that now almost one rhino every day is slaughtered for its horn.

But one farmer who lost two of his rhino's to highly skilled poachers is hitting back.

Here's our Africa correspondent Ginny Stein.

GINNY STEIN: It's feeding time at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve near Johannesburg. A young rhino who lost its mother is being fed one of its many bottles for the day.

What happened to these ones?

ED HERN: The mothers got killed, one in Krugersdorp Game Reserve right here and the other one in the Kruger National Park.

GINNY STEIN: The modern poacher is highly skilled. The operation to kill the mother of this baby rhino involved a shooter armed with a tranquiliser gun, a helicopter pilot and someone else wielding a chainsaw.

Last year game reserve owner Ed Hern lost two of his rhinos in a similar operation. From when Mr Hern heard the helicopter, until it was all over probably took 10 minutes. His rhino was dead and the poachers were on their way with a product worth a fortune in Asian markets.

ED HERN: In China, by the time it lands in China, it's probably worth a million American dollars.

GINNY STEIN: There's big incentive.

ED HERN: Indeed there is and that's why they can afford what they are doing. They can come in by helicopter, they've got the best night vision equipment that you can ever think of, they've all got bullet proof vests, they've all got AK47 rifles, so it is a big operation.

GINNY STEIN: South Africa is home to the largest remaining populations of white and black rhino. The number slaughtered has tripled in the past few years. Rhino's are now being killed at the rate of almost a rhino a day.

Private game reserves have been increasingly targeted by African gangs funded by Asian demand for rhino horn.

Ed Horn has had enough. To protect his animals he's come up with a plan. He initially wanted to use cyanide but has settled on something less lethal to whoever ingests even the merest portion of a horn from one of his rhinos.

ED HERN: If you eat the rhino horn for any reason you are going to fall ill. You are going to be vomiting, or you're going to have a stomach ache or whatever, but you are going to feel the consequences, you certainly would feel it, yes.

GINNY STEIN: And to make sure that there is no doubt, one of the six ingredients in the concoction he expects to soon start marketing includes an indelible dye, which ensures his rhino's horns stand out from the rest.

He says there is no danger to the animal if the process is done right.

ED HERN: There's blood vessels low down on the horn but not the upper portion, so as long as you don't do it to low down, if you inject it too low then obviously it will have an effect on the rhino.

GINNY STEIN: While private game reserve owners feel each death keenly, it's in the national parks where the largest numbers are killed.

Kruger National Park has lost 90 rhinos to poachers this year alone, but contaminating the horn is not feasible.

National Parks spokeswoman Wanda Mkutshulwa.

WANDA MKUTSHULWA: In the country we have over 20,000 rhinos. Will we be able to poison each and every one of those rhinos and what is the cycle of having to inject those animals with this poison?

GINNY STEIN: For wildlife professionals there is anger and frustration at an industry driven by superstition and greed.

Jacques Flamand is the director of the World Wide Fund for Nature's rhino breeding program in South Africa.

JACQUES FLAMAND: It is really useless medicinally and that is the sad thing is that animal products like rhino horn and most animal products are based on superstition and no valid medicinal value.

GINNY STEIN: For game park owners, they know changing people's beliefs is out of their hands. Their priority is trying to keep their animals safe.

Professional hunters who turned poachers: additional details to Zim Hunting Report

The report also notes the illegal operations of professional hunters Bagman Chauke PH Licenec No.6092B, Dellerman PH Licence No. 5874B, Thulani Dube PH Licence No. 6096B, Guy Venter PH licence no. 5919B, Phil Palmer, PH licence no. 5801B, one Ndlovu PH licence no. 6070B, one Chimiaza PH licence no. 6064B, and a B Jolliffe with PH licence no. 5920B. They were all employed by Nyati Safaris and were seen by poaching watchers on many occassions guiding illegal foreign hunters, most of whom were Americans, in the black rhino zones of the Gwayi Valley Conserrvancy and Woodlands Estate in the Matetsi Five concession area.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Zimbabwe poaching report Part Two

The OAAS was not the only South African outfit involved in plundering Zimbabwe's rhino heritage. As Daily News continued probing the depths of the poaching crisis that has plagued the Gwayi Valley Conservancy, Hwange National Park and the Matetsi Safari areas since 2000, it emerged that the chaos created by Zanu PF's farm invasions turned vast areas of previously safe animal sanctuaries into vast wastelands of plunder where the hunting season never ended. Among them were foreigners and locals ranging from top government and church ministers to the ordinary rogue national parks ranger.

The Gwayi Conservancy Hunting Report of 2003 details the poaching activities of South African brothers Piet and Hendrik Uys, listed as directors of Northern Weapons which also trades in Afrikaans as 'Noordlike Wapens' out of Louis Trichadt in the Northern Province. They are reported to have conducted extensive illegal hunts in the Gwayi Conservancy throughout 2003.

The Uys brothers are alleged to be the owners of three Toyota Landcruiser trucks with registration numbers NWZ 918 GP, FBD 185 N AND DPK 173 N: "These characters were very active through out the year within the Gwayi Valley Conservancy , mainly concentrating on Gwayi Ranch , Hankano Ranch , Lot 1 of Dete Valley Railway Farms 35 & 36 and Chimwara Ranch.They were hunting indiscrimantly, shooting young animals, females etc."

"In the course of the year, Gwayi Valley Conservancy members also questioned illegal hunters on their farms. The names of those South African hunters include Andre De Jaager who was caught poaching while driving a blue Landrover Vehicle registration number DMT 498 GP and one R M Saunders, believed to be of Jack Rand, Alberton in Johannesburg who claimed to have been brought into the country by Elephant Eye Safaris. The above were seen in the company of three American hunters and De Jaager shot and wounded a buffalo on Sotani Ranch. At that time De Jaager was staying at the Lodge on Chamankanu Ranch. He was also seen hunting on Lugo Ranch (owned by Vice-President John Nkomo) and Skukungwa farms. He had already been arrested twice for hunting illegally on Skukungwa Ranch," reads part of the report.

South African national Mark Sparrow of Fair Chase Safaris in Polokwane, old Zimbabwean vehicle registration number 587 150F, was also reported to have conducted extensive illegal hunts. "Sparrow has been hunting on Hankano Ranch and Lot 1 of Dete Valley. He has already made offers to property owners from Masuna. This desire to purchase land is not illegal, but is an indication of his presence in the area. He is involved with the Uys brothers of Northern Weapons, Louis Trichadt," the report says.

It also sheds light on the activities of Henry F. Neil, describing him as a 'controversial Cape Town clergyman' and 'a story worth following.' "Henry. F. Nel is a minister in the Rock of Africa Christian mission in Cape Town. He apparently would not allow any blacks into his church there, but is quite happy to form illicit hunting liaisons with black Zimbabweans. He is apparently assisting a school in the Gwaai area to justify his position there. He has been working out of Kalambeza Lodge which is situated on Umkombo Ranch within the Gwayi Valley Conservancy."

"Further, this character is known to the Gwayi Valley Conservancy for the destruction and decimation of the natural resources and wildlife on two certain pieces of land known as Carl Lisa and Bindonvale which he was leasing from a German national. He was the first person in the Gwayi Valley Conservancy to be ordered to stop all activities , including hunting operations ,chopping of trees and general destruction of fauna and flora on his land."

French national Jerome Sefridi, the director of Indaba Safaris of Number 10 Anthony Potts Road, Fortunes Gate in Bulawayo is also listed as having brought dozens of hunters from France to hunt illegally in the Gwayi Conservancy between 2002 and 2003. "Sefridi is a French national resident in Zimbabwe. He has been selling hunts to the French hunting community.He hunted extensively within the Gwayi Valley Conservancy, concentrating his illegal activities to Lot 1 , 2 , 3A of Dete Valley, Goodluck Ranch, Sikumi Estates, Chimwara Ranch, Gwayi Ranch and Hankano Ranches. He drives and hunts in a green Mitsubishi jeep registration number 797-699 F."

Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu is also reported to have played a key role in aiding and abetting the poaching crisis that still dogs the Gwayi Valley Conservancy area. The report says his acquisition of Lots 40 and 41 of the Hwange Estate, which includes an Intensive Conservation Area specially reserved for the safe breeding of the prestigious Presidential Herd of elephants around September 2003 opened it up to poaching syndicates.

It describes the plunder as follows: "Lot 41 and Stand Land (Lot 40) have been taken over by Obert Mpofu (then Governor for Matabeleland North). He has managed to acquire hunting permits from National Parks, authorizing him to conduct hunting safaris in these areas which are photographic areas only. Although the National Parks have put a ban on hunting in this area, hunting vehicles are still operating here."

A safari company linked to Thandiwe Nkomo, the daughter of the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo is reported to have carried out illegal hunts on Railway Farm 31 ,Railway Farm 37 and Lot 1 of Dete Valley Farm from October 2003 and was still operating in the same areas by the end of the first quarter of 2004. Lalapanzi Safaris, which is owned by one Brigadier Ben Matiwaza and his relative Zeph Matiwaza (who owned Zambezi Milling Company at the time) also employed professional hunters Jed Moyo and Gary Hopkins to conduct illegal hunts in the Gwayi Valley Conservacy.

"This company was operating illegally within the Gwayi Valley Conservancy, concentrating its operations on Antionette Ranch , Railway Farm 35 and 31 ,Goodluck Ranch and Chimwara Ranch."

Investigations also linked hunter Hopkins to the illegal activities of Dingwall Safaris, a company owned by American national Don Bouwer. Investigations by Daily News have also revealed that Moyo is the husband of Sunny Moyo, the ex-warden at Hwange National Park's Main Camp who was in 2003 linked to a scam in which vast acres of indigenous forests were illegally cut and carted out of the southern side of Hwange National Park although logging is not allowed anywhere inside the park.

Investigations also revealed that Ivory Safaris, also trading as Ivory Lodge, which is situated in the Sikumi Forest zone of the Hwange National Park employed a Zimbabwean professional hunter guide to help its foreign clients in conducting illegal hunts in and around the Sikumi Forest area. The owners are British nationals.

"In 2003, this company employed Bagman Chauke, P.H.Licence No: 6092 B as a professional guide or camp manager who was supposed to take photographic clients on safari drives from the lodge. He allowed foreign hunters to stay and hunt illegally out of this lodge under his guidance."

In mid-2003, poaching investigators in the Gwayi Valley area witnessed an increase in the number of safari companies using forged hunting permits and inflating the number of animals allocated in legal quotas. One such company was Dream Merchant Safaris, which the 2003 hunting report describes as follows:

"This company was using Zengela's Safaris(Chamankanu Farm) operator’s license (number 0008) without the farm owner’s permission. On their pre-hunts, they have put the name Ugere/bo (Pvt) Ltd. National Parks signed a blank pre-hunt form for their activities and on another quota application the company Dream Merchant Safaris, Box 56 Dete, was used, but gave no client information and it does not state what farm the hunt was to take place on. They also has a pre-hunt form for a hippo."

Daily News failed to establish the identity of one Evans Mukanza, who was overhead by poaching investigators telling foreign hunters that he can supply live buffaloes and elephants from Sinamatela Camp, which is deep inside he Hwange National Park.

Poaching detectives also observed the illegal hunting activities of former and serving national parks staffers Mark Rusell, who was by then the senior ranger at Sinamatela Camp, former parks employees Headman Sibanda, Bagman Chauke and ex-parks pilot Albert Paradzai. The surveillance log also observes that Rusell was on several occassions seen driving a National Parks vehicle loaded with fuel drums from his base in Sinamatela into Goodluck Farm where poaching was at its height. It also observes that he spent most of August 2003 entertaining South African hunters and helping them conduct illegal hunts.

The report also linked the upsurge in poaching through the use of snares in the Gwayi Valley to the Zanu PF-aligned National Youth militias who were running an intensive training programme at Kamativi Mine near Hwange.

"On August 3, 2003, 18 impala carcasses were seen on Sikumi Estate. Apparently, half were for sale and half were for the youth militia camp in Kamativi. Around the same time, 17 buffalo and 2 sable were found in a snare line. Two eland cows and a kudu were snared two days after the departure of the evicted farm owner at Sotani Ranch. Due to the lack of water in the area, it has become common practice to put snare lines around the few remaining water holes. 600 snares were removed from one water hole in one day."

Exclusive:The toxic e-waste trail from London to West Africa

Exclusive The toxic e-waste trail from London to West Africa

Andrew Wasley

14th May, 2011
The Environmental Investigation Agency and BBC Panorama use GPS to prove British electronic waste is being exported to poor African nations where it threatens the environment and human health

One of the UK's leading waste and recycling companies has been linked to the growing underground trade in e-waste after campaigners uncovered evidence that broken television sets deposited at the firms facilities were exported to Africa in contravention of regulations designed to stem the flow of electronic waste to developing countries, the Ecologist can reveal.

Merseyside-based Environment Waste Controls (EWC), whose clients are reported to include ASDA, Tesco, Barclays, the NHS and Network Rail, has admitted that electronic equipment from its amenity sites in South London ended up in West Africa and says it has taken steps to prevent this happening in the future.

Campaigners from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) pinpoint the company in a report outlining Britain's role in the global e-waste trade, due to be published next week. The report details the findings of an 18 month investigation into how UK e-waste, much of it toxic, is ending up abroad where it is frequently processed in primitive conditions, posing a threat to the environment and human health.

A BBC Panorama programme to be broadcast on Monday night also investigates the trade and uncovers further evidence of UK electronics waste making its way to West Africa.

As part of the probe, EIA staff visited civic amenity sites in Merton and Croydon where e-waste collection is run by EWC and were told that some of the electrical waste arriving at the facilities was routinely collected by a separate company who exported it to Nigeria and Ghana.

Investigators were told at the Merton amenity site that at least seven tonnes of TVs were being sold to the third party company each week, at a cost of between £1.50 and £2.00 per set.

Under the Waste Electrical and Electronic (WEEE) Resources Regulations 2006, as long as the e-waste arriving at the sites was tested and found to be properly working its export would be permissible.

However, the EIA hid tracking devices inside television sets which had been disabled beyond repair and left them at the Merton and Croydon sites. Several weeks later, according to the group, GPS signals indicated that one TV had been shipped to Nigeria, ending up near a well known e-waste recycling centre, and one was found to have arrived in Ghana.

The EIA says this evidence demonstrates that proper checks were not always being carried out and that the broken TV sets should, under WEEE regulations, have been be sent for recycling in the UK or another developed country, not shipped to West Africa. The campaigners believe this is not an isolated example and say that intelligence suggests that British e-waste is regularly diverted from local authority sites into the black market.

'When disposing of used electrical goods at civic amenity sites, the public has a right to expect that the equipment will be disposed of in accordance with the law,' the group states.

In a statement to the Ecologist, EWC said that it welcomed the EIA report and acknowledged that e-waste from its facilities had ended up in Africa in contravention of WEEE regulations: 'This is unacceptable and EWC has put in place measures to prevent a reoccurrence of this practice and to undertake a full investigation in cooperation with the regulator and relevant authorities. We have instructed all our sub contractors that no electronic equipment deposited at designated collection facilities operated by EWC should leave the UK until further notice.'

EWC, which runs 49 local authority waste sites as well as handling waste and recycling on behalf of the public and private sector, also told the Ecologist that it has not worked with the third party company involved in exporting the faulty TVs to Africa since October 2010.

E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the UK, with more than one-million tonnes being generated annually according to some estimates. The UN has stated that global production of e-waste now totals at 50 million tonnes, of which only ten per cent is recycled.

E-waste can be hazardous to the environment and people - computer processors contain a mixture of chemicals and cathode ray tubes fitted in many older style TVs can contain lead. These substances are released when e-waste is stripped down in destination countries, often on vast unofficial waste dumps where workers lack protective clothing and health and safety regulations are poor or non-existant.

In recent years the UK authorities have stepped up efforts to combat the illegal trade in e-waste following growing concern about the scale of the activity.

The Environment Agency has a National Intelligence Team and an Environmental Crime Unit working to tackle the issue and has recently brought prosecutions against a number of individuals involved in e-waste trafficking. There are concerns however that funding for the Agency's e-waste work will be slashed as part of current cost-cutting measures.

Earlier this year the Environment Agency's head Paul Leinster said the body had found evidence of e-waste from government departments forming part of illegal exports.

As the Ecologist revealed in December 2010, the e-waste trade has attracted the interest of highly organised criminal gangs who see it as a lucrative and relatively risk-free activity. The EIA says its investigations have established how a complex network of brokers and middlemen are increasingly facilitating the movement of e-waste, making detection even harder for legitimate companies and the authorities.

'E-waste isn't a new problem and it isn't going away. It's time for the government and enforcement agencies to give this issue the resources and attention it warrants,' EIA's Fin Walravens said.

Source: The Ecologist (UK)