Monday, July 9, 2012

Zim loses 71 elephants, 11 rhinos as Asian-driven poaching crisis worsens

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority’s Public Relations Manager, Caroline Washaya Moyo has revealed that an estimated 151 wild animals, worth $5,294,000, were killed by poachers between January and April. This includes one white rhino, 10 black rhinos, and 71 elephants. Moyo’s battles are huge: a shortage of resources to protect wildlife, a president who encourages the killing of elephants to feed starving voters when elections are close, and organised crime, based in the East, that has access to helicopters, professional hunters with powerful night-vision rifles, and what appears to be almost diplomatic immunity from prosecution. It is believed there are 90% fewer animals in Zimbabwe now than there were before independence.It seems there are two driving factors: In Vietnam there is the rumour that rhino horn cures cancer. The other is the massive demand for animal parts from China. The story of Audrey and Seymour Well, once upon a time ‘Audrey II’ (Asia) sat quietly in her corner vaguely dissatisfied with communism, until ‘Seymour’ (the West) spotted her potential for making his dreams come true, and identified her as the consumer market of the future. Seymour showed Audrey II all the things she’d never had, didn’t need and couldn’t afford – the lifeblood of the West: brands, cars, holidays, machines to do the work of people, democracy, materialism! He made her want them with a passion. ‘FEED ME, SEYMOUR!’ she screamed. She had to find a way to get them…cue Fu Man Chu frowning in concentration with one long-nailed finger pointed to his evil cheek. Seymour’s blood turned Audrey II into a consumer monster. She needed more resources: rhinos, minerals, trees, corporations, countries! We all know the end of this story. Poor Seymour signed his own death warrant, and coincidentally, the death warrant of the animals. Audrey II grew simply enormous, gobbled up Seymour, and spilt out all over the stage, looking for MORE! MORE! MORE! None of this helps the poor rhinos though. They’re just collateral damage in the battle for world domination. After the economic crisis of 2008, Robert Mugabe turned to his old friend Audrey II, who turned out to be a friend with benefits (and an ulterior motive). The benefits were mining rights and an invisibility cloak where the law surrounding endangered species is concerned. Chinese mineworkers earn $50 per month in Zimbabwe, but opportunities for enriching (and feeding) themselves are walking around the bush. Imagine a rhino with a horn of gold, just strolling around unprotected. Each horn is worth over $65,000 – it can buy a Rolex, a car, an Armani suit, a Gucci bag and a lot of status. Traditional Chinese medicine is not the main culprit; greed and the longing of the have-nots to have more is. Many Chinese traditional healers don’t use rhino horn any more; its use was banned in China in 1993, and the substance is easily substituted. Wealthy Easterners give rhino horn as a prestige gift to each other because they have so much money, they literally don’t know what to do with it. Organised crime sells it on the black market, and some countries use it in decorative dagger handles. If you’re still mystified as to why the quantities of rhino horn are so big, look at the population of China. Audrey II is scary big. Source: The South African

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