Wednesday, January 30, 2013

KenyaFour Chinese men in Kenyan court over smuggling 9.6kg ivory

Four Chinese men appeared in a Kenyan court on Monday charged with smuggling ivory, a judicial official said. The men were arrested on Sunday carrying ivory products, including 40 chopsticks, six necklaces, bracelets and a pen holder, as well as two pieces of raw ivory weighing 9.6kg. Their court hearing was adjourned until Tuesday as they did not have an interpreter, the court official said. The four were arrested in Nairobi airport as they transited from Lubumbashi in Democratic Republic of Congo en route to China’s Guangzhou airport. In a separate incident, three Chinese nationals and a Kenyan were charged on Monday with smuggling a dead cobra from a Kenyan national park. They pleaded not guilty and were released on US$120 bail. Earlier this month, officials in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa seized more than two tonnes of ivory, which had reportedly come from Tanzania and was destined for Indonesia. The international trade in elephant ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after elephant populations in Africa dropped from millions in the mid-20th century to some 600,000 by the end of the 1980s. Ivory trade is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. East African nations have recently recorded an increase in poaching incidents. The illegal ivory trade is mostly fuelled by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns are used to make ornaments and in traditional medicines. Africa is home to an estimated 472,000 elephants, whose survival is threatened by poaching and the illegal trade in game trophies, as well as a rising human population that is causing habitat loss. Source: South China Morning Post

Ivory haul from Africa seized in Singapore

Customs officials in Singapore have uncovered a shipment of 1.8 tonnes of ivory, with a value of around $2.5m (£1.6m). It is the biggest ivory haul in the country in more than a decade. The consignment, marked as being waste paper, had come from Africa and was reportedly passing through Singapore. Elephant poaching has been on the rise because of demand from Asia, where ivory is used for ornaments and in traditional medicine. An estimated 25,000 elephants were killed in Africa in 2011. Gerald Neo, executive manager of the Quarantine & Inspection Department of Singapore's Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA), said in a statement that the haul was found after a tip-off. A total of 1,099 pieces of raw tusk were found in 65 sacks, he said. The statement did not say where the shipment had been heading after Singapore, but said that customs officials were investigating the case with local and international agencies. The trading of ivory is illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to which Singapore is a signatory. In 2002, six tonnes of ivory were seized in Singapore, made up of 532 tusks and tens of thousands of smaller pieces. It was traced to Kenya where it was eventually returned. Source: BBC News

African Environmental Police: Poachers nabbed with $240 000 worth of rhino, elep...

African Environmental Police: Poachers nabbed with $240 000 worth of rhino, elep...: THREE suspected game poachers, who were recently nabbed in the Hwange National Park after they were found in possession of over $240 000...

Poachers nabbed with $240 000 worth of rhino, elephant horns

THREE suspected game poachers, who were recently nabbed in the Hwange National Park after they were found in possession of over $240 000 worth of rhino horns and elephant tusks, have been remanded in custody to February 11 this year. The three, Denford and Casper Ndebele and Boniface Ndlovu, denied the charges of unlawful possession of rhino horns and ivory when they appeared before Hwange magistrate Lindiwe Maphosa yesterday. Instead, the suspects said they had been hired by two parks rangers to transport the horns and tusks to a sub camp located in the vast national park.Their lawyer Thulani Nkala indicated that he would make a bail application today. Khumbulani Ndlovu for the State told the court that on January 23 at around 9pm, the three were intercepted in the Sinamatela area while driving a Toyota Noah car and allegedly failed to explain the purpose of their visit to the park. The rangers then searched the vehicle and allegedly recovered two rhino horns and two elephant tusks, leading to the suspects’ arrest. Source: Newsday

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rangers kill poacher, recover one AK47 and one 303 rifle

KARIBA — An unidentified suspected poacher was shot dead by Parks and Wildlife rangers, while three others escaped during a raid in the Nyaodza area of Kariba last week. Mashonaland West police spokesperson Inspector Clemence Mabgweazara confirmed the incident. He said two rangers who had been deployed to carry out patrols in the area caught up with the suspects and fatally shot one of them on January 15. “During the course of their duties, the two game rangers encountered the suspected poachers and fired two shots using an SKS rifle from a distance of about 50 metres, killing one of them, while three other gang members fled,” said Mabgwezara. Police in Kariba attended the scene and recovered two live rounds, one from a .303 rifle and another from an AK47 rifle believed to have been in the possession of the suspects.
Source: Newsday (Zimbabwe)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ZNSPCA secures release, relocation of five captive baby elephants destined for China

ZNSPCA: January 20, 2013 at 7:23 am Following extensive negotiations between the Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ZNSPCA and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, we are pleased to announce the release of five elephant calves that were held in bomas within the Hwange National Park. Animal welfare inspectors and a veterinarian from the ZNSPCA inspected the holding facilities located at Umtshibi within the Hwange National Park and were satisfied that the elephant calves had been held under satisfactory conditions. The released elephant calves were loaded under the supervision of veterinarians, animal welfare inspectors, animal transportation specialists and ZPWMA game specialists. Travelling through Friday night they reached their new home in Umfurudzi National Park early on Saturday morning. The elephant calves will undergo rehabilitation and integration with other elephants within the secured national park. The ZNSPCA remains opposed to the capture of any wild animals for the purpose of being transferred to zoos and similar habitats,irrespective of location. We commend the ZPWMA for agreeing to this release and we expect that such actions will not be repeated. This incident has lead us to question the credibility of CITES’ assessment criteria in granting permits which condone such transactions. Such criteria would appear not to prioritise animal welfare. Furthermore, we challenge Chinese establishments that have previously acquired such animals to improve conditions across the board and to ensure that all animals under their care are treated humanely and in a dignified manner. The over-population of elephant within the Hwange National Park makes these animals vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous operators. A special forum is urgently required to address this matter. We would like to acknowledge the valuable contribution made by The Tikki Hywood Trust during these negotiations. The Zimbabwe National Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is funded entirely through donations. Zimbabwe’s largest animal welfare organisation continues to face severe financial constraints. ZNSPCA takes this opportunity to appeal to organisations and the general public alike to give generously in order that its work may continue.
Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ZNSPCA)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

African Environmental Police: Zambia concerned by poachers violating airspace

African Environmental Police: Zambia concerned by poachers violating airspace: Written by Oscar Nkala/defenceWeb Thursday, 17 January 2013 13:44 Zambian security and defence chiefs have voiced concern over foreign poa...

Zambia concerned by poachers violating airspace

Written by Oscar Nkala/defenceWeb Thursday, 17 January 2013 13:44 Zambian security and defence chiefs have voiced concern over foreign poaching syndicates flying undetected in Zambian airspace. Addressing journalists late last week in Lusaka shortly before announcing a ban on the hunting of lions and other big cats, Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo said her ministry has information that some of the gangs responsible for the upsurge of poaching in the country's game parks have diversified to smuggling live wild animals out of the country from disused and clandestine airstrips. One suspected clandestine airstrip is reported by Zambian animal rights watchdogs to be under construction near Mfuwe Lodge in the South Luangwa National Park. Zambia is following Kenya’s successful example of banning sport and trophy hunting, as it believes tourism will more than make up for the $3 million a year the country generates through hunting. "Why should we lose our animals for $3-million a year? The benefits we get from tourist visits are much higher," Masebo said.Meanwhile, Botswana has decided to ban all sport hunting from 2014, with the aim of promoting itself as a game viewing destination. However, there are growing concerns about Africa's big animals in the face of a surge in poaching of elephants for their ivory and rhino in South Africa for their horns to meet soaring demand from Asian countries. Submitting evidence before the Sebastian Zulu Commission of Inquiry into the cancellation of a contract for the Zambia Air Traffic Management Surveillance Radar System in 2011, the Department of Civil Aviation said Zambian airspace was safe, even without a radar network. At the time, Department of Civil Aviation director Kenneth Silavwe said that in the absence of a radar system, air traffic controllers were relying on voice communications to guide aircraft. In a statement released after holding an emergency national security review meeting with the chiefs of the Department of Civil Aviation, the Zambian Army, the Air Force, the Zambian Police Service, the national state security service and the Zambian Prison Service shortly after Masebo's statement, defence minister Geoffrey Mwamba downplayed the possibility of foreign aircraft entering and leaving Zambian airspace without detection. However, Mwamba’s statement contrasts a similar revelation by President Sata who said in November that in its current state, the Zambian Air Force is incapable of defending national airspace. Sata said the country is lucky not to be at war because the Air Force needs more aircraft and more trained aviation staff in order to develop the capacity to defend and secure national airspace. He said the air force also needs to upgrade its airbases and airstrips following a report from the commander of the Air Force who said most of them are in a state of decay while some have been encroached upon by civilian activities which include illegal use for farming purposes. He also complained of inadequate and sub-standard troop accommodation in the barracks saying such conditions de-moralise and de-motivate the officers of the Air Force. However, in December last year Mwamba said the Government is ready to equip Zambia Air Force to ensure that it is capable of defending Zambia’s air space. He said the government would ensure that transport aircraft and air defence equipment is provided to the Zambian Air Force. Established in 1968, the Zambian Air Force is crippled by a lack of spares while its pilots lack flying hours due to the shortage of aircraft. Defence analysts say the ZAF has very little or no combat capability and would be hard pressed to defend the country if it came under attack. The ZAF's capabilities have received minor boosts over the last few years as a result of increasing military co-operation between Zambia and China. The two countries signed a military co-operation protocol in 1998. In 1999 Zambia received eight K-8 Karakorum jet trainers in kit form from the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Co-operation and took delivery of another eight in March 2012. In 2006, the ZAF received seven transport planes - five Y12 and two MA60 aircraft - from China and last year received four Harbin Z-9 helicopters, with another four expected to follow. Source:

African Environmental Police: WWF pressures Thailand to ban ivory trade as Afric...

African Environmental Police: WWF pressures Thailand to ban ivory trade as Afric...: BANGKOK, January 15, 2013 – Massive quantities of African ivory are being laundered through shops in Thailand and fuelling the elephant poac...

WWF pressures Thailand to ban ivory trade as African rhino, elephant populations dwindle

BANGKOK, January 15, 2013 – Massive quantities of African ivory are being laundered through shops in Thailand and fuelling the elephant poaching crisis, conservation group WWF says. The organization today is launching a global petition asking Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to ban all ivory trade in Thailand in order to curb the illegal killing of African elephants.
Although it is against the law to sell ivory from African elephants in Thailand, ivory from domestic Thai elephants can be sold legally. Criminal networks are exploiting this legal loophole and flooding Thai shops with blood ivory from Africa. “Existing laws are not effective at keeping illegal African ivory out of the Thai market. The only way to prevent Thailand from contributing to elephant poaching is to ban all ivory sales,” said Janpai Ongsiriwittaya, campaign leader in WWF-Thailand. “Today the biggest victims are African elephants, but Thailand’s elephants could be next. Ms Shinawatra can help put an end to the killing, and I believe Thai citizens will support greater protection for these iconic animals.” Poaching is at record levels in Africa with tens of thousands of elephants being slaughtered each year for their ivory tusks. Trade data released last month shows that international ivory trafficking has reached its highest ever recorded rate. Thailand is the biggest unregulated ivory market in the world and a top driver of poaching and illegal trade. “Thailand’s legal allowance of trade in ivory tusks from domesticated Asian elephants is exploited to market African elephant ivory as worked products through hundreds of retail outlets,” according to the 2012 report of the Elephant Trade Information System. “Many foreign tourists would be horrified to learn that ivory trinkets on display next to silks in Thai shops may come from elephants massacred in Africa. It is illegal to bring ivory back home and it should no longer be on sale in Thailand,” said Elisabeth McLellan, manager of WWF’s Global Species Programme. In March, representatives from 176 governments will meet in Bangkok to discuss global wildlife trade issues, including rampant elephant poaching in Africa. WWF is calling on Ms Shinawatra to use the opportunity to announce her country’s commitment to banning ivory trade in Thailand. Source: WWF Media Release

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Kenya revenue authority seizes 2 tonnes of ivory destined for Indonesia

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officials have seized a consignment of ivory estimated to be worth 100 million shillings at the port of Mombasa. The twenty feet container weighing 2 tonnes was disguised as decorative stones and was destined for Indonesia when it was intercepted. Mr Gitau Gitua, Head of KRA operations at the port of Mombasa said the same clearing company has been linked with ivory trade in the country . Source: The Star, Kenya

Monday, January 14, 2013

African Environmental Police: Zimbabwe police, arrest 5 poachers, recover 33 ele...

African Environmental Police: Zimbabwe police, arrest 5 poachers, recover 33 ele...: Police in Harare have arrested three suspected poachers and recovered 18 elephant tusks worth US$9 000. Border Control and Minerals Unit ...

Zimbabwe police, arrest 5 poachers, recover 33 elephant tusks, one rhino horn in 1 week

Police in Harare have arrested three suspected poachers and recovered 18 elephant tusks worth US$9 000. Border Control and Minerals Unit spokesperson Detective Inspector Douglas Shoko yesterday said the three were arrested over the weekend. He said Simon Simon (44), Joseph Madziwa (47) and Godfrey Mashafunga (29) were in police custody assisting with the investigations. Mashafunga and Simon are cousins while Madziwa is a family friend. “On January 12, 2003, detectives from the Border Control and Minerals Unit, Harare, received some information from a source that some people were in possession of ivory in the city,” Det Insp Shoko said. “Detectives then reacted to the information and came across a white Isuzu KB250 (reg number AAH 1225) parked along Third Street opposite Eastgate Mall.” He said they searched the vehicle. “They found three male occupants in the vehicle and when they were searching, the detectives found a nylon sack containing 18 elephant tusks stashed behind the seat,” he said. “The three accused confessed that the tusks belonged to them and they had obtained them from Chikata area in Guruve,” he said. Det Insp Shoko said the tusks weighed 30kg. He said any person wishing to deal with precious resources should be licenced. “I urge Zimbabweans to keep working on with the police, supplying such information without delay. Police will not sit idly while criminals steal our precious resources.” The arrest comes hard on the heels of two Harare men who were arrested last Wednesday after being found in possession of a rhino horn, 17 elephant tusks and five pieces of ivory worth more than US$160 000. The pair, Washington Kangarade (39) and businessman Tendai Mugomeza (38), appeared in court last week and were remanded in custody to today. They were charged with unlawful possession of unregistered or unmarked ivory. Kangarade is facing an additional charge of unlawful possession of a trophy of a specially protected animal. Source: The Herals

Friday, January 11, 2013

African Environmental Police: Zambia bans lion, trophy hunting

African Environmental Police: Zambia bans lion, trophy hunting: Zambia has banned the hunting of lions and other endangered big cats as more money can be made from tourism than hunting. Zambia's minist...

Zambia bans lion, trophy hunting

Zambia has banned the hunting of lions and other endangered big cats as more money can be made from tourism than hunting. Zambia's minister for tourism Sylvia Masebo told Reuters that the estimated £1.8 million that the country had earned annually from allowing its wildlife to be hunted did not merit the continued destruction of its wild animals, with big cat numbers decreasing too quickly. "Tourists come to Zambia to see the lion and if we lose the lion we will be killing our tourism industry," said Masebo. "Why should we lose our animals for $3 million (£1.8 million) a year? The benefits we get from tourist visits are much higher." Zambia's lion population is thought to be no more than 4,500. A recent study indicated that there are fewer than 35,000 free-ranging lions left in Africa, with the western population of 500 at severe risk. The loss of the big cat's natural habitats and hunting grounds, along with conflicts with livestock farmers, have resulted in lion populations plummeting by two thirds in fifty years. Zambia's ban echoes that of neighbouring Botswana, which has banned all sport hunting from 2014 following concern over the growing value of illegal wildlife trade. A WWF report published in December estimated that the trade of wildlife goods was worth £12 billion a year, with eastern medicine markets fuelling interest in rhino horns and ivory. In November 2012, the South African army was sent to the country's borders with Swaziland and Mozambique to prevent rhinoceros poachers from moving between the countries. If the numbers of big cats allowed, and profits incurred by big game hunting outweighed any possible tourism revenue, one has to wonder if the Zambian ban would ever have come to pass, since Masebo told AFP: "We do not have enough cats for hunting purposes, especially if we have to save our national resources."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Poaching blights Namibia as Chinese scramble for rhino-elephant ivory, lion bones and rare Carmine birds

Conservationists fear the worst for Namibia’s biodiversity as a new secretive multi-million dollar poaching phenomenon has reared its ugly head, opening up markets for ivory, lion bones and rare bird feathers, reportedly smuggled to East Asia. Poaching in the northeast is apparently inflamed by the alleged advent of Chinese construction workers and businessmen in the region. Conservationist are astounded how Namibia, and to a certain extent its neighbours Angola, Zambia and Botswana are losing wildlife species already on the brink of extinction. In September alone, a total of 20 elephant carcasses, from which ivory was illegally removed, were stumbled upon in several parks in the Caprivi. Conservationists have also reported lions poached for their bones and skins, found during patrols. The lion body parts and bones are reportedly used for religious and medicinal purposes in Asia. In the Nkasa, Luipala and Salambala conservancies lions are reportedly killed, skinned and deboned. Conservation sources also claim the escalation of poaching of elephants, hippos and the Carmine bee-eating birds, the latter trapped for their feathers for ceremonial purposes in China.
A 3 500-strong colony of Carmines, known for breeding on riverbanks in Caprivi, is said to have been wiped out in a single night. Parks and Wildlife Management Deputy Director Colgar Sikopo said so far they are only aware of elephant poaching and that no poaching of lions and other species was reported. He said the ministry is not aware of the involvement of Chinese nationals, but the investigation into poaching still continues. Local sources are pointing fingers at Chinese nationals who are reportedly buying anything that they deem of value. In the Kavango region, destitute subsistence farmers are allegedly encouraged to catch snakes for Chinese construction workers at Divundu. The situation is said to be precarious for the lives of game wardens, tour operators and lodge owners whose livelihood depend on the unspoilt and abundant wildlife. The Namibia Defence Force (NDF) has recently sent a small contingent to Babwata to assist in the investigation of poaching in the region. However, their efforts is said to be up against a culture of fear, especially in the Caprivi, where secrecy is fostered among the inhabitants around the wholesale slaughter of elephants. The NDF did not comment by the time of going to print. Conservationists are said to have little faith in the success of the NDF assistance, claiming that the soldiers themselves are frustrated by the lack of co-operation, control and absence of anti-poaching measures in Zambia and Angola. Poaching in Africa, more so in South Africa and Cameroon, has escalated since last year and about 1 500 elephants and rhinos have been killed for ivory and horns respectively. Source:

African Environmental Police: 1 500 pieces of African elephant tusks seized in P...

African Environmental Police: 1 500 pieces of African elephant tusks seized in P...: December 2012 - Royal Malaysian Customs have made their largest ever seizure of ivory in transit through the country, finding 1,500 pieces o...

1 500 pieces of African elephant tusks seized in Port Selangor, Malaysia

December 2012 - Royal Malaysian Customs have made their largest ever seizure of ivory in transit through the country, finding 1,500 pieces of tusks hidden in wooden crates purpose-built to look like stacks of sawn timber. The ivory, stashed in ten crates which were divided between two containers, were shipped from the port of Lomé in Togo and were headed to China, the Selangor State Customs Director Dato' Azis Yacub said. The shipment also transited through Algeciras in Spain before it headed for West Port in Port Kelang, one of Peninsular Malaysia's busiest container terminals. The two containers, declared to be carrying "wooden floor tiles acajou", were held on December 7th and inspected a few days later. After removing the top layer of the crates, officers found the ivory in a secret compartment measuring about one metre deep. A Malaysian company based at the port is being investigated and if convicted, the company could face up to RM500,000 in fines and individuals a maximum of five years in jail, or both. The compartments were disguised to look like stacks of wood. Togo is known to be a major source of ivory exiting Africa. Although it has never reported a seizure to ETIS (the Elephant Trade Information System, managed by TRAFFIC on behalf of Parties to CITES), the country is regularly implicated in reported seizures. This is the fourth seizure of African elephant ivory at Port Kelang and the sixth in the country since July 2011. In September 2011, 695 elephant tusks weighing close to two tonnes were seized in Port Kelang and in January this year, another seizure in December 2011 yielded 1.4 tonnes of ivory, and in January this year, a consignment weighing 492 kilogrammes was also seized there, seizures have also were been made in other ports of Penang and Johor. Tentatively, the Customs Department has estimated the weight of yesterday's seizure at a staggering 20 tonnes. Concern over Malaysia's role as a transit point for illegal ivory shipments was highlighted at a meeting of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) this July: the country was asked to report on what action it has taken to address the issue. Azis called on the public to continue providing the department with information that would help them stop more shipments like these. He assured that informants identities would be kept confidential and a financial reward would be paid if the information led to a successful case. "TRAFFIC commends the Customs Department on its vigilance and hopes to see it pursue all leads towards finding the criminals that are using Malaysia as a transit point for ivory," said Dr William Schaedla, TRAFFIC's Director in South-East Asia. "We also urge authorities to ensure proper systems are in place to catalogue and stockpile the seized ivory," Schaedla. TRAFFIC also encourages all the countries implicated in the seizure to investigate the case thoroughly, so that those behind the shipment can be traced and brought to justice. Source: Wildlife Extra

Kenya: 12 elephants wiped out by poachers in 1 day

January 2013. An entire family of twelve elephants, including a two month old calf, have been slaughtered by poachers. All the carcasses were riddled with bullet wounds and all the tusks had been removed. Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers are Monday on tracking the poaching gang that is believed to carted off ivory from eleven of the elephants. The poaching incident occurred at Bisadi area of Tsavo East National Park. The gang is being pursued by a strong team of foot, canine and aerial units.
Tsavo National Park At 22,000km2 Tsavo is the Kenya's largest single contiguous ecosystem and home to an estimated 13,000 elephant according to a 2011 census. However the size of the park and the difficulty of access in some areas means that it is a favourite for poaching gangs. Source: Wildlife Extra