Saturday, July 13, 2013

South Africa tiger and lion hunts, live exports exposed

According to the CITES database, from 2007 - 2011 South Africa exported (or re-exported) 19 tigers ‘trophies', 7 tiger skins, 2 tiger bodies and 151 live tigers! Quite why and how tiger trophies are exported from South Africa is anyone's guess, though there have long been rumours that hunting outfits in South Africa have been offering tiger hunts. One of the licences for a tiger trophy was actually declared as a ‘hunt trophy' with the specimen being ‘taken from the wild'. This trophy was exported to Pakistan. Additionally, two more of the trophies were ‘taken from the wild', though not declared as hunting trophies (what other sort is there?) and the rest of the ‘trophies' having been bred in captivity and privately owned. Aside from the trophy to Pakistan, of the rest, 3 went to Lebanon, 1 to Austria, 2 to Norway, 6 to the UAE, 1 to Qatar, 1 to Poland and 2 more to Pakistan. That sounds about right. If this is true, there can be no such thing as a wild tiger hunt in South Africa, so the hunt must have been a canned hunt. IE, a tame or semi-tame tiger in a restricted, fenced in area. 151 live tigers were exported, which is an extraordinary number. A few may have been en-route to other countries (15 were exported to Botswana - Why the sudden need to tigers in Botswana? As far as I can tell there are no zoos in Botswana. Reeks of hunting to me.), but it is still a very worrying trend. 76 tigers went to the UAE, perhaps en route elsewhere, perhaps not, but either way, it is worrying. 20 tiger were exported to Vietnam, and 14 to Myanmar, which is sinister. Both countries have native tiger populations, and both are known hubs for trading in illegal tiger products, so there is little chance that those tigers are still alive. Lions Over the same period, South Africa has exported hundreds of lions, thought mostly in kit form (Trophies, skeletons, skins and bones), with hundreds going to the USA, and large quantities also going to Russia, Vietnam, Norway, Mexico, Laos(a lot of bones), Spain and China. Source: Wildlife Extra (UK)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Chadian police arrest poaching kingpin wanted for slaughter of 89 elephants in one night

Chadian authorities captured a man they accused of leading a group of poachers that killed 89 elephants in a single night in March, Environment Minister Mahamat Issa Halikimi said. Hassan Idriss, also known as Gargaf, is suspected of slaughtering 192 of the animals since August, Halikimi told reporters in the capital, N’Djamena. Idriss, who was presented to journalists along with 124 tusks that were seized when he was captured on June 13, led a gang of more than 50 poachers who hunted the pachyderms on horseback, he said. “It is unacceptable that lawless men roam our forests and carry out massacres of large animals when efforts to protect the environment in our country are well recognized internationally,” Halikimi said. The killing of the 89 elephants on the night of March 14 and 15 was the worst poaching incident in the region since February 2012, when 300 of the animals were killed in Cameroon. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that the illegal trade in wildlife is worth $19 billion a year, the fourth-largest illict market after narcotics, counterfeit products and human trafficking, according to its website. Idriss has been operating in the central Cameroon-Chad border region since 2011, Halikimi said. In addition to the attack in March, Idriss is also accused of poaching 63 elephants in August 2012, and a further 40 in October in which five Cameroonian forest rangers were killed, he said. Chad plans to establish a monitoring centre to step up the fight against poachers, Halikimi said. Source: AP

Kenya customs service seizes more than 3 tonnes of ivory destined for Malaysia

MOMBASA, Kenya — Officials at Kenya’s Mombasa port impounded more than three tons of illegal ivory disguised as peanuts for export to Malaysia, the second such seizure there in less than a week. The ivory was seized on Monday and had been declared as 240 bags of peanuts, Paul Mbugua, a spokesman for the Kenya Wildlife Service, said in a statement Tuesday. Kenyan revenue officials said the ivory was worth more than $700,000, the biggest seizure so far this year. Last week officials at Mombasa’s port seized a substantial consignment of illegal ivory disguised as sundried fish marked for export to Malaysia. Two more suspicious containers — one from Uganda and the other from Congo — were due for verification, officials said Tuesday.The big seizures highlight East Africa’s growing problem of poaching and the illegal trade in ivory, as demand for it increases in Asia. According to CITES, the international body that monitors endangered species, the illegal ivory trade has more than doubled since 2007. Kenya’s elephant population fell from 160,000 in 1960s to 16,000 in 1989 due to poaching. Today Kenya is home to only 38,500 elephants. Most of the ivory impounded on Monday likely came from Botswana, South Africa, Congo, Cameroon, and Mozambique, according to Arthur Tuda, a Kenya wildlife official responsible for the coast. If most of the ivory is being smuggled from countries other than Kenya, it suggests Mombasa’s port is becoming a favorite for ivory smugglers and traders. Tuda said three clearing agents at Mombasa have since been arrested over their alleged involvement in the illegal ivory trade. Kenyan officials have intercepted six major ivory consignments being smuggled through the port in the last three years. They were destined for Hong Kong, Cambodia, United Arab Emirates, China, Thailand and Malaysia. Tuda said that, unless wildlife poaching is declared “an economic crime” with heavy penalties, the problem is likely to persist in Kenya and elsewhere in the region where poachers do not face serious consequences if they are caught. The ivory seized last week at Mombasa’s port originated from the Ugandan capital, Kampala. Kenyan revenue officials warn that ivory smugglers are becoming smarter and have devised means to beat scanners. The ivory seized last week stank of fish and repelled sniffer dogs. The officials say the ivory is often chopped into small pieces, polished and neatly cut into small cubes and circles that disguise their ivory shape during the scanning process. Tuda, the Kenya wildlife official, said the growing number of ivory seizures was the result of greater surveillance by wildlife and revenue officials, who increasingly have to physically search suspicious containers. Last month Beatrice Memo, Kenya’s customs commissioner, announced new regulations to curb ivory trade through the port of Mombasa that include full scrutiny of all goods destined for the Middle East and Asia. The new procedures also call for all exports there to be packed under the supervision of a joint team of wildlife and revenue officials, police, and others. Source: Associated Press