Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kenyan civil servant found with 17 Chinese woman gets two-and-a-half years for ivory smuggling

A Kenyan civil servant was on Monday arraigned in court and charged with poaching after being in possession of 17 elephant tusks. Michael Kyalo Mateng'e, who works in Mwingi East District, Kitui County was arrested over the weekend and appeared for charging at the Kitui Magistrates Court. KWS spokesman Paul Muya told Capital FM News that the arrest is a result of the tough measures they have taken to curb poaching in the country. He implored members of the public to join in the fight against the poaching of wildlife. "The local people are being used to poach through a chain of cartels involved in poaching. But if we work together, this war against poaching can be won," he stated. The officer was released on a bond of Sh5 million pending the hearing and determination of the case on September 9. On August 22, a Chinese ivory smuggler was sentenced to two and a half years in prison in a landmark ruling hailed for sending a powerful warning to poachers and smugglers. The illegal ivory trade, estimated to be worth between $7 billion and $10 billion a year, is mostly fuelled by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns are used in traditional medicine and to make ornaments. "A precedent has been set by this sentencing, it is a sign that our judiciary is waking up to the scale of the crisis and the damage that is being done to our animals," KWS spokesman had told AFP. Chen Biemei, 30, was jailed for 31 months for trying to smuggle 6.9 kilograms of worked ivory she had disguised as 15 bags of macadamia nuts. Chen, who pleaded guilty, was stopped and arrested on August 14 as she tried to fly to Hong Kong. Source: Capital FM, Nairobi

Friday, August 16, 2013

Singapore ships suspected ivory container back to Kenya

A container believed to be carrying ivory has been sent back to Mombasa after authorities seized it in Singapore, Kenya's Daily Nation reported Tuesday (August 13th). "The container was among those seized earlier and returned to Kenya. But somehow, it disappeared," said Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director Arthur Tuda. "Through our efforts and our foreign security colleagues, we intercepted it and, as I speak, it is expected at Mombasa port anytime." Containers carrying ivory destined for Malaysia were seized at Mombasa port in late July and early August. The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Ports Authority and KWS are in search of others. Two poachers and two rangers have been killed this month as efforts to contain poaching intensify, Tuda said. KWS, KRA and police also suspect the involvement of top officials in poaching and ivory smuggling, including two businessmen from the Coast region, a central Kenyan member of parliament and a Rift valley governor. They have been linked to a container of ivory intercepted at Mombasa port last month. Source: Sabahi Online (Washington DC)

Kenya nabs Chinese woman - 6.9kg of ivory recovered

A Chinese woman was arrested at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Wednesday night (August 14th) in possession of 6.9 kilograms of ivory worth 1.2 million shillings ($13,700), Kenya's The Standard reported. The middle-aged woman was due to travel to Hong Kong with the ivory, which was disguised as macadamia nuts. Airport Police Chief Joseph Ngisa said the woman was expected in court on Wednesday. "We are trying to establish where she stayed and if there is more ivory," he said. Kenya is working to stem illegal poaching, as 190 elephants and 35 rhinos have killed since the beginning of the year. In the Mara Conservancy, rangers announced the recovery of 10 kilograms of elephant tusks worth 2 million shillings ($22,800) Sunday following a tip-off from citizens, Kenya's The Star reported.
Source: Sabahi Online (Washington DC)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pregnant white rhino killed by poachers in Kenya's Nairobi National Park

August 2013. A pregnant white rhino has been killed by poachers in the Nairobi National Park. Whilst hundreds of rhino have been killed across eastern and especially southern Africa this year, this particular piece of butchery is all the more shocking as it happened within a few miles of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) HQ on the edge of the Nairobi National Park. The KWS HQ sits on the edge of the park, and is bristling with staff and armed rangers (though as someone whose car was broken into whilst visiting KWS HQ perhaps this should be no surprise), and much of the park is fenced so it was thought to be a very secure place for the wildlife. However the demand for rhino horn in Asia has pushed the price so high that poachers are prepared to take more and more risks, and perhaps to pass on some of their illegal gains to others to turn a blind eye. That is not to say that most people at the KWS are not dedicated to protecting the wildlife, and it must be remembered that two rangers have already lost their lives this year at the hands of poachers, and another was shot just last week at Lake Nakuru (Another centre for rhino rescue previously thought secure). New
Elite Inter-Agency Anti-Poaching Unit In an effort to step up the fight against the poaching scourge, the Kenyan Government has formed a special inter-agency crack-unit to combat poaching in the country. The anti-poaching unit named the Elite Inter-Agency Anti-Poaching Unit comprises of security officers from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the Administration Police (AP) and the General Service Unit (GSU). The special unit, which shall be under the command of KWS, will undergo a joint training at the KWS Law Enforcement Academy (LEA) at Manyani before deployment to poaching hotspot areas of Narok, Tsavo and Isiolo. The Government has committed to provide facilitation and equipment to support the Elite Inter-Agency Anti-Poaching Unit operations. The Government shall also deploy aerial surveillance support to enhance their capacity to deal with poaching incidents. The unit will be supported by the governments of Kenya, Unites States, China and the United Kingdom through their respective embassies in Nairobi. A total of 190 elephants and 34 rhinos have been killed so far this year while KWS has lost two rangers in encounters with poachers. However, plans are underway to recruit an additional 1000 KWs rangers to overcome these challenges and effectively tackle poaching. KWS has also adopted a multi-faceted approach to eliminate the poaching vice. The organization has actively engaged communities living next to wildlife sanctuaries through conservation education on the negative impacts of poaching. Consumers of illegal wildlife products, both local and international are being sensitized on their indirect contribution to poaching by buying such products. KWS also urges the Judiciary to mete out deterrent sentences to smugglers of wildlife products. Source: Wildlife Extra

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August 2013. Emile N'bouke, who has been suspected of being a leading an ivory smuggling network for more than twenty years, has been arrested in Togo's capital, Lome. Some 700 kilos of ivory were confiscated from his premises during the arrest. There are thought to be less than 100 in Togo today, so the large quantity of ivory being channelled through Togo is coming from other countries. Togo is thought to have become a major export hub for illegal ivory from all over West and Central Africa, including Chad and Cameroon, both of which have had major problems with elephant slaughter recently. Many of the tusks found are small and appear to be from young animals, or Forest elephants which have smaller tusks than their savannah cousins. According to Togo's laws, the maximum length for trafficking in illegal wildlife products is just 1 year in prison, which is painfully lenient. The US State department said "We commend the Togolese authorities on their recent efforts to halt the illegal trade of ivory in West Africa by arresting a notorious wildlife trafficker on August 6. This arrest represents an important step in protecting valuable African wildlife and investigating criminal organizations. We urge Togolese authorities to conduct a full investigation and hold accountable to the fullest extent of the law those who engaged in the trafficking of ivory. As demonstrated by the Executive Order signed by President Obama on July 1 during his visit to Africa, combating wildlife trafficking is an important priority of the United States. We will continue to work with partner nations to support efforts to put an end to this illegal activity, which threatens security and the rule of law, undermines conservation efforts, robs local communities of their economic base, and contributes to the emergence and spread of disease. Source: Wildlife (UK)

Friday, August 9, 2013

13 rhino horns and 1,120 elephant tusks seized in Hong Kong

Following an intelligence tip off from Chinese authorities, Hong Kong Customs seized a huge haul of illegal wildlife items. During the operation, Hong Kong Customs seized a total of 1,120 ivory tusks, 13 rhino horns and five leopard skins, inside a container shipped from Nigeria to Hong Kong. Acting on the intelligence, Hong Kong Customs monitored two suspicious containers shipped from Nigeria. On August 6, Customs officers detained the two containers, which were declared as containing "Red Cam Process Wood" for inspection and found 21 sealed wooden crates, disguised as timber, hidden at the rear of one of the containers. Whilst Wildlife Extra applauds the work of the authorities, and all of those that have made the many seizures of ivory and other wildlife products recently, it seems that very few, if any, arrests are made in conjunction with these seizures. It seems very odd that it is so difficult for the authorities to be able to trace the owners/shippers of these items. Additionally, if the authorities know or suspect that there are illegal items on board, can they not track the containers to their destination and seize them, and those responsible, there? Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing unmanifested cargoes is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years. Under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, any person found guilty of trading endangered species for commercial purposes is liable to a maximum fine of $5 million and imprisonment for two years. Source: Wildlife Extra