Saturday, December 13, 2014

Botswana to spend P2 million on training specialised anti-rhino poaching squad

The Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism is training a 71-strong rhino squad in preparation for 100 rhinos expected from South Africa. According to Minister of Finance’s current Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure from the Consolidated and Developments Funds, the ministry is requesting an additional P2 million for the training of the anti-rhino poaching squad. “The ministry requests P2, 000,000 for training of the Rhino Squad consisting of 71 officers to assist the department to fully discharge its functions in ensuring that effective anti-poaching efforts are fully implemented to the satisfaction of all conservation stakeholders,” reads the report still to be presented in Parliament. It states that the squad will be assisting the law enforcement unit to combat poaching of the rhinos in Botswana. Recently, a group calling itself Rhinos Without Borders announced that they planned moving 100 animals from South Africa to Botswana next year to save them from extinction. Dereck and Beverly Joubert, filmmakers who previously worked with the National Geographic Society to assist Africa’s lions, leopards, cheetahs and tigers by forming the Big Cats Initiative, are spearheading the initiative. Many of the rhinos in South Africa, which is believed to hold 80 percent of the 26,000 or so rhinos left on the continent, are located in the Kruger National Park. The ministry indicated that in recent years, poaching of the elephant and rhino has become violent and increased to levels surpassing the capacity of the Anti-Poaching Unit (APU). “It is therefore important for the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) to improve its capacity by acquiring additional resources such as an aeroplane and specialised tracking equipment in order to effectively discharge its duties.” To that end, the total estimated cost of this project would be increased by P46, 000,00 - from P209, 750,00 to P255, 750,00. Some of the developments expected to be undertaken by the ministry under the NDP10 include; payment of consultants for the design of the APU in Kang, construction of the APU camp in Kang, office and staff houses at Seronga and an office in Kanye. The ministry will also complete Botswana Wildlife Training Institute and fence the eastern and southern boundary of Khutshe Game Reserve. Source: Mmegi

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


26th November 2014 BABY ELEPHANTS ABDUCTED FOR EXPORT TO CHINA We have received some very disturbing reports of animals being captured in Hwange National Park for export to China. Tourists and visitors to Hwange have complained about this. Apparently, China has ordered a certain number of animals, amongst which are 30 lions. So far, 34 baby elephants, 7 lions and about 10 sable have been captured and are being held at Mtshibi Capture Unit, 7km from Main Camp. The elephants are between 2 and a half and 5 years old. Our investigators have seen the animals and tried to take photos but were not allowed. The security there is very tight. They were told that the animals will be sent by container trucks to Maputo in Mozambique where they will be transfered to a livestock sea freighter and sent on to China. Why is Zimbabwe stealing from the future generation's natural resources? The baby elephants quite likely won't survive the trip and the only crime they have commited is being born in Zimbabwe. They are now being sentenced to a life of inhuman treatment. This is very traumatic, not only for the baby elephants but also for their families. Elephants don't forget and this is very dangerous for future visitors to Hwange. We have to try and stop this export from taking place. Johnny Rodrigues Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force Landline: 263 4 339065 Mobile: 263 712 603 213 Email: Facebook: Website:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Two more black rhinos killed in Etosha

AT least two more black rhinos have been killed by poachers in the Etosha National Park this month, bringing the total number of confirmed rhino poaching cases in Namibia's premier wildlife park to three. This was confirmed by MET spokesperson Romeo Muyunda. November has seen Namibia's rhino-poaching cases shoot by five, following the recent discovery of three rhinos killed by poachers in the north-west of Namibia, plus the most recent two in Etosha. The total number of rhino poaching cases in the country this year now stands at 20 - leaving no doubt that the country is at war with poaching syndicates.The first confirmed rhino-poaching incident in a Namibian national park was reported in late October, when a black rhino carcass, with its horns hacked off, was discovered in the western part of Etosha. That animal had been killed about two to three days before the discovery was made. The most recent two cases were discovered on the 12th and the 16th of November, according to Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) officials. Muyunda said one rhino, discovered on Sunday, is estimated to be nine months old and the other approximately two to three months old. MET would not yet comment on whether any arrests have been made to date, citing the sensitivity of the investigations underway. Following the first rhino-poaching case in the park in October, a reward of N$30 000 was offered by the police and the MET for information that would lead to the arrest and prosecution of the people responsible for the poaching. Source: The Namibian

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Three rhinos killed at Etosha National Park, Namibia

THREE carcasses of black rhino were discovered in the Kunene region this week, two weeks after another carcass of a black rhino bull was found in Etosha. This discovery brings Namibia's official total loss of rhinos to poachers this year to a record high of 18, including 15 black and three white rhino. Some claim the number could be higher. Police deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi confirmed yesterday that an “aerial tracking team spotted three rhino carcasses . . . The ground team was dispatched to the area and they confirmed that three rhinos had been poached. Their horns had been removed” this past week. Kanguatjivi added that the find was made in the Anabeb conservancy but other reports placed the carcasses within the Palmwag concession. Dismissing allegations that four rhinos had been found without their horns in the Palmwag area, Kanguatjivi said the Namibian Protected Resources Unit had only reported three carcasses, and that any other carcasses found could be because of natural causes. By late yesterday, officials at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism had not yet confirmed the incident. Although not confirmed by MET, a look at recent statistics shows that at least 26 rhinos, black and white, have been poached in Namibia since 2009, the large majority in 2014. The decision to dehorn Namibia's rhinos, in an attempt to combat the rhino poaching crisis in the country, has met a mixed response. The strategy's costs, its effectiveness and the opportunity for corruption have all been cited as challenges. Furthermore, a source with close ties to rhino conservation in Namibia said law enforcement probes into rhino poaching “leave much to be desired”. At an official event in Etosha National Park last week, environment minister Uahekua Herunga spoke out strongly against poachers, and encouraged Namibians to “be a police officer, to be a soldier against poaching in this country”. The minister strongly felt the reward for any information on poachers and their movements should be increased, referring to a recent N$30 000 being offered in the Etosha poaching case. Moreover, he said that laws should be changed in order to ensure lifelong sentences for poachers. He explained that Namibia's tourism industry is the third largest contributor to the country's GDP and the killing of iconic wildlife negatively impacts Namibia's reputation as a tourist destination, decreasing tourism's contribution to the national purse. Anyone who has information of a wildlife crime being committed is urged to SMS the toll-free and confidential wildlife crime alert number 55555. Anyone with information can also contact the Protected Resources Unit's detective chief inspector Barry de Klerk at 081 129 0054, or inspector Louretha Tsuses at 081 268 6646.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Namibia offers reward for information leading to capture of rhino poachers

A REWARD of N$30 000 is being offered for information that would lead to the arrest and prosecution of the people responsible for the poaching of a rhinoceros in Namibia's premier wildlife sanctuary, the Etosha National Park, about a week ago. The reward is being offered by the Namibian Police and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, a police spokesperson, deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi, said yesterday. All information provided to the police would be treated confidentially to ensure that the identity of informers assisting with the investigation of the poaching incident would not be revealed, Kanguatjivi said. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism announced on Wednesday afternoon that the carcass of a black rhino bull was discovered in the Etosha National Park on Tuesday morning. It is believed that the animal had been killed about two to three days before the discovery was made. Both horns of the endangered animal, which was found dead in the vicinity of the Galton Gate in the south-western corner of the wildlife reserve, had been removed, Kanguatjivi added yesterday. The discovery of the poached black rhino brings to 15 the number of rhinos found dead in Namibia so far this year as a result of suspected poaching. More than 40 elephants have also been killed illegally, mostly in the north-eastern part of the country, since the start of this year. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism on Wednesday called on all citizens of Namibia to be extra vigilant and to report any suspected cases of poaching or related activities to the relevant authorities. The ministry stated that it “condemns such ill-intentioned activities or illegal plundering of wildlife”. It warned that “the security apparatus of our country is ready to confront whoever will be caught taking part in these barbaric activities”, and that perpetrators would be made to face the full wrath of the law. The ministry, together with relevant authorities such as the police, customs officials and the Namibian Defence Force, will be intensifying its efforts to firstly prevent such incidents and to identify and bring to task people who threaten the country's conservation efforts, it was also stated. “Government, particularly the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, recognises that collective responsibility is the best approach to control poaching,” it was stated in the ministry's press release. Kanguatjivi said information that could assist the police with the investigation of the Etosha poaching can be sent by SMS to the toll-free wildlife crime alert number 55555. Anyone with information can also contact the Protected Resources Unit's detective chief inspector Barry de Klerk at 081 129 0054, or inspector Louretha Tsuses at 081 268 6646. Source: Namibian

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Only 6 northern white rhinos left worldwide, species on verge of extinction

The death of a Northern White Rhino has left the species on the brink of extinction as now only six remain in the world, and just one breeding male. The 34-year-old rhino, called Suni, was one of four Northern Whites residing on Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a not-for-profit organisation situated in Kenya’s Laikipia County. He was born in captivity at Dvůr Králové Zoo in Czech Republic and transported to the conservancy in 2009, along with one other male and two females in a bid to try and rescue the species. A statement from the conservancy said: “Our rangers found him on the morning of October 17th, 2014, dead in his boma. Suni was not a victim of poaching and we have yet to establish the cause of his sudden death. The Kenya Wildlife Service vets will conduct a post mortem as soon as possible. “We will continue to do what we can to work with the remaining three animals on Ol Pejeta in the hope that our efforts will one day result in the successful birth of a northern white rhino calf.” The other three Northern White Rhinos are located in the Czech Republic and San Diego Zoo's Safari Park. The Northern White Rhino and the Southern White Rhino are the two subspecies of the white rhinoceros. The Northern’s former range covered several countries in East and Central Africa, including northwestern Uganda, southern Chad, southern South Sudan, the eastern part of Central African Republic, and northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Source: Wildlife Extra

Friday, October 24, 2014

Musina Mafia kingpin Dawie Groenewald indicted in US for money poaching, trafficking and laundering

The owners of Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris were charged with conspiracy to sell illegal rhinoceros hunts in South Africa in order to defraud American hunters, money laundering and secretly trafficking in rhino horns, announced Sam Hirsch Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division; George L. Beck, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama; and Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The indictment was unsealed today in Montgomery, Alabama following the federal indictment. The indictment charges Dawie Groenewald, 46, and his brother, Janneman Groenewald, 44, both South African nationals, and their company Valinor Trading CC (d/b/a Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris) with conspiracy, Lacey Act violations, mail fraud, money laundering and structuring bank deposits to avoid reporting requirements. The Lacey Act, the nation’s oldest criminal statute addressing illegal poaching and wildlife trafficking, makes it a crime to sell animal hunts conducted in violation of state, federal, tribal and foreign law. According to the 18-count indictment, from 2005 to 2010, the Groenewald brothers traveled throughout the United States to attend hunting conventions and gun shows where they sold outfitting services and accommodations to American hunters to be conducted at their ranch in Mussina, South Africa. During the time period covered by the indictment, Janneman Groenewald lived in Autauga County, Alabama, where Out of Africa maintained bank accounts and is accused of money laundering and structuring deposits to avoid federal reporting requirements. Hunters paid between $3,500 and $15,000 for the illegal rhino hunts. The defendants are charged with selling illegal rhino hunts by misleading American hunters. The hunters were told the lie that a particular rhino had to be killed because it was a “problem rhino.” Therefore, while no trophy could be legally exported, the hunters could nonetheless shoot the rhino, pose for a picture with the dead animal, and make record book entries, all at a reduced price. Meanwhile, the defendants are alleged to have failed to obtain necessary permits required by South Africa and cut the horns off some of the rhinos with chainsaws and knives. The indictment alleges that the defendants then sold the rhino horn on the black market. Eleven illegal hunts are detailed in the papers filed in federal court, including one in which the rhino had to be shot and killed after being repeatedly wounded by a bow, and another in which Dawie Groenewald used a chainsaw to remove the horn from a sedated rhino that had been hunted with a tranquilizer gun. The American hunters have not been charged. \ “We are literally fighting for the survival of a species today. In that fight, we will do all we can to prosecute those who traffic in rhino horns and sell rhino hunts to Americans in violation of foreign law,” said Sam Hirsch, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This case should send a warning shot to outfitters and hunters that the sale of illegal hunts in the U.S. will be vigorously prosecuted regardless of where the hunt takes place.” “These defendants tricked, lied and defrauded American citizens in order to profit from these illegal rhinoceros hunts,” stated U.S. Attorney Beck. “Not only did they break South African laws, but they laundered their ill-gotten gains through our banks here in Alabama. We will not allow United States’ citizens to be used as a tool to destroy a species that is virtually harmless to people or other animals.” “The fact that defendants used American hunters to execute this scheme is appalling - but not as appalling as the brutal tactics they employed to kill eleven critically endangered wild rhinos,” said FWS Director Ashe. “South Africa has worked extraordinarily hard to protect its wild rhino population, using trophy hunts as a key management tool. The illegal ‘hunts’ perpetrated by these criminals undermine that work and the reputation of responsible hunters everywhere.” Rhinoceros are an herbivore species of prehistoric origin and one of the largest remaining mega-fauna on earth. Adult rhinoceros have no known natural predators. All species of rhinoceros are protected under United States and international law. Since 1976, trade in rhinoceros horn has been regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a treaty signed by over 170 countries around the world to protect fish, wildlife and plants that are or may become imperiled due to the demands of international markets. Nevertheless, the demand for rhinoceros horn and black market prices have skyrocketed in recent years due to the value that some cultures have placed on ornamental carvings, good luck charms or alleged medicinal purposes, leading to a decimation of the global rhinoceros population. Like hair or finger nails, rhino horn is actually composed of keratin and has no proven medical efficacy. As a result, rhino populations have declined by more than 90 percent since 1970. South Africa, for example, has witnessed a rapid escalation in poaching of live animals, rising from 13 in 2007 to a record 1004 in 2013. Illegally killed rhinos like the ones charged in this prosecution are not included in the published statistics of poached animals. An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The investigation of Out of Africa is part of Operation Crash (named for the term “crash” which describes a herd of rhinoceros), an ongoing nation-wide effort to detect, deter and prosecute those engaged in the illegal killing of rhinoceros and the unlawful trafficking of rhinoceros horns led by the Special Investigations Unit of the Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice. Thus far there have been 26 arrests and 18 convictions with prison terms as high as 70 months. (See attached Crash Fact Sheet). Throughout the course of the investigation on the current charges, U.S. authorities received substantial cooperation from South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority and a specialized endangered species unit within the organized crime unit of the South African Police Service. That unit is known as the Hawks. Additional assistance has been provided in this case by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, in Montgomery, Alabama and the Autauga County, Alabama Sheriff’s Office. The Out of Africa case is being prosecuted in the Middle District of Alabama by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon K. Essig and by Richard A. Udell, Senior Litigation Counsel with the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. The Out of Africa investigation is continuing. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance. Source: Online

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nambian accomplice for Chinese poaching syndicate gets 3 years in prison

A FINE of N$20 000 or three years behind bars is the price an Okahandja resident has to pay for helping an alleged Chinese ivory smuggling syndicate to transport three elephant tusks from Rundu to Windhoek two years ago. After pleading guilty to a charge of possession of controlled wildlife products on 7 October, Immanuel Petrus was sentenced in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court on Friday. Magistrate Justine Asino sentenced him to a fine of N$20 000 or three years in prison. Petrus and three co-accused were jointly charged with a count of dealing in or possession of three elephant tusks in Windhoek on 8 November 2012. Petrus' trial was separated from that of his co-accused - George Ndala Mashala, Buchard Garureb, and Henri Eric Arthur Aucamp - after he pleaded guilty. In a plea explanation, Petrus admitted that he possessed three elephant tusks, valued at close to N$44 000, in Windhoek on 8 November 2012 without a permit. He also said he knew it was unlawful to possess the ivory, which is a controlled wildlife product.He told the court that he was attending a funeral at Rundu when he received a call from Mashala, asking him to deliver three tusks to a lorry for transportation to Okahandja. According to the arrangement, Petrus was supposed to receive the tusks from people unknown to him. Petrus said Mashala promised to pay him N$1 500 for his role.He said after he had returned to Okahandja, Mashala asked him to transport the tusks to Windhoek. Petrus did that, too. He said he handed the tusks over to Mashala, who was in the company of Garureb. Petrus said he was in a taxi, waiting for his promised payment from Mashala, when the police arrived and arrested him.The police allegedly found the three tusks in Aucamp's house in Windhoek.Their trial has been postponed to 24 November. Mashala, a Congolese, is also facing a similar charge in another case pending in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court. In that case, Mashala, two Chinese, Hou Xuecheng and Sha Zhiwei, an Indian, Rajaiyah Ranjith Kumar, and a Rundu resident, Hamutenja Stanislaus Hamutenja, allegedly possessed or dealt in four elephant tusks in Windhoek's Northern Industrial Area on 11 June. After a month and a half in custody, Hou was granted bail of N$30 000 on 29 July. He is now back behind bars, though, after he was arrested last week for the theft of animal skins from a taxidermist at Otjiwarongo. The police are alleging that Hou bought the stolen animal products, valued at nearly N$340 000, from two Namibians for N$10 000. Source: Namibian

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chinese poacher re-arrested as Namibia busts zebra, leopard skins syndicate

TWO Namibian men and a Chinese national appeared in the Otjiwarongo Magistrate's Court on Friday for dealing and/or possession of stolen wild animal skins valued at N$337 400. The Otjozondjupa police regional crime investigations
co-ordinator, deputy Commissioner Moses Khairabeb told Nampa in an interview on Friday that the three were arrested on Thursday in Windhoek with a variety of wild animal hides. The two Namibians are 29-year-old Tiesto Shaningi and Setson Shikuyele (27) and Chinese national Hou Xuecheng. Hou owns a shop at China Town in Windhoek. Khairabeb said the men were arrested following a tip-off that seven zebra skins, two jackal skins, a leopard skin, and a monkey skin were sold to Hou in Windhoek. He said the skins were stolen from the Taxidermy Studio in Otjiwarongo. The two Namibians are employees of that factory, and had broken into the factory at an unknown time last Saturday or Sunday to steal the hides. Khairabeb said they sold the animal skins to Hou for N$10 000. Hou was earlier this year apprehended, and appeared in court in Windhoek for allegedly dealing with elephant tusks without a permit. He indicaated that he will engage a private lawyer, while Shaningi and Shikuyele said they will apply for State-funded lawyers. They were remanded in custody, and their case was postponed to 3 November 2014 to allow them to acquire legal representation. Police investigations continue. Source: Namibian

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Interpol issues warrant of arrest for Kenyan poaching kingpin

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 16 – Interpol on Thursday issued an international arrest warrant for Kenyan national Feisal Mohamed, on suspicion of involvement in the illegal ivory trade. According to Interpol, Mohamed is said to be behind three tonnes of ivory confiscated in Mombasa on July 9 last year, when the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) impounded a consignment weighing 3.2 tonnes at the Port of Mombasa. The consignment was intercepted in a 20-foot container awaiting shipment to Malaysia. At the time, KRA Public Relations and Corporate Affairs officer Fatuma Yussuf said the ivory tusks were packed in Kenya. Yussuf had also said documents indicated that the ivory was disguised as groundnuts, wrapped and some stashed in sacks. Arthur Tudor, the director Kenya Wildlife Service’s Coastal region, said the kind of ivory originated from elephants from the savannah that include Kenyan national parks and neighbouring countries . Following the seizure, police initiated investigations on the exporter in Nairobi, the consignee in Malaysia and the clearing based in Mombasa. Two alleged smugglers were on July 12 charged over the consignment but denied the charges. Abdul Halim Sadiq and Ghalib Sadiq Kara were charged in the port city Mombasa for being in possession of the stash of elephant tusks. An arrest warrant was also issued for businessman Mohamed. In the warrant issued on Thursday, the international police organisation called on member states to arrest Mohamed if he sets foot on their territories. On Wednesday, Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo said tight measures were set to be put in place to assist in the fight against the poaching menace in the country. Kimaiyo said he had already met key stakeholders in the sector to strategise on the way forward as the threat continues to persist despite various efforts by the government and other stakeholders. “We are giving a very strong warning to the poachers…their days are numbered,” he warned. “They will face the full force of the law. We are not going to relent on the issue of poaching and we are going to deal with it firmly.” He said the current trend threatens to bring down the tourism sector which remains a major income earner but warned that police will not relent in the war. “Even if they are armed with any kind of sophisticated weapon, we shall deal with them. We have more sophisticated weapons than they have,” he stated.
WANTED: FEISAL MOHAMMED Source: The Star, Nairobi

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

World wildlife population declines 52 per cent since 1970, says WWF

A new report undertaken by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has revealed that wildlife species around the world have continued to sharply decline, and numbers are today at a staggering 52 per cent less than in 1970. The Living Planet Report 2014 measured over 10,000 representative populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish in order to assess the state of the world’s biodiversity. The report concludes that unsustainable human consumption is responsible for the continued decline of the world’s species, citing overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and global warming as the causes. Using data from the report, a Living Planet Index (LPI) was created to reflect the state of all 45,000 known species. Jonathan Baillie, ZSL’s Director of Conservation, explains: “We have all heard of the FTSE 100 index, but we have missed the ultimate indicator, the falling trend of species and ecosystems in the world. If we get [our response] right, we will have a safe and sustainable way of life for the future.” The most alarming decline in species populations was in freshwater ecosystems, where numbers have dropped by 76 per cent since 1970. The number of wildlife living on land had fallen by 39 per cent, and marine animal populations had also dropped by 39 per cent in the same time period. Of marine animals, turtles were the most hard hit, with their numbers dropping by 80 per cent due to the destruction of their nesting grounds and casualties from fishing nets. The biggest declines in animal numbers since 1970 were found to have occurred in developing countries, while conservations efforts in rich nations had seen small improvements in population figures. However, the report also stated that wealthy nations are importing goods produced by habitat destruction from developing countries, which means that they share in the responsibility of the decline in biodiversity in low-income nations. A second index in the Living Planet Report calculated humankind’s ecological footprint in order to measure the scale it is using up natural resources. It calculated that today’s average rate of global consumption would need 1.5 Earths to sustain it. Looking at just the United States, however, it calculated the country would need a total of four planet Earths to sustain it, while Kuwait was found to be the worst offender in terms of its carbon output. Speaking on the report, David Nussbaum, Chief Executive of WWF-UK said: “The scale of the destruction highlighted in this report should be a wake-up call for us all. But 2015 – when the countries in the world are due to come together to agree on a new global climate agreement, as well as a set of sustainable development goals – presents us with a unique opportunity to reverse the trends. We all – politicians, businesses and people – have an interest, and a responsibility, to act to ensure we protect what we all value: a healthy future for both people and nature.” Source: Wildlife Extra You can view more findings from the Living Planet Report on WWF’s website.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

South African rhino poaching syndicate busted with R22 million worth of rhino horn goes on trial

Ten members of a suspected rhino poaching syndicate were on Monday remanded in police custody until their formal bail application. According to police’s Paul Ramaloko, the suspects allegedly illegally obtained 84 rhino horns and killed 22 rhinos valued at nearly R22 million. “The intelligence-led arrest comes after a year-long investigation by key stakeholders in government and the private sector,” said Ramaloko. Ramaloko added one of the accused, Hugo Ras, is believed to have managed the syndicate for five years before his arrest on Friday. “The team arrested the other members of this criminal group simultaneously in Polokwane in Limpopo, Ficksburg in the Free State, Potchefstroom in the North West, and in Montana, Mamelodi and Kameeldrift in Gauteng,” he said. The suspects, Ras, his wife, Trudie Ras, and his brothers, Anton Ras and Arno Smith, Bonnie Steyn, a pilot from Ficksburg, Willie Oosthuizen, a warrant officer of the Hawks in Pretoria, Joseph Wilkinson, an attorney from Pretoria, Christoffel Scheepers, Mandla Magagula and Willem van Jaarsveld briefly appeared in the Hatfield Magistrate’s Court on several rhino-poaching charges. Ramaloko said the group contributed to the brutal slaughter and mutilation of 24 rhinos in state-owned and privately owned game reserves. “Only two of the 24 rhinos that were attacked, survived, but they were dehorned after they were darted. The 34 horns were either stolen or obtained through other devious means,” he said. The National Head of the Hawks, Lieutenant General Anwa Dramat said they will continue to address these types of syndicates. “They have no sympathy towards our already endangered species – rhinos. It is clear that they have no regard for the rule of law,” he said. The syndicate mainly operated in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the North West, Gauteng, and KwaZulu-Natal. They are expected to appear in court on 29 September. Source: Conservation Action

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

African black rhino population declines to less than 5 000 - experts

The number of black rhinos in Africa has declined to less than 5 000 in 2014 following increased poaching activities by international ivory cartels, regional wildlife experts have said. Speaking at a recent launch of the Highway Africa Pan-African Conference on black rhino poaching at the Amakhala Game Reserve in Grahamstown, South Africa, Reserve Protection Agency director general Scott Williams said if governments do not impose stiff sentences on poachers, the black rhino will soon be extinct. “Well-organised and well-funded crime syndicates are continuing to feed the growing black market with rhino horn. Over the past few years, consumer use of rhino horn has shifted from traditional Asian medicine practices to new uses, such as to convey status. "High levels of consumption – especially the escalating demand in Vietnam – threaten to soon reverse the considerable conservation gains achieved over the last two decades in preserving the black rhino,” Williams said. With an average weight of 7 kilograms per each rhino horn, it can generate an estimated $90 000 per kilogram on the illegal market. International mineral trade markets show that a rhino horn can sell for up to £60 000 per kg while valued minerals such as platinum and gold only fetch £33 973 and £26 865 per kilogram respectively. The Species Survival Commission’s (SSC) African Rhino Specialist Group says between 2013 and 2014, a minimum of 2 387 black rhinos were poached in 11 of the 12 rhino range states in Africa. The bulk of the poaching was recorded in South Africa were 1 805 rhinos were killed followed by 382 in Zimbabwe and 112 in Kenya, while Uganda has no poaching records, Zambia recorded one case, while Botswana, Malawi and Swaziland each recorded two cases each. The SSC says if poaching continues at current levels, rhino populations could start to decline and in less than two years’ time be extinct. Amakhala Foundation co-director Jennifer Gush said the demand for the rhino horn is fuelled by the increasing wealth of many middle-class Chinese and Vietnamese who see the horn as a status symbol and its alleged traditional medicinal benefits. “A Vietnamese diplomat was caught buying illegal rhino horns outside the embassy in Pretoria and her punishment was simply a recall back to Hanoi, but to the rhino population, this punishment is not enough,” Gush said. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation Commission for Africa chairperson Walter Mzembi, said governments will continue to fight poaching activities in the region to ensure the preservation of bio-diversity, flora and fauna for tourism purposes. “African governments have agreed to apply a zero tolerance approach and sentence those convicted to maximum and deterrent penalties to combat an upsurge in poaching and smuggling of ivory. “We will use a combination of existing laws and strengthened regulatory frameworks for investigation, arrest, seizure and prosecution of suspected wildlife criminals,” Mzembi said. Source: The Zimbabwe Mail

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chinese man pleads guilty to smuggling 14 rhino horns out of Namibia

ONE of the Chinese men accused of attempting to smuggle 14 rhino horns out of Namibia nearly six months ago has offered to plead guilty to the charges that he and two co-accused are facing. Public prosecutor Eric Naikaku told Magistrate Alpha Haihambo in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court in Katutura yesterday that Li Zhibing (53) has tendered to plead guilty in the case in which he and two fellow Chinese citizens, Pu Xunin (49) and Li Xiaoliang (30), are charged with the possession and export of controlled wildlife products. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
THE ACCUSED CHINESE CITIZENS: LI XIALONG (OBSTRUCTED), LI ZHIBING AND PU XUEXIN. LIN ZHIBING HAS PLEADED GULITY TO ALL THE CHARGES HE FACES, WHICH ARE THE SAME AS THOSE FACED BY HIS ACCOMPLICES. THEY HAVE PLEADED NOT GUILTY. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The State was not ready to accept the plea of guilty offered by the accused, though, and he also received instructions to add a new charge to the two counts already faced by the three men, Naikaku said. He said it would take about three to four weeks for the police to get further witness statements in the case, and asked the magistrate to postpone the three men's case for further investigations to be carried out. On a request from defence lawyer Orben Sibeya the magistrate ordered that the further postponement, to 9 October, would be a final remand of the case for further investigations to be done. The three men were arrested and charged with possessing and exporting controlled wildlife products after 14 rhino horns and a leopard skin were found in two suitcases that Li Zhibing and Li Xiaoliang had checked in as part of their luggage on a flight with which they were supposed to leave Namibia on 24 March. The three accused claimed during a bail hearing in May that they did not know what was in the suitcases. Li Zhibing claimed that a Chinese citizen living in Zambia had asked him to take the suitcases with him to China. He said he was promised US$3 000 as payment if he delivered the suitcases to someone in Shanghai. He also told the court that he had asked Li Xiaoliang to book one of the suitcases in as part of his luggage. Pu denied having any involvement with or knowledge of the suitcases. A senior police officer testified during the bail hearing that closed-circuit television footage, recorded at the hotel where the three men stayed in Windhoek the night before they tried to take a flight out of Namibia, showed that the two suitcases in which the rhino horns were found had been kept in Pu's hotel room before it was moved to the room of the two Lis. The officer also told the court that DNA tests done in South Africa confirmed that the rhino horns found in the two suitcases were of Namibian origin. Li Xiaoliang testified that he first visited Namibia as a tourist in October last year. He was paying a second visit to Namibia as a tourist when he was arrested in March, he said. Li Zhibing's version during the bail hearing was that he was visiting Namibia to look for construction work, while Pu said he had travelled to Namibia for a holiday and to explore business opportunities. The three men travelled together from Beijing to Lusaka in Zambia two weeks before their arrest and entered Namibia at a border post in the Zambezi region on 12 March, the court was also informed during the bail hearing. The three accused remain in custody after their request to be granted bail was turned down. Source: Namibian

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Namibia deploys drones on anti-poaching patrols as Chinese syndicates deplete rhinos, elephants

Namibia deploys UAVs for anti-poaching operations Written by Oscar Nkala, Wednesday, 10 September 2014 A Falcon UAV.The Namibian government has deployed three Falcon Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in conservancies to support the anti-poaching operations by the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) as part of a new 'aggressive' strategy to combat an upsurge in the poaching of elephants and rhinos. Namibia settled for the Falcon UAVs after successful week-long test flights on anti-poaching operations over conservancies around the country in February this year. The programme is funded by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) through its Wildlife Crime Technology Project. Several other types of UAVs were test-flown in the selection programme and these include the locally-made SurVoyeur, which is still being test-flown for possible adoption by the government after modifications. Environment and Tourism minister Uahekua Herunga told the Namibian Sun that the deployment of the UAVs signals the start of a new, agressive government strategy to combat an alarming upsurge in the poaching of rhinos and elephants. He said the country had so far deployed 3 UAVs on anti-poaching operations over affected game parks but will raise the number to eight if it gets additional funding for the programme. READ MORE Kenyan game reserve forced to cancel plans to use UAVs to counter poaching Kenyan game reserve evaluates UAV to counter poaching Buy an RPA, save a salmon Tanzania considering US proposal to use drones in anti-poaching ops “We have managed to deploy three drones (UAVs) at the moment. If we are able to deploy one in each of the affected regions, we will get better results. We need to have a budgetary allocation for the anti-poaching unit included in the overall budget for the ministry. If we get financing, I think seven to eight drones would be able to do a proper job," Herunga said. The ministry also wants additional emergency funding from the government to support the setting up of a rapid reaction Anti Poaching Unit (APU) of the security forces. It is also seeking technical assistance in training more parks rangers on how to operate the UAVs as well as interpreting and processing the information they supply. “There was no provision for financing the anti-poaching unit in the current budget. Drones are a new technology, our staff have to know how they operate, we need a lot of training to operate the drones," Herunga said. The first three UAVs will continue running on a trial basis up to February 2015 when the government will conduct a second evaluation of their effectiveness and decide on whether to continue or stop the programme. The Falcon is a bungee-launched, parachute recovery UAV which features day and night video payloads, and can be set up and launched in 10 minutes. It can stay airborne for over 60 minutes and is inter-operable with the Falcon Hover, a tactical Multi-copter Unmanned Vehicle which has Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) capability. According to the manufacturers of the SurVoyeur, the aircraft is still being test-flown by the government after being fitted with newer, modified camera systems. It is powered by a 4.5kg Hacker A30-12XL electric motor and can carry up to 600 grams in payload while staying airborne for 45 minutes. More than 33 elephants and 10 rhinos have been killed by poachers in flagship Namibian conservancies which include Bwabwata, Nkasa Rupara, Linyanti and Mudumu national parks in the remote northern-eastern Zambezi district. In July, the government deployed the army to crack down on poaching in the north-east as it struggles to save an estimated 25 000 elephants and 2 220 rhinos from a worsening poaching crisis. So far, seven Chinese nationals, one Indian and dozens of their Namibian, Congolese and Zambian accomplices are in Namibian custody or on trial after being arrested with hauls of elephant and rhino ivory and arte-facts among other protected wildlife products.
Some of the Chinese national seen shying away from the camera as they leave a court in Windhoek. Pic: AEP

Friday, September 5, 2014

Botswana - Africa's rare success story of elephant conservation

No sign of an elephant in all of two minutes, a tourist teased a guide at Botswana's Chobe National Park, home to tens of thousands of elephants. A minute later, their vehicle cleared a knot of shrubs and elephants loomed ahead beside the dusty road. Such joking wouldn't be possible in many other parts of Africa, where recent years have yielded dire news about ivory poaching. Poachers killed more than 20,000 elephants in 2013 amid rising demand for their tusks in Asia, particularly China, according to international conservation groups. Botswana is a rare bright spot with estimates of its elephant population as high as 200,000. The southern African country's political and economic stability, small human population and other factors make it an elephant haven, though pressure on habitats and conflict with the human population are increasing concerns. Botswana is a challenging model for other African nations struggling to ward off the illegal wildlife trade, ranked by the United Nations alongside arms, drug and human trafficking because its illicit profits run into billions of dollars worldwide. In all of Africa, there are about 420,000 to 650,000 elephants, according to some estimates. Elephants roam widely outside conservation areas in landlocked Botswana, which has two million people; in contrast, Kenya, under pressure from poachers, has almost as much territory as Botswana with about 35,000 elephants and 45 million people. Elephants benefit from Botswana's ban on commercial trophy hunting on state land that took effect this year to help other wildlife species whose numbers are in decline. Some elephants, who traditionally range across unfenced borders, may also have crossed into and stayed in Botswana as poaching escalated in neighbouring countries, some conservationists say. While official corruption has hooks in African poaching, Transparency International in 2013 listed Botswana 30th out of 177 countries and territories, based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. It led all other African countries and was ahead of nations including Portugal, South Korea and Costa Rica in the survey by the Berlin-based watchdog group. "Peace and conservation success go hand in hand," said Rudi van Aarde, a South African conservationist at the University of Pretoria who studies regional elephant populations. "Warfare and unrest and improper governance go hand in hand with conservation failures." Botswana says its elephant population is growing at five per cent a year. Officials have introduced fencing to keep elephants away from villages and the use of chili peppers is among schemes designed to protect crops from these "intelligent creatures," said Cyril Taolo, deputy director of the country's department of wildlife and national parks. "Elephants being elephants, they quickly find their way around some of these things," he said. In December, Botswana President Ian Khama, speaking at an international meeting on elephant conservation in Gaborone, the capital, said his government had deployed "all our security forces" to help guard against poachers. But some suspects infiltrate across borders. In June, a Zambian poacher was killed in a gunfight with rangers in Chobe National Park in northern Botswana, close to Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola. About 50 elephants have been poached annually in recent years in Botswana, according to Taolo. Poaching statistics are far higher elsewhere in Africa. Poachers, some shooting from helicopters, killed about 70 elephants over a two-month period in Garamba National Park in Congo, the park director said in June. Late last year, authorities in neighbouring Zimbabwe reported more than 100 elephants were killed by cyanide poisoning in the western Hwange game reserve.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Chinese ivory traffickers now established in all African countries - report

A new report uncovers the fact that Chinese ivory traffickers are present in virtually every African state, and operate at nearly every point along the supply chain. The report, called Out of Africa; Criminalisation of the African Ivory Trade, was commissioned by Born Free USA and C4ADS (a nonprofit organisation that is dedicated to data-driven analysis and evidence-based reporting of conflict and security issues worldwide), and focuses on the entire supply chain from source to end user. It found that despite its global scale, the majority of the illegal ivory trade is dominated by a small number of networks, and that the majority of the ivory is shipped via just 100 large annual consignments that make up 70-80 per cent of the trade. Seizures across multiple countries and commodities often appear to trace back to the same individuals and networks, and traffickers, particularly Chinese, straddle Africa and Asia and are linked to seizures in nearly every African range state and at nearly every stage along the supply chain. The report also revealed that the majority of the illegal ivory travels through a small number of ports and airports on its way to Asia. The three main ports are Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, and Zanzibar, while the top three airports in the chain are Nairobi, Addis Ababa, and Johannesburg. Adam M Roberts, CEO of The Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA said: “The ivory trade is operating today at the highest level since the 1989 commercial ivory trade ban. Our investigation reveals that between 2009 and June 2014, there were more than 90 large-scale ivory seizures, collectively weighing almost 170 tons, that bear the hallmarks of international organised crime. "This would amount to approximately 229,729 elephants killed and trafficked in fewer than six years.” "It is well known that East Asian nationals, and, in particular, the Chinese, drive the modern ivory trade. However, the scale we found in our investigation was shocking; Chinese traffickers are present in virtually every single African range state, and operate at nearly every point along the ivory supply chain." Varun Vira, Chief of Analysis at C4ADS and co-author of the report said, “The ivory trade is worth billions of dollars but is still talked about as if it were an unprofessional, disorganised, and artisanal industry, of concern only to conservationists. "In reality, it is a highly organised, complex global crime that has avoided consequence for decades. However, our report reveals that there may be as few as 100 large-scale ivory containers moving annually that drive the vast majority of the entire illegal trade. "Focusing efforts on intercepting these containers and tracing back their owners and facilitators can have a real impact on the trade."
A Chinese 'businessman' and a Namibian accomplice on trial after being arrested with 14 rhino horns in Namibia

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Namibian cabinet to review anti-poaching strategy as elephant, rhino poaching worsens

Last month, the Namibian cabinet met in an emergency session called to discuss specific new strategies to be implemented in collaboration with national law enforcement agencies in a fresh bid to curb the rampant poaching of elephant and rhino species. The meeting followed confirmation by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET)that while the rhino and elephant poaching crisis has of late escalated alarmingly in the Western, Central and Eastern parts of Africa, Namibia is facing its own poaching crisis which is worsening every day. In the North-Eastern areas of Namibia such as in the Bwabwata, Mudumu and Nkasa Rupara National Parks and in the Eastern flood plains of the Zambezi Region, the poaching of elephants has been growing at an alarming rate over the past three years. Since 2012 until now, 126 ele-phants and 16 rhinos have been poached in Namibia. Fourteen rhino horns were also confiscated at the Hosea Kutaku International Airport from three Chinese Nationals. The origin of the rhino farms were and still is unknown. MET is currently evaluating potential measures and gathering available resources to put a stop to this ever-increasing problem. However, it was noted that the most cases of poaching seems to be cross-border crimes involving foreign nationals.
A budget for this initiative has not been set out yet. Additional funding will be needed for the creation of a dedicated Anti-Poaching Unit. Meanwhile, the founder of Ele-phants Without Borders, Dr Mike Chase, has decided to do the greatest African elephant census in history. Chase speculates that there is an approximate 410 to 700 thousand elephants left in the whole of Africa while there used to be an estimated 27 million in the early 19th century. hase’s team consists of 18 aircraft and 46 scientists in the elephant census project solely funded by the co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen. The team will also visit Namibia after surveying Ethiopia, and continue towards Botswana, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Source: Informante, Namibia

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Namibian rhino poacher gets seven years in prison

A KUNENE resident convicted of poaching a rhinoceros and possessing the endangered animal’s two horns was sentenced to an effective seven years’ imprisonment and fined a total of N$13 000 at the end of his trial in the Opuwo Magistrate’s Court yesterday. Magistrate Lena Iiyambo sentenced Tjetuura Uapungua Tjiumbua, who is in his early forties, to seven years’ imprisonment on a charge of hunting of specially protected game, a fine of N$10 000 or three years’ imprisonment on a charge of possession of controlled wildlife products, a fine of N$2 000 or a one-year prison term for the possession of a firearm without a licence, and a fine of N$1 000 or six months in prison for the illegal possession of ammunition. If Tjiumbua pays the fines he will have to serve a prison term of seven years. The term of imprisonment will increase to 11 and a half years if the fines are not paid. Tjiumbua has spent the past year and nearly eight months in custody. He was arrested in late December 2012 in connection with the poaching of a black rhino cow in the Sesfontein area in Kunene. The cow had a calf when she was killed. Her calf also died a few days after the poaching of its mother. Sources who attended the court proceedings at Opuwo yesterday said Magistrate Iiyambo noted that tourism was a pillar of the local economy in Kunene, providing employment to many of the region’s residents, and that rhinos are one of the main attractions that draw tourists to the region. The poaching of rhinos could put employment and livelihoods in the region at risk, she noted.It has been reported that Tjiumbua admitted that he had poached the rhino when he was questioned in connection with the killing of the animal. After making the admission he also led investigators to a place where he had hidden the two horns that he had removed from the poached rhino.The court was told that Tjiumbua is married and is the father of three children. Tjiumbua, who was convicted last month, was not represented by a defence lawyer during his trial. Obert Masendeke prosecuted. Source:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

African elephant populations tragically close to extinction - study says

Washington, Aug 20 (IANS) In a shocking revelation, a most comprehensive survey of elephant poaching to date has estimated that 100,000 African elephants were illegally killed between 2010-2012, threatening that many elephant populations may be wiped out in the next 10 years. This level of poaching has led to a decrease of 2-3 percent of the population across the continent, said researchers, confirming that the ivory trade has reached unsustainable levels. "What we are seeing is that there are a number of (elephant) populations that are at really high risk of being wiped out. Some populations could be completely gone in 10 years," cautioned George Wittemyer, a conservation ecologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Wittemyer and his team examined elephant demographic data and analysed causes of death to obtain evidence-based estimates of local, regional and continental poaching rates - meaning how many out of every 100 living elephants are illegally killed each year. The researchers began by looking at wild elephants in Kenya's Samburu National Reserve, where every birth and death has been recorded since 1998. They used surveys of elephant carcasses to determine whether each death was attributable to natural causes, to poaching or to other causes. They found robust evidence that the rates of illegal killing began to surge in 2009. Moreover, the team showed that the poaching rates were strongly correlated with increases in the local black market price of ivory, and with the seizures of ivory destined for China. Wittemyer and his team also identified proxy variables that were correlated with killing rates, including Chinese household consumption and expenditure - related to the demand for ivory "as well as an index of local government corruption and poverty rates. They used these to further extrapolate their model to 306 elephant populations across Africa. At the continental scale, the poaching rate was approximately 7 percent per year from 2010 to 2012, the team calculated. This translates into an average of 33,630 elephants annually, based on current population estimates. "This is probably the most important publication for elephant conservation in the last 10 years and one that we had all waited for with bated breath," said Fiona Maisels, an adviser for the Wildlife Conservation Society's wildlife survey and monitoring programmes in Central Africa. The "proportion of elephants estimated to have been lost annually is highly cautious, but still shockingly high", she added. The study appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Source: IANS Live

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Chinese, Indian 'businessmen' appear in Namibian court over 4 elephant tusks

A NAMIBIAN man who is one of the five people - including one Chinese and one Indian national - facing charges of poaching after being found in illegal possession of four elephant tusks in a car in Windhoek two months ago was granted bail of N$5 000 on Friday. Hamutenja Stanislaus Hamutenja (34) had spent a month in police custody before the prosecution agreed that he could be released on bail. Magistrate Jermaine Muchali granted bail to Hamutenja a week after the fifth accused in the case in which two Chinese citizens and an Indian are also charged had been given bail in an amount of N$5 000. The fifth accused, George Mashala (42), was granted bail on 31 July, when he made his first court appearance following his arrest. The first accused in the case, Chinese businessman Hou Xuecheng (37), was granted bail of N$30 000 on 29 July. Hou and a compatriot, Sha Zhiwei (27), an Indian shop owner, Rajaiyah Ranjith Kumar (30), Hamutenja and Mashala are jointly charged with counts of dealing in and possessing controlled wildlife products. Hou, Sha and Kumar were arrested after police officers found four elephant tusks in a car in the Northern Industrial Area on the night of 11 June. The three men were at the same scene, where they had arrived in another car. The driver of the car in which the tusks were found ran away when police officers arrived at the scene. During the hearing of a bail application by Hou, a police officer told Magistrate Muchali that the car in which the tusks were found belonged to Hamutenja. The officer also said that Hamutenja had told her that he had travelled with the ivory from Rundu to Windhoek. In Windhoek, he was in contact with a middleman, who made an arrangement with him to meet at the place in the Northern Industrial Area where the police later found the tusks and arrested the three foreigners, the officer testified. Hou alone is further charged with another count of possession of controlled wildlife products, after the police allegedly also discovered two cheetah skins in his office in the China Town shopping complex in the Northern Industrial Area. He has been released on bail of N$10 000 on the charge in connection with the cheetah skins. Both cases were postponed to 26 September on Friday.Sha and Kumar are still in custody.
Hamutenja Stanislaus Hamutenja (34)and Chinese businessman Hou Xuecheng (37) in court Source: Namibian

China and African governments to blame for elephant genocide, says Michael Tomasky

The planet’s elephant population is plummeting, and they may go extinct within the next 20 years, thanks in large part to China’s lust for ivory. The presence of the Africa summit here in Washington directs our attention to a range of matters we don’t pay quite enough attention to—the global AIDS crisis, what used to be called “Third World” development, and more. But here’s what may be the most important one to me, put in the form of a question that I think every adult human being on the planet, especially those in China, ought to be asking themselves on a fairly regular basis: Do we want to be the human beings who eradicated elephants from the face of the Earth? If you pay no attention to things like this, that question shocks you, maybe to the point that you think I’m being ridiculous. But if you do pay attention, then you know very well the situation I’m describing: The vicious trade in ivory could lead to the extinction of the species in 20 years or even less. The number of elephants in Africa has gone from around 1 million to roughly half that in the last 35 years. And the population is falling even faster now. The story is this. When humans first became alarmed at the vast proportions of the slaughter of these astonishing animals back in the 1980s, a worldwide ban on the ivory trade was enacted by the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It worked. Poaching fell off dramatically, and the black market price of ivory dropped.Ivory tusks are stored in boxes at Hong Kong Customs on August 7, 2013, after they were seized from a container at Kwai Chung Container Terminal a day earlier. But then some countries with large elephant populations began unilaterally disobeying the ban. Unsurprisingly, the thuggish Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe was among the first, along with then-apartheid South Africa. By 1997, the ban had pretty much collapsed, and in 1999, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia were permitted a “one-off” legal sale of 108,000 pounds of ivory to Japan. Tusk weights vary a lot, but that’s maybe 1,400 dead elephants. There was another “one-off” sale in 2002, and then in 2008, the big one: After some aggressive lobbying by China in particular, CITES approved a sale of 110 tons of African ivory to China and Japan (which split it 60 tons to 50, respectively) on the theory that legal sales of large ivory stockpiles might depress the price and thereby slow poaching. The opposite happened—China controlled the supply of legal ivory tightly, which meant the demand was being met by the illegal stock. Today, ivory prices are at record highs, having tripled since that 2008 auction, up to around $1,500 a pound.
“Blame them all. But most of all blame China and the despicable hunger of its status-conscious middle class for baubles of worked ivory.” Blame the African countries and the amoral people who go into the savannahs and the forests and slaughter the animals. The governments of Africa are trying, or at least some of them are. A report on NPR Tuesday morning featured a number of African heads of state speaking at this week’s summit about their need for “high-tech help” to fight the poachers. “When the four presidents were asked what they need from the United States, the answers revealed how militarily sophisticated the poachers have become,” reported NPR’s Gregory Warner. “Namibia asked for light attack helicopters. Tanzania for night-vision goggles. Togo for infrared scanners to use at its port.” Blame also Japan, along with Thailand and Vietnam. Blame the United States, too. There still is a trade for ivory here, although the Obama administration to its credit did just consummate a ban on the commercial import of African elephant ivory. The ban is opposed by—well, guess who? The NRA. Because there’s ivory in some antique guns. The new regs say: “Personal possession of legally acquired items containing elephant ivory will remain legal.” This hasn’t stopped the NRA from announcing that the ban will turn gun owners into criminals overnight. Congressional members of the Republican Party, which may have to ditch its mascot in 20 years and find an animal we didn’t obliterate, are rushing to its aid. Blame them all. But most of all blame China and the despicable hunger of its status-conscious middle class for baubles of worked ivory. And of course the government, which promised as it lobbied to participate in the 2008 sale to create effective enforcement systems for monitoring both tusks and worked ivory. It did neither, according to Allan Thornton, the head of the Environmental Investigation Agency, a Washington- and London-based nonprofit that conducts undercover investigations to expose environmental crimes, including those against wildlife. “They really just didn’t have the political commitment to enforce anything,” Thornton says. Thornton says pressure is building, even inside China, for a ban. Yao Ming, the former NBA star who’s an icon there, has lent his prestige to the campaign. “We can only save African elephants if China and Japan ban the ivory trade,” Thornton told me. “That’s the only way to stop it, so that enforcement can be more effective.” You shouldn’t need me to tell you what magnificent creatures elephants are. The marvels of elephant cognition are well known. They possess complex intelligence. They have rich emotional lives. They laugh and they cry. They use tools. They have enough self-awareness to recognize themselves in a mirror (think about that). They paint. Not walls. Art. They practice altruism. They have compassion. They form extraordinarily sophisticated communal societies. They hold funerals for their deceased and have well-established mourning rituals. They’ve been known to help others species in need. Even humans. And as they’re probably aware of what we’re doing to them, they’re surely smart enough to know that that was their fateful error.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Three Chinese poachers arrested with 14 rhino horns in Namibia

THE case in which three Chinese men are charged with trying to smuggle 14 rhino horns out of Namibia near the end of March has again been postponed for further investigations to be carried out. The three accused men – Li Xiaoliang (30), Li Zhibing (53), and Pu Xunin (49) – have to appear in court again on 11 September, after Magistrate George Mbundu postponed their case in the Hosea Kutako International Airport Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. Their case has also been transferred from the periodical airport court to the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court in Katutura, where the three accused should make their next appearance before a magistrate. Public prosecutor Anthony Wilson, who asked for the postponement, informed Magistrate Mbundu that the investigation of the case is continuing and that the police might still arrest additional suspects. The three accused were arrested and charged with possessing and exporting controlled wildlife products after 14 rhino horns and a leopard skin were found in two suitcases that Li Zhibing and Li Xiaoliang had checked in at Hosea Kutako International Airport as part of their luggage for a flight on which they were supposed to leave Namibia on 24 March. All three of the men have claimed during a bail hearing in May that they did not know what the suitcases contained.Li Zhibing claimed that a Chinese citizen living in Zambia had asked him to take the suitcases with him to China. He said he was promised US$3 000 as payment if he delivered the suitcases to someone in Shanghai. He also told the court that he had asked Li Xiaoliang to book one of the suitcases in as part of his luggage. Pu denied having had any involvement with or knowledge of the suitcases. Magistrate Mbundu, who presided over the bail hearing, also heard testimony that DNA tests done in South Africa have confirmed that the rhino horns found in the two suitcases were of Namibian origin. The three accused remain in custody, after Magistrate Mbundu turned down their request to be granted bail. Source: Namibian ends

Friday, August 8, 2014

Angola - Africa's latest illegal ivory trading post

LUANDA, Angola — At Benfica Market, south of the Angolan capital, Luanda, tables are stacked with carved ivory items from elephants illegally hunted in the forests of central Africa. The buyers are from China’s 250,000-strong expatriate community, as estimated by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in May, in Africa’s second-biggest oil producer. At the cement block and dirt floor market about 10,000 ivory pieces, mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, are on offer, according to Esmond Martin, a wildlife trade researcher based in Kenya who visited the site in March. The ivory is carved into Asian designs of Buddhas, dragon bracelets and necklaces to attract buyers. “I was shocked,” Martin, 73, said in a July 2 telephone interview from Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. “It’s very rare to see so much ivory for sale in one specific small market. Underneath the tables were 10 trunks with more.” The illegal trade in ivory stretches across Africa to Asia: From Kenya, where poachers hacked the tusks off two of the country’s oldest elephants last month, to China, where smugglers supply a growing middle class eager to display new wealth. Benfica is second only as a public ivory seller in Africa to Nigeria’s Lekki market in Lagos. Together, Nigeria and Angola have fewer than 3,000 elephants, according to the United Nations. ‘Internal issues’ Angolan craftsmen buy wholesale ivory for $150 to $200 a kilogram (2.2 pounds) while the price in Beijing is $2,100 per kilogram, said Martin, who has visited the Chinese capital. “We have some internal issues as to who should be responsible for monitoring and evaluating this kind of illegal trade,” Soke Kudikuenda, head of biodiversity and conservation at the Angolan Ministry of Environment, said in a telephone interview in Luanda. “We have submitted documents to the Council of Ministers to determine whether this should be under our umbrella or under the umbrella of the Ministry of Agriculture.” Angola last year joined the UN’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, according to its website. The 180-member group began in 1973 and tries to protect more than 35,000 species, it said. “Angolan government authorities said late last month they’re unable to take action against the Benfica market until they change outdated legislation,” Tom Milliken, head of the World Wildlife Fund’s Traffic International department, which tracks illegal trade in rhinoceros and elephant products, said in an e- mailed reply to questions. “This is worrying as Angola is the country with the largest expatriate Chinese population in all of Africa and the market is humming.” Central Africa is estimated to host 81,000 of the continent’s 500,000 elephants, according to a 2012 report by the UN Environment Program. Southern Africa, with about 290,000, has the most, with many of the pachyderms in Botswana and Zimbabwe. About 22,000 African elephants were killed illegally in 2013, said Martin, citing information from Nairobi-based Save The Elephants. Martin, a native of Manhattan who’s lived in Kenya since the 1960s, does contract work for organizations including the World Wildlife Fund and the New York Zoological Society. “Many of the sellers of the ivory are foreigners and they’re French-speaking, so they’re coming from central Africa,” Martin said. “There’s organized crime in a large quantity of the raw tusks being sent. The people buying among the 10,000 pieces are mostly contract workers from China. But they also buy in bulk. They’ll buy 10 or 20 of the same thing.” “Ivory-based products are bought mainly by Chinese and other Asians,” Pedro Miguel, a 47-year-old seller of carved wooden items alongside the ivory sellers, said in an interview at the market. “We know this is an illegal art but it’s also a way of living.” Customs officials in Hong Kong netted 790 kilograms of ivory valued at HK$7.9 million ($1.02 million) in 32 suitcases off one flight from Angola, the South China Morning Post reported June 11. Chinese construction crews abound in Angola after the Asian country was the first to help Angola secure oil-backed loans following the end of a 27-year civil war in 2002. “China remains the single most important contemporary player in the illicit trade in ivory and the pattern of seizures confirms the global reach of China’s illegal trade activity,” Traffic said in a report last year. Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa are the most common conduits for the Asia-bound trade, Traffic said. Last month in Kenya, Satao, a 45-year-old elephant that may have been the world’s largest, and Mountain Bull, a symbol for the Mount Kenya region, were killed in separate attacks. “Get rid of the middlemen and the kingpins who are the traders who know the contacts in Asia and Africa and it would be very easy to close these markets down because the legislation is there and it’s wide open,” Martin said. It’s public trading “because they want to attract the customers who are over 95 percent Chinese.” ends

Friday, August 1, 2014

Dawie Groenewald - Zim awaits justice

BULAWAYO - Any search around the name of South African national Dawie Groenewald would be incomplete if it omits to mention that the man is a former member of the South African Police Services (SAPS) who was dishonourably discharged from the force after an internal probe found him guilty of taking stolen cars straight out of the recovered stolen vehicle pound and selling them back to criminals and unsuspecting citizens. It is also known publicly that Groenewald is the director of Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris, a hunting outfit operating out of the small outpost of Old Days about 100km from Musina. The company is also registered in the same name at Overland Park in the United States county of Kansas. OAS, which also operates in Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and has a European business representative based in Paris, France, also trades as Adventurous Safaris on the world wide web offering safari hunts in in its African bases. But that is all there is to be known if one does not burrow deeper into the operations of the 43 year-old Groenewald, the man arrested by the South African Hawks special investigations unit on allegations of being the mastermind behind what has come to be known as the Musina Mafia, an outfit which could turn out to be Africa's biggest rhino, elephant and lion poaching syndicate if proven to have existed. Eleven members of the "Musina Mafia", led by Groenewald, his 35 year-old American born wife Sariette, professional hunter Tielman Erasmus, veterinarians Karel Toets, Manie du Pleiss and Marissa Toet were early this month remanded to September when they appeared in court to face charges of poaching, illegal gun posession and many other associated crimes in the border town of Musina.The busting of the syndicate uplifted the spirits of South African conservation farmers and animal rights activists who have reasons to believe it was behind sophisticated poaching raids that killed even those rhinos deemed to be in the safest of the country's animal sanctuaries. However, an investigation conducted over the last two months by the Daily News reveals a paper trail of the Groenewald operations that leads into Zimbabwe and exposes how he used his links with top ZANU PF officials in the murky safari hunting business to take full advantage of the utter chaos created by President Robert Mugabe's fast track land reform to carry out illegal rhino, elephant and lions hunts while earning even more illicit dollars from inflating the number of hunts on his legally acquired qoutas. That was until the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority noticed his activities banned him from operating in the country, first in mid 2003 and finally in September 2004. On the contrary, evidence gathered by the Daily News shows that the ban did not stop Out of Africa Safaris and its international agents from conducting business in Zimbabwe until 2006, shortly before Groenewald was suspended from the South African Professional Hunters Association for conducting illegal hunts and abusing legally acquired hunting quotas. From its base on 7930 W 155th Terrace, Overland Parks, Kansas 66223 in the US, OAAS has over the years been able to attract scores of American hunters into the five African countries that still have rhino, elephant and lion territory - South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Information available to the Daily News suggests that OAAS came to the notice of Zimbabwean animal rights activists in 2003 when 250 bateleur eagles were exported to a falcon-breeder Sheikh in United Arab Emirates, the Middle East's equivalent of the proverbial island plenty in a sea of grinding poverty. According to a March 2003 report posted on wildlife website Africa Indaba, the international concern at the sale rose because it was allegedly done thorugh a deal facilitated by ZANU PF-linked Ed Kadzombe whose safari hunting business E.K Safaris trades out of Number 30 Golden Stairs Avenue in the plush surbub of Avondale in Harare. At that time it was known that EK Safaris was the Zimbabwe partner for OAAS and operated in many parts of the Gwayi Valley Conservancy and around the Sinamatela and Matetsi Five concessions near Victoria Falls where the company is also alleged to have facilitated the sale and translocation of 160 sables from a private conservancy in the Chinhoyi area to South Africa, allegedly with the help of Vitalis Chadenga, then acting director in the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. The South African Professional Hunters Association suspected that the OAAS, using its proximity to Zimbabwe, of facilitating the illegal deal which latter turned sour and became public when Ed Kadzombe, his South Africa buyer and the legal owned of the sable fought a court battle over the non-payment of money involved in the deal. Reporting on the court battle, South African newspaper Business Day said the average cost of a live sable in the SA market at that time was R4000, which placed the total cost of the animals involved at R93 000. At the the height of the international outcry over poaching in Zimbabwe in 2003, animal rights activists started expressing concern that the rhino and elephant poaching crisis was being fuelled by unscrupulos foreign safari operators in collusion with government ministers, wildlife management officers, elements of the security forces and ZANU PF henchman who had invaded the farms. But the identities were to come in January 2003 when 'well-organised' poachers slaughtered four black rhinos at Sinamatela camp. Officially, no one was arrested for the offence but information supplied by national parks investigations sources suggests that while the concession on which the animals were shot was legally under EK Safaris, it was a group of American hunters brought illegally into the country and by the OAAS and allowed to operate through collusion with EK Safaris who had carried out the massacre and left it with the hallmarks of a poaching scene. The investigation also revealed that OAAS, with the help of Zimbabwean partners EK Safaris and Inyathi Hunters, a company jointly-owned by former Matabeleland North governor and ZANU PF provincial chairman Jacob Mudenda and Enio Di Palmer (who owns Bulawayo-based steel-manufacturing firm Steelforce), used their American representative Richard Putman of Seminole Safaris in the US state of Alabama to lure hundreds of American hunters to conduct illegal hunts in the Gwayi Valley Conservancy, Hwange National Park and the Matetsi Five Intensive Conserrvation Areas between 2003 and 2005. In Zimbabwe, OAAS used its hunters-co-directors Nick Van Rensburg and Glen Van Rensburg were assisted by EK Safaris and Zimbabwean professional hunters Albert Paradzai, PH licence number 6016 B, described as a fomer pilot with the Parks and Wildlife Authority, Dawie Van Der Westhuizen PH licence no. 5957 B, who was then listed as a farmer in Karoi and Chris Chitsa, professional PH licence number 5780B. Between 2003 and 2005, conservationists records on the tracking of vehicles which were seen driving into and out of poaching hot-spots created a consistent log on which nine Toyota Landcruiser vehicles fitted with registration numbers DDM 850 N, DWF 519 N, FFC 217 N, MWF 519, DDM 865 N, FBG 847 N, FBT 052 N, FBR 649 N and FBJ 847 N. The letter N shows that all the vehicles were registered in the Northern Province. "These companies, professional hunters and motor vehicles were hunting within the Gwayi Valley Conservancy where they were mainly concentrating their illegal operations on Goodluck Ranch ,Chimwara Ranch , Railway Farm 35 and Sekumi Estates and Railway Farm 31," reads part of the summary of the 2003 Gwayi Valley Conservancy 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. The report also reveals that the endless chain of American hunters who were guests of Nyati Hunters, came through the OAAS which got them through Nyati Safaris American agents Dick and Mary Cabella of Cabelas Outdoor Adventures, a company listed as operating out of Number 1, Cabela Drive, Sidney in Nebraska, USA. But the OAAS was not the only South African outfit involved in plundering Zimbabwe's rhino heritage. South African brothers Piet and Hendrik Uys, directors of Northern Weapons which is also trading in Afrikaans as 'Noordlike Wapens' out of Louis Trichadt in the Northern Province are ported to have conducted extensive illegal hunts in the same area at the same time. The Uys brothers are believed to be the owners of three Toyota Landcruiser trucks with registration numbers NWZ 918 GP, FBD 185 N AND DPK 173 N and the Gwayi Hunting Report of 2003 observes their actiona as follows: "These characters were very active through out the year with-in 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 name given to them of the South African hunters were Andre De Jaager who was caught poaching while driving a blue Landrover Vehicle registration number DMT 498 GP and one R M Saunders 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.De Jaager is staying at the Lodge on Chamankanu Ranch. He has also been seen hunting on Lugo Ranch (owned by Vice-President John Nkomo) and Skukungwa farms. He has been arrested twice for hunting illegally on Skukungwa Ranch," reads part of the 2003 hunting 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 and reportedly wants to start a fishing safari business in Masuna island on the Zambezi. 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 noted in 2003. The report also reveals the activities of Henry F. Neil, a controversial Cape Town clergyman who is described as 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 liaisons with black Zimbabweans. He is apparently assisting a school in the Gwaai area to justify his position there. He is apparently working out of Kalambeza Lodge which is situated on Umkombo Ranch with in the Gwayi Valley Conservancy. "Further, this character is known to the Gwayi Valley Conservancy for the destruction and decemation of the natural resources and wildlife on two certain pieces of land known as Carl Lisa and Bindonvale which he was leasing.He was the first person in the Gwayi Valley Conservancy to receive an order to stop all activities , including hunting operations ,chopping of trees and general destruction of fauna and flora on his land." French national Jerome Sefridi, who is the director of Indaba Safaris of 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. Sefridi is a French national resident in Zimbabwe. He has been selling hunts to the French hunting community.He hunted extensively with-in 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 h a green Mitshubishi jeep registration number 797-699 F." As evidence gathered by Daily News shows, OAAS moved out of the Gwayi Conservancy in early 2003 after being temporarily banned for carrying out illegal hunts but still used their Zimbabwean connections to set up another operations based in the resort town of Victoria Falls to continue operations until the final ban in September 2004. In June 2003 a tracking collar taken off a lionese that was shot illegally was found in the homestead of Lot 2 Dete Valley Farm during the stay of a group of hunters from Hwange Safari Lodge and some from OAAS were reported to be staying at the hotel whose major shareholders are ZanuPF. A surveillance log obtained by Daily News from the parks intelligence noted that on July 24, 2003, three South African landcruisers which had their number plates removed arrived in the Gwayi Conservancy and an occupant of one the vehicles was reportedly seen bribing officials at the veterinary road block before driving onto Goodluck Farm where hunting blinds were latter discovered to have been built around animal watering points. "On 2 September 2003 four Americans were seen arriving in Victoria Falls. They were collected by a South African operator who turned out to be OAAS and were overheard saying they wanted to shoot as much as possible. On 4 September, a white landrover, vehicle registration FBT052N and belonging to Out of Africa Safaris was seen dropping zebra meat at the PTC (now Tel One) offices in Vic Falls although public vehicles are not permitted into this area," reads part of the parks investigations report. As the watch on OAAS operations continued, undercover investigators witnessed the arrival of two Landrover twin-cab vehicles, registration numbers FBG 847 N and FBR 649 N with two American clients in Bulawayo on 15 September 2003 but the investaigators lost track of the vehicles and were unable to determine where they went until they re-appeared in Hwange National Park where they operated for the whole month. The surveillance log also states that on 25 September 2003, two vehicles from OAAS , a white Landrover twin cab with registration number DWF 519 N and a green Toyota Landcruiser double cab with registration number DDM 865N were seen in Victoria Falls filled with American hunters. The log submits that OAAS remained active in the national parks as confirmed by the numerous sighting of three OAAS vehicles with registration numbers FBG 848N, DWF 519N and FBG 847N between 30 September 2003 and 16 October 2003 around Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park and Half Way Hotel inside the Gwayi Conservancy loaded with clients who told undercover investigators they were from America and South Africa. Based on the surveillance findings, the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority wrote OAAS the final notice of expulsion from Zimbabwe. "We refer to our letter dated September 24 and signed by Director General MZ Mtsambiwa and we wish to further clarify the letter and its effect on Out Africa Adventurous Safaris. Please be advised that in terms of the Parks and Wildlife Act Chapter 20:14, OAAS is not allowed to operate as a safari operator conducting any hunting nor safari operations in the whole country of Zimbabwe. Our previous letter cited the Gwayi Intensive Conservation Area which was then known to be the operational area of OAAS. However, the company and all its staff are not allowed to conduct any business without the requisite licences and or permits from the appropriate authorities in Zimbabwe in terms of the laws and regulations of the country," reads the main body of the letter that expelled OAAS from Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe Conservation Taskforce chairman Johnny Rodrigues told the Daily News that the trial of the Musina Mafia remains an issue of interest to Zimbabwean consrvationists who believe it will help lift the heavy lid on the politically connected rhino and elephant poaching syndicates which are still ravaging the parks. "OAAS left a big footprint of their illegal operations in Zimbabwe. They were very much behind the decimation of not just elephant and rhino, but the zebra population in the sanctuaries around West Nicholson in Gwanda has been decimated for hides. Our understanding is that most of these poachers take the skins to the OAAS taxidermist factory in Old Days where they are tanned and prepared for export to Europe while elephant and rhino products are sent on to the Vietnamese and Chinese syndicates which finance this carnage. We will be very happy to meet the Hawks and tell them what we know about OAAS and many other unscrupulous South Africans who got their riches from plundering the wildlife heritage of this country," Rodrigues said. By AEP
Source:AEP ***************************************************************************************************************************** This piece, painstakingly researched and written by Oscar Nkala in 2011 is being reproduced to rekindle memories among those who already know that Zimbabw hopes and prays that South African investigators will be so thorough as to follow Dawie's bloody trails into Zimbabwe, or ask us to help them do so, so that the Zimbabwean end of Dawie's crimes is also put on trial. I re-run this also as fresh information for those who don't know that Dawie's also has crimes to answer for in Botswana, which if investigated, can be proven and used as a basis for prosecution. It is my view that trying him in South Africa only when he is a regional criminal will make a complete mockery of justice in the Rainbow Nation, which we look to for exemplary regional leadership in all matter. ******************************************************************************************************************************

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Double poaching tragedy for Kenyan rhino mother and calf

Laikipia, Kenya: Poachers shot a black mother rhino and later on its calf was killed by lions while escaping danger at a conservancy in Laikipia. Ol Pejeta ranch lost its eight-year-old rhino named ‘Malkia’ during the incident near Buffalo Plain area. The ranch’s marketing manager Elodie Sampere said ‘Malkia’ was shot and seriously injured by the gang, but succumbed to her injuries a day later. Sampere said the poachers struck at 7pm and the security jolted into action immediately. “When our security team got the first alarm, they immediately dispatched a response team, but unfortunately, the poachers escaped and managed to injure one rhino,” she said in a statement. The rhino’s calf, which was one-month old escaped from the poachers immediately after its mother was felled, but ran into a pride of lions which killed her. “We are devastated by this loss. But you can rest assured that we will continue to review and improve every aspect of our security operations,” she noted. Barely a week before the attack, poachers raided the prestigious, Ol Jogi Conservancy’s rhino sanctuary and severely massacred four rhinos in a one-night attack. See also: Poachers have field day as leaders disagree over 3-month fishing ban The poachers, who were believed to have been in two groups struck at the 58,000-acre ranch on July 12, and shot and killed three rhinos at Mlima Nyasi and V-Shaped Dam in the conservancy. “They also seriously injured a fourth rhino which was later taken in for treatment by Kenya Wildlife Service officers,” said a security source. Sampere regretted that poaching has reached unprecedented heights in the country and attributed the attacks to the high prices rhino horns are attracting. Internet sources indicate the price of a rhino horn has surpassed that of gold, and poachers are willing to take greater risks. Kenya is a major transit route for ivory destined for Asian markets from eastern and central Africa in recent years.