Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kenya drops poaching charges against prominent Amboseli Trust elephant conservationist

Nairobi — The State has dropped ivory possession charges against a renowned Amboseli elephant conservationist Susan Soila and her son Robert Ntawasa. Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Kioko Kamula told a Nairobi court that the evidence in the file against the two had been compromised. Soila, the Deputy Director of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants and her son were arrested in May last year with 19 kilograms of ivory valued at Sh1.9 million. They were later arraigned in court and were charged on three counts of having ivory without permission, found in their car when police arrested them in Emali. They pleaded not guilty to all charges and were released on a bail of Sh200,000 each. They had alleged through their lawyer Philip Murgor that they were framed by Kenya Wildlife Service rangers. “This case serves as a good example as to why all KWS investigations on serious poaching of elephants and rhinos together with prosecutions should be directed and conducted by DPP’s office. My clients are grateful that they stand vindicated of the false accusations and that they can now resume their work in conservation in the country,” Murgor said after the charges were dropped. Last year, poachers slaughtered 302 elephants in Kenya, while in 2012 KWS said 384 were killed up from 289 in 2011, from a total population of around 35,000.In 2012 and 2013, more than 1,000 people were arrested for committing wildlife crimes. A new report by INTERPOL on poaching recommended the need for greater information sharing to enable a more proactive and effective law enforcement response against trafficking syndicates. The report for 2013 by INTERPOL’s Environmental Security Unit highlights the need for increased intelligence analysis in order to provide sound evidence for multiple count indictments where the trafficking is linked to fraud, tax evasion and money laundering. Source: Capital FM, Nairobi

Zim parks and wildlife authority too broke to stop rhino poaching, parliament told

National Parks and Wildlife Authority of Zimbabwe (ZimParks) Monday revealed that it is critically underfunded to perform effective operations resulting in continuous local and transnational poaching syndicates. Giving oral evidence on rhino poaching to the Water, Tourism and Hospitality Industry parliamentary portfolio committee, ZimParks director general, Edson Chidziya said although there was a slight increase in rhino population over the last three years poaching activities had intensified with Zimbabweans being labelled senior poachers by their foreign counterparts. Chidziya said despite all efforts by the authority, their conservancies had remained prone to poaching compared to privately owned parks in the country owing to lack of funds. “As much as we have put much effort to control this, it is a matter of concern that Zimbabweans account for the majority of poachers. We are still very far from curbing this problem because of (lack of) resources both human and financial considering that this practice cuts across the whole profile including villagers, ZimParks and also other countries. “Transportation of wildlife extracts includes shipping, air transportation and there is also a destination and all these stages will require some investigations. The whole system is just complex hence the need for more funding to carry out investigations at all these levels,” he said. The black and white rhino populations which had risen to 2 200 were in the 1990s reduced to 390 in Zimbabwe but through various interventions, according to Chidziya, the number had risen to 753 with 256 of these being the white rhino. Chidziya said the authority needs more resources to maintain or allow this number to increase and called for a multi-sectoral approach. According to ZimParks statistics, between 2010 and 2013 the total mortality of rhino as a result of poaching was 128 which is a very high number considering that Zimbabwe only has a total of 753 rhino. The total number of arrests during the last three years reached 66 while 30 people were given jail terms ranging from six to 21 years. Source: The Zimbabwe Mail