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.

Friday, July 11, 2014

4 black rhinos killed, 3 injured in Namibia as 12 poachers appear in court

Twelve men arrested over the weekend in possession of eight elephant tusks and dried game meat were each granted bail ranging between N$2000 and N$3000 in the Mukwe Periodical Court on Monday. The men were arrested with the tusks and other game products including a pangolin skin in the areas of Divundu and Ndiyona in Kavango East. The suspects - all Namibians - are, Sirungu Mathias (38), Paulus Joseph (31), Murenga Paulus (46), Mundinda Munango (37), Nakale Amos, (68), Matamu Donatus (44), Ncani Kashe (44), Linyando Simon (42), Hausiku Haingura (34), Matjayi Kayongo (48), Kashera John (24) and Lishwena Alfons (44). Their case was postponed to September 02 and September 04. Mubebo could, however, not determine the weight of the tusks and the game meat that was confiscated from the twelve suspects. In an unrelated matter, poachers also killed four black rhinos and wounded three others in the Uukwaluudhi Conservancy in the Omusati Region a week ago. The death of the four rhinos killed brings the total number to 10 rhinos poached since January this year alone. No arrest has been made in this regard. Namibia recorded 123 cases of elephant poaching in national parks between 2005 to date, with 222 tusks weighing about 1 910 kg confiscated. In all the poached elephants resulted in monetary losses exceeding N$1,3 million. An estimated number of 105 people in possession of elephant tusks were arrested between 2005 and 2013. While from 2005 to date, 11 cases of rhino poaching were recorded. Of the poached rhinos, 18 horns weighing 14,3 kg valued at N$599 532 were confiscated and nine suspects were arrested. The economic loss from poaching of elephants in 2012 in national parks amounted to N$3,8 million. The losses accrued from Bwabwata, Madumu and Nkasa Rupara National Parks where 28 elephants in total were poached. About N$2,2 million was lost through the 142 elephants poached in conservancies in 2012. Despite the recent upsurge in poaching the Namibian elephant population has virtually quadrupled over the last 20 years to over 20 000. Source: Namibian

Four elephants killed in fresh Zim cyanide poisoning attack

FOUR elephants have died from fresh cyanide poisoning at Zambezi National Park raising fears that more game could be killed by poachers using the deadly chemical. Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers on patrol discovered the dead jumbos in the park just outside Victoria Falls along the Zambezi River early this week, an official confirmed. Zimparks public relations manager Caroline Washaya-Moyo said the death of the elephants comes as a shock, a year following a similar poisoning incident that left more than 100 jumbos dead at the Hwange National Park. She said the authority learnt that a natural salt lick in the park was laced with cyanide leading to the poisoning of the elephants. “Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority confirms that four elephants died from suspected cyanide poisoning in Zambezi National Park. Samples were collected and have been sent to Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Harare office for further investigation.” Washaya-Moyo said preliminary results of investigations by Zimparks working with the police, EMA and Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust veterinary Dr Chris Fogging have confirmed that the elephants died as a result of cyanide poisoning. “Other species that died as a result include one cape turtle dove, one sand grouse and a vulture,” she said. Washaya-Moyo said the authority has since instituted ground and air patrols around the area as investigations into the poisoning continue. Source: Chronicle

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Conservationists call for US pressure on Mozambique to stop ivory poaching

Washington — Environmentalists are formally urging President Barack Obama to enact trade sanctions on Mozambique over the country's alleged chronic facilitation of elephant and rhinoceros poaching through broad swathes of southern Africa. Investigators say substantial evidence exists of Mozambique's failure to abide by international conventions against wildlife trafficking, including to back up allegations of state complicity. While President Obama last year mounted a new initiative by the U.S. government to tackle international wildlife trafficking, with a particular focus on ivory, some say Mozambique's actions are undermining those efforts - and threatening these species worldwide. A new petition, publicly announced Wednesday, now provides evidence on the issue and urges the president to make use of legal authorities to encourage Mozambique to crack down on poachers. "Mozambique continues to play an ever-growing and uncontained role in rhinoceros and elephant poaching," Susie Ellis, executive director of the International Rhino Foundation, one of the petitioners, told IPS. "Although they have been given direction by the international community to enact certain controls, those have been only superficial and have had no meaningful effect. If you look at the large-scale poaching and illegal trade in rhino horn and elephant ivory out of Mozambique, it's directly undercut President Obama's [efforts] on wildlife trafficking." Increasingly working hand in hand with organised crime, poachers over the past three years have killed record numbers of elephants and rhinoceroses, particularly in Africa. Some 50,000 elephants are being killed each year in Africa, alongside 1,000 rhinos, leaving perhaps as few as 250,000 elephants in the wild globally. Driving this illicit market is increased consumer demand in Asia, particularly in China and Vietnam. According to a U.N. report from last year, large seizures of ivory bound for Asia have more than doubled since 2009. The new petition focuses on the central international agreement around wildlife trafficking, known as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and warns that Mozambique's outsized role in African ivory poaching is diluting the convention's effectiveness. The CITES standing committee is meeting next week in Switzerland. "Available evidence indicates that Mozambican nationals constitute the highest number of foreign arrests for poaching in South Africa. Organized crime syndicates based in Mozambique are driving large scale illegal trade in rhino horn and elephant ivory," the petition states. "Given the scope and depth of the illegal killing and trade in rhino and elephant products by Mozambican nationals, we urge the United States to ... enact substantial trade sanctions." High-level complicity Supporters say that strong action by the Mozambican authorities would have a significant and immediate impact on the global supply of illicit ivory. Officials reportedly estimate that 80 to 90 percent of all poachers in South Africa's massive Kruger National Park are Mozambican nationals. Local groups say that on most nights more than a dozen separate poaching parties can be prowling the park, most from well-documented "poaching villages" located across the border in Mozambique. Meanwhile, enforcement of wildlife-related legislation in Mozambique is said to be essentially non-existent, with penalties for poaching and trafficking thus far not effective. Yet changing that situation has been complicated by what appears to be state collusion. "It's impossible for that level of illegal activity to be going on without high-level complicity," Allan Thornton, president of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a watchdog group based here and in London that co-authored the new petition, told IPS. "We believe that there are ex-military officials who are providing political protection to the [trafficking] syndicates who are arming and funding these poaching teams. There is substantial evidence implicating both the police and military." Mozambique keeps strict control over the types of weapons used by the country's poachers, Thornton notes, yet such weapons are available to the military. Similarly, police and military uniforms have repeatedly been found in poaching camps. Thornton says that putting together the new petition took several months, due to the mass of evidence available. "If all Mozambican citizens were prevented from illicitly crossing over the border, poaching would drop significantly. But there has been no enforcement on the Mozambique side, despite legal obligations under CITES," he says. "We believe that the Mozambique government should be held accountable for their activities and act rapidly against these poachers, criminal syndicates and those protecting them. They could close this trade literally in a week. Source: Online