Friday, October 2, 2015

'Cecil the Lion' to fly across Africa

As the court case seeking to establish who killed one of Zimbabwe’s most famous felines named Cecil continues, low-cost airline FastJet has named its latest addition to its fleet after the slain predator. The killing of Cecil, a 13-year-old, rare, black-maned lion and a an iconic figure at Hwange National Park caused global uproar from animal rights groups despite little knowledge of the lion. “Our newest addition to our fleet Cecil the Lion (Z-FJE) is taking to the skies today,” the airline announced on its Facebook page recently. 'He’ll be flying to Harare for his final checks, stopping in Egypt on the way, before making his Zimbabwean debut!” Early this month Fastjet, which received an air service permit (ASP), announced that it had increased the number of flights on its Harare – Dar es Salaam, Tanzania route from four to seven, driven by strong passenger demand. The emergence of low cost airline on Zimbabwe’s airspace under government’s open sky policy is now seen as an aggressive strategy to woo big airlines to Zimbabwe that left after relations with the West soured over alleged human rights abuses and violations of property rights after the chaotic land reform program. The aviation sector’s plan also seeks boost the country’s tourism sector. Official figures show that the tourism sector is projected to grow by 5.1%, buoyed by aggressive destination marketing efforts. Thawing relations have seen the western countries, which supply the bulk of tourists to Zimbabwe, relaxing the travel warnings. The country’s civil aviation sees airlines trebling to 40 in 2018 from the current figures. At peak 34 airlines which include German’s Lufthansa and British Airways both landed in Harare. Source: The Independent

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Rogue Zim Cecil hunter arrested for attempting to smuggle 29 sables into South Africa

Bulawayo (Zimbabwe) (AFP) - The professional hunter who helped an American dentist kill Zimbabwe's popular lion Cecil has been arrested for his alleged link with an illegal operation to smuggle 29 sable antelope out of the country. Theo Bronkhorst, 52, was arrested Monday in Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo, police said on Tuesday. "He is facing charges of moving wild animals without a permit" and smuggling of wild animals, police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said in a statement. The arrest came days after three South Africans were arrested and charged for trying to smuggle 29 sable -- a rare and expensive breed of antelope -- out of Zimbabwe into South Africa. Hewitt Edwin, 49, Blignaut Hendricks Johannes, 41, and Pretorius Herbert John, 49, also face charges of illegal capture and translocation of wildlife as well as illegally crossing an international boundary, according to wildlife authorities. Zimbabwean authorities said over the weekend the animals -- which include six calves and are valued at $384,000 (340,000 euros) -- were captured from a private conservancy in the northwestern resort town of Victoria Falls. A friend of Bronkhorst's claimed the animals had come from Zambia and that the hunter had only helped the South Africans secure an import permit into Zimbabwe. "The only thing where Theo was involved is he facilitated their importation into Zimbabwe," he told AFP on condition of anonymity. They moved them and obviously lied to him that they had an agreement to move them to some property in the West Nicholson area," he added. West Nicholson is located roughly halfway between Bulawayo and the Beitbridge border post shared with South Africa. Local media say the smuggling bid was discovered when the cars transporting the animals got stuck on the Limpopo River bed, which divides the two countries. The Zimbabwean hunter was the guide during a hunt which saw American dentist Walter Palmer pay $55,000 to shoot the popular feline Cecil, with a bow and arrow in July. The killing of the lion, who was being collared and tracked as part of an Oxford University research project, provoked outrage among animal lovers worldwide. Bronkhorst was on a $1,000 bail pending his trial on September 28 on charges of organising an illegal hunt which led to the lion's death. Sables are prized for their rarity and long horns, according to Peter Oberem, president of Wildlife Ranching South Africa. "Because sable are scarce... their value is pretty high," said Oberem, speaking from Pretoria. Source: Online

Friday, August 28, 2015

Zim prepares to export 170 more baby elephants to China

ZIMBABWE is preparing to ship at least 170 baby elephants to China as it has emerged that seven Chinese veterinarian doctors are camped at Hwange National Park preparing the animals for the rigors of a long-distance flight. The elephants are destined for Chimelong Safari Park in Guangdong Province of China, which has reportedly ordered 200 elephants from Zimbabwe. In June, Zimbabwe exported 24 elephants to China to fulfill part of the order, but preparations are in progress to send yet another batch despite global protests from animal rights and conservationist groups. The Chinese veterinarian doctors are preparing the elephants for export by, among other exercises, caging and familiarising them with an environment similar to a cargo plane so as to condition them for the long flight, thereby minimising shock and stress during the journey as elephants are known to be sensitive animals. In addition, the baby elephants, which are between two-and-a-half and five years old, are being given limited feeding as part of the preparations. Reports of the presence of Chinese veterinary doctors at Hwange National Park and the exportation of wildlife to China has angered wildlife lovers, including a Liberal Democrat member of the European Union parliament for the South East of England, Catherine Bearder, who wrote a letter to Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Belgium Tadeous Chifamba demanding an explanation. The EU parliament is based in Brussels, Belgium. “I was most disturbed this week to hear reports that staff at Hwange National Park have been suddenly removed from their posts and replaced by Chinese staff and veterinarians. It would appear that this new staff is preparing the departure of elephants and lions from Zimbabwe to China. Last time we met in February, I expressed concern regarding Zimbabwe’s decision to export animals out of Hwange National Park to Chinese zoos,” wrote Bearder on June 25. The parliamentarian has managed to convince the EU to step up the fight against wildlife trafficking by preparing an EU Action Plan. She expressed concerned that the removal of young elephants from their natural habitats limited their chances of survival as they are more vulnerable without their herds. However, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment Water and Climate, Prince Mupazviriho yesterday dismissed the allegations as baseless. “That’s a lie. It is not true. There is no such thing like that,” he said. The exportation of the first batch of animals caused global controversy but the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) management authority of China told the Cites secretariat based in Geneva, Switzerland, that the movement would not affect the survival of the baby elephants. “The secretariat was informed by the Cites Management Authority of China (the Management Authority) on 3 July 2015 that it received an application to import 27 live elephants from Zimbabwe,” explained Cites. “The Management Authority explained that the Chinese authorities had requested and received from the authorities in Zimbabwe confirmation that: the Zimbabwean export permit received by the Chinese authorities was valid and authentic; the export would not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild; and that the animals would be transported in conformity with recommendations of the Conference of the Parties to Cites on Transport of live specimens.” The elephants’ export come at a time the illegal killing by an American of Cecil, a 13-year-old, rare, black-maned lion and a popular tourist attraction, has caused global consternation and a backlash against Africa’s multi-million dollar hunting industry. Source: Newsday Zimbabwe

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

48 arrested for rhino poaching in Namibia since June, says police

The Namibian Police Force (NamPol)'s Anti-Poaching Unit has since June this year arrested 48 people for alleged rhinoceros poaching crimes. Furthermore, about 22 of those arrested have appeared in the Okahao Magistrate's Court in Omusati Region during the month of July this year, while an unspecified small number of suspects were released, pending further police investigations into their cases. NamPol's Deputy Inspector-General for Operations, Major-General James Tjivikua revealed this in a media statement availed to Nampa here on Friday. Tjivikua added that the majority of suspects were arrested in farming areas surrounding the Etosha National Park and villages in the Omusati Region, which are sharing borders with the Etosha National Park. “All 48 suspected poachers were initially denied bail when they appeared in the Okahao Magistrate's Court in July 2015 and all were remanded in police custody with no option to post bail. However, some of the suspects brought formal bail applications before court and were eventually granted bail,” said Tjivikua. According to him, so far, the police confiscated 66 rifles that were used by the suspects in the commission of the poaching crimes. These rifles were already sent for ballistic examination and the ballistic results linked some of the confiscated firearms to the crimes. “In the Etosha National Park, I have visited the officials of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, as well as members of the Namibian Police Force's Anti-Poaching Unit deployed at the park. They are all well and vigilant. My next step is the visit to Palmwag Conservancy areas as per programme,” explained the senior police officer. In addition, Tjivikua also took the opportunity to call upon the general Namibian public to continue providing information pertaining to rhino poaching activities to NamPol, as such information will be treated with a high degree of confidentiality. Tjivikua has also revealed the police is now offering a reward of N$60 000 to any person or persons for reliable information that would lead to the arrest of persons involved in rhino poaching activities across the country. Source: Nampa

Saturday, July 25, 2015

10 elephant carcasses discovered in Zim trans-frontier game reserve

At least 10 elephants were killed during the past two months in the giant Gonarezhou national park as poaching reaches alarming levels in the Great Limpopo Trans Frontier Park. It also emerged this week that over 700 people from the Chitsa clan were still occupying part of the sanctuary, hampering efforts to deal with poaching activities. The clan moved into the giant park during the height of the farm invasions and has since vowed to resist eviction, arguing that the land belongs to their ancestors. Bodies of the killed animals were recovered this month with some of them being at an advanced stage of decomposition. All their tusks had been removed. Acting Masvingo police spokesman Assistant Inspector Nkululeko Nduna confirmed the development. “We are investigating cases of poaching in Gonarezhou where several animals especially elephants were killed,” he said. “So far no arrests have been made but investigations are in progress.” Although no official comment could be obtained from the department of parks and wildlife, a highly placed source in the department told Zimbabwean that the poachers were allegedly using poisonous substances to kill the animals. “As I speak now we have lost 10 elephants in just two months and our investigations point to the fact that the poachers were using poisonous substances to kill the animals. We are having problems dealing with poaching activities in the giant park because of the presence of invaders from the Chitsa Clan,” he said. Poaching has reached alarming levels in the country’s national parks and Zimbabwe risks being expelled from the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species CITES. Some 200 rhino have been lost since 2012 due to rampant poaching. According to animal welfare groups, among them the Species Survival Commission and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, this loss represents about 30 percent of the living rhinos in the country.
Source: Zimbabwe Situation

Friday, July 24, 2015

Namibia launches new rhino protection initiative

Private rhino protection initiatives will start tomorrow, 24 July, with the training of the first seven recruits who would assist in the containing and exposing of the five syndicates so far identified by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism spearheaded by Minister Pohamba Shifeta. “The time for talking is over. It is now time for action,” said an adamant Jofie Lamprecht, founding member of the Conserving Our Valuable Elephant and Rhino (COVER) organisation. The first recruits will be used on commercial farms and conservancies.” Lamprecht’s statement falls right in line with the government’s steps to eradicate the poaching of rhinos and elephants in Namibia, with recent arrest made of alleged poachers from the five different poaching syndicates operating in Namibia. Earlier this month, Shifeta informed the nation that 41 poachers were arrested, but told Informant√© yesterday that the number of arrests have increased since then. “This is however not the end. Many more arrests will be made soon and the ministry will inform the public accordingly.” COVER, consisting of many smaller organisations also involved in the conservation of animals in Namibia, held a meeting with Security Solutions Africa. “This company has the experience in combatting illegal rhino and elephant hunting and offered to train Namibians to capture these poachers,” Lamprecht said. COVER aims to train trackers and anti-poaching units, as well as to promote advocacy for the legalisation of the sale of rhino horns and the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance purposes. Lamprecht stated that the proper training of Namibians as anti-poaching units (APUs) is a necessity as they will face armed criminals that will shoot at them if threatened. “These APUs will also consist of professional trackers and medics to ensure the team is ready for anything,” he said. Shifeta welcomed the training of Namibians against poaching, as long as it is done in good faith and within the legal framework of the country. However, he issued a warning to these companies that conducted the training. “Recruits should be properly screened as to ensure that training is not conducted with members of one of the five poaching syndicates operating in Namibia,” he said. According to Lam-precht, the legalisation of the sale of rhino horns and ivory will help conservation, adding that government might submit a request in this regard to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which will meet in March next year.
“This money can be ploughed back in the Game Products Trust Fund to be utilised again for conservation purposes such as training and equipment.” COVER prides itself when it comes to transparency and honesty. The organisation has reported alleged wrongdoings by one of its members, Next Generation Conservation Trust. Source: Informante, Namibia

Sunday, July 5, 2015

More Zim baby elephants flown to captivity in Chinese zoos

HWANGE NATIONAL PARK, ZIMBABWE - After nearly 10 months in captivity in bomas inside the Hwange National Park, some of the 27 baby elephants, some lion cubs and one leopard which were captured by Zimbabwean authorities for export to Chinese zoos were on Saturday transported by road to Harare International Airport. They are, as of today (Sunday), reported to have been loaded onto an Emirates Airlines aircraft bound for Dubai where a connecting 12 hour flight awaits them to China where they will be shared among two zoos. The exact number of animals moved is yet to be established. Newly found evidence suggests that 12 baby elephants and 2 lion cubs are already in China - having been flown out in two batches in December 2014 and January this year. The elephants were transported by Western Transport, a long-established haulage company located close to the corner of Birkenhead Road and Josiah Chinamano Streets in Belmont heavy industrial sites in Bulawayo. It also operates in South Africa, operating a large fleet which trades as Wes-Trans Trucking and is registered in Gauteng.
Some of the Western Transport trucks used to ferry the elephants to Harare last night
A Western Transport truck loaded with containers inside which the baby elephants, aged between 2 and 5 at the time of their capture, will endure the journey to abusive captivity China. Posted by: African Environmental Police

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Zim uses suspect permits to exports 12 elephants, 2 crocs to Chinese zoos

The first CITES permit, which has plenty of essential details missing, purports to show the export of 4 baby elephants from Hwange National Park, on 06 December 2014, to Kinjian Safari Park, located on Yinbing Road, in the Chinese city of Guangzhou. The export was arranged on behalf of the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority by Terrestial Safaris of 5th Floor Livingstone House, Samora Machel Avenue, Harare, Zimbabwe.
Permit number two shows the export of 8 baby elephants and two crocodiles to Taiyan Zoo of Xianlie Road, South China by the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe in January 2015. This export was also arranged by Terrestial Safaris of 5th Floor, Livingstone House, Samora Machel Avenue, Harare, Zimbabwe Source: African Environmental Police/Partners

Monday, June 22, 2015

$6m for resuscitation as Gonarezhou loses more elephants

The Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), a Germany-based conservation organisation has released over $6 million towards the resuscitation of Gonarezhou National Park (GNP) to transform it into a commercially viable business. Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and FZS, signed a memorandum of understanding in 2007 that established Gonarezhou Conservation Project (GCP) as part of efforts to bring back the park to its previous glory. Under the deal, the German organisation would release over $1 million annually to resuscitate GNP until 2020. Speaking to journalists after touring the park on Thursday, the conservation project leader Mr Hugo van der Westhuizen said the funding of Gonarezhou National Park had no strings attached. He said the organisation wanted to see Zimbabwe being able to manage its natural resources without external assistance in the future. “On average, we have been funding Gonarezhou Conservation Project since the end of 2007 to the tune of $1 million per year. What we want is to see Gonarezhou being able to raise enough money to fund itself so as to motivate its workers based here. Ever since the project started, we established so many camps in the park and more people from different countries are making bookings,” he said. Mr Westhuizen said community involvement, especially chiefs and village heads in the project, had seen improved anti-poaching programmes in an area that had seen poachers from Mozambique wiping off rhinoceros. He said plans were afoot to reintroduce rhinoceros in the park. Besides establishing camping sites, an electric fence around the 5 053 square kilometre-area has been erected; eight all-terrain Land Cruiser Trucks, a UD eight-tonne truck; brick making machine; tractors; motorised grader and bicycles have been bought using the funds. He said poachers were now targeting jumbos by poisoning them with termic, a poison used by tobacco growers, which they lace on fruits favoured by the animals. According to latest statistics at the park, 11 elephants were shot, nine poisoned by poachers, while 11 died of natural causes. Reports also say hyenas were being poisoned as the poachers were after their skins that were used for ritual purposes in Mozambique. “With the threat of ivory poaching ever growing and the park being particularly vulnerable through its long boundary with Mozambique and high elephant population, much attention has been focused on increasing security along this vulnerable stretch over the last two years.Permanent ranger pickets have been built, the border road has been cleared of vegetation to allow access to management vehicles and additional rangers recruited and trained – with the emphasis on employing staff from villages in close proximity to the Gonarezhou to ensure benefits also accrue to local communities,” said Mr Westhuizen. The conservation project supports 39 schools in a 10 km radius of the park. Gonarezhou National Park in south eastern lowveld is the second largest wildlife sanctuary after Hwange National Park and was established in 1975. It is part of the Great Limpopo Trans-frontier Park, which straddles the borders of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. Source: Herald

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Zim relocates 5 black rhinos to Botswana

HARARE – Zimbabwe loaded five black rhinos onto a plane bound for Botswana on Wednesday, its first such exports since the 1990s, as part of conservation efforts amid an increase in poaching in southern Africa. The animals were secured in crates loaded onto a camouflaged Botswana Defence Force (BDF) plane at the Buffalo Range aiAirport near Chiredzi, a town about 430km southeast of the capital, Harare. The exports follow the relocation of rhinos to Botswana from South Africa. “We agreed that we’d send 20 black rhinos to them as part of conservation efforts within the region,” Zimbabwean Environment Secretary Prince Mupazviriho said in an interview. The remaining rhinos will be transported at a later date. Botswana has become a safe haven from poachers for the animals. Rhinos are killed for their horns, which are ground into powder and sold as a putative cancer cure in Vietnam and China. Zimbabwe last exported them in the early 1990s, with Australia the destination, according to official records from the Ministry of Environment. A black rhino bull was exported to Botswana in the early 2000s. The animals will be relocated to the Moremi Game Reserve, which was found to be suitable and where “the rhinos would be adequately protected post-release,” said Mark Saunders, the executive director of the Malilangwe Trust, which supplied the rhinos. A record 1 215 rhinos were killed in South Africa last year, with the majority hunted in Kruger National Park. The country, home to most of the world’s rhinos, has relocated at least 100 to neighbouring states following discussions with Botswana and Zambia. Male black rhinos can weigh as many as 1 400kg, while females are about 900kg in size, data on Save the Rhino’s website show. There are about 700 rhinos in Zimbabwe, which plans to release 40 into the Gonarezhou reserve, a 5053 square-kilometer park where they vanished because of poaching in the early 1990s. Authorities are boosting manpower in the area as at least 25 elephants have been killed there for their ivory this year. The illicit global trade of wildlife is as worth as much as P100 billion, according to London-based Chatham House. Source: Online

Namibian police recover rhino horn, arrest 5 poachers

Five Namibian men were arrested on Saturday afternoon in the Kunene Region after they were found with a freshly sawn off black rhinoceros horn and a rifle, allegedly used to shoot the rhino. The five appeared before Magistrate Leena Iyambo at Opuwo on Monday afternoon. Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi of the Namibian Police Force's (NamPol) Public Relations Division confirmed to Nampa on Monday that the suspects are between 22 and 34 years old. They are Benjameni Shikongo, 22; Samuel Gideon, 30; Ndume Gerson, 34; Uatarakana Kature, 28; and Tjizemba Kambamba Maveriukuuni, 31. The case was postponed to 24 July for further investigation. The suspects remain in custody. According to the police and other sources, the five were travelling from Sesfontein to Opuwo when they developed a flat tyre at a foot and mouth disease (FMD) checkpoint on the Warmquelle-Opuwo road. Not changing the flat tyre led to them being stopped by a police officer, who then searched their vehicle. NamPol discovered the horn hidden inside a spare wheel and a rifle inside the vehicle. The suspects were arrested and prompted to take the police and Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) officials to the place where the rhino cow was shot and de-horned. It was further established that the rhino cow had a calf, which was nowhere to be found near the carcass of its dead mother. MET and the Save the Rhino Trust members are now searching for the calf, believed to be about two years old by air. Wildlife experts indicated that they will relocate the calf to a safer area because it could easily fall prey to predators in the same area. Source: Namibian Press Agency

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Suspected Chinese rhino horn smuggling kingpin denied bail in Namibia

A CHINESE, who police believe to be the 'kingpin' in one of Namibia's biggest rhino horn smuggling cases, was denied bail by the Windhoek Magistrate's Court in Katutura yesterday. Wang Hui (40), who was remanded in custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility, had his case transferred to the Regional Court where he is expected to appear on 25 June. He will appear alongside three other Chinese men - Li Xiaoliang (30), Li Zhibing (53), and 49-year-old Pu Xuexin - who were arrested at the Hosea Kutako International Airport in 2014. They had 14 rhino horns worth more than N$2,3 million, and a leopard skin valued at N$50 000 stashed in their luggage. The Namibian Sun reported earlier that Wang was arrested last month at a Windhoek hotel. Wang is also being investigated in connection with other poaching cases in Namibia. Windhoek-based defence lawyer Orben Sibeya appeared on behalf of Wang while Public Prosecutor Anthony Wilson appeared for the State. Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy in Namibia has commented for the first time over the arrest of its citizens in the rhino horn smuggling case. Chinese Embassy director of political affairs, Wang Xuguang told the Namibian Press Agency (NAMPA) that the Chinese citizens arrested so far are too few to spoil the good standing of its nationals. “The Chinese nationals involved in illegal activities in Namibia are very few individual cases. We support the Namibian side to deal with them in strict accordance with the law.” the statement reads. The statement further reads: "The Chinese government sets great store by the protection of wildlife, including rhino. On countering wildlife poaching, our attitude is resolute. We adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards it.” He said the Chinese government has enacted laws and regulations, established joint law enforcement mechanisms incorporating multiple agencies and has taken an active role in the international law enforcement cooperation to crack down on poaching activities. Further, he said the Chinese government has been actively conducting exchanges and cooperating with some 
African countries to provide more personal training and funding for wildlife protection. While many Namibians blame Chinese nationals in the country for the increased poaching of rhinos and elephants for their horns and tusks respectively, the ambassador said his office hopes that the Namibian people can view their efforts in an objective light. The police believe Wang Hui to be the 'kingpin' in one of Namibia's biggest rhino horn smuggling cases. Wang Hui is expected to appear alongside a group of three other Chinese nationals, who were in 2014 caught with 14 rhino horns worth more than N$2,3 million, as well as a leopard skin valued at N$50 000 stashed in their luggage while they were on their way to Hong Kong via Johannesburg, South Africa. - Nampa/Namibian

Monday, June 1, 2015

Fourth Chinese suspected poacher arrested in Namibia rhino horn smuggling scandal

THE three Chinese men accused of trying to smuggle 14 rhinoceros horns out of Namibia in March last year could be joined in the dock by a compatriot, after another suspect was arrested in connection with their case this week. The fourth suspect to be arrested about the alleged attempt to smuggle rhino horns and a leopard skin out of Namibia on 24 March last year is a 40-year-old Chinese resident of Otjiwarongo, Wang Hui, who was apprehended in Windhoek on Monday evening. A police spokesperson, deputy commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi, said yesterday the police have been on Wang's trail since the arrest of three other Chinese nationals who are charged with having attempted to smuggle 14 rhino horns and a leopard skin out of Namibia in March last year. Wang left the country when the three men were arrested, though, Kanguatjivi said. Wang appeared before Magistrate George Mbundu in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court in Katutura on Wednesday. At this stage, he has been charged with unlawfully dealing in controlled wildlife products. His case was postponed to 10 June after public prosecutor Anthony Wilson informed the magistrate that the prosecutor general would have to decide if Wang should be added as an accused to the case of the other three alleged rhino horn traffickers. Wang is being kept in custody in the meantime. His three compatriots - Li Xiaoliang (31), Li Zhibing (53), and Pu Xuexin (49) - were arrested at Hosea Kutako International Airport on 24 March last year, 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 planning to leave Namibia. The three men claimed during a bail hearing in May last year that they did not know what the suitcases in their possession contained. Li Zhibing told a magistrate during their bail hearing 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. The court was further told during the bail hearing that the three men would be accommodated by a Chinese friend of theirs at Otjiwarongo, and that the same friend was willing to pay their bail, if the court granted them bail. Li, Li and Pu are scheduled to appear in the Windhoek Regional Court again on 24 June on two main charges of unlawful export of controlled wildlife products, alternatively unlawfully dealing in or possessing controlled wildlife products, and a third main charge of the acquisition, use, possession or taking out of Namibia of property that forms part of the proceeds of unlawful activities. Source: Namibian

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Namibia ban private guns in parks as 2015 rhino body count rises to 66

In an effort to curb an upsurge in wildlife crimes, Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta says no private guns would be allowed into national parks following a series of illegal poaching of rhinos and elephants. Not all carcasses of rhinos and elephants that have been found since the beginning of 2015 showed signs of poaching, Shifeta has revealed. He said some of the animals could have died due to natural causes while some died fighting among themselves. "Some of them it is because of fighting. They fight a serious fight. That is why we have to conduct post mortems on all the carcasses to determine the causes of death," he said.
About 60 rhinos were found in the Etosha National Park, while six were found in the Palmwag area in the Kunene Region since the beginning of this year. Poaching figures have shown that last year, 24 rhinos and 78 elephants were killed. This, after an extended period of low wildlife crime in Namibia. Shifeta is, however, not convinced that the environment and tourism wardens have not detected or arrested anyone in the parks. He said some carcasses were found close to each other, hence they have to do ballistic investigations to see whether the bullets are coming from ministry riffles or not. Shifeta said he found out that people have been entering the park with private guns - a situation he says creates room for poachers. "Currently, we started to test all the rifles. I heard there are people with private guns and I said no private guns anymore on the premises. We are going to get there and we are going to arrest a lot of people. If you have a gun, keep it away from the park. Leave your gun at the police station, they welcome to keep your gun even up to 10 years. I could see resistance, especially some 'white colleagues' saying that they are not the ones doing it. I told them I don't know who is doing it. What they do is seal their guns, but you can use and seal it later," he said. With the poached rhinos in Etosha, he said some carcasses are too close to the gate for officials, including a huge presence of law enforcement officers, not to have detected any poaching. "How can incidences happen next to the gate undetected? Some happen next to the waterholes but no one detects them. It is like someone taking money under your pillow while you are there. I want to understand, how can these people be from outside? I want a report, although we already suspect people inside," he demanded. He said poaching is mainly concentrated in the the north and south west of the country. "I went there and the situation looks normal to them. I asked them: 'Do you really understand what the public feels'? It's an area that is fenced, but you have not captured anyone and you don't have new ideas. You go to bed and you have no idea. I warned them they should not be surprised if this week we make a serious move there with immediate effect ... The situation cannot be left uncontained," he reacted. Shifeta said there is a clear requirement for a strategy to upgrade law enforcement and wildlife crime prevention capacity in the country, as well as for immediate action that should be part of, and feed into, the overall strategy. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has been working with other law enforcement and conservation agencies to put short- and long-term strategic measures in place to stop poaching and illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products. The measures involve issues of human capacity, surveillance, patrolling and detection. Currently, members of the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) have been deployed in the Etosha National Park, the Bwabwata National Park and the Palmwag tourism concession area. NamPol and the Namibian Defence Force are also conducting regular aerial patrols. Shifeta assured that investigations would continue in all areas where illegal hunting of rhinos and elephants were reported. "We continue to invest more resources in combating illegal hunting of our rhinos and elephants. The situation can be described as a priority crime and therefore more resources need to be invested in our efforts to stop these illegal activities," he added. - Source: New Era/NAMPA/

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Namibian govt doubles whistle-blowers pay as 2015 rhino poaching toll hits 60

IN a desperate bid to track down elusive poachers, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism has increased the reward money of whistle-blowers on poaching from N$30 000 to N$60 000. Tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta said government would rely on anyone who has information on poaching incidences to come forward as one of its efforts to put an end to the increasing illegal activities. Shifeta yesterday said that poachers were targeting Namibians to carry out their dirty work and called on members of the public to speak out if they know something while investigations into the existing cases continue. Six suspects have been arrested so far in connection with poaching in the northern parts of the country. The minister said poachers have switched from using hunting rifles to automatic guns. “Wildlife trafficking is a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise that has expanded to more than just a conservation concern,” he said. Last week, the ministry also said that several of its staff members were among the suspects being investigated over the poaching incidences, after announcing that over 60 carcasses were discovered, 54 of which were discovered in the Etosha National Park. Shifeta said the country lost 24 rhinos to poaching last year, while this year, 60 rhinos have been poached which were all discovered during aerial patrols. “As for elephants, 78 were poached in 2014, and 23 animals have been poached so far this year,” he said. Police patrols have also been increased from 40 to 140 in the Etosha National Park, Bwabwata National Park and Palmwag Tourism Concession Area. No Namibia Defence Force soldiers have been dispatched on the ground yet, as the ministry said it was still evaluating how they will be dispatched. Shifeta also said all the carcasses that were recently discovered will go through post-mortem tests to determine whether the causes of deaths were natural or a result of poaching. He said following an extended period of low wildlife crime in Namibia, there is a clear requirement for a strategy to upgrade law enforcement and wildlife crime prevention capacity in the country. “As the ministry responsible for wildlife protection, we have been working with other law enforcement and conservation agencies to put short and longer term strategic measures in place to stop the current poaching and illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products. The short and long term measures involve issues of human capacity, surveillance, patrolling and detection,” he said. However, the ministry also said it was skeptical about partnering private firms and embassies as they could be wolves in sheep's clothing. Deputy minister Tommy Nambahu said the ministry has realised that it was being outsmarted by poachers. “There is no silver bullet to this problem. We have to put in a host of measures that must be put in place. We are being outwitted by these criminals but we are sure that our efforts will yield results,” he said. Nambahu further said that the public should not panic as the ministry has the situation under control. Nambahu said that government is still researching the use of drones in Namibia before it can make use of them. Source: Namibian

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

US Bill to ban importation, possession and sale of African Big Five trophies

New York State Senator Tony Avella will today introduce a Bill that would ban the importation, possession, sale or transportation in the city of five species of animals native to Africa. The Bill, if it sails through, will be a huge blow to the country’s wildlife industry still smarting from last year’s US sanctions with pressure rising against the sale of live elephants to China, France and the United Arab Emirates. The Bill was drafted by the Friends of Animals’ (FoA) Wildlife Law Programme director Michael Harris. The legislation would protect the African elephant, lion, leopard, black rhino and white rhino. “The primary reason that each of these species is facing extinction is human sport hunting,” Harris said in a statement. “Many of these hunts are purchased by Americans, and the trophies are imported into or through the state of New York. Domestic legislation like that being proposed today is vital to any hope of long-term survival of these species.” Last April, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) suspended imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Tanzania over alleged questionable management practices. USFWS said “anecdotal evidence, such as the widely publicised (cyanide) poisoning last year of 300 elephants in Hwange National Park, suggests that Zimbabwe’s elephants are also under siege”. “Given the current situation on the ground in both Tanzania and Zimbabwe, the Service is unable to make positive findings required under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) and the Endangered Species Act to allow import of elephant trophies from these countries,” USFWS said. The ban is still to be removed with local safari operators moaning on the loss of the key US market. Edita Birnkrant, campaigns director for Friends of Animals, said Americans continue to “see sport-hunting as romantic, or for that matter as ethical”. “Until we can get national bans put in place to reduce the number of sport-hunted African big 5 species brought into this country, it is vital that states like New York, where a large number of these trophies are imported into because JFK is a major point of entry from Africa, take action on their own,” Birnkrant said. Birnkrant said while hunters argue that without sport hunting, African governments would not have any money for conservation, “sport hunting only further imperils African wildlife”. The move also comes as pressure is being piled on Zimbabwe to stop exportation of baby elephants. Government insists the elephant population, at 43 000, has exceeded its carrying capacity at Hwange National Parks adding that revenue realised would be channelled towards conservation purposes. An animal rights group, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), has ratcheted up pressure against the live animal sales advising Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Saviour Kasukuwere to stop the exercise. Peta US director Pamela Anderson said she has been “deeply upset by the heart-breaking news about the 80 or so baby elephants who were torn away from their families, many even witnessing their own family’s gruesome slaughter”. Anderson said “these terrified babies are reportedly being held captive while awaiting sale to China and the United Arab Emirates, far from their homelands, where they will never see their families again and never have any semblance of a normal or happy life”. “I’m sure that you’ve heard the international outcry and the pleas that these elephants be released back to their herds. I am writing to you to urge you to do everything in your power to assist in the effort to stop such profiteering at the expense of wildlife,” Anderson wrote in a letter to Kasukuwere. Prince Mupazviriho, Environment, Water and Climate permanent secretary, was yesterday unavailable for comment on the latest onslaught on the country’s wildlife industry. Kasukuwere was also unavailable for comment. Source: Newsday, Zimbabwe

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Zim court sentences Zambian poacher to 10 years over 94 kg of raw elephant ivory

HARARE, March 26 (Xinhua) -- A Zimbabwe court has sentenced a Zambian poacher to 10 years in jail for illegal possession of raw ivory. Walbita Lindunda, 38, was arrested by Zimbabwean authorities in March last year after being found with 94 kg of raw ivory worth 14, 100 U.S. dollars. Hwange Provincial Magistrate Lindiwe Maphosa this week convicted Lundinda and sentenced him to 10 years in prison for illegal possession of ivory and three months for illegal entry into the country, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said Thursday. Zimbabwe has one of Africa's prime elephant sanctuaries, home to about 100,000 elephants. But in recent years, lack of conservation funds and resources led to a surge of ivory poaching, most of which involved collusion of local and foreign perpetrators. Hwange National Park, located in the western part of the country, is hit hardest by poaching. In 2013, poachers killed more than 100 elephants in the park and countless other animals by cyanide poisoning. Despite the arrest of several local perpetrators found dosing the water pans with poison, the alleged foreign master-head who engineered the large-scale crime remains at large. Source: Online

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Australia bans importation of lion trophy, parts and remains

Australia’s Minister for the Environment has banned the importation of lion parts and remains into the country, saying that canned lion hunting’s time has passed. Greg Hunt, Australia’s Minister for the Environment, has delivered a broadside against the lucrative business of canned lion hunting. In a sitting of the country’s Parliament in Canberra yesterday evening, he had the following to say: “I have signed an order to prevent the importation into Australia of African lion parts and remains. This order will take effect immediately. It is part of the global movement and I hope part of a significant movement to end canned hunting forever. It is a practice that never had a time, but it is a practice whose time has surely come to pass.” Australia’s decision is also likely to impact on all those facilities breeding lions for other commercial purposes, such as petting, “walking with lions” and the lion bone trade. Inevitably, when captive young lions pass the age of being ‘safe’ to interact with humans, the writing is on the wall for them – either to feed the market for their body parts or as targets for hunters. Australians might not make up the largest segment of South Africa’s canned lion trophy hunting industry – that dubious status belongs to the Americans – but they do come in fair numbers each year to fell full-maned captive-bred lions with high-powered rifles and cross bows. It’s called a sport by those behind the sights, but a sport is surely a contest entered into by willing opponents? (For the uninitiated, a canned hunt is one in which the target animal has in almost all instances been bred and raised in captivity until it is mature enough to be of interest to a hunter whose subsequent ‘hunt’ is virtually guaranteed of success.) In such circumstances, to let loose with a bullet or bolt at an unsuspecting quarry that has no means or hope of escape or self-defence seems to define the antithesis of a sport. Be that as it may, it helps to see lion hunting in the context of lions in general. In short, the species is in a bad way. Nearly a century ago, as many as 200,000 lions roamed Africa’s savannahs, but in the intervening years, that number has crashed to fewer than 30,000. Lions have vanished from over 80 percent of their historic range and are now extinct in 28 countries. Of the remaining 27 countries in which lions survive, 26 are in Africa and one is in Asia. Only seven countries have populations greater than 1,000 wild lions. “Lions have slipped under the conservation radar for too long,” says Dr Guy Balme of Panthera, a leading NGO whose mission isto ensure the future of wild cats through scientific leadership and global conservation action. “If we do not act now, lions will find themselves in the same dire predicament as their Asian counterpart, the tiger.” The reasons for the lion’s predicament are many and complex including retaliatory action by herders and farmers (Kenya alone loses 100 of its 2,000 lions a year in this manner), a dramatic loss of habitat, and overhunting of natural prey. In this respect alone it would be difficult for even the most ardent so-called sport hunter to justify hunting lions for pleasure. Even in South Africa there are fewer than 3,000 wild lions, so when you consider that more than 1,000 lions are shot every year by trophy hunters, it begs the question: Where do they come from? In the South African context, the answer is easy, for there are some 160 breeding farms here that hold at least 6,000 lions; maybe as many as 8,000. Arguments that these captive-bred and frequently highly habituated lions take the hunting pressure off wild lions is nonsense. One look at crashing lion numbers tells that story. Some breeders even pose as conservationists whose aim is to re-introduce lions to the wild. But this is empty rhetoric as very few captive lions have been successfully re-wilded anywhere in Africa. No, these lions are bred for one purpose only: canned hunting. Hunters prefer the term ‘captive’ to canned, but Ian Michler, a South African investigative writer, safari operator, conservationist and outspoken critic of trophy hunting and canned lion hunting in particular, dismisses the euphemistic ruse. “Stop hiding behind nuances,” he says to the South African government and professional hunting bodies around the world. “Captive hunting is still canned hunting: the word ‘captive’ is as it reads – lions are being bred in captivity to be killed in captivity.” “Aussie hunters have been paying up to $75,000 to hunt and kill lions and other exotic big game in so-called ‘canned hunting’ farms or wildlife reserves in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique,” said Australian MP Jason Wood. “Canned hunting is a cruel and barbaric practice where wildlife is bred for one purpose and that is to be killed in a small enclosure.” Isabel McCrea, the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s regional director in Australia, said she welcomed Hunt’s ‘bold’ ban on canned hunting trophies: “This decision reflects the Australian public’s abhorrence at the inhumane practice of canned hunting, in which lions are reared in captivity and hunted in enclosures.” “It shouldn’t exist,” added Hunt. “It is about raising the most majestic of creatures for a singular purpose and that is to kill them, to shoot them for pleasure and for profit.” In his statement, Hunt paid particular tribute to Jason Wood, “who has brought the issue of canned hunting to the Parliament. I frankly was not aware that such a practice could exist in the 21st Century. It’s a hangover from the 19th Century in the 21st Century and Jason has been unrelenting… But it is the people that have driven this change. So tonight, I want to announce that Australia is committing to be a leader in ending the insidious practice of canned hunting.” Michler visited Australia late last year to lobby for this outcome. “I can only laud the action taken by Minister Hunt and his Parliamentary colleagues,” he said, “and I fervently hope that Australia’s brave stance will encourage other major hunting nations to follow suit. This news is as much a victory for all those people and organisations that have been fighting against the twin horrors of predator breeding and canned hunting over the last 20 years as it is for the animals themselves.” Michler went on to say that the Professional Hunting Association of South Africa had only itself to blame. “Instead of coming down hard on canned hunting outfits, their silence has been a tacit approval.” In the coming week Michler heads off to the European Parliament where he will be lobbying for similar action from Europe. “In time, we will also target the United States,’ he said, ‘as this is where the majority of hunters come from.” (Some 80 percent of lion trophies are shipped back to the United States.) In his summing up of the situation, Minister Hunt had this to say: “In our own way we are all, all custodians of the great creatures of the world. For me, for us, for all of us here at Federation Square, the lions are an iconic reminder of the great plains of Africa, of the natural world, of the majesty that has been and I hope and pray, and to which I am committed, will continue not just for our children, but for generations hence.” IFAW said canned hunting had contributed to this decline through direct kills and also by skewing the genetic balance of lion populations by taking large males out of the gene pool to be shot. Isabel McCrea, IFAW’s regional director, said she welcomed Hunt’s “bold” ban on canned hunting trophies. “This decision reflects the Australian public’s abhorrence at the inhumane practice of canned hunting, in which lions are reared in captivity and hunted in enclosures,” she said. Source: Conservation Action (SA)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Namibian to stiffen conservation laws as Chinese poachers ransack game parks

A PARLIAMENTARY committee is recommending that Namibia's nature conservation laws should be changed to improve law enforcement in the battle against poaching. In a new report tabled to the National Assembly, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economics, Natural Resources and Public Administration says government should speed up the drafting of legislation to improve law enforcement and prevent the increase of poaching in Namibia. It also recommends that the Ministry of Mines and Energy should consult regional authorities and local communities before allowing mining activities to take place in wildlife breeding areas, especially for the rhinoceros. The committee also recommended that the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration should initiate an extradition agreement between Namibia and Angola to help combat cross-border wildlife crimes more effectively.
The report flows from a consultative meeting that the committee held at Wereldsend in the Kunene region's Sesfontein constituency in August last year. Among the people who attended the meeting were community leaders from the area and the Kunene region, representatives of 12 conservancies in the region, people involved in conservation and tourism in Kunene, and representatives of the police, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the Office of the Prosecutor General and the Legal Assistance Centre. Among the concerns expressed to the committee during the meeting were views that mining activities are disrupting rhinos in their breeding areas and contributing to an increase in poaching, that the influx of people from elsewhere into areas where rhinos are found is worsening the problem of poaching, and that there is no extradition agreement between Namibia and Angola, the committee reported. Concern was also expressed about the absence of an office of the Namibian Police's Protected Resources Unit in Kunene, where most of Namibia's endangered black rhinos are found. The committee further recorded concerns about the presence in Kunene of Chinese nationals doing the same business as local residents. With China and countries in south-east Asia reported to be the main markets where rhino horns and elephant tusks are smuggled to from Africa, several Chinese citizens have been arrested and charged with crimes involving wildlife - including the alleged smuggling of rhino horns, ivory and pangolins - in Namibia in recent years. The committee also heard that when Namibia's acclaimed conservancy programme was started, there was a sense of ownership among local communities in conservancy areas, but that this is no longer the case in some conservancies in Kunene. Poaching is partly caused by people not benefiting from conservancies in Kunene, while the situation in, for example the Tsumkwe area, where communities seem to derive more benefits from conservancies, is different, the committee was told. Source: Namibian

Friday, February 27, 2015

ZimParks recovers $50 000 worth of elephant tusks from suspected Zambian poachers

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) ambushed 12 suspected poachers from Zambia and recovered almost $50 000 worth of elephant tusks in a recent operation in Katombora, Zambezi National Parks’ Mdhaka area. ZimParks public relations manager Caroline Washaya-Moyo said the success of the operation was achieved through regional collaborations with rangers from neighbouring countries. “However the suspects, believed to be Zambian nationals, fled leaving behind the 29 tusks which weighed 297,3kg and valued at $47 468, a giraffe tail, digital scale and some food items,” she said in a statement. Investigations were in progress including another case in which two rhinos, one female and a calf, were poached in Save Valley Conservancy. Both had all their horns removed. Recently, two poachers were shot and killed by ZimParks rangers during an armed contact in the Kapungashiri area on the southern boundary of Matusadonha National Park. Rangers who were on patrol in the area were alerted by two heavy calibre gunshots which led them to three poachers who opened fire. During the shootout two of the poachers were killed while the third one escaped unhurt. Poaching remains a threat in the country’s vast game parks as long as there is a ready market for ivory and rhino horn. Stakeholders have called for stiffer penalties to deter poachers. Source: Newsday
(Zimbabwe)

Monday, February 2, 2015

France blocks importation of Zim baby elephants, pushes for Eu-wide ban

ZIMBABWE CONSERVATION TASKFORCE: UPDATE ON EXPORT OF ELEPHANTS ISSUED BY CHAIRMAN JOHNNY RODRIGUEZ,
30th January 2015 Further to our last report where we stated that we were refused police clearance to have our demonstration on the 27th January, our ZCTF colleague Kennesias Dambakurima went to deliver some documents on Wednesday. The documents consisted of various letters written by world-renown conservationists as well as our petition. He and some reporters tried to deliver them to the Minister of Environment but they were chased out and almost beaten up. The secretary stated that he was not interested in any letters or documents. He then tried to deliver them to the Permanent Secretary but he also refused to accept them. Eventually, he approached the Minister of Tourism and his secretary accepted them. Yesterday (Thursday) I went with Kenny to deliver the documents to the various opposition parties who accepted them. The President of MDC United, Mrs Holland tabled the problem in parliament to be debated next week. The Minister of Ecology in France had a meeting with NGOs and conservationists and they decided that no further animals will be imported into France from Zimbabwe along with a vow to promote a European Union-wide ban. We would like to sincerely thank the minister for taking this stance. There are 36 elephants held captive and 27 of these and two baby lions have been vetted and found to be in good physical and medical condition to be exported to China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The animals are still being held in three separate bomas at the Mtshibi Camp Cantonment area inside Hwange National Park awaiting export on an unknown date. Source: ZCTF press release/ Additional information by AEP

Monday, January 26, 2015

American hunter heads to Africa for controversial $350 000 Namibian rhino slaughter

An American hunter is expected to travel to Namibia next month to kill an endangered black rhino after the country’s hunting season opens. Last year, Corey Knowlton offered US$350 000 to win himself the bid for the rhino kill in an auction which was offered by the Dallas Safari Club (DSC).
According to National Geographic, the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service is now grappling with the decision on whether Knowlton should be granted a license to bring the rhino’s head back as a trophy. Since trade in any rhino parts is restricted by international law, the hunter must get a special permit from the Fish and Wildlife Service to import the trophy. The permit requires showing that the animal was killed in the name of conservation and that bringing it home also helps that cause. The DSC says all proceeds from the auctioned permit will go to support the Conservation Trust Fund for Namibia’s Black Rhino though trophy-hunting opponents criticise this reason, explaining that the idea of killing endangered animals to help save them sends mixed signals that the animal is worth more dead than alive. There are an estimated 5,000 black rhinos left in the wild. Soon after winning the bid last year, Knowlton said his hunt is motivated by a desire to help conservation, telling CNN: "It's not an egotistical thing, it's a belief in conservation from me. I'm a member of a group of people who care enough to put their money where their mouth is." Defending his love of hunting further, he told WFAA news in Texas: "I want to be intimately involved with a black rhino. Whether I go over there (in Namibia) and shoot it or not shoot it, it's beyond the point." Source: Mail and Guardian/Online

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Two Burundian poachers arrested in Tanzania with 25 elephant tusks

Tanzanian police recovered 25 elephant tusks from two Burundian refugees traveling from Katavi to Mwanza by bus, Tanzania's The Guardian reported Thursday (January 15th). Tanzanian police arrest 2 caught with illegal ivory Tanzania tourism minister defends anti-poaching campaign as ivory seized 25 suspected poachers arrested in Kigoma The 42 kilogrammes of ivory are valued at around 148.5 million shillings ($83,000). The two passengers aroused police suspicions when they boarded the bus carrying three large bags. "We were very suspicious with the size of the bags and hence decided to open them," said Katavi Regional Police Commander Dhahiri Kidavashari. "After a search we found the 25 pieces of tusks and decided to take the suspects to Katavi police headquarters where we are still interrogating them. They will be sent to court any time." Tanzania has recently increased its efforts to fight poaching, after the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism launched a five-year initiative in October to fight poaching. An ivory-smuggling 'kingpin' was arrested in Tanzania in December and has since been charged in a Kenyan court. Source: Sabahi Online

Monday, January 19, 2015

Dallas Safari Club cancels controversial Namibian elephant hunt, offers male leopard hunt in Mozambique

DALLAS - A Texas hunting club has cancelled plans to auction the right to kill an African elephant after the donor of the hunt withdrew the offer, the club's executive director said on Saturday. Ben Carter of the Dallas Safari Club told The Associated Press that the donor of the hunt, a had withdrawn his offer. The African elephant is earth's largest land animal. The World Wildlife Fund, the world's leading conservation group, regards it as “vulnerable,” a step below “endangered” and defined as “facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.” The Dallas Safari Club faced international criticism last year for auctioning a permit to shoot an endangered black rhino. That hunt has been postponed until the winner gets permission to import the carcass from Namibia. This year's auction prizes still include a 14-day trophy hunt in Mozambique for an adult male leopard. Animal welfare activists demonstrated across the street from the Dallas hotel where the club's convention was taking place. Angela Antonisse-Oxley, of the Dallas-based Black Rhino Project, said trophy hunts aggravate the serious problem of big game poaching in Africa. “A bullet is not going to save them,” she said. In an earlier statement, Carter said that “elephants, lions and leopards are not listed as endangered species by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and, in fact, are overpopulated in certain areas of Africa.” “These species are commonly hunted in a legal, sustainable way, and where populations need to be managed,” the statement said. The opportunity to kill the endangered elephant was offered by the Gobabis Gymnasium School in a raffle tickets which sold single tickets for N$1 000 per ticket. The elephant trophy hunt was offered as the first prize in a lavish full package that consisted of transportation of the winning hunter from Windhoek's Hosea Kutako International Airport, 10 days accommodation with all hunting permit fees, meals and non-alcoholic drinks included. A tracker and a vehicle were also offered together with field preparation for the trophy and snapshots to name a few. The raffle started running into trouble when the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET)said it was not aware that Gobabis Gymnasium was selling raffle tickets which offered an elephant trophy hunt as a grand prize and started investigations which led to the cancellation of the hunt, won by an American citizen. Meanwhile the Dallas Safari Club is still offering a male leopard trophy hunt in Mozambique. Source: Online/AEP
. Source: AP

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Interpol catches Zambian ivory dealer wanted in Botswana

A public appeal as part of an INTERPOL operation focusing on individuals wanted for environmental crimes has led to the arrest of a Botswana fugitive in Zambia. Ben Simasiku had fled from Botswana in 2012 after he and three other suspected illegal ivory traders were arrested in possession of 17 cut pieces of elephant tusks weighing approximately 115 kg.
He is one of the targets highlighted by INTERPOL’s Operation Infra Terra (International Fugitive Round Up and Arrest) and featured in a public appeal for information. Launched on 6 October, INTERPOL’s Operation Infra Terra brought together investigators from 21 of the participating countries at the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters to directly share information on more than 130 suspects wanted by 36 countries for crimes including illegal fishing, wildlife trafficking, illegal trade and disposal of waste, illegal logging and trading in illicit ivory. Details of the wanted persons, their suspected locations and any other potentially identifying information was collated and analyzed, before being sent to involved countries for further action. During the operation, investigators from Botswana and Zambia exchanged information on Simasiku – including his suspected location in Zambia – with the support of INTERPOL’s Fugitive Investigative Support (FIS) unit. In parallel, the Zambia Wildlife Authority received a tip from a member of the public regarding a person in possession of ivory in the city of Livingstone. Through collaboration with the Zambia Police, 32-year-old Simasiku was arrested on 2 December, when police also recovered jewellery made of ivory. “Crimes that harm the environment are not always looked upon as ‘serious’ crimes, which is something INTERPOL hopes to change through actions such as Operation Infra Terra. This arrest demonstrates a change in attitude: that all fugitives will be sought to face justice, regardless of the crime they have committed,” said Stefano Carvelli, Head of INTERPOL’s FIS unit. “This case also demonstrates how increasing public awareness of how people might encounter criminal activity in their daily lives is critical for police. The alert individual who provided the tip to the Zambian police played an important role in the arrest. “I would like to congratulate all those involved, and encourage the public to remain vigilant to assist police worldwide in locating and arresting the remaining fugitives wanted as part of Operation Infra Terra,” concluded Mr Carvelli. Simasiku is currently awaiting extradition to Botswana. Source: Online

Monday, January 12, 2015

Poachers kill 14 elephants in Botswana's Chobe National Park

Security agents have launched a manhunt for a Namibian tycoon suspected to have brutally slaughtered a number of elephants in Chobe national park. This follows the discovery of 14 elephants by Botswana’s anti poaching unit that were killed recently. Information reaching Sunday Standard indicates that Botswana authorities are currently negotiating with their Namibian counterparts to assist in tracking down a Namibian tycoon believed to have links with the poaching of elephants late last year around Chobe region near the Namibian and Botswana borders. It is understood that Botswana police have gathered intelligence suggesting that the suspect might be the ring leader of a poaching syndicate that frequently clashes with the country’s anti poaching unit. The poaching syndicate is believed to have a specialised vehicle that is able to travel on water and land and is often used in poaching activities. Detective assistant superintendent Ookeditse Moseki of Narcotics, Fauna and Flora Unit at Kasane police station said, “it is true that we are investigating a case in which about fourteen elephants were brutally killed by poachers and their tusks removed.” He explained that sometime in late October and early November last year they discovered about five dead elephants during routine patrols and became suspicious the way they were killed as their tusks were also removed. Moseki added that while still searching the crime scene they later found another nine dead elephants. Moseki stated that they became more suspicious because where the elephants were killed was not easily accessible by road or foot but the poachers had managed to reach the area as there were marks that indicated there were poachers around the area. He further stated that they approached the department of Surveys and Mapping to confirm whether where the elephants were found killed was in Botswana or Namibia. “They did confirm that the animals were indeed on the Botswana side. We are not yet sure what kind of transport they used to reach the area but we strongly suspect that they might have used a specialised vehicle that could easily reach such an area,” he said. According to Moseki, the poachers used AK47 rifles and about fifty rounds to kill an elephant as well as axe to remove the tusks. “The act is very brutal as such a weapon is not meant to kill such a huge animal,” he said. There is a certain Namibian suspect whose name keeps on cropping up during our investigations. We are considering joint investigations with our Namibian counterparts but this does not mean he might be the prime suspect until we have made an arrest,” he indicated. Source: Sunday Standard, Botswana

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Namibia: N$100 000 bounty offered for capture of rhino poachers

Save The Rhino (SRT) Trust Namibian chairman Samson !Uri#Khob has announced a reward of N$100 000 is offered for information which will lead to the arrest of the person or people behind the recent poaching of five rhinos at Palmwag concession area. !Uri#Khob said the reward money which was partly donated by the public, will be handed over by the police. “Poaching is very serious and we call upon people who have any information to come forward so that the poachers can be arrested,” !Uri#Khob said. A concerned !Uri#Khob said that SRT needs more human resources from the Namibian police to tackle poaching which is a huge concern in the Palmwag concession area. “We want more action on the ground and needs police assistance in this vast area,” !Uri#Khob said. Pamphlets printed in Otjiherero, Damara/Nama and English with information on procedures related to reporting rhino poaching were distributed in Kunene region this year. Yesterday a representative of the SRT had a meeting with the Kunene regional police chief James Nderura at Opuwo. Nderura said the media will be briefed on Friday about the discussions. Last year more than 20 rhinos were lost due to poaching in Namibia. Recently a rhino cow and her calf were poached in the Palmwag concession area. A decision to dehorn Namibia's rhinos, in an attempt to combat the rhino poaching crisis in the country, has met with a mixed response. Namibia's tourism industry is the third largest contributor to the country's GDP, and the killing of iconic wildlife such as rhinos and elephants negatively impacts on Namibia's reputation as a tourist destination. Anyone who has information of a wildlife crime being committed or planned is urged to SMS the toll-free and confidential wildlife crime alert number 55555. Source: Namibian