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