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