Saturday, July 25, 2015
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.
Friday, July 24, 2015
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 Informanté 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.
Sunday, July 5, 2015
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.