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