Tag Archives: poaching

Lions need protecton amid pandemic crisis

African countries need to strengthen protection of lions without delay amid threats to their survival linked to aggravating situation related to pandemic criis, reflecting in rise absence of tourims, and rising of poaching, conservationists said on ahead of World Lions Dayobserved on August 10.

Edith Kabesiime, wildlife campaign manager at World Animal Protection, said that African lions were facing human and nature induced threats hence the need to prioritize their protection.

“We have witnessed the population of lions in Africa declined in the last decades as human beings occupy their habitat,” Kabesiime said at a virtual briefing in Nairobi.

The conservationist said that World Lions Day offers an opportunity to raise awareness on the emerging threats of poisoning big cats by livestock keepers and poaching to satisfy the overseas traditional healers demands.

“There is a need to raise awareness on the plight of lions even as we celebrate them as Africa’s iconic species,” said Kabesiime.

Statistics from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) displays the dramatic decline of Africa’s lion population from 200,000 in the last century to the current 20,000.

Kabesiime said that currently, lions exist in 26 African countries adding that the continent has lost about 90% of the carnivore from its original habitat amid rapid urbanization.

She said that the African lion has been categorized by IUCN as a vulnerable species amid international trade in its claws and jaws to meet a rising demand for traditional natural healers and jewelry.

“The other challenge facing lion conservation is illegal bushmeat and poisoning by farmers as a deterrent measure against attack on livestock,” said Kabesiime.

The shrinking of prey base for African lions linked to massive hunting by local communities, has increased their risk of death through starvation, Kabesiime has underlined.

The industrialised captive breeding of lions that has intensified in some parts of Africa also represents a threat to their survival, causing degeneration.

The scientists urged African governments to support innovative lions’ conservation programs that focus on expanding their prey base while minimizing conflict with humans.

Kabesiime said that a complex of measures as a ban on international trade in lion’s products coupled with enforcement of laws to deter poaching will help reverse their declining numbers in Africa.

Uganda: 11 years in jail for killing gorilla

A poacher has been jailed for 11 years after he confessed to killing a rare mounteen silverback gorilla in Uganda last month.

The gorilla, named Rafiki, which means “friend” in Swahili — was part of the famed Nkuringo gorilla group that lives in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and is a legend among tourists across the world.

Rafiki was reported missing on June 1 and his mutilated body was found the next day inside the park.

A postmortem report revealed that Rafiki was injured by a sharp device to his abdomen and internal organs.

The poacher Byamukama Felix was arrested a few days later with bush pig meat and several hunting devices in his possession, authorities said.

Byamukama pleaded guilty to several charges, including killing a gorilla, entering a protected area and being in possession of illegal meat.
The convicted told authorities he killed Rafiki in self-defense when he went with a group to hunt in the park and they came across the group of gorillas. The silverback charged and he speared it, he said.

Three other men who were arrested with Felix remain in custody awaiting trial as they have pleaded not guilty.

Botswana: six rhinos killed by poachers

In Botswana, at least six rhinos have been poached since the virus shut down tourism. Botswana’s security forces in April shot and killed five suspected poachers in two incidents. In northwest South Africa, at least nine rhinos have been killed since the virus lockdown. All the poaching took place in what were previously tourism areas that were safe for animals to roam.

“It’s a bloody calamity. It’s an absolute crisis,” Map Ives, founder of Rhino Conservation Botswana, a nonprofit organization, said of poaching across the continent.

“It’s a helpless feeling,” said Tate, a 35-year former Marine and the founder of VetPaw, a group of American military veterans who fight poachers in a remote private reserve in the far north of South Africa.

Ryan Tate is supposed to be in South Africa right now helping to fight off poachers who hack horns off rhinos and kill elephants for their ivory tusks.

But since the country announced a national lockdown in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Tate is stuck in the U.S. He can’t join his team out in South Africa’s wilderness and can’t meet with private donors in the U.S. for his anti-poaching nonprofit organization, which is seeing donations dry up.

“Poaching doesn’t stop just because there’s a virus — if anything, it picks up,” he said.

Although poaching is not uncommon in Africa, poachers during the coronavirus pandemic have encroached on land they wouldn’t normally visit and killed rhinos in tourism hot spots now devoid of visitors and safari guides.

The unprecedented rate of poaching in 2019 prompted the government to warn that the rhino population could be wiped out in the southern African country by 2021.

Thousands of rhinos that once roamed Africa and Asia have been culled by poaching and habitat loss. Very few are found outside national parks and reserves.

Poaching is fuelled by a seemingly insatiable demand for rhino horn in Asia, where it is coveted as a traditional medicine or an aphrodisiac.

Rhino horn is composed mainly of keratin, the same substance as in human nails.

Botswana’s neighbour South Africa, home to 80% of the world’s remaining rhinos and the epicentre of rhino poaching, lost 594 rhinos to poachers last year.
More than 7,100 animals have been slaughtered over the past decade.

Poachers killed white giraffe

Poachers have killed a rare white giraffe and its calf which caused a global interest after they were spotted at the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy in Garissa County,Kenya.

In a statement on March 10, the conservancy’s manager Mohammed Ahmednoor said to local media the deaths were confirmed by rangers and community members.

The carcasses were found in a skeletal state, meaning they could have died a long time ago.

“This is a very sad day for the community of Ijara and Kenya as a whole. We are the only community in the world who are custodians of the white giraffe. Its killing is a blow to tremendous steps taken by the community to conserve rare and unique species and a wakeup call for continued support to conservation efforts,” Mr Ahmednoor said.

The white giraffe made headlines across globe in 2017 after its discovery, with its unique white hide. It is white but not albino, because of a condition known as leucism.

Tanzania elephant & rhino populations recover

Tanzania presidency reported elephant and rhino populations have begun to recover after a government crackdown dismantled organized criminal networks involved in industrial-scale poaching and transporting the ivory to China.

A influential Chinese businesswoman running a poaching network on industrial scale, dubbed the “Ivory Queen” was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a Tanzanian court in February for smuggling the tusks of more than 350 elephants, weighing nearly 2 tonnes, to Asian countries. Yang Feng Glan had been charged in 2015 along with two Tanzanian citizens with smuggling 860 pieces of ivory between 2000 and 2004 worth $5.6 million.

“As a result of the work of a special task force launched in 2016 to fight wildlife poaching, elephant populations have increased from 43,330 in 2014 to over 60,000 presently,” the presidency said in a statement this week, underlining the success of the case as a government victory over illicit ivory traffic.

The number of rhinos, an endangered species, had increased from just 15 to 167 over the past four years, the report says.

 

 

World giraffe day

Their habitat is being lost at an alarming rate, not to mention the myriad other threats they deal with, including poaching,  the trade in giraffe parts, giraffe skin disease, vehicle collisions, and droughts.

There are a lot of factors leading to the giraffe’s 40% decline in the last 30 years that are difficult to tackle as the human population grow around many giraffe populations is soaring; that giraffes are having to travel farther to find critical resources, like food and water, due to habitat loss.

Giraffes are brilliant animals. They are known to be very smart at adapting to their environment. Giraffes have learned to gulp, while drinking water, in order to avoid predators while in a vulnerable position. When it comes to sleep, it is not easy of being able to move in a matter of seconds in the body of a 1300 kg,  but they have adapted to be able to survive on 30 minutes or less of sleep a day.

Recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has been asked to consider listing giraffes under the Endangered Species Act through a lawsuit after it failed to respond to 2017 listing petition. This would help the species by limiting the U.S. trade in giraffe parts and sport-hunted trophies, among other benefits.

 

Chinese poachers with $1 million rhino horns face justice

The seven Chinese stood before Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, magistrate Ms Rangarirai Gakanje.

They were not formally charged for contravening Section 45(1) (b) of the Parks and Wildlife Act Chapter 20:14 as read with Section 128(b) of the same Act.

The sections criminalise keeping, possessing, selling or disposing of any live specially protected animal, meat or trophy of any such animal.

The magistrate remanded the accused in custody. Prosecuting, Mr Bheki Tshabalala said the accused were found in possession of the rhino pieces.

On 22 December information was received that there were some Chinese nationals at house number 858 Aerodrome, who were suspected to be keeping rhino horns. Police applied for a search warrant and proceeded to the house on Sunday morning whereupon searching they recovered a plastic bag containing several pieces of rhino horn in one of the bedrooms used by Liu,” said Mr Tshabalala.

The prosecutor said several other pieces were found in a cardboard box and some stashed inside a mattress that had been cut for concealment. A digital scale was also recovered, the court revealed. Mr Tshabalala said the pieces weighed 20,98 kg and a veterinary surgeon confirmed that they were genuine rhino horns.

The total value of the pieces is $938 700. Mr Givemore Mvhiringi of Mvhiringi and Associates is representing the accused.

Zeng Dengui (35), Peicon Jang (35), Liu Cheng (23), Yu Xian (25), Yong Zhu (25), Chen Zhiangfu (30) and Qui Jinchang (29) were arrested following a search at their rented house in Aerodrome.

 

Vietnam poachers killed more than 40 lions

Eight Vietnamese suspects will appear before a South African court to face charges of illegal possession of game products including lion parts and a tiger’s carcass, police said.

Police agents found lion bones, lion meat, a tiger skin, gas cylinders, gas burners, containers, a saw, knives and other equipment when they intercepted the suspects’ two vehicles headed to an unused farm in the North West province.

“As far as how many (lions), from our side there’s been no definite number really… but its quite a few of them,” Captain Tlangelani Rikhotso told AFP.

There were different parts of the lion that were there… so you can’t exactly tell if its the stomach or whatever, but the lion in its entirety was chopped up basically.”

Local media reports at least 40 lions were killed in 48 hours.

Conservation groups in East and southern Africa say that during the past three years, increasing numbers of lions have been killed and mutilated for their claws and teeth, likely to satisfy demand in China and Southeast Asia, where the parts appear to mainly be used as pendants and amulets.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which regulates the global wildlife trade, prohibits commercial trade in the parts of wild African lions. But South Africa, which has thousands of captive-bred lions, can legally export their parts—up to 800 lion skeletons a year. According to CITES, most go to Laos and Vietnam, where the bones are used as a substitute for tiger bone wine, considered a status symbol and used for treating various ailments and giving the drinker the “strength of a tiger.”

South Africa advances exports of lion’s skeletons

The export of lion skeletons is fuelling the business of these criminal enterprises and South Africa should be held to account for encouraging them, conservationists say. The issue came to public attention after the decision of South Africa officials to double quota of exports of skeletons of lions in captivity.

Dr Paul Funston, the senior director of the lion programme at Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organisation, believes South Africa’s contentious lion bone trade came to a point to start endangering the continent’s dwindling wild lion populations.

I can’t understand why the government is being so stupid and ignorant by making decisions and supporting an industry that is clearly not supported by the world one that is having a massive knock-on effect on the poaching of wild lions in other African countries” – Funston said.

Funston was reacting to the announcement this week by Environment Minister Edna Molewa that she had approved an annual export quota of 1500 captive-bred lion skeletons – nearly doubling last year’s 800-skeleton quota.

What we’re seeing now in many other African countries is that they poach the lions and just cut the face and feet off for the teeth and claws as trinkets,”  the conservationists regrets. Conservation organisations like Panthera have maintained there is significant evidence that South Africa’s legal trade in lion bones is accelerating the massacre of wild lions for their parts in neighbouring countries and increasing demand for wild lion parts in Asia, where they are used as a substitute for tiger bone wine and other products.

Elephant language of survival

Nowadays Researchers believe that migration is just one survival mechanism elephants have developed in response to poaching, conflict, urbanization, agriculture, and other pressures in Africa.

In 2016, one elephant made a treacherous 209 km journey over three weeks from the relative safety of Kenya to conflict-ridden Somalia, all under the cloak of darkness. Morgan, as the researchers called him, remained in Somalia for just a day and a half before turning back.

“We don’t know the precise reason for his migration into Somalia,” says Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants (STE), a UK charity headquartered in Nairobi that conducts research on elephant behavior and ecology, “but we suspect it was to mate.”

“Moving by night was an extreme form of survival in a region where elephants are under threat from poaching,” adds Douglas-Hamilton. “He was the first elephant on record to visit in Somalia in 20 years.”

Inspired by the elephant’s journey, researchers at the University of Twente in the Netherlands worked with Save the Elephants to conduct a study last September on African elephant migratory patterns. They found that some elephants in sub-Saharan Africa have started travelling at night to avoid the threat of poaching that usually occurs during the day.

Elephants also have developed sophisticated gestures, sounds, infrasound, and chemical secretions  to relay messages to one another for survival purposes. “Through various means, elephants can suggest that the group moves on, that they sense danger, or that they are in distress,” says Douglas-Hamilton.

« Older Entries