Author Archives: maina

Thailand seizes 1.4 tons of ivory at airport

via Melissa Groo – Save The Elephants

Thailand seizes 1.4 tons of ivory at airport on tip-off from Qatar

Associated Press
April 21, 2010

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) – Thailand has seized 1.4 tons of elephant tusks, worth more than $2 million, hidden in crates labeled as computer printers, officials said Wednesday.

Thai Customs officials confiscated the 296 tusks Saturday at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, acting on a tip from authorities in Qatar where the ivory was shipped from, said Kornsiri Pinnarat, deputy director-general of the Customs Department… read more.

EU, UK favour Dar’s ivory sale bid

EU, UK favour Dar’s ivory sale bid (Tanzania)

CATHERINE RIUNGU, East African
March 22 2010

In a surprise turn of events, Tanzania is this week likely to win its bid to sell its stockpile of ivory, estimated to be worth $15 million.

The vote on Tanzania’s proposal to be allowed to sell its ivory stockpile is due this week amid reports that the counter-proposal 20-year ban on ivory sales that has divided Kenya and Tanzania down the middle is likely to fail, partly because Britain and other members of the EU are refusing to support it.

The news that proposals to ban trade in bluefin tuna and polar bears were overwhelmingly rejected last week at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), meeting in Doha, Qatar, prompted the Times of London to write:

“A plan for a 20-year ban on ivory sales, to protect African elephants, is also likely to fail in the coming days — partly because Britain and other members of the EU are refusing to support it. Delegates are instead expected to approve a weak compromise, which would encourage poaching by allowing the sale of ivory being stored by several African nations.”

The number of elephants lost to poaching in Kenya has quadrupled in the past two years.

Kenya is one of seven African nations proposing a 20-year moratorium on sales of stockpiled ivory, while Tanzania is among countries opposed to the ban, saying that it not only needs to dispose of its ivory stockpile, it also wants to reduce it elephant population.

A main plank of Tanzania’s argument is that it is spending $75,000 annually on security and storage of ivory.

Poaching control

Last week, a report in the Gulf News was quoted saying that the Cites secretariat has rejected Tanzania’s bid to be allowed to sell its ivory — citing concerns about control of poaching and illegal trade in ivory — but Zambia’s case to sell 22 tonnes was being considered.

Reports indicate that Cites was concerned that if given the nod, Tanzania would slip into large-scale poaching.

Britain supported a one-off sale of 105 tonnes in 2008, arguing that it would reduce poaching by satisfying demand.

But Kenya says that the one-off sales have expanded the market in China and Japan for ivory ornaments, and that this in turn has encouraged poaching.

According to the Times, the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was still considering whether to support a lowering of the Cites protection for Tanzanian and Zambian elephants.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare said it was disappointing that the government and European Union have not gone into this meeting with a much stronger message against the ivory trade and in favour of elephant protection.

A report by an international team of 27 scientists and conservationists concluded that previous one-off sales had contributed to a rise in poaching and failed to deliver the promised conservation benefits, resulting in “only short-term profitability to the few individuals who ran the scheme.

Tanzania and Zambia want to sell 112 tonnes of ivory, and have submitted proposals that would allow the sale to take place by reducing their elephants’ level of protection under Cites trade rules.

International trade in ivory was banned in 1989, but since then Cites has agreed several “one-off sales” of stockpiled ivory on condition that the proceeds were spent on elephant conservation.

Article at the following link:

http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/EU%20UK%20favour%20Dars%20ivory%20sale%20bid%20/-/2558/883178/-/view/printVersion/-/ytckh8z/-/index.html

————————————
Melissa Groo
Save the Elephants News Service Researcher
For further information on elephants please see Save the Elephants’ web site
at http://www.savetheelephants.org

Kenya wins the first round on ivory

via Melissa Groo

Kenya wins the first round on ivory

WALTER MENYA, Daily Nation
March 18 2010

Elephants were thrown a life line on Thursday after it emerged that Tanzania’s proposal to be allowed to sell ivory is likely to be rejected.

The rejection by conservation agency, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), would be a major victory for the Kenyan elephant, which is facing increasing danger from poachers. Elephants move freely between the Kenyan and Tanzanian game parks along the common border.

The Cites secretariat recommended that Tanzania’s proposal to sell nearly 90 tonnes of stockpiled ivory be turned down. However, Zambia will be allowed to sell its stocks because it has better methods of control poaching, Cites said at their talks in Doha, Qatar.

The recommendation is not final and a decision will be taken by delegates who are gearing to begin debate on the Tanzanian proposal.
Zambia and Tanzania last November asked the Cites secretariat to remove the African elephant from the list of animals facing extinction.

This would mean that trade in ivory was not banned but controlled. The two countries wanted a one-off sale of 112 tonnes of ivory. But the 23-member countries of the African Elephants Coalition, led by Kenya and Mali, opposed the request, saying it would spur poaching.

International Fund for Animal Welfare Southern Africa director Jason Bell-Leask said elephant populations had declined in the past 30 years and were still recovering from the poaching of the 1980s. At the last Cites conference in 2007, a nine-year moratorium on trade in ivory was agreed upon.

“Corruption, the loss of more than 30,000 elephants in three years, all justify rejection of the Tanzania proposal,” Ms Shelley Waterland, the chairperson of the Species Survival Network’s Elephant Working Group, said on Thursday.

Technology

At the same time, Cites is urging governments to incorporate the internet and new information and communication technology in protecting fauna and flora. Kenya Wildlife Service runs the Wildlife Anti-Poaching Unit, established by the government with support from the World Bank, the United States, and the European Union. The unit has 19 aircraft, a modern communication system, and 24-hour monitoring teams.

Article at the following link:
http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Kenya%20wins%20the%20first%20round%20on%20ivory%20%20/-/1056/882428/-/163hscz/-/
————————————
Melissa Groo
Save the Elephants News Service Researcher
For further information on elephants please see Save the Elephants’ web site
at http://www.savetheelephants.org

World votes to continue trading in species on verge of extinction

Shared via Melissa Groo

World votes to continue trading in species on verge of extinction

Ben Webster, Environment Editor, Frank Pope, Times Online
March 19, 2010

Their sheer size and strength have made them among the most celebrated of endangered species, yet they have all been betrayed — by vested interests at a UN meeting on wildlife protection.

Proposals to ban trade in bluefin tuna and polar bears were overwhelmingly rejected yesterday at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), meeting in Doha, Qatar.

A plan for a 20-year ban on ivory sales, to protect African elephants, is also likely to fail in the coming days — partly because Britain and other members of the EU are refusing to support it. Delegates are instead expected to approve a weak compromise, which would encourage poaching by allowing the sale of ivory being stored by several African nations.

Feelings were running high yesterday about the failure of measures to protect endangered tuna. Only 20 of the 120 countries at the meeting voted to ban trade in the bluefin. Intensive lobbying by Japan, which consumes 80 per cent of Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin, meant that a snap vote was held before any debate on scientific reports that show a catastrophic decline in the largest of the tuna family.

Campaigners reacted with dismay. Oliver Knowles, of Greenpeace, said: “It is an own goal by Japan. By pushing for a few more years of this luxury product it has put the future of bluefin, and the future of its own supply, at serious risk. The abject failure of governments here at Cites to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna spells disaster for its future, and sets the species on a pathway to extinction.”

France, Italy and Spain catch most of the tuna consumed by the global market. In 2009 a quota of 19,950 tonnes of tuna was set by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, but many fish are caught live in nets, transferred to farms and fattened before slaughter.

Susan Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group, said: “The market for this fish is just too lucrative and the pressure from fishing interests too great for enough governments to support a truly sustainable future for the fish.”

The Cites process, which requires a two-thirds majority for a proposal to be adopted, is vulnerable to well-funded lobbying by countries and industries that depend on trade in a species. The vested interests exploit uncertainties in the estimates of population numbers, and strike backroom deals to secure the votes of developing countries where endangered species are far down the list of political priorities.

A US proposal to protect polar bears fell victim to arguments put forward by Inuit groups that their livelihoods depended on hunting the animals. The vote on protecting elephants is due on Monday, and is viewed by wildlife groups as the last opportunity to protect many of Africa’s most threatened herds.

The few remaining elephants in Sierra Leone were killed in October by poachers serving the thriving black market in ivory, which fetches up to $1,500 (£980) a kilo in the Far East. In the Zakouma National Park in Chad, poaching has cut the population from 3,885 in 2006 to only 617 last year. The number of elephants lost to poaching in Kenya has quadrupled in the past two years. Kenya is one of seven African nations proposing a 20-year moratorium on sales of stockpiled ivory.

International trade in ivory was banned in 1989, but since then Cites has agreed several “one-off sales” of stockpiled ivory on condition that the proceeds were spent on elephant conservation. Britain supported a one-off sale of 105 tonnes in 2008, arguing that it would reduce poaching by satisfying demand. But Kenya says that the one-off sales have expanded the market in China and Japan for ivory ornaments, and that this in turn has encouraged poaching.

Asian-run crime syndicates are able to pass off illegal ivory as coming from stockpiles sold with Cites approval.

Tanzania and Zambia want to sell 112 tonnes of ivory, and have submitted proposals that would allow the sale to take place by reducing their elephants’ level of protection under Cites trade rules.

Britain will join the rest of the EU in voting against Kenya’s proposal. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was still considering whether to support a lowering of the Cites protection for Tanzanian and Zambian elephants.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: “We are disappointed that the UK Government, and European Union member countries as a whole, have not gone into this meeting with a much stronger message against the ivory trade and in favour of elephant protection.

“This leaves the door open to future trade, which would result in further illegal poaching.”

Nick Herbert, the Shadow Environment Secretary, said the Government should be pressing for the destruction of stockpiles of ivory. “No one proposes stockpiling seized drugs or weapons to sell for profit, and ivory should be treated in just the same way. Instead of flooding the market with more ivory and legitimising the trade these stockpiles should be destroyed. We should be choking demand for ivory, not stoking it.”

A Defra spokesman said: “The UK will not consider other sales of ivory until the effects of last year’s one-off sale of ivory, intended to reduce demand for illegal poached ivory, have been fully analysed. This will take at least a further six years.”

A report last week by an international team of 27 scientists and conservationists concluded that previous one-off sales had contributed to a rise in poaching and failed to deliver the promised conservation benefits, resulting in “only short-term profitability to the few individuals who ran the scheme”.

Article at the following link:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/earth-environment/article7067909.ece

————————————
Melissa Groo
Save the Elephants News Service Researcher
For further information on elephants please see Save the Elephants’ web site
at http://www.savetheelephants.org

French Customs Seize Ivory, Elephant Feet and Tail in Paris

This News item is shared courtesy of Melissa Groo – Save the Elephants News Researcher.

Seized ivory tusks, elephant parts from Cameroon at Paris airport

IC Publications
March 4, 2010

French customs officers at a Paris airport seized elephants’ feet, two ivory tusks and a tail from packages sent from Cameroon, the customs office said Thursday.

The two tusks weighing 21.5 kilos (41.4 pounds) each, two feet and tail were identified as being from an African elephant, which has been identified as under threat of extinction.

The elephant parts from trophy hunting were sent by freight from Cameroon to a French national via Charles de Gaulle airport, outside Paris.

“Trade in this type of product is strictly regulated and requires a certificate authorised by CITES,” the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, said the customs agency.

Article at the following link: http://www.africasia.com/services/news/newsitem.php area=africa&item=100304103021.yo6rbo4v.php

Natron’s Lesser Flamingo Action Plan Completed

This news is taken from BirdLife’s Think Pink Campaign

18-02-2010

The 2010 World Wetlands Day celebrations in Tanzania focussed on a meeting to support the conservation of Lesser Flamingo, Phoenicopterus minor, (Near Threatened) through the completion of a National Single Species Action Plan.

“This is an important step in ensuring the protection of this important species not only for Tanzania but also for the world”, said Lota Melamari – CEO of Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (WCST, BirdLife Partner). “This action plan provides Tanzania with an opportunity to ensure that threats facing Lesser Flamingo are thoroughly addressed”, he added.

Tanzania is home to the most important breeding site in the world for Lesser Flamingo – Lake Natron. Of the world’s global population of Lesser Flamingo, 75% breed at Lake Natron.

These flamingos drew global attention when a proposal to build a soda ash processing plant at Lake Natron came to light in 2006. The global community, led by BirdLife International, WCST, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB, BirdLife in the UK), and the Lake Natron Consultative Group opposed the plans citing serious threats to the critical flamingo breeding site.

During the meeting, actions were agreed aimed at ensuring that the species is protected at Lake Natron and eleven other lakes within Tanzania. “It is commendable that Tanzania now has developed an action plan for Lesser Flamingo”, said Paul Kariuki Ndang’ang’a of BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat. “It is critical to put in place necessary measures to begin implementation immediately.”

“This is an important step in ensuring the protection of this important species not only for Tanzania but also for the world” —Lota Melamari, Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania

The meeting was held at the Lake Manyara National Park Hostel, and participants included local community groups such as the Ilkisongo Pastoralists Initiatives. Other participants included: local government officials, Protected Area managers, officials from the Wildlife Division and the Ministry of Environment, academic institutions and BirdLife Partners, WCST and the RSPB.

“It is fantastic to see such wide ranging support for the finalisation of the plan”, added Sarah Sanders – Head of RSPB Country Programmes Unit. “It is now down to all of us to make sure that the plan is not put on a shelf but implemented so the conservation of Lesser Flamingo is secured in the long-term.”

Participants had a chance to visit Lake Manyara National Park to see flamingos and observed fascinating pairing and mating rituals. The consultative meeting was organised through the National Wetlands Working Group led by the WCST and the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute under the auspices of the Wetlands Unit of Tanzania’s Wildlife Division.

The facilitators were drawn from the BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat who also used the opportunity to launch a three year project to enhance the conservation of Lake Natron Ramsar Site, funded by the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation. Local participants were kindly supported by the Wetlands Unit of Tanzania’s Wildlife Division and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.

WildlifeDirect News – No 18, March 2010

Following severe drought in Kenya late last year that was particularly harsh on Amboseli National Park in southern part of the country, there was an estimated 80% loss in herbivore numbers in this Park. As a result, lions and other predators that rely on this herbivore population for food have been having a rough time.

To feed themselves and their offspring in light of the decline in prey, they have been raiding cattle bomas and killing livestock. Tension has been mounting and retaliatory lion hunting outings are being carried out by the local Maasai people much more often than before the drought.

To try and diffuse the high human-wildlife tension in the area, the Kenya Wildlife Service has started moving zebras and wildebeests from Soysambu Conservancy in Naivasha to the Amboseli National Park in order to restock the prey population and bring about a balance in the ecosystem. This is one of the stories that we have in this month’s issue of WildlifeDirect News.

We also have the good news of the return of Wild Dogs to the Serengeti after a 20-year absence and the sad news of the death of Mountain Gorilla infant Sekanabo from injuries associated with snaring. We also have a list of other important blog posts coming from the conservation frontline in the last month

Kenya Moves Zebras to Amboseli

During the drought that ravaged this land late last year, many herbivores either died or moved away leaving lions and large predators without much prey. This has resulted in more frequent predation on Maasai cattle. The consequent threat of retaliatory killing of predators by the Maasai has been mounting to highly tense levels.

The KWS recons that the move will provide natural prey for large predators, thus reducing attacks on cattle and eventually diffusing the threat of retaliatory killings.

Paula was on site this weekend and took some amazing pictures of Day 20 of the translocation exercise and posted them on Baraza.

Read more about the expected effect of the translocation on the Lion Guardians blog.

Wild Dogs Return to Serengeti After 20 Years

Photographer captures this important moment in history

A classic example of being at the right place at the right time granted Uwe Skrzypczak a rare chance to photograph the first sighting of Wild Dogs in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, in 20 years. It seems that Wild Dogs had returned to Serengeti – after two decades.

Uwe Skrzypczak, a friend of WildlifeDirect and a photographer whose work mostly covers Serengeti was having lunch at the Ndutu Lodge when he got word that some 7 wild dogs had been spotted near Lake Masek, some 3 km from the lodge. At first skeptical about the sudden appearance of these highly endangered predators, Uwe rushed to the site immediately after, and took amazing photographs. The low resolution versions of these photos were published on Baraza together with his account of how lucky he was on that day.

Wild Dogs are among the most endangered predators in Africa with only a fraction of their original population still remaining. They have suffered persecution for decades and, with the growing human population, their range has shrunk, and is still shrinking.

The return of the dogs into Serengeti is a good sign that perhaps the northern Tanzania park may have again become friendly to this most efficient of hunters.

Donate on Baraza to enable us keep you updated on what is happening in the conservation frontline.

The Death of Sekanabo

Mountain Gorilla infant despite promising vet intervention

An infant Mountain Gorilla of the Kabirizi group in DRC’s Virunga National Park died in early February from what is thought to have been complications from snaring.Virunga rangers had found the male infant, Sekanabo (Nsekanabo) son of the female Tumaini, snared and had been freed.

He was badly injured, presumably by the snare, and the nylon rope snare was still tied tightly to his ankle. Veterinary intervention was deemed necessary.

Gorilla Doctors thus went to the forest, darted both mother and son and treated the wounds. Part of his mouth and nose were badly ripped and needed two layers of stitches to hold together. Once the infant was treated, he was left with his group which was then monitored closely by trackers.

Sekanabo was showing some improvement the following day but by the end of that day, news got to the Gorilla Doctors that the infant had died. An ‘autopsy’ would follow to determine the cause of death.

You can support Gorilla Doctors’ work by donating on their blog.

News Snapshots

Things you need to know

Stay up to date – check what’s happening in the new WildlifeDirect Breaking News page. It’s new – but we’ll be keeping it updated.

European Commission, Member States Going Soft on Resumption of Ivory Trade?

Here is some elephant news just arrived from the Fondation Franz Weber

European Commission, Member States Going Soft on Resumption of Ivory Trade?

European Parliament backs total moratorium but Commission dithers

10 February 2010, Strasbourg, France, MEPs today called unequivocally for no resumption of the elephant trade. But the European Commission is being ambivalent to proposals from Tanzania and Zambia to recategorise their elephant populations to allow them to sell ivory (called “downlisting” in the relevant trade jargon). Such moves stimulate poachers seeking to exploit illicit market opportunities under cover of the legal trade.

A Resolution, adopted today, stakes out the European Parliament’s position on protection of endangered species ahead of the 15th Conference of the Parties (CoP15) to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Fauna (CITES). CoP15 takes place from 13-25 March 2010 in Doha. This issue is on the agenda for the new Commission’s first meeting on 17 February.

“In 1963 there were 1.3 million elephants in Africa. Today there are less than 500,000,” says Vera Weber of the Fondation Franz Weber, which runs a national park on behalf of the government of Togo. “If things go on at this rate, in another fifty years there will be no more wild elephants left at all. The EU must come out of the bush and support us now. The Commission needs to lead!”

A majority of African countries fear that the lack of political leadership in the Commission until now means that the EU’s position on the future of the African elephant will depend on the technocratic views of civil servants, not on the political leadership.

“This is the last call for the African elephant,” continues Ms. Weber. “For months on end there has been a huge gap in political leadership in the EU on elephant conservation. We urge newly-appointed environment and trade commissioners Potocnik and De Gucht to cut through the bureaucratic waffle and do the right thing politically – so that future generations of European kids will actually know that wild elephants still live in Africa. The EU was with us on this in 2007, where is it now?”

Any legally authorised sales of ivory (to China and Japan – the only countries in the world who continue to buy ivory) create cover for illegal trading (usually into the same two countries), thereby encouraging poachers to slaughter elephants cruelly all across Africa. In Chad’s Zakouma National Park, the elephant population grew over 20 years with EU aid to 4,800 animals by 2003. Since then poachers have decimated this population. In 2009 there were just 617 elephants left. Last month that number fell to 607 as poachers killed another ten animals for their tusks. Elephants are now extinct in Sierra Leone because of poaching. Yet Commission officials are not publicly backing the total moratorium agreed in CITES in 2007 which the EU played a decisive role in promoting.

At the CITES CoP14 meeting in the Hague in 2007, the then German Presidency of the EU was instrumental in brokering a 9-year total moratorium in elephant trade. Yet, Commission officials appear ambivalent about whether Tanzania and Zambia should be allowed to “downlist” their elephants – an initiative which is the first step towards launching trade. The moratorium started in late 2008, just after legal one-off ivory sales by Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

On the initiative of the Fondation Franz Weber, eighteen delegates from the 23-government African Elephant Coalition took the unprecedented step of visiting Brussels in late-January for a week of talks aiming to persuade the EU institutions not to agree to any downlisting. The visitors found MEPs clear and supportive, the Commission evasive and non-committal.

The European Parliament Resolution explicitly urges the Commission and Member States to reject all proposals that would result in any resumption of the African elephant ivory trade until such time as a proper assessment can be made of the impact on poaching of the November 2008 one-off sales of ivory from a number of southern African countries.

“Elephants need their tusks, the Chinese don’t. If the EU abstains on this issue in Doha, this will effectively give the green light for the resumption of the ivory trade which millions of Europeans do not want to see,” says Ms. Weber. “An historic opportunity now exists to ensure that the ivory trade is not revived – even on a limited basis – thereby helping threatened elephant populations avoid the poachers’ guns and bazookas.”

The EU must act now to protect the African elephant from extinction. The credibility of the EU presidency is at stake in the eyes of at least 23 African countries.
Ends

For more information contact Eamonn Bates in Strasbourg on +32-475 45 24 43 or Vera Weber on +41-79 210 54 04

African Elephant Coalition (AEC) members are the governments of Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, Republic of Congo and the Government of Southern Sudan. Kenya and Mali are the co-Chairs of the AEC.

WildlifeDirect News – No. 17, February 2010

We have finally launched our redesigned website and despite a few technical hitches at the beginning, we can proudly say that we are making progress. We switched to the modern look and tech platform because the old system did not allow us to add new services that would enrich your visit to the site. We invite you to visit the site and explore and tell us what you think.

As we were doing the site, conservation challenges and successes did not stop happening to our bloggers. Limbe Wildlife Center for instance recieved 1000 rescued parrots. The ivory question, as it always does, has again entered center stage as the date of the 2010 CITES (CoP15) meeting draws near.

In the list of links that will give you a glimpse into what you may have missed from the site are various good and bad news. We like to serve a good mix of news. But we serve it as it happens.

Read on for what we gathered from the conservation frontline.

WildlifeDirect Completes Web Redesign

WildlifeDirect Homepage

The much anticipated redesign of the WildlifeDirect website has been completed. It is indeed a milestone as we have been working on the redesign for months. This is a completely new website and as is usually the case with changes that involve tinkering with the technological end of things, we had a few hitches. Most of these have now been resolved and our dedicated team of techies are working daily to make the ride as smooth as possible for you.

There are many new features that we believe will be useful to you and to the bloggers. New features such as the WildlifeTrackers, the MyWLD forum, Resources, and Multimedia will enrich your experience in the web once they become fully operational.
We thank you all and especially those of you who gave us feedback soon after launching the site. We hope you will be able to go in and explore the new features, enjoy and give us your input.

For a more detailed explanation of what is in the new site go read this post on Baraza blog

Getting Ready for The Battle for the Elephant

Conservationists prepare to oppose Tanzania/Zambia propoIllegal ivory in Kenyasals.

The 15th Conference of Parties to CITES (CoP15) promises to bring the same fireworks that each of the many previous meetings have brought as the ivory question again takes center stage. The Battle for the Elephant this time will be between the perennial brawler Kenya and its allies on the one hand and the two new rivals Tanzania and Zambia on the other hand.

Zambia and Tanzania have each submitted separate proposals to the CITES Secretariat asking for the down-listing of their elephants from Appendix I to Appendix II of the CITES Red List thus allowing them to trade in their stockpiled ivory. Kenya as usual is against any trade in ivory and has submitted a proposal to extend the moratorium on trade from the 9 years agreed on in CoP14 in 2008 to a longer 20-year no ivory trade period.

Kenya is leading a large group of African Elephant range states including Congo, Ghana, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone in their proposals. African states supporting the no-trade proposal are more than these six and have formed the African Elephant Coalition (AEC) that will vote yes to the no-trade proposal and no to the Zambia/Tanzania proposals.

Kenyan conservationists have formed the Kenya Elephant Forum to work together with the AEC to lobby global CITES representatives to vote for no-trade.

The battle lines are drawn – get ready for some bruising

Follow the unfolding story on Baraza and on our new Ban Ivory blogs.

Massive Smuggling of African Grey Parrots

Cameroonian authorities confiscate1000 parrots in Douala

Confiscated parrotsAt Douala Airport on 1 February 2010 some 1000 African Grey Parrots were confiscated on transit to Kuwait and Bahrain with an Ethiopian Airlines way bill. This is the largest consignment of parrots ever nabbed in Cameroon in what officers at the Limbe Wildlife Center perceive to be an escallating illegal trade racket.

The parrots were transferred to Limbe on 2 February for care and rehabilitation before being released back into the forests of Cameroon. This is not the first consignment of confiscated parrots that Limbe has recieved. Recently, in November and December, hundreds of confiscated parrots were brought to Limbe with the December batch consisting of 503 parrots. It’s only on 29 December 2009 that they released the first batch of 45 rehabilitated parrots.

Before they could release the rest, or even clean out the feathers and poop, from the rehab cages, 1000 more arrived. The good people at Limbe are frustrated by the scale of smuggling going on in Cameroon. They are also feeling the strain of taking in the poor birds and they need all the help they can get to feed and care for the new birds.

You can support Limbe’s work by donating in their blog.

News Snapshots

Things you need to know

  • Rhino poached in Kenya
  • Volcano erupts near home of mountain gorillas
  • Head count for Zimbabwe’s Wild Dogs
  • How your donations helped CERCOPAN in 2009
  • What lies ahead for the Maasai
  • Bushmeat in the City – Nairobi’s ‘nyama choma’ risk
  • Two of the ‘Kivu four’ chimps join the main group
  • Five lions moved to Gonarezhou, Zimbabwe
  • Stay up to date – check what’s happening in the new WildlifeDirect Breaking News page. It’s new – but we’ll keep it up to date.

    Kenya’s Prime Minister Urged to Help Ban Carbofuran

    Kenya’s Prime Minister Urged to Help Ban Carbofuran

    Nairobi, 06 November 2009 – On Friday, 30 October 2009, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would implement the agency’s May 2009 final rule revoking all tolerances, or residue limits, for the pesticide carbofuran. From 31 December 2009, therefore, any use of carbofuran in USA becomes a crime punishable with fines and jail sentences. Kenyan conservationists now want their government to follow suit and impose a total ban on carbofuran in the country.

    Conservationists, led by the Nairobi-based NGO, WildlifeDirect, want the support of their Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, who on Monday, 2 November 2009, adopted a lion under the Kenya Wildlife Service’s (KWS) Wildlife Endowment Fund. It is a rare conservation gesture coming from one so high in Kenya’s political pyramid.

    WildlifeDirect and its partners have been calling for a total ban on carbofuran in Kenya for about two years and they now see hope in the Prime Minister’s small but important gesture of adopting a lion – a species imperiled by this lethal poison. “Mr Odinga should now lead parliament in realizing the ban on this number one lion-killer.” says Dr Paula Kahumbu, Executive Director of WildlifeDirect.

    Carbofuran, known in Kenya by its brand name- Furadan, which is manufactured by the FMC Corporation of Philadelphia, USA and is solely distributed in Kenya (and the rest of East Africa) by Juanco Limited – is known to have killed at least 76 lions in 5 years. Carbofuran is also responsible for the deaths of more than 300 vultures, and truckloads of other birds and animals according to scientists and the KWS.

    Reports of human death due to carbofuran poisoning have emerged. WildlifeDirect spoke on phone with the heartbroken father of a child who died of Furadan poisoning. The report of this death first appeared on Kenya’s The Standard newspaper on Friday, 30 October 2009 saying that on Monday, 26 October 2009, the child had mistakenly ingested Furadan and died.

    The child’s father informed WildlifeDirect that the child died on arrival at the Cherangani Nursing Home in Trans Nzoia East District in western Kenya. The father had bought the pesticide four months ago for use in killing insects in the soil when preparing his vegetable nursery. He says that he was not aware how dangerous the product is and was not informed by the retailer about the first aid approach in case of pesticide ingestion. He gave his child milk and crushed eggs – a method of dealing with poisoning widely used in Africa – instead of water as the label says.

    This confirms that this poison is critically dangerous for Africans even those with sufficient levels of education like the bereaved man who is a teacher at a local primary school. The lack of the clear and utterly off-putting universal symbol of death – the skull and crossbones – dupes end users of the pesticide into thinking that its poisoning effects are mild.

    The damage that carbofuran has caused to wildlife, the environment and humans is not unique to Kenya. Of the EPA’s 3 year determination, Steve Owens, the assistant administrator for EPA’s Office said that “The evidence is clear that carbofuran does not meet today’s rigorous food-safety standards.”

    “If the pesticide is not safe for use in the US or Europe, where pesticide users are more informed, why would we think that the pesticide is safe for use in Africa?” asks Dr Richard Leakey, Chairman of WildlifeDirect.

    This pesticide was developed for largely literate and highly regulated developed countries. In Africa, where most farmers are uneducated and where the regulatory bodies are under-resourced, users are exposed to greater danger. The product is often repackaged in small, affordable but unmarked packets that have no user instructions. “It is immoral to sell a pesticide as dangerous as carbofuran in Africa” Dr Leakey adds.

    It gets worse for Kenya which is a large exporter of coffee to the US. Dr Michael Fry of the American Bird Conservancy says, “The revocation of all food tolerances has international implications, as imports of rice, coffee, bananas and sugarcane were previously allowed to contain residues of carbofuran.” He adds, “After this revocation, countries wishing to export these foods to the US must stop using carbofuran on these four major crops.”

    Dr Leakey, who has been central to the call to ban this lethal poison, urges Mr Odinga to act now to stop this carnage. “The Prime Minister did well to adopt that young lion cub, but now is the time for him to lead in a much more significant action to save lions – declare them an endangered species in Kenya and enforce a total ban on carbofurans” he says.

    This, according to WildlifeDirect, must be coupled with proper management of lions, compensation for depredation of livestock, incentives and rewards for communities and land owners to protect lions, plus effective enforcement by the wildlife authorities. These actions could bring the lion back from the brink of national extinction and restore the pride to Kenya’s national symbol.