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Tracking Technology Deployed to Help Keep Giant Tusker from Crops

Nairobi September  16, 2016: One of Kenya’s largest tuskers has been fitted with a GPS tracking collar to allow Kenya Wildlife Service and their non-governmental partners to prevent him from raiding the farms surrounding Amboseli National Park.

Known as Tim, the iconic bull elephant has gained international fame on account of his tusks, but local notoriety because of his habit of entering farms in the Kimana area to feed to crops. The tracking collar gives rangers on the ground the ability to track the tusker’s movements and deploy into farmland areas when he approaches and chase him from the area using a variety of deterrents.

“We are committed to exploring effective methods to keep our communities safe while securing all of our elephants,” said Kitili Mbathi, Director General of KWS, who took part in the operation.

The 47 year-old bull has been monitored by the Amboseli Trust for Elephants since he was born in December 1969 to a cow named Trista. His grandmother was the matriarch Teresia, leader of Amboseli’s TD family. After the operation to fit his tracking collar, Tim began walking towards the Trust’s research centre, and spent a morning resting there.

“It will be wonderful to see his life in even finer detail now that his every move is being followed,” said Cynthia Moss, Founder of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants.

The tracking system developed and donated by Save the Elephants will allow rangers from KWS and Big Life to monitor his movements using mobile devices and a VHF tracking antenna. When Tim crosses a virtual line near farmland, an alert will also be sent to warn them to prepare for his arrival. The high-tech GPS tracking collar was made by Kenyan firm Savannah Tracking.
Nairobi, September 16th, 2016:

“Tim’s new collar should give rangers a crucial advantage in preventing conflict between farmers and this iconic elephant, while also helping us to understand how to plan landscapes to keep our two species apart,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants.

KWS and Big Life rangers will be on call 24 hours a day to respond. “Despite being injured twice while raiding farms, Tim seems unable to resist the temptation of ripe tomatoes. Now with a collar that shows us his location at any time, our problem animal control teams will be able to be one step of ahead of him and keep him away from farms. Another great example of technology enabling conservation,” said Big Life Director Richard Bonham.

WildlifeDirect raised the funds that will to support the KWS and Big Life Foundation ground teams.

“To collar a majestic wild animal so that he can live out his life in peace and safety is an unnatural act. To build fences where farms have been allowed to encroach on historic migration paths in order to protect the lives of both settlers and animals – those, too, are unnatural acts. But if that’s what it takes to protect our wildlife, I support and encourage all of it,” said WildlifeDirect’s Board Director Scott Asen.

About KWS – www.kws.org About Big Life – www.biglife.org

About WildlifeDirect – www.wildlifedirect.org

About Amboseli Trust for Elephants – www.elephanttrust.org

About Save the Elephants – www.savetheelephants.org

Download Press Release here

For More Information Contact:

Paul Gathitu – KWS Spokesperson +254 723 333 313

Frank Pope – Save the Elephants COO +254 725 777 552

African, Japanese and international conservation NGO’s call on President Kenyatta and Prime Minister Abe to agree on measures to save the African elephant.

Nairobi, 26 August 2016: Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) is a conference held regularly with the objective “to promote high-level policy dialogue between African leaders and development partners.” Japan is a co-host of these conferences. Other co-organizers of TICAD are the United Nations Office of the Special Advisor on Africa (UN-OSSA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The next conference is scheduled for Kenya on August 27th and 28th 2016. It will be the first time the event will be held in Africa, previous conferences were all held in Japan.

 

TICAD has been an evolving element in Japan’s long-term commitment to fostering peace and stability in Africa through collaborative partnerships. In this context, Japan has stressed the importance of “Africa’s ownership” of its development as well as of the “partnership” between Africa and the international community. The exchange of views amongst the conference delegates serves to underscore the case for more, not less assistance from the major world economies. It is in this vein that Africa must seek Japan’s support in saving the African elephant which is undergoing an unprecedented slaughter due to demand for ivory. Japan continue to be a major consumer, and, therefore, has a special responsibility to act in the interest of Africa and elephants.

 

In part due to Kenya’s leadership position on the matter, most of Africa, Asia as well as the world’s developed nations agree that to save elephants, global ivory markets should be closed. Both the US President Obama and China’s President Xi have made commitments to close the domestic markets which will have a huge impact on demand. Now conservationists call on Japan to support China, USA and twenty-nine African countries by endorsing a plan to afford elephants the highest protection under international law.

 

The growing demand for ivory in Japan has come about due to thriving legal domestic ivory markets. Studies however show that these markets are used for the laundering of illegal ivory through loopholes in the regulations. Japanese conservation organizations estimate that in the three years between 2012, and 2014, at least 12 tons of whole tusks and pieces of ivory were sold on Yahoo Japan Auction site. These marketing and distribution channels have not been focused on by the law enforcement agencies.

 

In June 2014, the Government of Japan reported to CITES that there are 7,570 registered ivory dealers, 537 ivory wholesalers, and some 293 ivory manufacturers in Japan – the largest known numbers of any country in the world.[1]

 

Unlike China where ivory is bought for prestige, 80% of the ivory consumed in Japan is used for Hanko, the traditional Japanese seal used as the only form of official signature accepted by banks. But most people buy these products without knowing that they are contributing toward the elephant slaughter and illegal trade.

 

We urge Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is the head of the Giants Club of African presidents supporting elephant conservation, and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, to seize this unique opportunity at TICAD6 to discuss the issue as part of their duty towards the development agendas of Africa and Japan.

 

We also urge the H.E. the First Lady of Japan, Akie Abe, an ardent conservationist, to join H.E. the First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta in raising awareness about elephants and their conservation needs.

 

Japan is one of Africa’s most important development partners. They have made major contributions and commitments to support conservation. Now the conservation community call for 5 actions to be agreed at TICAD:

  1. Japan to permanently close legal domestic markets of ivory, and aggressively close down online trading sites that deal in ivory, all to crush demand.
  2. Japan to suspend ivory registration immediately, to prevent loopholes that allow fraudulent registration and laundering of illegal ivory.
  3. Japan to support the Elephant Protection Initiative.
  4. Japan to strengthen cooperation on elephant conservation initiatives and combating the trafficking of ivory to Japan through joint investigations and mutual legal assistance.
  5. Japan’s Prime Minister and First Lady to jointly issue statements to discourage the selling and buying of ivory in Japan and to initiate an education and outreach campaign to Japanese citizens on the importance of saving elephants by stopping poaching and ending ivory trade.

 

Kenya is proud to be hosting the first TICAD conference in Africa and we look forward to positive outcomes of the discussions.

 

[1] (Japan, June 2014, pp. Government of Japan Report on trade control in ivory and ivoSC65, Doc 42.1 Addendum, Annex 2. )

 

You can download the English or Japanese version below.

Japanese version

English version

Notorious Kenyan Ivory Trafficker Jailed for 20 Years and Fined USD 200,000

Nairobi, 22 July 2016: Today a Mombasa Law Court pronounced judgement in a landmark ruling of Feisal Mohamed Ali and five others.

Feisal Mohamed Ali was found guilty of illegal possession of ivory under Section 95 of the Wildlife Act (2013). He has been sentenced to 20 years in jail and fined 20 million shillings (USD 200,000) – the minimum was 1 million (USD 10,000) and a jail sentence of 20 years (the minimum was 5 years).

The other 5 co-accused were acquitted. Prosecution shall be appealing against the ruling on acquittal of the 5 accused while the defense team of the 6th accused will appeal the conviction and sentence.

The outcome of this case shows Kenya’s seriousness in handling wildlife crime. This is the biggest ivory trafficking case in Kenya’s history and the outcome is being monitored keenly by conservationists and the legal fraternity.
As she handed down her landmark sentence, Judge Hon. Diana Mochache said that poaching is a menace in Kenya. She stated that Kenyans never understood why poaching happens, and declared that one must not wear ivory ornaments. She warned of grave consequences if something is not done drastically to stop the poaching and that children would only know elephants from what they read. She reminded the court that in Kenya, we don’t have many elephants, and that elephants are the source of pride and heritage in Kenya. She noted that elephants are so adored that companies like Nakumatt use the elephant in their branding. But more than150 elephants were killed to supply the ivory involved in this case and she stated that this was why the court must put away the people who commit these crimes.

The trial had been challenged from the start, and has been heard by three different magistrates. Another inquiry connected to this case is ongoing with regards to the tampering of evidence.
Feisal and 5 co-accused were arrested in association with a seizure of 2.1 tons of ivory (314 pieces) on 5th of June 2014. They were charged with illegal possession of ivory under Section 95 of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act (2013).
“This is an excellent result for the people of Kenya and for elephants. It shows that with the necessary support from KWS, ODPP and the judiciary, a just and powerful result can be delivered. It would have been a better outcome if he was sentenced life imprisonment considering the magnitude of the crime and its implications for wildlife,” said former Director of Public Prosecutions, Philip Murgor.

It is the first time that Kenya has prosecuted a large ivory seizure to conclusion and it sends a very strong message to poachers and traffickers that Kenya will not tolerate them.
WildlifeDirect congratulates the ODPP team whose prosecution was challenged by seven defense lawyers. The case has taken 2 years, and famously involved the arrest of Feisal Mohamed Ali in Tanzania following an Interpol red notice after he escaped Kenya when initially charged. He remained a fugitive for 7 months and was arrested on Christmas Eve in 2014. Feisal is the only accused person in this trial who was held in custody throughout the period despite several attempts to obtain bail.
WildlifeDirect has been watching brief on behalf of civil society, communities that derive their livelihoods from wildlife in Kenya.

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WildlifeDirect is a Kenya and US registered charitable organization founded by Richard Leakey and chaired in Kenya by Senior Advocate and former Director of Public Prosecutions, Philip Murgor. WildlifeDirect campaigns for justice for wildlife to ensure Africa’s magnificent wildlife endures forever.

Press contact: Patricia Sewe, Communications Manager, WildlifeDirect
Email: psewe@wildlifedirect.org

African Nations Call On the World to Help Them Save African Elephants

Montreux, 29 June 2016: The African Elephant Coalition (AEC), comprising 29 African countries, are calling on the world to join them in saving elephants. The Montreux Manifesto, agreed at a meeting of the Coalition in Montreux, Switzerland from 24 to 26 June, launches a social media campaign – #WorthMoreAlive, #EndIvoryTrade, #Vote4Elephants” – to gain support for their five-part package to put an end to the ivory trade and afford elephants the highest protection under international law.

The AEC’s package, consisting of five proposals to the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in September-October in Johannesburg, South Africa, is designed to reverse the poaching crisis facing elephants. Taken together, the proposals would ban the international trade in ivory by listing all elephants in CITES Appendix I, close domestic ivory markets around the world, encourage better management of ivory stockpiles and where possible their destruction, end further debate in CITES on a mechanism to legalize ivory trade, and limit exports of live African elephants to conservation projects in their natural habitat.

“The Montreux Manifesto shows that our message is clear.”, says Bourama Niagaté from Mali, a member of the Council of the Elders for the Coalition, “we need to all pull together for the sake of Africa’s elephants.”

The Coalition expressed its deep concern about the crisis facing elephants and its conviction that a ban on international and domestic trade in ivory is the best way to protect elephants.

“CITES saved African elephants from certain extinction 27 years ago by listing them on Appendix I,” says Vera Weber, president of the Swiss-based Fondation Franz Weber, a partner organization of the AEC, which facilitated the meeting. “Since then the protection of elephants has been weakened, and poaching has escalated. The AEC has charted a path to relist elephants on Appendix I and ban the ivory trade once and for all.”

The Manifesto appeals to governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations for their support, and calls on citizens around the world to ask their respective governments and CITES representatives to support the five proposals and to help the Coalition in its mission to list all elephants in Appendix I.

NOTES

The five proposals submitted by the AEC to CITES are:

1. Listing all elephants in CITES Appendix I
The proposal seeks to unify all African elephant populations and their range States in one Appendix I listing, ending split-listing through the transfer from Appendix II of the populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The African elephant as a species is not constrained within State borders, nor indeed are national populations. Many are shared with more than one country, arguing for a unified approach to their regulation under CITES. This action seeks to gain the maximum protection for elephants by simplifying and improving enforcement and sending a clear message to the world that ivory cannot be legally traded under international law.

2. Closure of domestic ivory markets
This proposal calls for closure of all domestic markets for commercial trade in raw and worked ivory. Closing all internal markets in range, transit and end-user consumer States would drastically reduce opportunities for the laundering of poached ivory, under the guise that it is antique, “pre-Convention” or otherwise legally acquired. It would also reinforce the message that all ivory sales should be stopped, as they are dangerous for elephants.

3. Ivory stockpile destruction and management
This proposal builds on two earlier papers submitted to the CITES Standing Committee in 2014 and 2016, which led to recognition by the Committee of the destructions of ivory stockpiles by governments since 2011, and a recommendation to develop guidance on stockpile management. It endorses ivory destruction, encourages the highest possible standards of stockpile management, and requests the CITES Secretariat to provide the best available technical guidance on stockpile inventories, audit, management and disposal, including DNA sampling to determine the origin of items in the stockpile.

4. The Decision-Making Mechanism for a process of trade in ivory (DMM)
The proposal recommends that the CoP should end negotiations on the DMM. In view of the concerted global efforts to reduce demand for ivory, the existence of negotiations on a DMM process to legalize trade sends precisely the wrong message – that a legal and sustainable ivory trade is possible, and could reopen in the not-too-distant future. The DMM not only poses unacceptable risks for elephants, but has also generated valid objections among Parties, as shown by the fact that CITES has been unable to make any progress in negotiations after 9 years.

5. Restricting trade in live elephants
The proposal aims to end the export of African elephants outside their natural range, including export to zoos and other captive facilities overseas. Such exports provide no direct benefit to conservation of elephants in their range States (as noted by the IUCN-SSC African Elephant Specialist Group), and there are considerable objections within Africa on ethical and cultural grounds. African elephants, along with their ivory, should remain in Africa.

· The African Elephant Coalition was established in 2008 in Bamako, Mali. It comprises 29 member countries from Africa united by a common goal: “a viable and healthy elephant population free of threats from international ivory trade.” The meeting in Montreux from 24-26 June will be the seventh meeting of the Coalition since it was founded.

· The 29 member countries of the African Elephant Coalition include: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Togo and Uganda. Of the 29 countries represented in the Coalition, 25 of them are African elephant range States, comprising the majority (68%) of the 37 countries in which African elephants occur in the wild.

· Fondation Franz Weber (FFW), based in Switzerland, actively fights to preserve wildlife and nature in Africa and works worldwide to protect animals as individuals through the recognition of their rights and the abolition of inhumane practices.

· The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was established in 1973, entered into force in 1975, and accords varying degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants. Currently 182 countries are Parties to the Convention. The 17th Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP17) will be held in Johannesburg from 24 September to 5 October 2016. The Conference meets every three years.

CONTACTS

· Vera Weber, Fondation Franz Weber: +41 (0)79 210 54 04 / veraweber@ffw.ch
· Don Lehr, Media Relations Consultant: +1 917 304 4058 / dblehr@cs.com
· Patricia Awori, AEC Secretariat : +254 722 510 848 / aworipat@africanelephantcoalition.org

http://www.africanelephantcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Manifesto.pdf

KWS and IFAW Launch Partnership to Help Curb Elephant Poaching

KWS and IFAW launch partnership to help curb elephant poaching

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) have launched a partnership designed to protect elephants and curb the increasing poaching crisis.

The IFAW’s tenBoma initiative was launched yesterday by Prof. Judi Wakhungu, the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.

The thinking behind tenBoma has been derived from ‘Nyumba Kumi’(Kiswahili for ten homes)’, a community policing initiative launched by the Kenyan government. Under this partnership, the tenBoma initiative will expand to include Kenya’s national parks and surrounding areas to form a network to protect wildlife and communities from criminal poaching gangs.

“Kenya is determined to protect our elephants, we will do everything in our power to destroy the poaching networks and we are proud to be involved in this innovative pilot project,” said Prof. Wakhungu.

The project will be conducted in two phases with the first stage ensuring that KWS rangers have the equipment and training they need to collect valuable data.

The second phase will integrate a collaborative geospatial monitoring platform to marry data collection with targeted analysis and dissemination of information to identify poaching associated indicators. Targeted analysis of the information will be conducted to identify patterns in poaching related activities that enables KWS to intercept poachers prior to the elephants’ slaughter.

“This is tremendously important to the Kenya Wildlife Service. Too often our officers are confronted with the carcasses of elephants and are battling to solve the crime after it has happened. This project could ensure that we have the intelligence we need to strike first,’’ said William Kiprono, the Acting Director General of KWS.

According to IFAW, the tenBoma project builds upon lessons learned and experience gained from successfully applying network targeting analysis and information sharing principals to support counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations.

“This partnership makes innovative use of the most powerful weapon we have in this fight—information,” said Azzedine Downes, the President and CEO of IFAW.

“Over a relatively short period of time we will be able to determine if there are patterns that will help to ensure that the KWS have enforcement officers deployed to the right area at the right time, effectively heading off poaching incidents. For too long the focus has been on monitoring species and products and not enough attention has been given to the networks that drive the illicit trade. tenBoma seeks to fill this gap,” said Mr. Downes.

IFAW says tenBoma represents the latest evolution of IFAW’s efforts to smash every link in the illegal wildlife trade chain: from supporting poaching patrols in Africa, and working with INTERPOL and national governments on stings, to training customs officers in transit countries including the Middle East and demand reduction campaigns in China.

 

DALIAN CUSTOMS SEIZES 6 IVORY TUSKS AT DAYAO BAY

DALIAN CUSTOMS SEIZES 6 IVORY TUSKS AT DAYAO BAY

23/05/2014

Dalian Evening News

Dayao customs seized a large number of ivory and ivory products.

Yesterday, our reporters learned that a large ivory haul was confiscated by the Dalian Customs at the Dayao bay from separate luggage cases. The total amount of ivory that was seized is 6 ivory tusks and 64 pieces of ivory products. All had a total of 37.87 kg. The Dayao Customs Section chief said “This consignment was coming from Japan. It had been declared to be carrying clothes, furniture and other personal daily necessities. As the custom officials were going through them, the weight of the luggage made them curious, as they thought that the products must have been so many. This made them to conduct a thorough inspection. The results showed that the ivory had been dispersed in different layers in the wooden box, the ivory had been disguised in a more subtle way and some of the ivory had been hidden within framed paintings, thus increasing the confusion.”

This is the 2nd biggest consignment of smuggled ivory and ivory articles that the Dalian Custom officials have seized in the recent past. On the first occasion, the amount of smuggled ivory and ivory products that was seized had 126 kg. Investigations into this latest seizure are ongoing.

The original article in Mandarin can be found in the following link: http://dl.sina.com.cn/news/m/2014-05-23/074930136.html

Translated by: Chris Kiarie

Retail giant Wing On lauded over move to ban ivory sales (Hong Kong)

Danny Lee, South China Morning Post

27 April, 2014Danny Lee, South China Morning Post

27 April, 2014Retail giant Wing On is banning ivory sales in its stores, in a move hailed as another significant victory in the battle against elephant poaching.

The department store chain has won praise from campaigners for its decision to kick out a tenant that sells products made from elephant tusks.

“With effect from July 7, the business co-operation between Wing On Department Stores and its concession counter, which sells ivory products, will be ceased,” the company said.

Wing On has faced pressure from campaigners since pictures emerged online of a newly renovated ivory sales counter, offering carvings and ornaments, in one of its five Hong Kong stores.

“This is a most important decision. Thank you for this farsighted decision. And thank you in the name of the elephants,” campaigner Birgit Hanan wrote on Wing On’s Facebook page.

Local environmentalists welcomed the retail giant’s move, saying it bolstered efforts to counter demand for ivory, especially from the mainland, where it is a status symbol and sometimes known as “white gold”.

Wing On’s move follows the Hong Kong government’s decision in January to burn almost all of its 30-tonne ivory stock, built up through customs seizures since 1976. “[Our decision is based on] the way we work – always reviewing what we are doing and what the community wants from us,” Wing On executive director Mark Kwok Chi-yat told the Sunday Morning Post.

Campaign group Hong Kong for Elephants co-founder Alex Hofford said Wing On’s move was another victory, but that more work was still needed to stop the sale of “blood ivory”.

“Obviously we are delighted that Wing On has seen fit to turn its back on the dirty ivory trade by joining a growing list of stores in Hong Kong that take their corporate social responsibilities seriously,” Hofford said.

“Wing On definitely deserves a pat on the back,” animal-rights activist and actress Sharon Kwok Sau-wan said.

Activists are now set to turn their attention to Yue Hwa Chinese Products, the last big player in the ivory trade, with a protest scheduled for May 14 at its six-storey emporium in Jordan.

While the sale of ivory remains legal in Hong Kong, buyers are not allowed to take it out of the city. But undercover reporters caught Yue Hwa staff apparently discussing how to flout the export ban.

Kwok said a steady flow of mainland buyers were coming to Hong Kong to seek out authentic ivory products. She called for action against “small stores and ‘holes in the wall’ that are still blatantly selling ivory”.

Wildlife groups fear smugglers are using increasingly sophisticated techniques to import and export elephant ivory. Kwok says elephant products are being passed off as mammoth ivory – which is legal to trade – when obtaining customs paperwork.

“It would be great if Hong Kong could ban the ivory trade altogether. It is such a small market,” she said.

One of the last remaining traditional department store chains in Hong Kong, Wing On operates stores in Sheung Wan, Jordan, Tsim Sha Tsui, Taikoo Shing and Discovery Bay. But the retail giant’s business has in recent years been squeezed by upscale malls and luxury goods outlets.

The ivory trade has become increasingly lucrative since a worldwide ban was imposed in 1989.

Last year, the Chinese Arts and Crafts chain put a 65kg pair of tusks on sale for HK$15 million – more than 50 times the price it asked for a bigger pair of tusks in 2002. The state-owned chain has since withdrawn ivory from sale in its Hong Kong stores.

 

Target the ring leaders to defeat poaching

 

By Dr. Paula Kahumbu

Richard Leakey, founder of the Kenyan Wildlife Service, has called on President Kenyatta to declare a national emergency and take personal charge of the war on poaching

Richard Leakey and Paula Kahumbu at press conference organised by Wildlife Direct on March 19, 2014 in Nairobi.

Richard Leakey and Paula Kahumbu at the press conference organised by Wildlife Direct on March 19, 2014 in Nairobi. Photograph: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images

Nairobi 19th March: Four days ago I was in the bush, heartbroken, by the mutilated body of a rhino gunned down by poachers. Now I am in the Serena Hotel in Nairobi at a crowded press conference called by Wildlife Direct, the organisation I work for.

In a strongly worded statement, Wildlife Direct’s founder and chairman Richard Leakey calls on Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta to take decisive action in the war against the poachers.

The current situation is dire. Poachers are killing rhinos and elephants with impunity, even in heavily fortified private conservancies that were thought to be impregnable. Despite tough new laws, smugglers and poachers caught red-handed are still walking free from Kenyan courts.

Our press release argues that poaching and smuggling are controlled by international crime rings that pose a major threat to the economy and national security. Reports in Kenyan media reflect the sense of hopelessness that many feel in the face of this powerful enemy.

However, though critical, the situation is not hopeless.

As head of the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) in the 1980s, Richard Leakey is credited with having turned around the war on poaching in a matter of months at the time of the last major crisis. With the right leadership, he is convinced it can be done again.

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NTV Kenya news report of Wildlife Direct press conference, Nairobi March 19th, 2014

The story of piracy off the coast of Somalia shows how crises like these can be overcome. Piracy and poaching are similar in many ways. In both cases, the scene of the crime is sub-Saharan Africa. Both were long-standing problems that suddenly became major crises and threatened to spiral out of control. In both cases, poor people using primitive technology were able to inflict massive damage that threatened global interests.

The major difference is that piracy directly threatens western commercial interests. In response world leaders have acted decisively – and effectively. After 46 hijackings off the coast of Somalia in 2009 and 47 in 2010, there have been none at all since 12 May 2012.

Crucially, money has been no object when it came to taking on the pirates. The current annual cost of anti-piracy security off the coast of Somalia is more than US $ 2.5 billion. This finances two key elements of the anti-piracy strategy: surveillance and protection. Around $1 billion goes on round-the-clock military naval patrols; the rest is spent by ship operators on employing privately contracted armed guards.

Piracy has also been stopped by the simple measure of locking up the criminals. More than 1,100 Somali pirates are currently in jail in 21 countries, many of them in Kenya.

Operations are coordinated by the UN’s Contact Group on Piracy, which includes more than 85 countries as well as international agencies and private sector representatives. If you have never heard of this organisation, that’s because they’re not interested in publicity, just in getting the job done.

Four “C words” sum up how piracy was defeated: Cash – lots of it, a Coherent strategy, Coordination, and Commitment. How far are these four “keys to success” in place in the war on wildlife crime?

Unlike the war on piracy, until now this one has too often seemed to be all about publicity. In the run-up to the London summit on wildlife crime in February, National Geographic commented: “Everybody and his uncle in wildlife conservation is clamouring for a seat at the table.”

Hopefully this is about to change. America grabbed the headlines at the London summit in February with the launch of a new National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. The strategy makes some big promises about US commitment to tackle all aspects of the crisis. Secretary of State John Kerry affirmed: “We must act now. The Departments of State, Justice, and Interior are leading the President’s whole-of-government fight against wildlife trafficking”.

There are also signs that western countries and international agencies are now prepared to commit serious money to fight wildlife crime – even though the amounts are still minuscule compared to what is spent on controlling piracy.

For example, the Clinton Global Initiative recently unveiled a three-year $80 million anti-ivory poaching partnership with conservation organisations that will deploy sniffer-dog teams at key ivory transit points in Africa and hire 3,000 rangers to help protect elephants at 50 sites.

These are encouraging signs of more cash, improved coordination, and greater commitment. But what is still missing is a coherent strategy that recognizes and responds to the truth that Richard Leakey spelled out forcefully at our press conference: the traffickers are getting away with it because in many countries authorities are not prepared to take on the small numbers of gang leaders who control the operations.

The best equipped and trained rangers, and the most stringent laws, will remain impotent as long as the gang leaders are at liberty to use threats and bribery to neutralise them.

After the London summit, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague commented: “this is not just about governments, this is about the public understanding that the ivory trade involves the death of elephants on a great scale”. This sounds as if the UK government is trying to evade responsibility.

The truth is, only states have the resources needed to defeat the organised crime networks controlling the $10 billion trade in illegal wildlife products. People across the world already understand the problem and what is at stake. We are waiting for our governments to take decisive action to target the gang leaders, and root out the high-level corruption that allows them to operate with impunity.

This article can be found in this link:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/africa-wild/2014/mar/23/target-ring-leaders-defeat-poaching

YAO MING: BUYING IVORY IS EQUIVALENT TO PURCHASING A BULLET

Journalist: Luan Xiang

06/03/2014                          Source: Xinhua Net

The original article in Mandarin can be found in the following link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/politics/2014-03/06/c_119638036.htm

Today, former basketball player and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) member when answering questions from Xinhua News Agency, said that he believes that China should make greater efforts to come up with legislation that will wipe out the illegal sale of animal products, while at the same time, it is up to the whole society to work on improving the awareness levels of wildlife protection of the consumers, saying that “Buying ivory is equivalent to purchasing a bullet.”

Yao Ming held a press conference at the Beijing International Hotel, calling on the society to raise the awareness on wildlife protection and called for national legislation that will lead to a total ban on the sale of ivory, rhino horn and other illegal animal products.

Yao Ming, who is a member of the CPPCC, today submitted a proposal on the “introduction of a total ban on ivory and ivory products” and called for support in elephant conservation and a trade ban on ivory and ivory products.

In order to allow for more public understanding on the animal products’ cruel background, Yao Ming once took a 12 day trip to Africa, in an initiative to encourage people to protect animals and consciously resist wildlife products.

 

 

DESTRUCTION OF IVORY WILL INDUCE MORE POACHING

DESTRUCTION OF IVORY WILL INDUCE MORE POACHING

04/03/2013              Source: Xinhua Net

The original article in Mandarin can be found in the following link:  http://art.people.com.cn/n/2014/0304/c206244-24519160.html

According to an article by the British Financial Times online on the 28th of February, shortly after the Chinese government destroyed 6.1 tons of ivory, France also joined the ranks in doing the same. On the 2nd of February, the French customs destroyed 3 tons of ivory and ivory products that had been seized over the last 20 years, under the Eiffel tower.

The authorities believe that by destroying ivory, they are warning the poachers by saying: resolutely cracking down on illegal ivory trade and protect the earth’s dwindling elephant population.

The fact is, as one survey has found out, the destruction of ivory has instead led to an increase in the ivory prices in China’s market. Therefore, this is not good for the elephants.

A member of staff at Beijing’s Tianya antique shop says: “When the government destroyed the ivory it actually helped us.” The smaller shops find it harder to get a good supply of ivory, but for the big shops, there hasn’t been much of an impact and it has helped to increase the prices.

In fact, one basic economic law is the  “Law of Demand.” Rising prices will induce more ivory poaching.

“Despite the fact that the intention of destroying ivory is a good one, but doing this will lead to the rising of ivory prices so that to enhance the profits of illegal poaching leading to more killing.” Dr. Brendan Moyle and Dr. Dan Stiles wrote an article on the South China Morning Post entitled “Destroying ivory may make illegal trade more lucrative”. In the article, they say “Destroying ivory is a gamble which is ostensible meant to deter poachers but the fact is that while the government destroys the ivory, the ivory market is controlled by the poachers.”

Dr Brendan Moyle is an experienced researcher of wildlife smuggling in China, while Dr Dan Stiles has conducted many ivory trade studies in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

An associate professor at the Beijing Normal University, Zhang Li, who has been engaged in elephant research for a longtime, says that China’s destruction of ivory has more of a symbolic meaning. To stop the killing of elephants, there should be a ban on the legal ivory trade.

Understanding the Chinese ivory market and consumer market is very important, after all China has already become the biggest market for ivory. A recent survey done by the National Geographic involving 600 Chinese people in the middle and upper classes of China shows that 80% of the people interviewed said that they would buy ivory and its products.

Ivory in China is referred to as “White Gold” is considered by the Chinese people to have a hedge effect and it has become a symbol of money and status. The information provided by Professor Zhang Li also confirms that with the ever expanding population of Chinese rich people, to a certain extent, promotes the growth of ivory consumption.

“As long as there is trade, killing will always occur. For a product that is not essential to human survival, while on the other side it may lead to the extinction of a species, is there really need to support this carving skill?” Professor Zhang Li says that “so as to protect the carving industry, another carving material can be looked for.”

Translated by: Chris Kiarie