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Poaching and illegal wildlife trade threatens tourism and development in Africa

eTN Global Travel Industry News
Mar 13, 2014

Panelists convened at an event in Berlin, Germany, on the occasion of ITB – the world’s largest tourism fair – and concurred today that record poaching levels of rhinos and elephants are not only threatening the basis of tourism but also tourism-based development options in Africa.

In his opening remarks, Hon. Moses Kalongashawa, Minister of Tourism and Culture of Malawi and Chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministers responsible for Tourism, detailed that the issue of poaching is of a huge concern and that Africa is losing wildlife at record rates each year to poachers and illegal trade. He further clarified that this is because of organized crime and syndicates in elephant and rhino poaching in Africa and that criminals now deploy advanced technologies ranging from night vision scopes, silenced weapons, darting equipment, and helicopters to carry out their missions.

In the following keynote address, Mr. Les Carlisle, Group Conservation Manager at &beyond, a conservation-lead safari lodge operator in Africa and Asia, reflected on the challenge of poaching from a private sector perspective. He highlighted that poaching presents a critical threat to wildlife-based tourism operations and that the private sector plays an important role in facing this serious challenge. He underlined the importance of working closely with local communities and ensuring long-term income and benefits, which are key in protecting wildlife and sustaining the parks. According to Mr. Carlisle, “Investment in local community development around our company’s wildlife areas is really producing dividends in the intelligence required for pro-active, anti-poaching actions.”

Mr. Sem Shikongo, Director of Tourism and Gaming at the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism and Board Chairperson of the Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (RETOSA), confirmed that community-based initiatives in Namibia are already suffering from the impact of poaching and that wildlife crime is depriving Africa of its tourism-based development options. Klemens Riha of GIZ explained an innovative approach of Germany’s contribution to help combat poaching and illegal trade of African wildlife. Presenting the collaboration of five German federal ministries under the project on “Combating Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade in Ivory/Rhino-horn” Mr. Riha clarified that effective cooperation is essential to combat such highly-organized crime. As GIZ’s Coordinator of the project, he added, “Poaching and illegal wildlife trade is not only affecting the conservation of the targeted species which are already endangered in many places, but is increasingly also threatening the livelihoods and security of the affected human populations.”

Asked about the most important measures to be implemented globally to combat the poaching crisis in Africa in the short and long term, Roland Melisch, Senior Director Africa and Europe at TRAFFIC, responded that meaningful measures need to be founded on three pillars, “The three essential elements to fight this crisis now are: ramping up anti-poaching, shutting down illegal trade routes with state-of-the-art technology along the whole trade chain, and supporting the efforts to reduce the demand for illegal African wildlife in Asia.” Organized smuggling syndicates can only be fought by deploying cutting-edge forensic technologies and by building the capacity of African and Asian law enforcement officers in the use of such modern technology – adapted to the needs on a country by country basis. Furthermore, the laudable governmental efforts of supply and demand reduction in Asia need to be strongly supported.

From the perspective of South African National Parks, Joep Stevens, General Manager, Strategic Tourism Services, stated that SANParks is getting smart in their fight against poaching. “We are now committing to technologically-advanced intensive protection zones (IPZs); pro-active, intelligence-led, anti-poaching solutions; and creative development of alternative economic choices for communities,” he told the audience.

It became clear that wildlife comprised under the “Big 5” is significantly important to the tourism industry in terms of product development as well as marketing. For the local population, photo-safaris and controlled trophy-hunting tourism adds to the acceptance of protected areas by providing sustainable economic incentives and certainly provides an alternative to poaching.

Participants concluded that enhanced collaboration of law enforcement staff at the national level and beyond is seen as a cornerstone to combat poaching and as a key to protect future sustainable development options for Africa’s rural areas.

This event was facilitated by Jennifer Seif, Executive Director at Fair Trade Tourism, and jointly organized by the Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (RETOSA) in cooperation with Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, on behalf of and financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Passing of a giant: death of an elephant

Paula Kahumbu, The Guardian
March 8, 2014

Those who collaborate in this suffering by buying, wearing and displaying vanity products made from smuggled ivory should know their true cost and feel deeply ashamed.

The following article was written by Mark Deeble , a film maker living and working among elephant herds in the Tsavo National Park in northern Kenya with his partner Victoria Stone. It is an edited version of a longer article that originally appeared on Mark’s own blog. The content speaks for itself.

“Recently, we went on a recce for the film. We arrived at a distant waterhole – seemingly hewn out of ochre. That warm glow seemed reflected in the animals that, as we watched, came to drink. A magnificent bull elephant, encrusted with dry mud, drank calmly and deeply.

He might have travelled thirty miles to reach the water. He wasn’t going to hurry now. He’d drink a while and then rest in the shade, and then drink again as the shadows lengthened – or so we thought. What actually happened was that he drank deeply, stepped away, and then suddenly collapsed. His legs spasmed as he thrashed in the dust – and within minutes he was dead.

It was utterly shocking.

Our plans for the day changed rapidly after that. A call to a Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) vet resulted in an impromptu post-mortem beside the waterhole. He removed the head of a poisoned arrow embedded in the bull’s flank, and released over 100 litres of pus from the hidden infection – the result of the bull’s encounter with a poacher months before.

There are many different ways to kill an elephant. Across Africa, elephants have been targeted with rocket-propelled grenades, helicopter gunships, automatic rifles, poisoned arrows, wire snares, spears, poisoned foot-spikes, poisoned food, and poisoned salt-licks and waterholes.

In Tsavo the poachers’ method of choice is the AK 47. It can bring down an elephant quickly, and a gang of poachers can target whole elephant families. The huge number of illegal weapons in Somalia and its porous border with Kenya means that sourcing weapons is easy.

The problem for the poacher is that the sound of a gunshot can carry for miles. Almost every Kenyan now has a mobile phone and a call to KWS can result in an aircraft on site in under an hour. The influx of cheap Chinese motorbikes into Kenya in recent years has meant that poachers, weapons and ivory can be moved around more quickly and easily than in the past. Still, poachers have to work fast to chop the tusks out, cover their tracks and get away before rangers arrive on the scene.

The alternative is poaching with bows and poisoned arrows and we are seeing many more elephants now with festering arrow wounds. Bow-hunting sounds clean and selective. The reality is quite different. This isn’t the extraordinary long-bow style of hunting that powerful Waliangulu hunters traditionally used, which earned the admiration of chief Park Warden David Sheldrick over sixty years ago and could, reportedly, fell an elephant from 200 paces.

Today’s bow hunting poacher shoots from a blind by a waterhole. He fires an arrow, smeared with poison, into the flank of the elephant in the hope that it can pierce the body cavity. If it does, and the poacher is lucky, the elephant might die in an hour or two; if not, he might have to follow the elephant for days before it collapses.

Often the arrow head fails to penetrate the body cavity properly, and localized infection produces a grapefruit-sized boil. It doesn’t mean that the poison won’t eventually kill the elephant, but it will be a slow and lingering death.

I recently spent a month at a waterhole, filming the herds as they came to drink. On one occasion a herd of eleven big bulls came in that I hadn’t seen before. They were nervous and aggressive. Almost all of them had wounds on their flanks – some old, but some fresh and oozing pus.

On two bulls I could see broken shafts protruding where the elephant had tried to pull out the arrow. One bull carried five wounds. It was too late in the day for the vet to come and assess them. The next day, the bulls did not appear and we never saw them again. It felt like they were on the run – but where they were going, we’ll never know.

When I think about the death of that magnificent bull at the waterhole, what stays with me after the shocking thump of his body hitting the ground, was the extraordinary quiet that descended. Eland and hartebeest raised their heads, and guinea fowl froze. Even the pond-skaters stilled a while on the surface of the water.

In those few seconds it felt like we all were united in acknowledging his passing. With the death of such a magnificent animal, the world seemed a poorer and emptier place.”

Attacking critics does not change the fact that China is the main consumer of blood ivory

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa

Mar 03, 2014
The mudslinging by Chinese officials, blaming western media and by implication the conservation fraternity at large for negative publicity over the sharp increase in elephant slaughter in Africa, and as being intended to drive a wedge between them and Africa, appears largely misguided, considering the facts at hand.

Those facts are that wherever Chinese companies are engaged in infrastructure projects or in mining in Africa, poaching in the vicinity of their labor camps has gone up. Fact is that over 90 percent of those  arrested at African airports, found with blood ivory in their possession, are Chinese citizens. Fact is that for years have Chinese authorities happily sat on the fence and let their citizens fuel the elephant slaughter by turning a blind eye on the illegal trade. Fact is that most blood ivory cargos intercepted were destined for China.

True enough, there has been a little movement of late, as Chinese authorities have had to face up to growing global opposition in regard of the illegal ivory trade, but so far little more than cosmetic change  has taken place.

The destruction recently of 6 tons of ivory cannot be described as anything else but a token show and Africa’s conservation fraternity demands a lot more positive action, such as banning trade and possession in China of blood ivory altogether and enforce strengthened laws with vigor, just the same as poachers of their prized Panda bears, once convicted in court, face the death penalty.

Conservationists also rejected the notion that they were intent to spoil China’s ‘good name’ or interfere with the business of Chinese companies in Africa, but insisted that the links between the presence of Chinese companies in Africa and the relevant time frames of their arrival vis-a-vis the increase in poaching, are hard to ignore.

“Instead of mouthing off the Chinese should show cause to support conservation in Africa. For too long they ignored our complaints and what their citizens do in Africa. They thought they can get away with it but when they realized that this is biting them in the a** they slowly and apparently very grudgingly started to face up to the music. Their government inaction made them complicit in the illegal trade, turning a blind eye on the fact how many Chinese were arrested with blood ivory, how many shipments were intercepted enroute to or at the borders with China speak louder than their feeble utterances,” said a source from Arusha when discussing the response by Chinese authorities made through the Director General for African Affairs in the Chinese foreign ministry.

Others though cautiously welcomed Chinas’ apparent change in position and suggested the Chinese need more “encouragement” now than just blunt opposition after losing too much of their proverbial “face” already over their alleged complicity in the mass slaughter of African elephants.

In Tanzania in particular but across the elephant range states have elephant herds been decimated in recent years, as the growing wealth in China fueled a relentlessly expanding demand for ivory trinkets, which supposedly improved social standing and was used to display newly found riches to their peers. It is there, on the demand side, where Chinese government’s actions in strengthening laws and strictly enforcing existing laws is crucially important as only lesser demand will curb poaching from its present levels.

SHANGHAI CUSTOMS CRACKS UP LARGEST IVORY SMUGGLING CASE IN ITS IMMIGRATION CHANNELS SINCE THE AIRPORT WAS CONSTRUCTED.

The original article can be found in the following link: http://www.chinanews.com/sh/2014/02-12/5830206.shtml

上海海关破获建关以来最大旅检渠道象牙走私案

 

12/02/2014. Shanghai Customs gather to build the largest haul ever in Shanghai Pudong International Airport in an immigration channel ivory smuggling case. The original whole tusks seized were eight whole tooth roots, truncated African elephant ivory and nearly 200 segmented ivory products, a total weight of 95.82 kg, and arrested 2 suspects of Chinese nationality. Photo issued by China news agency photographer Cheng Nan.

On the 12th of February, the Shanghai Customs came together to build the largest ivory haul ever to be done from the tourist ivory smuggling channels. A total of 8 whole ivory tusks were seized, truncated African ivory and nearly 200 segmented ivory products, with a total weight of 95.82kg, whereby 2 suspects, both of Chinese origin were arrested.

According to reports, the suspects Yang and his accomplice Zhu had access to ivory in Africa at low costs and planned to bring the ivory to China so as to reap high profits. An ivory tusk in Africa is less than 40,000 yuan (Ksh.600,000) but when it gets to China, it goes for a price of 250,000 yuan (Ksh.3.75 million) and above. A kilogram of raw ivory goes at the rate of 40,000 yuan (Ksh.600,000) in China. Although Yang knew the illegal aspect of the trade, he went on and did it as he was looking at the possibility of the profit that he would get if luck was on his side.

After Yang arrived at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport, the Customs officials implemented a pre-flight passenger inspection and found 4 suitcases with clear ivory like shadows. The officials immediately closed up the suitcases and got the owners’ information from the tags.

20 minutes later, Yang pushed the luggage towards customs without using the custom declaration channels. The customs officials thus started to conduct a check on the luggage, in which they found newspapers filled to the brim of the luggage wrapping raw ivory and ivory products. The sight of what was inside the bags surprised the people at the scene. Yang then confessed to his crime.

According to the customs anti-smuggling police, this is the largest ivory haul ever made at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport since it was built.

Ivory as well as the ivory products are listed in Appendix 1 of the CITES. According to the convention, China’s Customs law and the Wildlife Protection Law, irrespective of the method of carrying and size of the ivory, exportation and importation of ivory has been banned. (End)

Translated by Chris Kiarie

US bans commercial ivory trade

PHOTO | AFP KWS officer arranging some of 1,099 pieces of ivory tusks a the port of Mombasa August 21, 2013. The United States clamped down on the domestic trade of elephant ivory Tuesday as part of a new drive to help African countries stem the threat to wildlife from poachers.

PHOTO | AFP KWS officer arranging some of 1,099 pieces of ivory tusks a the port of Mombasa August 21, 2013. The United States clamped down on the domestic trade of elephant ivory Tuesday as part of a new drive to help African countries stem the threat to wildlife from poachers.

By AFP

WASHINGTON

The United States clamped down on the domestic trade of elephant ivory Tuesday as part of a new drive to help African countries stem the threat to wildlife from poachers.

The White House administrative action bans all commercial imports of African elephant ivory, including antiques, as well as all commercial exports — except for bona fide antiques and certain other items.

The outlawed ivory trade is mostly fuelled by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks and rhino horns are used in traditional medicine and to make ornaments.

Poaching has risen sharply in Africa in recent years where, besides targeting rhinos, gangs eyeing lucrative international markets have slaughtered whole herds of elephants for their tusks.

“This ban is the best way to help ensure that US markets do not contribute to the further decline of African elephants in the wild,” the White House said in a statement.

It said federal departments and agencies would immediately take actions to, among other things, clarify what constitutes an antique.

“To qualify as an antique, an item must be more than 100 years old and meet other requirements under the Endangered Species Act.”

“The onus will now fall on the importer, exporter, or seller to demonstrate that an item meets these criteria.”

Other measures include limiting to two the number of African elephant sport-hunted trophies that can be imported by an individual each year.

The crackdown on ivory is a key aspect of a new national strategy for combating wildlife trafficking, also unveiled Tuesday, that has been in the works for some time.

SIGNED AN ORDER

During a trip to Tanzania last year, President Barack Obama signed an executive order for a $10 million program to reduce the practice in Africa.

That led to the setting up of a task force to develop the strategy to crack down on the lucrative trade — estimated to be worth between $7 and $10 billion a year.

“The United States will continue to lead global efforts to protect the world’s iconic animals and preserve our planet’s natural beauty for future generations,” the White House said.

America is one of the world’s largest markets for wildlife products, both legal and illegal, according to senior administration officials.

“Much of the trafficking in ivory and other wildlife products either passes through or ends up in the United States and so we are committed to putting an end to the illegal trade in elephant ivory and also other wildlife products,” one official told reporters on a conference all.

Another said that, under the ban, it would be legal to own items made from ivory and gift these to your children or grandchildren — but it would not be legal to sell them.

“We are facing a situation where rhino horn is worth more than its weight in gold. Elephant ivory is going for as much as $1,500 a pound,” the official said.

“So we believe that an outright ban on domestic trade in ivory and rhino horn is appropriate because it will help us be more effective in law enforcement and it will demonstrate a US leadership worldwide.”

“We can’t ask other consumer nations to crack down on their domestic trade and markets unless we’re prepared to do the same here at home.”

The official said there are less than half a million elephants on the African continent today and “estimates are that we are losing as many as 35,000 elephants per year.”

The World Wildlife Fund applauded what it called an ambitious set of actions.

“Today marks a significant milestone in the global fight against wildlife crime,” said the group’s US president and chief executive, Carter Roberts.

The article above can be found in the following link: http://www.nation.co.ke/news/US-bans-commercial-ivory-trade/-/1056/2203064/-/1v7pliz/-/index.html

Chinese Embassy in Kenya tells its citizens involvement in illegal wildlife trade is not acceptable

TRAFFIC
January 24, 2014

Nairobi, Kenya, 24th January 2014—China’s Embassy in Nairobi last week hosted an event for Chinese businesses and citizens based in Africa to address the growing issue of illegal wildlife trade and their government’s intention to co-operate with local authorities to investigate, arrest and prosecute offenders.

In 2013 China entered into a partnership with the UN Environment Program to help scale up the fight against elephant poaching in Africa specifically, but also views many other aspects of Africa’s wildlife trade as problematic, including the plight of rhinos and pangolins.

This was the first embassy event in the campaign, which involved outreach to State-owned enterprises as well as independent Chinese nationals living in Kenya. More than 80 members of the local Chinese community attended, including influential business leaders, and the highly successful event was widely reported in local media.

China’s Acting Ambassador in Kenya, Mr Tian Lin, in his keynote speech, urged the Chinese community in Africa to obey the national legislation of their African host countries, noting it was what they would expect of anyone visiting China.

Wan Ziming, Director of Enforcement and Training at the Endangered Species Office of the State Forestry Administration of China, told those present: “The Chinese government will not relent in its support for the fight against illegal trade of wildlife products.”

He also spoke of China’s role in helping implement international obligations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and of the scaled-up law enforcement efforts currently being implemented in China and globally in support of them.

Bonaventure Ebayi, Director of the Lusaka Agreement Task Force, spoke about the role of the Task Force, levels of wildlife crime in Africa and the new hard-hitting legislation with deterrent penalties recently introduced in Kenya.

TRAFFIC’s Tom Milliken noted that direct Chinese investment in Africa is currently growing by over 20% annually and that China-Africa trade was nearly USD250 billion in 2013.

“Africa’s economic future is now intimately linked with Chinese investment.  The challenge is to make it a win-win of sustainable development, preventing negative impacts on conservation areas with high biodiversity values and halting illicit trade in wildlife products, particularly elephant ivory and rhino horn.”

He said: “Coming hot on the heels of China’s unprecedented ivory destruction event earlier this month, this Africa-based outreach initiative is further evidence that China has made a serious commitment and desires to do the right thing to help address wildlife trafficking.”

TRAFFIC is also supporting initiatives by the government and private sector in China to help curb the demand for illicit wildlife products. This includes messaging at Guangzhou airport targeting the awareness of Chinese travellers going to Africa, as well as a research programme to understand the motivations of illegal wildlife product consumers that will underpin long-term demand reduction efforts.

China set to join wildlife crime talks in London after Prince William’s mission

Plea: William feeds a black rhino at Port Lympne animal park in Kent (Picture: Getty)

Published: 28 January 2014

Updated: 12:39, 28 January 2014

JOSEPH WATTS, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT

In a victory for Prince William the Chinese government will send a minister to London next month to discuss the illegal trade in ivory and rhaino horn.

The Duke of Cambridge has been urging China to do more to help the international battle against poaching.

It has seen a sustained behind-the-scenes effort, led by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, aimed at persuading the Chinese to come to a conference on the illegal wildlife trade at the start of February. Governments from across Asia and Africa are expected to attend.

China is a huge market for ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts and ministers believe it has a key role in tackling poaching and trafficking.

A government source said: “There has been two trips to China to get them on board and we have been assiduously trying to persuade them to come.”

William is expected to make a speech at the event, which will be attended by David Cameron, Foreign Secretary William Hague and US secretary of state John Kerry.

In a video message released in Shanghai last year, the Prince said: “We must stop the demand for illegally traded wildlife products within our lifetimes or these amazing animals will be for ever wiped from the planet. As a father, I want our children to know that rhinos are not just a picture in a book.”

At the end of last year, ministers announced a £10 million package to support efforts to tackle the illegal trade in wildlife products, including rhino horn and elephant ivory.

The multi-billion-pound industry, which is linked to international crime gangs, promotes corruption, damages tourism opportunities and undermines economic growth in the world’s poorest countries.

The above article can be found in the following link:

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/china-set-to-join-wildlife-crime-talks-in-london-after-prince-williams-mission-9090690.html

 

Connect the dots: infant mortality, graft and elephant poaching

 

A herd of elephants gather at a watering hole inside Hwange National Park, about 840 km (521 miles) outside Harare

Ed Stoddard

Reuters 7:47 a.m. CST, January 2, 2014

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – What do infant mortality and elephant poaching have in common? Plenty, according to conservation groups.

Researchers have for the first time made clear connections between elephant poaching in Africa, which has been surging to meet soaring ivory demand in Asia, and factors such as poverty, as shown by high rates of child deaths, and corruption.

These links have always been suspected but never pinned down with hard data.

The findings come in a report prepared for an African elephant summit in Botswana in December by groups including TRAFFIC, which tracks the global trade in wildlife products, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Areas where child mortality and poverty are worst also see higher levels of elephant poaching, but poor villagers typically do not benefit from the illicit ivory trade.

In this regard, the ivory trade – with its long and blood-stained history – is similar to other extractive industries in Africa, which have been exploited to meet demand elsewhere with few rewards for local people.

Demand for ivory – used for carvings and valued for millennia for its color and texture – has been rising sharply in newly affluent Asian countries, notably China, fuelling a new wave of elephant slaughter.

Following a decline in the 1990s, poaching of the world’s largest land mammal has risen dramatically and in 2012 an estimated 15,000 elephants were illegally killed at 42 sites in Africa monitored by MIKE – the U.N.-backed program for Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants.

Since 2010, elephant poaching levels in Africa have exceeded 5 percent of the total population – a tipping point because killings are now outpacing the animals’ birth rate.

In a related trend, the killing of rhinos for their horns – used in traditional medicine in Vietnam and China – has also soared, notably in South Africa, home to the vast majority of the animals.

According to South African government statistics, as of December 19, a record 946 rhinos had been poached in the country in 2013, compared to 668 in all of 2012.

POVERTY PROXY

The report found a striking link between infant mortality rates – measured by the number of deaths of infants under one year old per 10,000 live births – and the illegal killing of elephants.

“Human infant mortality, which is interpreted as a proxy for poverty, is the single strongest site-level correlate … with sites suffering from higher levels of poverty experiencing higher levels of elephant poaching,” the report said.

The relationship between poverty and poaching – in Africa and elsewhere – has long been assumed because wildlife is a source of food or money for impoverished rural dwellers.

But links between measurements of poverty and living standards, such as infant mortality, and the illicit killing of elephants, have not been made before with the kind of clarity that researchers have found in the data over the past two years.

Julian Blanc, a co-author of the study and acting coordinator for MIKE, told Reuters infant mortality was the best barometer for poverty because data for it, based on work by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network, exists at local levels.

It can therefore be linked to localized incidents of elephant poaching, making it far more useful than other measurements such as per capita GDP, which can give a skewed picture, especially in countries with high levels of inequality.

Ziama in Guinea, Niassa in Mozambique, and Bangassou in Central African Republic were the three areas covered in the report with the highest rates of infant mortality, ranging from 1,240 to almost 1,400 deaths per 10,000 live births.

All three areas also had extremely high levels of elephant poaching. In the case of Ziama, its elephant population is small but has been reduced by over half in the past few years.

The next four areas in the infant mortality rankings were all found in Democratic Republic of Congo.

The report also found, using Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, that at the national level “high poaching levels are more prevalent in countries where governance is weaker, and vice versa”.

Poverty and governance are the “enabling” factors for poaching, with consumer demand the other key link in the chain.

Poor governance and high poverty levels overlap between countries such as Congo and Central African Republic, which are also areas where local people see little value in elephant populations.

“In many parts of Africa people living with elephants derive no benefits from that coexistence and only bear costs in terms of crop damage, injury or death,” Blanc said in a telephone interview from his Nairobi base.

TROPICAL, LAND-LOCKED

Many of these countries – such as Central African Republic – also suffer from the development curses of having tropical climates, which impose the heavy disease burden seen in their infant mortality rates, and being landlocked, which imposes economic costs.

Still, that does not mean that wildlife in such places could not be utilized in a way that might bring economic benefits. Heavily forested and tropical Gabon, for example, is building a wildlife tourist industry aimed at the more adventurous.

But elsewhere in central Africa, elephants, a natural resource that could lift rural economies in the form of eco-tourism, or even a regulated ivory trade down the road, are being exterminated, depriving future generations of potential income.

Such poverty traps serve as a sobering reminder, against the backdrop of the “Africa Rising” narrative, that much of the world’s poorest continent is still being excluded from the region’s dynamic economic growth and investment story.

(Editing by Giles Elgood)

The original article can be found in this article: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-rt-us-africa-investment-20140102,0,6592799.story

 

Jail term and fines for smugglers ‘too lenient’

South China Morning Post
22 December, 2013

Wildlife conservationists slammed a four-month jail term and fines of up to HK$80,000 for five ivory smugglers from the mainland as “too lenient”, saying it will do little to stop the illicit trade.

“It is way too lenient because Chinese people buying illicit ivory in Africa know that if they are caught, at most they will just lose the ivory and get a puny fine,” said Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Since 2004, there have been 61 prosecutions against the illegal import of ivory by air passengers. Sentences ranged from two to eight months’ imprisonment or a fine of HK$2,500 to HK$80,000.

Earlier this month, 14 people were arrested at Chek Lap Kok airport after Customs seized 160kg of ivory tusks and carved ivory pieces in their checked-in baggage. The travellers were on three flights from  Dubai and Johannesburg. Seven of the accused – all from the mainland - faced Tsuen Wan Court last week, with five convictions. Two cases are still pending.

Yin Qun, 40, was jailed for four months for smuggling 48.4kg of worked ivory; Zeng Hongzhen, 29, was fined HK$30,000 for smuggling 11.26kg; and Zeng Hongjin, 24, got a HK$50,000 fine for smuggling 23.17kg. Two others, whose names are unknown, were fined HK$30,000 for smuggling 12.17 kg and HK$80,000 for smuggling 9.5kg. Xu Bin, 24, and Xu Kaiyi, 25 pleaded not guilty and will face trial next month.

The other seven travellers are still under investigation.

Gabriel said the high-profit and low-risk nature of the illicit ivory trade made it attractive to criminal gangs. “Unless the penalties are raised, it is not going to have a deterrent effect,” she said.

Tom Milliken, of the wildlife group Traffic, said while he welcomed the jail term as a deterrent, fines could be written off as “the price of doing business”.

New York State to Hold Hearing on Ivory Trade

Wildlife Conservation Society
December 19, 2013

Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation Will Examine Effectiveness of New York Restrictions on Ivory Sales

Hearing will take place Thursday, January 16, in Manhattan

New York is the largest market for ivory in the U.S.

96 Elephants are killed every day by ivory poachers

Newswise — NEW YORK (December 19, 2013) – The New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation announced a public hearing on ways to improve the effectiveness of the state’s laws and regulations protecting endangered species and restricting the sales of ivory.

The hearing will take place on Thursday, January 16 at 11 a.m. at the Assembly Hearing Room, 250 Broadway, Room 1923, 19th Floor, in Manhattan.

Despite the existing legal protections, New York has become one of the leading destinations in the United States for illegal ivory. In 2012, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, in conjunction with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, seized more than $2 million worth of elephant ivory in New York City.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) estimates that 96 elephants are killed each day in Africa, translating into one elephant death every fifteen minutes and a 76 percent population decline since 2002.

Assemblyman Robert K. Sweeney, Chair of the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation said, “Elephants are a social, smart and peaceful animal whose existence has special protections under the law. Poachers have been illegally killing African elephants for years, bringing them to the brink of extinction. It’s disturbing that New York has become one of the main points of entry for the illegal ivory trade. Not only does this illegal market cause further destruction to an endangered species, but some of the proceeds of the trade go to fund terrorism. I have called this hearing to learn how New York State can help put a stop to these reprehensible actions.”

John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President for Public Affairs, said, “The New York seizure is evidence of a disturbing fact: there is a direct link between the illegal ivory trade in New York State and the slaughter of elephants in Africa. We are extremely grateful that the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation, under the leadership of Chairman Sweeney, is taking the illegal ivory trade in New York so seriously.”

Elephants are killed primarily for their ivory tusks which are used predominantly in carved art and jewelry. Ivory sales are regulated by a complex web of international, federal and state laws and treaties. In New York, ivory sales are regulated pursuant to Environmental Conservation Law §11-0535 which is based in part on the inclusion of elephants on the federal endangered species list in the 1970’s.

In September, WCS launched its 96 Elephants campaign to amplify and support the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) commitment to save Africa’s elephants by stopping the killing, stopping the trafficking, and stopping the demand. The WCS campaign focuses on: securing effective U.S. moratorium laws; bolstering elephant protection with additional funding; and educating the public about the link between ivory consumption and the elephant poaching crisis.