Tag Archives: Asia

The ivory trade kills people too

Aaron Hall and Andrea Crosta, Al Jazeera
January 24, 2015
If you buy ivory, you kill people.
This is the new reality in an illicit trade responsible for large-scale human exploitation, government corruption, and the funding of rebel movements, terrorists, and criminal syndicates around the world. The imagery and narrative of the global ivory trade is now well known – replete with rotting elephant carcasses littering African national parks, well-tailored ministers and heads of state burning ivory stocks for the camera, and law enforcement officials smiling in front of ship containers of seized ivory.
While, there is no doubt of the many faces of the global ivory trade, there is one element that is too often overlooked – that of the human toll.
The human toll of the ivory trade is the negative impact on the individuals and communities exploited along the chain of custody from Africa, to Asia, and points beyond. It is not just about elephants.
This trade is historically and inexorably linked to the exploitation and enslavement of vulnerable communities in Africa and Asia. It includes governments and countries sucked deeper into the morass of corruption, mismanagement, and taxpayer abuse wrought from public officials supporting criminal interests.
Far reaching implications
It includes the lives affected by the introduction of other illegal activities that overlap with the groups and individuals engaged in the ivory trade – including the trafficking of weapons, drugs and humans.
Like diamonds, gold, coltan or timber; ivory is taking its own place as a conflict resource in sub-Saharan Africa.
International criminal syndicates, corrupt government officials, and some of the world’s most notorious terrorists and militias are fuelling the global trade in illegal ivory.
In 2012, an 18-month investigation conducted by the Elephant Action League (EAL) in collaboration with Maisha Consulting, estimated that the Somalia based al-Shabab organisation was drawing up to 40 percent of funds for salaries from ivory smuggling.
Other groups like the Seleka rebels in the Central African Republic, the Janjaweed in Sudan and the Lords Resistance Army in central Africa have all been tied to ivory smuggling as a means to raise funding for arms and operations. Further, elements of several regional governments in Africa and Asia have been implicated in facilitating the extraction, trade, and export of ivory for personal profit.
The underground ivory supply chain increasingly destabilises already unstable states, and the growth and sophistication of global smuggling networks is outpacing international efforts to stop them. At the same time, the rate of poaching is outpacing the time needed to attempt the behavioural change – in the primarily Asian consumption markets – necessary to stop the demand for it.
What that means, is that in conjunction with new innovative awareness campaigns in Asia, more action is needed on the ground in Africa to prevent the negative social, political, and economic impacts that are derivative of the ivory trade.
Militarising ivory trade
In part, that immediate action must include governments and citizens from western, African, and Asian states facing the responsibilities of addressing the human death and exploitation it perpetuates.
Given the increased complexity and militarisation of the trade, new innovative approaches will be required to reduce it.
In conjunction with new innovative awareness campaigns in Asia, more action is needed on the ground in Africa to prevent the negative social, political, and economic impacts that are derivative of the ivory trade.
This will demand mitigation strategies that occupy a unique space at the nexus of the fields of environmental conservation, public policy, peace and security, counterterrorism, and human rights.
While certainly challenging, addressing the trade through the lens of the human toll potentially presents opportunities for the creation of new tools to pressure necessary policymakers and citizens to take additional action.
For instance, building the law enforcement and witness protection capacity of affected states around the world. Crowdsourcing information through anonymous whistle-blowing mechanisms like WildLeaks.org has proven incredibly effective, however, there is a gap in the ability of states to protect the individuals providing critical information and act on tip-offs.
Informants must know they can be protected and local and international law enforcement must be able to act immediately.
The environment of impunity for corrupt state and private sector individuals involved in the trade is also a fundamental barrier to mitigation. Exploring tough sanctions on individuals and states involved in the trade could make the business of ivory more costly for those involved.
It was the spike in the value of ivory over the past five years that exacerbated this problem. It will be correlated losses from the cost of doing business that will stop it.
In addition to punitive measures, creating public awareness campaigns specifically on the human toll in countries like China and Thailand could go a long way in stemming demand. Showing both governments and consumers in these states that behind every ivory trinket made and sold is a trail of human suffering and exploitation in Africa – something most citizens of those countries are unaware of.
Addressing the trade through the human angle requires a multi-faceted approach incorporating all aspects of those impacted. In conjunction with African and Asian partners it affects our collective security, economic development and partnership, and obligation to the protection of human rights and shared history.
So while wildlife and wildlife conservation is the traditional medium to approach the issue of poaching and trafficking, it is becoming imperative to develop strategies and campaigns that also put a human face on the destruction and exploitation globally.
Andrea Crosta is the founder of Elephant Action League and WildLeaks.
Aaron Hall is an East Africa-based independent consultant and adviser to Elephant Action League/WildLeaks.

The difficulties of measuring elephant tusk and rhino horn exports

Ben Hamilton, The Guardian
9 December 2014
In mid-November, Interpol announced a list of nine wanted men involved with poaching and wildlife trade. One of these men was the alleged “ringleader of an ivory smuggling ring in Kenya”, Feisal Mohamed Ali.
Earlier in the year, 46 countries signed an agreement in London aimed at tackling the illegal wildlife trade.
But how much ivory is actually leaving Africa?
The Convention on international trade in endangered species (CITES) keeps records and assigns quotas for any wildlife export, from live animals to skin samples. For elephants, CITES issues quotas to a few countries in Africa allowing the export of tusks, taking in account regional elephant populations and how much hunting would be sustainable.
In many countries, the sale of ivory is illegal, but the collection of tusks as hunting trophies is not. Many African countries claim that trophy hunting and the tourism it brings is valuable to their economy.
Below is a map of these exports since 2000. The red indicates the amount of tusks exported, and the dark circles indicate the countries quotas. The lighter red accounts for exports recorded as “trophies”. The blue areas shows the elephant population range.
Most of the exports occur in the south of the continent, despite the elephants’ range reaching through central Africa to the west.
South Africa appears to have consistently broken their quota which has been growing steadily from 86 in 2000 to 300 in 2013.
The largest exporter is Zimbabwe and the second largest is neighbouring Botswana. However, Zimbabwe never breaks its quota of 800 tusks, besides in 2003 when the quota was not renewed, only to return the following year at an increased 1,000.
Botswana breaks quota several times. In 2000, including “trophies”, Botswana exported 368 tusks, which is eight over its quota.
After years of high exports close to quota, in 2006 its quota is expanded to 540 and its exports increased in kind. In 2008 exports explode to 6,505. The following year its quota grew again to 800, but its exports shrink down to similar levels to before 2000.
Such an anomaly may be due to errors in reportage; each year, countries are required to fill out reports of how many exports and imports occurred for each species under CITES observation. When reports between importer and exporter don’t match, totals are counted twice.
This may also explain South Africa’s over exportation of ivory. However, a look into similar data for rhino horn unveils a familiar pattern.
Only two countries have been given quotas for the export of Rhino horn, Namibia and South Africa, both set at five horns. However, before these quotas were put in place in 2005, South Africa had been reportedly exporting horns, all of which belonged to the white rhino.
South Africa also recently reported that the amount of discovered poached rhinos in 2014 had exceeded 2013 numbers, reaching 1,020. This continues the trend since 2007 which has seen poached rhinos dramatically increase from just 13.
Again, though, many other countries have no recorded exports and very few recorded deaths. One CITES report claimed that 80% of 2013’s large scale seizures of ivory occurred in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Uganda, indicating a high threat of poaching. And yet, all these countries report relatively low levels of ivory or horn exports.
Keeping accurate records is vital to knowing what exactly is happening on the ground. These result can either be duplicated due to problems in standardising record keeping, or in the huge task of monitoring the trade.
There are also frequent accusations against governments in Africa and Asia, the end result for a lot of these items, in aiding poachers or smugglers, or fixing records.
Its from these records that population estimates are made and action plans can be created. With skewed data, intentionally or unintentionally, the fight to preserve species is that much harder.

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).

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

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

 

Chinese arrested with 3kg ivory at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (Kenya)

By CYRUS OMBATI, Standard Digital

January 19th 2014
NAIROBI, KENYA: A Chinese national was Saturday arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after being found with 3.4 kilograms of ivory.
The 40-year-old man was found with the lower ivory while from Napula, Mozambique to Guangzhou, China. His plane had touched down at JKIA and was to connect when he was seized.
Police said the ivory was in his luggage and had been packaged in disguise as cups.
Airport CID boss Joseph Ngisa said the arrest was made on Saturday evening and that the man will appear in court today to face charges of being in possession of the ivory.
“We are seeing an increase of these suspects originating Mozambique with the ivory but we are keen to stop the practice,” said Ngisa.
His arrest came two days after another Chinese national was arrested with ivory, leopards’ skin and multiple passports. He is believed to be behind a number of cases of smuggling of people and ivory in the country, police said.
The 41-year-old suspect was arrested at an apartment Thursday with goods valued at millions of shillings in the posh Riverside estate, Nairobi.
This comes even as Kenya and Chinese government are collaborating to fight poaching and illegal trade of wildlife.
The international trade in elephant ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after elephant populations in Africa dropped from millions in the mid-20th century to some 600,000 by the end of the 1980s. Ivory trade is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). East African nations have recently recorded an increase in poaching incidents.
The illegal ivory trade is mostly fuelled by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns are used to make ornaments and in traditional medicines.
Africa is home to an estimated 472,000 elephants, whose survival is threatened by poaching and the illegal trade in game trophies, as well as a rising human population that is causing habitat loss. To demonstrate the seriousness and commitment to end the menace, China recently crushed six tones of the ivory.

Shark Fin Victory May Offer Hope for Elephants

China Digital Times
October 22, 2013

On the China in Africa Podcast, Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden and Huang Hongxiang gloomily discuss prospects for decisive action from Beijing to stop the Chinese-fueled slaughter of elephants for ivory. The problem, Huang suggests, is that the issue has yet to gain momentum among the public.

At The Washington Post, though, Simon Denyer highlights a collapse in demand for shark fins following concerted campaigning and a government crackdown on ostentatious official banquets. This success may yet offer hope for Africa’s elephants.

“People said it was impossible to change China, but the evidence we are now getting says consumption of shark fin soup in China is down by 50 to 70 percent in the last two years,” said Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid, a San Francisco-based group that has promoted awareness about the shark trade. The drop is also reflected in government and industry statistics.

“It is a myth that people in Asia don’t care about wildlife,” Knights said. “Consumption is based on ignorance rather than malice. ”

[…] Buoyed by the results of the shark fin campaign, conservationists are now turning their attention to the trade in ivory and rhino horn. Some 25,000 elephants were poached last year, and 668 rhinos killed in South Africa alone, with China the largest market for ivory, and the second largest for rhino horn behind Vietnam.

[… A]ttitudes can change, and the Chinese government is not intransigent. A major investor in Africa, it does not want to be seen as the reason for widespread insecurity caused by poaching. In September, it started sending text messages to every Chinese cellphone user who touched down in Kenya, warning them to “not carry illegal ivory, rhino horn or any other wildlife.“

Poachers risk Sh5m fine, 15 years jail in plans to protect elephants

POLITICS AND POLICY

Poachers risk Sh5m fine, 15 years jail in plans to protect elephants

Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni (left) with Wildlife Direct chairman John Hemingway at the Press conference in Nairobi on Wednesday. Photo/Phoebe Okall

Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni (left) with Wildlife Direct chairman John Hemingway at the Press conference in Nairobi on Wednesday. Photo/Phoebe Okall

By WANGUI MAINAPosted  Wednesday, July 24  2013 at  20:42

IN SUMMARY

  • Environment, Water and Natural Resources secretary Judi Wakhungu said poachers would be sent to jail for 15 years and fined Sh5 million.
  • Killing of animals for their trophies has in the past three years seen Kenya lose about 1000 elephants.
  • Currently, poachers incur a fine not exceeding Sh40,000 or a prison term not exceeding ten years, or both.
 Poachers have been put on notice by stiffer penalties proposed in the Wildlife Bill, which is set for introduction in the National Assembly.

Environment, Water and Natural Resources secretary Judi Wakhungu said poachers would be sent to jail for 15 years and fined Sh5 million for illegal killing of wildlife, which will be an economic crime once the Bill is enacted.

“The government has directed that all poaching cases be prosecuted as economic crimes. Once the new Wildlife Bill is enacted, the penalties and sentences will be punitive in order to discourage poaching and ivory traffickers,” she said.

Killing of animals for their trophies has in the past three years seen Kenya lose about 1000 elephants.

Currently, poachers incur a fine not exceeding Sh40,000 or a prison term not exceeding ten years, or both.

Ms Wakhungu was speaking on Wednesday during the launch of a new anti-poaching campaign dubbed “Hands off our Elephants”, which is fronted by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.

It has been put together by conservation group Wildlife Direct in partnership with companies such as Kenya Airways and advertising company TBWA.

The launch of the campaign coincided with former US defence attaché in Nairobi David McNevin being convicted of being in possession of ivory products worth thousands of shillings.

Mr McNevin was arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) early this month as he boarded a flight to the Netherlands.

He was in possession of five ivory bangles, seven ivory finger rings, seven ivory pendants and two pieces of worked ivory weighing a total 800 grammes. He was arraigned in court on July 2 where he pleaded guilty and paid a fine of Sh40,000.

During President Barack Obama’s visit to Africa this month, the US pledged $10 million (Sh870 million) to combat ivory trade in Tanzania.

Last year, Kenya lost 384 elephants to poachers compared to 278 in 2011 and 177 in 2010. This year, Kenya has lost 172 elephants and 32 rhinos as increased demand for ivory driven by China prompts criminals.

Kenya has the fourth largest elephant population at about 38,000 and is one of the ‘gang of eight’ countries identified by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) where poaching is rampant.

In March, Cites ordered Kenya to set clear targets for reducing the poaching and the trade in ivory.

The other countries listed for poaching are Tanzania and Uganda while China and Thailand are listed as major consumers. Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines, are listed as major transit countries for ivory.

The recent seizure of ivory in different exit points of the country is a sign of efficiency by the country’s law enforcement team, according to KWS. Kenya has been identified as a major transit point of ivory to Asia, where there is high demand.

To curb the movement of ivory the government is looking to deploy modern technology and sniffer dogs from the KWS canine unit, in all major entry and exit points including Eldoret airport.

This article comes from the following link: http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Poachers-risk-Sh5m-fine-and-15-years-jail/-/539546/1925696/-/ho970k/-/index.html