Tag Archives: China

Zambezi’s ivory poaching exposed

Hongxiang Huang, Informante
March 27, 2014

AN investigation by the Oxpeckers Centre of Investigative Environmental Journalists revealed that the Zambezi Region, where five SADC countries, Angola, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe intersect with Namibia is a smuggling hotspot.

With more than 9 100 residential elephants and 30 000 migrating elephants according to 2013 data, elephant poaching was not a serious issue in the trans-border area until recently. However, in 2012 the situation changed, with at least 78 elephants poached by international smugglers in one year. By November 2013, official records showed that at least 20 elephants had been poached since the start of the year, and 35 smuggling suspects had been arrested.

According to Shadrick Siloka, chief warden in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) office of Katima Mulilo, a Chinese man was mentioned that apparently plays an important role as middleman in the smuggling trade. Siloka said that the name of Guo Yunhui, a Chinese businessman in Katima Mulilo keeps turning up as far as ivory smuggling is concerned. In 2010, the MET heard from informers that Guo was collecting pythons and pangolins. In 2011, Guo was arrested for buying two ivory tusks from MET staff, fined N$20 000 and released.

Zheng, a Chinese construction worker near Katima, claims Guo is still engaged in the wildlife smuggling business. Chen, a Chinese businessman in Rundu, also confirmed that Guo is active in the business.

Guo may not be the largest player in the Zambezi ivory market, according to Li, a leader in the Chinese Fujian business community of Namibia. Li referred to another Chinese man in Katima Mulilo, who he said was found by police in early 2013 with more than 100kg of ivory, but MET said it did not know about the case.

The Chinese community members are reluctant to blow the whistle on the larger ivory smugglers, and alleged involvement by Chinese diplomats themselves.

In Katima Mulilo, it is common for Chinese people to be approached by African ivory sellers, mostly Zambians. The MET officials confirmed that the price Guo paid to the sellers of ivory was N$300 per kilo, whereas in Asia the selling price is at least US$3 000 per kilo.

“In 2012 the amount of ivory we captured was 70% to 80% of the amount of ivory taken from poached elephants in Namibia,” said Morgan Saisai, the chief control officer of MET in Katima Mulilo.

According to the Chinese, the chance of ivory being discovered by airport customs in Namibia or China is very low, and even when it is found, the consequences are not severe.

On Monday, three Chinese nationals were arrested at the Hosea Kutako International Airport while in possession of 14 rhino horns in luggage. The trio, Li Xiao Liang (30), Li Zhi Bing (50) and Pu Xu Nin (49) appeared in court on Tuesday and were remanded in custody. They will appear again in court next week Wednesday. They are said to have travelled to Namibia from Zambia, and enterered through the Zambezi Region’s Wenela border post. They were about to fly to Johannesburg when they are arrested.

Japanese appetite for ivory fuels poaching epidemic

Poorly controlled ivory sales in Japan are encouraging illegal trade in elephant tusks and large amounts of ivory are entering the domestic market.

Online selling and weak controls on domestic ivory sales in Japan are spurring illegal international trade in elephant tusks and contributing to a steep rise in poaching, activists said.

A lack of rules regulating the registration of raw ivory and the licensing of importers, wholesalers, manufacturers and retailers has allowed illicit stocks into Japan’s domestic market, according to the report by the independent London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

Under current rules, only whole elephant tusks must be registered with Japan’s Environmental Agency.

“Japan’s ivory controls are flawed and there is evidence that large amounts of illegal ivory … have been laundered into the domestic market,” said the report, which was co-authored by animal welfare group Humane Society International.

Urgent response required

“The current African elephant poaching crisis requires an urgent and swift response before populations are wiped out. The flourishing domestic ivory markets of Japan and China are now the key driving force behind Africa’s poaching epidemic and global illegal ivory trade.”

According to a 2013 study by the University of Washington, the annual number of African elephants being slaughtered to supply the illegal ivory trade is estimated to be as high as 50,000, or roughly one sixth of the continent’s remaining elephant population.

International trade in ivory is illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), but its growth is being fuelled by legal domestic markets in countries such as Japan and China, where trade is being supported by the advance of e-commerce.

US President Barack Obama in February announced new restrictions on the commercial import of African elephant ivory, as well as on what sport hunters can bring back to the country.

Much of the ivory imported into Japan goes into making traditional name stamps, called hankos, that are used in lieu of signatures on documents.

Sales and advertisements stopped

The EIA said between 2005 and 2010, illegal ivory accounted for up to 87%of ivory hankos produced in Japan.

It named Japanese website Rakuten Ichiba as the world’s top marketplace for elephant ivory, citing more than 28 000 advertisements for products. Rakuten Ichiba is Japan’s biggest online shopping site with more than 87 million members.

Rakuten Ichiba is owned by Japan-headquartered Rakuten Group , which also owns British based Play.com, Canadian e-reader firm Kobo, and has a stake in social media site Pinterest.

Rakuten Group did not respond to several requests for comment.

“Amazon and Google have stopped all sales or advertisements of whale, dolphin and ivory through their Japanese e-commerce sites, and Rakuten must do the same,” the EIA said.

The article can be found in the following link:

http://www.health24.com/Lifestyle/Environmental-health/Animals/Japanese-appetite-for-ivory-fuels-poaching-epidemic-20140320

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.”

Yao Ming Campaigns to Lower Ivory Demand and End Sales

by Megan Thompson

March 5, 2014

On March 3rd, former NBA superstar Yao Ming delivered a very important petition at the opening session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultation Conference. With this first step, Yao is urging his home country of China – currently the world’s leading ivory consumer – to ban the sale of ivory and help end the current poaching crisis that is threatening endangered elephant and rhino populations worldwide.

Yao was able to experience the crisis firsthand when he traveled to Kenya and South Africa to film a documentary on illegal poaching. After returning home, he launched a campaign in partnership with WildAid, the African Wildlife Foundation and Save the Elephants to reduce the demand for ivory and rhino horns.

Since its foundation, the campaign was been very successful in China and has yielded encouraging results. This January, government officials crushed more than six tons of ivory to send a message to those in the ivory trade. On February 27th, many of China’s top businessmen pledged to never purchase, possess or gift ivory – a huge step for a culture that has considered ivory an important present and sign of respect.

Huang Nubo, WildAid China Board Chairman, said “[a]s China grows up, Chinese companies should do the same and take on more social responsibility. This is why we are joining efforts to protect our planet’s wildlife. We hope this ethic becomes engrained in us and is passed down to future generations.”

This is not the first time Yao has stepped up to protect threatened animals in his country. After Yao participated in a past campaign with WildAid, President Xi’s administration banned dishes including shark fin from state banquets. This was a great commitment for the country since, before the ban, shark fin soup was considered a sign of status and was expected at most important gatherings. Since shark fin dishes were excluded from state banquets, China’s demand for the fins has dropped by 50%.

China reaffirms pledge to fight illegal ivory trade

By ABDUEL ELINAZA, Tanzania Daily News
March 02, 2014

China has said some western media reports implicating the country in the illegal ivory trade are “misleading” intentionally and are targeting to derail the long mutual friendship and cooperation between it and African states.

Beijing has also insisted that it strongly opposes the trade even as western media have been linking the country with illegal trade of ivory on the back of long term and historical relations with Africa.

The Director-General in the Department of Africa Affairs of Chinese Foreign Ministry, Mr Lu Shaye, said here yesterday some western media are reporting that the increase of illegal trade of ivory and some serious poaching in Africa (Tanzania) have increased due to huge demand from China.

“…Such information is misleading the whole world… why are they (western) doing this? They want to discourage the friendship and cooperation between China and Africa,” Mr Lu, who once served in Africa as China’s Senegal ambassador, said.

The Director was responding to ‘Sunday News’ questions regarding the China stance on illegal ivory trade and its assistance to Tanzania and Kenya in fighting against poaching.

“As a matter of fact China is not the only country that has ivory artifacts, a lot others have, for example Japan and other Southeast Asia countries have…it’s the same case with the UK.

“Prince William of UK Royal Family–as a wildlife conservationist (vows) to destroy all ivory artifacts of Royal Family to show his determination to fight against illegal trade of ivory,” the Director, known here as Mr Africa, said.

He said China is more than willing to work with Africa to fight against the poaching and illegal trade of ivories: “as a matter of fact China conducted joint operations with some Africa countries including Tanzania and Kenya…going forward China will step-up efforts by providing more assistance to Africa to fight against the trade”.

Recently UK’s Daily Mail reported that Tanzania government turned a blind eye to the fight against blood ivory trade which compelled the government to strongly blast the newspaper over its report saying it was one sided.

The Daily Mail article carried the headline: “Tanzania slaughters over 11,000 elephants a year for the bloody trade in tusks and its President turns a blind eye.

”China recently destroyed six tonnes of confiscated ivory, raising hopes for progress in the war against illicit trade in the commodity, most of which comes from Africa.

The ceremony, largely symbolic, was conducted in the city of Guangzhou in Guangdong Province, according to news reports and a release from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Along with burning its ivory stockpile, China has increased some of its enforcement against illegally trading ivory, with the arrest last month of five poachers in Jilin Province, a record, the WCS said in its release.

“We congratulate China’s government for showing the world that elephant poaching and illegal ivory consumption is unacceptable,” said WCS president and CEO Cristián Samper.

“We are hopeful that this gesture shows that we can win the war against poaching and that elephants will once again flourish.”

Staff at the Airport Smuggled Ivory with a “Pass”

Yan Fei, Morning Post
Feb. 22, 2014

According to Beijing Morning Post, Liang, a staff from the Beijing Capital Airport Power& Energy Co., Ltd, taking advantage of possessing the pass of the Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA), has smuggled ivory into China, with an amount of more than 1 million RMB. It is reported that, Liang was accused of smuggling precious animal products, and sentenced to imprisonment of 10 years and 6 months. His partner was sentenced to prison for 11 years.
Liang was the staff of Beijing Capital Airport Power& Energy Co., Ltd. According to the investigation report from the court, Yang was incited by Liang to carry 31 pieces of ivory products with his suitcase on Sep. 29, 2012, departing from the Republic of Togo, and arrived at the BCIA on Sep.30, 2012, via several nations. Yang handed two laptop bags with ivory products in it, to Liang, who was arranged by Yang, at the men’s bathroom. Because of the pass that Liang had, he was able to escape from the monitoring of the customers, and trafficked in the illicit ivory products. On that day, both suspects were arrested on the spot. The total value of the smuggled ivory was estimated to be more than 1 million RMB.
Considering that Liang has confessed truthfully of his crime, the court gave him a lesser punishment, however both of them have been charged of smuggling precious animal products.

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

Ivory is the real draw at Beijing centre

BY MALCOLM MOORE, LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH
FEBRUARY 11, 2014

With its sleek glass and wood exterior, the Tianya Antiques City is a temple to modern Chinese
craftsmanship. Inside, the traders sell their wares from boutique stalls more like museums than
markets – jade, emerald and coral.

But the real draw for visitors to the Beijing centre is also its most controversial: ivory.

As a high-level summit to combat wildlife trafficking and poaching opens in London Wednesday,
hosted by the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge, shifting Chinese attitudes toward
ivory will be one of the most important goals, given that it is the world’s most populous nation
with a strong appetite for elephant tusk.

It will not be easy, as Fu Junjun, who works at her father’s ivory shop in the 11-floor market,
testified. “The price of ivory keeps going up, and the government’s decision to destroy that ivory
stockpile actually helped us,” she said, referring to the recent crushing of about 5.5 tonnes by
Chinese authorities. “The smaller stores now find it harder to get a good supply, but bigger
stores like us have hardly felt any impact and it helped put the price up.”

Ivory is legal in China provided it comes from a government-registered dealer, and there
continues to be a significant demand – partly as an increasingly valuable commodity and partly
because, according to the principles of feng shui, ivory can “disperse misfortune and drive out
evil spirits”.

In 2008, the international community allowed four African countries – Namibia, Zimbabwe,
South Africa and Botswana – to sell their stockpiles of ivory to Japan and China for $15 million in
an attempt to control the slaughter of elephants.

All of the ivory available in China is technically supposed to have come from that auction, and
each carving carries its own certificate of provenance. But environmentalists warn that there is
rampant cheating in the system and that illegal ivory  is easily laundered. A survey by IFAW in
2011 found that, of 158 shops and carving factories in Beijing, Shanghai, Fuzhou and Guang-
zhou, 101 were not licensed, or were selling smuggled ivory.

At Panjiayuan, Beijing’s biggest curio market, dealers said they had no elephant tusk on offer.
But when asked if they wanted to buy an unlicensed piece of ivory, several asked to take a look.

“I have bought cheap ivory online,” said Xu Song, a 25-year-old carver. “I cannot say whether
they were smuggled or not, but they are cheap, so I suppose so.

“Perhaps the biggest legacy of the decision to allow ivory auctions is that it has convinced the
Chinese that ivory is no longer a desperately endangered commodity. I do not think the supply
of ivory is a problem. We have not really thought about it.”

On the upside, the Chinese have discovered a new commodity that is now rivalling elephant
ivory in desirability: woolly mammoth ivory. Each summer, hundreds of tusks are dug up in
Siberia and sent south for carving.

Article at the following link:
http://www.thestarphoenix.com/Ivory+real+draw+Beijing+centre/9493078/story.html

China, Africa Arrest Cross-Border Ivory Smuggler

Xinhua
February 10, 2014
A suspected Chinese ivory smuggler had been apprehended in Kenya after coordinated efforts between the two countries, China’s wildlife authorities said on Monday.

The suspect, surnamed Xue, was caught in Nairobi on Jan. 17 by Kenyan authorities, and extradited to China the next day, said the China Endangered Species Import and Export Management Office.

It is the first time China has arrested a wildlife crime suspect overseas.

Xue is said to have led an ivory trafficking group in Kenya for a long time, and hired couriers to smuggle ivory into China.

The rest two suspects of the group, surnamed Zheng and Li, were netted on Jan. 16 and 17 when they were entering China. So far, all the suspects in the group have been caught.

The arrests were part of the operation, dubbed Cobra II, launched by China as well as several countries in Asia, Africa and north America to crack down on wildlife crimes from the end of 2013 to the beginning of 2014.

IVORY “MULE” TELLS TALE

A luggage of a passenger who was trying to enter China attracted attention of the customs staff at the Taoxian airport in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province in northeast China, on Nov. 27, 2013.

X-ray scanner showed the goods in the luggage were almost the same: small ball-shaped things.

The passenger, also surnamed Zheng, opened the luggage at the request of the customs staff. Inside the luggage were several layers of well-sealed opaque bags. On the bags were signs claiming there were nuts inside.

Zheng was very calm and cooperative, saying he was entrusted to get the nuts for kids and he had nothing to declare.

He tore open a bag for the customs staff to taste and tried to give two bags to them.

His composure, however, did not get by.

Customs staff took a bag from the bottom layer, and it was remarkably of different weight with those on the upper layers.

Based on their experiences, they doubted Zheng was smuggling ivory products. Further investigation proved this, 1,226 ivory beads with a diameter of 1.8 to 2 centimeters totaling 8.77 kilograms were found in the luggage.

Further investigation followed and tracked Xue to Kenya. Xue hid in Kenya and remotely controlled mules to smuggle ivory into China. Xue has allegedly built a crime ring on purchase, transport and sales.

CROSS-BORDER CHASE

Customs police in Shenyang found Xue and Zheng have been buying ivory in Kenya illegally and paying mules for 5,000 to 10,000 yuan (1,639 U.S. dollars) for each smuggling.

Xue’s girlfriend, surnamed Li, is said to have helped with customs clearance.

The customs police also found clues that Xue and Zheng were hiding in Kenya, and they will have to find ways to seize them.

Fighting illegal trade of wildlife usually demands cooperation between various countries and departments, but it’s very difficult for cross-border arrests as such coordination between countries and departments is far from being fully established, said Meng Xianlin, deputy director of the China Endangered Species Import and Export Management Office.

China’s General Customs Administration and the Ministry of Public Security sent a team to Kenya to work with local police to capture Xue. Though suspects have been arrested, the case is still under investigation.

Kenya is a major source of illicit ivory, and China is one of the biggest destinations.

“The unprecedented intercontinental cooperation will deter global ivory trafficking, and demonstrates China’s determination to deal with wildlife crime,” said Zhou Yafei, a senior figure at the endangered species office.

Orphaned elephants and thousands of murdered wildlife rangers – victims of the brutal ivory trade

Tom Parry, DAily Mirror
Feb 06, 2014

Meet Quanza , an elephant orphan who was one year old when she saw her mother shot dead with an assault rifle before her tusks were hacked off by poachers.

Quanza’s two sisters went the same way and the young calf was spared only because she had no ivory worth wasting a bullet on.

She is one of the thousands of African elephants left orphaned as crime syndicates linked to terrorism sell prized “white gold” to the Far East.

But the violent massacre of defenceless creatures has a human cost too.

More than a thousand wildlife rangers have been murdered by poachers in 35 different countries over the last decade.

They include Jonathan Mancha, shot dead by gun-toting Somalis in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park where Quanza was born, leaving seven children between 15 and three without a father.

Jonathan, 37, had been chief ranger for 15 years when told a poaching gang was at large.

He was off duty but that didn’t stop him waving goodbye to his family, jumping in his Kenya Wildlife Service jeep and heading for the scene of the massacre.

That was the last time they saw him.

I meet the family in a tiny, stifling hovel down a rutted mud track. Old newspapers cover the wooden walls.

Older brother Tim, who has stepped in to support the children, tells me Jonathan was a hero.

Widow Alfonzina, 50, has to go outside as we begin to speak. She can’t bear to be reminded of what happened.

Tim recalls: “He was told by another ranger that men, he called them butchers, had killed a giraffe and an elephant.

“He said, ‘I’m not going home while poachers are slaughtering animals’.

“It was believed these were Somali poachers and I warned him that Somalis shoot to kill, not to scare.

“John and the other rangers had to go out into the bush on foot and they spotted the poachers. There were four of them, lying down.

“The rangers opened fire but the poachers retaliated and John was shot in the thigh. The bleeding was so bad that he died very quickly.

“No one could stop the bleeding. The poachers had better weapons.”

The killing of rangers on the poaching frontline is one issue David Cameron and African heads of state will discuss at a London conference on the £12billion illegal wildlife trade next week.

Gangs linked to al-Shabaab fire their assault rifles indiscriminately at rangers often armed only with wooden batons, then flee over the border to lawless Somalia.

In just one national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 183 park rangers were killed in 10 years.

In Amboseli, where 1,500 elephants roam freely on the dusty plains, watching 13ft-high bull elephants tear up grass with their trunks as their calves follow meekly behind is an awe-inspiring sight. It seems inconceivable anyone would kill them simply for their ivory.

Yet the vast empty space beneath Mount Kilimanjaro is too large to be patrolled adequately, and that makes the animals vulnerable.

In October 2012, Quanza was beside her mother Qumquat, the leader of the family, when poachers strafed their herd with AK47 bullets.

She was one of three elderly mothers killed, targeted for her long tusks which would fetch up to £80,000 in the Far East.

The poachers had lain in wait on the Amboseli herd’s migration route to the forests of Tanzania.

Rangers found Quanza standing next to her mother’s rotting carcass, the family’s only survivor.

It is stories like this that made Jonathan risk his life.

As I talk to his brother in the half-light of the mud-floored room, Jonathan’s children play in the overgrown yard outside.

They are too poor to afford school.

“I will always believe that he died a gallant soldier,” says Tim.

“He protected those elephants as though they were people. He was a very dedicated man who was passionate about wildlife.”

Happily for Quanza, her story has a happier ending.

Unable to survive alone, she was sedated and flown to an elephant orphanage in the Kenyan capital Nairobi run by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

Now tended by keeper Amos Lakalau, she spends her days with other orphans in woodland and sleeps in a guarded enclosure.

Once rehabilitated, she will be returned to the wild.

Dame Daphne Sheldrick, 80, who tells me Quanza is likely to have seen her mother’s face hacked apart with an axe to get at the tusks, says: “It takes two years for the gestation of a baby elephant compared to nine months for man.

“This means it takes a long time for herds to regenerate if the older adults are targeted.

“Our anti-snaring teams are always catching poachers and alerting the authorities but the next day they are out again.

“They are laughing at them.”

Dame Daphne, honoured in 2006 for her lifetime’s work, adds: “There is no doubt that ivory smuggling syndicates are involved in arms and drugs.

“It is undoubtedly linked to terrorism, to al-Shabaab. The syndicates have become extremely rich through killing elephants.

“Corruption has always been a problem. The poachers have the connections to bribe their way out of prison.”

Prices of more than £100 a kilo for ivory in Kenya mean big money for the poorest people.

“The temptation is enormous,” she says. “In Kenya there are no social security benefits so a man has to live by whatever means he can.

“The key lies in China. As long as there is a demand for ivory, elephants will be killed.

“Until the sale of ivory is banned completely there will be a problem, and China will be seen as the villain.

“In China ivory is seen as a status symbol. It is considered white gold.”

I realise the enormity of the challenge when I meet ranger Moses Sinkooi, 30, and his team of three in a simple hut up a rocky hill.

It’s a far outpost, a small dot on a vast horizon.

The team monitor 5,000 acres on foot and the odds are stacked enormously against them.

“Three elephants were shot dead near here,” Moses tells me.

“It’s hard. There are only four of us and many of them.”

But the dedicated rangers will not give up… because, until the politicans take decisive action , they are the last line of defence for the animals they care for.