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Tag Archives: CITES
Laibin Guangxi, China, November 2014—More than 120 Forest Police officers were trained on aspects of wildlife crime and how to counteract it during a workshop on Combatting illegal wildlife trade and CITES implementation held in Laibin, Guangxi province earlier this month.
The meeting was organized by Guangxi Provincial Inter-agency CITES Enforcement Coordination Group (PICE-CG), in co-operation with TRAFFIC and other non-governmental organizations. Participants included frontline Forest Police officers, particularly new recruits who overall comprise more than 5% of the Forest Police force in Guangxi Province.
The first day of the workshop was chaired by Xiao Yu, Programme Manager for TRAFFIC, during which officials from Guangxi PICE-CG Forest Conservation Department spoke about relevant wildlife administrative laws and regulations, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) while the Director of Criminal Investigation with Guangxi Forest Police spoke about criminal investigation methods, the legal process and how to obtain and present evidence. Experts from Guangxi University spoke about identification of rosewood and other endangered plant products.
Other topics covered during the two-day meeting included a presentation by TRAFFIC on the current situation regarding illegal wildlife trade in physical and online markets, how to care for confiscated raptors (birds of prey), and a presentation by the Director of the State Forestry Administration’s Wildlife Criminal Evidence Identification Center on identification of wild animals and their associated products in trade.
Since 2011 three major enforcement actions to combat illegal wildlife trade have taken place in Guangxi. In January 2013, with support from Guangxi PICE-CG, TRAFFIC and others, Guangxi Forest Police confiscated 14 rhino horns, 1 Tiger fur and several ivory products. The rhino horn seizure is the largest to date in mainland China.
“More than 50% of all illegal wildlife product seizures made by provincial enforcement agencies in Guangxi have been made by the Forest Police, which is why regular training of the agency is key to determining the success or failure of enforcement actions in the region,” said Mr Yan Jiang, Director of the Nanning branch office of China’s CITES Management Authority.
Zhou Fei, Head of TRAFFIC’s Programme in China said: “Guangxi’s location on the border between China and Viet Nam makes it a hotspot for illegal wildlife trade. According to TRAFFIC’s market surveys, much illegal wildlife and derived products are smuggled into Guangxi then transported onwards to other provinces. Increased capacity within the Forest Police can greatly deter wildlife smuggling to and beyond the region.”
TRAFFIC has been helping build the capacity of enforcement departments in Guangxi province through consolidating information gathering methods and improving crime detection, for example through the use of detector dogs.
TRAFFIC’s capacity building work in Guangxi Province is generously supported by WWF Germany and CEPF.
For more information, please contact: Sammi Li, Communications Officer, TRAFFIC
This article can be found in the following link: http://www.traffic.org/home/2014/11/26/new-recruits-to-guangxi-forest-police-receive-training-to-co.html
By Jonathan FowlerJuly 11, 2014 3:03 PM
Thailand faces an international wildlife trade ban unless it reins in its ivory sector, which is a magnet for traffickers, global regulator CITES said on Friday.
“There have been years without any real action on the ground when it comes to controlling the illegal ivory market,” said Oeystein Stoerkersen, chairman of CITES’s governing body.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has set Thailand an August 2015 deadline to fall into line or risk wide-ranging sanctions.
Bangkok is under additional pressure to report back by January on steps to bolster recent laws on registering ivory importers, traders and legal stockpiles, that CITES claims are insufficient.
“Without that, Thailand will face a ban, and a suspension of all trade no matter what commodity it is, of the 35,000 species listed with CITES,” he told reporters.
A ban would prevent the country trading anything appearing on that list with another country, including orchids and exotic wood, which are significant export products for Thailand.
“I think that is a strong signal,” said Stoerkersen, adding that Thai diplomats at the talks had acknowledged that their country needed to do more.
But environmental campaigner WWF said the body should have hit Thailand harder, given that Bangkok pledged last year to smash the illegal trade but the quantities of ivory on sale rose sharply.
“A suspension of trade in all CITES goods from Thailand would have been justified,” said WWF analyst Colman O’Criodain.
Current Thai law allows ivory from domesticated Thai elephants to be sold, making it simple to launder poached African ivory, WWF said.
“Thailand’s market is fuelling the illegal assault on African elephants,” said O’Criodain.
The decision on Thailand came as delegates wrapped up a week-long CITES conference on trade in endangered species.
Earlier this week, CITES chief John Scanlon told AFP that elephants would be wiped out in some parts of Africa unless more countries got involved in efforts to prevent poaching and smuggling.
Over the past three years, more than 60,000 African elephants have been killed, far outstripping their birth rate.
Crime syndicates and militias in Africa have become increasingly involved in the multi-billion-dollar illicit trade, taking advantage of Asian demand for ivory to use in decorations and traditional medicines.
- ‘Next generation will not forgive us’ -
Stoerkersen said Thailand had become a “sink” for African ivory, sucking in imports bought by foreigners for export to other Asian countries.
“It’s more or less an unregulated market,” he said.
Along with China, Thailand is part of the “Gang of Eight” countries that have faced scrutiny over the ivory trade, but it is now seen as the key offender.
Speaking at the conference in Geneva, William Kiprono, who leads Kenya’s Wildlife Service, said his country is cracking down hard on poachers and illegal ivory traders.
He said that the country is currently recruiting hundreds more wildlife rangers, but said more action was also needed from consumers.
“In some places, they think that ivory just falls out of an animal just like feathers,” he said.
“We need to work together. If we don’t act, we are going to lose our wildlife, as Kenya, as Africa and the globe. And the next generation will not forgive us,” he said.
During the conference, CITES also banned trade in the emperor scorpion from Ghana due to unsustainable harvesting, and raised concerns about the illegal trade in cheetahs and snakes, as well as illegal logging.
This article can be found in the following link: http://news.yahoo.com/thailand-faces-trade-ban-over-ivory-failings-171518386.html;_ylt=AwrTWfyyQsNTwAkAhQjQtDMD
By Denise Chow, Staff Writer | March 26, 2014 03:57pm ET
Belgium is slated to destroy its entire stockpile of illegal ivory next month, joining the United States, China and several other countries in taking a stand against wildlife trafficking.
Earlier this month, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Laurette Onkelinx announced plans to destroy all the illegal ivory seized by customs, on April 9. A special ceremony will be held to mark the occasion, with dignitaries from the Belgian government present.
Onkelinx made the announcement March 3 at an event celebrating Belgium’s involvement in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which is an international treaty to protect endangered plants and animals. [In Images: 100 Most Threatened Species]
“The Belgian government should be saluted for taking a firm and public stand on ivory trafficking and working to save the world’s threatened elephants,” Sonja Van Tichelen, European Regional Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said in a statement.
Rampant ivory poaching is causing precipitous declines in elephant populations, and the Wildlife Conservation Society estimates that 96elephants are killed each day by poachers in Africa. The ivory trade was banned in 1989, but the demand for ivory now is higher than ever, and lucrative black markets have emerged around the world.
“Not only are we losing an elephant every 15 minutes but the ivory trade is undercutting law and order in elephant range states and enriching organized crime syndicates — the slaughter of elephants must be stopped,” Van Tichelen said.
Belgium is set to join several other countries that recently destroyed their stockpiles of ivory. In February, France crushed more than 15,000 pieces of ivory, which included carvings, jewelry and other trinkets that were confiscated by customs agents.
In January, China, the world’s biggest consumer of illegal ivory, joined the effort by crushing 6 tons of its own ivory tusks and carved ornaments. The United States destroyed its ivory stockpile — collected from more than 25 years of confiscations and smuggling busts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — in November.
Officials in Hong Kong also announced their plan to burn more than 30 tons of elephant tusks and ivory products throughout the first half of this year. Recently, officials with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam announced they are considering crushing the country’s stores of rhino horn, elephant ivory and tiger bone.
This article can be found in the following link: http://www.livescience.com/44399-belgium-ivory-crush.html
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:
BY STEVE NJUMBI AND PAULA KAHUMBU, 13 MARCH 2014 On 31st January 2014 the Cabinet Secretary for Water, Environment and Natural Resources, Professor Judy Wakhungu appointed a 15 person task force on wildlife security chaired by Ambassador Nehemiah Rotich. The overall purpose of the task force is to identify the security threats to wildlife and their habitats, and examine the effectiveness of existing protection measures for wildlife across the country. The mandate of the team is to examine security arrangements, including human resources and capacity, equipment and facilities, and it extends beyond current threats to include emerging challenges. The team will not restrict their investigations to KWS operations, but will also look at other agencies involved in jointly managed areas including forests, ports and private conservancies. They will evaluate anti-poaching systems funding, morale, and even the public image of state agencies. By expanding the mandate to include such diverse factors, in effect what this team is doing is a detailed risk assessment for wildlife. After three months of research, data gathering, public hearings, and meetings, the team will compile a report with appropriate recommendations on strategies to strengthen the security management of wildlife and their habitats, including systems re-engineering. Importantly, the task force has the flexibility to gather information in whichever way it may find most appropriate to get this work done. Given the enormity of the crisis facing elephants and rhinos in Kenya, where rhino poaching has doubled in the last 12 months, and Kenya’s rise to become the world’s No. 1 country for transit of ivory, the importance of this investigation can hardly be overstated. Once renowned worldwide as the country where elephants were best protected, Kenya is now at the bottom of the bucket. Poachers are in control of vast landscapes, rangers are ill equipped, ill paid, and demoralized; those rangers who still go out on patrol risk being killed. Land from parks is being grabbed for highways, bridges and cities, while habitats in buffer zones and wildlife corridors are being destroyed. At the rate we are going, Kenya could see herself being sanctioned by CITES within the year, and by 2030 we will only have 2 of the big five remaining. We need to turn the situation around, and we need to do it now.
Stephen Muneza, RedPepper
March 3, 2014
Police has issued two arrest warrants for two businessmen connected to the 832 pieces of ivory that were impounded by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) in October last year.
The arrest warrants have been issued against a Kenyan national Owino Odhiambo, who owns Silver Shipping Limited, a Kenyan registered company that was destined to receive the ivory and also export it to China.
The second arrest warrant is for a Congolese national Kayumba Emile Ogane. Ogane claimed the impounded ivory while it was with the URA. Ogane is the director of Ogane Company Limited which instituted the proceedings in the High Court at Nakawa. Ogane has however never appeared in person in Uganda.
The two arrest warrants have been forwarded to Interpol to arrest and bring the persons for prosecution.
They are wanted for the concealment of ivory that was smuggled through the DRC-Uganda border post of Bunagana. It is alleged that the Ivory was not declared to the customs officials at the border post. The 2.9 tonnes of ivory were being transported in a Congolese trailer registration number CGO 6816 AB19.
Congolese businessman Emile Ogano hired David Ochaya to be his transport agent. Ochaya then used Ocean Freight East Africa Limited containers and delivered the ivory undocumented to the inland container depot at Bweyogerere. While arguing the case before the Nakawa High Court, the lawyers of Emile Ogane said that their client had concealed the goods to hide them from the naked eye of the robbers, an argument that the court judge Masalu Musene accepted.
Last month, the judge ordered URA to return the impounded ivory to Ogane.
Interpol Director Arsan Kasingye said Interpol would embark on the search of the suspects to deliver them to the arms of Justice.
The environmental crime desk of Interpol in Lyon, France has since expressed concern at the fate of the ivory.
To import and export ivory, one has to get a licence from the home country and also a permit to trade in ivory from CITES or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
In October last year, URA impounded a container of 822 pieces of ivory; approximately 2.9 tonnes. The ivory was destined to go to Owino Odhiambo, a Kenyan national. After it was impounded, a Congolese national, Kayumba Emile Ogane claimed the ivory from the URA and instituted a suit for its release. In a landmark ruling, the high court Judge Masalu Musene ordered for its release, a judgement that has been widely contested by both the Uganda Wildlife Authority and URA.
URA has lodged an appeal at the Court of Appeal.
By Jeff Andrew Lule, New Vision
Police plan to block the return of a consignment of seized ivory to a dealer as instructed by Justice Wilson Masalu Musene.
On Friday, the director of Interpol Uganda, Asan Kasingye said despite the court’s ruling, they will not allow to release the ivory easily in respect of Uganda’s commitment towards the conservation of the endangered species within the East African Customs and international convention.
Uganda Revenue Authority impounded 836 pieces of ivory in October last year, weighing approximately 3000kgs. The ivory was concealed in a container belonging to Ken Freight Forwarders in Bweyogerere, Wakiso district at the time of seizure.
Kasingye said though the owner Emille Kayumba Ogane, a Congolese national, claims to have imported the ivory from Congo through Bunagana border post lawfully, they need him to come and clearly explain how and where he got the ivory.
“It is very unfair to make such a ruling because someone claimed to have got the ivory from elsewhere. The world was very surprised with the ruling and all eyes are watching us. Can you imagine over 400 elephants were killed to get this ivory,” Kasingye said.
Kasingye stressed that the trade in ivory contravenes with the East African Customs Management Act 2004 and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species that puts stringent conditions on dealing in such endangered species.
“We think this case needed more time to work with all stakeholders before coming to a conclusion,” he noted.