Tag Archives: natural resources

Zanzibar police seize 40-foot container of ivory (Tanzania)

Agence France Presse

November 2013

Police in the semi-autonomous Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar on Wednesday said they had seized a 40-foot (12-metre) container hiding an estimated several tonnes’ worth of ivory.

The seizure comes as authorities in Tanzania crack down on poaching amid a surge of killings of elephant and rhino in the east African nation.

“This is unacceptable, we must end this problem,” said Tanzanian Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Khamis Kagasheki, who travelled to Zanzibar after the seizure.

“This is serious, let us join forces to save our natural resources,” said the minister as police officers searched the container.

It was not clear where the container was destined for.

Police estimated that several tonnes of ivory were stashed in the container but said they would only be able to give the exact weight of the tusks, as well as the origin and destination of the ivory, once they finished unpacking it.

Kagasheki warned that if authorities were unable to find the owner, the agents who cleared the container on its arrival in Zanzibar’s main port would be held accountable.

“How did ivory manage to be transported to Zanzibar for reshipment?” Kagasheki said.

Zanzibar police chief Mussa Ali Mussa said two workers from a local clearing agent, which he refused to name, had been taken into custody.

In August 2011, at the same port, police seized 1,041 elephant tusks hidden in a shipment of anchovies heading for Malaysia.

The consignment had arrived from the Tanzanian economic capital Dar es Salaam.

The lucrative Asian black market for rhino horn, used in traditional medicine, and ivory has driven a boom in poaching across Africa.

Last week President Jakaya Kikwete told parliament that a controversial anti-poaching operation that allegedly used a shoot-to-kill policy would continue in a bid to stamp out poaching.

Earlier this month three Chinese nationals were charged in mainland Tanzania for possessing 706 tusks from poached elephants. The trio face a maximum sentence of 20 years if found guilty.

Malaysia’s ‘blood ivory’ trade continues

Sean Whyte, Free Malaysia Today
October 23, 2013

This week Vietnamese customs officials discovered and confiscated 2.4 tons of elephant ivory. The ivory had been shipped from Malaysia, again. Earlier this month the same Vietnamese officials confiscated a shipment of 2.1 tons of elephants ivory, once again shipped from Malaysia enroute to China.

As anyone can see, Malaysia remains a very important link in the illegal ivory trade, resulting in about 100 elephants a day being slaughtered just to provide ivory trinkets and ornaments. Does it cross your mind why the Vietnamese customs officials can detect ivory, but not their Malaysian counterparts? I mean. Both have human beings as customs agents.

Both have laws to uphold. However, when it comes to spotting ivory shipments, Malaysian government officials appear struck by something akin to selective blindness.

On Aug 12, this year Minister of Natural Resources & Environment (NRE) G Palanivel declared publicly an independent audit of ivory stocks held in Malaysia was unnecessary and his staff were “ ……. in the midst of doing an inventory of the ivory seized,” .

Two months later we are still waiting for the outcome. Against a backdrop of suspicion some ivory may have been misappropriated, do you think Perhilitan is struggling to make its sums add up?

An independent audit is the only acceptable answer. Preventing such an audit implies officials have something to hide, and here again their lack of transparency brings this suspicion and public exposure upon themselves. The minister also declines to have the ivory destroyed – after an independent audit.

If you were of a suspicious mind, you could be forgiven for wondering if there is any ivory left to destroy and might this be why the minister and his Perhilitan department don’t want the ivory put on public display prior to its destruction? What’s the point in keeping the ivory?

I don’t suppose anyone has been arrested yet, much less prosecuted for trading in ivory. Why might that be you may well wonder?

One way or another the minister and his staff are making a real mess of this ivory scandal. In doing so they are bringing shame on Malaysia almost on a weekly basis. It seems highly likely Malaysia will be sanctioned by CITES – the ultimate embarrassment and shame for his ministry and Malaysia. All self inflicted.

I just hope the ministry and his staff do not attempt to blame me or others. Stopping the ivory trade flowing through Malaysia is their responsibility. The only reason why I write on this subject is because, as you can see, the ivory trade appears to be going from bad to worse – and via Malaysia.

Being sanctioned means a country has repeatedly failed to uphold its international commitments to CITES, ignored warnings, resulting in a country being banned from all international trade in wildlife. When this happens Malaysia will be abandoned to a group with the worst track record in the world for complicity in the illegal wildlife trade: Could this final indignity happen on Palanivel’s watch?

Tanzania: Anti-Poaching Officer in Kiteto Deserves Award

By Deogratias Mushi, Tanzania Daily News

28 July 2013

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete’s words of encouragement uttered in Kaboya Barracks in Muleba district, Kagera region on Thursday consoled me.

He assured people not to fear going about their day to day businesses, as the army is ready to defend the country’s borders at all times and under any circumstances. At least that gives me hope, I should not fear moving around going about my normal daily activities, ensuring that my family does not starve in any way, while the nation takes a step forward in development.

As the president was preparing to travel to Kagera, some people working under him were making sure that they were improving the lives of Tanzanians. But not all that were adhering to the president’s directives to deliver social services ethically. They instead decided to satisfy their egoistic motives, and violated work ethics to fill their big stomachs.

Three prison wardens in Kiteto district in Manyara region collaborated with evil civilians and killed two giraffes, two ostriches, two zebras, a Thomson gazelle, all valued at over 55m/-. Recently as Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda was winding up his seven-day visit in Ruvuma region he expressed anger over poachers killing elephants in Selous National Park and called for the regional administration to take such law defaulters to book.

For the last three weeks, TBC 1 reporter in Ruvuma Region Gasto Msigwa has shown heaps of tusks in police custody, thanks to efforts made by the Ruvuma Regional Police Commander (RPC) Deusdedit Nsimeki, who has even gone as far as awarding cash to people who reveal names of poachers. Under ordinary circumstances, it is hard to arrest a colleague but Paschal Mrina arrested prison wardens who used a government vehicle, a Toyota Land-Cruiser with registration number STK 4394 in their malevolence.

The culprits are none other than Kimaro Joseph Sauli, Richard Barick Peter and Silvester Dionis Bukha. He listed other suspects who are civilians as Abubakari Ngaula, Hamza Mdachi, Saidi Iddi and Hosseni Gola, who are all Kiteto residents who were found in possession of a gun belonging to the Prison department. I propose that Paschal Mrina is named our national hero this year, as he went beyond the call of duty and arrested the prison wardens who had killed wildlife.

Law enforcement officers turned out to be law breakers. Watching TBC 1 report filed by Ben Mwaipaja from Manyara recently, it is heartening to see that our nation still has obedient and faithful servants like Mrina and his team who made sure that the law takes its natural course and went ahead and arrested the poachers.

It is strongly believed that a sophisticated network of rich persons and fear discourages the public from “naming and shaming” poachers thus fuelling illegal hunting in the country. Mr Mrina has proven that the war against poachers is possible.

The minister for Tourism and Natural Resources, Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki once said at a seminar for senior media personnel that poaching is depleting our valuable natural resources, especially elephants and rhinos in our game reserves and national parks. Very unfortunately, this business involves rich people who have formed a very sophisticated network that collaborates with a few government officials as it was in the case in Kiteto recently.

Although the tourism ministry is determined to combat poaching, including taking punitive measures against individuals involved in this malpractice, irrespective of their social status, time has now come to emulate the example shown by Mr Mrina in Kiteto. If deliberate, concerted efforts are not taken by stakeholders, including the government, the media and general public to expose individuals engaging in poaching, elephants and rhinos will soon be extinct.

The media and general public should join the battle and start naming individuals who poach without fear. Ambassador Kagasheki was recently told the media; “It’s now time to name and shame people engaging in this menace. Even if it is me, say it. We must fight against this scourge at all costs,” Ambassador Kagasheki should recognise and award the anti-poaching unit in Kiteto district. Government should take serious steps to combat poaching by deploying armed personnel and camera-equipped drones to engage in anti-poaching operations.

A report recently submitted to and discussed by parliament in Dodoma makes stark reading and confirms what has been rumoured for long, that the rate of poaching is way higher than Tanzanian officials admit. Between 2006 and 2009 as many as 30,000 elephants, many from the poorly guarded Selous park were killed.

These elephants are often killed right under the very noses of law enforcement officers, casting a dark shadow over the country’s commitment to conservation. According to the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, poaching has drastically reduced the elephant population to fewer than 70,000 in 2012 from about 109,000 in 2009.

The government cannot fight poaching war in isolation. There is a need to join hands as Tanzanians to fight poachers as a way to preserve our natural resources. Let us build the habit of reporting incidents that endanger our natural resources.