Tag Archives: rhino horns

New Recruits To Guangxi Forest Police Receive Training To Counter Wildlife Trafficking

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

Email: [email protected]

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

The war on poaching cannot be won in the field unless we take on high-level corruption

By Paula Kahumbu

Corruption is what drives the vicious circle linking poverty to organised crime and is the root cause of the current poaching crisis

A Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) ranger stands guard over an ivory haul seized overnight as it transited through Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi.

A Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) ranger stands guard over an ivory haul seized as it transited through Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi. The commitment and integrity of wildlife agencies is key in the war against the poachers. Photograph: TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images

In order to win the war against poaching we have to understand its causes. There are two main explanations for why poaching is endemic and so hard to eradicate in developing countries.

The first explanation is that poaching is driven by organised crime. A recent, widely publicised report by Born Free: “Ivory’s Curse: The Militarisation and Professionalisation of Poaching in Africa”, details the web of corruption linking crime cartels to government officials, army officers and businessmen.

In buying the services of the individuals they need to oil the wheels of their criminal enterprises, the cartels achieve a degree of high level cooperation between the public and private sectors that development agencies can only dream of.

Evidence of the inner workings of crime syndicates is, naturally, hard to come by. But there is plenty of evidence of the involvement of corrupt officials and police officers in the illegal wildlife trade, such as the recent arrest of two police officers in Kenya.

In its conclusions, the Born Free report in calls for anti-poaching investment to be strategically re-focused on the traffickers and cartels.

The second explanation is that poaching is driven by poverty. An earlierIUCN report on elephant poaching provides statistics showing that child mortality and other povert indicators are correlated to poaching intensity. The general conclusion is that poverty drives people to poach.

In this scenario poachers are victims of poverty, but they are also the actual killers of elephants and rhinos, and this is where most governments currently have to invest anti-poaching efforts. But in the longer-term the only sustainable solution is development, to alleviate the poverty that is the cause of poaching.

There is no reason to believe that these two very different explanations contradict one another. Both are almost certainly true. The trade in ivory and other illegal wildlife products is complex, diverse and constantly evolving, like any other trade. Like any other business enterprise, the crime cartels are constantly on the lookout for new opportunities to maximize their profits.

But: how are these two causes of poaching interconnected? In weighing up the evidence, we should bear the following points in mind:

(1) People are not criminals because they are poor. Africa is full of inspiring stories of community-based conservation and development initiatives: stories of poor people trying to make an honest living, using natural resources sustainably.

(2) You don’t have to be poor to be a criminal. Rhino horns are regularly the target of thieves in the UK as well – here also there is evidence that the crime cartels are in the background, masterminding operations.

(3) Any high-value, lightweight product is going to attract the attention of organised crime cartels, be it drugs, diamonds or illegal wildlife products.

Note that it is value of the product that matters, not whether or not it is intrinsically “illegal”. Cartels deal in prescription drugs as well as banned substances, in diamonds as well as rhino horns. This puts paid to arguments that legalising trade in rhino horn is the way to stop poaching.

Let’s look again at the conclusions of the IUCN report which shows a correlation between poaching and poverty. One of the first things that students of statistics are taught is that a correlation does not provide proof of causality. Poverty could be the cause of poaching, but the causal process could go in the other direction: could poaching could be the cause of poverty?

This might sound far-fetched, but poaching does contribute to poverty, by impoverishing communities of their natural capital which could be sustainably harvested or used through tourism for the benefit of wider society.

Poaching also introduces corruption and criminality into communities, leading to the incarceration of young working aged men. The insecurity brought by armed poachers threatens all investments – poachers are known to raid homes and markets for food, steal vehicles and even rape women.

The IUCN report finds that while areas where poverty is worst also see higher levels of elephant poaching, poor villagers do not benefit from the illicit ivory trade. Thus incomes for a few poachers are matched by threats to legitimate sources of income, driving the community greater into poverty and potentially into ever greater dependence on the poaching cartels.

I would argue that corruption what drives this vicious circle and is the root cause of the current poaching crisis. Corruption is the catalyst that binds poverty to organised crime and activates their full destructive potential.

Ingrained corruption in societies gives the cartels freedom of movement to exploit poor people and evade capture. Where corruption is already endemic, it is easy for criminals to further corrupt the system, taking advantage of existing networks developed, for example, for the drugs trade or human trafficking. Where there is no corruption, the cartels will take steps to introduce it.

Would a study of the statistics reveal a correlation between corruption and poaching in the MIKE countries? My guess is it would. Certainly there is evidence to support this hypothesis from one country, Botwana.

This country has long had a policy of zero tolerance for corruption. In the latest report issued by Transparency International, Botwana stands out on the map of Africa as having the continent’s lowest levels of corruption– lower than some European countries.

Botwana also has the largest population of elephants in Africa as well as the best record on poaching in Africa. In a desperate measure, Rhinos are now being moved to Botwana to put them beyond the reach of rampant poaching in neighbouring South Africa, where corruption is endemic at all levels of society.

Bungee-launch of a Falcon UAV unpiloted aircraft in a demonstration in Namibia.

Drones are being introduced to protect elephants and rhinoceroses in African national parks. The photograph shows the bungee-launch of a Falcon UAV unpiloted aircraft in a demonstration in Namibia. Photograph: © Falcon UAV launch – Helge Denker/WWF-Namibia

Governments and private donors, including the millionaire Howard Buffet, are rushing to Africa to support anti-poaching efforts with drones, helicopters, and more boots on the ground. This is a welcome sign of growing global awareness of the urgency of the situation. Wildlife protection agencies need state-of-the-art technology such as night vision equipment to combat the poachers, who are already using it.

But technology and manpower alone will not solve the problem so long as corruption is not dealt with. Anti-poaching investments in a country with good governance, like Botswana, will contribute towards effective surveillance and protection. But in corrupt countries, there is a real danger the money will end up funding the poachers instead.

In Kenya, there is chilling evidence of how sophisticated surveillance equipment like GPS locators, intended to protected rhinos, is being used by poachers, with the help of corrupt or frightened officials, to locate and target their prey.

The recent announcement of a substantial pay rise for Kenyan rangers protecting elephant and rhino sanctuaries is hugely welcome, a sign that the message that morale and commitment are as important as equipment is beginning to get through.

The corruption highlighted by Born Free Report is an insidious and largely unspoken and filthy threat, not only to African wildlife, but to society as a whole. But this threat is also an opportunity for environmentalists to achieve their long-held dream of mainstreaming the environment in national policy agendas.

To do so, local environmental activists must also become part of the mainstream, by uniting with other social forces in the broader struggle against corruption, and for a fair and just society where humans and animals alike are free to go about their legitimate business.

This article can be found in this link: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/africa-wild/2014/may/05/war-on-poaching-cannot-be-won-unless-we-take-on-corruption

Kenya: Alert Over Poaching in Narok

By Kiplang’at Kirui, The Star

11 April 2014

NAROK County Commissioner Farah Kassim has said the security agencies were on high alert following various incidences of wildlife poaching in the recent past.

Kassim said security apparatus were ready to deal ruthlessly with poachers who have claimed a number of endangered species of animals in the world-famous Maasai Mara Game reserve and in private conservancies in the county.

Addressing media in his office yesterday, Kassim said most of the killings were being executed with the use of guns and poisoned arrows and spears, an indication that the locals were involved.

He urged the public to volunteer information every time such incidences occur in order to have the culprits arrested.

The administrator revealed that some three suspects were facing charges in court over the killing of two elephants in the Mara two weeks ago.

A male black rhino was also killed at Paradise plains in Musiala Conservancy last month raising concerns about the safety of our wildlife with several hundreds of kilogrammes of zebra meat also being nabbed during the month.

Alsothe police recovered three elephant tusks worth Sh1.4million in a house near Narok town on Tuesday.

This comes as Conservationists voice concern over the survival of elephants and other endangered species in the world famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve and the conservancies around it after Kenya Wildlife Service reported that 10 jumbos had been killed by poachers in the area in the last five months.

The elephant tusks and the rhino horns are said to be on high demand in some Asian countries where they are said to be used to make various ornaments and are said to also be of medicinal value.

Article at the following link:

Hong Kong customs reports 40 pct more smuggling cases in 2013

Xinhua
January 30, 2014

Hong Kong’s customs authority on Wednesday revealed that it had detected a total of 282 smuggling cases in 2013, an increase of about 40 percent compared with 2012.

The commissioner of Hong Kong’s Customs and Excise, Clement Cheung, said that the total seizures of the smuggling cases worth 652 million HK dollars ($83.97 million), an increase of 90 percent.

Cheung said as smuggling between China’s mainland and Hong Kong had been on the rise and more complicated, the customs restructured its internal organs in early 2013 to improve effectiveness of joint operations with the mainland and overseas law enforcement agencies.

Since the implementation of export control on powdered formula for infants and young children in March 2013, about 4,300 cases have been detected with more than 33,000 kg of powdered formula seized at various customs control points as of the end of last year.

Cheung said that the department would continue to liaise closely with its mainland counterpart and spare no efforts in combating parallel trading activities.

For anti-narcotics work, the authority detected a total of 518 cases and seized 445 kg of various kinds of drugs, 75 percent of which were detected at Hong Kong International Airport. As for the cases involving controlled chemicals used for drug manufacturing, the number of cases increased two times over 2012 to 33, the majority of which were related to pseudoephedrine.

Cheung said the department would set up a dedicated team to strengthen external liaison and intelligence exchange for maintaining high enforcement effectiveness.

On endangered species, 192 cases involving ivory tusks and ivory products, rhino horns, leopard skin, pangolin carcass and scale and dried sea horses were detected in 2013.

The quantity and value of ivory tusks seized in 2013 increased by 43 percent and 115 percent respectively compared with those of 2012, which proves Hong Kong’s dedication and perseverance in shouldering its international obligations, Cheung said.

On intellectual property rights protection, the number of infringement cases detected increased by 30 percent to 720, of which 88 percent involved counterfeit goods.

Cheung said with the growing popularity of the Internet and rapid growth of e-commerce, the cases of online sale of counterfeit goods and that of delivering infringing goods by courier services surged by 1.7 and 1.5 times respectively.

The department has strengthened communication with Hong Kong Post and is liaising with the logistics industry to address the issue at source, he said.

Deputy commissioner of the department, Luke Au Yeung, said that the department would set up a dedicated team to foster liaison and intelligence exchange with the mainland and overseas enforcement agencies to combat transnational drugs trafficking.

Enforcement at source would be able to curb the inflow of drugs to Hong Kong or other destinations via Hong Kong, further enhancing the department’s drug detection capability at the Hong Kong International Airport and land boundary control points, he said.