Tag Archives: rhinos

Illegal wildlife trade undermines security across nations

By PrairieDogPress

Mar 04, 2014

In the lead-up to Monday’s first-ever World Wildlife Day sanctioned by the United Nations, President Barack Obama laid out a three-pronged plan in mid-February to fight poaching, illegal trade of ivory and other animal parts; not only to stop needless slaughter of imperiled wildlife, but to stem corruption.

Excerpt from Obama’s statement from the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking letter said:

“Like other forms of illicit trade, wildlife trafficking undermines security across nations. Well-armed, well-equipped, and well-organized networks of criminals and corrupt officials exploit porous borders and weak institutions to profit from trading in poached wildlife. Record high demand for wildlife products, coupled with inadequate preventative measures and weak institutions has resulted in an explosion of illicit trade in wildlife in recent years.”

In addition, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell and Attorney General Eric Holder, worked together and penned an op-ed published in National Geographic March 3, to coincide with the first World Wildlife Day.

They warned of threats by organized criminal rings that show no mercy toward animal or human life, since park rangers have been murdered by the dozens trying to protect majestic wildlife, like rhinos and  elephants, from being killed and butchered.

A vast underground network of sophisticated “nefarious criminal elements” continues to grow their million-dollar business, which threatens national economies, the integrity of park, port and court officials, while whole communities fear for their lives.

Furthermore, iconic wildlife—particularly elephants, being killed at an estimated rate of sometimes 95 per day—face extinction in the evolutionary blink of an eye.

Time is urgent, wrote Kerry, Jewell and Holder:

“We must act now. Last month, the President announced his National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. Our three co-chairing agencies—the Departments of State, Justice, and Interior—are leading the President’s whole-of-government fight against wildlife trafficking by pursuing a three-pronged strategy: strengthening domestic and global enforcement; reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife at home and abroad; and strengthening partnerships internationally and domestically with local communities, NGOs, private industry, and others to combat wildlife poaching and illegal trade.”

Meanwhile, the US, Hong Kong, Kenya, Gabon, Chad, France and China are among nations that have embarked on an ivory-destruction campaign that has resulted in tons of illegal ivory being ground to dust, burned or otherwise eliminated from the possibility of theft.

In related news, the US has the only animal forensic lab in the world located in Ashland, Ore., which is capable of using high-tech crime scene investigation methods to track down wildlife killers.

The US Fish and Wildlife Forensic Laboratory utilizes a crack team of scientists who use investigative measures similar to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, including DNA-gathering and fingerprint recovery.

“In a wildlife crime laboratory your evidence is often a carcass,” said Ken Goddard, the lab‘s director in a previous National Geographic interview. “We get pieces and parts—hides, furs, shoes, purses, ivory carvings and a lot of caviar. When you start getting into the small pieces; strips of leather for watch band, chunks of meat, carvings of ivory, you’ve lost all those species-defining characteristics that made that evidence obviously from an elephant or a bear, for example.”

The lab recently destroyed its cache of ivory tusks held in evidence.

The US and China are huge markets for ivory products, but there are seemingly limitless world marketplaces imbued with things made of animal fur, skin, feathers and entrails that could be from endangered wildlife.

So, everyone is encouraged to do their part and refrain from buying ivory jewelry or trinkets, tiger rugs, shark fin soup, medicinal products made from bear bile or anything else suspicious.

Only mankind can help stop this disgrace of humanity.

CJ Mutunga welcomes new anti-poaching law

BY ELIJAH CHEMOBO, The Star
January 31, 2014
The Judiciary has thrown its weight behind the punitive Wildlife and Conservation Act, which sets a maximum life imprisonment or a fine of Sh20 million for poachers.

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said the Kenya Wildlife Service, Judiciary and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will now collaborate to end poaching.

“With new laws and effective inter-agency cooperation, we will nab and jail the ivory dealers. This will stem the flow of ivory and quickly secure our elephants and rhinos,” said Dr Mutunga as he officially opened the dialogue meeting on wildlife crimes in Nairobi on Wednesday. Mutunga said his office is committed to ensure the reforms succeed. He said there is no doubt the new law and reforms court reforms will transform the wildlife crime situation in Kenya.

Environment Secretary Judy Wakhungu said the penalties will make poaching non-profitable.She said the wildlife sector is a key pillar of Kenya’s economy as it is the backbone of the tourism industry. “We have now classified wildlife crimes as economic crimes so that they attract stiff punishments for those involved,” Wakhungu said.

She said they will also work closely with the Judiciary in understanding the gravity of wildlife related crimes. “The custodial sentences and fines will now reflect the damage that the illicit trade brings to the wellbeing of Kenya,” Wakhungu said.

The first casualty of the new law is a Chinese Tang Jian, who was fined Sh20 million after he was caught with ivory weighing 3.4kg at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. If he is unable to pay the fine, he will be jailed for seven years.

Wakhungu said Kenya is a source and a transit destination for ivory and other illicit wildlife products. She said her Ministry, the Judiciary and related stakeholders will work with the international community to ensure that demand for wildlife products is eliminated.

Chinese Embassy in Kenya tells its citizens involvement in illegal wildlife trade is not acceptable

TRAFFIC
January 24, 2014

Nairobi, Kenya, 24th January 2014—China’s Embassy in Nairobi last week hosted an event for Chinese businesses and citizens based in Africa to address the growing issue of illegal wildlife trade and their government’s intention to co-operate with local authorities to investigate, arrest and prosecute offenders.

In 2013 China entered into a partnership with the UN Environment Program to help scale up the fight against elephant poaching in Africa specifically, but also views many other aspects of Africa’s wildlife trade as problematic, including the plight of rhinos and pangolins.

This was the first embassy event in the campaign, which involved outreach to State-owned enterprises as well as independent Chinese nationals living in Kenya. More than 80 members of the local Chinese community attended, including influential business leaders, and the highly successful event was widely reported in local media.

China’s Acting Ambassador in Kenya, Mr Tian Lin, in his keynote speech, urged the Chinese community in Africa to obey the national legislation of their African host countries, noting it was what they would expect of anyone visiting China.

Wan Ziming, Director of Enforcement and Training at the Endangered Species Office of the State Forestry Administration of China, told those present: “The Chinese government will not relent in its support for the fight against illegal trade of wildlife products.”

He also spoke of China’s role in helping implement international obligations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and of the scaled-up law enforcement efforts currently being implemented in China and globally in support of them.

Bonaventure Ebayi, Director of the Lusaka Agreement Task Force, spoke about the role of the Task Force, levels of wildlife crime in Africa and the new hard-hitting legislation with deterrent penalties recently introduced in Kenya.

TRAFFIC’s Tom Milliken noted that direct Chinese investment in Africa is currently growing by over 20% annually and that China-Africa trade was nearly USD250 billion in 2013.

“Africa’s economic future is now intimately linked with Chinese investment.  The challenge is to make it a win-win of sustainable development, preventing negative impacts on conservation areas with high biodiversity values and halting illicit trade in wildlife products, particularly elephant ivory and rhino horn.”

He said: “Coming hot on the heels of China’s unprecedented ivory destruction event earlier this month, this Africa-based outreach initiative is further evidence that China has made a serious commitment and desires to do the right thing to help address wildlife trafficking.”

TRAFFIC is also supporting initiatives by the government and private sector in China to help curb the demand for illicit wildlife products. This includes messaging at Guangzhou airport targeting the awareness of Chinese travellers going to Africa, as well as a research programme to understand the motivations of illegal wildlife product consumers that will underpin long-term demand reduction efforts.

Kenya Set to Launch Anti-Poaching Unit to Save Wildlife

Xinhua

August 5, 2013
The Kenyan government has formed an inter-agency elite unit to fight rampant poaching across the East African nation, officials confirmed on Monday.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) spokesman Paul Mbugua said the 120- member anti-poaching squad consisting personnel drawn from various government agencies will be unveiled by the Environment, Water and Natural Resources Cabinet secretary Professor Judi Wakhungu on Thursday.

“The government has formed an inter-agency elite crack unit to fight poaching. The unit will be launched possiblyon Thursday to help boost fight against poaching in frontline  areas which have been affected by poaching such as Tsavo,” Mbugua told Xinhua by telephone on Monday.

The move comes after the anti-poaching campaign “Hands off our Elephants” emphasizing conserving elephant for posterity carried out by government and conservationists.

According to statistics from the KWS, elephant poaching has grown consistently over the last three years during which 829 elephants were killed. Last year, Kenya lost 384 elephants to poachers compared to 278 in 2011 and 177 in 2010. The rest is estimated to be eliminated in the next 10 years unless stronger counter-poaching measures are taken.

Conservationists say rising demand for ivory and rhino horn in Asia is the main reason causing the poaching crisis across Africa, as the continent has witnessed loss of over 1,000 rhinos in the last 18 months.

Kenya has been identified as one of the leading transit routes for smuggling ivory out of Africa. KWS estimates that more than eight tones of raw and worked ivory have been seized since 2009.

The East African nation has also lost 21 rhinos and 117 elephants to poachers since the beginning of 2013. Out of these elephants, the spokesman said, 37 were killed in protected areas while 80 were outside protected areas.

Mbugua believed “The anti-poaching crack unit will be a big plus for KWS since it will help boost our fight against poachers.”

KWS boss wants life terms for poachers (Kenya)

NICHOLAS WAMALWA

August 5, 2013

Kenya Wildlife Services wants the Wildlife Bill amended to provide for life imprisonment of those who kill elephants and rhinos.

The Bill is due to be debated in the National Assembly.

Managing Director William Kiprono said the two animal species are threatened with extinction because of poaching.

The Bill  requires prescribes a fine of between Sh10 million to Sh 14 million for guilty of killing the animals.

Kiprono was addressing the press in Kitale on Saturday after meeting the County security team to discuss ways of saving the animals from poachers

“It is regretting that crime on animals has increased, we want to combine efforts in protecting our wildlife “he said.

He said the country earns between sh100billion to 120 billion in tourism adding 80 percent of the income is generated by wildlife sector.

The wildlife sector, he said, has employed more than 300,000 Kenyans and if wildlife is not protected, Kenyans are likely to lack the jobs and the country may lose the income.

In the new wildlife Bill, the director said the animal human conflict is well catered for adding if an animal kills or destroys the property of a person, then the owners of the crops will adequately be  well compensated.