Tag Archives: Vietnam

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

Huge Haul of Smuggled Ivory Came From Kenya (Cambodia)

By Khy Sovuthy and Simon Henderson, The Cambodia Daily

May 23, 2014
The three-ton haul of illegal elephant ivory seized by port officials on May 9 originated in Kenya and was then shipped through Malaysia to Cambodia in two freight containers, the chief of Sihanoukville Autonomous Port’s customs and excise department said Thursday.

The General Department of Customs held a press conference Thursday to provide the first update since May 12 on the investigation into Cambodia’s biggest ever seizure of illegal ivory. But customs officials did not mention whether the investigation had identified any person or persons responsible for the smuggled ivory, and declined to respond to questions on the identity of the smugglers.

“After investigating this case we have discovered that the 3,008 kg of ivory was transported from Kenya in Africa,” Kin Ly, the head of the Sihanoukville port’s customs and excise department, told reporters.

He explained that port authorities were alerted about the containers by the regional intelligence liaison office of the Customs Enforcement Network, a global intelligence service monitoring shipping cargo.

The containers were supposed to be carrying beans from Malaysia, but a scan after their arrival at Sihanoukville revealed a cargo of more than 500 elephant tusks.

Most of the elephant tusks smuggled through Southeast Asia are bound for Vietnam and China, which have lucrative black markets for ivory, and Bun Chiv, deputy chief of the port’s customs office, said Thursday that the final destination of the Kenyan ivory was almost certainly not Cambodia.

“Cambodia was not the destination country for this ivory,” he said.

Neither he nor Mr. Ly would answer questions regarding the shipping company that consigned the containers, Olair Worldwide Logistics, which has two office listings in Phnom Penh and one in Sihanoukville.

The company is registered with the Ministry of Commerce as having three shareholders: Seang Sokhorn, Eang Chantha and Huy Soly.

Neither the company nor the shareholders could be reached Thursday.

Vietnam in two minds about destructing wildlife contraband

Tuoitrenews
March 31, 2014

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Vietnamese authorities now have a total of 27 tons of elephant tusks and hundreds of kilograms of rhino horn which were confiscated from wildlife traffickers.

In response to this information, Assoc. Prof. Dr Pham Van Luc, chairman of the Scientific Council of the Vietnam National Museum of Nature, said the museum is currently keeping large quantities of ivory tusks, rhino horns, tortoise scales, and many animal parts of precious and rare species.

Of these items, only a small quantity is on display, while the rest are carefully preserved in warehouses, Dr. Luc said.

As a rule, concerned agencies must destroy such products to emphasize their disapproval of wildlife trafficking.

However, given that the total material value of these items is very high, local competent bodies are considering how to handle them properly, Dr. Luc said.

The council has come up with the idea that such items could be processed to make souvenirs, but such an act would violate international conventions as well as Vietnamese regulations pertaining to the conservation and protection of wildlife, Dr. Luc added.

Regarding this matter, on March 24, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development suggested that ivory tusks, rhino horns, and tiger bones should be destroyed in accordance with Vietnam’s ban on the trade in wildlife.

“We hope a meeting will be held so that concerned agencies can discuss the issue and reach a final decision on how to handle the seized items,” he said, following the ministry’s suggestion.

Meanwhile, Prof. Dr. Dang Huy Huynh, chairman of the Vietnam Animal Association, said he has a special interest in whether ivory tusks and rhino horns should be destroyed or stored.

The destruction of such wildlife would be a waste because it is worth a lot of money, which could be used to promote the conservation of wildlife, said Dr. Huynh.

“But it is our association’s view to support the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s suggestion to destroy illegal goods,” Dr. Huynh added.

Last month, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung issued a directive, ordering a fierce combat against trafficking in rare and endangered animals or their parts to recover the country’s poor reputation regarding the protection of its wildlife.

The directive was made following the recent discovery of trafficking in endangered and rare wild animals in Vietnam, including rhino horn, African elephant tusks, and tigers.

The premier asked concerned agencies to conduct more patrols and inspections in border areas, international airports, and ports to help detect and prevent wildlife trafficking.

Cambodia seizes 263 kg of ivory tusks near Vietnam border

Shanghai Daily
Mar 21,2014

PHNOM PENH, March 21 (Xinhua) — The Cambodian authorities on Friday seized 77 pieces of ivory tusks in equivalent to 263 kg in eastern Svay Rieng province bordering Vietnam, Provincial Military Police Chief San Bunthan confirmed.

The seizure came after someone had tipped the authorities off that a van was carrying ivory tusks for Vietnam, he said, adding that the van was intercepted about 10 km from the border. “We seized the elephant tusks in 10 suitcases hidden in the van as the driver had escaped,” he told Xinhua, adding that it was unknown from which country the tusks were smuggled into Cambodia.

“We just know that smugglers had tried to export them to Vietnam,” he said.

Last month, customs officers arrested two Vietnamese men at the Siem Reap International Airport for smuggling 79.5 kg haul of illegal elephant tusks. They confessed that they brought those tusks from Angola and attempted to take them to Hanoi City of Vietnam.

The market price of ivory is over 2,200 U.S. dollars per kg and has more than doubled in the past five years, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Chinese border guards intercept £80,000 of ivory

Leya Musa, Wildlife News

January 13, 2014

Border guards in the Chinese province of Fangchenggang become suspicious of a pick up truck after they spotted the driver acting nervously. After taking a closer look at the vehicle they found a box strapped under the van filled with ivory tusks worth over £80,000.

The guards stumbled on the haul on 8th February while they were operating at a routine check-point. The Fangchenggang province borders with Vietnam in the south of China.

When the border guards stopped the vehicle for the check the driver became agitated and failed to provide sufficient answers being asked by the guards.

The guards decided a closer look at the vehicle was necessary and after crawling under the pick-up they discovered the box which was filled with 35 tusks.

The total weight of the ivory was 275kg and the largest of the tusks measured 1.5m long.

The discovery came just 2 days after China destroyed 6.1 tonnes of ivory in a demonstration of its commitment to fighting the illegal trade in ivory.

Connect the dots: infant mortality, graft and elephant poaching

 

A herd of elephants gather at a watering hole inside Hwange National Park, about 840 km (521 miles) outside Harare

Ed Stoddard

Reuters 7:47 a.m. CST, January 2, 2014

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – What do infant mortality and elephant poaching have in common? Plenty, according to conservation groups.

Researchers have for the first time made clear connections between elephant poaching in Africa, which has been surging to meet soaring ivory demand in Asia, and factors such as poverty, as shown by high rates of child deaths, and corruption.

These links have always been suspected but never pinned down with hard data.

The findings come in a report prepared for an African elephant summit in Botswana in December by groups including TRAFFIC, which tracks the global trade in wildlife products, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Areas where child mortality and poverty are worst also see higher levels of elephant poaching, but poor villagers typically do not benefit from the illicit ivory trade.

In this regard, the ivory trade – with its long and blood-stained history – is similar to other extractive industries in Africa, which have been exploited to meet demand elsewhere with few rewards for local people.

Demand for ivory – used for carvings and valued for millennia for its color and texture – has been rising sharply in newly affluent Asian countries, notably China, fuelling a new wave of elephant slaughter.

Following a decline in the 1990s, poaching of the world’s largest land mammal has risen dramatically and in 2012 an estimated 15,000 elephants were illegally killed at 42 sites in Africa monitored by MIKE – the U.N.-backed program for Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants.

Since 2010, elephant poaching levels in Africa have exceeded 5 percent of the total population – a tipping point because killings are now outpacing the animals’ birth rate.

In a related trend, the killing of rhinos for their horns – used in traditional medicine in Vietnam and China – has also soared, notably in South Africa, home to the vast majority of the animals.

According to South African government statistics, as of December 19, a record 946 rhinos had been poached in the country in 2013, compared to 668 in all of 2012.

POVERTY PROXY

The report found a striking link between infant mortality rates – measured by the number of deaths of infants under one year old per 10,000 live births – and the illegal killing of elephants.

“Human infant mortality, which is interpreted as a proxy for poverty, is the single strongest site-level correlate … with sites suffering from higher levels of poverty experiencing higher levels of elephant poaching,” the report said.

The relationship between poverty and poaching – in Africa and elsewhere – has long been assumed because wildlife is a source of food or money for impoverished rural dwellers.

But links between measurements of poverty and living standards, such as infant mortality, and the illicit killing of elephants, have not been made before with the kind of clarity that researchers have found in the data over the past two years.

Julian Blanc, a co-author of the study and acting coordinator for MIKE, told Reuters infant mortality was the best barometer for poverty because data for it, based on work by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network, exists at local levels.

It can therefore be linked to localized incidents of elephant poaching, making it far more useful than other measurements such as per capita GDP, which can give a skewed picture, especially in countries with high levels of inequality.

Ziama in Guinea, Niassa in Mozambique, and Bangassou in Central African Republic were the three areas covered in the report with the highest rates of infant mortality, ranging from 1,240 to almost 1,400 deaths per 10,000 live births.

All three areas also had extremely high levels of elephant poaching. In the case of Ziama, its elephant population is small but has been reduced by over half in the past few years.

The next four areas in the infant mortality rankings were all found in Democratic Republic of Congo.

The report also found, using Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, that at the national level “high poaching levels are more prevalent in countries where governance is weaker, and vice versa”.

Poverty and governance are the “enabling” factors for poaching, with consumer demand the other key link in the chain.

Poor governance and high poverty levels overlap between countries such as Congo and Central African Republic, which are also areas where local people see little value in elephant populations.

“In many parts of Africa people living with elephants derive no benefits from that coexistence and only bear costs in terms of crop damage, injury or death,” Blanc said in a telephone interview from his Nairobi base.

TROPICAL, LAND-LOCKED

Many of these countries – such as Central African Republic – also suffer from the development curses of having tropical climates, which impose the heavy disease burden seen in their infant mortality rates, and being landlocked, which imposes economic costs.

Still, that does not mean that wildlife in such places could not be utilized in a way that might bring economic benefits. Heavily forested and tropical Gabon, for example, is building a wildlife tourist industry aimed at the more adventurous.

But elsewhere in central Africa, elephants, a natural resource that could lift rural economies in the form of eco-tourism, or even a regulated ivory trade down the road, are being exterminated, depriving future generations of potential income.

Such poverty traps serve as a sobering reminder, against the backdrop of the “Africa Rising” narrative, that much of the world’s poorest continent is still being excluded from the region’s dynamic economic growth and investment story.

(Editing by Giles Elgood)

The original article can be found in this article: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-rt-us-africa-investment-20140102,0,6592799.story

 

Ivory smugglers sentenced in Vietnam (Mozambique ivory)

Justin King
Dec 13, 2013

Ho Chi Minh City – A Vietnamese court sentenced two men to three years in prison for their role in smuggling ivory weighing 2,400 kilograms into the nation from Singapore. The tusks originated in Mozambique. The trial lasted one day.
The two men were convicted of illegally transporting goods over the border, under Vietnam’s general smuggling provision. The charges stem from a June shipment that was declared as salt cowhide.
Due to the declared contents of the shipment, it was held in animal quarantine. The shipment passed inspection, however the smugglers believed the delay was a trap and did not proceed with their plan and continue customs procedures. Instead, the smugglers said the seller in Singapore was going to sell it to another client. This failure to continue with the customs process led to an inspection of the contents.
Upon inspection, agents found 158 pieces of ivory tusks. The two men confessed.
Some activists groups have claimed the sentence too lenient. However, Human Rights Watch describes Vietnamese prison conditions on their website
Prison conditions are harsh and even life threatening. During pretrial detention-which can last more than a year-prisoners are often placed in solitary confinement in dark, cramped, unsanitary cells, with no bedding or mosquito nets. Convicted prisoners must perform hard labor, sometimes under hazardous conditions.
These conditions led to a riot at Xuan Loc jail in July.
International seizures of poached Ivory are at the highest levels in 25 years, with more than 40 tonnes being seized so far this year. The price for the substance remains relatively stable at $770 -$1200 per kilogram, making the shipment worth more than $2 million (US).

The elephant emergency: Summit to be held in Botswana

Katie de Klee, Daily Maverick

18 Nov 2013

The African elephant is the world’s biggest land mammal; walking the earth at a dignified pace, the elephant has earned its place in the folklore and legend of many cultures. But this impressive creature is being slaughtered at alarming rate for its ivory: it is estimated one elephant is killed every 15 minutes. Check the time now; mark the moment the next grey giant falls. An emergency summit addressing the problems of the illegal ivory is to be held in Gaborone, Botswana at the beginning of December.

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President Ian Khama of Botswana will open the summit, and Heads of State and representatives of African elephant range countries will be in attendance, along with high-level representatives from transit and destination countries.

The summit will aim to address the following topics: penalties for ivory trading, law enforcement, population monitoring and public awareness.

A study conducted by the Conservation Action Trust (CAT) found that there were radical differences in the legislation and penalties surrounding poaching in African countries. Punishment must be seen to outweigh the potential financial rewards of the illegal ivory trade, acknowledging the severity of the crime and acting as a real deterrent. Maximum and equivalent penalties should apply in all countries.

National task forces should be formed and an increase in law enforcement and wildlife rangers should be facilitated. Ivory poachers are now often part of organised, armed networks, better equipped and connected than the rangers trying to stop them. More worryingly, the money from the poaching is increasingly often going towards armed rebellions and terrorism. The recent attack on the Nairobi mall by terrorist group al-Shabaab was partly funded by the illegal ivory trade.

The threat to national and international security would also be addressed by better intelligence sharing amongst States, another issue that will be given some time for discussion in Gaborone.

The IUCN will also propose that there needs to be better elephant population monitoring at national levels, and more effort should be put into raising public awareness.

Although the summit calls for global action, eight countries have been identified as being central to recent surges in elephant poaching. These countries are source countries Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, transit countries Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines, and destination countries Thailand and China. These countries are known as the ‘gang of eight’.

If satisfactory action is not taken by these eight countries to halt the trade of illegal ivory, the IUCN is suggesting heavy trade sanctions on all wildlife products – including the lucrative orchid and crocodile skin industries. Tourism is one of the biggest industries in many African nations, and the heads of these states must be shown that the greatest economic value comes from the living beast, and not from its by-products.

At the beginning of the last century there were 10 million African elephants on earth. Now there may be as few as 400,000. According to IUCN, the number of elephants killed has doubled in the last decade. Southern Africa is their stronghold, but at the rate they’re being killed, in 50 years’ time there won’t be one wild elephant left. That would be an unforgivable indictment on our species.

$1 million reward for help dismantling wildlife trafficking gang

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald
November 14, 2013

A day before federal wildlife officials are set to send a message to poachers by destroying six tons of ivory, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced a $1-million reward program to combat the illegal wildlife trafficking trade.

The United States is prepared to pay up to $1 million for information leading to the dismantling of the Laos-based Xaysavang Network, considered one of the world’s most prolific organized crime groups trafficking wildlife, Kerry said.

The group has affiliates in Africa and Asia,, where skyrocketing demand for ivory and rhino horns in Vietnam and China have spawned a resurgence in illicit wildlife trafficking.

The gang has been linked to several major seizures of illegal wildlife products, including elephant ivory and rhino horns, as well as other endangered species animals, according to U.S. State Department officials.

“The involvement of sophisticated transnational criminal organizations in wildlife trafficking perpetuates corruption, threatens the rule of law and border security in fragile regions, and destabilizes communities that depend on wildlife for biodiversity and eco-tourism,” Kerry said. “Profits from wildlife trafficking, estimated at $8-10 billion per year, fund other illicit activities such as narcotics, arms and human trafficking.”

Poachers have become smarter, and better equipped as they span the African savannah in search of the trophies.

U.S. intelligence agencies also have linked revenues from illegal ivory to terrorists groups, according to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who announced a campaign with daughter Chelsea to save Africa’s elephants from extinction.On Thursday, the U.S. plans to destroy a 25-year stockpile of confiscated ivory that it has been warehousing near Denver. The ivory, worth millions on the black market, will be fed into a rock-crushing machine. By grinding the ivory, U.S. authorities hope to send a message to poachers and transnational crime organizations that the illicit gains have no value.

The U.S. also hopes to encourage other countries like Kenya, which has close to 100 tons of currently under lock and key, to follow suit. Twice in recent history Kenya has burned ivory. But the destruction of ivory remains controversial, even as conservation groups like the African Wildlife Foundation join in urging countries to do so.

“Destroying all stockpiled ivory and implementing domestic moratoria on ivory trade will send a message to buyers, traffickers, and suppliers of ivory that it is no longer a tradable commodity,” the conservation group said Wednesday. “It will remove the economic incentives that drive poaching and prevent illegal ivory from being trafficked under cover of the legalized trade—in effect wiping out the illicit ivory marketplace.”

Kenya has said destroying its stockpile isn’t a top priority. However, stopping poaching syndicates, which are pushing Africa’s elephants and rhinos to the brink of extinction is, officials say.

“We have to get ivory out of trade so that we can better identify and take enforcement actions against illicit trade,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said recently at a briefing by President’s Task Force on Combating Wildlife Trafficking.

The Obama administration moved to add the southern white rhino — the last rhino not protected — to the U.S. endangered species list this past summer.

It also has committed to intensify training of African game officers and promote an anti-poaching campaign in the United States.

Obama also issued an executive order establishing a Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking, which said the killing of protected species and trafficking was an escalating “international crisis.”

“We need to reduce demand for these illicit products,” Ashe said. “And we need to do that here at home, and we need to that in conjunction with our foreign partners in countries like China and Thailand and Vietnam and the countries where we’re seeing these large and growing demands for these products.”

While ivory is considered ‘white gold,” rhino horn is considered more valuable than gold. It sells for close to $30,000 a pound — as much as $390,000 for the horns of a single white rhino — on the black market. In Vietnam, many believe that powder from rhino horns – made out of the same material as fingernails – cures cancer and other ailments, beliefs scientists dispute.

The United States is the second-largest consumer of illegally trafficked wildlife products, said Robert Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources. For instance, Miami, with its proximity to Latin America, has been considered a busy port for entry of wildlife such as venomous reptiles, exotic birds, even tigers, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The legislation governing the newly announced rewards program is the Department of State Rewards Program Update and Technical Corrections Act of 2012. It was one of the last legislations sponsored by Kerry as a senator. It was signed by Obama and became law Jan. 15, while Kerry awaited confirmation.

Anyone with information on the members of the Xaysavang Network or illegal activities are being asked to contact the rewards hotline in Laos at +856 21 219565 and/or by email at [email protected]. All communications are strictly confidential. Rewards and amounts will be considered on a case-by-case basis, according to the State Department.

Article at the following link:
http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/13/v-fullstory/3751726/1-million-reward-for-help-dismantling.html#storylink=cpy

Vietnam Authorities Seizes 2 Tonnes of Ivory From China-Bound Ship

Vietnamese authorities seized around two tonnes of elephant tusks from a ship which took off from Malaysia, from the Hai Phong province, state media reported on Wednesday.

The import was initially thought to be sea shells by customs officials in Malaysia. After a thorough examination in Vietnam, the odd-looking container revealed an assortment of ivory, cut into three to four pieces.

“We discovered suspicious signs about the container. We decided to scan and open it and discovered the elephant tusks hidden inside packages of sea shells,” said Nguyen Kien Giang, of Hai Phong Customs, as reported by the IOL news agency.

According to authorities, the tusks were destined for China where such objects are much in demand for medical and decorative purposes. At times these objects also find its way to Vietnam’s market and are priced between $770 and $1200 per kilogram locally, according to World Wide Fund for Nature.

This is the second case of ivory seize within the region in a fortnight. On 3 October, around one tonne of elephant tusks were hauled from Hong Kong. The shipment from Cote d’lvoire, West Africa, transited through a Malaysian port and carried an estimated sale price of US$1.49 million.

Kanitha Krishnasamy, wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic South-East Asia senior programme officer, expressed concern over the use of Malaysian ports for illegal imports of ivory.

“More worrying is that this is the second ivory seizure involving Malaysia in the last two weeks, which points to the frequency of use of our ports for this purpose. We urge Malaysian authorities to contact their counterparts in Vietnam urgently to identify the parties behind the shipment,” Malaysia must also increase communications with other transit and export countries to tackle the trade from an international source-to-market approach,” Kanitha said.

Ivory sale has been banned ever since 1989 but reports of major smuggling have grown over time mostly en route from Africa to Asia, where there is a significant demand of the product in illegal markets.