Tag Archives: wildlife

Hands Off Our Elephants, says Kenya’s First Lady

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta launches anti-poaching campaign dubbed “Hands Off Our Elephants”http://http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2013/07/hands-off-our-elephants-says-first-lady/

Zimbabwe: Conservancy ‘Decimated’ By Land Invaders

Zimbabwe: Conservancy ‘Decimated’ By Land Invaders

Alex Bell, SW Radio Africa

30 September 2011

Land invasions at the Chiredzi River Conservancy are escalating out of control, with warnings that the area faces catastrophe if nothing is done to stop the destruction.

The Conservancy forms part of the Trans Frontier Conservation Area which is the world’s largest inter-regional conservation park, encompassing land from Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. But in Zimbabwe lawlessness and the illegal seizure of land means areas like the Chiredzi River Conservancy are being destroyed.

Hundreds of land invaders have moved into the Conservancy and have caused serious damage to the delicate ecosystem there. The invaders have been tearing down trees, destroying the foliage and poaching the animals in the conservancy, in a surge of destruction that could be irreparable.

Charles Taffs, the President of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), told SW Radio Africa on Friday that they are “hugely concerned,” especially regarding the “tragedy facing the elephant herd there.” He explained that a herd of 70 elephants are being harassed, threatened and hunted by the land invaders, with no intervention from the government.

“The animals’ territory is being completely taken over. Wherever they go they get chased by people with burning sticks and dogs. They can’t even get a drink of water because their watering holes have been polluted by people using the water to wash,” Taffs explained.

Some of the elephants have already been slaughtered, and Taffs warned that they face being wiped out if no one intervenes. He explained that local councils have now threatened to kill the animals, because they are leaving their territory in search of safety, putting them on the path of local villages.

“This is totally out of control and everything is being totally destroyed. It destroys the area, it destroys tourism, and it destroys whatever reputation Zimbabwe might have. It is like the land reform programme all over again in that no one has won, everyone has lost,” Taffs said.

SW Radio Africa has also been told that the rapid clearing of the conservation areas is causing serious environmental degradation, including severe erosion, massive deforestation, destructive fires, along with the rampant poaching. The land invaders are said to be using poison, snares and dogs to hunt for game, causing extreme suffering to the wildlife.

“The coalition government cannot allow the lawlessness and destruction of Zimbabwe’s heritage, our future and that of our children to continue. It is critical that they now take a stand, resolve the escalating crisis and restore the rule of law,” Taffs said.

You can see this article here

WildlifeDirect News – No 18, March 2010

Following severe drought in Kenya late last year that was particularly harsh on Amboseli National Park in southern part of the country, there was an estimated 80% loss in herbivore numbers in this Park. As a result, lions and other predators that rely on this herbivore population for food have been having a rough time.

To feed themselves and their offspring in light of the decline in prey, they have been raiding cattle bomas and killing livestock. Tension has been mounting and retaliatory lion hunting outings are being carried out by the local Maasai people much more often than before the drought.

To try and diffuse the high human-wildlife tension in the area, the Kenya Wildlife Service has started moving zebras and wildebeests from Soysambu Conservancy in Naivasha to the Amboseli National Park in order to restock the prey population and bring about a balance in the ecosystem. This is one of the stories that we have in this month’s issue of WildlifeDirect News.

We also have the good news of the return of Wild Dogs to the Serengeti after a 20-year absence and the sad news of the death of Mountain Gorilla infant Sekanabo from injuries associated with snaring. We also have a list of other important blog posts coming from the conservation frontline in the last month

Kenya Moves Zebras to Amboseli

During the drought that ravaged this land late last year, many herbivores either died or moved away leaving lions and large predators without much prey. This has resulted in more frequent predation on Maasai cattle. The consequent threat of retaliatory killing of predators by the Maasai has been mounting to highly tense levels.

The KWS recons that the move will provide natural prey for large predators, thus reducing attacks on cattle and eventually diffusing the threat of retaliatory killings.

Paula was on site this weekend and took some amazing pictures of Day 20 of the translocation exercise and posted them on Baraza.

Read more about the expected effect of the translocation on the Lion Guardians blog.

Wild Dogs Return to Serengeti After 20 Years

Photographer captures this important moment in history

A classic example of being at the right place at the right time granted Uwe Skrzypczak a rare chance to photograph the first sighting of Wild Dogs in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, in 20 years. It seems that Wild Dogs had returned to Serengeti – after two decades.

Uwe Skrzypczak, a friend of WildlifeDirect and a photographer whose work mostly covers Serengeti was having lunch at the Ndutu Lodge when he got word that some 7 wild dogs had been spotted near Lake Masek, some 3 km from the lodge. At first skeptical about the sudden appearance of these highly endangered predators, Uwe rushed to the site immediately after, and took amazing photographs. The low resolution versions of these photos were published on Baraza together with his account of how lucky he was on that day.

Wild Dogs are among the most endangered predators in Africa with only a fraction of their original population still remaining. They have suffered persecution for decades and, with the growing human population, their range has shrunk, and is still shrinking.

The return of the dogs into Serengeti is a good sign that perhaps the northern Tanzania park may have again become friendly to this most efficient of hunters.

Donate on Baraza to enable us keep you updated on what is happening in the conservation frontline.

The Death of Sekanabo

Mountain Gorilla infant despite promising vet intervention

An infant Mountain Gorilla of the Kabirizi group in DRC’s Virunga National Park died in early February from what is thought to have been complications from snaring.Virunga rangers had found the male infant, Sekanabo (Nsekanabo) son of the female Tumaini, snared and had been freed.

He was badly injured, presumably by the snare, and the nylon rope snare was still tied tightly to his ankle. Veterinary intervention was deemed necessary.

Gorilla Doctors thus went to the forest, darted both mother and son and treated the wounds. Part of his mouth and nose were badly ripped and needed two layers of stitches to hold together. Once the infant was treated, he was left with his group which was then monitored closely by trackers.

Sekanabo was showing some improvement the following day but by the end of that day, news got to the Gorilla Doctors that the infant had died. An ‘autopsy’ would follow to determine the cause of death.

You can support Gorilla Doctors’ work by donating on their blog.

News Snapshots

Things you need to know

Stay up to date – check what’s happening in the new WildlifeDirect Breaking News page. It’s new – but we’ll be keeping it updated.

European Commission, Member States Going Soft on Resumption of Ivory Trade?

Here is some elephant news just arrived from the Fondation Franz Weber

European Commission, Member States Going Soft on Resumption of Ivory Trade?

European Parliament backs total moratorium but Commission dithers

10 February 2010, Strasbourg, France, MEPs today called unequivocally for no resumption of the elephant trade. But the European Commission is being ambivalent to proposals from Tanzania and Zambia to recategorise their elephant populations to allow them to sell ivory (called “downlisting” in the relevant trade jargon). Such moves stimulate poachers seeking to exploit illicit market opportunities under cover of the legal trade.

A Resolution, adopted today, stakes out the European Parliament’s position on protection of endangered species ahead of the 15th Conference of the Parties (CoP15) to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Fauna (CITES). CoP15 takes place from 13-25 March 2010 in Doha. This issue is on the agenda for the new Commission’s first meeting on 17 February.

“In 1963 there were 1.3 million elephants in Africa. Today there are less than 500,000,” says Vera Weber of the Fondation Franz Weber, which runs a national park on behalf of the government of Togo. “If things go on at this rate, in another fifty years there will be no more wild elephants left at all. The EU must come out of the bush and support us now. The Commission needs to lead!”

A majority of African countries fear that the lack of political leadership in the Commission until now means that the EU’s position on the future of the African elephant will depend on the technocratic views of civil servants, not on the political leadership.

“This is the last call for the African elephant,” continues Ms. Weber. “For months on end there has been a huge gap in political leadership in the EU on elephant conservation. We urge newly-appointed environment and trade commissioners Potocnik and De Gucht to cut through the bureaucratic waffle and do the right thing politically – so that future generations of European kids will actually know that wild elephants still live in Africa. The EU was with us on this in 2007, where is it now?”

Any legally authorised sales of ivory (to China and Japan – the only countries in the world who continue to buy ivory) create cover for illegal trading (usually into the same two countries), thereby encouraging poachers to slaughter elephants cruelly all across Africa. In Chad’s Zakouma National Park, the elephant population grew over 20 years with EU aid to 4,800 animals by 2003. Since then poachers have decimated this population. In 2009 there were just 617 elephants left. Last month that number fell to 607 as poachers killed another ten animals for their tusks. Elephants are now extinct in Sierra Leone because of poaching. Yet Commission officials are not publicly backing the total moratorium agreed in CITES in 2007 which the EU played a decisive role in promoting.

At the CITES CoP14 meeting in the Hague in 2007, the then German Presidency of the EU was instrumental in brokering a 9-year total moratorium in elephant trade. Yet, Commission officials appear ambivalent about whether Tanzania and Zambia should be allowed to “downlist” their elephants – an initiative which is the first step towards launching trade. The moratorium started in late 2008, just after legal one-off ivory sales by Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

On the initiative of the Fondation Franz Weber, eighteen delegates from the 23-government African Elephant Coalition took the unprecedented step of visiting Brussels in late-January for a week of talks aiming to persuade the EU institutions not to agree to any downlisting. The visitors found MEPs clear and supportive, the Commission evasive and non-committal.

The European Parliament Resolution explicitly urges the Commission and Member States to reject all proposals that would result in any resumption of the African elephant ivory trade until such time as a proper assessment can be made of the impact on poaching of the November 2008 one-off sales of ivory from a number of southern African countries.

“Elephants need their tusks, the Chinese don’t. If the EU abstains on this issue in Doha, this will effectively give the green light for the resumption of the ivory trade which millions of Europeans do not want to see,” says Ms. Weber. “An historic opportunity now exists to ensure that the ivory trade is not revived – even on a limited basis – thereby helping threatened elephant populations avoid the poachers’ guns and bazookas.”

The EU must act now to protect the African elephant from extinction. The credibility of the EU presidency is at stake in the eyes of at least 23 African countries.

For more information contact Eamonn Bates in Strasbourg on +32-475 45 24 43 or Vera Weber on +41-79 210 54 04

African Elephant Coalition (AEC) members are the governments of Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, Republic of Congo and the Government of Southern Sudan. Kenya and Mali are the co-Chairs of the AEC.