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Tag Archives: Zimbabwe
Hongxiang Huang, Informante
March 27, 2014
With more than 9 100 residential elephants and 30 000 migrating elephants according to 2013 data, elephant poaching was not a serious issue in the trans-border area until recently. However, in 2012 the situation changed, with at least 78 elephants poached by international smugglers in one year. By November 2013, official records showed that at least 20 elephants had been poached since the start of the year, and 35 smuggling suspects had been arrested.
According to Shadrick Siloka, chief warden in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) office of Katima Mulilo, a Chinese man was mentioned that apparently plays an important role as middleman in the smuggling trade. Siloka said that the name of Guo Yunhui, a Chinese businessman in Katima Mulilo keeps turning up as far as ivory smuggling is concerned. In 2010, the MET heard from informers that Guo was collecting pythons and pangolins. In 2011, Guo was arrested for buying two ivory tusks from MET staff, fined N$20 000 and released.
Zheng, a Chinese construction worker near Katima, claims Guo is still engaged in the wildlife smuggling business. Chen, a Chinese businessman in Rundu, also confirmed that Guo is active in the business.
Guo may not be the largest player in the Zambezi ivory market, according to Li, a leader in the Chinese Fujian business community of Namibia. Li referred to another Chinese man in Katima Mulilo, who he said was found by police in early 2013 with more than 100kg of ivory, but MET said it did not know about the case.
The Chinese community members are reluctant to blow the whistle on the larger ivory smugglers, and alleged involvement by Chinese diplomats themselves.
In Katima Mulilo, it is common for Chinese people to be approached by African ivory sellers, mostly Zambians. The MET officials confirmed that the price Guo paid to the sellers of ivory was N$300 per kilo, whereas in Asia the selling price is at least US$3 000 per kilo.
“In 2012 the amount of ivory we captured was 70% to 80% of the amount of ivory taken from poached elephants in Namibia,” said Morgan Saisai, the chief control officer of MET in Katima Mulilo.
According to the Chinese, the chance of ivory being discovered by airport customs in Namibia or China is very low, and even when it is found, the consequences are not severe.
On Monday, three Chinese nationals were arrested at the Hosea Kutako International Airport while in possession of 14 rhino horns in luggage. The trio, Li Xiao Liang (30), Li Zhi Bing (50) and Pu Xu Nin (49) appeared in court on Tuesday and were remanded in custody. They will appear again in court next week Wednesday. They are said to have travelled to Namibia from Zambia, and enterered through the Zambezi Region’s Wenela border post. They were about to fly to Johannesburg when they are arrested.
BY MALCOLM MOORE, LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH
FEBRUARY 11, 2014
With its sleek glass and wood exterior, the Tianya Antiques City is a temple to modern Chinese
craftsmanship. Inside, the traders sell their wares from boutique stalls more like museums than
markets – jade, emerald and coral.
But the real draw for visitors to the Beijing centre is also its most controversial: ivory.
As a high-level summit to combat wildlife trafficking and poaching opens in London Wednesday,
hosted by the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge, shifting Chinese attitudes toward
ivory will be one of the most important goals, given that it is the world’s most populous nation
with a strong appetite for elephant tusk.
It will not be easy, as Fu Junjun, who works at her father’s ivory shop in the 11-floor market,
testified. “The price of ivory keeps going up, and the government’s decision to destroy that ivory
stockpile actually helped us,” she said, referring to the recent crushing of about 5.5 tonnes by
Chinese authorities. “The smaller stores now find it harder to get a good supply, but bigger
stores like us have hardly felt any impact and it helped put the price up.”
Ivory is legal in China provided it comes from a government-registered dealer, and there
continues to be a significant demand – partly as an increasingly valuable commodity and partly
because, according to the principles of feng shui, ivory can “disperse misfortune and drive out
In 2008, the international community allowed four African countries – Namibia, Zimbabwe,
South Africa and Botswana – to sell their stockpiles of ivory to Japan and China for $15 million in
an attempt to control the slaughter of elephants.
All of the ivory available in China is technically supposed to have come from that auction, and
each carving carries its own certificate of provenance. But environmentalists warn that there is
rampant cheating in the system and that illegal ivory is easily laundered. A survey by IFAW in
2011 found that, of 158 shops and carving factories in Beijing, Shanghai, Fuzhou and Guang-
zhou, 101 were not licensed, or were selling smuggled ivory.
At Panjiayuan, Beijing’s biggest curio market, dealers said they had no elephant tusk on offer.
But when asked if they wanted to buy an unlicensed piece of ivory, several asked to take a look.
“I have bought cheap ivory online,” said Xu Song, a 25-year-old carver. “I cannot say whether
they were smuggled or not, but they are cheap, so I suppose so.
“Perhaps the biggest legacy of the decision to allow ivory auctions is that it has convinced the
Chinese that ivory is no longer a desperately endangered commodity. I do not think the supply
of ivory is a problem. We have not really thought about it.”
On the upside, the Chinese have discovered a new commodity that is now rivalling elephant
ivory in desirability: woolly mammoth ivory. Each summer, hundreds of tusks are dug up in
Siberia and sent south for carving.
Article at the following link:
Bryan Christy, National Geographic
January 8, 2014
In a surprising step, China this week became the latest in a growing number of countries to publicly destroy large quantities of ivory to bring attention to the global trade in illegal ivory. From any angle, China’s move has important and positive implications for the fight against an illegal ivory trade that is killing tens of thousands of African elephants every year.
Still, not all ivory destruction ceremonies are alike, and when it comes to the illegal ivory trade, China is not just any country.
“Wildlife trafficking has become a serious problem, and illegal trade of ivory and wildlife products is increasing,” China’s State Forestry Administration declared in a statement to the United Nations explaining its decision to destroy 6.1 tons of its ivory this week. The destruction was conducted “for the purpose of raising public awareness, and demonstrating China’s resolve to combat wildlife trafficking.”
China’s destruction ceremony comes on the heels of similar acts by the United States (six tons) and the Philippines (five tons), both of which crushed their entire national ivory stocks last year. Together these three events represent the first time in history that non-African countries have publicly destroyed their ivory.
Not All Ivory Destructions Are Alike
The destruction of illegal ivory has become perhaps the most recognizable and powerful symbolic act in wildlife conservation, starting in 1989 when Kenya’s President Daniel arap Moi, flanked by paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, set fire to 12 tons of ivory.
Orange flames rising from that pile of tusks shocked the world and inspired parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to enact a global ban on international trade in ivory later that year.
What made Kenya’s action so significant was the sacrifice that the burning of its ivory represented: Burning ivory equaled burning cash, especially in a world before the ivory ban.
After the global ban on the ivory trade went into effect, elephant populations that had been decimated by poachers began to recover. The ban held for ten years until 1999, when CITES allowed a “one-time” experimental sale of 50 tons of ivory to Japan. The ivory trade ban took a second hit in 2008 when CITES allowed a second sale of 102 tons of ivory to Japan and China.
By all accounts, that second sale was a disaster. The Chinese economy was simply too hot, and global law enforcement too weak, to prevent the 2008 sale from opening the floodgates to a massive illegal ivory trade between Africa and China, resulting in the current bloodbath for African elephants.
In the wake of a poaching and trafficking crisis, countries have again turned to ivory destruction ceremonies to bring attention to the problem. In 2011 Kenya hosted a burn of 5.5 tons of ivory belonging to a number of African nations (but did not burn any of its own stock). Gabon burned its ivory in 2012.
Symbolic Acts Backed Up With Action
Importantly, destroying ivory stocks has been a symbolic act accompanied in each case by parallel action. Kenya’s 1989 ivory burn was not only a symbolic act for the world, it was also a tangible act of defiance against Zimbabwe and a handful of other pro-ivory-trade southern African countries that opposed an ivory ban. Likewise, Gabon’s burn said “no” to proposals to open Africa to ivory trading that were then actively being floated.
The Philippines ivory destruction ceremony was accompanied by an announcement of the launch of a new wildlife trafficking enforcement unit and an acknowledgment that the Philippines could not protect its ivory warehouse, which had been frequently robbed.
The United States, too, had more to say. The ivory destruction ceremony in Denver put a physical face on President Obama’s new cabinet-level Wildlife Trafficking Task Force, formed in part to recognize that wildlife trafficking is a national security issue, especially when it comes to ivory. Officials used the ivory destruction ceremony to float the idea of a nationwide ban on domestic ivory sales in the United States, not just on imports or exports. That idea is now gaining momentum in Washington and around the country.
The question is, what is the parallel message from China? Unlike any of these other countries, which all oppose international trade in ivory, China supports it. In fact, China is the world’s leading ivory consumer, legal and illegal, and it is home to the world’s biggest ivory-carving factory.
What Does This Mean for China?
Certainly, publicity from its ivory crush will help the Chinese government inform its public that not all ivory in China is legal. A survey conducted as part of the documentary Battle for the Elephants indicated that nearly 60 percent of Chinese believe that making ivory “illegal to purchase under any circumstances” under “the strong recommendation of a government leader” would be the most effective way to stop ivory trading.
So the crush has implications in terms of public awareness and demand reduction.
Yet China’s wildlife department, the State Forestry Administration, has a history of cooking the books when it comes to ivory policy. As I reported in Blood Ivory, in order to gain CITES approval to buy ivory in 2008, China made many small ivory seizures to improve its law enforcement rating even though it made no significant inroads against crime.
Likewise, China and Japan joined forces to manipulate the 2008 ivory auction prices and, rather than undercut the black market with cheap ivory as many hoped the sale would do, those in the government ivory industry raised prices, inviting more illegal trade, not less.
China’s ivory crush is to be commended on a level having nothing to do with wildlife directly. As I discovered during my three-year investigation of the international ivory trade for National Geographic, one of the primary uses of the very valuable sculptures carved in China’s legal ivory factories is as bribes to curry favor with superiors in government or to influence business clients. IFAW’s Grace Ge Gabriel has pointed out that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s austerity program has targeted corruption at all levels of government, with the consequence of reducing sales of luxury items, including shark fin soup and, potentially, ivory.
So far, the world has been unable to police the killing of elephants that has exploded after the legal ivory market was opened in China. Chinese wildlife department officials have repeatedly denied that China’s ivory industry is responsible for Africa’s poaching problem. As recently as last year, China’s CITES delegate Wan Ziming called upon delegates to allow sales to China of not only ivory from elephants that died of natural causes, but also of ivory seized in police actions.
Destroying such ivory this week suggests a possible change in thinking among wildlife department officials. Or, better still, maybe it suggests that more than China’s wildlife department is now listening.
26 November 2013
It has been a bad year for Africa’s elephants. Thousands have been killed as poachers rush to cash in on soaring ivory prices, which have reached hundreds of dollars per kilogram. The cyanide poisoning of up to 300 animals at watering holes in a game park in Zimbabwe last month served as a particularly unpleasant reminder of the lengths to which poachers are willing to go.
Official numbers for elephant killings in 2013 are still being prepared, but researchers told Nature that it is likely to be a near-record year. Across the world, almost 30 tonnes of ivory have been seized, according to events detailed in news reports and collated by TRAFFIC, a non-governmental organization in Cambridge, UK, that monitors trade in wildlife. And figures for ivory hauls in media reports collected each month by conservation group Save the Elephants, headquartered in Nairobi, add up to a similar number (see go.nature.com/4xyeln). Both numbers, however, should be regarded with caution because the size of seizures can be overestimated, and many go unreported. With each tusk providing about 5 kg of ivory, and some researchers estimating that seizures account for as little as 10% of all ivory collected, the numbers paint a bleak picture.
“I certainly don’t think anything’s got better this year,” says Holly Dublin, chair of the elephant specialist group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Official numbers are available for 2011, when a record 46.5 tonnes of ivory was seized (see ‘Tusk totals’). Samuel Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington, Seattle, says that poaching levels were probably higher in 2012, and that 2013 could be higher again. He estimates that around 50,000 elephants were killed in 2011, given the amount of ivory seized, and that the numbers in the two years since were similar. Figures from TRAFFIC and Save the Elephants suggest that between 25,000 and 35,000 of the animals are killed each year.
“Those numbers may be off by some margin. But based on the number of recent seizures, the elephants are being killed at their highest rate yet,” says Wasser, who estimates from news reports that 38 tonnes of ivory have been seized this year.
The past year has seen an escalation of political efforts to curb poaching, which is increasingly being linked to large criminal syndicates and even terrorist groups. The latest such effort takes place next week in Gaborone, Botswana, under the auspices of the IUCN. African heads of state, ministers and scientists will discuss measures to fight poaching including national task forces, tougher legal action against ivory traffickers and greater use of the military against heavily armed poachers.
“We’re seeing more political momentum build up,” says John Scanlon, secretary-general of the Geneva-based Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). “That movement needs to be faster, but things are moving in the right direction.”
At a meeting in Bangkok in March, representatives from CITES signatory countries agreed to take steps to fight the poaching scourge. These include using public-awareness campaigns to curb demand for ivory and increased forensic tracing of seized ivory using genetic techniques.
Some positive outcomes from the CITES meeting are already being seen on the ground, says Wasser, who uses DNA analysis of seized tusks to try to trace the origin of illegal ivory by matching genetic variations across Africa. The decisions at the meeting have made “a huge difference” to the willingness of countries to provide samples, he says. Using the samples, he expects to be able to pinpoint the major hotspots of poaching, eventually enabling intensive law enforcement in those regions.
Increased political attention may already be having an effect. Nations that drive the demand for ivory are stepping up prevention efforts. Scanlon says that China, for example, is now prosecuting more people for ivory offences than in the past. And the United States — which in a show of intent earlier this month publicly crushed 6 tonnes of ivory seized at its borders since 1989, when the international ban on ivory trading was introduced — has this year set up a task force to combat the illegal wildlife trade.
Closer to the front line, George Wittemyer of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, a conservation biologist who conducts research at the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya, says that the year started with the worst poaching levels ever seen there. But he adds that killings have fallen since, driven in part by efforts to engage the local community.
“I find it relieving to see the level at which the issue is being talked about,” Wittemyer says. “There are a lot of heads of state in Africa who are taking this seriously.”
18 November 2013
A High Court Judge is tomorrow expected to make a ruling on the bail application of a Chinese man who was arrested last month on allegations of trying to smuggle out of Zimbabwe raw ivory and ivory artefacts worth more than US$28 000. On Thursday last week, Justice Amy Tsanga requested Chen Guoling to submit certain documents before a determination could be made.
Guoliang’s lawyer Mr Tendai Toto on Friday submitted proof of employment from Chen’s employers, Old Park Investment, a local firm, in the form of a confirmation letter.
There was also another confirmation from the Zimbabwe Finance Business Association to the effect that Chen was a recognised engineer.
The immigration department further confirmed that Chen’s residence permit was still valid and set to expire next year.
Guoliang of number 4 Warren View Close, Sentosa, Malbereign, Harare was arrested at the Harare International Airport on October 21 while trying to board a flight to China.
He is being charged with contravening the Parks and Wildlife Act which bans unlawful possession of raw ivory and ivory products and of contravening the Customs and Excise Act over the unlawful exportation of goods.
Guoliang was not formally charged when he recently appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Donald Ndirowei. He was denied bail and advised to apply at the High Court.
The complainant in the matter is the State represented by Civil Aviation Authority official Ms Wendy Gomo.
It is alleged that on October 21 at around 1230 Guoliang arrived at the Harare International Airport with the intention of going to China.
He checked in at the reception and booked an air ticket.
It is further alleged that Guoliang wrapped his luggage and reported to an immigration officer. His passport was cleared indicating his departure from Zimbabwe.
Guoliang’s luggage was screened through the scanning machines and officers immediately became suspicious of the contents, the court heard.
He was called for a physical search and when his luggage was opened, 17 pieces of raw tusks weighing 99kg recovered together with ivory worked artefacts weighing 14,9kg.
All the goods were valued at US$28 475.
Guoliang was asked to produce a permit or licence for possession of the ivory as well as the authority to export the goods, but failed to do so, leading to his arrest.
By DENG XIANLAI, China Daily
November 7, 2013
The US and China, the world’s two largest markets for wildlife products, are joining efforts to combat wildlife trafficking — one of the most lucrative forms of transnational organized crime — which generates an estimated $7 billion to 10 billion annually.
While the US portrays itself as a leader in stopping the killing of endangered species worldwide, it also recognizes that this is a global issue that calls for international partnerships, according to US officials.
“I think we have good discussions going on with China and we are looking forward to continuing them,” Kerri-Ann Jones, assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs, said during a news briefing in Washington on Tuesday. “We are also looking forward to really thinking about the steps we can take that will make a difference.”
On the same day in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei was questioned at a news briefing about the three Chinese citizens arrested in Tanzania who had a considerable amount of ivory stock-piled in their residence. Hong said China firmly opposes ivory smuggling and will continue to work with the international community to protect wildlife.
According to media reports, a total of 706 elephant tusks weighing nearly two tons were found last Saturday in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in the house of three Chinese garlic traders. The case follows a recent report by Agence France-Presse that a Chinese man was arrested in October at Zimbabwe’s main airport trying to smuggle ivory out of the country
China, among other Asian countries, has deep cultural ties to ivory, a commodity that is associated with status and prosperity and is often carved into delicate works of artistic ornamentation.
China’s General Administration of Customs told the media recently that it cleared up an ivory smuggling case in which 2,154 elephant tusks weighing 8 tons were confiscated. The case was the biggest of its kind ever in China.
One of the hottest destinations for smuggled wildlife body parts is Xiaman, a city in Southeast China’s Fujian province which is historically the ancestral home of many overseas Chinese doing business in Southeast Asia, an area where ivory trafficking is rampant. According to statistics from Xiamen Customs, two ivory smuggling gangs were caught in the past two years, with 13 tons of elephant tusks and ivory products worth nearly $100 million seized.
“The Chinese government firmly opposes elephant poaching and ivory smuggling and has taken appropriate measures, including new laws, integrated law enforcement and international cooperation,” Hong said.
Facing a worldwide trafficking of endangered species that is becoming very sophisticated, highly organized and syndicated, China has joined the international community to strengthen cooperation.
At the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Bangkok, Thailand this March, China accepted a joint proposal offered by the US on Asian turtle conservation, which marked the first ever proposal of its kind between the two countries.
“I think that reflects a growing recognition that the US and China as two leading economic powers in the world need to work together if we are going to achieve conservation for [endangered] species,” said Dan Ashe, director of US Fish and Wildlife Services, who also attended the news briefing in Washington.
In Washington in July, US Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Robert Hormats and Zhao Shucong, head of the Chinese State Forestry Administration, met to discuss illegal wildlife trafficking and review the two countries’ efforts to combat it.
“In recognition of the economic and security consequences of the burgeoning illicit trade networks, the two nations committed to pursue more effective mechanisms for cooperation,” the State Department announced.
“The US is working in conjunction with its foreign partners — like China, Thailand, Vietnam, and countries where people are seeing this large and growing demand for these species — to reduce the demand for the illicit wildlife products,” said Ashe.
Acknowledging that bilaterally the two countries had “talked quite a bit”, Jones mentioned that the US also had a memorandum of understanding with China on the logging issue, which was “often linked to wildlife trafficking because…you are really talking about the habitat where you find these wonderful animals”.
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.