Friday, April 11, 2014
US billionaire and conservationist, Mr Howard Buffet, has pledged to provide an R44 helicopter for surveillance against poaching in the Selous Game Reserve to arrive in the country in six months' time.
Through the Howard G. Buffet Foundation (HGBF), the renowned ecologist said his foundation will on the other hand lease a helicopter to patrol the reserves starting mid next month pending arrival of the chopper to be provided to the country.
In a statement availed to the press yesterday, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, said the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) will also purchase a helicopter of the same make to conduct patrols in the Ngorongoro corridor, Loliondo, Manyara and Tarangire.
"The chopper will be delivered in the next six months. The HGBF will also sponsor training of four pilots for the two helicopters.
The training will be conducted either in the United States or South Africa starting June 1, this year," the minister said in the statement.
According to Mr Nyalandu, the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) will also acquire one helicopter of Bell make and support training of two pilots.
"This helicopter will be much bigger and will thus enable TANAPA to conduct joint patrols with the police force which also uses a chopper of the same make," Mr Nyalandu said.
The minister explained further that the HGBF will foot all the costs for leasing of the helicopter, salaries for pilots and fuel while the ministry will cater for meals and accommodation for the pilots during patrols.
In another development, HGBF in collaboration with the ministry have hired two consultants to give advice to the Selous Game Reserves and the Pasiansi Wildlife Training College for six months, the Minister said.
After consultations with the ministry, the HGBF has also agreed to support strengthening of training for game rangers and improvement of infrastructure at the Pasiansi Wildlife Training College to boost anti-poaching and conservation efforts.
Minister Nyalandu, who made a visit to the college with Mr Buffet, said the government has announced employment opportunities for 450 game rangers out of 950 it plans to employ during this financial year.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Every day, about 100 elephants are killed for their ivory. It is estimated that the species will die out within the next 50 to 100 years if nothing is done to curtail the illegal ivory trade.
UW research associate professor Sam Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology, has dedicated his life to minimizing the negative impacts of humanity’s growth upon wildlife populations, with a special interest in elephant population decimation.
In order to stave off an elephant-free future, Wasser and his team have found a way to track where elephants are killed and then where the ivory is shipped from. While in Africa in the ’80s, he and a large team of researchers collected scat from all across Africa as a baseline of genetic information, which they are now using with tusks seized by authorities.
According to Celia Mailand, research scientist at Wasser’s conservation center, the project has been one of the biggest learning experiences of her life. When she started at the center as an undergrad, they didn’t know how to get the DNA out of the ivory.
Using 16 genetic markers — three more genetic markers than for humans — scientists can compare DNA from seized ivory to the baseline scat DNA in order to determine a map of hot spots where poachers work.
After killing an elephant, poachers and dealers gather the tusks into a large shipment and send them out into the world. The vast majority of tusks, according to Wasser, are shipped through Tanzania, Nigeria, and other African countries. READ FULL STORY HERE
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
The move came after the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan immediately stop it's whaling program in the Southern Ocean.
But meanwhile ivory, most likely sourced from the illegal poaching and killing of African elephants, is still being sold online by Rakuten Global with over 28,000 ads for elephant ivory products on it's internet sites.
President of the U.S branch of the Environment Investigation Agency
Gregg Borschmann, Environment Editor
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Arusha — SIX people, believed to be habitual poachers, were arrested in the early hours of Monday with a consignment of 55 elephant tusks weighing over 170 kilogrammes believed to have been extracted from 26 freshly-killed jumbos.
The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, stated that the six were nabbed with the government trophies at Kayombo village in Manyoni District, Singida Region, some hours after midnight on Monday.
They are presently being held at the Manyoni Police Station. They were also found with a sub-machine gun with three magazines and early reports indicate that the six had been on a jumbo killing mission in the Rungwa and Kizigo game reserves located in the district.
"We have dispatched a team of rangers as well as police officers to comb the entire reserves because intelligence reports suspect more culprits could still be in the forest with more government trophies," Mr Nyalandu said.
The search team will also be on the lookout for the car casses of the killed jumbos. The development comes at the time when the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has been finalising its quarterly report on poaching in Tanzania for the first three months of 2014, which will be tabled in Arusha in the course of this week.
The report tabling will coincide with the launching of the second phase of anti-poaching operation dubbed 'Operation Tokomeza' "Tanzania has joined the global war on ivory trading, which also involves China, known for its tusk and ivory smuggling outlet notoriety, the United Nations and International Police (INTERPOL)," Mr Nyalandu revealed.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
(Reuters) - Kenya plans to deploy surveillance drones to help fight elephant and rhino poachers and has introduced stiffer penalties for offenders, officials said on Tuesday.
Poaching has risen in recent years across sub-Saharan Africa where well-armed criminal gangs have killed elephants for tusks and rhinos for horns that are often shipped to Asia for use in ornaments and medicines.
"We will start piloting the use of drones in the Tsavo National Park eco system, one of the largest national parks in the world," said Patrick Omondi, deputy director for wildlife conservation at the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Omondi said the surveillance aircraft would be imported, but did not give details of how many or at what cost.
Tsavo National Park in the southeast is Kenya's largest, with sweeping plains and occasional water holes dotted with wildlife, including elephants.
"We attribute the problem of poaching in Kenya and other African states to growing demand and high prices offered for rhino horn and elephant ivory in the Far East countries," William Kiprono, Kenya Wildlife Service's acting Director General told a news conference in Nairobi.
Kiprono said Kenya had lost 18 rhinos and 51 elephants to poachers so far this year. Last year, 59 rhinos and 302 elephants were killed, compared with 30 rhinos and 384 elephants in 2012.
Kenyan officers seized 13.5 tonnes of ivory at the port city of Mombasa last year, mostly originating from other countries in the region. At least 249 suspects have so far been arrested this year and prosecuted for various wildlife offences.
In January, a Kenyan court convicted a Chinese man of smuggling ivory and ordered him to pay a 20-million-shillings ($233,000) fine or serve seven years in jail in the first sentence handed out since Kenya introduced a new anti-poaching law.
Conservationists hope the new law, which allows for longer jail terms and bigger fines, will deter criminal networks.
Kenya has emerged as a major transit route for ivory destined for Asian markets from eastern and central Africa.
The government says poaching is harming tourism, a major foreign exchange earner. FULL STORY HERE
Monday, March 17, 2014
According to the World Wildlife Fund, there were as many as 3-5 million African elephants in the 1930s and 1940s. However, due to loss of habitat and poachers seeking ivory and meat, elephant populations in Africa have significantly decreased.
Elephants are one of the must-see animals for anyone on a safari vacation, but they can be a dangerous menace to African villagers who must coexist with them. The elephant’s size is matched by its appetite, which drives them to raid crops grown by subsistence farmers. These conflicts can be deadly for both, as villagers and elephants clash over food.
Electric fences aren’t feasible in many areas due to lack of electricity, and other types of fences are also ineffective against such large, hungry creatures. However, researchers and conservationists may have found a simple solution — bee hives.
Unlike bears, which plunder bee nests for honey and comb without fear, elephants are known to avoid trees with beehives. Although elephant skin is 2.5 centimeters thick, they can still be stung in areas around their eyes and inside their trunks, which can be extremely painful.
Using this knowledge, researchers have discovered ways to use elephants’ fear of bees to protect them. The first is the “Beehive Fence” — a line of beehives set about ten meters apart that are linked with ropes or wires. When an elephant touches the ropes, the hives swing, the bees emerge, and the elephants retreat. In addition to providing protection from the elephants, villagers benefit from increased pollination of their crops, and they can harvest the honey as an added source of income (if they choose to use honey bees).
According to the Elephants and Bees Project, a collaboration between Save the Elephants, Oxford University, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, “We have field tested this Beehive Fence design in three rural farming communities in Kenya with over 85% success rate in all locations. Any type of beehive can be used although our project focuses on using Kenyan Top Bar Hives and Langstroth Hives as they swing efficiently in the Beehive Fence and provide optimum honey yields for the farmers. Beehive Fences are cheap to construct costing approximately $150 to $500 per 100m depending on what types of beehives are used.”
They have even written a Beehive Fence Construction Manual (go to link below to connect to this) to show villagers how to build the fences. FULL STORY HERE
Are you wondering why elephant poaching is at an all-time high when there was an Ivory Trade Ban put in place in 1989?
Some of you will remember the late 1980’s when there was worldwide outcry for elephants. Elephants were on the cover of Time Magazine, full page adds of hacked off elephant faces were sent around the world, people became aware and were outraged at the level of poaching that was taking place. IN 1979 there was an estimated population of 1.3 million, now down well below 300,000 in all of Africa - in Kenya 167,000 now down to around 30,000. Kenya burned it’s ivory stocks in 1989, and hallelujah CITES put a bad on trade in Ivory into place.
SO, why are we where we are now facing the extinction of the species?
Poaching DID slow down dramatically in the decade after the ban, and allowed some recuperation for decimated groups of elephants. Then, in 1997, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species allowed a “one-off sale” of 40 tons ivory stockpiles for Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe to Japan. That sale took place in 1999. Poaching soared with what was perceived as a reopening for the Ivory market. And, the price of ivory soared.
In 2002 Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa received permission for another “one-off sale” of 60 tons of ivory stockpiles, which was raised to 101 tons and took place in 2008, to China and Japan.
Far from satisfying demand, the increased availability of “legal” ivory has only spurred consumer appetite as a status product. China increased the number of it’s gov’t operated ivory carving facilities. There is no way to tell “legal” from “illegal” ivory. At every CITES meeting, southern African countries lobby to sell their ivory. In 2008 they managed to get the IUCN to downgrade the official status of elephants from endangered to vulnerable - to the shock of many of us.
Here on the ground it feels clearly that the impending extinction of the elephants makes those who deal in it only more eager to get every bit of it that they can... That they are out to kill every elephant so they can get the very last piece of ivory.