Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015


Mombasa's major landmark is a pair of tin arches made to look like elephant ivory. Given to the city by Princess Margaret in 1956, it is now an ironic and dark reminder of Mombasa’s place as Africa’s most active ivory trafficking hub. Credit:Briana Duggan

Tourists visiting Kenya’s steamy coastal city of Mombasa will likely pose in front of what is perhaps the city’s most iconic symbol, two giant arches made of aluminum and designed to look like elephant tusks. Given to the city by Britain’s Princess Margaret in 1956, the structure was meant to celebrate Kenya’s abundance of wildlife. But today it has become something of an ironic emblem of the city.

Last year, activists defaced the sculptures, smearing them with dripping red paint and the phrase, “Mombasa Not 4 Ivory Export.”

Relative to its neighbors, Kenya has been lauded internationally for its anti-poaching initiatives. The country imposed a strict new wildlife act that imposes life sentences or heavy fines for poaching. With the help of international donors, the Kenya Wildlife Service recently opened a wildlife forensic and genetics laboratory to aid in wildlife crime prosecution. However, even with these advancements, Kenya has one serious weakness.

The port of Mombasa, the country’s largest coastal city, is the single most active ivory trafficking hub in Africa, funneling ivory from East and Central Africa on its way, overwhelmingly, to Asian markets. This trade through Mombasa has increased in recent years, leading to a grim statistic: Since 2009, studies estimate the port of Mombasa has funneled the ivory of 25,000 elephants.

Approximately 188 metric tons of ivory is believed to have passed through the port of Mombasa between 2009-2014. Credit: Briana Duggan

The ivory passing through Mombasa has been labeled as decorating stones, declared as peanuts, and stashed with tea leaves. It has been intercepted in Singapore, Thailand and at the Kenyan port, sometimes in quantities of 1,000 pounds or more.

Experts say the level of sophistication required to move such large quantities over such long distances indicates the involvement of organized crime.

“It’s a heightened degree of professionalization that is required to actually move this contraband across this very long and very diverse supply chain,” says Jackson Miller, lead analyst for wildlife and environmental crimes at C4ADS, a security analysis NGO. “You need contacts within thousands of miles of bush, access to transport routes, then as you get out of Africa, access to outside transport and retail. It’s a big mission.”

Reports have linked the illegal wildlife trade with the funding of armed groups. While it’s unclear exactly how much it may be funding Kenya’s central security threat, the Somali-based group al-Shabaab, non-profits, government officials, and researchers have found real links between the wildlife trade and conflict in Africa.

Compounding the problem is Mombasa’s reputation for mismanagement, lax security and corruption. It’s been called a “liability for Africa,” where wildlife products and drugs can be moved with impunity.

“This is one of the ports of convenience in the world,” says longtime Kenyan maritime consultant Andrew Mwangura. “You can do anything,” he says. He calls the port’s rule of thumb: see no evil, hear no evil.  READ MORE HERE

Sunday, July 12, 2015


llegal ivory is crushed in Beijing, China, Photograph: Li Xin/Xinhua

China has committed to phasing out the domestic manufacture and sale of ivory products for the first time. Conservation groups said the announcement was “the single greatest measure” in the fight to save the last African elephants from poaching.

At an event in Beijing where foreign diplomats witnessed 662kg of confiscated ivory being symbolically destroyed, Zhao Shucong, head of China’s State Forestry Administration, said: “We will strictly control ivory processing and trade until the commercial processing and sale of ivory and its products are eventually halted.”

This is the first time China has committed to phase out its legal, domestic ivory industry. Lo Sze Ping, CEO of WWF’s China division applauded the Chinese government’s strengthening resolve to reduce demand in the world’s biggest market for trafficked ivory. READ MORE

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


The US Fish and Wildlife Service blocked the importation of six Byzantine ivory pieces due to come to the US on a loan from the British Museum for the travelling exhibition Saints and Dragons: Icons from Byzantium to Russia. The show, currently on view at the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Massachusetts and due to travel to the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, this autumn, centres on icons that are normally hidden away in storage at the London museum.

Laura Garrity-Arquitt, the registrar at the Museum of Russian Icons, which organised the show, says that despite the age of the religious works (dating from the 9th through the 12th century) any animal remains entering the US must be cleared through the federal Fish and Wildlife Service. The head of the organisation denied permission, though “they didn’t really give a concrete reason why they wouldn’t allow them”, Garrity-Arquitt says, although she did add that it was likely due to the “whole issue with elephant poaching”.

The works never left the British Museum, it turns out. In a statement, a representative for the London institution told The Art Newspaper that “a potential risk to the shipment of six British Museum objects was identified and it was agreed to remove the works in consultation with the borrower”. The exhibition has been in the works since 2013, but the Massachusetts museum did not find out about the importation problem until March of this year, just two months before the show opened.

The ivory pieces, whose subjects include the Nativity, the Archangel Michael and Saint John the Baptist, were meant to demonstrate the high value Byzantine culture placed on luxury items. The Museum of Russian Icons has borrowed an ivory piece from the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts instead.

Saints and Dragons: Icons from Byzantium to Russia is at the Museum of Russian Icons until 12 September and travel to the Chrysler Museum of Art, 1 October-10 January 2016.


Ringling Bros. Circus Mistreats Animals:
Join the July 2015 Protests in Los Angeles, CA!

In Defense of Animals The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is coming to Los Angeles soon, and the animals need your help! Please help put an end to this carnival of cruelty by joining IDA (In Defense of Animals), PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), Animal Defenders International, and Compassion Works International to rally against the use of all animals in circuses.

If you plan to come to one night, please attend opening night! Media will be there and they would appreciate a strong presence.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Protests

Thursday, July 9th - 11:45 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Friday, July 10 - 10:45 a.m. - 12 noon and 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 11 - 10:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 12 - 10:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Monday, July 13 - 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 14 - 10:45 a.m. - 12 noon and 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90015
(Please meet at the intersection of S. Figueroa Street and Chick Hearn Court; see the map.)

If you can make it on opening night, Thursday, July 9, IDA will be there, so please stop by to say "hello" and to help yourself to posters and leaflets which will be provided. Note that reserved parking will not be available, and please also make sure to be prepared for the weather. Outreach events are fun and effective ways to help animals as well as meet local advocates, so be sure to invite others.

Contact: Dr. Toni Frohoff at if you have any questions.

Even though Ringling has announced that it will phase out the use of elephants in acts by 2018, their abuse needs to end now.

Also, don't forget that legislation to ban the bullhook (SB716) in the state of California will be heard in the Assembly Committee on Public Safety today on Tuesday, June 30. To find out more about how you can help go here.

You Help Is Needed ...

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