Monday, August 24, 2015

KENYA: BLOOD IVORY RING LEADER'S BAIL REVOKED!


 **UPDATE**  We know as of today is that Feisal Mohammed Ali is still under arrest until Wednesday Aug 25th when the high court will make a decision on the bail he was granted by a lower court – AFTER the Kenyan High Court had stated he was not eligible for bail as he was a high flight risk….



Mombasa, Kenya, Aug 24 – A court in Kenya on Monday suspended the release on bail of a suspected ringleader of an ivory smuggling gang following an appeal by government prosecutors.

Kenyan national Feisal Mohammed Ali, who figured on an Interpol list of the nine most wanted suspects linked to crimes against the environment, was arrested by international police agents in Tanzania in December after fleeing Kenya and was extradited to face charges in the port city of Mombasa.

In March, bail was granted on medical grounds, but Kenyan prosecutors successfully appealed that decision at the High Court.

On Friday, magistrate Davis Karani again granted him 10 million shilling ($96,900/85,800 euro) bail, but that was again suspended on Monday.

Prosecutor Alexander Muteti repeated his argument that Ali was a flight risk.

“Mohamed fled from justice when he knew he was being sought for,” Muteti told the court.

The next ruling on the bail application is scheduled for Wednesday.

Ali is charged with possession of and dealing in elephant tusks weighing more than two tonnes — equivalent to at least 114 slaughtered elephants and worth an estimated $4.5 million (4.2 million euros).

Prosecutors allege he is a key player in the organised crime network stretching from African parks to Asian markets, where demand for ivory is high. He has denied all charges.

The haul was discovered by Kenyan police in June 2014 when they raided a car dealership in Mombasa, after which Ali fled to Tanzania.

The case is seen as a key test of Kenya’s resolve to tackle poaching.

A recent five-year study of wildlife cases before Kenyan courts, carried out by conservation organisation Wildlife Direct and published in 2014, found that only seven percent of those convicted of offences against elephants and rhinos actually went to jail, despite the crimes carrying a maximum 10-year sentence.

Save the Elephants estimates an average of 33,000 elephants have been lost across Africa to poachers each year between 2010 and 2012.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

FEISAL ALI MOHAMMED ON TRIAL FOR POSSESSING BLOOD IVORY


A man counts ivory pieces at the KWS offices in Mombasa on August 17, 2015 before the proceedings of a case against businessman Feisal Ali Mohammed and five others. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By GALGALO BOCHA
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The 314 pieces of ivory, allegedly found in possession of Mombasa businessman Feisal Ali Mohammed, were extracted from 160 elephants, a court heard on Wednesday.

The trophies, weighing 2,152 kilograms and valued at Sh44 million, were harvested from elephants of different age brackets, according to Dr Ogeto Mwebi, an animal heritage scientist.

Dr Mwebi is a senior research scientist and head of osteology at the National Museums of Kenya.

“In the forensic analysis I conducted, I (found) all of them to be elephant ivory of different ages. I estimated they belonged to 160 elephants. I put them as juvenile, mature or adults,” said Dr Mwebi.

He, however, explained that his analysis did not focus on establishing which country was home to the elephants.

He was testifying in the ongoing trial of Mr Mohamed and four other people for alleged possession of the ivory and dealing with the tusks without a licence.

The other suspects are Mr Abdul Halim Sadiq, Ghalib Sadiq Kara, Praverz Noor Mohamed and Mr Abdulmajeed Ibrahim.

They have all denied committing the offence on June 5 last year at the business premises of Fuji Motors East Africa Limited, on Tom Mboya Avenue, Tudor Estate, in Mombasa.

READ MORE HERE

Friday, August 14, 2015

BEYOND CECIL: ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE CONSEQUENCES


As the world agonized over the death of Cecil the lion late last month, poachers in Kenya’s Tsavo West National Park – less than 300km from the UN Environment Programme world headquarters in Nairobi – illegally slaughtered five elephants, plundered the carcasses and fled the country with their ivory prize. Compared to Cecil, the slaughter barely registered on the world’s radar.

The slaughter of five elephants in Kenya was no anomaly – it’s a symptom of a global epidemic. Estimates show some 100,000 elephants out of a population of 420,000–650,000 were killed in Africa between 2010 and 2012. In 2014, poachers slaughtered 1,215 rhinos in South Africa alone, an increase of over 9,000% from 2007. Great apeslost to illegal activities number in the thousands worldwide.

These killings are extremely upsetting. But while we often view them as an aesthetic loss or an ethical shortfall, we frequently fail to see how such tragedies reverberate deep within our societies.

The global illegal trade in wildlife has very real consequences for the world, beyond an ethical quandary. It ruins ecosystems, destroys livelihoods, undermines governments, threatens national security and sabotages sustainable development.

The illegal wildlife trade is deeply disruptive to our ecosystems. A dramatic population collapse triggers knock-on effects throughout the entire system. Removing elephants in large numbers, for example, means that plant seeds are not spread widely. Other species, whose diets rely on plant diversity, must endure this shift. As species populations dwindle, their genetic diversity decreases and disease is more easily spread.


If the animals are the first victims of these criminals, then good governance and the rule of law are not far behind

And the changes are equally unbalancing for communities. Those reliant on their immediate surroundings for sustenance find themselves suddenly facing inhospitable environments. Where magnificent animals like rhinos and gorillas attract tourists, those who rely on the tourism industry suffer the animals’ absence. Where tourism drives the economy, the effect is devastating.

A look at the money involved explains why. A recent report by the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) and Interpol estimated the value of transnational organised environmental crime, including illegal exploitation of wildlife and forest resources, at up to US$213bn (£137bn) annually. This economic loss is particularly felt in developing countries where natural resource wealth represents a foundation for sustainable development. That this revenue instead goes to line the pockets of criminals compounds the issue.


Where crime flourishes, corruption blooms. As the rule of law is undermined, criminality multiplies. If the animals are the first victims of these criminals, then good governance and the rule of law are not far behind.

Indeed, illicit wildlife trade supports organised crime and non-state armed groups. Ivory funds militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, and horse gangs in Sudan, Chad and Niger. READ MORE HERE

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

WHO IS BUYING IVORY? YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED


By Mark Strauss, National Geographic
August 12, 2015

The majority of people who buy products made from ivory say they would support banning the sale of ivory.

That conflicting sentiment is one of several surprising findings in a new international survey published Wednesday by the National Geographic Society and GlobeScan.

The study represents an effort to better understand what motivates people in the United States and Asian countries to continue purchasing ivory, despite years of efforts to raise awareness about how the illegal trade is fueling the mass slaughter of elephants.

This tragedy, however, can’t compete with the allure of “white gold”—especially among young fashionistas in low- to middle-income brackets who see ivory as a way to project an image of wealth and social status, the survey finds.

In the United States and the Philippines, concerns about the plight of elephants are offset by the perception that governments ultimately will make sure the animals don’t become extinct. By contrast, Vietnamese believe that the elephant population is declining so rapidly that they had better buy as much ivory as possible before the supply disappears. Read Full Story Here

Thursday, August 6, 2015

TROPHY HUNTING SALES: FUNDING AFRICAN LION BONE TRADE IN ASIA!!


In the first full research report of its kind, the trophy hunting industry in South Africa has been exposed as the main source of Asia’s rapidly expanding lion bone trade. The implications are that thousands of lions are being raised in South Africa to shot in cages, stoking a market for lion bone medicine that ultimately threatens the last 2,300 wild lions in the country.

African range lions have declined alarmingly over the last several decades due to rampant poaching, trophy hunting and habitat loss.

However, the report, which is jointly compiled by WildCru, the same Oxford University Research Unit studying Cecil the Lion before he was shot, and Traffic, an international wildlife monitoring trade network administered by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN), has noted that things could be getting worse for lions.


Highly prized ... the growing market for lion bones offers breeders a way of boosting their earnings. Photograph: Alamy

In 2008 Asian traders began taking an interest in Africa’s lions when the decline in tigers became acute. Tiger wine, made using powdered bones, is a much sought-after elixir in Asia. It allegedly cures a variety of ills and increases strength and wellbeing. With the demise of tigers, lion bones are now filling the gap with a sharp increase in lion products in the markets of Vietnam, China and especially Laos.

The South African Department of Environment (DEA) has raised concerns that the demand for lion bones could potentially threaten South Africa’s 2,300 wild lions.

South Africa, though, finds itself in a unique situation. Apart from the population of wild lions found mainly in the National Parks and smaller private reserves, there are also around 174 captive lion breeding facilities in the country where, at any given time, 7,000 lions are in breeding facilities exclusively used for trophy hunting.

Lion Bones are a Boost to Trophy Hunting Sales


A lion breeder in South Africa can get paid anywhere from U.S. $5,000 to $25,000 per captive-bred lion shot, but now, according to statistics released by the DEA, a breeder can boost his earnings by selling a lion skeleton, which is worth another $ 1,260 to $ 1,560 per set without skulls, and up to $ 1,890 to $ 2,100) with skulls (depending on the size of the skeleton).

Skeletons are sold to Chinese dealers in Durban or Johannesburg, then shipped to Asia where the product, once boiled down and bottled, could fetch a market value exceeding $20,000.

According to the South African Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) on lions not only is the practice of selling lion bones legal but it is fully endorsed by government, which views lion bones as economically viable and actively “promotes sustainable legal trade in lions and lion products” using a CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) regulated permit system. READ MORE

The Blood Lions story is a compelling call to action to have these practices stopped.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

SUSPECTED POACHERS ARRESTED IN TSAVO ELEPHANT KILLINGS

 

Kenyan wildlife authorities Wednesday arrested two suspected poachers in the slaughter of five elephants in Tsavo National Park. But a major manhunt was still underway to catch the rest of the killing gang after the carcasses of a female adult and four young adult elephants were found with their tusks missing, Agence France-Presse reported.


The five elephants were killed in Tsavo West National Park, which covers about 3,500 square miles and harbors some 11,000 pachyderms including rhinos, hippos and elephants. The reserve is near the border with Tanzania and is Kenya’s largest elephant sanctuary.


An illegal ivory stockpile is burned at the Tsavo National Park in Kenya on July 20, 2011, approximately 350 kilometers southeast of the capital Nairobi. TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images

"The suspected gang is believed to comprise ... four Tanzanians who operate across the Tanzania-Kenya border assisted by some Kenyans from the local area. They are believed to have used motorbikes to escape with the tusks," the Kenya Wildlife Service, which operates the park, told AFP.


Tsavo West and Tsavo East national parks together form one of the largest national parks in the world and cover 4 percent of Kenya’s total land area, making them a prime location for tourists and poachers.

Trophy hunting has been illegal in Kenya since the 1970s, but the lucrative ivory trade has fueled a demand for elephant tusks. Ivory is reportedly bought at $45 per pound from poachers and sold for thousands of dollars in Asia.

The combined Tsavo parks saw the elephant population plummet from more than 60,000 in the early 1970s to fewer than 6,000 in the late 1980s. The establishment of the Kenya Wildlife Service and an international ivory trade ban in 1989 have helped slowly revive Tsavo’s elephant population, but there has been an unprecedented rise in poaching across the African continent since 2009. READ MORE

Monday, August 3, 2015

CECIL THE LION'S DEATH BRINGS GLOBAL AWARENESS


In the ever evolving scheme of the wickedness of Wild Life Crime , the death of Cecil the lion, barely registers on the most sensitive Wildlife Crime Richter scale.

Walter Palmer, the dentist from Minnesota has attracted outrage and anger from people around this planet.

In African areas where conservancies have collapsed, wildlife has largely been wiped out, and wildlife is worth more money dead than alive.

The good news about the death of Cecil is that he has raised world wide awareness of conservationists pleading for help in reversing the global politics that endanger the key stone species in Africa.

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The African Elephant population is dwindling to near extinction due to the massive blood ivory trade. Without the elephant, all forms of African wildlife are at risk of extinction as well... Without the elephant to provide water, the big cats and other wildlife can not survive.


Amara Conservation has been contributing immensely with awareness around communities living adjacent to the National Parks and private owned sanctuaries in Tsavo Kenya, conservation education enables people to realize how natural resources and ecosystems affect each other and how resources can be used wisely.

Through conservation education, people develop the critical thinking skills they need to understand the complexities of ecological problems. It also encourages people to act on their own to conserve natural resources and use them in a responsible manner by making informed resource decisions.


The communities with scenic landscapes that are easy to access and have adequate infrastructure can make enough from eco/photo tourism to be viable. But other landowners are returning to cattle, goats and crops in order to educate and fend for their children.

Wildlife on these lands has largely gone, along with its habitat - back to the degraded agriculture landscapes from years back when wildlife use including hunting became legal.

Lions and other wild animals that were on these farmlands are long gone, and those that remain in national parks are shot as problem animals as soon as they leave the park. With this reckless human interference, the natural order of life is disrupted and the whole animal kingdom suffers for it.
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