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Articles : First Cheetah cubs born in Malawi in over two decades

on 2017/11/15 17:50:51 (441 reads)

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Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and African Parks made history in May 2017, when a small founder population of Cheetahs was successfully relocated to Liwonde National Park in Malawi, restoring the population of this threatened species at least 20 years after its extinction in the country. Now, history has been made again, as the first cubs have been born to these Cheetahs, making them the first wild cubs to be born in Malawi in 20 years.

In late 2016, the South African wild Cheetah population reached new levels, with most safe spaces for Cheetahs fully occupied. The EWT and African Parks thus began to plan for a reintroduction of Cheetah into Liwonde National Park, Malawi. Under the management of African Parks in partnership with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), Liwonde National Park and two other reserves in Malawi are being well protected and security has been vastly improved, creating more than 300,000 hectares of safe space for establishing Cheetah populations. In May 2017, four Cheetahs were taken from Mountain Zebra National Park, Amakhala Private Game Reserve, Phinda Private Game Reserve and Welgevonden Private Game Reserve, and flown in a light aircraft, sponsored by FlyUlendo and Robin Pope Safaris, from OR Tambo to Liwonde National Park. After a short spell in the newly constructed Liwonde predator bomas, the four Cheetahs were released.

The Cheetahs immediately set about their normal business, feasting on the large amounts of prey available in Liwonde, and in mid-July, two Cheetahs were seen mating on Chinguni Hill, the highest point in Liwonde National Park. Three months later, the EWT’s Cheetah monitor based at Liwonde, Olivia Sievert, shared the exceptional news that four tiny cubs had been spotted, young enough to still have their eyes closed. The birth of these four cubs, the first in the wild in Malawi in over 20 years, is a massive conservation milestone, and an incredible indicator of how easily Cheetahs can adapt when moved to new environments.

The EWT’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project moves wild Cheetahs across a myriad different vegetation types with vastly different climatic variables to ensure the genetic viability of this threatened species. Under the auspices of this programme, Cheetahs have been moved from the Kalahari Desert to the mountainous bushveld of the Waterberg; from thicket vegetation in the Eastern Cape to the grasslands of the Free State; and in the case of the Liwonde reintroduction, from the Karoo semi-desert, where temperatures drop as low as minus ten degrees Celsius, to the floodplain grasslands of central Africa, where temperatures soar up to 50 degrees Celsius. Every time the EWT relocates Cheetahs to new environments, more is learned about the incredible ability of this species to adapt and survive, as they have been doing for millions of years.

Hot on the heels of the news that the first wild cubs had been born in Liwonde in October, it has now been confirmed that the second female Cheetah that was relocated to the reserve has given birth to at least three cubs. Both sets of cubs and their mothers will continue to be monitored. The EWT is proud to have played an integral role in this conservation success story.

About the Endangered Wildlife Trust: The EWT is a credible, impactful player in regional conservation, committed to identifying the key factors threatening biodiversity and developing innovative methodologies and best practice to reduce these and promote harmonious co-existence and sustainable living for both people and wildlife. Read more about the EWT’s work at: www.ewt.org.za or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About African Parks: African Parks is a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. With the largest counter-poaching force and the most amount of area under protection for any one NGO in Africa, African Parks manages 12 national parks and protected areas in eight countries covering seven million hectares: Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda. Visit www.africanparks.org to learn more. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

Contacts

Vincent van der Merwe
Cheetah Metapopulation Project Coordinator
Endangered Wildlife Trust
vincentv@ewt.org.za

David Marneweck
Carnivore Conservation Programme Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 87 021 0398
davidm@ewt.org.za

Belinda Glenn
Marketing and Communications Manager
Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 87 021 0398
belindag@ewt.org.za

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Articles : Extinction fears are raised as poachers kill their 139th rhino of 2017 in KwaZulu-Natal

on 2017/7/5 18:40:41 (488 reads)

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Image Credits: Gallo Images / Rapport / Conrad Bornman

The brutal assault took place on Sunday night, at KwaZulu-Natal’s flagship Hluhluwe-Imfolozi reserve. A total of 11 gunshots were heard before the discovery of the rhinos was made.

All six had their horns crudely hacked off by the poachers whilst they slept. Really f****** brave move, guys. When you do eventually get gored by one of these animals, you’ll have no sympathy from us.

A hundred years ago, less than 100 Southern White Rhinos were in existence. A conservation plan which spread them across African reserves restored that number to 20,000.

However, thanks to a barbaric spree of poaching, a century of hard work could be destroyed – Around 6,000 rhinos have been mercilessly slaughtered in the last decade. That’s 30% of the total population and it’s disgusting.

The shocking statistics of poaching:

. In KZN alone, 139 rhinos have been killed in 2017. We are only just halfway through the calendar year.

. The final death toll is predicted to reach 260 by 2018

. For the last four years, the national killing rate of rhinos has exceeded 1,000 a year. This equates to roughly three rhinos a day being slaughtered for their horn.

KwaZulu-Natal is currently the poaching hotspot of SA, after Kruger National Park ramped up their security to protect the animals. The reserves in the North East are under constant attack and are struggling to cope with the situation.

Read: Fury as SA’s most notorious poaching gang are released on bail

Earlier in the year, an Eastern Cape judge freed the notorious Ndlovu gang on bail after being caught with R1.2 million worth of rhino horn and hunting gear. This was a move that enraged the Chair of the Private Rhino Owners Association, Pelham Jones:

“To learn that a hardened criminal group of this calibre has been allowed bail and released from custody is unacceptable. We have in the past called similar situations to the National Prosecution Authority (NPA), and we find it bizarre and extremely alarming that, with the risk profile these individuals have, and the ability to perpetrate further crimes, are given bail.”

Stronger deterrents and punishments are needed for poachers. If the actions of a criminal minority can endanger a species, it becomes just as poor a reflection of our lawmakers as it does the poachers themselves.

https://www.thesouthafrican.com/extinc ... of-2017-in-kwazulu-natal/

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Articles : Beloved African Elephant Killed for Ivory—"Monumental" Loss

on 2014/7/3 17:20:00 (2444 reads)

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One of Kenya's most adored elephants, who had giant tusks and was known as Satao, has been killed for his ivory—a "monumental" loss, experts say.
Poachers shot the bull elephant with a poisoned arrow in Tsavo East National Park, waited for him to die a painful death, and hacked off his face to remove his ivory, according to the Tsavo Trust, an area nonprofit that works with wildlife and local communities.
Satao was particularly appealing to poachers as a tusker, a type of male elephant with a genetic makeup that produces unusually large tusks. His tusks were more than 6.5 feet (2 meters) long.
"Kenya as a country contains probably the last remaining big tuskers in the world," said Paula Kahumbu, a Kenya-based wildlife conservationist with the nonprofit WildlifeDirect. (Read Kahumbu's essay on Satao's death in the Guardian.)
"To lose an animal like Satao is a massive loss to Kenya. He was a major tourist attraction to that part of Tsavo," said Kahumbu, who was a 2011 National Geographic Emerging Explorer.
The elephant was killed May 30, but members of the trust announced his death on June 13, after verifying the carcass's identity. (Related: "Efforts to Curb Ivory Trafficking Spreading, but Killing Continues.")
"It is with enormous regret that we confirm there is no doubt that Satao is dead, killed by an ivory poacher's poisoned arrow to feed the seemingly insatiable demand for ivory in far-off countries," the Tsavo Trust said in a statement.
"A great life lost so that someone far away can have a trinket on their mantelpiece." (Read "Blood Ivory" in National Geographic Magazine)
To read more
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/ne ... d-animals-africa-science/

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Articles : USA: Three Reasons You Should Hug a Hunter Today

on 2013/9/30 16:16:05 (753 reads)

Being a hunter gets a bad rap today. Most times, when I see the evils of hunters being debated on Facebook or some other such medium, pretty quickly the debate deteriorates into name calling. "Hunters are more stupid than the animals they hunt." "Hunters like to carry big guns and kill things to compensate for shortcomings in their manhood." "You just hunt to get out of visiting my mother." OK, that one is true, but I have only heard it from my wife.

This blog is first and foremost about the training of hunting dogs. People like dogs and like to hear how dogs are trained, so, a (very) few people read this. But the elephant in the room is the notion of hunting. To determine if one has been successful training a hunting dog, one must take the dog hunting. And hunting comes with a great deal of stigma.

The stigma against hunting and hunters is regional. No one much questions hunting in places like Montana or Wyoming. But, I live near the third largest city in the US: Chicago. Cities and hunting go together like peas and carburetors. Meaning they don't. The percentage of hunters in a place like Chicago is quite small compared to more rural settings. A person in Chicago gets very little personal interaction (positive or negative) with a hunter. In the absence of that interaction, it is societal voices that colors one's opinions of hunters, and those societal voices that speak about hunters are often negative.

But, in spite of those voices, hunters are real people. And as for me, my feelings have been hurt. We hunters have collectively accomplished and are accomplishing some pretty remarkable things. Things you may not realize.

Let me be clear: if you are opposed to hunting, it is not my intention to try to change that. It is my intention to highlight a few of the positive things hunters are doing. Who knows, maybe you'll even hug a hunter today.

1. Hunters Saved The Peregrine Falcon From Extinction

Excessive use of DDT was found to cause egg shell thinning in certain apex predators, such as the peregrine falcon and the bald eagle. The peregrine was put on the endangered species list and DDT was banned in the US.

The problem with the peregrines was that the falcon population had fallen below a critical mass. There were simply not enough wild falcons to repopulate, and the species was headed toward extinction, in spite of the DDT ban.

The hunters stepped in to help.

There is a category of hunter known as a falconer. Falconers hunt wild game, but they do so not with a gun but with a trained bird of prey. The falconers had several things going for them that the biologists needed. They had intimate knowledge of the falcon. They had knowledge of captive rearing. And they had the birds themselves. Falconers taught the biologists how to breed falcons in captivity. Falconers surrendered their birds to be breeding stock. Falconers taught the biologists how to raise falcons in captivity and how to release them back into the wild. They also taught the biologists how to get more chicks by getting the parents to double clutch. The first clutch of eggs would be taken and put with a surrogate mother. The original mother would lay a second clutch. Voila...instant doubling of the chicks.

Due to the sacrificial giving and deep knowledge of the falconers, in 30 years the peregrine falcon has made a recovery and is no longer on the endangered species list.

2. Hunters support local economies

In Southwest Illinois, there is an area that is rich. It is not rich in oil, coal, or natural gas. It is rich in deer. This area is known as the golden triangle and consists of Adams, Brown, Schuyler, and Pike counties. In this area, there is a tendency to grow deer that are very large and grow massive antlers. Hunters travel to this area, lodge, eat and hunt in this area. Out-of-state hunters will pay over $400 for a license to hunt these big deer. Land is quite expensive in this area, and gaining permission to hunt land in these counties will cost quite a bit in the form of a "trespass fee". The economy in this area is flourishing for one reason: big deer.

Hunters spend more on their hobby today than they ever have. Access to hunting land is getting harder, so hunters travel further and part with more and more of their cash in pursuit of game. When money flows, economies are boosted.

In Iowa, the Ringneck Pheasant used to be very populous. Due to reduced habitat and consistently poor spring weather, the numbers of birds has dropped precipitously in the last decade. People used to travel to Iowa for the sole purpose of hunting the pheasant. Small town hotels and diners survived on the influx of out of state cash during hunting season. Now, entire towns are disappearing into the cornfields because there are no birds, and without the birds, there are no hunters.

In short, many states rely on out of state hunter dollars to augment and sustain their economies. Personally, I think helping out a poor community is a good thing.

3. Hunters Save Wild Places

Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden something along the lines of this: The best friend of the animal is the hunter who pursues him. Many organizations have been set up by hunters around animals that they hunt:

Pheasants Forever
Ducks Unlimited
Quail Unlimited
Ruffed Grouse Society
Whitetails Unlimited
National Wild Turkey Federation

There is one theme and one goal common to all of these organizations: Habitat. Ducks Unlimited started purchasing nesting cover along flyways so the nesting habitat would not be disturbed. Pheasants Forever manages lands across the country to help improve habitat for the birds.

If you talk to any wildlife biologist, they will tell you this: If you improve the habitat for one species, you improve the habitat for all species. Because of organizations like these, there are wild places that support wild animals. Places saved from urban sprawl. These organizations are run by hunters. Donations come in from hunters. And habitat is left better off because of hunters.

Hunters save wildlife, hunters help local economies and hunters save wild places. If you are opposed to hunting, I get that, I do. Hunting is a grizzly thing and is not everyone's cup of tea. I don't want to change your view on the hunting. I do want to change your view on the hunter. We are not the knuckle dragging, short-come compensating dolts we are often portrayed as. More often than not, we are highly environmentally conscious and active, and by coincidence of spending on our passion, we support local economies as well. All we really want is a hug.

http://www.chicagonow.com/training-th ... unter-hugs-three-reasons/

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Articles : Kenya: 32 Kenya Wildlife Service Officers Suspended Over Poaching

on 2013/6/10 17:35:19 (617 reads)

At least 32 Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) senior officers have been suspended to make way for investigations into increased poaching activities in their areas, Kenya's The Standard reported Saturday (June 8th).

The suspended officers include those in charge of parks throughout the country as well as several officers at KWS headquarters, said KWS Director William Kibet Kiprono.

The officers are suspected of collaborating with poachers and face permanent removal and legal charges if investigations confirm those suspicions, he said.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201306100016.html

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Articles : Online rhino horn auction draws few bidders

on 2017/8/28 14:50:08 (547 reads)

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JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's first online auction of rhino horn -- held this week amid outrage from conservationists -- attracted fewer buyers than anticipated, lawyers for the organiser said Saturday.

John Hume, owner of the world's largest rhino farm, organised the controversial three-day selloff , which ended on Friday.

Hume had "successfully concluded the world's first legal online auction of rhinoceros horn", his lawyers said in a statement, but gave no details.

"The auction yielded fewer bidders and fewer sales than anticipated," they added, "but the legal domestic trade has now been re-established and the road has been paved for future sales."

But "bidders were duly authorised to participate in the auction and were issued with legally required permits to participate," the lawyers said.

The auctioneers did not set any opening prices for bids, but all potential bidders had to pay a R100,000 registration fee to gain access to the online auction.

The auction was delayed for two days after a legal challenge and protests from conservation groups arguing that the sale would fuel poaching and undermine a 40-year global ban on the rhino trade.

Hume, who owns 1,500 rhinos on his farm north of Johannesburg and has amassed six tons of rhino horn, eventually secured a permit for the auction.

The auction organisers blamed the delays for the subdued sales.

Hume harvests the horns by tranquillising the animals and cutting off the horns -- a technique he says is humane and wards off poachers.

Hume organised the sale to dispose of 264 pieces of horns weighing a total of 500 kilograms. He is planning an offline auction next month.

The government has not publicly commented on the auction, which came after the Constitutional Court lifted an eight-year moratorium on the domestic trade of rhino horns in April.

South Africa is home to around 20,000 rhinos, about 80 percent of the worldwide population, but has suffered record slaughter by poachers in recent years.

Poachers have killed more than 7,100 rhinos in Africa over the past decade.

https://www.enca.com/south-africa/onli ... auction-draws-few-bidders

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Articles : Namibia

on 2017/6/20 10:56:29 (281 reads)

Windhoek — The newly signed Nature Conservation Amendment Act will empower the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration to ban entry into Namibia of foreign nationals involved in wildlife crimes related to the possession and dealing in elephant and rhino products, after they serve their prison terms.

This was announced by the Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Tommy Nambahu, last Friday during the wildlife trafficking workshop organized by the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Windhoek. Nambahu said the Act empowers the home affairs ministry to ban such individuals because the majority of culprits found guilty of illegal wildlife trading are foreigners, in particular Chinese nationals.

He said the current penalties for wildlife crimes are not sufficient deterrents, especially taking into account that trade and possession often involve foreign kingpins who are able to easily pay their way out of these fines.

It was the second wildlife trafficking workshop organized by the Chinese embassy to create awareness among local Chinese nationals in order to reduce trafficking of ivory and other threatened wildlife involving its nationals.

Nambahu's announcement coincided with President Hage Geingob signing the Nature Conservation Amendment Act into law at State House on Friday.

The Act seeks to increase fines for rhino and elephant poachers from the current maximum of N$200,000 to N$25 million.

The Act is aimed at urgently curbing rhino and elephant poaching, which have drastically increased in Namibia.

According to the Act, if found illegally with specially protected species a person will be fined N$10 million from the current N$20,000 and imprisonment of five to ten years.

During the signing ceremony at State House, Geingob said the increased incidents of illegal poaching are a serious matter and must be dealt with accordingly.

"I therefore welcome the stiff sentences this Act provides," he said.

According to statistics, 135 elephant tusks and pieces and 36 rhino horns were seized by the authorities in 2016.

A further 21 elephant tusks and four rhino horns were confiscated by the state this year alone.

Moreover, Namibia has been involved in two seizures of rhino horns, effected in South Africa and Hong Kong.

The Act also seeks to increase general penalties from the current maximum of N$250 to N$6,000 and imprisonment of three to six months for first time offenders.

Subsequent same offenders will be fined N$12,000 from the current maximum of N$500 and imprisonment of six to 12 months.

Fines for the illegal hunting of all protected species will increase from the current maximum of N$4,000 to N$500,000 and imprisonment of four to five years, while for that of all other species will increase from the current maximum of N$2,000 to N$500,000, and imprisonment of two to five years. Nambahu said the current levels of illegal trade and wildlife trafficking promote corruption, threaten peace and stability, strengthen illicit trade routes and destabilise economies.

He added that wildlife trafficking not only threaten the existence of iconic species but the very stability of the countries involved.

In addition, he said, wildlife trafficking has devastating impacts as it pushes species to the brink of extinction and threatens security, while undermining the rule of law and restricting economic development.

"It robs local communities of their natural resource base, including the economic benefits they derive from the legal sale of wildlife and hunting revenues. Combatting wildlife trafficking is not a short-term project; it is a long-term process with the guaranteed commitment from the government, private sectors, and of the communities that live with wildlife," he noted.

In addition, the amendment Act also increases fines for people who don't comply with the law regulating the possession and selling of wildlife, from N$8,000 to N$100,000, while jail time will be increased from two to 10 years.

He thanked the Chinese Government for their positive efforts and commitment to support Namibia to deal with wildlife crime, especially poaching and trafficking of wildlife products derived from species such as rhino and elephant.

He is hopeful that the awareness raising campaign and other measures by the Chinese government will bear fruit.

The Chinese enterprises living in Namibia created the Wildlife Trafficking Fund aimed to assist the Namibian government in fighting wildlife crime. The Chinese corporates living in Namibia donated N$100,000 towards the fund.


Source: https://www.newera.com.na/2017/06/13/n ... ish-wildlife-traffickers/

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Articles : South Africa: TROPHY HUNTING SAVED THE RHINO, SAYS PHASA

on 2013/10/9 17:06:53 (736 reads)

The Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA) said today that the abundance of white rhino in South Africa is almost exclusively due to the impact of private wildlife ownership and trophy hunters.

South Africa is home to around 19 000 white rhinos or about 75% of the world’s entire population. An extract from the Government Gazette 36117, dated 1 February 2013 on white rhinos states that rhino numbers have been growing at 7% per year from about 6 000 in 1991 to today’s figure of an estimated 18 800 individuals.

According to the gazette: “A number of key events apparently contributed to the exponential increase in the national population of white rhino since the late 1800s, such as the advent of translocations and policy changes both locally and internationally that created economic incentives for the private ownership and protection of rhinos.”

PHASA CEO Adri Kitshoff says that economic incentive is the substantial amount of money foreign hunters pay to come here and hunt. “A rhino can fetch up to R650 000, which is a massive incentive for farmers to dedicate their land to rhino and other wildlife conservation.”

“It may sound counter-intuitive but foreign hunters are the biggest contributors to the preservation of the species and if it wasn’t for hunting, the rhino might have already been extinct.” she says.

The biggest threat to rhino is poaching. In 2010 333 rhino were poached, in 2011 448, in 2012 668 and the figure for 2013 stands at 635 with some experts predicting it to reach the 1000 level. Kitsfoff says she is alarmed by the amount of people who still don’t know the difference between poaching and hunting. “Hunting is a legal activity which, in addition to being a very effective conservation mechanism, contributes approximately R2 billion to the fiscus every year and creates work for around 100 000 people, mostly in marginal areas. Poaching, on the other hand, is stealing,” she says.

“What’s more, the hunting and wildlife ranching community is very involved in anti-poaching initiatives. PHASA, for example, has raised R9 million through the annual African Wildlife Heritage Gala Dinner which is used to train guides, ranges and protected area managers as well as anti-poaching initiatives across the SADC region.”

For further information contact Adri Kitshoff, PHASA CEO, on 012 667 2048 or 083 650 0442.

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Articles : Kenya: Conservationists On the Spot Over Poaching

on 2013/6/20 15:09:18 (989 reads)

Kenya Wildlife Service is accusing some ranchers of colluding with poachers. The Star has established that many of these rogue conservationists are found in Northern Kenya, Narok and Tsavo

In January, an entire family of 12 elephants, including a two-month-old calf, were slaughtered by poachers in Tsavo National Park.

All the carcasses were riddled with bullet wounds and all the tusks had been removed.

It caused an international outcry with calls to arrest the poachers but to date no one has been apprehended.

Among those who were calling for the arrest of the poachers were non governmental organisations and conservationists. In what is becoming a case of the hunter being the hunted, the Kenya Wildlife Service is now accusing some conservationists of working with poachers.

Sources said a renown conservationist in Tsavo was behind the killing of the 12 elephants. Elephants know their handlers and those were killed assumed there was no danger.

"We have intelligence reports and we are already mapping areas where these NGOs are colluding with poachers," said an intelligence officer at the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Most of the groups, the Star has established, are found in Northern Kenya, Narok and Tsavo which have been hardly hit by poaching in the recent past, which begs the question what will become of Kenya's elephants if their protectors are turning against them.

The groups, sources say, have compromised security officers and some members of the judiciary who in turn are rewarded handsomely.

Their network is well organised. Those who kill the elephants, those who remove the tusks and those who ferry them are different teams.

"We are following some very crucial leads," said KWS spokesman Paul Mbugua. "We will take necessary action to those found culpable."

What is being investigated is where ivory of aged elephants - especially in Tsavo and Samburu conservancy - end up.

"We suspect they find their way to the market and this is what we are pursuing," said the KWS intelligence officer.

KWS, the Star has learnt, will now be scrutinising the operations of various ranch owners and conservationists who are suspected to be working with poachers.

Leading the pack of those being investigated is a renown conservationist who has a ranch in Laikipia region.

Sources who sought anonymity said the conservationist who is 'well connected' has been using his staff to smuggle ivory.

"He uses his staff to transport the ivory. He co-ordinates with security officers in the area," said the source who is an employee at the ranch.

The merchants, the source said, use tour vans which are never stopped by police and often pose as tourists.

"I have never known its destination but the van is escorted until it is past Limuru," the source said. "I have not known what happens after that."

The claims of conservationists colluding with poachers have been heightened by the recent arrest of a senior researcher in connection with poaching.

The suspect, Soila Sayialel, who is the deputy director Amboseli Elephant Research project, and her son Robert Ntawasa, were arrested by Kenya Wildlife Service intelligence personnel while selling six pieces of ivory weighing about 19kg last month.

The KWS staff said the researcher, who is also a KWS honorary warden of Amboseli National Park, was transporting the trophies at the time of arrest at Emali town along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway mid last month. She has however denied the charges.

Sources say high level individuals who include police officers and KWS personnel are involved in the poaching trade; their function is to provide a safe passage in the highways and parks respectively.

Senior police officers are reported to order their juniors to remove road blocks at certain times or asked not to inspect a certain vehicle along the highway. The notorious places are Maralal-Nairobi and Archers Post-Isiolo highway.

Some police officers have been accused of not preferring charges to the suspects while some magistrates order poachers to pay fines as low as Sh10,000.

Last week, a young male elephant was speared on Olkinyei in the Mara conservancy and the killers were later arrested by KWS and Mara Elephant Project rangers. The two suspects were later released after pleading guilty and paying a fine of Sh10,000 each.

"Some magistrates are taking advantage of the weak laws. We believe they are also part of the cartel," said Dr Paula Kahumbu, the executive director of Wildlife-Direct.

She is however disputing the claims by KWS that some of conservancy and ranch owners are colluding with poachers.

"I find it very hard to believe that these two people (Sayialel and her son) could be involved in this business. I can only trust that the courts will bring out the truth," Kahumbu said.

Maasai Mara ecosystem has lost 139 elephants to poaching so far. The immediate areas surrounding Olkinyei (Lemek Hills, Oldonyo Rinka and Naboisho) lost 32 elephants in 2011 and 38 elephants in 2012.

KWS says it is investigating some of the organisations dealing with wildlife-related activities in the area.

Iain Douglas-Hamilton of the Save the Elephants foundation based in Samburu says he does not see a situation where wildlife conservancy owners collaborate with poachers.

"I clearly don't understand how that could happen," said Douglas.

Judiciary registrar Gladys Boss Shollei said her office has not received any complaints that their magistrates are colluding with smugglers. "I have not heard about it. If it is true, that would be terrible," she said. "Now that it has come to our attention, the judiciary will investigate and inform the Judicial Service Commission as soon as possible."

Niall O'Connor, the regional director, WWF Eastern and Southern Africa, says anyone who has been involved in any kind of poaching should be investigated and if proven guilty, punished to the full extent of the law. "I cannot say if KWS has specific information on the alleged conservationists, but we need to ensure that people involved in any form of poaching and illegal wildlife trade are prosecuted," O'Connor says. "If we find that people that we trust to protect and conserve our wildlife are involved in poaching, it seriously damages the good work of so many other conservationists, who work tirelessly to conserve... We cannot allow a few to damage the great work done by so many. But we should not be afraid to investigate."

O'Connor said all ivory belongs to the state and asked those who harvest ivory from dead elephants to surrender them to KWS.

The future elephants of elephants is clearly at risk. Experts say they could be wiped out in our lifetime if the current poaching trend continues. O'Connor says despite the escalation of poaching, there is also a new and rejuvenated anti-poaching drive, led by the government through new amendments to the Wildlife Bill, stiff penalties, jail terms and disincentives to the many who have been involved believing its a cheap way to make money.

Under the Bill, Kenya Wildlife Service officials found collaborating with poachers will be removed from their posts. The Bill also provides for fines of up to Sh1 million ($11,800) for convicted poachers.

An estimated 360 elephants and 19 rhinos were killed in Kenya in 2012.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201306131526.html?viewall=1

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Articles : USA: Big bison-hunting season helps Yellowstone

on 2013/3/25 17:05:33 (760 reads)

BILLINGS, Mont. — Hunters killed more wild bison migrating from Yellowstone National Park this season than they have in decades, with the numbers driven by strong participation by American Indians who harvest the animals under longstanding treaty rights.

Roughly 250 bison have been killed since last fall after leaving Yellowstone for low-elevation winter range in Montana.

So there’s unlikely to be a repeat this year of the massive slaughters that killed thousands of bison in the past two decades in the name of disease control.

Wildlife officials said the largest harvest since 1989 is relieving some of the pressures posed by a burgeoning population. The park had more than 4,200 animals at the season’s start.

Still, hunting carries its own challenges, beyond criticism from animal-rights advocates.

After scores of gut piles from harvested bison recently were found outside the park’s northern boundary near the town of Gardiner, wildlife officials said they removed 8,000 pounds of bison waste and one carcass. That was done out of worry that the remains could attract hungry grizzly bears now emerging from their winter dens, posing a safety risk to nearby residents.

In recent years, government agencies that oversee Yellowstone bison have moved away from capturing them for slaughter or hazing them back into the park as soon as they cross the Montana boundary.

As a result, bison have access to tens of thousands of acres of historic grazing areas — and hunters have more chance to shoot them. Hunting is not allowed inside the park.

“This season has been really, really busy,” said Keith Lawrence, wildlife-division director for Idaho’s Nez Perce tribe. A federal treaty from 1855 recognizes the Yellowstone area as a tribal hunting ground.

For Lawrence, that’s much preferred to shipping bison to slaughter, which the tribe says violates its hunting rights.

But a limited slaughter still is possible this year. Park officials originally recommended removing 450 bison this season.

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stori ... on-helps-yellowstone.html

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