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elephant

Kenya to burn 15 tons of ivory on World Wildlife Day

There are reports from at least 2 official Chinese newspapers that Kenya is to mark World Wildlife Day by burning 15 tons of elephant tusk and ivory. While we’ve not yet been able to get an official source from Kenya to confirm or deny the report, both Xinhua (China’s state run news service) and China.org.cn are reporting that preparations are underway for the destruction. Kenya Wildlife Service Corporate Communications Manager Paul Udoto told Xinhua that the KWS are unable to put a value on the elephant tusks set to be burned as Kenya does not recognise trade in ivory as being legitimate. The latest tusk burn is Kenya’s third and […]

gorilla

Virunga cleared of rebels claim

An unnamed official at the United Nations has claimed that the Virunga National Park has finally been cleared of rebel forces. The UN military adviser supported the claims of the DR Congo government that its army has retaken control of vast areas of the park following a weekend offensive. Joint operations by the United Nations forces and Congolese army was meant to take place in January but were delayed after the UN force pulled out. The UN demanded that the two DR Congo generals heading the army operation were replaced as they were under investigation for human rights abuses. The DR Congo government refused and decided to conduct the operation […]

Li Yuchun

Teaching elephants to handstand and taking chimps shopping – the life of a WWF Ambassador

A Chinese pop sensation who is a Wildlife Ambassador for the WWF has come under fire after taking part in a reality TV show based at a zoo. In the series a number of Chinese celebrities take part in activities with animals such as teaching elephants how to perform and do handstands or taking chimps out clothes shopping. The show is called Wonderful Friends and is based at the Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. The show has caused a viral storm on the Chinese social media site Sina Weibo.  Online science channel guokr.com also published a story on Saturday about inappropriate interactions between celebrities and chimpanzee cubs, including […]

ground pangolin africa

Fight over pangolin scales goes to court

The Ugandan courts will today decide on whether to issue an emergency injunction to prevent the export of 7 tons of pangolin scales worth USD4.3 million. The injunction will be decided in advance of a court hearing over the legality of Uganda Wildlife Authority ability to issue an export permit for the scales. While the original case was between Greenwatch – a Ugandan environmental organization – and the Ugandan Wildlife Authority, the trader and current owner of the pangolin scales is also claiming that he should be heard as a defendant because of the cost to his business if the permit is revoked. According to the particulars of the case, […]

vanquita

Mexico commits $37 million to world’s smallest porpoise

The vaquita is the world’s smallest porpoise and with less than 100 remaining its future may not be certain. Living only in the Upper Sea of Cortez the porpoise is threatened by the gillnets used by fishermen to catch the totoaba fish. With just 25 breeding females in the population any more losses could be devastating for the species. Mexico has just announced a $37 million action plan to conserve the species and it involves the porpoises being protected by naval drones and high-speed patrol boats. The plan announced by Environment Department official Rafael Pacchiano will last for 2 years and will see a ban on gillnets being bought in later […]

Badger baiting rises in England and Wales but convictions drop.

DNA breakthrough sends badger baiters to jail

Three badger baiters from Rotherham have been sent to prison for 12 weeks after DNA forensic evidence was used for the first time. The RSPCA used the skills of the Scottish Government Science and Advice Service for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) to place the men at the scene of the crime. Antonio Miguel Alonso-Brown. aged 24, of Shelley Drive, Herringthorpe, Nathan Swift, 20, of Hague Avenue, Rawmarsh and his brother Liam, aged 24, of the same address, all in Rotherham, were caught by police near a badger sett off St John’s Road, Unstone, Derbyshire as they tried to flee. Behind them they had left a badger with a smashed in skull […]

baby elephant

85% of Thai ivory traders close in 3 months

As the deadline looms for Thailand to get its domestic ivory trade in order or risk trade bans under CITES the number of ivory traders in Thailand’s main ivory market has dropped by 85%.  As traders have not been able to provide sufficient evidence of the source of their ivory the number of shops in Chatuchak and Tha Prachan have fallen from 200 to just over 30. In order to avoid being subject to CITES species trade bans Thailand was required to improve it’s monitoring of its domestic ivory trade. While it claimed that its domestic ivory trade was met purely by domestic ivory the figures did not add up – […]

forest elephants

China bans ivory imports – what will happen next month?

There was no big announcement and the source was a small article in the state run Legal Evening News but China has just made a major policy decision for elephants. The country has  – from immediate effect – banned the import of ivory and elephant tusks for 12 months. Is this just a short term measure or can we read into it some indication as to the stance of the central Chinese government next month when they meet to decide on whether to ban the domestic ivory trade. The announcement of the ban was made by the State Forestry Administration. The ban will mean that the government will immediately stop […]

landsat data

Deforestation rate soars 62% since 1990’s

A new satellite based study has shown that deforestation rates have soared by 62% since the 1990’s. During the 2000-2010 period 6.5 million hectares of primary forest was lost each year. An area equivalent to Norway being cleared every 5 years. The new study overturns claims by the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) who said deforestation rates were falling. The FAO’s Forest Resource Assessment was produced using collections of separately submitted reports from dozens of countries. The new survey, set to be publicised in Geophysical Research Letters, is based on actual data from images produced by Landsat. The images record the actual changes to land use over the 20 year period […]

tiger

India deploys undercover commandos to combat wildlife trade

India has deployed plain-clothes commandoes along the Uttarakhand and Nepalese border to improve security against smugglers and wildlife traders. The news was made public today by SSB Additional Director General Somesh Goyal. he also confirmed that operations have already started. Goyal explained that teams of specially trained plain-clothes commandoes were patrolling the border in order to work better with local communities and to be more effective at intercepting smugglers. He said, “The force wants to get maximum cooperation from locals residing near these transit and trade routes to keep a tab on smugglers and wildlife traders.” Operations are being undertaken along all 22 trade routes between India and Nepal.  Patrol […]

amur leopard wwf-russia ISUNR

Amur leopard population doubles

With barely a couple of dozen animals in the wild during 2007 the amur leopard was close to extinction. It still is but at least the numbers are heading up. From an estimated 26-30 adults in 2007 numbers in the last census show that at least 57 of the big cats now live in it’s main stronghold with possibly another dozen living in China. The 2014 census of Russia’s Land of the Leopard National Park used extensive camera trapping over 900,000 acres. it was carried out by park authorities and researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences with the support of The Amur Leopard Center and WWF-Russia. The camera footage and […]

rhino-drinking

Are synthetic wildlife products the way forward?

Is killing the demand for wildlife products such as rhino horn, elephant ivory and tiger parts the best way to protect our most precious wildlife or is growing the parts in a lab the way forward? A small start-up bio-engineering company called Pembient thing growing rhino horn, ivory and other wildlife products in the lab is the way to end poaching. Marketing themselves as ‘the De Beers of Synthetic Wildlife Products’ the company thinks it can produce the wildlife products at such a low cost that it makes no economic sense for poaching. The company has already been to Vietnam to test their lab produced ‘rhino horn’ powder. Despite their […]

elephant

Forensic DNA tests show majority of Thai ivory on sale comes from African elephants

Ivory traffickers be warned: the Thai authorities have a powerful forensic tool in the country’s drive to detect ivory of illegal origin entering its markets and ensure domestic traders are complying with new laws. A collaborative project between Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, has trialed forensic DNA examination of ivory products to assess the origin of elephant ivory products commonly available in local markets. One hundred and sixty items of small ivory products legally acquired by TRAFFIC researchers primarily from retail outlets in Bangkok were subjected to DNA analysis at the DNP’s Wildlife Forensics Crime Unit (WIFOS Laboratory). […]

leopard - ingwe

Name a camera trap programme launched

We, the INGWE Leopard Research team, have recently launched our campaign, named “Your Own Camera In Africa” on the popular crowd funding site Kickstarter. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1104331201/your-own-camera-in-africa With the aim of expanding our network of camera traps out in South Africa, our intention is to increase data collection that will help protect African wildlife, with a particular focus on the African leopard. Our unique method of using motion-sensor cameras to analyze leopard populations, territories and behaviors will help us towards their protection as unfortunately there are still permits available that endorse the hunting of these majestic big cats despite there being an obvious and worrying lack of data surrounding population numbers. The […]

tiger-cub

Flawed model questions reliability of wildlife surveys

A flaw in a commonly used wildlife survey and census method could undermine the accuracy of those surveys. The accuracy of estimated populations of endangered species such as tigers is now under question. A team of statistical mathematicians discovered the flaw and explained how results using ‘index-calibration’ are unreliable. The flaw impacts on major species surveys such as the recent India National Tiger Survey which claimed an increase of 30% in the country’s tiger population. The  team of scientists from the University of Oxford, Indian Statistical Institute, and Wildlife Conservation Society exposes the short-comings of ‘index-calibration’ and while they are not suggesting that tiger numbers are not increasing in India […]

Erik Mararv and Ambassador Guan Jian, Congo

New road set to boost anti-poaching activities

The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, has donated US$100 000 to conservation in Odzala-Kokoua National Park which will be used for the construction of a 27 kilometre road to connect the Number 2 Highway with the new Odzala-Kokoua National Park eastern sector base, extending on to the Mambili River. This ground-breaking Chinese initiative is the first collaboration of its kind with Odzala-Kokoua National Park, and in the Congo, and has been welcomed by the Republic of Congo Minister of Forest Economy and Sustainable Development, Henri Djombo, the European Union Ambassador to Congo, Saskia De Lang, and Odzala’s park manager, Erik Mararv. The new […]

Sunda Pangolin

Rescued pangolins sold to restaurants

When police from the northern province of Vietnam intercepted poachers and rescued 42 pangolins it might be safe to assume that eventually those pangolins would be released back into the wild. However once the pangolins were handed over to forest officials the officials decided to sell them to local restaurants. Conservationists from Education for Nature-Vietnam have been angered by the decision of the forestry department and accuse the officials of effectively supporting the trade in endangered animals. Even if, as claimed by officials, the pangolins were in such a poor condition they would likely die, selling them to restaurants should not have been contemplated. Nguyen Thi Phuong Dung, deputy director […]

ennedi

African Parks to begin Ennedi assessment

African Parks is pleased to announce that it has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Chad to assess the challenges and opportunities that would result from setting up Ennedi as a protected area. The MoU was concluded between the Honorable Mrs Rosine Djibergui Amane Baîwong, the Minister for Agriculture and the Environment, and Peter Fearnhead, African Parks’ CEO in the country’s capital, N’Djamena, on 3 February. Located in north-east Chad, in the Sahara Desert, Ennedi straddles the important Sahara-Sahelian and Sahel biomes. It is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its towering rock arches, rock paintings spanning thousands of years, and its quivering yellow […]

Hong Kong’s big ivory burn begins

The secret world of ivory destruction

Concerns are being raised by conservation and environmental groups about the handling of the ivory destruction in Hong Kong. From the high profile destruction of the first batch in May 2014 the following monthly destruction has been strictly ‘behind closed doors’. Each batch of ivory destruction since that first batch has been witnessed only by a select group of invited members of a statutory advisory body on endangered-species protection  That group is made up people who also have a vested interest in wildlife trade such as reptile traders, rare plants sellers and people who are involved with traditional medicine. Independent media and non-government groups and organisations have been barred from the […]

sunset cup coral

England launches consultation on 23 new marine zones

The UK government has opened public consultation on the next tranche of areas proposed to become Marine Conservation Zones around the coast of England. Depending on the outcome of the consultation the new areas will be designated by the end of the year. The 23 zones will add to the initial 27 Marine Conservation Zone that were designated in November 2013. A third tranche of zones will follow to ensure that England meets its requirements under EU regulations to ensure  Good Environmental Status (GES) in their seas by 2020. The total area of the 23 proposed zone is 10,810 square kilometres which is larger than the first tranche of 27 Marine […]

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