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Tigers, leopards, bears and more seized in Interpol raids

Hundreds of animals have been seized and more than 160 arrests made in Interpol co-ordinated raids across Asia. Under the PAWS (Protection of Asian Wildlife species) programme law enforcement officials from 13 Asian countries moved in on wildlife traffickers. While the operation led to the seizures of high profile species such as tigers the focus of the operation was on the lesser known but still highly profitable species such as pangolins. The operation did not just cover street traders and markets but also online traders with social media sites also under investigation. The operation made major seizures of a range of living animals and also dead wildlife products. Included in…

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Specialist anti-poaching air squadron set to launch in Tanzania

Speaking at a hand over of donated 4×4 vehicles the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism in Tanzania, Lazaro Nyalandu, has announced that a special air squadron of 5 helicopters is set to take to the skies in the New Year as the country continues its fight against poachers. Despite the loss of a helicopter which crashed last month killing 4 staff, the Ministry has said that the new squadron will be ready to take on the poachers within weeks. The crashed helicopter is covered by insurance and will be replaced. A second helicopter is currently on the way to Tanzania and once new pilots have been trained in South…

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Anthrax, witchcraft and rhino poaching – the death of a wildlife ranger

The air over Sesfontein this time of year is usually a peculiar metallic hue, tinged by the talcum-fine dust whipped by the harsh desert wind blowing from the Skeleton Coast, 250 kilometres away to the west.  But today, the white heat seemed bleaker than ever, and another metallic taste stirred in the air: that of blood, redolent of greed and betrayal, of witchcraft and a strange death by anthrax. Boxer was dead.  As the oldest and most experienced tracker of the three-man Save the Rhino Trust’s (SRT) Damara-speaking team, Daniel Alfeus //Hawaxab – aka Boxer – was by all accounts an exemplary employee. At age 37, he had spent his…

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African Parks takes on the Chinko Project in the Central African Republic

African Parks has taken on the management of the Chinko Project in the Central African Republic (CAR). The Chinko Project, through a public private partnership with the Central African Republic Ministry of Forestry, the Environment and Tourism, has a mandate to manage this important protected area for 50 years. This brings to eight the number of national parks and protected areas that African Parks manages through public private partnerships with governments, wildlife authorities and communities and the total area of land under its protection to 5.9 million hectares. It also brings the organisation closer to its expansion goal to manage 20 strategically-selected national parks and protected areas by 2020 across…

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Chinese zoos plundering Zimbabwe’s wildlife

The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF), a non-profit wildlife organization , has issued a disturbing report claiming that wildlife in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park is being abducted and shipped to Chinese zoos.  ZCTF first highlighted this issue in April earlier this year when they were tipped that an Australian national in collaboration with a Zimbabwean were looking for elephants in Hwange to earmark for Chinese zoos. Now eye-witness reports from tourists visiting the park are coming in about blatant live captures of baby elephants. The elephants are then taken to Mtshibi Capture Unit about 7 kilometres from Hwange’s Main Camp. So far 34 baby elephants between the ages of 2…

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Put squeeze on Mozambique to stop slaughter of elephants

In the dead of night a group of men hack the meat from a corpse using rusted machetes and pocket knives. Together they’re like a machine systematically tearing flesh from bone, slashing and sawing with blunted instruments. By morning all that’s left for the vultures are stalactites of flesh that cling stubbornly to the ribcage, which gapes like a maw where the heart and lifeblood of the elephant once pulsed The slaughter is documented in a series of grisly photos that emerged from the northern Mozambican game reserves of Quirimbas National Park and Niassa National Reserve in October this year. They highlight the routine slaughter of elephants in that area…

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Rhino poaching smashes last years record

Rhino poaching in South Africa has smashed through last years record number. So far in 2014 1,020 rhinos have been killed for the horn. That smashes last years record for rhino deaths of 1,004. With 6 weeks of 2014 still to go the question is how high will the figure go? Todays rhino stats released by South Africa Department of Environmental Affairs have declared that the current official figure for the country has continued to grow. “Unfortunately the threat of poaching has continued to escalate while various multi-faceted interventions are being implemented by South Africa,” the Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa said. “We are concerned that poaching is part…

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Reducing the king of beasts to easy prey for ‘hunters’

Lions are majestic animals, the alpha predators of the African bush. We think of them as roaming wild and free across the plains. But this is far from the reality. South Africa has a population of about 2750 lions in national and private game reserves – and almost twice that number caged in pens. Since 2007 the conservation spotlight has been focused on rhino poaching. But looming as large is the intensive breeding of lions and other predators for the hunter’s bullet. These animals are being bred specifically to be shot in relatively confined or enclosed areas with little to no chance of escape. Canned hunting or ‘captive hunting’ as the…

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A million dollars of ivory stolen from Uganda’s stockpiles

It’s being reported that President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has launched a special investigation after it was discovered that ivory worth more than $1 million was stolen from protected stockpiles in the country. Routine checks by the Uganda Wildlife Authority noted that there was a shortfall of 1.33 tonnes of tusks recovered from poachers. The special investigation has been launched amid fears that staff from the Uganda Wildlife Authority are working closely with traffickers to remove seized ivory. The investigation is being led by the Ugandan Inspectorate General of Government – the country’s anti-corruption specialists. UWA chief Raymond Engena said the agency “remains committed to the fight again illegal wildlife trade…

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UN troops set to ‘march for days into the jungle’ in the Congo

The head of the United Nations mission in the DR Congo, Special Representative Martin Kobler, has told the Security Council that the UN troops in the DR Congo are ready to ‘march for days into the jungle’ in pursuit of rebels and militia. He said that the mere presence of UN troops in danger areas is no longer sufficient to protect civilians. While much of the Democratic Republic of Congo is becoming more stable after peace talks and agreements the east of the country is still experiencing civil war and atrocities. Rebels and militia are still undertaking mass murders – mainly of women and children – before escaping into safe…

Bile extraction taking place in a Laotian bear farm traffic

Bear bile farming surges in Lao PDR

The number of bears held in bear bile farms in the Peoples Democratic Republic of Lao has surged in recent years. In 2008 there were just 40 bears held captive but by 2012 the number had tripled to 122. With no breeding facilities at the farms the assumption is that the growth of bear bile farms is at the expense of wild bear who are captured to stock the farms. The growth of bear bile farms in Lao PDR is recorded in a new study that has been published. The study was undertaken by independent researcher Emily Livingstone and Dr Chris Shepherd from TRAFFIC. The paper was published 29th October in conservation…

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Kimberley Process is no model for legal rhino horn trade

South Africa is almost certain to try to push through a legal rhino horn trade at the CITES meeting in 2016. Those in support of a legal trade say a highly regulated system could raise money for rhino protection and slash poaching rates. Often those is support of a legal rhino horn trade point to the Kimberley Process of tackling ‘blood diamonds’. A report from a Panel of Experts at the end of last month on the conflict in Central African Republic demonstrates that the Kimberley Process is not as effective as thought and is pretty weak when it comes to trying to end the trade in conflict or blood diamonds.…

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Chinese criminal syndicates & corruption behind Tanzania’s elephant meltdown

A new report reveals that Chinese-led criminal gangs are conspiring with corrupt Tanzanian officials to traffic huge amounts of ivory, a trade which has caused half of Tanzania’s elephants to be poached in the past five years – even diplomatic visits by high-level Chinese Government delegations have been used to smuggle ivory.  In the major new report Vanishing Point – Criminality, Corruption and the Devastation of Tanzania’s Elephants, released on the eve of a major regional wildlife crime summit in Tanzania, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) details how the country’s elephants are being slaughtered in vast numbers to feed a resurgent ivory trade in China.  In December 2013, an official…

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United States set to boost protection of lions

The United States is set to boost the protection of African lions as it continues to fight wildlife trafficking across the world. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have submitted a petition to have the lion listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). They are also calling for a permit system for sport hunt trophies so only those trophies from countries with sustainable populations can be imported. Following a review of the best scientific evidence the FWS yesterday submitted their petition and called for the African lion subspecies (Panthera leo leo) to be listed as a threatened species. They concluded that the species is in real danger of becoming…

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Four leopard skins seized in Burnley, UK

National Wildlife Crime Unit officers and local police from Lancashire have seized a range of illegal wildlife products including 4 leopard skins from a house in Burnley. The search was undertaken on 23rd October and a 23-year-old man later handed himself into a local police station. During the search of the house a range of endangered wildlife items were discovered including: four Leopard skins, a Jaguar skull, a Sperm whale tooth and two stuffed Snowy owls The items seized are protected by international laws and are included on the Appendix A list of the Control in Endangered Species Enforcement Regulations 1997. Officers are now continuing with their enquiries and looking…

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First ivory trading prosecution for UK auction houses

The first prosecution of an auctioneer in the UK for selling illegal ivory has taken place. The prosecution of Chiswick Auctions resulted in a fine of £3,200. The ivory carving came from an elephant killed during the 1960s and was therefore illegal to sell. The piece of carved ivory was discovered by Wildlife Crime Unit and Arts and Antiques unit officers during an on-going operation against modern ivory sales in London. The piece was seized during a search of trade stands at the Portobello Market. The tusk was carved as a train of elephants. During investigations the tusk was tracked back to Chiswick Auctions who sold the carving in 2010 as ‘old ivory’.…

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Net closes on the Groenewalds as rhino poaching reaches 899

As the net closes in on the Groenewalds and their safari company Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris the South African government has announced that the latest rhino poaching stats for the country stands at 899. With just 10 weeks left in 2014 the number is set to beat last years record 1004 rhinos killed for their horn. Yesterday the Groenewald brothers were charged in the United States with a range of indictments including fraud and selling illegal rhino hunts to US hunters and also the illegal trade in rhino horns. The brothers have a long history of dubious rhino hunts with claims that they have worked with land grabbers in…

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Safari company charged in US with illegal hunting and rhino horn trading

The United States continues with its never-ending task of holding back wildlife crime and poaching of endangered animals by charging the owners of Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris with a host of violations. Charges include breaches of the Lacey Act, money laundering, fraud and trafficking of rhino horn. Dawie Groenewald,  46, and his brother, Janneman Groenewald, 44, both South African nationals, and their company Valinor Trading CC (d/b/a Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris) have been indicted by the federal government and charges include: conspiracy, Lacey Act violations, mail fraud, money laundering and structuring bank deposits to avoid reporting requirements. The charges were announced yesterday by Sam Hirsch Acting Assistant Attorney…

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United Nations launches emergency appeal for elephants of the Congo

The United Nations Rapid Response Facility has launched an emergency appeal to raise funds to fight elephant poachers in the Garamba National Park in the DR Congo. The launch comes just days after Mr. Martin Kobler, who heads the UN Organisation Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) said more international help is needed to stop the poachers. Kobler visited the Garamba National Park last week and said, “Armed group activity is eastern DRC is largely funded by the proceeds from illegal trade and trafficking of the country’s rich natural resources. Our efforts to track down these negative forces must also address the drivers of the conflict,” Despite increase action by…

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Indian lions losing their bite

Asiatic lions in the wild generally have good tooth health so when a group of doctors undertook a survey including medicals of lions in the Gir region of India they were surprised to see tooth decay. They also found minor bone deformities and officials are now looking into whether the water provided is contaminated with fluoride. Two doctors, Dr Jalpan Rupara and Dr Purvesh Kacha., produced a report, Ecology of Lions in Greater Gir Landscape, that highlighted that both lions and humans appeared to be suffering from fluorosis. The study area was Lathi Liliya which has a lion population of about 40 lions. Eight lions were examined and three were found to…