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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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. 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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


Cameroon responds to reappearance of poachers at Bouba-Ndjidda

The Cameroon government has launched Operation Peace at Bouba-Ndjidda after the discovery of elephant poachers operating in the national park again. In an effort to prevent a repeat of the 2012 slaughter of elephants a full scale military operation has been launched to track down and eradicated the poachers. On January 16th a military patrol hear gunfire in the national park and went to investigate. They discovered 10 dead elephants. The patrol came from the permanent  4th Rapid Intervention Battalion (4th Bir) which was formed after the killing of hundreds of elephants in a couple of months during 2012. On the discovery of the elephant bodies the government launched the latest […]


Special forces set for Kaziranga National Park

Not so long ago the rhinos of Kaziranga National Park had to rely on rangers equipped with little more than a shot gun or wooden staff for protection. It was only a few years ago the rangers were lucky to have boots to wear for patrols. Soon though that will all change as an application has been put into the Indian central government for a special force of 1200 highly trained and equipped rangers to operate against the rhino poachers of Kaziranga. No longer will a .303 bolt action rifle of a ranger have to take on Kalashnikovs and military grade weapons of the poaching gangs. The new force will […]


Ugandan officials intercept $1.5 million ivory heading to Amsterdam

Customs officials in Entebbe International Airport have made a large seizure of ivory and pangolin scales that were destined to be flown to Amsterdam. 700kg of tusks and 2 tonnes of pangolin scales were confiscated. Customs officials discovered the haul packed into three boxes that had been marked for export to Amsterdam. The tusks had evidence that they had recently been removed from elephants. The first box contained 76 tusks, the second box had 61 tusks and pangolin skins while the third box contained purely pangolin skins. The boxes had been marked up for communications equipment needing to go to Amsterdam for repairs and had already been cleared for customs. […]

It’s World Rhino Day today

South Africa confirms 2014 worst on record for rhino poaching – TRAFFIC’s response

Official figures released today by South Africa confirmed that 2014 was the worst on record for rhino poaching.  A total of 1,215 rhinos were poached in South Africa in 2014, an average of more than three animals per day or 100 per month.  The latest figures illustrate the severity of the rhino poaching crisis with losses substantially increasing for seven consecutive years. The number of animals killed now raises concerns that rhino populations in South Africa may be in decline for the first time in nearly 100 years.  Increased support—both in terms of more rangers on the ground and more up-to-date equipment have been made available during the year—yet despite […]

garamba buffett donation

Garamba National Park receives USD2 million boost from Howard G Buffett Foundation

African Parks’ efforts to resolve the poaching crisis in Garamba National Park have been bolstered by a $2 million grant from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation (HGBF), a private foundation in the United States. The funding was used to purchase a the Eurocopter (Airbus) AS 350 B3 model helicopter, designed to accommodate a pilot plus five rangers with sufficient weapons and equipment for a 10-day patrol. It is equipped with night vision capabilities and has been fully-fitted for African Parks’ law enforcement operations to implement a variety of dedicated anti-poaching and support initiatives. These include: show-of-force operations, the rapid deployment of anti-poaching rangers, surveillance flights, the transportation of tracker teams […]


Is Lush Cosmetics celebrating environmental crimes?

Lush Cosmetics have been effective at portraying themselves as a green and ethical company. But even those companies that guard their reputations make the occasional blunder. So it seems with Lush Cosmetics. Their new sandalwood inspired perfumes is called Smugglers Soul. The perfume is inspired by Indian Sandalwood and would appear to be just another perfume… until you take a closer look at the packaging. There clearly displayed on the label is a picture of notorious Indian poacher Veerappan. The story that goes with the perfume is even more explicit with Veerappan holing up his gun that he used to use to kill elephants and the story of the sandalwood […]

wild boar

There should be no cull of wild boar because of one fatal conflict

Despite the tragic death of a motorist who collided with a wild boar near Swindon there should be no widespread cull of the animal. A number of wildlife, conservationists and rural organisations are calling for a large cull of the animals because of the damage they do and the fatality has given them the opportunity to press hard for the action. As tragic as the death is the impact of wild boar on the countryside is minimal and the current calls for culling is not justifiable. When you have wild animals and humans living in close contact there will always be conflicts – including the occasional death. But in the […]


What would you do with 6 tons of crushed ivory?

Back in November 2013 the United States crushed its stockpile of ivory. Now the US government is looking for ideas about how to use this crushed ivory to educate the world about the issues that surround elephant poaching and the illegal trade in tusks. People have until the end of March 2015 to submit their ideas on how to put the ivory to good use. The Ivory Crush Challenge is being run by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. They are looking for ideas about how to use the remains of the ivory in an educational display that will be exhibited at various locations – such as zoos, museums and […]


New report examines $2 billion bear trade

A new report assessing the $2 billion a year trade in bears and their parts reveals the scale of the illegal trade. Produced by Interpol the report demonstrates some of the methods that illegal traffickers use to get their products through borders and to their customers. It’s not just dead products and bear parts that are part of the growing trade in bears. One example highlighted by the Interpol report featured a bear smuggler trying to move live bear cubs from South Yunnan to Chengdu. Officials discovered 22 moon bears – Asiatic black bears – in the back of the car. The trafficker tried to pass the bear cubs off […]