UK rejects claims of funding ivory stockpiles

The Foreign Office has rejected claims made by Tanzanian officials, including ministers, and reported in the media that the UK was to fund the storage costs of Tanzania’s ivory stockpile for 10 years. The information from the Africa Desk confirms that the UK will fund an inventory of Tanzania’s stockpile but will not be funding any treatment of the tusks or any storage costs of the estimated 120 tonne stockpile. This is at odds with some claims made publically by Tanzanian officials that the UK tax-payer would meet the costs of storage for 10 years ‘while a study is undertaken to determine the impact of poaching on the elephant population’.…

Terrorism link to missing pilot discounted

The search continues for missing US pilot Bill Fitzpatrick but a link to a terrorist attack on Kano Airport in Nigeria has been discounted by those involved in the search. Radio communications confirm that Fitzpatrick had left Kano Airport successfully. Bill Fitzpatrick went missing on Sunday evening on 22nd June. He was working for African Parks as a pilot on anti-poaching patrols. On the night he was on route from the United States and transporting a new spotter plane for the organisation. It was due to go on anti-poaching activities at the  Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo. On the Sunday evening he took off from Kano Airport in…

Minister Molewa refuses to disclose members of public panel

On Tuesday Minister Edna Molewa announced SA’s intention to implement an integrated management strategy to reducing rhino poaching – but the failure to change legislation related to the issue, the delay in signing a formal agreement with Mozambique following the signature of a MoU between the two countries, and the lack of decisive action against trafficking in rhino horn has conservationists questioning whether the government is truly committed to winning the war against poaching. According to the Minister, the strategy will  include boosting crime-fighting capacity in Kruger, establishing an Intensive Protection Zone in the hardest-hit areas of the park, translocation of rhino to lower-risk areas of the country and neighbouring…

Whale sharks bring in $10 million a year to the Maldives

One of the classic dive locations in the world is producing more income for the Maldives than previously thought. The whale shark population at South Ari atoll Marine Protected Area attracts an incredible 77,000 visitors each year and they spend US$9.4 million a year. The whale shark population at  South Ari is one of the few whale shark locations in the year where divers can be sure of experiencing these massive but gentle fish. The population is a resident year-round one and this small group of sharks account for nearly half of all Maldive shark tourism spend. The value of shark tourism to the Maldives has always been assumed to be high but…

Mock Ivory Burn sends clear signal to South Africa

All over the world today people who care are paying homage to the greatest of earth’s animals, the Elephant. In Cape Town, conservationists, sports stars and celebrities gathered in Blaauwberg Nature Reserve to celebrate World Elephant Day by igniting a fire of mock ivory against the backdrop of Table Mountain to raise awareness of the ongoing slaughter of African Elephants. They may face extinction in the wild with at least 20,000 elephants killed for their tusks last year, although many conservationists believe the death toll to be far higher. “The Cape Town Burn pays homage to the tens of thousands of elephants who have died needlessly to satisfy greed and…

Conserve living elephants don’t preserve the dead

It is the final fight to save elephants in the wild. Countries around the world are becoming more aware of the role that ivory stockpiles play in fuelling poaching and the deaths of elephants. Over the last 12 months countries have stepped up to the mark and destroyed or are destroying their ivory stockpiles to take the tusks of dead elephants out of the market place for good. Even China and Hong Kong, the two major destination countries of tusks have started to destroy their stocks. Other countries, in particular the United States, have gone further and introduced legislation that has effectively shut down the ivory trade in their borders…

Timber smugglers won’t heed China’s voluntary guidelines

Massive flows of illegal timber stolen from forests around the world will not be stemmed by voluntary industry guidelines currently being developed by the Chinese Government, environmentalists have warned. In formal comments recently submitted to the Chinese Government and published today, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has recommended the guidelines be replaced with a principled and legally enforceable ban on illegal timber trade into and within China. EIA’s comments were made in response to draft “Guidelines for Overseas Sustainable Forest Products Trade and Investment by Chinese Enterprises”, issued by China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA). In recent years, EIA has published a series of damning investigative reports exposing the methods and…

Neonicotinoids shuts down bees power plants

Neonicotinoids are a prime suspect in the loss of honey bees. They have been shown to interfere with the way that bees forage and navigate. New research now shows that the neonicotinoid pesticdes also impact on the way that cells in bees produce energy. Imidacloprid – a neonicotinoid – and Fibronil – a pyrazoles – have been shown to interfere with the actions of  mitochondrial bioenergetics. Mitochondria produces the power that cells need to do their work. Bees use a lot of energy during flight and any impact on the way that their cells produce energy can have devastating consequences. There is a growing body of evidence that neonicotinoids impact on…

Review of 5 Elephants by Rob Laidlaw

One of my most memorable zoo visits was to Toronto Zoo in 2012 with the Zoocheck Canada director, Rob Laidlaw. It was a great experience to see African Elephants, Toka, Thika and Iringa before they travelled across Canada and USA to their new abode at the Performing Animal Welfare Sanctuary in San Andreas, California. In my opinion, the transfer of the three Toronto Zoo elephants marks the greatest achievement in the history of Zoocheck Canada, a wild animal protection charity established in 2012. 5 Elephants is Rob Laidlaw’s personal endeavour to help human beings relate to elephants as individuals, both in the wild and in captivity. Given that elephants are…

Kenyan poachers go back to the future using spears and arrows

Modern technology is changing the way the poachers in Kenya go about their business killing elephants. Sadly this was shown on Sunday with the discovery of a still warm body of a 30-year-old tusker that had been killed by poachers and its tusks had been removed. The elephant had been killed by a poisoned spear. As modern technology becomes available to rangers to protect wildlife the poachers are changing tactics and going back to traditional methods of killing elephants. Gone are the AK-47s and back are the poisoned arrows and spears. Modern technology means that sensors can be placed around national parks that can instantly pin-point the sound of a…

Poachers running amok as rhino kills hit 618 for 2014

The South African rhino poaching epidemic continues unabated as the latest figures released today show that the killings have surged through the 600 barrier and now number 618 dead rhinos so far this year. That is an increase of 60 rhinos since the last figures published on July 11th. Looking back on the figures for July it shows a devastating loss of the rhino in South Africa – 122 of the creatures have been killed this month. It could have been worst as the first 11 days of the month say 62 kills. another 60 rhino have been killed since 11th. The latest stats have been released on World Ranger…

Elephant poachers penetrate South African borders again

A second elephant has been butchered for its tusks by poachers in Parfuri, northern Kruger National Park, 10km in from the Mozambican and Zimbabwean borders. SANParks officials discovered the two day old carcass with its tusks hacked out yesterday morning. No further details regarding the age or sex of the elephant were available and no suspects have as yet been arrested in connection with the crime. This is the second incident of elephant poaching in the Parfuri region of Kruger in recent months, highlighting the onslaught of elephant poaching predicted by conservationists, who have warned that rampant poaching in neighbouring countries would begin to spill over South African borders, and the…

British turtles are booming

It may take more than a day trip to the coast to see the booming turtle population but the numbers of green turtles on British dependency Ascension Island are booming. The latest survey shows that turtle numbers on the main beaches now total 24,000 nests – an increase of 500% since records began in the 1970’s The increase means that the beaches around the Ascension Island are now the second largest breeding population in the Atlantic Ocean. The future could be even brighter for the turtles and other wildlife as the governor signed in to existence 7 new nature reserves yesterday (28th July 2014) which included 3 main green turtle…

Urban trees saves hundreds of lives each year in America

A new national study of the way trees help clean the air in cities has shown that as many as 850 lives a year are saved across the United States each year and US$7 billion is saved in health care costs. Even though rural trees are more efficient at cleaning the air it is the urban trees found in densely populated areas that has the greatest impact on human health. The study was undertaken by the US Forestry Service and was the first nation-wide study to look at the estimate of air pollution removal by trees. The researchers calculated that trees were saving 850 lives a year and reducing the…

US$20 million peruvian hardwoods seized in international operation

An international operation involving Interpol and the World Customs Organisation (WCO) has seen US$20.6 million of illegal timber confiscated that had originated from Peru’s forests. Law enforcement officers from Brazil, China, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Peru took part in the operation and they were supported by Interpol offices spanning South America including the National Central Bureaus in Brazil and Peru, and Regional Bureaus in Argentina and El Salvador. In addition to seizing 15,000 m3 of timber officials also seized 2 ships used for transporting the illegal timber and timber-cutting machinery. Officials along the border with Brazil and port authorities targeted logging and timber shipments with increased checks to ensure any…

Controversial bee project buzzing with success

A bee re-introduction plan in Kent which led to outrage in Sweden appears to be working as researchers discover workers in the fields – a sure sign of the queen bees having bred. There has been a number of failed attempts at reintroducing the short-haired bumblebee to Kent in this year it may have finally been successful. It appears that it has been no easy task for the team to bring back the short-haired bumble bee to Dungeness and the Romney Marshes with attempts to introduce the species from New Zealand failing and at least two previous attempts to introduce queen bees from Sweden also having failed. However 2014 appears to…

One tenth of bird species flying under the conservation radar

More than 350 newly recognised bird species have been assessed by BirdLife International for the first time on behalf of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Worryingly, more than 25% of these newly recognised birds have been listed as threatened on the IUCN Red List – compared with 13% of all birds – making them urgent priorities for conservation action. The first of a two-part comprehensive taxonomic review has focussed on non-passerine birds – such as birds of prey, seabirds, waterbirds and owls – and has led to the recognition of 361 new species, that were previously treated as ‘races’ of other forms The new total of 4,472 non-passerines…

Court orders police investigation into bird charity

Intense lobbying by a hunting group in Malta has led to the magistrates court ordering police to investigate international wild bird charity Birdlife. The case involves Birdlife volunteers who handled protected species after rescuing them. Police had previously investigated the case and dropped the investigation quickly. In October 2012 6 volunteers from Birdlife were photographed for an article in local media about rescuing injured and shoot birds. The birds that had been photographed were protected species and handlers needed special licenses to disturb the species. A complaint was made to the police who investigated the situation and decided that as no crime was intended and the volunteers where trying to…

93% of logging in Mozambique is illegal

Insatiable Chinese demand for timber is driving a grossly unsustainable illegal logging and timber smuggling crisis which threatens to undermine Mozambique’s forest resources. Launching the new report First Class Crisis today, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) revealed that a staggering 93 per cent of logging in Mozambique during 2013 was illegal. Research, undercover investigations and analysis conducted by EIA from 2013-14 demonstrate that the key driver of forest crime in Mozambique is ongoing demand from China. Some 76 per cent of all global timber exports from Mozambique in 2013 were illegally cut in excess of reported harvests – and the vast majority of them (averaging 93 per cent from 2007-13)…

African Conservationists Call on Retailer to Cease Sales of Elephant Ivory

Conservationists from leading African organizations are appealing to internet retail giant Rakuten to immediately cease sales of elephant ivory products during the current poaching epidemic. Rakuten is stimulating market demand for elephant ivory by facilitating the sale of tens of thousands of ivory products. “We appeal to Rakuten to help protect Africa’s elephants by banning all ads offering ivory for sale on its Japanese website,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Founder and CEO of Kenya’s Save the Elephants. “With so many African elephants being killed for their ivory, it is vital to reduce demand for ivory in Japan.” Up to 50,000 African elephants are poached annually to satisfy the demand for ivory…