In South Africa, domestic trade of rhinoceros horn, forbidden since 2008, is about to become legal again. On April 7 2017, a court effectively overturned the national ban. This controversial move was welcomed by commercial rhino breeders, who argue that legalising safe, sustainable horn removal from living animals could prevent wild rhino poaching. But animal preservation groups have warned that any legal trade would have the opposite effect.
Hunting is a major driver of biodiversity loss, but a systematic large-scale estimate of hunting-induced defaunation was lacking until now. In a new study published in Science, an international team of ecologists and environmental scientists warns that bird and mammal populations decline sharply in zones of 7 to 40 kilometers around villages and roads where hunters have access to nature.
I’m a Japanese woman married to a British diplomat. We keep moving places every 3 to 4 years and currently live in Malawi after staying four years in Kenya. Since our Kenya days, we’ve visited a number of national parks and game reserves in Kenya, Zambia and South Africa to appreciate rich African wildlife. The sad thing is that wherever we go, we learn that parks are suffering from a serious problem of poaching. The main victims are elephants and rhinos for their tusks and horns and Malawi is not an exception.
Dedicating 56 years of his life to animal welfare and conservation, South African vet Hymie Ebedes became world-renowned for his expertise and pioneering work across not only the African continent, but also in countries such as China, Israel, Australia and Spain. Therefore, the 24th November 2015 will not just be the day a family unite to mourn the loss of a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, but the day the world mourns the loss of one of its finest forerunners of veterinary care.
The planned destruction of 2.6 tonnes of ivory was blocked yesterday by Tanzanian authorities who argued that the tusks were needed as evidence for prosecution of suspected poachers. The ivory in question had been seized by Malawi Revenue Authority in 2013 from two wildlife traffickers, Patrick and Chauncy Kaunda, and the High Court of Mzuzu had ordered its destruction as part of the sentencing on 28th July this year.
University of Washington biologist Samuel Wasser is a pioneer in using DNA evidence to trace the origin of illegal ivory and help police an international trade that is decimating African elephant populations. The broadest application yet uses DNA from tons of ivory samples associated with large-scale trafficking. Results show that over the past decade, ivory has largely come from just two areas in Africa -- one each for the forest and savanna elephants. The findings are published June 18 in the journal Science.
An undercover survey of the Port of Mombasa by the Elephant Action League & WildLeaks reveals important vulnerabilities and weaknesses in shipping security procedures and confirms how corruption facilitates the role of the port as a major hub in ivory trafficking, with serious national and international security implications.
In November 2014, the Environmental Investigation Agency released its report Vanishing Point, revealing how a combination of criminality and corruption in Tanzania had caused the country to lose more elephants to poaching than any other African nation. Figures in the report made for sobering reading. According to the Government’s own figures, the elephant population in the Selous ecosystem had crashed from 38,975 in 2009 to just 13,084 by late 2013. The population in the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem declined from 31,625 to 20,090 during the same period, making it home to more elephants than any other region of Tanzania.
The Government of Congo will incinerate nearly five tons of seized ivory, fuelled by seized timber, in a strong show of Africa’s opposition to wildlife crime. The ceremony will precede the announcement, in Brazzaville, of the first pan-African strategy to combat the illicit trade in flora and fauna. The document and a draft action plan will be taken to the African Union Summit to be held in Durban in June.
African Heads of State, government representatives and experts are gathering at the International Conference on Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa where they will develop a common roadmap to end wildlife trafficking on the continent. The Conference will seek to advance the first-ever Africa-wide strategy and action plan to tackle the illegal trade in wild fauna and flora, to be further considered at the next African Union Heads of State Summit later this year.
Last Thursday Malawi’s World Wildlife Day commemorations caught the attention of the world when the President, His Excellency, Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika, stepped out to lead the country’s biggest demonstration of support so far in the fight against wildlife crime. And whilst the planned burning of 4 tonnes of ivory was postponed, there were strong words from His Excellency on the Government’s intentions. “Today we will not burn the ivory, I am told there is a court case on the same and once that is concluded, we will burn all the 6.6 tonnes together. The destruction of the ivory stockpile is not merely an action of government to protect the future of the country’s dwindling elephant population but also to send a strong signal to the rest of the world about Malawi’s commitment to the fight against wildlife crime.”
In a milestone development, the East African Court of Justice has declared that constructing a paved asphalt road across the world famous Serengeti National Park is unlawful. The Judges have restrained the Tanzanian Government from constructing the road. The judgement in essence confirms that the prestigious Serengeti ecosystem is an invaluable world heritage site and that deserves optimal protection and restraint from high impact development that can interfere with the functions of the ecosystem to humankind.
Congo. The name alone inspires myriad emotive images: heart of Africa, endangered gorillas, impenetrable jungles, iconic wildlife, vivid cultures, political corruption, genocidal wars, mineral riches, desperate poverty and now, oil. This drama and wonder is embodied in the microcosm of Virunga National Park, a small but crucial part of the Democratic Republic of Congo bordering Uganda and Rwanda. Virunga is Africa’s first protected area and hosts the planet’s most diverse range of terrestrial ecosystems. Virunga was once paradise. It survives today against shocking odds. But many predict that, if oil is extracted, Virunga will become a hell on earth.
Cat Holloway, for the African Conservation Foundation, explores how drilling for oil in Virunga could change everything - and not only in Africa.
On the 10th of June 2014, British Oil Company SOCO International and WWF released a joint statement that SOCO will stop any oil operation in the Virunga National Park in eastern DRC. SOCO International is coordinating and undertaking seismic activities in Virunga since the beginning of this year. While welcoming the initiative to withdraw from the Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, local NGOs express their concerns.
Virunga National Park’s conservationists and activists are celebrating a victory today after British oil company SOCO International plc (SOCO) agreed to end its controversial operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). But the devil is in the details and many believe the war against drilling for oil in Africa’s oldest national park has just begun.