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.
The alarming results of the Great Elephant Census (GEC), the first-ever Africa-wide survey of savanna elephants, were announced on Wednesday at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress by Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Inc.. The census shows a decline of 30 percent in African savanna elephant populations in 15 of the 18 countries surveyed.
The future of elephants in Tanzania is bleak and it isn’t going to improve. But, there is a gleam of light in this ever so, proverbial, dark tunnel. The light comes in the form of Honeyguide Foundation. Founded in 2007, Honeyguide’s inception began with a small team of people looking to improve tourism in northern Tanzania that would be beneficial to local tribes and villages. Jobs were created, revenue was raised and as the foundation grew. So did their responsibilities and capabilities. Now, Honeyguide protects several parts of northern Tanzania and works across five of its community-based conservation areas.
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.
Last Tuesday two brothers were fined MK2.5 million ($5,500) each for trafficking 2.6 tonnes of ivory by the High Court of Malawi. Patrick and Chancy Kaunda pleaded guilty to charges of ivory trafficking and money laundering and chose to pay the fine instead of serving the 7 year jail term. ‘To say we were disappointed with the sentence would be an understatement.’ said Hon Werani Chilenga, MP, the Chair of both the Natural Resource Committee and the newly formed Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus (MPCC).
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.”
Renowned conservationist, Ian Redmond, OBE, today stepped forward to champion Malawi’s fight against wildlife crime following the Government’s announcement of its ivory burn this Thursday 2nd April [POSTPONED]. Head of State, His Excellency Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi, will set light to 4 tonnes of ivory in a show of the highest possible political will and a demonstration to the world of Malawi’s commitment to combat illegal wildlife trade.
Today the Government of Malawi announced that they will destroy their ivory stockpiles on Thursday 2nd April [POSTPONED]. Head of State, His Excellency Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi, will set light to 4 tonnes of ivory in a show of the highest possible political will and a demonstration to the world of Malawi’s commitment to combat illegal wildlife trade.
According to the latest figures released by the CITES programme for Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants, commonly known as MIKE, overall elephant poaching rates at monitored sites remained virtually unchanged in 2014 compared to the previous year. Poaching rates still exceed natural elephant population growth rates, meaning a continued decline in elephant numbers overall is likely.
Political and military elites are seizing protected areas in Zimbabwe, including land in the Kanondo area near Hwange National Park. The area is home to the Presidential Elephant herd, which are now no longer protected against illegal hunting.