Tag Archive: Elephant


Tanzania halts anti-poaching drive after abuse claims




by Staff Writers
Dar Es Salaam (AFP) Nov 02, 2013

Tanzania has suspended a controversial anti-poaching operation following reports of rampant human rights abuses including the seizure of property, torture and killing of suspects, the speaker of parliament said Saturday.

Police and wildlife officers have cracked down on suspected poachers amid a surge of killings of elephant and rhino in the east African nation, operating under what was reported to be a shoot-to-kill policy and making sweeping arrests.

The campaign, launched two months ago, was dubbed “Operation Tokomeza”, or “Operation Terminate”.

“It is has been necessary for government to suspend the operation indefinitely,” Speaker of Parliament Anne Makinda told AFP Saturday, adding that a probe into the conduct of the campaign would be launched next week.

Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Khamis Kagasheki told parliament Friday the operation would be called off, adding that any member of the security forces found to be involved in acts of torture, theft of property would be punished.

Shortly after the campaign’s launch Kagasheki was widely quoted in Tanzanian media as saying that “rangers are allowed to shoot to kill poachers.”

On Friday, MP John Shibuda said while poachers have badly hit Tanzania’s elephant population, killing the hunters was unacceptable.

“Human life is more valuable than jumbos,” he told parliament.


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Execute elephant poachers on the spot, Tanzanian minister urges

Khamis Kagasheki says radical shoot-to-kill policy would curb the slaughter of elephants for illicit ivory trade

Elephant walking in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Tanzania, with 70,000-80,000 elephants in 2009, is thought to have nearly one-quarter of all African elephants. Photograph: Joe McDonald/Corbis

A government minister in Tanzania has called for a “shoot-to-kill” policy against poachers in a radical measure to curb the mass slaughter of elephants.

Khamis Kagasheki’s proposal for perpetrators of the illicit ivory trade to be executed “on the spot” divided opinion, with some conservationists backing it as a necessary deterrent but others warning that it would lead to an escalation of violence.

There are already signs of an increasing militarisation of Africa’s wildlife parks with more than 1,000 rangers having been killed while protecting animals over the past decade, according to the Thin Green Line Foundation. Tanzania is said to have lost half its elephants in the past three years.

“Poachers must be harshly punished because they are merciless people who wantonly kill our wildlife and sometimes wardens,” said Kagasheki at the end of an International March for Elephants, which took place in 15 countries to raise awareness of the poaching scourge. “The only way to solve this problem is to execute the killers on the spot.”


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Earth Watch Report  –  Hazmat  –  Animal Advocacy – Poaching

elephants watering hole photo

CC BY 2.0 ilovetrees


HAZMAT Zimbabwe Matabeleland North, [Hwange National Park] Damage level Details

HAZMAT in Zimbabwe on Monday, 23 September, 2013 at 14:24 (02:24 PM) UTC.

Zimbabwe’s government said Monday that a “poaching syndicate” has killed at least 81 elephants, unknown numbers of buffalos and kudus by poisoning in the country’s largest national park. Six suspects were arrested two weeks ago but the scale of the cyanide-poisoning has only gradually unfolded as more elephant carcasses were discovered in the sprawling Hwange National Park. Authorities on Monday warned “huge spiral effects” as primary predators like lions, vultures, and others that feed on the contaminated elephants carcasses would be poisoned as well. Police revealed that the syndicate, led by a South African businessman, mixed up a combination of cyanide, salt and water and poured the cocktail in about 35 salt licks at watering holes known to be frequented by elephants. At other watering holes the poachers would dig holes and place containers containing the deadly mixture into the holes. Zimbabwe’s newly appointed Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Savior Kasukuwere declared a “war” against poaching. “We declare zero tolerance to poaching. We must put a stop to this. We cannot continue with this non-sense,” state media quoted Kasukuwere as saying after he went to inspect the ecological impact of the poisoning — his second trip in a week. Tourism and Hospitality Minister Walter Mzembi, who accompanied Kasukuwere to Hwange, described the poisoning as case as “murder” of Zimbabwe’s our wildlife and pledged to take the fight to those international source markets. Hwange, spanning 14,651 square kilometers, is home to about 50, 000 African elephants. Over the years, elephant population in Africa has been rapidly declining due to rampant poaching. Zimbabwe is among a few countries, mostly in southern Africa, that still have a significant number of elephants. The Zimbabwean government allows ivory trade in the domestic market, but puts strong restrictions on exporting the ivory products. The country’s law provides maximum 11 years in prison for people convicted of poaching.

The Zimbabwean News

Zim elephant death tolls climbs to 81 after cyanide poisoning

More than 80 elephants have died as a result of cyanide poisoning at the Hwange National Park, in what is being described as serious crisis for the park.

Nine suspected members of a poaching syndicate have been arrested since the first of the elephant carcasses were discovered late last month. The carcasses were discovered after national parks authorities teamed up with police to track suspected poachers, after hearing gunfire in the park.

Investigations by the police resulted in the grisly discovery of the elephants, with their tusks removed. Further investigations led the police to nearby Mafu homestead, where six suspected members of the poaching gang were arrested and 17 elephant tusks were recovered.

According to authorities, the poaching syndicate laced salt licks with cyanide and placed the salt at main water sources where the Hwange elephants drink.

Since then, a large scale operation has been launched resulting in three more arrests and the discovery of even more elephants remains.

Johnny Rodrigues, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) said the situation is “very serious.” He told SW Radio Africa that greed and corruption was to blame for allowing poaching to reach such serious levels.

“The repercussions are just so big. All the carnivores in the park like your lions, your leopards, the birds, they will all have perished too from eating the elephant meat,” Rodrigues said.

He added: “The situation is just going to get worse and something needs to be done to stop the carnage.”

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Wildlife Extra

More than 2 tonnes of ivory seized in Hong Kong

world/Asia/2013/Hong-Kong-ivory-July-2013The ivory tusks were packed in 30 sacks and covered by wooden boards in the innermost part of the container. © Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department

Seizure of 1,148 ivory tusks underscores Hong Kong’s transit role in illicit trade
July 2013-Hong Kong Customs have seized 1,148 ivory tusks weighing 2.183 tonnes. The tusks were declared as timber and concealed in a 20 foot (6 m) container that arrived on a vessel from the West African country of Togo.
Repeated large scale seizures
It was the ninth large-scale ivory seizure made in Hong Kong since 2010, with a combined weight of just over 14 tonnes. CITES has defined large-scale seizures as 500 kg or more, and typically are indicative of organized criminal activity.

Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines and Viet Nam
Hong Kong, together with Malaysia, the Philippines and Viet Nam, were identified through analysis of the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) database as the main transit points for ivory arriving in Asia from Africa before onward distribution to the major markets in Thailand and China. Collectively, they have made or been implicated in 21 (62%) of the 34 large-scale ivory seizures made between 2009 and 2011, totalling 41.1 tonnes of ivory.

ETIS is the world’s foremost collection of ivory and other elephant product seizures containing nearly 20,000 records from some 90 countries or territories worldwide since 1989. It is managed by TRAFFIC on behalf of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), who met this March in Bangkok, Thailand.

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Anyone  with even  an  inkling  of  compassion  would mourn the  suffering  and  the loss of  this innocent life.  The  mourning is  doubled  by the  knowledge  that more and  more  often  it is  becoming  obvious  that  humans  are  losing their  humanity.  There  is  no  regard  for  life, there  is  no regard for suffering.  Humanity  has  been  lost  to  greed  and callous  indifference.  I choose  not to  use ignorance  because  even  one  who is  ignorant  understands  that a living  being   has  the capacity  to  suffer.  Ignorance does not  nullify  the   ability to feel  compassion.  This  cruelty  , this  callous indifference  to  life is  not  ignorance  it is  EVIL.

~Desert Rose~


The terrible fate of Raja the baby elephant, chained and held hostage by an angry mob: An image that will haunt you and a story that will enrage you

  • In this shocking expose the Duchess of Cornwall’s brother reveals how baby elephant Raja was shockingly mistreated as he was kept captive in Sumatra. Following the deforestation of the land to produce palm oil, elephants have been forced to live with humans, destroying farms, flattening houses and sometimes killing people. Villagers took Raja, and demanded compensation after his family ruined crops in the area.

By Mark Shand


In all the 30 years I have been working in Asian elephant conservation, I thought I had seen it all – blatant corruption, the rape and total disregard of our beautiful planet and sickening wildlife atrocities, to name but a few. All due to the most dangerous animal of all: homo sapiens.

Not much shocks me any more, but something happened in recent weeks that shook me to the core when the charity Elephant Family and the Ecologist Film Unit set out to document the environmental genocide that is out of control on the island of Sumatra,  Indonesia.

Sumatra is special to me because I spent a lot of time there on expeditions when I was younger. It was a paradise – vast pristine forests, intact coral reefs and abundant wildlife.


Raja is a male baby elephant found in north Aceh, villagers found him roaming community plantation and held him captive

Raja is a male baby elephant found in north Aceh, villagers found him roaming community plantation and held him captive

All this has changed now and their elephants are the most endangered on the planet. In a single generation, the population has been cut in half, with countless other animals disappearing at breakneck speed.

During the filming, a helpless, emaciated baby male elephant called Raja, who was barely a year old, was found in a village, shackled with heavy chains to a tree. He had been taken hostage by the villagers, who were demanding compensation from the Sumatran  government for the damage his family had done to their crops.

Can you believe that we are now  living in a world where people are actually holding baby elephants to ransom? It is almost unthinkable. But just look at the photographs – look at Raja, as he strains against his chains, waving his little trunk for food and reassurance. He is bellowing in desperation for his mother.

Can you believe that we are now living in a world where people are actually holding baby elephants to ransom?

Can you believe that we are now living in a world where people are actually holding baby elephants to ransom?

He strains against his chains, waving his little trunk for food and reassurance. He is bellowing in desperation for his mother.

He strains against his chains, waving his little trunk for food and reassurance. He is bellowing in desperation for his mother

I have heard that sound of distressed calves many times in my life. It never fails to haunt me. But it is his eyes that haunt me more than anything – pleading for help – innocent, desperate and helpless.

A war is being waged across Asia. In the face of relentless deforestation, elephants are being forced out of their natural habitats and they have no choice but to share their living space with humans. As the elephants’ forest home is destroyed, stressed and starving herds flee from the chainsaws straight into villages.

They demolish everything in sight, trampling crops, flattening houses and often killing people. Frankly, you really cannot blame the villagers for taking such drastic steps in the sheer desperation to survive and feed their own families.

Capturing a baby elephant and holding it to ransom is grisly and depressing, but it is reality as humans and elephants fight for space.

People need to know why this is  happening. They need to understand what is driving this madness.

Read More  and  View  Video Here

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Kenya to toughen poaching sentences to save elephants

by Staff Writers
Nairobi (AFP) April 06, 2013

Kenya plans to bolster current lenient sentences for convicted wildlife poachers or ivory smugglers in a bid to stamp out a spike in elephant killings, the government said Saturday.

“We intend to fight poachers at all levels to save our elephants,” government spokesman Muthui Kariuki said in a statement.

A major obstacle to this is that Kenyan courts are currently limited in their powers to jail or fine those convicted of wildlife crimes, he said.

“One of the major setbacks are lenient penalties and sentencing for wildlife crime by the courts,” he said.

“The government is concerned about this and has facilitated the process of reviewing the wildlife law and policy with a view to having more deterrent penalties and jail terms.”

Poaching has recently risen sharply in east Africa, with whole herds of elephants massacred for their ivory. Rhinos have also been targeted.

Passing tougher wildlife laws will be made a priority for Kenya’s parliament, elected last month but which has yet to begin business.

“We look forward to… parliament giving priority to passing of a new wildlife law and policy,” Kariuki added.

Kenya’s current wildlife act caps punishment for the most serious wildlife crimes at a maximum fine of 40,000 Kenyan shillings (470 dollars, 365 euros), and a possible jail term of up to 10 years.

Last month, a Chinese smuggler caught in Kenya with a haul of ivory was fined less than a dollar (euro) a piece.


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Kenyan, Tanzanian poachers arrested in possession of ivory

Souce:Xinhua Publish By Updated 07/04/2013 6:21 am

NAIROBI, April 6 — Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said two suspected poachers, a Tanzanian and his Kenyan accomplice have been arrested while in possession of six pieces of ivory weighing 43kilograms.

KWS said in a statement issued on Saturday that Emellian Shirima, Tanzanian, and Uchapa Mirie, Kenyan were arrested on Thursday in Taita Taveta in the coastal region.

“It is believed that the ivory was from a recent poaching incident in the area. KWS officials will prefer charges against the suspects for being in illegal possession, dealing with a government trophy and failing to make a report of being in its possession to authorities,” the statement said.

In February, two Tanzanians were arraigned in a Nairobi court after they were arrested with 16 pieces of ivory weighing 141 kilograms in Ongata Rongai Township on the outskirts of Nairobi. A Tanzanian registered vehicle was impounded in the incident.

Rampant poaching in Kenya has forced the wildlife agency to step up anti-poaching measures after experiencing a loss of 19 elephants since the beginning of 2012.


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Thai cop arrested with 20 elephant tusks
by Staff Writers
Bangkok (AFP) Feb 3, 2013


The haul was discovered when the suspect — in plain clothes but driving a police van — was stopped at a checkpoint in the southern province of Chumphon on Saturday, Police Colonel Chalard Polnakarn told AFP.

“We found 10 pairs of elephant tusks in the van and charged him with illegal possession of elephant tusks, which he confessed to during the investigation,” Chalard said.

The origin of the tusks was unclear.


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Crossroads News : Changes In The World Around Us And Our Place In It

Animal Advocacy : Poaching  – Conservation – Protection


Religious fervor drives elephant slaughter

Legal ivory trade failing to protect elephants

Sumatran elephants


The legal ivory trade is failing to protect elephants which are being slaughtered en mass across the African continent to meet demand for religious trinkets, argues a new investigative report published in National Geographic by Bryan Christy.

The report, researched and written over a three year period, looked at supply and demand the elephant ivory market. It found that substantial quantities of ivory is being used to make religious trinkets including “ivory baby Jesuses and saints for Catholics in the Philippines, Islamic prayer beads for Muslims and Coptic crosses for Christians in Egypt, amulets and carvings for Buddhists in Thailand, and in China—the world’s biggest ivory-consumer country—elaborate Buddhist and Taoist carvings for investors,” according to a post on National Geographic News.

Ivory is coming primarily from the black market. The cost for elephants is high: a conservative estimate puts the slaughter at 25,000 elephants in 2011 alone.

The article argues that decisions made by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the organization that sets policies to regulate trade in wildlife products, have played a critical role in facilitating elephant ivory trafficking. Specifically, one-off ivory sales sanctioned by CITES have buoyed demand for ivory products and confused the marketplace into the legality of elephant ivory.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a group that campaigns against the elephant ivory trade, says Blood Ivory reveals the “enormity and extent of the illegal international trade in ivory” and shows that “the CITES ivory-trading mechanism is profoundly flawed, empirically unsupportable and has itself become a major driver of poaching and the illegal international trade in ivory.” The group is calling for a re-evaluation of CITES’ policies.

One Ton of Illegal Ivory Seized in New York

PHOTO: More than 70 boxes of endangered, illegal ivory goods seized by the Manhattan district attorney were put on display, July 12, 2012.

More than 70 boxes of endangered, illegal ivory goods seized by the Manhattan district attorney were put on display, July 12, 2012. (Manhattan District Attorney’s Office)

Two defendants pleaded guilty in Manhattan Thursday to selling and offering for sale a ton of ivory items worth more than $2 million harvested from endangered and threatened elephants , one of the largest seizures in New York history and a sign that the trade in endangered animals still thrives despite the best efforts of conservationists and law enforcement.

“Poachers should not have a market in Manhattan,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance at a press conference at which he displayed more than 70 boxes holding Buddhas, bracelets and decorated elephant tusks, a fraction of the ton of illegal ivory seized by his office after a year-long investigation. “It is unacceptable that tusks from elephants wind up being sold as mass-produced jewelry and unremarkable decorative items in this city.”

“The world’s elephants are not a ready supply of ivory for those who want to own and sell it,” added Neil Mendelsohn, acting special agent in charge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “They are national treasures to be protected.”

Mukesh Gupta, 67, owner of Raja Jewels, and Johnson Jung-Chien Lu, 56, owner of New York Jewelry Mart Corp., were charged with illegal commercialization of wildlife. Each was required to forfeit their ivory items and pay a $45,000 fine.

The seizure is a victory in a battle that has been waged since the 1989 ban on the sale and distribution of ivory within the United States. Despite the ban ivory traffic remains big business, with 24 tons of contraband seized worldwide in 2011 alone, making it the worst year on record for elephant death since the ban went into effect.

Wildlife groups have pushed for greater protections on African and Asian elephants, whose tusks have been harvested for centuries, but for poachers the massive, endangered beasts remain a source of riches, with most sales heading east to Japan and increasingly affluent China.