Category: News

The Boere Rhino Mafia

Gert Saaiman and Frans van Deventer (Credit: Chris Collingridge)

We recently added a section to our Organized Crime & Criminal Syndicates page detailing the past and present accusations against the van Deventer brothers and their partners Gerhardus Saaimon and PH George Clayton Fletcher. Read about a decade of allegations ►

Julian Rademeyer’s website and book Killing for Profit: Exposing the Illegal Rhino Horn Trade are prime examples of investigative journalism done right and have been instrumental in bringing the van Deventer brothers, as well as Vixay Keosavang’s Asian syndicates which helped traffick the rhino horn, to world attention. Please buy his e-book (available on Kindle) and visit his website for more information as these individuals and groups are investigated.

Wildlife Conservation Events in London, UK and Washington, DC

The Lilongwe Wildlife Trust is hosting an event called “Mission Possible Malawi” on 8 February in London. It will feature a number of speakers to discuss the successes and challenges of wildlife conservation in a country designated as a major transit country in the trafficking of illicit ivory. Read more about the Trust’s mission and event, or sign up to attend.

On 28 February the World Wildlife Fund is hosting “Keeping Tigers Alive: A Story of Recovery and Hope” at their headquarters in Washington, DC. The event will highlight current and future successes in tiger conservation in Asia and discuss the goal of doubling the wild tiger population by 2022 (Year of the Tiger). Visit WWFevents.org to view current and upcoming events in your area.

Donations for Human-Elephant Coexistence

Big Life Foundation LogoAfrican Wildlife Foundation Logo

Two weeks ago on ‘Giving Tuesday’ the Snow Leopard Trust and Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust had special fundraising campaigns where any donation to their organization will be matched by another donor, effectively doubling your gift. Through December 22nd the African Wildlife Foundation, which supports habitat and wildlife preservation, is holding a similar donation campaign to give your generous donations that much more impact. Any donations that help them reach their $1 million fundraising goal will be doubled! Another non-profit heavily focused on the protection of elephants and ending human-wildlife conflict is Big Life Foundation which seeks to raise $320,000 to cover their costs for 2017. All of these organizations, and many more on our list of conservation groups, are worth supporting this holiday season.

Don’t forget to use affiliate programs like Amazon Smile when shopping. Amazon.com will give a small percentage of every purchase to one of your choice of thousands of charities, year round.

Giving Tuesday 2016

Snow Leopard Trust LogoVictoria Falls Wildlife Trust LogoToday is Giving Tuesday, a day dedicated to supporting people and wildlife in need. Please see our list of reputable, front-line organizations that we believe are worthwhile to donate to or get involved with. Some organizations, including the Snow Leopard Trust and Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, have special fundraising campaigns today, where any donation to their organization will be matched by another donor, effectively doubling your gift. But these fundraising programs are only available for a limited time, so make sure that your donation makes the biggest impact and give today!

Don’t forget to use affiliate programs like Amazon Smile, where Amazon.com will give a small percentage of every purchase to one of your choice of thousands of charities, year round.

Newly Recommended Conservation Group: Wildlife ACT

Wildlife ACT 2016 LogoToday we’re adding not-for-profit Wildlife ACT to the PoachingFacts list of front-line conservation & anti-poaching groups that we believe are worth supporting. The direct-action conservation organization is a great way for university students, interns, and volunteers of all ages (18+) to get hands-on with endangered and at-risk wildlife species projects in Botswana, Malawi, Seychelles islands, and South Africa. Projects in South Africa include wildlife conservation in Cape Town and seven projects located across Zululand, from the ancient sand forests of Tembe National Elephant Park, to the historic Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park where the southern white rhinoceros was saved, and the beaches of iSimangaliso Wetland Park on the Indian Ocean. They also support Panthera projects in South Africa with a focus on monitoring leopard populations.

If you’re not looking to volunteer in the bush, Wildlife ACT and Wildlife FUND have several campaigns listed on GiveNGain that need financial support, giving individuals and businesses an opportunity to make program-focused donations that provide equipment, services, and veterinary care to specific wildlife.

Visit their website, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and get involved!

Increased Trade Protections for Southern African Elephants Denied by 69 CITES Member-Nations

In 1979 an estimated 1.3 million elephants roamed the African continent, but by 1989 their numbers had been reduced to roughly 600,000, a precipitous 55% decline which overshadows the population increases during that time in countries more insulated from poaching. Recently it has been estimated that African bush elephant and African forest elephant populations across the continent were reduced 30% in the eight-year period from 2007-2014 alone. Yet on 3 October, 2016 sixty-nine member-nations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) voted to keep Southern African elephant populations on Appendix II which allows for limited trade as long as an export permit can be issued by the host nation for the animal or its parts.

Twenty-nine nations of the African Elephant Coalition proposed uplisting the Southern African elephants to Appendix I, which prohibits all commercial international trade, in an effort to reduce the poaching for elephant ivory that has been used for decades to fund freedom fighters and rebel insurgenciesBreaking with their previous position, Botswana, a Southern African nation also affected by this legislation, came out in support of uplisting the populations to Appendix I. Botswana’s Minister for the Environment, Wildlife, and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, said “we now realize that we can no longer support sales, we can no longer deal with this in a vacuum.”

Several nations at CITES CoP17, including Zimbabwe, argued on 3 October that import of ivory by consuming nations is already illegal, so any further legislative attempt to reduce elephant poaching through uplisting has no purpose. Zimbabwe and Namibia had earlier in the day proposed a domestic legal trade in elephant ivory for their respective countries, but were denied by popular vote. On the topic of keeping Southern African elephants on Appendix II, the delegate from the European Union said that “the proposal does not meet the biological criteria” because Southern African elephant populations not declining as rapidly as populations across the rest of the continent.

CITES advises that “permits or certificates should only be granted if the relevant authorities are satisfied that certain conditions are met, above all that trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild,” however nations are self-policing in their usage and enforcement of export permits and recent undercover reporting has brought to light new evidence (video) that some importers in Asian markets are knowingly purchasing and re-selling illegal ivory. While a proposal to close all domestic ivory markets was unanimously agreed to by all 183 member-nations, the decision is non-binding and has no repercussions for failing to follow through.

View our interactive map below to see which countries voted to keep the African forest elephant and African bush elephant in Southern African nations listed on Appendix II, allowing for international trade in their ivory as long as the appropriate export permits, routinely faked, are supplied. Read more about the history of the ivory trade on Buyers of Elephant Ivory.

 

The following nations voted against maximum, international commercial trade protections for Southern African elephants: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Fiji, Gambia, Guyana, Iceland, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Norway, Peru, Russian Federation, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Swaziland, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Tanzania, United States of America, Uruguay, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The European Union, as a single voting-block of 28 member-nations, also voted against uplisting African elephant species to Appendix I: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom.

CITES Conference of the Parties 17 Debriefing: The Results of CoP17

From 26 September through 4 October of 2016 more than 3,500 people attended the 17th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which convened in Johannesburg, South Africa. Meeting only once every three years, CoP17 opened with addresses from South African President Jacob Zuma and their Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa.

Topics of discussion and resolution related to wildlife crime; corruption; cybercrime; legalization of ivory trade; legalization of a rhino horn trade; captive breeding; targeted enforcement measures relating to illegal trade of wildlife and marine species; laundering of wild-caught species into legal trade markets; traceability; local communities’ representation in wildlife management; and youth involvement in CITES. The first-ever wildlife crime partnerships forum was also hosted at CoP17, with international agencies discussing how best to fight the illegal wildlife trade. The second global meeting of Wildlife Enforcement Networks also convened to discuss ways that regional groups can maintain their CITES obligations and improve their effectiveness in combating illegal trafficking through existing tools and law enforcement agencies. Summarizing the proceedings of CoP17, Executive Director of TRAFFIC Steven Broad said that “There was significant progress on issues relating to captive breeding, synthetic products, demand reduction, traceability, cybercrime and even corruption, as well as the higher profile species.”

Tanzania's ivory stockpile in 1988. Source: EIA - Vanishing Point (page 9).

Tanzania’s ivory stockpile in 1988. Source: EIA – Vanishing Point (page 9).

Notably, Swaziland’s proposal to create a legal, international rhino horn trade was rejected. Elephants also received several resolutions and decisions benefiting them, including a plan for countries to phase out their domestic ivory markets as well as voting not to adopt a “decision-making mechanism” to consider a future legal ivory trade, something that had been under discussion since 2013. In 1997 and 2008 CITES had allowed one-off sales of government-held ivory stockpiles from Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and were later joined by South Africa, to the nations of China and Japan. Investigations since then have suggested that these one-off sales helped spur elephant poaching throughout Africa and renewed interest in ivory as a luxury item in Asian markets. Efforts by Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe to propose a legal, international ivory trade were rejected by other Conference members. Although China had previously said it would phase out its domestic ivory markets, it too voiced support for a limited, legal ivory trade.

Southern African elephant and lion populations were denied an uplisting to Appendix I by the United States and other member-nations, despite a notable increase in elephant poaching in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Elephants within South Africa remain under Appendix II protections while elephants in many other African nations have been listed on Appendix I for higher international protections due to governmental support, smaller population numbers, and/or greater persecution. However it was agreed by member-nations that the African elephant along with the African lion, cheetah, totoaba, and many other marine and terrestrial species required targeted enforcement measures to prevent and reduce illegal trade.

Among the species that achieved listing or uplisting on CITES Appendix I are: all eight species of pangolin, the African grey parrot, and the helmeted hornbill.

Species that were recently listed in Appendix II include: over 300 species of tree in the genus Dalbergia (sometimes sold as Rosewoods), silky shark, all three extant species of thresher shark, and at least some species of devil ray. Due to perceived conservation successes, the cape mountain zebra, several species of crocodiles and the wood bison were downlisted to Appendix II.