Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Urged to Stop the Trophy Hunting of Wolves

copyrighted wolf in water

http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2014/11/mn-trophy-hunt-wolves-111714.html

Nov. 4 vote in nearby Michigan highlights overwhelming opposition to this needless killing

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is being urged to stop the trophy hunting of wolves, in the wake of the nation’s first statewide vote on wolf hunting in last week’s election.  In nearby Michigan on Nov. 4, voters overwhelmingly rejected two wolf hunting measures, Proposals 1 and 2, with the “no” side winning by a 10-point margin and a 28-point margin, respectively. On Proposal 2, the “no” side received more than 1.8 million votes, more than any candidate who won statewide office, and prevailed in 69 of Michigan’s 83 counties.

This was the first statewide vote on wolf hunting in any state since wolves were stripped of their federal protections under the Endangered Species Act, and since more than 2,200 wolves were killed across the Great Lakes and Northern Rockies regions over the last two years. The Humane Society of the United States is urging decision makers in Minnesota to pay attention to this vote in Michigan, and see how regular citizens feel about the trophy hunting and trapping of wolves.

The Michigan election results mirror public opinion polling showing that Minnesotans, by huge majorities, appreciate wolves and want them conserved. In 2012, before the first wolf trophy hunting season, the DNR conducted an online survey, and 79 percent of residents opposed wolf hunting and wolf trapping.

Howard Goldman, Minnesota senior state director of The HSUS, said: “Michigan and Minnesota are states with strong hunting and farming traditions, and the resounding votes in Michigan demonstrate that voters think trophy hunting and commercial trapping seasons for wolves are premature and unacceptable.  Nobody eats wolves, and there are already tools that exist to manage problem animals.” I’m confident that Minnesotans would have voted similarly if they had a chance to decide this issue directly.”

Minnesota is home to approximately 2,400 wolves and the DNR set this season’s hunting quota at 250 (30 more individuals than permitted in the last season). In 2013, a total of 602 wolves died, and the numbers of wolf packs have declined from 503 in 2008 to 470 in 2014 – a loss of 33 entire packs of wolves. Biologists warn that hunting this iconic species—even at low levels—harms not only the animals but also pack dynamics.   When fellow pack members are killed, wolf packs can disband, leading to starvation of the pack’s youngest members.

Wolves keep deer and other ungulate herds healthy and scientific studies show that because of wolf predation, both plant and animal communities become far more diverse. The Minnesota DNR’s own data show that wolves prey on miniscule numbers of livestock.

Goldman continued: “We want state lawmakers and the Minnesota DNR to take heed of the overwhelming votes in Michigan. Most voters want wolves and their packs protected from needless killing, and they recognize wolves bring economic and ecological benefits to the state.”

Minnesota permits cruel and unsporting trophy hunting methods to kill wolves, including trapping the animals with leghold traps and neck snares. The state also allows hunters to lure in wolves using electronic calls and bait.

 

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson

Gray Wolf ‘Killfest’ Sparks Controversy

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/10481/20141119/gray-wolf-killfest-sparks-controversy.htm#ixzz3JdMpSFCT

By Jenna Iacurci

Along with coyotes, weasels, skunks, jackrabbits, raccoons and European starlings, the endangered gray wolf should be weary after the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) granted permits for up to 500 hunters – some even as young as 10 years old – to compete on 3 million acres of land for three days beginning in January 2015 in a bid to see who can kill the most prey.

The competition, officially called the “predator derby,” prompted two lawsuits by environmental groups including Defenders of Wildlife and Wildearth Guardians, asking federal judges to put an end to this killing spree before it even has a chance to start.

“They’re treated like grass that needs to be mowed down,” Suzanne Stone, Idaho spokeswoman for Defenders of Wildlife who has been studying wolves for more than 30 years, told The Guardian.

“This has gone so far above and beyond what most people consider ethical, even hunters,” she added.

Are Wolves More Harmful Than Helpful?

The dispute between western ranchers and wildlife advocates has been an ongoing one the last several years, with little hope in sight of a compromise.

“The whole issue became very polarized,” added Mike Keckler, a spokesman for the Idaho department of fish and game.

Ranchers, particularly those a part of Idaho’s 240,000-head sheep industry, believe that taking out gray wolves is in their right to protect their livestock, as well as prevent competition with humans.

“[They are] a bunch of urbanites who don’t have any clue, don’t have the knowledge and wisdom and experience that we do,” Steve Alder, executive director of Idaho for Wildlife, which organized the derby, said of those opposed to the killings. “They don’t understand our lives, they don’t understand where meat comes from.”

Just last month ranchers in Catron County, N.M. were outraged to find that wolves are setting a record as the main killers of cattle this year. Catron County, which borders eastern Arizona, was one of the first areas where Mexican gray wolves – a subspecies numbering at a mere 83 individuals – were released as part of a recovery effort.

And while that’s all well and good for the wolves, ranchers are a little less than pleased.

“The negative effects to livestock producers caused by Mexican Wolves are a wide spectrum not addressed and/or ignored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service,” wrote Jess Carey, lead author behind a report on the impact of wolves in the area.

Carey also pointed out that over the course of the study, five ranches lost a total of 651 head of cattle valued at more than $382,000.

In another instance, a pack of six wolves roaming in Canada’s Elk Island National Park were killed after cows were “ripped open from one end to the other,” the National Post reported.

Such measures are deemed necessary by livestock owners are others who are trying desperately to protect their animals.

“If something isn’t done in the off-season, there will be next to nobody willing to put cattle back in there next summer, including myself,” added hunter Dan Brown, president of the Blackfoot Grazing Association.

It is pressure from hunters such as Brown that makes the situation of the endangered gray wolves especially prickly. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in recent years has lifted protections for the animals in the western Great Lakes and the Northern Rockies, only to have them reinstated after backlash from wildlife advocates.

Why They Matter

Though they once nearly disappeared from the lower 48 states, today wolves including the gray wolf (Canis lupis) have returned to the Great Lakes, northern Rockies and Southwestern United States.

There are an estimated 7,000 to 11,200 gray wolves in Alaska, 3,700 in the Great Lakes region and 1,675 in the Northern Rockies, according to Defenders of Wildlife.

A wolf pack bedded down in Yellowstone National Park in March 2007.

(Photo : Reuters/Doug Smith/National Park Service) A wolf pack bedded down in Yellowstone National Park in March 2007.

But they weren’t always on an upsurge. These predators may have once spanned a whopping two-thirds of the United States, but by the mid 1930s their numbers dwindled due to hunting and trapping by humans. Not until just recently have they shown signs of recovery, with a lone gray wolf recently spotted at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the first of its kind seen at the park in decades, offering conservationists a glimmer of hope for this beautiful species.

The comeback can be credited in part to the reintroduction program created in 1995 by the federal government.

Gray wolves actually play a key role in maintaining ecosystems, and aren’t always such a nuisance as many ranchers think. They help keep deer and elk populations in check, which can benefit many other plant and animal species. The carcasses of their prey also help to redistribute nutrients and provide food for other wildlife species, like grizzly bears and scavengers.

For now, gray wolves can be found roaming in the states of Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, with the population in Wyoming recently restored to the endangered species list. In the remaining states, gray wolves are monitored, but federal protection is seen as non-essential, according to the FWS.

Not to Worry

But environmentalists may not even need to worry for the wolves’ wellbeing since Alder doesn’t even expect the derby to encounter wolves. C. lupis like to roam from the tundra to woodlands, forests, grasslands and deserts, so the fact that they travel across long distances may make these elusive animals difficult to catch.

What’s more, these animals aren’t even highest on hunters’ kill list.

“There are very limited numbers of people who go out looking specifically for wolves,” Keckler explained to The Guardian. “A lot of folks are concerned about the hunting of big predators like that, but we also have a very healthy mountain lion population in Idaho. We have a very healthy black bear population and they have been classified as big game just like wolves for many, many years.”

Regardless of this reassurance, environmental groups show no sign of letting up. The BLM has already received more than 56,000 comments after opening the derby plan to the public, only 10 of which were in support of the competition.

Read more: http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/10481/20141119/gray-wolf-killfest-sparks-controversy.htm#ixzz3JdMItTPA

For wolves to be abundant enough to be hunted would be a victory(?)

The eventual goal in Washington is to remove wolves from the critically endangered list so they can become a game species. While it may seem hypocritical, for wolves to be abundant enough to be hunted would be a victory.

http://dailyuw.com/archive/2014/11/13/science/washington-wolves-after-80-year-absence-pack-back#.VG4nhWd0y1s

Washington wolves: After 80 year absence, the pack is back

November 13, 2014 at 12:01 AM | Jessica Knoth

A wolf howl is the call of the wild. But for decades, that howl was muted.

Gray wolves once covered North America, but ruthless hunting nearly drove them to extinction in the United States by the 1930s. However, strong conservation efforts brought them back from critical endangerment. UW researchers have been monitoring the state wolf population and are currently in the process of analyzing the ecological and economical impacts these animals have. While wolf packs have been shown to drastically improve ecosystems, like in Yellowstone National Park, their effect on Washington state remains to be seen.

“You can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach,” said Aaron Wirsing, head researcher of the project. “We want to see if these documented effects in parks also occur in managed landscapes.”

A managed landscape is an area that has a lot of human influence. Hunting, logging, ranching, and recreation alter the natural ecosystem. In Yellowstone, human activity is restricted, so the ecosystem can develop and change naturally. But Washington’s wolf population lives in a highly trafficked area.

“Human influence may be so pervasive that wolves don’t have an effect on the environment,” said Justin Dellinger, a researcher on the team.

In Yellowstone, the reintroduced wolves were a top predator. The return of the wolves slowly brought elk and deer populations under control, which in turn allowed vegetation to flourish. This brought smaller animals back into the area, as well as foxes, eagles, and even bears. Deer began avoiding the lowlands where wolves hunt, which allowed the plants by rivers to replenish themselves, strengthening the banks of the rivers and resulting in new wetland habitats.

Wirsing and his team have been monitoring the wolves’ movement in Washington state with GPS tracking collars, but have also been capturing deer to watch their behavior. By attaching a camera to a deer, they can watch the animal’s actions 24 hours a day. They back up the video footage with GPS data to see whether the deer are starting to avoid wolf hunting grounds, which sparked habitat regeneration in Yellowstone.

“It’s not to say that cougar, coyote, or bear don’t have an impact on the deer, it’s just now there’s potential for deer to have to account for another predator on the landscape,” Dellinger said.

The researchers have also been working with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation, who have begun to encounter wolves on their tribal lands.

“They are really interested in knowing how the wolves are changing the ecosystem on the reservation,” UW researcher Carolyn Shores said. “They especially want to know how wolves will impact game species because the tribes depend on deer and elk for sustenance.”

The members of the Colville tribes aren’t the only people impacted by the wolves.

“They conflict with people by eating their livestock, but they also can bring in tourism dollars, like they have in Yellowstone,” Wirsing said.

Controversy seems to be the standard when it comes to wolves. Humans tend to have an ingrained fear of wolves, but researchers say that fear is unfounded.

“They are actually very timid animals when it comes to encounters with people,” Shores said. “In fact, if they see you, they will run away as fast as they can.”

The eventual goal in Washington is to remove wolves from the critically endangered list so they can become a game species. While it may seem hypocritical, for wolves to be abundant enough to be hunted would be a victory.

“Ultimately, public outreach will be the key to shaping policy here in Washington,” Wirsing said. “We hope to get the word out there that it’s a good thing to have this wolf recolonization effect, and will do so by getting the public involved in the research.”

The researchers are not sure if wolves will have an impact on Washington’s ecosystem, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t try to help them repopulate their old habitats.

“There are few animals more polarizing than the wolf,” Wirsing said. “But that’s what makes them so fascinating.”

Trophy Hunter = Serial Killer, Any Questions?

One of the would-be hunter-commenters here recently demanded I explain why I compare hunters to pedophiles and serial killers. Since, as a rule, I don’t approve comments from hunters or their apologists (and because I felt it was so bloody obvious), that question hasn’t been answered here since June 10, in a post entitled, Poachers and Pedophiles are Like Apples and Oranges.

But now that Corey Knowlton has added his voice to the choir of Fuddself-confessed twisted-psycho-hunter-perverts with the telling statement to the WFAA, “I’m a hunter; I want to experience a black rhino. I want to be intimately involved with a black rhino,” it’s time to re-examine the connection in a little more detail. What kind of mind uses the word “experience” for the act of taking a life? Ted Bundy called his murders “possessing.” Like a trophy hunter, he felt entitled to claim another’s life for his own pleasure. In his case, the lives were young co-eds and 12 year old girls—in Knowlton’s case, endangered rhinos. Ted Bundy’s third person narrative of his predations could easily be mistaken (aside, perhaps, from the level of literacy) with Ted Nugent describing one of his trophy kills: “The fantasy that accompanies and generates the anticipation that precedes the crime is always more stimulating than the immediate aftermath of the crime itself. He should have recognized that what really fascinated him was the hunt, the adventure of searching out his victims. And, to a degree, possessing them physically as one would possess a potted plant, a painting, or a Porsche. Owning, as it were, this individual.”

Pertaining to the likes of Alaskan trophy hunter turned-serial killer, Robert Hansen, who preyed on exotic dancers and child6-4Hansens-trophy-goat prostitutes, in addition to Dall sheep, mountain goats and countless other species, conservationist Gareth Patterson wrote: “Certainly one could state that, like the serial killer, the trophy hunter plans his killing with considerable care and deliberation. Like the serial killer, he decides well in advance the type of victim–that is, which species he intends to target. Also like the serial killer, the trophy hunter plans with great care where and how the killing will take place–in what area, with what weapon. What the serial killer and trophy hunter also share is a compulsion to collect trophies or souvenirs of their killings. The serial killer retains certain body parts and/or other trophies for much the same reason as the big game hunter mounts the head and antlers taken from his prey…as trophies of the chase.”

And, as I put it the last time I addressed the pedophilic serial killer/trophy hunter connection: …the analogy between a trophy hunter and a serial killer has been well established—both are single-minded in their quest for the kill, placing their own perverse desires above the self-interests—indeed, the very lives—of their victims. Both perpetrators like to take souvenirs from their kills, and neither one cares what the rest of the world thinks of their actions.

Save a rhino, clip your fingernails

Originally posted on Dear Kitty. Some blog:

In this video, Marjo Hoedemaker (founder of the Marjo Hoedemaker Elephant Foundation) from the Netherlands speaks in Amersfoort zoo.

He says that in Vietnam and other countries, some people believe that rhino horn can cure cancer. This leads to poachers killing rhinos.

This quackery is nonsense. Rhino horn is the same stuff as human fingernails and toenails: keratin.

Marjo Hoedemaker proposes that people bring their clipped fingernails to Amersfoort zoo, starting on 1 December. A bin to collect the nails will then be next to the zoo’s rhino enclosure. As soon as Marjo will have five kilogram of keratin, he intends to bring it to the embassy of Vietnam in the Netherlands. The embassy may then send it to believers in Vietnam in the healing powers of rhino horn; thus saving rhino’s lives.

A pedicurist and other people have already said they will help.

View original 58 more words

426 Wolves Wiped Out in 2014 and It’s Not Over…

Originally posted on Howling For Justice:

Wolf Family fanpop

 November 18, 2014

blood drip 2

426 wolves have been wiped out since the beginning of 2014. Pups, alphas, whole packs, gone. The majority have been slaughtered in the ongoing  Idaho, Montana, Minnesota and Wisconsin wolf hunts. 17 wolves were killed in Wyoming’s “predator zone” before a federal judge recently relisted them. 3 wolves were killed in Washington state, even though they’re “protected” there. The Huckleberry Pack alpha female was shot by a WDFW sharpshooter from the air, the alpha female of the Teanaway Pack and a female wolf from the Smackout Pack, were both poached.  And I’m not even counting wolves killed by Wildlife Services this year or wolves killed in the 2014 part of the 2013/2014 hunts. That would push the total much higher.

The saddest part of all this are the hunts are far from over. Wildlife Services killings are not over.

This has to stop, we are traveling down that…

View original 52 more words

California dog chews off leg to escape chain

Originally posted on KHON2:

[anvplayer video="382907" /]

SAN DIEGO (KSWB/CNN) – A dog in Orange County, California who nearly chewed off his own leg to escape from a chain is getting a helping hand from a San Diego woman.

Learning to walk on three legs hasn’t been easy for 11-month-old Rocky.

His hind leg was amputated after he nearly chewed it off trying to escape from a chain wrapped around his foot.

X-ray from Coastal German Shepherd Rescue

X-ray from Coastal German Shepherd Rescue

“Doesn’t surprise me what people do anymore, it’s so sad, it’s so hard to believe and it’s impossible to understand,” said Melyssa Stayner.

Rocky’s story started earlier this month when he was surrendered by his owners to the Orange County animal shelter.

In California, it’s illegal to keep a dog chained for more than 3-hours, but his owners told shelter officials they weren’t sure how this happened to Rocky.

After a 4-hour surgery and weeks in…

View original 184 more words

Hunter Shoots Another Hunter Dragging Dead Deer

http://www.vocativ.com/culture/fun/hunting-accidents/

Man Thinks Dead Deer Is Alive, Shoots, Misses, Hits Another Hunter

New York state’s hunting season started off with a bang on Saturday, with its first comic shooting accident. A Duchess County man thought he had the perfect trophy in his crosshairs when he took his shot. However, there was a slight hitch: The deer was already dead, and another hunter was dragging it out of the woods. Making things even more spectacular, the shooter missed the deer altogether and instead hit the other man in the buttocks and hand.

The wounded hunter was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries. No word on who got to keep the highly sought after deer carcass.

Deer and bear hunting season runs until Sunday, Dec. 7. There were 19 accidents in New York state in 2013, including five hunter-on-hunter/bystander. If opening day is anything to go by, we should pull out the lawn chairs and put on some popcorn, because this year looks set to be a doozy.

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Texas hunting club may cancel endangered rhino hunt

“I’m a hunter,” Knowlton told WFAA. “I want to experience a black rhino. I want to be intimately involved with a black rhino.”

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/texas-hunting-club-may-cancel-endangered-rhino-hunt/

DALLAS – A Texas hunting club that auctioned off a permit to shoot an endangered black rhinoceros in Africa said it will cancel the hunt if a federal agency denies the winning bidder’s request to bring the dead animal back to the U.S. as a trophy.

Corey Knowlton bid $350,000 at a January auction that the Dallas Safari Club billed as a fundraising effort to save the endangered species. Last spring, he applied for a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would enable him to import the rhino’s body following the hunt in Namibia. But he’s still waiting to hear back.

The agency is applying extra scrutiny to Knowlton’s request because of the rise in poaching, said spokesman Gavin Shire.

If the permit is denied, the safari club plans to refund Knowlton’s money that was pledged to a rhino conservation fund in the southwestern African country.

“Most people that have an animal mounted, it’s their memory of their experience,” said Ben Carter, the safari club’s executive director. “It’s not always, ‘Look at what I’ve shot.’ When they look at it, they remember everything. That’s what he bid the money on, that opportunity.”

The wildlife agency began taking public comment on the permit application this month and has already heard from many of the groups that fervently opposed the auction.

The safari club has defended the planned hunt, noting that auction proceeds would go to a trust fund administered by the Namibian government to help boost the black rhino population.

The wildlife service expects to make a decision after the public comment period ends Dec. 8, taking into account the state of the herd in Namibia, where 1,800 of the world’s 4,880 black rhinos live. The agency also is examining exactly how the auction funds would be administered.

Last year, the service granted a permit to import a sport-hunted black rhino taken in Namibia in 2009, but increased poaching since then may impact whether any more are approved, said Shire.

Each year, the Namibian government issues five black rhino hunting permits that fund efforts to protect the species. The program includes habitat improvement, hiring game scouts to monitor the rhinos, and removing the animals’ horns to reduce their appeal to poachers.

“The aim is to re-invest these financial resources back to conservation, protected area management and rural community development,” said Kenneth Uiseb, Namibia’s director of wildlife monitoring and research.

But opponents of the auction say the programs are not worthwhile if they entail the killing of any endangered animal.

“Kill it to save it is not only cruel, it’s not conservation,” said Jeff Flocken, the North American regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “If black rhinos and other dwindling species are to have a future, people must be encouraged to value animals for their inherent worth alive, not their price tag when they are dead.”

The safari club has said the hunt will involve one of five black rhinos selected by a committee and approved by the Namibian government. The five are to be older males that can’t reproduce.

Namibia sold another hunting permit for $200,000 directly to Michael Luzich, a Las Vegas investment manager who is also seeking a permit to bring the trophy into the U.S., according to Shire.

But Luzich has received far less scrutiny than Knowlton, who said in January he hired full-time security because he received death threats after his name was leaked on the Internet.

Knowlton lives in Royse City, about 30 miles from Dallas, and leads international hunting trips for a Virginia-based company, The Hunting Consortium. He has killed more than 120 species, including the so-called big five in Africa – a lion, a leopard, an elephant, a Cape buffalo and a rhinoceros, according to the company’s website.

He did not return messages left by The Associated Press for this story, but told Dallas television station WFAA in January that he believed the hunt would be managed well.

“I’m a hunter,” Knowlton told WFAA. “I want to experience a black rhino. I want to be intimately involved with a black rhino.”

Interpol launches most-wanted list of environmental fugitives

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/17/interpol-launches-first-appeal-for-environmental-fugitives?CMP=share_btn_fb

International policing agency’s public appeal targets nine dangerous fugitives suspected of crimes involving poaching and illegal logging

Interpol wanted Operation Infra-Terra (top row from left to right): Adriano Giacobone, Sudiman Sunoto, Bhekumusa Mawillis Shiba and Ben Simasiku; (bottom raw from left to right): Nicolaas Antonius Cornelis Maria Duindam, Ariel Bustamante Sanchez, Sergey Darminov and Feisal Mohamed Ali

Interpol wanted Operation Infra-Terra (top row from left to right): Adriano Giacobone, Sudiman Sunoto, Bhekumusa Mawillis Shiba and Ben Simasiku; (bottom raw from left to right): Nicolaas Antonius Cornelis Maria Duindam, Ariel Bustamante Sanchez, Sergey Darminov and Feisal Mohamed Ali Photograph: Photograph: Interpol

Interpol’s public appeal hopes to catch nine fugitives suspected of environmental crimes costing hundreds of millions of dollars, in a move to catapult the issue to the forefront of international law enforcement.

Stefano Carvelli, the head of Interpol’s fugitive investigative support unit, said that the offences were only the tip of the iceberg of an environmental crime wave, which agency reports have estimated to be worth $70bn-$213bn annually.

“If we talk about illegal logging, we have many pending cases,” he said. “We also have many serious biodiversity cases. The problem is very big, I can feel it. These are crimes with many, many different parameters.”

One fugitive, Ahmed Kamran, 29, is charged with smuggling over 100 live animals – including giraffes and impalas – from Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro airport to Qatar on a military airplane.

Sergey Darminov, 50, is thought to have led an illegal crab-fishing operation in Russia that netted $450m. Another, Adriano Giacobone, 57, is wanted on charges that include illegal transport and discharge of toxic waste, poisoning water beds, kidnapping, illegal detention, carrying of firearms, aggravated theft and violence against a police officer.

A joint Interpol-UNEP report earlier this year linked the revenues from environmental crime to extremist militias such as the Lords Resistance Army in Uganda, the Janjaweed in Sudan and al-Shabaab in Somalia.

While sources say there are indications connecting some of the fugitives under investigation to terrorist groups, Interpol will officially neither confirm nor deny them.

The law enforcement agency stresses that members of the public should report any sightings of the fugitives to Interpol or their national police force, and not approach them directly.

“We consider all of these people to be dangerous, especially because the nature of these crimes required the involvement of organised criminal networks,” Carvelli said.

The public appeal follows an inquiry by 23 officers into the whereabouts of 139 suspects wanted by 36 countries. The investigation has been code-named Operation Infra-Terra.

Since its launch last month, Operation Infra-Terra has raised the profile of Interpol’s environmental crimes unit, which focuses on illegal exploitation of the world’s flora and fauna, and hazardous waste dumping.

Past Interpol public appeals have focused on themes like fugitives in the Americas, and led to over 600 arrests. Officers working on Operation Infra-Terra now hope for similar results.

“Until recently, environmental offences were not even considered a crime by many countries but as the years have passed, they have realised that environmental crime is a serious internal threat to our societies,” said Andreas Andreou, a criminal intelligence officer with Interpol’s environmental security unit. “It involves organised criminal networks which smuggle drugs, weapons and people. If a poacher need guns, for instance, here we have a crossover with arms trafficking.’

Routes for trafficking ivory may also be used for trafficking weapons and the more profitable line may then be used to finance other ventures, Interpol say.

In the future, the agency intends to focus its activities geographically, with illegal logging and timber trade inquiries centred on the Americas, efforts to protect wildlife species – particularly tigers – undertaken in Asia, pollution investigations that pinpoint Europe, and a crackdown on the poaching of elephants and rhinos in Africa.

Rhinos have already disappeared from several Asian and African countries and 94% of rhino poaching takes place in just two countries – Zimbabwe and South Africa – where it has increased from an estimated 50 animals in 2007, to over 1,000 in 2013, due to the involvement of crime syndicates.

Between 20,000-25,000 elephants are killed every year in Africa, and forest elephant populations are thought to have declined by 62% between 2002-2011.

A letter co-signed by 81 MEPs was sent to the European commission last week calling for urgent action to address the problem.

“The unprecedented scale of illegal poaching is fuelling instability and driving many species to the brink of extinction,” the Liberal MEP Catherine Bearder said. “Unless we take action now, our grandchildren will only be able to see wild animals such as elephants, lions and rhinos in their history books.”

Persuading officials in some countries to address the problem remains an uphill battle, and stricter law enforcement efforts and penalties may be needed internationally, Interpol sources say.

The man accused of re-enacting Noah’s Ark in reverse

Ahmed Kamran is wanted for an environmental crime that resembles a macabre inversion of Noah’s Ark, re-enacted at Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro airport. Shortly before he jumped bail, witnesses told a Tanzanian court how Kamran, 29, paid for and oversaw the loading of more than 100 live animals and birds – including giraffes, impalas and wildebeest – onto a military plane bound for Qatar.

The animal cargo, worth $113,715, reportedly included: two lappet-faced vultures, two serval cats, two impalas, two black verreaux’s eagles, three elands, four giraffes, four ground hornbill, five spring hares, six oryx, seven kori bustard, 10 dik-dik, 20 Grant’s gazelle, 68 Thomson’s gazelle, and a secretary bird.

The smuggling operation in November 2010 was fraught and dramatic. Three giraffes died in a cage before being taken to the airport, according to one self-declared member of Kamran’s gang. “We went back to the game park and captured three giraffes and other animals and transported them into the cage of animals to compensate for the dead ones,” Maulid Hamis reportedly testified.

At the airport, Kamran and the plane’s pilot allegedly directed proceedings, which began when four men decamped from a minivan on the runway to unload the animal cargo. One witness said that he was threatened with the loss of his job when he asked why no national security agents were present at the airport that night. Although the passengers of the Qatar defence force airplane carrying the animals had no diplomatic passports, they were given clearance for take-off.

Three Tanzanian nationals and Kamran were charged over the incident, but Kamran skipped bail, and may now be in Kenya, Pakistan or Qatar. Interpol officers hope that a blotchy and pixelated photo of him may help to trigger a memory somewhere.

“Even the smallest detail, which you might think is insignificant, has the potential to break a case wide open when combined with other evidence the police already have,” said Ioannis Kokkinis, criminal intelligence officer with Interpol’s fugitive investigative support unit. “Sometimes all it takes is a fresh pair of eyes to bring new momentum to an investigation and provide the missing clue.”