Wildlife watchdog told to take action after report finds Zimbabwe’s baby elephants sale violated rules Young captured elephants held in pen in Zimbabwe prior to being exported to China

(See:
https://cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/com/ac/31/Docs/E-AC31-18-02.pdf)
 

 
Tracy Keeling
4th August 2020
 
Zimbabwe loaded 32 baby elephants onto a China-bound plane in October 2019. It had sold off the young animals, who it had separated from their wild families a year earlier, to an unnatural and torturous life in zoos. Zimbabwe authorities went ahead with the baby elephants’ export in the face of legal action. It also did so just before the global wildlife watchdog, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), implemented a landmark rule change that would have made the export impossible.
 
Zimbabwe, however, isn’t guaranteed to get off scot-free with its much criticised move. A recent CITES report accuses the country of not only contravening the “will” of CITES members, but the “good faith” and “spirit” of the Convention overall. It also asserts that, regardless of the landmark rule change that was about to come into force, Zimbabwe contravened prior provisions of CITES.
 
The report’s authors call on CITES’ Animals Committee to take “appropriate steps” after considering its findings. Such a step would be removing the elephants from the distressing situation they now find themselves in, and giving them the chance to live out the rest of their lives in relative comfort.
 
Rule change
 
Zimbabwe and a number of other nations that African elephants call home have been easily able to sell them on to non-African countries for display in zoos until very recently. But parties to CITES – which are nation states – voted to change the rules at the 2019 conference. The definition of what constitutes an ‘appropriate and acceptable destination’ for export of elephants was limited to “in situ”
conservation programmes. Simply put, the change means that African elephants should stay in Africa.
 
The rule change came into force on 26 November 2019, 90 days after the vote. This grace period between parties approving resolutions and them coming into force is to allow countries time to adjust their national laws and policies to fit the incoming CITES’ requirements.
 
 
But Zimbabwe used the time to export the young elephants it had captured in 2018 to China. At the time, elephant biologist and wildlife director at Humane Society International/Africa, Audrey Delsink, said:
 
We are left feeling outraged and heartbroken at this news today that the Zimbabwe authorities have shipped these poor baby elephants out of the country. Zimbabwe is showing total disregard for the spirit of the CITES ruling as well as ignoring local and global criticism. Condemning these elephants to a life of captivity in Chinese zoos is a tragedy.
 
Inhumane
 
Now two parties to CITES, Burkina Faso and Niger, have submitted a report to the authority’s Animals Committee. The report looks at exports of live elephants from African nations since 2010 in the context of CITES’ various rules, such as countries having to find ‘appropriate and acceptable destinations’ for them.
 
Zimbabwe has outstrippped all others in sheer numbers of exports. The report found it has exported 144 young elephants, mostly to China, since 2010. Namibia came second, with 24 elephants. The report spotlights Zimbabwe’s 2019 export in great detail. The report states that, at the time of writing in May, the elephants were in Longemont Animal Park close to Hangzhou. It continues:
 
Undercover video footage shows the elephants separated from each other in barren, indoor cells. Many appear to be very young (2-3 years).
Recent photographic evidence from China indicates that the elephants have undergone inhumane training by mahouts, presumably to prepare them for entertainment use. There are unconfirmed reports that some of the elephants are going to Yongyuan Biotech Company. The reason remains unknown.
 
Against the rules, by any measure
 
The report further assesses whether the export complied with CITES provisions. It notes that Zimbabwe can only export an elephant to ‘appropriate and acceptable destinations’ that are “suitably equipped to house and care for it”, due to a resolution that came into force in 2000. Parties have added further provisions over time. As a result, the scientific authorities for both the importing and exporting country also have to be “satisfied” that the export ‘promotes in situ conservation’, i.e. conservation in the place the elephant comes from. Furthermore, the
2019 landmark rule change, as already mentioned, limits what constitutes an ‘appropriate and acceptable destination’ to those that are ‘in situ’.
 
Burkina Faso and Niger argue, however, that, by any measure, Zimbabwe’s hurried export of the young elephants didn’t abide by CITES’ provisions.
The report says:
 
there is no publicly available evidence suggesting that the safari park in Shanghai which received the 32 young elephants from Zimbabwe in October 2019 –or any of the likely further destinations –can be considered as “suitably equipped to house and care for” live elephants, and thus meet the recommendations in the non-binding guidance, or that this particular import would promote in situ conservation. …
 
By any reasonable metric, the conditions of the transfer and housing are demonstrably inhumane.
 
Highlighting the 2019 rule change and the fact that, as part of that change, parties explicitly recognised elephants are “highly social animals” and removing them from their social groups has “detrimental effects” on their “physical and social well-being”, the report said the
export:
 
not only contravened the will of the CITES Parties, it undermined the good faith and the spirit of the Convention.
 
Mighty and toothless
 
In short, the CITES report by two of its member countries is scathing about Zimbabwe’s actions. It asserts that, no matter how you look at it, or what resolution you test it by, the country’s choice to fly out the young elephants was flawed.
 
The parties recommend that the Animals Committee considers the report’s findings on the Zimbabwe 2019 export, in relation to the ‘appropriate and acceptable destinations’ condition, and takes “appropriate steps”.
The report doesn’t clarify what those steps should be.
 
CITES essentially plays god as an authority. It’s immensely powerful, deciding the fate of countless earthly beings, by controlling the trade in them – alive and dead. But it’s fairly ineffective when it comes to cracking down on wildlife trade offenders. The illegal trade in wildlife, for example, is booming (as is the legal trade). And what action CITES is empowered to take against Zimbabwe, and indeed China, for their apparent transgressions is unclear. South African journalist Adam Cruise told The Canary:
 
The appropriate steps would be haul Zimbabwe over the coals but just how CITES does that is the question. They are pretty toothless in that regard as they cannot really ‘do’ anything after the fact but simply an acknowledgement that Zimbabwe and by extension CITES were wrong and this sort of export will never happen again may be enough. Sadly, the elephants cant go back in the wild, that’s for sure.
 
Amid a global pandemic likely to have been caused by the wildlife trade, and a biodiversity crisis, the global wildlife watchdog increasingly appears unfit for purpose. A functional authority would reverse this trade and force the return of these young elephants to Africa, for rehabilitation and care in a wildlife sanctuary. If CITES is unable, or unwilling, to do that then really, what is the point of it?
 
https://www.thecanary.co/discovery/analysis-discovery/2020/08/04/wildlife-watchdog-told-to-take-action-after-report-finds-zimbabwes-baby-elephants-sale-violated-rules/
 

This L.A. hunter killed an elephant. Now he’s a PETA target in bid to end trophy hunting

An African elephant in the wild.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-08-03/peta-wants-to-ban-trophy-hunting-la-man-is-target

By SUSANNE RUSTSTAFF WRITER AUG. 3, 20205 AM

In mid-December, Aaron Raby shot and killed an elephant. Hours later, he had a piece of it for dinner, with a side of sliced tomato and avocado.

A self-described “blue-collar” Los Angeles crane operator, Raby paid more than $30,000 for the once-in-a-lifetime experience — traveling more than 10,000 miles to South Africa to shoot and kill the tusked pachyderm. He then paid roughly $10,000 to have its head preserved as a souvenir of his adventure.

Yet Raby may never receive his trophy — which is still in South Africa being prepared by a taxidermist — if California enacts new legislation, Senate Bill 1175.

The legislation, which has passed the state Senate and is expected to pass the Assembly on Tuesday, would prohibit the importation and possession of animal parts from a list of endangered and threatened African species, including elephants, lions and rhinos.

“It’s time to wake up and realize that we’re in the middle of a mass extinction event,” said Sen. Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park), who wrote and shepherded the bill through the Senate.

Similar legislation passed both the Assembly and Senate two years ago but was ultimately vetoed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, who called the trophy ban “unenforceable.” Stern said circumstances have since changed, and is confident the current governor, Gavin Newsom, will sign this year’s bill.

For Raby, the consequences of his latest kill are just starting to unfold. After the hunt, he posted images of his trophy on Facebook, YouTube and AfricaHunting.com, a website for hunters.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal rights activist organization, independently obtained video of the elephant shooting, which it released Monday and plans to use in a late-session campaign to ensure passage of Stern’s legislation.

Raby said he has faced threats and online harassment before, such as when he posted an image of himself with a lion he had killed. But the PETA campaign is sure to bring him a new notoriety, and deepen the debate about trophy hunting.

“I don’t understand why this is anybody’s business but my own,” Raby said. “What I did is legal. I didn’t break a law. They’re going to place a ban because a bunch of … crybabies that don’t like hunting.”

California has become a focus of the trophy fight partly because the federal government has vacillated on banning such imports. This year, the Trump administration approved the import of a lion trophy from Tanzania, the first since lions began receiving protections in January 2016 as a threatened species.

Fearing the administration may approve more trophy imports, wildlife advocates are hoping California will provide a line of defense.

For years, trophy hunting has also quietly divided conservation biologists. Last fall, that split became publicly acerbic within the pages of the prestigious research journal Science.

Some experts argue the practice provides funding for local communities, raises money for wildlife management and gives people who live near dangerous or destructive animals — such as lions and elephants — an incentive to conserve them instead of kill them.

An African elephant is pictured on November 17, 2012 at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. AFP PHOTO MARTIN BUREAU (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)

WORLD & NATION

Does trophy hunting ‘enhance survival of the species’? Trump administration policy allowing elephant trophies stirs debate

Nov. 16, 2017

Others say there is no evidence that trophy hunting provides these benefits, and, even if it did, they question whether killing and dismembering such creatures justifies those ends.

The scope of the imports is vast. In 2017 alone, more than 650,000 wildlife trophies were imported to the United States, including species considered internationally rare or threatened, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service.

Last winter, after years of diligently saving, Raby embarked on a two-week hunting expedition in South Africa, led by a pair of experienced safari guides.

A video of the hunt, which PETA shared with The Times, shows a startled elephant facing the hunter and his phalanx of guides and trackers. As the young male pachyderm looks on — his ears widening — the guides set up a tripod upon which Raby places his rifle.

Raby shoots, and the bullet hits the elephant in its head. The elephant crumbles to his knees. Over the next 2½ minutes, Raby shoots the elephant four more times — three more hitting the animal’s head. The footage shows the elephant breathing heavily, groaning, bleeding and struggling to get up.

Raby’s guides continue to encourage him to get a cleaner shot. They never offer or attempt to intercede to quickly end the animal’s suffering.

The video cuts off before the elephant dies, although later footage — which Raby posted on YouTube and his Facebook page — shows crews skinning and deboning the elephant.

Raby has killed hundreds of animals across North America, as well as in Europe, Africa and Russia. Photos of his forays can be viewed on his public Instagram page, including one that shows a dead wolverine and another in which he is hugging a dead leopard.

The elephant was the culmination of Raby’s African “Big Five” quest. He’d already killed a lion, rhinoceros, Cape buffalo and leopard.

Raby said he hunts not for the kill, but for the experience and adventure of the hunt — living outdoors, cooking around a campfire, tracking an animal and immersing himself in the wild.

He also notes that lions regularly kill agricultural and pastoral animals — and occasionally people — while elephants can destroy homes and crops.

“We pay a lot of money to hunt these animals,” Raby said. “If we didn’t hunt, that land would be converted into cattle ranches and there’d be poaching. They don’t want lions killing their cattle or elephants destroying their crops.”

Mike Axelrad, a trophy hunter from Texas, said hunting provides financial incentives that prevent poaching. He said animals are often poisoned if considered a nuisance — a painful and often prolonged death.

Craig Packer, a biology professor and director of the University of Minnesota’s lion research center, said there are examples of successful trophy-hunting conservation preserves in countries such as Namibia and Zimbabwe — in which the proceeds from international hunting expeditions have provided funding to conserve wildlife habitat and employ people from local communities.

Unfortunately, he said, in most places, these reserves don’t translate into the desired outcomes because the money spent by hunters — a lion hunt can range from $20,000 to $70,000 — doesn’t come close to the kind of money needed to conserve biodiversity and manage habitat. Or employ enough people to have a meaningful effect on a community.

In addition, corruption in many countries and regions often makes it impossible to know where the money is going, to whom, and how the hunts are regulated.

“Many of these hunting preserves are fly-by-night operations. Business owners swoop in, sell big takes, and leave. They aren’t in it for the long term,” he said.

Others dispute Packer’s examples of hunting’s benefits.

“The emperor has no clothes,” said Adrian Treves, a conservation biologist at the University of Wisconsin and director of the Carnivore Coexistence Laboratory.

Treves says there are no concrete data supporting the idea that hunting promotes biodiversity, habitat conservation or local employment and engagement. Proponents tend to repeatedly cite the few studies that bolster the argument for hunting, creating a body of research that boils down to “self-citation,” he said.

An even bigger issue, said Chelsea Batavia, a conservation biologist at Oregon State University, is ethics.

“We know these animal are intelligent, they have emotional capacity and they have complicated social lives,” she said. Even if proponents could demonstrate that trophy hunting benefits conservation, she added, “do the ends justify the means?”

The debate, she said, needs to be seen in the context of colonialism, in which European traditions were and still are imposed upon Africans. What is needed, she said, are alternative conservation measures that aren’t issued from the top or from outside, but supported and embraced by local communities.

PETA is requesting that officials from South Africa investigate Raby’s hunt and, in particular, the prolonged death of the elephant.Newsletter

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In a letter to officials at the Balule preserve, Jared Goodman, PETA’s vice president and deputy general counsel, said the kill violated the preserve’s requirement that animals are provided with “ethical and humane” treatment and that its guides comply “with the highest moral and ethical standards in recognition of a reverence for life and good sportsmanship.”

As for Raby, he said he’d leave California if Stern’s legislation becomes law.

“We’re not all bloodthirsty, psycho machines that people make us out to be,” he said. “I promise you, I can read an animal better than someone who is against hunting. They say they like animals, but they don’t know anything about them.”

Born Free USA campaign challenges trophy hunting industry

Leading animal welfare organization sets the record straight on the cruel reality of trophy hunting


NEWS PROVIDED BYBorn Free USA 

Jul 01, 2020, 07:00 ET

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/born-free-usa-campaign-challenges-trophy-hunting-industry-301086545.html


WASHINGTON, July 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Born Free USA, an internationally recognized leader in animal welfare and compassionate conservation, is launching a six week-long campaign in July and August to raise awareness of the global impact of trophy hunting and reveal the brutal facts behind common myths supporting the continuation of this cruel, outdated practice.

(PRNewsfoto/Born Free USA)
(PRNewsfoto/Born Free USA)

“The trophy hunting industry has unfortunately been able to persuade a segment of the public that it’s actually helping save endangered species like lions, tigers, elephants, and rhinoceroses by killing them for so-called sport,” said Angela Grimes, CEO of Born Free USA. “But hunting these threatened animals as recreation and then showing off their heads or other body parts doesn’t do anything to help vulnerable populations, and this is a chance to set the record straight.”

The facts about trophy hunting tell a different story than the one presented by hunting advocates:

Myth: Trophy hunting helps maintain wildlife populations. 
Fact: Trophy hunting weakens wildlife populations by killing off the strongest and healthiest animals, which are considered better trophies. Hunters frequently target endangered species and contribute to the global wildlife trade that threatens biodiversity and wilderness habitats.

Myth: Trophy hunting provides economic support for local communities and conservation efforts.
Fact: The trophy hunting industry benefits a small group of outfitters, sponsors, and government agencies. Very little of the money it generates is invested in local economies, creates jobs, or is distributed to conservation organizations. Animal-friendly eco-tourism, meanwhile, offers an efficient, sustainable, and cruelty-free economic opportunity.

Myth: Trophy hunting is a sport.
Fact: Trophy hunting guides lure animals with bait, target animals in and around protected land that are accustomed to humans, and even shoot from helicopters. In canned hunting operations, people pay thousands of dollars to kill animals that have been raised in captivity, and shoot them in an enclosed area from which they cannot escape. There is nothing sporting about this.

Born Free USA’s trophy hunting campaign coincides with the fifth anniversary of the death of Cecil the lion. In a case that provoked widespread outrage, an American hunter and his guide in Zimbabwe used bait to lure Cecil from a national park, wounded him, and left him to suffer overnight before returning to kill him more than 10 hours later.

Despite the negative public reaction to Cecil’s death, the United States continues to allow trophy hunters to import trophies into the U.S. from around the world and allows domestic trophy hunting of iconic species like wolves, black and grizzly bears, and mountain lions.

“There’s nothing sporting about this practice,” Grimes said. “The animals targeted by the trophy hunting industry are facing shrinking habitats, increased contact with humans, and reduced populations. Many of them are on the verge of extinction. They need to be protected, not hunted.” 

For more information, visit www.bornfreeusa.org/trophyhunting.

About Born Free USA
Born Free USA works to ensure that all wild animals, whether living in captivity or in the wild, are treated with compassion and respect and are able to live their lives according to their needs. We oppose the exploitation of wild animals in captivity and campaign to keep them where they belong – in the wild. Born Free USA’s Primate Sanctuary is the largest in the United States and provides a permanent home for more than 450 primates rehomed from laboratories or rescued from zoos and private ownership.

We’re social: www.bornfreeusa.orgwww.twitter.com/bornfreeusawww.facebook.com/bornfreeusawww.instagram.com/bornfreeusaorg.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Heather Ripley
Orange Orchard
(865) 977-1973
hripley@orangeorchardpr.com

Rafiki, Uganda’s rare silverback mountain gorilla, killed by hunters

RafikiImage copyrightUGANDA WILDLIFE AUTHORITY
Image captionRafiki was thought to be 25 years old when he died

One of Uganda’s best known mountain gorillas, Rafiki, has been killed.

Four men have been arrested, and they face a life sentence or a fine of $5.4m (£4.3m) if found guilty of killing an endangered species.

Investigations showed that Rafiki was killed by a sharp object that penetrated his internal organs.

There are just over 1,000 mountain gorillas in existence and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) described Rafiki’s death as a “very big blow”.

The silverback, believed to be around 25-years-old when he died in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, was the leader of a group of 17 mountain gorillas.

This group was described as habituated, meaning that its members were used to human contact.

“The death of Rafiki leaves the group unstable and there is the possibility that it could disintegrate,” Bashir Hangi from the UWA told the BBC.

“It has no leadership at this time and it could be taken over by a wild silverback.”

If that happened, the group would not want to come into contact with humans, which ultimately could affect tourism.

Rafiki eating somethingImage copyrightUGANDA WILDLIFE AUTHORITY
Image captionThere are just over 1,000 mountain gorillas left in existence

The mountain gorillas are a popular draw for visitors to the country and the UWA relies on the tourists for revenue.

Rafiki himself was very popular with people who had come to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mr Hangi said.

He went missing on 1 June and his body was discovered by a search party the following day.

A UWA team tracked a suspect to a nearby village, where he was found with hunting equipment.

He admitted that he, and three others, had been hunting smaller animals in the park and that he killed Rafiki in self-defence when he was attacked, the UWA said in a statement.

The four men are expected to be charged under a wildlife protection law that was passed last year.

Infographic

The mountain gorilla species is restricted to protected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

They can be found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and a network of parks in the Virunga Massif range of mountains which straddle the borders of the three countries.

In 2018, the mountain gorilla was removed from the list of critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, after intensive conservation efforts, including anti-poaching patrols, paid off.

The IUCN now classifies the species as endangered.

Viewpoint: Protect African wildlife with a state trophy ban

President Donald Trump’s idea of “Make America Great Again” is making it easier for wealthy American trophy hunters like his sons, who are unfazed by six-digit price tags, to slaughter vulnerable, threatened and endangered wildlife. It is more than time for New York state — the biggest port of entry for wildlife trophies — to take steps towards ending this cruel industry.

Donald Trump Jr.’s latest hunting escapade in Mongolia — where he shot a rare endangered Argali sheep, and only received a permit to do so after the kill, on a trip last August that also included some schmoozing with the Mongolian president — is evidence of the unfair system that leaves vulnerable animal species prey to wealthy Americans, including New Yorkers who hunt African wildlife.

From 2005 to 2014, 159,144 animals were imported into New York as trophies — including 1,541 lions; 1,130 elephants and 83 pairs of tusks; 1,169 leopards, and 110 white rhinos and three pairs of horns.

Last year the state Senate passed the Big 5 African Trophies Act, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Luis Sepulveda, D-Bronx, and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan. It would ban the importation, possession, sale or transportation of the trophies of African giraffes, leopards, lions, elephants, and black and white rhinos and their body parts throughout New York — all threatened and endangered species.

The thousands of dollars in fees hunters pay to safari companies does little to help protect these animals. Studies show that less than 3 percent of revenue from trophy hunting returns to the communities. Meanwhile, the population of elephants has declined by 90 percent in the past century, with losses attributed to the commodification of elephants for their ivory and skin. This is in addition to the challenges they face from habitat destruction and climate change. There are fewer than 23,000 lions left in Africa, according to a recent study by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford, The number of Argali sheep has plummeted more than 60 percent, with just 18,000 remaining in Mongolia.

And while permits by countries that allow the hunting, and permits issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency to hunt threatened and endangered species and import the dead body parts of the animals killed overseas, are supposed to regulate the industry to ensure a species’ survival, the truth is obtaining the permits are often a matter of political influence and the only difference between “illegal” poachers and trophy hunters with permits is wealth and political connections.

New York City Councilman Keith Powers has introduced a resolution supporting the state trophy ban legislation. The council should approve it, and the state Assembly should act in its upcoming session to end the imports here. New York should lead the nation in standing up for vulnerable species who belong in the wild, not on walls.

Priscilla Feral is the president of Friends of Animals, an international, nonprofit animal advocacy organization.

Drought ignites human-wildlife conflict in Zimbabwe

https://phys.org/news/2020-01-drought-ignites-human-wildlife-conflict-zimbabwe.html

Taken on November 12, 2019 it shows the carcass of an elephant that succumbed to drought in the Hwange National Park, in Zimbabw
Taken on November 12, 2019 it shows the carcass of an elephant that succumbed to drought in the Hwange National Park, in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean villager Dumisani Khumalo appeared to be in pain as he walked gingerly towards a chair under the shade of a tree near his one-room brick shack.

Wild  in Zimbabwe were responsible for the deaths of at least 36 people in 2019, up from 20 in the previous year.

“I thank God that I survived the attack,” said Khumalo with a laugh, making light of the fact that the buffalo almost ripped off his genitals.

Authorities recorded 311 animal attacks on people last year, up from 195 in 2018.

The attacks have been blamed on a devastating drought in Zimbabwe which has seen hungry animals breaking out of game reserves, raiding  in search of food and water.

“The cases include attacks on humans, their livestock and crops,” said national parks spokesman Tinashe Farawo.

He said elephants caused most fatalities, while hippos, buffalos, lions, hyenas and crocodile also contributed to the toll.

Hwange National Park, which is half the size of Belgium, is Zimbabwe’s largest game park and is situated next to the famed Victoria Falls. The park is not fenced off.

Animals breach the buffer and “cross over to look for water and food as there is little or none left in the forest area,” Farawo said

Starving animals

Khumalo vividly remembers the attack.

More than 200 elephants starved to death over three months last year
More than 200 elephants starved to death over three months last year

He was walking in a forest near his Ndlovu-Kachechete village to register for food aid, when he heard dogs barking.

Suddenly a buffalo emerged from the bush and charged, hitting him in the chest and tossing him to the ground.

It went for his groin and used its horn to rip off part of the skin around his penis.

Khumalo grabbed the buffalo’s leg, kicked it in the eye and it scampered off.

Villagers in Zimbabwe’s wildlife-rich but parched northwestern region are frequently fighting off desperately hungry game.

More than 200 elephants starved to death over three months last year.

Despite suspecting that Khumalo was hunting illegally when he was attacked, Phindile Ncube, CEO of Hwange Rural District Council admitted that  are killing people and that the drought has worsened things.

“Wild animals cross into human-inhabited areas in search of water as … sources of drinking water dry up in the forest,” said Ncube.

He described an incident that took place a few weeks earlier, during which elephants killed two cows at a domestic water well.

Armed scouts have been put on standby to respond to distress calls from villagers.

But it was while responding to one such call that the scouts inadvertently shot dead a 61-year-old woman in Mbizha village, close to Khumalo’s.

“As they tried to chase them off one (elephant) charged at them and a scout shot at it. He missed, and the stray bullet hit and killed Irene Musaka, who was sitting by a fire outside her hut almost a mile away.”

In this file photo taken on November 12, 2019 a hippo is stuck in the mud at a drying watering hole in the Hwange National Park,
In this file photo taken on November 12, 2019 a hippo is stuck in the mud at a drying watering hole in the Hwange National Park, in Zimbabwe.

Chilli cake repellant

Locals are encouraged to play their part to scare off animals. One way is to beat drums.

But the impact is limited.

“Animals, such as elephants get used to the noise and know it… won’t hurt them, so it does not deter them in the long term,” said George Mapuvire, director of Bio-Hub Trust, a charity that trains people to respond to .

Bio-Hub Trust advocates for a “soft approach” that encourages peaceful co-existence between humans and wildlife.

Mapuvire suggested burning home-made hot chilli cakes to repel wildlife.

“You mix chilli powder with cow or elephant dung and shape it into bricks, once the bricks dry, you can burn them when elephants are approaching. They can’t stand the smell!”

Villagers have created an elephant alarm system by tying strings of empty tin cans to trees and poles.

When the cans click, they know an elephant is approaching and they light chilli cakes to keep it away.

Another way of keeping  at bay is the chilli gun, a plastic contraption loaded with ping-pong balls injected with chilli oil.

“When it hits an elephant, it disintegrates, splashing the animal with the chilli oil,” Mapuvire explained.

This Woman Hunts People Who Hunt Endangered Animals In Africa

The African Wildlife Foundation reports that rhinos, elephants, and other types of African wildlife may go extinct in our lifetime, and the effects of poaching are definitely not to be taken lightly.

For example, the number of Black Rhinos has dropped by 97.6 percent since 1960, and it’s very clear that unless some invested interest and heavy force is given to help reduce the rates of poaching, many animals will go extinct, and the whole planet will feel the effects of that.

One way U.S. activists are trying to put an end on poaching is by enlisting retired vets to take part in an organization that puts their years of experience in combat training to work overseas. The organization is called VETPAW (Veterans Empowered To Protect African Wildlife), and it’s entirely focused on protecting wildlife from being illegally hunted.

Kinessa Johnson, a US Army veteran who served 4 years in Afghanistan is a recent addition to the group, and she and a team arrived in Africa to take on a new mission. According to her, they’re there to do some anti-poaching, take down some bad guys, and do some good.

She and her team of fellow vets arrived in Tanzania, and she says that she has already noticed a decrease in poaching activity in her team’s area because their presence is known.
Her team’s primary focus is to train park rangers and patrol with them to provide support.

She says that African park rangers lost about 187 men last year over trying to save rhinos and elephants, and the training they will provide includes field medicine, marksmanship, and counter-intelligence.

Young elephants were taken from their mothers in Zimbabwe. Now they’re in cages in China

Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe (CNN)The cellphone footage reveals rows of steel cells stretching along a concrete floor. Behind each set of bars, a juvenile African elephant, their tusks just barely showing. One elephant presses its head into the corner of its prison-like confinement.

Zimbabwean officials legally captured these highly intelligent and social animals in Hwange National Park. Now, they will be broken and put on display for tourists in China.
By the end of this month, as more and more experts weigh in on the deep trauma suffered by captured elephants, a treaty governing international animal trade will halt the export of live elephants from Zimbabwe and other countries in Southern Africa.
Activists say they fear that the opaque trade could now move underground.
A screenshot taken from cellphone footage shows a caged young elephant in China.

Stuck in a holding pen

A vast park on Zimbabwe’s westernmost frontier, Hwange is one of the continent’s best spots for seeing giant elephant herds.
But few of the tourists entering the main gate are aware that just a few miles away to the southeast is a large boma compound, notorious among animal rights groups as the center of Zimbabwe’s efforts to sell elephants.
Armed with satellite coordinates provided by a source, we drove to the edge of the compound to try and see the elephants allegedly still inside.
“I have no idea about that,” a manager says, when asked about the elephant boma, a kind of holding pen before translocation.
We were quickly asked to leave, but Chrispen Chikadaya, a senior inspector with the Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ZNSPCA), is one of the few people who has gotten inside.
Chikadaya began hearing the rumors late last year that park authorities were rounding up breeding herds and capturing juveniles for export.
Witnesses told him that wranglers were grabbing elephants old enough to survive without their mother’s milk, but small enough to squeeze into a freight box to China.
“They experience severe stress; they don’t have the freedom they have to move around like they do in the wild. If you put them in cages, you have now taken away the wild in them,” says Chikadaya.
Footage courtesy of Humane Society International released earlier this year.
Video released by Humane Society International shows the young mammals pacing back and forth, behavior often exhibited by stressed elephants. Predictably, the images sparked outrage.
“This is fiction. People act like we don’t love these animals, that we are abusing them. It is not true, because we are looking after our animals very well,” says Tinashe Farawo, a spokesman for Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks).
He says that Zimbabwe has legally translocated animals to zoos, circuses and sanctuaries for decades without much fuss.
“We have moved animals to the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. This is not a new phenomenon in this country,” he says. “We think people should be scientific and ask what the facts are, not the emotions.”

Intelligent and sociable animals

Well-known elephant biologist Joyce Poole scoffs at the emotion-versus-science argument.
After studying elephants in the field for decades, she believes that they are uniquely intelligent and ill-suited for confinement.
“Some critics say we are ascribing human characteristics towards elephant, but we are not. These are elephant characteristics. They are capable of empathy, of self-awareness, understanding death and compassion. This is the kind of scientific evidence that Zimbabwe is ignoring,” Poole says.
She says, like us, elephants are highly social animals — confine them and they get bored, depressed, aggressive and sick.
“Through the course of evolution, they have developed these really close social bonds. If you take that away from an elephant, you destroy it,” says Poole.
On average, elephants die much younger in captivity, are less fertile, and suffer more from ailments like arthritis.
“Some animals are suitable and may even prosper in captive situations and zoos, because their biological needs are met. As for elephants, the needs are so beyond the scale of any zoo I have seen, that none of them are appropriate or suitable as a destination,” says Keith Lindsay, an elephant biologist who has studied zoo conditions.
As scientists learn more about elephants, public attitudes and policy have begun to change. In the US, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circuses stopped using elephants in 2016 — a year before the company shut its doors for good.

Stuck in limbo

In June, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the country needed to sell wild elephants to fund its conservation efforts.
Back in May, the government revealed it had made $2.7 million from the sale of 90 elephants to Dubai and China.
In recent years, Zimbabwe has found ready buyers in China for their live elephant trade, but the ZNSPCA says the details of those deals and the conditions of the confined animals have been deliberately obscured.
Chikadaya says when he first inspected the elephants, in Hwange, slated for export back in 2018, inspectors were told by park officials that the elephants would be moved within a month, but they were kept in a boma for nearly a year.
In October, word got out that officials were preparing to ship the elephants, and the ZNSPCA team rushed back to Hwange. After the seven-hour drive, they were forcibly barred from the boma, despite their legal mandate to inspect captive animals. Zimpark officials say that they didn’t have the right paperwork, but their inspectors are, in fact, free to inspect whenever they want.
The ZNSPCA says that the following morning the elephants were crammed into crates and spirited out of the park as their inspection team slept.
“It all should be transparent,” says Chikadaya. “We should know that our animals are being translocated. And we need to know what benefit it has for conservation.”
Zimparks did eventually release basic information on where the elephants went and what they bought with the money — their spokesman says there is no issue of transparency, adding they bought everything from vehicles to uniforms with the proceeds.

A vast park without resources

With about a third of Zimbabweans surviving on food aid during the lean season, many would view the fate of about 30 elephants the equivalent of “first world problems.”
Ultimately, Hwange is expected to pay for itself. They do that with tourist dollars and, says Farawo, by selling elephants.
“We believe that elephants must pay for their upkeep. They must also pay for their protection,” he says, adding that Hwange has elephants to spare, with somewhere between 45,000 to 53,000 in the park — far more than the park’s environment can sustain.
Patrick Sibanda, a veteran ranger of the park, says each year the rains are coming later and later.
He says that around 200 elephants have died from thirst and hunger since October alone.
An elephant carcass in Hwange. A severe drought that has drained water sources in Zimbabwe's largest national park, resulting in a number of elephant deaths.

“It’s very bad. So many elephants have died this year,” says Sibanda, as he walks towards a carcass near a water hole.
“This young elephant came to drink, but I think it was exhausted,” he says. The elephant injured itself at the water trough, he says, and a pride of lions attacked it. On the other side of a dirt track, another elephant carcass lies under an acacia tree
The drought is one of the main arguments put forward for selling elephants to China by Zimparks. They say they need money to repair artificial water holes to save elephants.
“There is no water, there is no habitat, there is climate change. These things are real,” says Farawo
Biologists like Poole say they should instead gradually reduce elephant numbers by reducing the water points, not unnaturally prop up the numbers. But she concedes that there aren’t any easy options for Zimbabwe.

The end of the trade

In the next few days, Zimbabwe will no longer be allowed to sell its elephant to China or anywhere else where African elephants don’t naturally exist.
The decision was taken at a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in Geneva earlier this year, backed by a coalition of African nations and the European Union. Members of the international treaty governing the international sale of animal products approved the ban.
The move was lauded by conservation activists, but slammed in Zimbabwe, where they say they will lose a key revenue stream. Zimparks says they will abide by the treaty for now, but Zimbabwe’s President has already hinted in state media that they could withdraw from the agreement. Activists, meanwhile, worry that the sales will just move underground.
After the elephants left for China in October, there were rumors that several were left behind, too big to fit in the crates after the extended confinement.
Zimparks flatly denied that any were left in the boma.
But after winning a court battle, the ZNSPCA gained access just a few days ago. They found two emaciated young elephants struggling inside the translocation compound.
Chikadaya understands that the parks desperately need funds but says there has to be another way. He says the lack of transparency from the government and the trauma faced by the elephants, both here in Zimbabwe and thousands of miles away in zoos across the world, just can’t be worth it.
“Our wildlife belongs to Zimbabweans. It doesn’t belong to one person; it doesn’t belong to an organization. It belongs to our ancestors. It belongs to our children, to our parents, to our grandchildren,” he says.

‘Fantastic day for elephants’: court rejects ivory ban challenge

Antique dealers fail in high court bid to overturn world-leading blanket ban on
trading

Owen Bowcott
Tue 5 Nov 2019 17.45 GMT First published on Tue 5 Nov 2019 15.17 GMT

Antique dealers have failed in an attempt to overturn a total ban on ivory
trading being introduced by the government after the high court ruled the
legislation did not breach European law.

Conservation groups, who argued that any dilution of the ban would
revitalise illegal elephant poaching, welcomed the decision, which they said
would preserve the UK’s position as a world leader in the fight against the
ivory trade.

Last month, a small number of antique dealers challenged the ban in the high
court, arguing that sales of “cultural heritage” objects had no impact on
the market for illegally plundered tusks.

The 2018 Ivory Act, which attracted cross-party support, has yet to come
into force. It criminalises trade in all ivory artefacts with a few artistic
exemptions. The prohibition was championed by the former environment
secretary Michael Gove, who pledged to introduce “one of the world’s
toughest bans on ivory sales to protect elephants for future generations”.

The high court claim was brought in the name of a newly formed company,
Friends of Antique Cultural Treasures (Fact), but funds were channelled via
the British Antique Dealers’ Association (Bada). The dealers also said the
ban undermined the European convention on human rights by interfering with
individuals’ property rights.

Responding to the judgment, Mary Rice, the chief executive of the
Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), said: “This is a victory for
common sense and one which maintains the UK’s position as a global leader
when it comes to fighting the illegal ivory trade.”

The EIA is part of a coalition of 11 conservation organisations that
supported the Ivory Act, arguing that any legal trade in ivory provides
cover for the illegal trade because it is difficult to distinguish between
antique and newly carved ivory. The UK is one of the world’s leading
exporters of antique ivory, particularly to China and Hong Kong.

The environment secretary, Theresa Villiers, said: “I welcome today’s ruling
by the high court which upholds the UK’s commitment to ban the ivory trade.

“We will move forward and make sure the ban comes into operation as soon as
possible to protect wildlife and the environment.”

The European commission is considering further restrictions on ivory trade
across the EU, based in part on the UK’s Ivory Act. Other countries, such as
Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, have introduced, or are considering,
similar legislation.

John Stephenson, the chief executive of the campaign group Stop Ivory, said:
“Challenges to the new legislation fly in the face of British public
opinion, which increasingly puts the conservation of nature before profit.
We hope that’s the end of the matter and that the government can get on with
implementing the act, without further distractions.”

Conservationists estimate that 55 African elephants are poached every day,
which they say is an unsustainable rate of loss. David Cowdrey, the head of
policy and campaigns at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: “We
are delighted to hear that the high court has rejected the antiques lobby’s
bid to overturn the Ivory Act. It is a fantastic day for elephants, and for
everyone that has fought so hard to make the UK’s ivory ban one of the
toughest in the world.”

Zimbabwe slates proposed US anti-trophy hunting law

by Staff reporter
7 hrs ago | 157 Views
Trump’s sons
GOVERNMENT is disturbed by moves by the United States to frustrate wildlife trophy hunting in Zimbabwe and is engaging Washington over the matter, a senior official said yesterday.

The United States is in the process of promulgating an anti-trophy hunting law called ‘Cecil Act’ purportedly inspired by the killing of Cecil the lion at Hwange National Park by an American millionaire dentist, Walter Palmer, in 2015. The killing of the globally famous lion sparked worldwide outrage.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mr Munesu Munodawafa, revealed Government’s frustrations at Matopo National Park during the launch of the country’s Rapid Response Guide (RRG) toolkit on wildlife crimes yesterday.

A local non-governmental organisation that advocates for protection of animals, Speak for Animals, spearheaded the formulation of the toolkit with the involvement of stakeholders in various Government departments.

Mr Munodawafa said the US congress recently invited Government to make its presentation on the proposed law and Harare is still negotiating with Washington to understand its implications.

“The background of the law is that there was a lion called Cecil which was shot in Hwange National Park under circumstances that are well documented. Now what has since happened is that the American government is coming up with what they call the Cecil Act. The long and short of what is happening is that they are saying we need to protect certain species and for that to happen the effect of the law will be to prohibit the movement of trophies to America whether by airplanes going to America or even to prohibit the American hunters from coming here. That would be the effect of that law,” he said.

Mr Munodawafa said Zimbabwe’s tourism industry thrives on wildlife conservancy and the proposed law would negatively affect conservation efforts. He said the country benefits from controlled trophy hunts as revenues generated are used for anti-poaching mechanisms. Mr Munodawafa said if the Cecil Act sails through, the country would regress on progress it has made in fighting wildlife crimes as Government cannot fund conservation efforts from its coffers.

“On average the operational budget, just the operational budget for national parks, is plus or minus US$30 million and that money has been coming in from various activities like sport hunting. That is why we even fight the issue of the ban on ivory trade. If you look at it, ivory has been banned, trading in live elephants has effectively been banned, now they are moving to cut off trophies for buffaloes, for lions, for anything they are closing all the sources of revenue,” he said.

Speaking at the same event, acting deputy Prosecutor General Mr Innocent Mutsonziwa said it was curious that the Cecil law is being crafted after an American sparked global outrage by killing the famous lion.

“The law which is being crafted to deprive Zimbabwe and other African countries of benefiting from their wildlife is coming from the same country where that person (who killed Cecil) came from. So, as a thinker you must think big and say what was the plan. Was it just a coincidence or it was a well-planned thing that we do this and after so many years then we tie this country down so that it doesn’t develop? It can’t use its resources. These are things that those with huge imaginations should think about,” said Mr Mutsonziwa.

President Mnangagwa recently revealed that the country is considering pulling out of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as it prevents Zimbabwe from benefiting from ivory stocks worth US$600 million.

https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-171789.html