Makes Me Sick’: Daughter Disowns Trophy-Hunting Dad Who Kissed Partner Beside Slain Lion

The Carters from Edmonton, Alberta, were part of a tour organised by Legelela Safaris when they shot and killed the lion.

'Makes Me Sick': Daughter Disowns Trophy-Hunting Dad Who Kissed Partner Beside Slain Lion

Image credit: Twitter/YouTube

A Canadian trophy-hunter, who was slammed for kissing his partner beside a lion they had just shot and killed in Africa, has now been disowned by his own daughter.

“Hard work in the hot Kalahari sun… well done. A monster lion,” Darren and Carolyn Carter of Edmonton, Alberta, had captioned their photo on Facebook, drawing flak from animal rights activists and social media users.

The couple from Edmonton, Alberta, was part of a tour organised by Legelela Safaris when they shot and killed the magnificent animal.

“The tour operator regularly shares snaps of dead animals alongside proud hunters, often grinning as they hold up their guns, on their Facebook page,” reports Daily Mail.

Other photos showing Darren and Carolyn Carter posing in front of another dead lion were captioned: “There is nothing like hunting the king of the jungle in the sands of the Kalahari. Well done to the happy huntress and the team…”

As the pictures went viral on social media, the Carters were called “murderers”, “disgusting” and “cowardly.”

Daily Mirror


Sick couple kiss to celebrate killing magnificent lion in horrifying picture 

View image on Twitter


I am thoroughly disgusted and appalled at these people. This is all for sport and it is absolutely disgusting. This has to stop now!

56 people are talking about this


I am thoroughly disgusted and appalled at these people. This is all for sport and it is absolutely disgusting. This has to stop now!


Beyond disgusting! This is how they get their kicks. So disturbing.

See chrissys’s other Tweets

Dr Lauren Gavaghan


Canadian couple kiss and pose for photo by dead lion they killed.

Not brave. Not cool. Cowardly to the extreme. What sad sad souls to kill such a majestic & beautiful animal.

Ban now. 

View image on Twitter
248 people are talking about this

The pictures along with the Facebook page of Legelela Safaris have since been deleted. On July 16, Darren’s daughter took to YouTube to express her disgust.

“That just make me sick,” she said. “Like, I refuse to call him my dad anymore. Who does that? I’ll never understand people like that, that take pride in shooting a beautiful animal like a lion. … [K]nowing you trophy hunt beautiful animals like lions who are slowly getting endangered is just, it’s too much. I’m someone who loves animals and I never want anyone to hurt them. To know that my own father does that, I don’t even consider you my dad anymore,” she said in a 10-minute long video.

The Carters, who run a taxidermy business, have described themselves as “passionate conservationists” despite their trophy-hunting expeditions, reports Daily Mirror. “We aren’t interested in commenting on that at all. It’s too political,” Darren was quoted as saying.

Eduardo Goncalves, the founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, believes the lions were captive and bred for the sole purpose of being killed by hunters.

“It looks as though this lion was a tame animal killed in an enclosure, bred for the sole purpose of being the subject of a smug selfie,” he was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

“This couple should be utterly ashamed of themselves, not showing off and snogging for the cameras.”

Also see:

Trophy-hunting firms banned from gun show after protests (UK)

Trophy-hunting businesses targeting big-game hunters in Britain have been banned from a shooting show after public objections. The NEC in Birmingham said that it would no longer be welcoming safari operators selling hunting trips for sport at the Great British Shooting Show in February.

Campaigners had gathered 30,000 signatures demanding that the venue revoke admission for ten safari operators that wanted to market their tours to shoot lions, elephants and other big game in Africa. The announcement by the NEC yesterday came after organisers had earlier defended the safari operators’ appearance at the show as “controversial”.

The venue, which also hosts Crufts, said in a tweet yesterday that it had listened to its customers’ concerns “and have acted”.

“Taking these concerns and the safety of staff and visitors into consideration, we will be removing exhibitors that practise safari hunting from the show,” it said.

Among the exhibitors that had bought stands at the show were Umlilo Safaris, from South Africa, which offers packages including lion trophy hunts “in fenced areas” — a practice known as canned hunting because there is no way the trapped animals can avoid their fate. Another operator, Legelela Safaris, offers giraffe hunts for £2,400 and baboons for £160.

The safari firms had been expected to capitalise on an increase in interest from British big-game hunters, documented in a report by the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting. The report, based on data from Cites, the global wildlife trade regulator, tracks a sharp rise in souvenir animal trophies imported into Britain in recent years.

Last night the veteran explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes welcomed the NEC’s decision as “a small but positive first step”.

“The idea that animals may be killed, not in self-defence or for food but purely for entertainment, must surely be challenged,” he told The Times. Last week Sir Ranulph appeared at a reception in parliament calling for a ban on the import of trophies from endangered animals to Britain.

From 2004 to 2014 about 2,500 such trophies were brought home by British hunters. The UK is among the top 12 nations taking part in such hunting trips, along with the United States, Russia and Germany, according to Cites data.

Many of the lions being imported into Britain come from hunting farms in South Africa, which Sir Ranulph described as a “hideous trade”. The country has 3,000 lions in the wild, compared with up to 8,000 born in captivity for commercial purposes. Canned hunting is legal in South Africa. Supporters argue that it helps conservation efforts by giving greater value to preserving animals in the wild, as well as bringing revenue to rural areas.

Scientists consider captive-bred lions to have little to no conservation value.

Internet Furious Over Canadian Couple Kissing in Photo While Kneeling Behind Huge Lion They Killed

The Internet at large is boiling over with outrage over a new trophy hunting photo circulating on Facebook. The picture shows a Canadian couple kissing as they pose with a lion they have just killed in South Africa. To many, this is a bizarre display of cruelty.

The couple in question is Darren and Carolyn Carter, hailing from Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. They were pictured on a trip to South Africa where they signed on with Legelela Safaris, a firm offering trophy hunts for tourists. According to a report by the Daily Mail, they charge just over $3,000 for these massive undertakings.

The company often shares photos of happy customers posing with their quarry. Something about the Carters’ photo did not sit well with viewers, however, and it soon went viral on other platforms as well.

Daily Mail US


Canadian couple happily kiss for photo as they kneel behind magnificent lion they have just killed on a hunt 

Canadian couple pose for kissing photo in front of dead lion

Darren and Carolyn Carter, from Edmonton, in Alberta, Canada, were taking part in a tour organised by Legelela Safaris when they shot and killed the magnificent creature in South Africa.

Sudeep Singh Bilkhu@singh_bilkhu

That’s it lady, an arrow for each monster… 😭🦁❤️🙏

“Hard work in the hot Kalahari sun… well done. A monster lion,” read the Legelela Safari caption on the post. “There is nothing like hunting the king of the jungle in the sands of the Kalahari. Well done to the happy huntress and the team.”

As the photos from the hunt circulated on social media, animal lovers and conservationists reacted with horror. Many denounced the entire practice of big game hunting and trophy hunting, as well as the Carters themselves. In particular, their kiss over the lion’s remains seemed to strike a sour chord with many viewers.

“A shocking photo of this cruel and smug couple alongside this beautiful lion,” one person tweeted. “The sooner game hunting is banned the better. I went on safari to South Africa this year and saw lions – they are magnificent animals.”

Carrie Symonds


A Mirror front page I wholeheartedly agree with! Trophy hunting is sick. Photos like this of people posing with corpses of magnificent animals they’ve just shot are barbaric & cruel. Will never understand it.

286 people are talking about this

“Kiss of death from disgraceful couple who have money but don’t know how to use it,” addedanother. “This is expected from rich with no heart and no sense! Tell them to go and learn from Bill Gates and his wife how to spend money on preserving life and destroying it!!”

The Carters’ photo was so resonant it even sparked a renewed call to end trophy hunting altogether, even outside of the usual conservationist circlesThe Mirrorpublished editorials on why the practice should be stopped, with the Carters’ photo on the front page.

The Carters reportedly run a taxidermy business when they are not on vacation, though they describe themselves as “passionate conservationists.” Darren Carter told reporters that they “aren’t interested in commenting on that at all. It’s too political.”

Yes, I’m a hunter. My targets are duplicity, lies and cruelty

 We are left to contemplate the needless deaths of keystone animals like lions Skye, Cecil and Voortrekker – not dusty old males hunters claim they hunt, but beautiful creatures in the prime of their lives destined to bolster someone’s ego and bragging rights, says the writer. Photo: Charlie Lynam)  Less

178 Reactions

The trophy hunting industry is on the wrong side of history, serves the macabre leisure pursuits of a handful of the wealthy elite and yet, bizarrely, we environment writers are the ones vilified for trying to call it to account.

As every journalist knows, a disaster without a face is just a number. You tell the bigger story through the individual. Exactly a year ago, that face was a beautiful pride male lion named Skye. Last month it was the huge male desert-dwelling elephant named Voortrekker. Four years ago it was the lion, Cecil.

Trophy hunters don’t like the animals they shoot having names. It enables the public to identify with them as individuals. And as individuals, they easily become a synecdoche – a lens – through which to assess trophy hunting as a sport.

That makes hunters and their apologists uncomfortable. Rather keep it scientific, clinical. We’re just cropping ageing game in a well-regulated sport. It’s sustainable and helps local communities. It keeps cows and goats out of the wilderness.

News that questions this version of reality is hotly contested. Each story written by environmental writers like Elise Tempelhoff, Ross Harvey, Ian Michler, Simon Bloch, John Grobler, Louzel Lombard Steyn or myself never fails to elicit angry rebuttals in support of hunting. Here are a few among the many:

Kent journalism professor Keith Somerville claims those opposing hunting are card-stacking facts or falsehoods and cherry-picking (though he misses the irony that he does just that). What we write, in other words, is not news, but propaganda.

Swedish hunter Jens Ulrik Høgh complains that those who support trophy hunting are being “actively demonised, outnumbered, interrupted and treated like the scum of the earth”. Really?

In response to an article about the killing of Voortrekker, US-based Safari Club International (SCI) posted that the writer “John Grobler et al. seem to focus on bringing disrepute upon communal conservancies and sustainable hunting in Namibia. Their relentless rhetoric has fuelled the fervour of many desktop anti-hunting social media activists.”

It fails to mention, of course, that the SCI hunting achievement programme and awards fuel a global guiding and outfitting industry and drives binge hunting for many of the rarest animals on earth.

The pro-hunting Conservation Frontlines website sees the conflict being between “various hunting organisations and a coterie of short-attention-span journalists and tourism operators who style themselves as conservationists”.

Hunter Ron Thomson is always quick to rush into print to kill the messenger and defend the right to gun down elephants. His speciality seems to be mass culling. He claims Botswana has doubled its elephant population (in fact the population has been stable for 19 years). He recommends shooting half of them (around 50,000) and ruminates on the limitation posed by insufficient abattoirs.

The noise in defence of trophy hunting is understandable – it’s getting a very bad name and there’s growing public pushback.

Conservation Frontlines writers Malan Lindeque and Rosalia Lileka have the solution: just rebrand it. Remove all reference to “sport” or “fun”, reposition it as “conservation organisation hunts” and ensure that hunting “demonstrably contributes to conservation”. But of course, do not for a moment question whether it’s okay to kill wild animals.

As a journalist – a real one and not, as depicted, a greenie propagandist – the barrage of criticism has an effect. It’s exhausting having to rebut the same old hoary arguments.

Are we environmental writers and NGOs really completely blind to the virtues of trophy hunting? Well no, I don’t think so. The UN Report on Biodiversity out two months ago was a wake-up call. It warned that about a million species are on the brink of extinction, including many of the species being hunted for pleasure. A Born Free report just out: Trophy Hunting – Busting the Myths and Exposing the Cruelty, has alarming figures on the volume of trophies.

It found that between 2008 and 2017, close to 300,000 trophy items derived from more than 300 threatened animal species were exported from more than 100 countries. Here are some:

“These figures only reflect those trophies derived from species that are protected by international agreement, the export of which is subject to an international permitting system,” the report says.

“When you consider the many trophies derived from the hunters’ own countries, for which official records may not exist or are much more difficult to obtain, these figures represent the tip of a very large iceberg.”

report by the non-partisan US Congressional Research Service backs up the high carcass volumes. Between 2013 and 2017 the US granted import permits for 32,100 black bears, 10,122 sandhill cranes, 2,645 African lions, 2,552 chacma baboons, and 2,148 mountain zebras.

The Born Free report documents the cruelty of trophy hunting, its failure to support conservation, the cheating of local communities out of hunting revenues, and the complete disregard for animal welfare. And this in a world where the populations of the animals that trophy hunters target are, for the most part, plummeting.

Hunters, the report says, claim the fees they pay to government agencies, hunting outfitters, taxidermists and shipping companies benefit wildlife conservation, local communities and the economies of the countries where trophy hunting takes place.

“They also often claim that by targeting problem or redundant animals their activities represent a legitimate form of wildlife management. But their claims do not withstand scrutiny.”

Their major motivation, says the report, appears to be admiration and affirmation from fellow hunters, which they increasingly seek through social media and other online platforms. “The trophy hunting industry encourages this behaviour by offering awards for the number and types of animals bagged by hunters, and the variety of methods and weapons used to kill them.

“Despite their claims, trophy hunters do not generally target problem, redundant or old and infirm animals. They prefer to set their sights on animals with impressive traits – the darkest manes, the biggest tusks, the longest horns.

“This often results in the killing of key individuals, removing vital genetic resources and causing disruption to family groups, populations and, by extension, the wider ecosystems of which they form a part.”

Then there’s the money.

Back in 2013, South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs estimated trophy hunting generated around R1-billion. In that year non-consumptive tourism contributed R323-billion.

A report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2009 estimated the annual hunting turnover for 11 countries in Africa that permit big game hunting was 0.06% of their combined annual GDP, generating an average of just $1.1 per hectare.

An analysis of data published by the pro-hunting International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation found much the same. It noted that hunting companies contribute on average 3% of their revenues to communities living in hunting areas. The vast majority of their turnover goes to government agencies, outfitters and individuals located in national capitals or overseas.

In Zambia, the government’s Wildlife Department is committed by law to returning a 50% share of trophy licence fees and 20% of hunting area concession fees to Community Resources Boards (CRBs) and chiefs in areas where trophy hunting takes place.

However, Born Free’s investigation found that little, if any, of this money ever reaches them. As a result, local people have a negative attitude towards trophy hunting, accusing the government and Department of National Parks and Wildlife of corrupt practices and of exploiting wildlife for the benefit of others, including officials, outfitters and professional hunting guides.

Of particular concern to Born Free in its report was the generally neglected welfare of the animals hunted, an issue often derided by the hunting fraternity. While in most countries there are strict rules about the killing of farm animals, no such protections apply to wild animals.

“While some hunting organisations acknowledge that trophy hunters have a responsibility to avoid inflicting undue suffering, many offer awards for methods of killing a trophy animal which might include the use of bows and arrows, handguns, or ‘traditional’ weapons such as muzzleloaders or spears. These methods clearly do not prioritise the welfare of the target animal and are likely to increase the possibility of suffering.”

Because heads are displayed, it says, there’s the increasing probability that a body shot will be favoured, reducing the likelihood that a clean kill will be achieved and increasing the possibility that the animal will suffer.

“In order to give wild animals a secure future,” concludes the Born Free report, “we must learn to treat them with far greater respect and find alternative ways of realising value from wild animals and nature through non-lethal, ecologically and economically sustainable practices that will benefit wild animals and people alike.”

Now let’s step back for a moment and consider. There are very few NGOs and environmental journalists documenting the activities of a wealthy and often callous hunting industry and supportive governments which turn their face away from corruption and animal cruelty.

The trophy hunting industry is on the wrong side of history, serves the macabre leisure pursuits of a handful of the wealthy elite and yet, bizarrely, we are the ones vilified for trying to call it to account.

That industry doesn’t approve and we get vilified for the temerity to challenge it.

We could all be social reporters or cover crime, do the social beat or become sports writers. But, I’ll be honest, it’s the duplicity, lies and cruelty threaded through the hunting industry that keeps me hammering away at environmental issues.

The smokescreen of deception thrown around the hunting of Skye in Greater Kruger was a red flag screaming “Investigate Me”, which the parliamentary Environmental Committee did. Along the way, Kruger Park was roasted for failure to obey a parliamentary instruction. But in the end, nothing came of it. After all, the hunter had a government-issued licence.

So we’re left to contemplate the needless death of keystone animals like Skye, Cecil and Voortrekker – not dusty old males hunters claim they hunt, but beautiful creatures in the prime of their lives destined to bolster someone’s ego and bragging rights.

It’s a sad reflection of our species. Permit me to conclude with a (slightly altered) verse from Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan:

How many ears must one man have
Before he can hear creatures cry?
Yes and how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many creatures have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind. DM

Minister temporarily suspends octopus traps

The death of two whales caused by entanglement in octopus traps in recent weeks has caused an uproar among marine conservationists and local residents. A petition doing the rounds, to suspend exploratory fishing for octopus ,has gathered thousands of signatures.

On Friday, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy announced the decision to temporarily suspend exploratory fishing for octopus with immediate effect.

Creecy’s decision comes after talks with operators in the False Bay Area.

“Our decision is taken following widespread public concern regarding recent whale entanglements in the False Bay area which has resulted in the untimely and cruel death of these magnificent creatures.”

The statement Creecy released explains how the traps came into existence.

A calf died this week after getting tangled in an octopus trap. Picture: Emma Raisun

“In 2014, the Department established an octopus exploratory fishery that is operating in Saldanha, False Bay and Mossel Bay. This programme aims to gain scientific knowledge regarding octopus harvesting, with a view to enhancing job creation and economic development in coastal areas. Meaningful data has been collected between 2014 and 2018, and will continue until 2021 in order to ensure a solid statistical time series of catch and effort data.

“Once enough data has been collected, it will be analysed and subjected to proper scientific scrutiny and review, after which a recommendation will be made regarding the viability of establishing a new commercial fishery. Such a recommendation will also consider mitigating measures in the operations of octopus fishery,” read the statement.

Throughout the process, the Department has been leading with permit holders to ensure whales do not get caught in the nets.

After today’s meeting, operators will start the process of removing the gear from False Bay, focusing on the areas where the whales were harmed first.

A whale of a controversy erupts as a second whale dies in two weeks

 A carcass of a young humpback whale, about eight metres long, that was killed during octopus fishing is retrieved on June 27, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. According to the City of Cape Town officials, the humpback whale was entangled in an octopus fishery line and had drowned. This is reportedly the third entanglement and second fatality of whales as a result of the octopus fishery in the last two weeks. (Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)  Less

The City of Cape Town has called on Environment, Forestries and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy to issue a moratorium on octopus trapping in False Bay, following the death of two whales in two weeks as a result of the controversial industry.

  • ARTICLE UPDATE 4.50PM, 28 JUNE, 2018:  The Minister on Friday acounnced in a statement it had decided to temporarily suspend exploratory fishing for octopus with immediate effect. The decision was taken following consultation with operators in the False Bay Area. 

Late in the afternoon of Wednesday, 26 June, the carcass of a juvenile humpback whale was spotted off of Sunny Cove in False Bay. The animal was left floating overnight until city officials from the Environmental Management Department’s Coastal Management Branch, with assistance from Cape Town Octopus – the company at the centre of the controversy – were able to retrieve it early on Friday morning.

It was the second whale to have died in just two weeks, both allegedly having drowned after becoming entangled in fishing line attached to octopus traps.

The death of a Bryde’s whale on 11 June sparked outrage on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, with citizens calling for the industry to be shut down after media reports revealed that the octopus trapping permit is classified as experimental rather than commercial. The official number of whales that have died as a direct result of becoming entangled in octopus traps is not known – some reports indicate that nine whales have died over the last few years, while others say the humpback whale is only the third to drown.

But Garry Nel, General Manager of Cape Town Octopus, told Daily Maverick on Thursday that the latest whale death was not as a direct result of his current gear.

“It was a line that was lost seven years ago in another detanglement operation from a separate vessel all together that was one of the very first research boats in that area using gear with no modifications. We assisted the NSRI in that detanglement, and they cut the line and we never found that gear again.”

Nel has operated in False Bay catching octopus for over 15 years, although the Department of Environmental Affairs told Daily Maverick that multiple stakeholders were offered the same permit option.

Nel said the line used seven years ago floated, while the lines his team currently use are weighted, sinking lines. Nel told Daily Maverick that one of the new sinking lines caught onto the old piece of line, but the whale was entangled in the older line.

In a press release issued by the City of Cape Town Marian Nieuwoudt, Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment said that “the whales swim into the long ropes, and that they get a fright when this happens. They then roll over and get entangled, and eventually drown because the fishing gear is too heavy for them to reach the surface.”

A juvenile humpback whale is hauled to shore after becoming entangled in octopus traps on 26 June in False Bay, Cape Town. Photo: Tessa Knight

As a result of the latest whale death, the City has called for Minister Barbara Creecy to issue a moratorium on the experimental licence, requesting that all gear be removed from False Bay until the “fishing gear and equipment are redesigned, tested, and proven not to pose a threat to our marine life”.

Creecy, as the new Minister of Environment, Forestries and Fisheries (DEFF), takes over control of what was previously the Department of Agriculture, Forestries and Fisheries (DAFF). It was DAFF that issued the experimental octopus fishing permit in 2003 and it is DAFF, now DEFF, that Nel provides with data on all things octopus related.

At a Fisheries stakeholder forum on 19 June Creecy addressed the contentious issue of trapping octopus in False Bay.

“What I would like to do is get some independent opinion on this so that I can understand whether we are doing everything that we can to prevent a situation where we’re endangering mammals,” Creecy said.

But environmental activists are demanding the Department provide answers as to why the process has taken so long. Swati Thiyagarajan, head of Conservation and Campaign of the Cape Town-based Seachange Project, told Daily Maverick that one of the biggest issues with the Department is a lack of transparency.

“It’s a Marine Protected Area, why did the start this project in the first place? What, and who, are they supposed to be protecting?”

Video Player


Thiyagarajan was among a small group of bystanders and activists who watched Thursday’s humpback being transported from the slipway onto the back of the City’s Solid Waste Department’s trucks (see video clip above). As the juvenile whale was moved into shallow waters those present noted the presence of another whale just outside of the slipway investigating the situation.

Darryl Colembrander, City of Cape Town Head of Coastal Management and Programmes, told Daily Maverick that the missing pieces of flesh on the whale were in fact shark bites rather than wounds caused by the entanglement itself.

A juvenile humpback whale is hauled to shore, 26 June, False Bay, Cape Town. Photo: Tessa Knight

In a response to Daily Maverick’s request for information, Albie Modise, Chief Director of Communications for the Department of Environmental Affairs said:

“The only consistent (and therefore practically usable data) that has been received from this fishery to date has been that collected by Mr Nel’s fishing operations.

“As fisheries data relies on analyses of trends over time, the data from the first few years are not very informative, but these become more informative as one accumulates more data over time.”

The Department did not respond to a deadline requesting more information on why data was not made public. DM

Zimbabwe Ready to Sell Elephants to ‘Anyone Who Wants Wildlife’

  • Planned sale of elephants to Angola will help reduce ‘excess’
  • Zimbabwe tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira says in interview

Zimbabwe plans to sell elephants to Angola and is prepared to ship wild animals to any other interested countries as the southern African nation seeks to reduce its elephant population due to growing conflict between people and wildlife.

“We have no predetermined market for elephant sales, we are open to everyone who wants our wildlife,” Tourism Minister Prisca Mupfumira said in an interview on the sidelines of a wildlife summit in Victoria Falls. “The main problem is landmines in Angola, so we are trying to assist them by having a fund to deal with those before we send the animals.” Millions of landmines were used in Angola’s 27-year civil war that ended in 2002 and many have yet to be cleared.

Leaders of the four southern African nations that are home to more than half of the world’s African elephants gathered in Zimbabwe on Tuesday to discuss a common management policy and reiterate calls on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to relax some of its rules, including a moratorium on ivory sales.

The four countries – Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana – joined forces earlier this year to lobby CITES ahead of a global conference scheduled for August. They say they should be free to decide how to deal with their wildlife, and income from sales of ivory stockpiles can be used for conservation. Botswana says it has too many elephants, while Mupfumira said Zimbabwe had an “excess” of 30,000 of the animals.

Namibian President Hage Geingob and Zambia’s Edgar Lungu told delegates at the summit that the rights of communities living among elephants are being overlooked and there should be a “new deal” with CITES that allows them to benefit from wildlife. President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana, who oversaw the lifting of a hunting ban in May to enable villagers to shoot some elephants if they destroy crops, made similar comments.

Zimbabwe has already sold African elephants to China in recent years. The West African nation of Gambia, which doesn’t have any pachyderms, has also expressed interest, Mupfumira said.

“They said come and teach us and send us technical know-how,” she said. “We must allow free movement, and we must also decide – its our own resource.”

Illegal Bird Smuggling Is Fueled by Finch-Singing Contests in New York

The songbirds, often smuggled from Guyana, can fetch between $3,000 and $5,000 each, federal authorities said.

All 34 of the finches discovered last week in hair rollers inside luggage at Kennedy Airport survived the trip from Guyana, officials said.CreditU.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York
ImageAll 34 of the finches discovered last week in hair rollers inside luggage at Kennedy Airport survived the trip from Guyana, officials said.
CreditCreditU.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York

[What you need to know to start the day: Get New York Today in your inbox.]

Some bet as much as $200. Others wager as little as breakfast or a beer. The real prize — bragging rights and status — goes to the owner of the bird that sings the most vigorously during the competitions that kick off at dawn on Sundays in parks in Brooklyn and Queens.

The male chestnut-bellied seed finches are judged on how fast, and how long, they sing when held beside each other in cages, stimulating their instinct to establish dominance.

But this avian twist on “America’s Got Talent” has also fueled an illegal cottage industry: the smuggling of finches into the United States from South America.

Last week, a 39-year-old Connecticut man was charged in federal court in Brooklyn with smuggling nearly three dozen finches from Guyana into the country through Kennedy Airport. The 34 birds were nestled into plastic hair curlers and placed in carry-on luggage, which was selected for a spot inspection, according to court records.

Mr. Gurahoo was freed on a $25,000 bond, posted by his uncle, who lives in Queens and told the judge he is originally from Guyana. Mr. Gurahoo’s lawyer, Eric Pack, had no comment.

Many of the birds are captured in the wild in Guyana, experts said, lured into traps with birdsong and seeds. So far this year, agents have discovered 326 songbirds being smuggled through 16 major airports across the nation, according to the United States Customs and Border Protection. Last year, agents confiscated 2,117, records show.

The contests, known colloquially as “bird races,” are especially common in Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto Park in Brooklyn.

“This is like a sport from back home,” said Ray Harinarain, a bird importer who lives in the Cypress Hills neighborhood of Brooklyn. “People from Guyana move here and bring their traditions.”

Champion birds bestow status on their owners and can increase the value of the finch — “like a racehorse,” Mr. Harinarain said.

Tiny Birds, Big Drama: Inside the World of the Birdmen of Queens
Hobbyists who stage speed-singing contests in city parks fear that federal agents lurk, eager to shut them down.

Under federal law, transported birds must be quarantined for 30 days to ensure they do not carry avian flu or Newcastle disease, which can infect humans and domestic poultry, said Paul Calle, the chief veterinarian and vice president of health programs at the Wildlife Conservation Society. That inconvenience, coupled with a superstition that birds from the wild are more virile and better singers than birds bred in captivity, feeds the market for smuggled birds.

“Some people just prefer to smuggle,” Mr. Harinarain said.

“It’s an underground thing,” he added. “People don’t want to talk about it.”

All 34 birds discovered last week were alive, and placed in the custody of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which has regulations that allow for their return, if feasible, to Guyana.

The finches were found in plastic hair rollers at Kennedy Airport, inside the carry-on luggage of a man returning from Guyana, federal prosecutors said. CreditU.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York
ImageThe finches were found in plastic hair rollers at Kennedy Airport, inside the carry-on luggage of a man returning from Guyana, federal prosecutors said. 
CreditU.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York

The manner in which the finches are often smuggled — with no protection from high or low temperatures, no food or water and limited ability to move — creates stress, making the animals more susceptible to shedding any virus or parasite they might be carrying.


“With a multibillion dollar U.S. poultry industry, there’s a lot at stake and a lot at risk if they’re moving animals like this,” Mr. Calle said. “It’s a terrible thing.”

Though chestnut-bellied seed finches, with obsidian-colored wings and rusty breasts like robins, are not a threatened species, their illegal importation also poses ecological risks.

The finches’ robust numbers in their native region could decline to the point of collapse, as happened around the turn of the 20th century in North America with the once-ubiquitous, now-extinct passenger pigeon, said Susan Elbin, director of conservation and science at New York City Audubon.

Or, just as European starlings were introduced with good intentions into Central Park in the 1890s, only to quickly spread across the continent, displacing multitudes of native birds, exotic animals run the risk of establishing themselves and becoming a harmful invasive species.

“The problem is: They could die out, or they could do well,” Ms. Elbin said.

Donald Bruning, an ornithologist who worked at the Bronx Zoo for decades, said smuggling undermines the businesses of legitimate breeders. And the mortality rate for animals brought into the country illegally is abnormally high, he said.

He also noted that the practice may be completely unnecessary: There are far better ways, he said, to groom a champion finch than by plundering wild populations.

Baby finches, he said, learn to sing by imitation. Mr. Bruning, who was instrumental in the passage of the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992 that safeguards exotic bird species from being harmed by international trade, suggested competitors record the songs of champion birds and play them for chicks raised legally in captivity.

“That would solve the whole problem,” Mr. Bruning said.


An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of a bird importer. He is Ray Harinarain, not Harinarian.

Scientists successfully transfer first test tube rhino embryo in hopes of saving the species

Berlin — Scientists in Europe said Tuesday they’ve successfully transferred a test tube rhino embryo back into a female whose eggs were fertilized in vitro, as part of an effort to save another nearly extinct subspecies of the giant horned mammal. The procedure was performed last month on a southern white rhino at Chorzow zoo in Poland, said Thomas Hildebrandt of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin.

Hildebrandt is part of BioRescue, an international team of scientists and conservationists trying to use IVF to save the rare northern white rhino.

Only two northern white rhinos — both females — are left. The last male northern white rhino, named Sudan, died in March 2018. Scientists had preserved frozen sperm samples from several males that they now hope to use to revive the species.

  • Scientists chose to test the IVF transfer on southern white rhinos, a closely related sub-species whose numbers have stabilized in the wild.

“This is the first positive proof that the entire procedure we’ve developed in theory can be successful,” Hildebrandt told reporters in Berlin.

But time is running out.

The BioRescue team is waiting for permission from the Kenyan government to harvest eggs from the last two surviving female northern white rhinos, a mother and daughter called Najin and Fatu.

Najin and Fatu, the only two remaining female northern white rhinos, graze together on March 20, 2018 at the ol-Pejeta conservancy in Nanyuki, Kenya.TONY KARUMBA / AFP/GETTY

They are unable to bear offspring themselves, so once the embryos are fertilized in the lab they would be implanted in a southern white rhino surrogate mother.

Kenya’s ambassador in Germany, Joseph Magutt, said his country supports the effort, but didn’t say how long it would take to clear the paperwork.

Hildebrandt cautioned that while ultrasound tests show the embryo transferred at Chorzow zoo has grown, it’s smaller than expected and it remains to be seen whether it will implant in the mother’s uterine lining and result in a pregnancy.

In the meantime, others in the BioRescue team are working on ways to turn preserved skin cells from deceased rhinos into eggs or sperm, a procedure that’s so far only been performed with mice.

Rhinos have long been under pressure from poachers because of their horns, and several sub-species are at risk of extinction. Conservationists say rhinos are important for the survival of many other species because of the role they play in landscaping their native habitat.

Earlier this week, five eastern black rhinos were transported from European zoos to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park to help increase the genetic diversity of the rhino population there.

More broadly, a recent United Nations report warned that a million species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades, largely because of human activity.

Sign the petition to save our whales

 1003  21

Sign the petition to save our whales

For years the octopus-trapping ropes set up in False Bay have led to a number of marine animals, whales in particular, getting entangled and killed. The recent death of a trapped Bryde’s whale just days after a humpback calf was trapped in the same ropes has pushed the public over the edge.

Members of the community took to social media to share their outrage over the incident and have joined together to see that something is done about these needless and preventable deaths.

An official petition has been created to raise awareness around the harm caused by octopus traps as well as develop safer conditions for marine life.

“We request an immediate moratorium [ban] on all octopus trapping in the False Bay area until such time as stakeholders and concerned citizens are consulted and can agree on a safe operating standard/procedure for the use of traps used in the octopus trapping fishing industry and that the Department uses this period of Moratorium to gather much-needed information on stock levels and the impact of octopus trap fishing on the environment,” the petition reads.

The Bryde’s whale carcass floating on the water’s surface. The whale died after it got caught in octopus-trapping ropes.

For years permits for octopus trapping have been casually issued, and these traps have lead to numerous entanglements and deaths of marine animals.

The community feels the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has approved a number of permits without proper consideration or updated data.

Octopus traps consist of long ropes tied to buoys that float just above the water surface, and are not only a danger to whales but also to dolphins, boats and ships.

The Bryde’s whale carcass was hoisted ashore.

False Bay is home to the South African Navy and octopus traps also often endanger those on board boats in the bay, as the traps no longer include sonar reflectors or lights as they once did.

If a submarine accidentally catches one of the ropes in its propellers, a dire situation could develop.

Recently two whales were caught in the same octopus trap near Millers Point on June 8 and 10, leading to the death of one of them.

The carcass of the Bryde’s whale being towed into the harbour.

The creators of the petition, dubbed “Save our whales: Stop Octopus Trapping in False Bay, Cape Town”, are imploring the Honourable Minister to place an immediate ban on all trapping in the False Bay Area until a safer operating procedure can be put in place. A safer procedure would include compulsory 24-hour monitoring at sea of octopus traps and sufficient visible signalling on the traps’ buoys to avoid endangering any more marine or human life.

The community hopes that the department will also take time to assess the current stock levels and update any information they may need to make educated decision when issuing permits.

Act now to save whales in False Bay by signing the petition here. 

Also Read: Whale caught in octopus trap dies

Picture: Allison Thomson/Facebook