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

countering wildlife trafficking through Tanzania’s sea ports

Published 19th September 2019

Countering wildlife trafficking through Tanzania’s ports

Wildlife trafficking is the illegal cross-border trade in live wildlife, wildlife products or their derivatives, both of fauna and flora. It is one of the most lucrative types of transnational crime along with the illegal trade in drugs, counterfeit goods and human trafficking. This report was prepared in advance of a three-day workshop organised in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania by TRAFFIC, UNDP and UNODC, which brought together key port stakeholder groups to discuss ways to counter wildlife trafficking through Tanzania’s sea ports.

Countering wildlife trafficking through Tanzania’s ports

Report author(s):
Leanne Little

Publication date:
September 2019

About Wildlife TRAPS

The USAID-funded Wildlife Trafficking, Response, Assessment and Priority Setting (Wildlife TRAPS) Project is an initiative that is designed to secure a transformation in the level of co-operation between an international community of stakeholders who are impacted by illegal wildlife trade between Africa and Asia. The project is designed to increase understanding of the true character and scale of the response required, to set priorities, identify intervention points, and test non-traditional approaches with project partners.

UNDP-GEF Reducing Maritime Trafficking of Wildlife between Africa and Asia project

Implemented by UNDP between 2018 and 2021, this project under the GEF-financed, World Bank led Global Wildlife Program aims to curb maritime wildlife trafficking, targeting key routes and transit points between Africa and Asia. The GEF launched the 7-year Global Wildlife Program (GWP) in June 2015, bringing together funding from the GEF and a wide range of partners, including the Governments of participating countries, GEF Agencies, bilateral and multilateral donors, foundations, the private sector and civil society. Twenty GWP national projects are currently under implementation in 19 partner countries across Africa and Asia, including Tanzania.

Lion trophy approved for import into U.S., stirring controversy. Here’s why that matters.

Advocates question how this action benefits lions in the wild—a requirement under U.S. rules.

A FLORIDA TROPHY hunter has permission to import what is thought to be the first lion trophy from Tanzania since January 2016, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based nonprofit that advocates for endangered species.

In that year, two subspecies of African lions were listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, meaning that those lions can be killed for trophies only if it can be shown that the hunts would enhance the survival of the species in the wild.

In May, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency that oversees trophy hunting imports to the United States, approved a hunter’s application to import the skin, skull, claws, and teeth of a lion killed in Lukwati North Game Reserve, a hunting concession leased from the government and run by Tanzanian safari operator McCallum Safaris. That’s according to records obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Tanya Sanerib, international legal director for the Center for Biological Diversity. (See more from FOIA: We asked the government why animal welfare records disappeared.)

The hunter, whose identity could not be confirmed by National Geographic, originally applied to import a lion trophy from Tanzania in November 2016. It’s unclear exactly when he killed the lion. Nor is it clear whether the trophy has been imported. The permit to do so, issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service, expires in May 2020, a year after it was issued.

African lions have disappeared from 94 percent of their historic range, and populations have halved, to fewer than 25,000 since the early 1990s, according to the nonprofit Wildlife Conservation Network. The main causes of the decline are retaliatory killings of lions that attack villagers and depletion of their prey animals. Tanzania is home to 40 percent of Africa’s lions.

Sanerib, who calls the country a “stronghold” for lions, worries that the decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service could be a signal that the Trump administration will “open the floodgates” for future Tanzanian trophy imports for lions and other species, including elephants. The news of this approval of a lion import comes on the heels of a decision last week to allow a U.S. hunter to import a black rhino trophy killed last year in Namibia.

According to Laury Marshall Parramore, a spokeswoman with the Fish and Wildlife Service, “Legal, well-regulated hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation.”

Sanerib says she’s concerned about the lack of detail in the Fish and Wildlife Service’s determination that this hunt enhances lion conservation in Tanzania. She claims that the service didn’t do due diligence when approving the import permit. As part of her FOIA request, she says she obtained emails in which the service asked general questions of Tanzanian government officials, such as whether they were monitoring trophy hunting.

“Those are not the basic questions that I think that our government should be asking before we approve these types of practices. We should be way down in the weeds, getting all of the details to ensure that these programs are actually going to enhance the survival of species.”

“Organizationally, we’re opposed to trophy hunting—we don’t think we should be killing threatened and endangered species,” Sanerib says. “But if we are going to do it, if it is going to happen, Fish and Wildlife Service needs to follow the law, and they really need to ensure—and this is their own regulatory requirements—that this program has all the adequate safeguards to ensure that it’s going to be sustainable for the lion population.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service did not respond to a request for specific information about how this hunt benefits lions in Tanzania and for reaction to Sanerib’s concerns.

The lion decision is particularly troubling given Tanzania’s history of mismanaging trophy hunting, Sanerib says. In 2017, Hamisi Kigwangalla, Tanzania’s minister for natural resources and tourism, revoked hunting concession lease permits that previously had been issued to companies for a low set fee, citing a need for greater transparency about the process. The government then began auctioning off concession leases instead. But according to biologist Craig Packer, who had studied lions in Tanzania since the late 1970s, only undesirable concessions were put up for auction, a move he calls a “halfhearted” effort to reform.

Kigwangalla did not respond to a request for comment.

In 2015, Packer was barred from entering the country after he characterized the nation’s trophy hunting industry as corrupt. Trophy hunters are supposed to target only older male lions, thought to be less crucial to reproduction, but Packer says there was no accountability or oversight by Tanzania to ensure that this was happening. As trophy hunting declined in popularity, Packer says, concession operators charged hunters fees so low that they couldn’t possibly be providing enough revenue to maintain roads, hire rangers, and prevent illegal farming or grazing in the hunting reserves.

Whether this particular trophy import is good or bad depends on whether the hunt was shown to have a conservation benefit, Packer says. If the U.S. is rewarding responsible hunting operators, it will incentivize others to follow suit. “As long as the sport hunters are showing that they’re making a positive impact, good on them,” he says. “It would be great if the system is actually forcing some kind of reform.” But, he adds, the Fish and Wildlife Service “has no way of confirming whether Tanzania’s well-meaning policies are really being implemented.”

Representatives from the Tanzania Wildlife Authority, which implements the country’s Wildlife Conservation Act, the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, an organization under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism that conducts wildlife research, and the Tanzania Tourist Board did not respond to requests for comment about how the country manages its trophy hunting.

John Jackson, a member of the International Wildlife Conservation Council, an advisory group to the Secretary of Interior, is the Florida hunter’s attorney. Jackson welcomes more frequent trophy imports from Tanzania and says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been “too slow” to issue these permits—a pace Jackson calls “inexcusable.” Since 2016, he says, many hunting operators have had to surrender their lands because of a lack of revenue, which leaves the animals in those lands unprotected. More frequent trophy hunts would allow concession operators to afford anti-poaching safety measures. “Hunting is the single most important mechanism to save lion,” he argues.

Jackson disagrees that Tanzania’s trophy hunting is mismanaged. As home to about 40 percent of Africa’s lions, he says, the country has “managed to save more lions than anybody else.”

“I wish there was another country equal to it,” he says. “It’s easy to criticize people, but it’s much more important to work with them and support them.”

Sanerib says Tanzania deserves credit for having a “phenomenal system” of protected areas but that its lion conservation success has been despite trophy hunting rather than because of it.

Elephants too?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s findings for lions also could apply to elephants, Sanerib says. In 2014, the Obama administration effectively banned trophy imports of elephants from Tanzania because of a poaching crisis in the country and concerns about the management of its trophy hunting industry. Sanerib says this lion trophy import decision may indicate that the Trump administration plans to overturn that ban.

In 2017, the service reversed the ban on elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe. “So we have some history—some very recent history—to point to as evidence of them, I would say, leaping before they take a look,” Sanerib says. (After President Trump tweeted his dissatisfaction with the Zimbabwe decision, the service reversed course and decided to evaluate applications on a case-by-case basis. Since then, no elephant trophies are known to have been imported from Zimbabwe.)

Anna Frostic, the managing wildlife attorney for the Humane Society, says the decisions to issue lion and black rhino trophy import permits indicate that there are more to come. She says the Fish and Wildlife Service “is making these decisions behind closed doors and without the input of independent scientists and the public.”

“The issuance of this one lion trophy import from Tanzania will likely be replicated and applied to the more than 40 other applications for Tanzania lion trophies that are pending,” she says.

Even though Tanzania is a stronghold for lions, she says the fact that overall lion numbers are dwindling means this potential new pattern is “extremely concerning.”

“The decision to legitimize that type of activity,” Frostic says, “is not only unethical and scientifically unjustifiable but is unlawful” based on the decision’s merits and because of the service’s lack of transparency in its decision making.

Michigan man receives permission to import body of rare black rhino he paid $400K to hunt

A 4-year-old Female black Rhino, runs (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A 4-year-old Female black Rhino, runs (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)

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A Shelby Township man who paid $400,000 to hunt rare black rhino Namibian national park in May 2018 will be allowed to import the rhino’s body, according to the Associated Press.

The Trump administration announced this week that it will issue a permit to the trophy hunter — identified as Chris D. Peyerk of Shelby Township — to import the skin, skull and horns of the rhino. Peyerk Applied for the permit through the Fish and Wildlife Service to import animals protected under the Endangered Species Act.

He did not respond to AP efforts to reach him by phone.

The rhinos are considered extremely endangered with approximately 5,500 remaining in the wild. Nearly half of those are located in Namibia. Under law, five male black rhinos a year are permitted to be killed by hunters who pay for the right to hunt them.

“Legal, well-regulated hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,” said Laury Parramore, spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service.

For many years federal regulators denied hunters the rights to bring the body back to the U.S., however as population have increased, the regulations have scaled back. Still, animal rights organizations have been critical of permits allowing for the animals to be brought back to the U.S.

“We urge our federal government to end this pay-to-slay scheme that delivers critically endangered rhino trophies to wealthy Americans while dealing a devastating blow to rhino conservation,” said Kitty Block, the head of the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International. “While we cannot turn back the clock to save this animal, the administration can stop the U.S. from further contributing to the demise of this species by refusing future import permits of black rhino trophies.”

Southern African nations threaten to quit wildlife trade monitor

https://www.sierraleonetimes.com/news/262271801/southern-african-nations-threaten-to-quit-wildlife-trade-monitor
01 Sep 2019, 17:40 GMT+10