Ivory investigator killed in Kenya


One of the world’s leading investigators into the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn has been killed in Kenya.

Esmond Bradley Martin, 75, was found with a stab wound to his neck at home in the capital Nairobi on Sunday.

The former UN special envoy for rhino conservation was known for his undercover work establishing black-market prices.

The US citizen had recently returned from a research trip to Myanmar.

Bradley Martin was in the process of writing up his findings when he died, reports the BBC’s Alastair Leithead from Nairobi.

His wife found him in their house in Langata. Police are investigating the circumstances but suspect it was a botched robbery.

Our correspondent says Bradley Martin had spent decades risking his life to secretly photograph and document the illegal sales of ivory and rhino horn, travelling to China, Vietnam, and Laos to pose as a buyer – helping to find out the level of black market prices.

He first went to Kenya from the US in the 1970s when there was a surge in the number of elephants being killed for their ivory.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Conservationists believe that the ivory trade is largely responsible for the world’s declining elephant numbers

His work on illegal wildlife markets helped pressure China to ban the rhino horn trade in the 1990s, and domestic sales of ivory, which came into force this year.

Fellow conservationists have been paying tribute to him on social media.
Skip Twitter post by @paulakahumbu

2/3 Esmond was at the forefront of exposing the scale of ivory markets in USA, Congo, Nigeria, Angola, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Laos and recently Myanmar. He always collaborated with Save the Elephants and worked with many of us generously sharing his findings & views.
— Dr. Paula Kahumbu (@paulakahumbu) February 5, 2018

Always sharply dressed with a colourful handkerchief falling from his top pocket, Esmond Bradley Martin would immediately cut to the chase, honing in on the latest issue that was consuming him.

He was a well-known and highly respected character in the conservation community – passionate and unwavering in his efforts to crack down on illegal wildlife crime.

In a major report last year from Laos, he and his colleague Lucy Vigne established that the country had the world’s fastest growing ivory trade.

They risked their own safety staying at a Chinese casino inhabited by gangsters and traffickers in order to visit the illegal markets and find out the latest prices by posing as dealers.

His life’s work was combating the illegal trade of wildlife and he produced a huge body of highly respected research and investigative reports.

He will be a huge loss to the international conservation community.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-42943503

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Exclusive: Trump Slams Elephant Hunting For Trophies, Skeptical Fees Go For Conservation

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-slams-elephant-trophies_us_5a6d1759e4b01fbbefb25ea5

In an interview with Piers Morgan set to air Sunday, Trump calls the initial U.S. decision to lift a ban on trophy imports “terrible.”

In an interview with Piers Morgan set to air Sunday night in the U.K., President Donald Trump used the word “terrible” to describe the initial decision last year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to overturn an Obama era ban on the import of elephant trophies.

Trump also says he does not believe the substantial fees that hunters pay to hunt elephants and other species actually go toward conservation efforts, as is often claimed, and instead are pocketed by government officials in other countries.

Trump confirms that the ban on importing elephant trophies from the African nations of Zimbabwe and Zambia will remain in place. That was not clear after he initially put the ban reversal on hold, pending further study.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, overseen by Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke, announced on Nov. 15 that it was rescinding an Obama administration ban on the import of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia, saying money generated by the hunting goes toward conservation efforts.

“Legal, well-regulated sport 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,” the service said.

But the announcement on reversing the ban was met with scathing criticism from both the left and right. Powerful conservative media figures like Michael Savage and Laura Ingraham criticized Trump for the decision and called on him to keep the ban in place. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres announced a campaign to persuade Trump to maintain the ban that quickly went viral through the hashtag #BeKindToElephants.

On Nov. 17 Trump tweeted, “Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!”

Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!

The announcement that he was putting the reversal on hold shocked many, primarily because his two eldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, are both avid hunters and have been criticized for hunting wildlife in Africa.

Trump also is closely aligned with the National Rifle Association, which strongly lobbies for trophy hunting rights. Two days after he made that announcement, he tweeted, “Big-game trophy decision will be announced next week but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal.”

Big-game trophy decision will be announced next week but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal.

That tweet led some to believe the ban would remain in place but no further announcement was made as promised.

In his comments to Morgan, Trump said, “Well, I changed it,” referring to reversing the move to end the ban.

He continued: “I didn’t want elephants killed and stuffed and have the tusks brought back into this [country] and people can talk all they want about preservation and all of the things that they’re saying where money goes towards ― well, money WAS going ― in that case, going to a government which was probably taking the money, OK? I turned that order around. You know, that was an order. I totally turned it around. Were you shocked that I did it?”

Morgan: “I was surprised.”

Trump: “I thought it was terrible. That was done by a very high level government person. As soon as I heard about it, I turned it around. That same day ― not even a day went by. No, I was not believing in [the conservation argument].”

The interview with Morgan is Trump’s first major sit-down interview with a non-U.S. television network and airs at 10 p.m. Sunday on ITV.

War isn’t just bad for people — it harms wild animals, too

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2018/01/10/war-isnt-just-bad-for-people-it-harms-wild-animals-too/?utm_term=.9d325d23f49d&wpisrc=nl_rainbow&wpmm=1

 January 10

A baby mountain gorilla in the Sabyinyo Mountains of Rwanda. (Ivan Lieman/AFP/Getty Images)

As if we needed another argument against war, here goes: It’s bad for wild animals.

This is true even with low-level conflict, and it’s especially true if the conflict repeats or drags on, according to a new study published in Nature. In a wide-ranging examination of the net effect of such disruptions on African wildlife populations over more than six decades, researchers found the frequency of war — rather than the intensity — to be a key factor in declines of wildlife.

“It takes a relatively little amount of conflict, and a relatively low frequency of conflict, before the average population is declining,” said lead author Joshua Daskin, a conservation ecologist and postdoctoral fellow at Yale University. “All the socioeconomic things that come along with a war are probably making conservation quite difficult.”

The researchers’ conclusion might sound obvious, but there has been little previous examination of the overall impact of armed conflict on animals. The case-study work to date focused on specific conflicts’ consequences and actually found both positive and negative effects.

Those downsides are numerous. Land mines and bombs can kill fauna as well as human targets. Armies sometimes intentionally destroy critical habitat — by dumping herbicides on forests, for example, as the United States did during the Vietnam War — or finance their fight by selling ivory. Collapsed institutions mean less enforcement of laws protecting animals, and economic fallout can force desperate civilians to hunt wild animals for food.

On the other hand, wars can also cause human displacement, and “anything that causes people to vacate can be a beneficial thing for nonhuman wildlife,” said co-author Robert Pringle, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University. Poaching and habitat destruction might slow, and mining might stop. This is sometimes called the “refuge effect,” and it can be seen in the demilitarized zone dividing North Korea and South Korea.

Pringle and Daskin, who finished his PhD at Princeton last year, both do research in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park, where a 15-year civil war nearly decimated wildlife. They wanted to know more about the big picture — is war generally positive, negative or neutral for wildlife? Among other reasons, they note, the question is important because the vast majority of wars since 1950 have taken place in the world’s most biodiverse regions.

An elephant in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. (Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images)

The pair decided to focus on protected areas in Africa between 1946 and 2010. They mapped events  there using a standard definition — fights that killed at least one person in a broader battle that caused 25 human deaths in a year — and found conflicts in a depressing 71 percent of the areas during that time period. Then came the hardest part: finding reliable wildlife population data.

Daskin said he used published research as well as “gray literature” such as park management figures, government wildlife agency documents and reports from nongovernmental organizations. He looked only at populations of large herbivores, in part because they “have really outsize roles in maintaining these ecosystems,” but also because they’re counted more easily and therefore more frequently. In the end, Daskin had data for 253 wildlife populations and 36 species, including giraffes, warthogs and wildebeests.

Next, the authors looked at correlations between wildlife populations and variables that can influence them, like drought, human population density and the presence of mining, as well as two factors related to war: conflict frequency and conflict intensity.

When they crunched it all together, the biggest and only statistically significant predictor of wildlife declines was conflict frequency. While wildlife population trajectories stayed stable in peaceful times, they dropped with even a slight increase in conflict and were “almost invariably negative” in high-conflict zones, the authors found.

Pringle said they were somewhat surprised that conflict intensity wasn’t correlated with dips in wild animals. The numbers don’t suggest why, and Pringle said understanding these dynamics will take more research with larger data sets. But he and Daskin have some theories.

“Our interpretation is that conflict destabilizes everything. When people don’t feel secure, institutions start to break down, livelihoods start to be disrupted,” Pringle said. Yet intense conflict may provide a buffer for wildlife because “people evacuate. People don’t hang around and go set snares in the forest.”

Cinereous vultures on a rice paddy in South Korea near the demilitarized zone with North Korea. The area has become a nearly untouched nature refuge. (Jeon Heon-Kyun/European Pressphoto Agency)

The researchers emphasized that their findings were not limited to gloom. The only cases of extinction in the areas they studied took place in the Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve in Uganda, where giraffes and two species of antelope vanished between 1983 and 1995.

“War is awful for people. It’s bad for wildlife. But it’s not so cataclysmically bad that we should be giving up on anything,” Pringle said. “In fact, there are great opportunities for restoration.”

He and Daskin hope their findings can help governments and wildlife organizations better predict and mitigate the influence of conflict on wildlife. Both point to the place where they do work — Gorongosa National Park — as an example. It lost about 90 percent of its wildlife during the war that ended in 1992, but it’s now back to “about 80 percent of the prewar populations,” Daskin said.

“That’s been achieved not just by trucking in large numbers of animals from other protected areas, as has often been highlighted, but by creating the conditions in the local region for conservation to be possible,” Daskin said. “It’s an excellent case study in what can happen after the conflict.”

Read more:

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A rhino at a French zoo was killed for his horn. Could that happen here?

Two lions survived a circus, only to be killed and mutilated in a sanctuary

Elephant poachers are even deadlier than we knew

In Africa, Geneticists Are Hunting Poachers

Workers at Kruger National Park in South Africa moving a rhino from a high-risk poaching area in 2014. Researchers in South Africa are turning to genetic fingerprinting to track down poachers for prosecution. CreditStefan Heunis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

South African authorities long had eyes on Rogers Mukwena. They knew the former schoolteacher was wanted in Zimbabwe for poaching rhinoceroses and selling their horns, which can command hundreds of thousands of dollars.

He’d jumped bail and fled to northern Pretoria, but it was vexingly difficult to catch and prosecute him — until a scientist helped make the case against him with rhino DNA.

His subsequent conviction resulted from a new tactic in wildlife preservation: The genetic fingerprinting methods that have been so successful in the criminal justice system are now being used to solve poaching crimes.

First, researchers in South Africa had to build a large database of genetic samples drawn from African rhinoceroses. The DNA would be used to match a carcass to a particular horn discovered on a suspected poacher or trafficker, or to rhinoceros blood on his clothes, knives or axes.

To make that possible, Dr. Cindy Harper, a veterinarian at the University of Pretoria, and her colleagues collected DNA from every rhinoceros they could find — more than 20,000 so far. They have taught park rangers how to retrieve blood, tissue or hair samples from every rhinoceros that is killed, dehorned or moved.

C

The rangers have learned forensic crime-scene principles and the importance of the so-called chain of custody to ensure that the samples are not corrupted. Dr. Harper’s lab performs the analysis and stores DNA fingerprints.

The scientists’ database, which they call Rhodis, is modeled after Codis, the F.B.I. system used to link the DNA of suspects to evidence at a crime scene.

The approach is promising, said Crawford Allan, senior director of Traffic, which monitors illegal wildlife trade at the World Wildlife Fund.

A poaching scene is a crime scene, he said: “If you want to get through detection and investigation and prosecution, treat it as a crime scene and use forensics.”

Poaching has escalated exponentially in the past decade, he noted. More than 7,000 rhinos have been killed in the past ten years. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that 20,00 to 30,000 African elephants are killed each year for their tusks.

Their tusks and horns are trafficked through experienced criminal networks. “You really need sophisticated tools to help solve these crimes,” Mr. Allan said.

Photo

A pile of poached ivory is prepared for burning in Libreville, Gabon. CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

The rhino project provides “a ‘cold hit’ database,” said Stephen J. O’Brien, referring to the identification of a perpetrator by DNA when there are no other apparent clues.

Dr. O’Brien, an expert on DNA fingerprinting and chief scientific officer of the Theodosius Dobzhansky Center for Genome Bioinformatics at St. Petersburg State University in Russia, is co-author of a new paper, published on Monday in Current Biology, describing the anti-poaching effort.

A similar attempt to use DNA to convict poachers is led by Sam Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington. His group’s focus is African elephants.

Over a period of 15 years, he and his colleagues have collected and analyzed DNA from dung to create a map of the ranges of various elephant groups based on their genetic differences. It helps show where ivory seized from poachers originated.

The project has not linked specific carcasses to specific tusks recovered from traffickers. But the analysis has provided valuable clues about the regions in which poachers are operating.

“To our surprise, the ivory was consistently coming from two areas,” Dr. Wasser said. Tusks from savanna elephants were initially coming from southeastern Tanzania and northern Mozambique, the data showed, but the illegal trade then shifted northward to southern Kenya.

Tusks from forest elephants originated in a small triangular area in northeast Gabon, northwest Republic of the Congo, and southeastern Cameroon.

“Instead of focusing everywhere, if we really want the big criminals we should focus on those two spots,” Dr. Wasser said.

The sale of ivory and rhino horns is hugely lucrative. Rhino horns may bring $60,000 or more per kilogram. A horn generally weighs a few kilograms, but a few have been as heavy as 10 kilograms, or about 22 pounds.

“Pound for pound, a rhino horn is worth more than heroin or gold or platinum,” Mr. Allan said. And prosecutions are so rare that the risks for the traffickers are “very low.”

The poacher sells horns to a trafficker, who disguises them and ships them to destination countries, mainly Vietnam and China. Some horns are carved into jewelry while still in South Africa, which can make it extremely difficult to trace them.

Most horns are ground and used as medicine in Asia, believed to cure cancer, impotence — or, Mr. Allan said, “you name it.” More recently, people in Asia have begun wearing beads or bangles made from rhino horns thought to have curative powers and to be status symbols. Some horns are made into ceremonial cups.

Photo

A forensic investigator using a metal detector to find bullets in a rhino carcass in Kruger National Park in South Africa. CreditMarco Longari/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Elephant tusks currently sell for $1,000 a kilogram, Dr. Wasser said. Unlike rhino horns, which are shipped in relatively small volumes, traffickers typically collect and ship at least half a ton of ivory, or 500 kilograms, in a container.

Some seizures have uncovered as much as seven tons of ivory in a single shipment, Dr. Wasser said. Ivory is primarily bought by collectors or as an investment.

Dr. Wasser’s primary target is traffickers, not poachers. Even when poachers are caught and convicted, he said, “there are 10 more waiting in line to replace them.”

But traffickers form the basis of the business that makes poaching profitable. “The analogy is, are you after a serial killer or a one-time murderer?” he asked.

To catch a serial killer, Dr. Wasser added, authorities require “intelligence-based forensics to prevent future crimes.”

Dr. Harper also hopes to disrupt the criminal networks shipping contraband — in this case, rhino horns — to destination countries. So far, the rhino database has been used to convict hunters and traffickers in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya and Swaziland.

But the group has not disrupted the criminal conglomerates at the top of the chain, she said.

The rhinoceros project began in 2010, when poaching was skyrocketing. Thirteen were poached in South Africa in 2007; more than 1,000 are now killed each year.

In 120 criminal cases completed or still pending, Rhodis has linked DNA on horns, equipment or clothing to particular carcasses, Dr. Harper said. But it can take years for a case to move through the courts and end in a conviction.

The first successful such conviction involved a Vietnamese smuggler who was caught with seven horns at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg in 2010. Two were matched to carcasses, and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

But the case involving Mr. Mukwena was one of the first to involve a well-known smuggler. He was arrested on Jan. 16, 2012, after a police officer spotted him walking across a field carrying a black bag.

When the officer confronted him, Mr. Mukwena dropped the bag and ran. It contained three rhinoceros horns, two from a cow and one from her calf.

Apprehended, Mr. Mukwena admitted to killing the cow but said an accomplice had killed the calf because it was bothering him.

Correction: January 8, 2018 
An earlier version of this article misidentified the organization that hosts Traffic, the group monitoring illegal wildlife trade. It is the World Wildlife Fund, not the World Wildlife Federation.

Permits for elephant hunting trophies from Zimbabwe are still being issued

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2017/12/15/permits-for-elephant-hunting-trophies-from-zimbabwe-are-being-issued-despite-ban/?utm_term=.fa605550c723

 December 16 at 12:17 PM

A sample of the six tons of ivory confiscated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on display during the U.S. Ivory Crush event at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge on Nov. 14, 2013, in Commerce City, Colo. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The U.S. government continues to grant permits to hunters seeking to import the remains of elephants shot in Zimbabwe as trophies, federal documents show.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded permits to 16 people in 11 states who requested them between January 2016 and as recently as October, according to Friends of Animals, a nonprofit environmental group that obtained documents through a Freedom of Information Act request. The organization released the documents Friday.

The permits were for elephants shot before 2014, the year the Obama administration decided to ban the import of trophies from Zimbabwe after Fish and Wildlife determined that the country’s management of its elephant population was not sound in accordance with the Endangered Species Act.

The ban went into effect the following year. Last month Fish and Wildlife announced a decision to lift it but President Trump postponed the action the next day following a public outcry over the slaughter of elephants.

Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!

Friends of Animals said in a statement saying the information it uncovered proved that the administration was issuing permits in violation of the ban. Fish and Wildlife declined to provide a statement about the permits when the group released the documents, but denied the group’s account Saturday.

“We did not issue new permits for elephant trophies from Zimbabwe in violation of our import,” the agency’s statement said. “They were only for animals legally hunted during the Obama administration and prior to the 2014 suspension.”

The first permit awarded this year came four days after President Trump’s inauguration, and the last came shortly before a controversial proposal in November to lift the ban against trophy imports from Zimbabwe.

public uproar over Fish and Wildlife’s lifting of the ban prompted Trump to put the decision on hold pending a review. Ryan Zinke, secretary of the Interior Department, which oversees Fish and Wildlife, subsequently announced that he agreed with his boss. Neither Trump or Zinke have spoken about the issue or the review in the month since the controversy erupted.

Under the Obama administration, elephant-hunting trophies were allowed in from South Africa and Namibia, which worked diligently to account for elephants under its care and protect the population. Zimbabwe failed to meet Fish and Wildlife’s conservation standard for an animal that’s considered threatened in the wild under the Endangered Species Act. For starters, it lacked knowledge of the size and whereabouts of much of its herd.

Zimbabwe and Safari Club International, which worked to improve the management of Zimbabwe’s elephants, celebrated last month’s initial announcement of a lifting of the ban against imports. Safari Club was so zealous that it made the announcement a day before Fish and Wildlife. The club bemoaned Trump’s and Zinke’s subsequent decision to review the plan by issuing a “call to arms,” blaming conservation groups and news outlets.

Zimbabwe and other hunting clubs voiced similar outrage. But opponents of lifting the trophy import ban included some of Trump’s staunchest supporters, including radio talk show host Laura Ingraham.

Friends of Animals sued to reinstate the ban less than a week later. To support its legal challenge, the group requested and received a spreadsheet from Fish and Wildlife documenting the issuance of permits to import the remains of African elephants and lions, which are also listed as threatened, as trophies.

Michael Harris, the wildlife law program director for the group, said the permits support his group’s case against the Trump administration’s initial attempt to overturn the ban.

“This really helps us show this is an unsubstantiated change in position” on the ban by Fish and Wildlife, Harris said. The group has a second Freedom of Information Act request for the applications submitted by the permit recipients and material supporting their requests.

“They were granted when the ban was in place, so we’re questioning that,” Harris said. He disputed the explanation that they were granted because the animals were shot at a time when the United States approved of Zimbabwe’s management and trophy imports were legal. “I don’t buy it,” Harris said.

Read more:

This is why the government crushed a ton of ivory in Times Square

Antique dealers say the federal ivory ban will cost them dearly

Why Hawaii joined New York and California’s ban of ivory sales

A pound of rhino horn is worth far more than gold and cocaine

Hunters are livid over Trump’s elephant trophy decision

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2017/11/20/hunters-are-livid-over-trumps-elephant-trophy-decision/?utm_term=.b95131272568
 November 20 at 5:24 PM

A herd of elephants stands near a water hole in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, east of Harare, in September 2013. Zimbabwean ivory poachers killed more than 80 elephants by poisoning water holes with cyanide that year, endangering one of the world’s biggest herds. (Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters)

President Trump’s announcement that he is delaying a decision on allowing elephant hunting trophies from Zimbabwe drew angry reactions from hunting groups and reignited a heated debate over whether killing iconic animals is the best way to manage their shrinking populations.

Last week, the Trump administration announced it would reverse a ban on trophy imports from Zimbabwe that had been imposed by the Obama administration. Two days later, however, Trump tweeted that elephant hunting is a “horror show” and suggested he would maintain the ban.

Hunters have criticized the decision to delay ending the ban. In voicing their indignation, hunters were careful not to blame the president. Instead, one of the largest and more recognized groups, Safari Club International, issued a call to arms against “hysterical anti-hunters and news media outlets” that “went into overdrive, attacking everyone in sight, including the Trump administration, SCI and even the National Rifle Association of America” after the decision was announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last Wednesday.

The Safari Club said the hold is the result of “shrill, negative reactions.” It asked supporters to use its “action center” to call in and tell Trump how much they appreciate the finding that Zimbabwe had enhanced its program to protect elephants, paving the way for allowing trophies of legally hunted elephants to be imported. SCI did not respond to requests for comment.

Mmmm…OK I’ll take it (let’s just shut up and not ask questions on this one guys, ‘K?) https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/931685146415255552 

Little known fact about Trump — he actually opposes hunting! Here are his tweets criticizing his kids for big-game hunting in 2012. pic.twitter.com/vdM2X8YrIX

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Seventy percent of hunters who pay up to $20,000 for permits to legally harvest elephants are American, according to Campfire, a group in Zimbabwe that manages its elephant hunting program. The program’s revenue dropped from an average of $2 million per year before the ban in 2014 to $1.73 million last year, Charles Jonga, Campfire’s director, said in an email.

Jonga joined hunters in blaming Trump’s decision on others. “This is certainly not about President Trump’s reaction,” he said, “but about animal welfare lobbyists who have nothing to show for their misplaced belief that they can dictate to African rural communities how they should share their living space with wildlife.”

Trump tweeted Friday that he would put off a decision until he could meet with Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke. Zinke, an avid hunter and trophy collector, later issued a statement on Interior’s website and tweeted that he agreed with the president.

Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!

During the Obama administration, Fish and Wildlife had questioned Campfire’s management and how much revenue was devoted to the conservation of elephants. Animal rights groups such as the Humane Society International said much of the funding was lost to corruption. The arrest of Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, within days of the Trump administration’s favorable finding raised concerns.

Elephant hunting trophies are allowed to be imported to the United States from two other African countries, South Africa and Namibia. Another country, Zambia, was given the green light by the Fish and Wildlife Service last week. The current controversy focuses on the import of trophies from Zimbabwe.

On Monday, two environmental groups sued the Trump administration over the move to end the ban, which they called contrary to the slow and deliberate process called for under the Endangered Species Act, which lists African elephants as threatened.

“Trump’s abrupt backpedaling after public outcry, while appreciated, shows how arbitrary this deplorable decision was,” Tanya Sanerib, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “These incredibly imperiled creatures need a lot more than vague promises.”

The Center for Biological Diversity and Natural Resources Defense Council drew on Zimbabwe’s troubles in the announcement of their lawsuit, filed at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. To arrive at an enhanced finding that elephant herds are well managed, Fish and Wildlife must rely on “Zimbabwe having the plans, resources, funds, and staff to conserve elephant and lion populations.”

“But . . . corruption is already a huge concern” due to the ouster of Mugabe. Also, the groups noted, “Zimbabwe scored an abysmal 22 out of 100 on Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perception Index.

“Poaching elephants for their ivory remains a significant threat in Zimbabwe. According to aerial surveys — known as the Great Elephant Census — Zimbabwe’s elephant population decreased 6 percent between 2001 and 2013, when the aerial surveys were performed.” They went on to point out that controversies over animal killing often arise in Zimbabwe, where Cecil the Lion was illegally tracked, shot with an arrow and killed by an American hunter.

Elly Pepper, deputy director of a wildlife trade initiative and program at NRDC, called Trump’s announcement a pleasant surprise but said he needs to do more. “These tweets are still really ambiguous,” she said. “And tweets don’t have any legal authority. We want to make sure that the administration doesn’t have its cake and eat too. We want to ensure they aren’t going to quietly start issuing trophy permits and enjoy public support because their tweets indicated they oppose trophy hunting.”

Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said his organization plans to work with Trump without taking legal action. But Pacelle questioned the idea of killing elephants to conserve them.

“Botswana disallowed all trophy hunting, and Botswana has more elephants by a long shot than every other country,” Pacelle said. “It’s recognized that this would damage the brand of the nation. Trophy hunting subtracts animals from nature. It diminishes the value of animal populations.”

During the controversy in 2015 over allowing a rhinoceros hunter to import the trophy head of a rhinoceros he planned to kill in Namibia, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature said concern over the act confused illegal poaching with well-managed hunting tourism.

“Well-managed trophy hunting has little to do with poaching, and indeed can be a key tool to help combat it,” the union said in a statement. Without it, African conservationists “would not be able to employ the upwards of 3,000 field rangers employed to protect wildlife and enforce regulations.” Namibia’s conservation is viewed by Fish and Wildlife as one of most responsible such programs in Africa.

Pacelle dismissed this type of argument. Hunters never say “we want to trophy hunt because we want to mount the head,” Pacelle said. “They always apply something to it. They could just give the money for conservation. But they want something out of it.”

In a year that saw the Ringling Bros. Circus fold after a century and a half following an outcry over its treatment of animals, the nation is experiencing a major shift in tolerance, according to Pacelle.

“That was a marker of how our attitudes have evolved toward elephants. We don’t want to see anyone chain them and have them perform silly stunts,” he said. “It’s worse to shoot them in the head.”

Read More

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Before elephants, Trump loosened limits on lion trophies

Lions are raised to be shot in South Africa. American hunters love it.

Elephants legalise the squishing of wealthy thrill-killing arseholes

http://newsthump.com/2017/11/17/elephants-legalise-the-squishing-of-wealthy-thrill-killing-arseholes/

The African Pachyderm Organisation stunned conservationists by ending a long-standing moratorium on the crushing of rich tossers who think slaughtering rare wildlife somehow makes up for the loveless pantomime that is their life.

Tembo, a Tanzanian bull elephant and PR director for the APO, denied the move was linked to the steady increase of privileged bellends called Troy or Donald Jr going to Africa and pretending that shooting a large animal from the safety of a Land Rover is a life-affirming experience.

He explained, “We are doing it to enhance the ecological health of the Rich Prick subspecies, particularly in America.

“They have been too long removed from having to fend for themselves and the degeneracy is showing. We are seeing highly aggressive behaviour combined with physical cowardice and horrendous mating habits based on intimidation and humiliation. A cull is long overdue.”

Tembo also denied the unrestricted squishing of narcissist wankers emulating Hemingway would hurt the tourist trade in already impoverished countries.

He went on, “Quite the opposite. The end of restrictions will mean great windfalls for local communities.

“The APO is fully committed to the principles of Sustainable Squishing. Our crushers work with rural humans to track and bait the trigger-happy fuckwits with promises of macabre selfies next to dead apex predators.

“Tribal elders are always consulted to help select the most egregious gun-nuts for a good trampling.

“The locals take all the spoils and a share of the squishing fee. Did you know that the personal effects of a Florida orthodontist can buy a whole new schoolhouse for a Zambian village?”

Donald Threw His Sons a Bone.

As you’ve probably heard by now, U.S. President Donald Trump just threw his trophy-hunting, bloodthirsty billionsire sons a major bone by making HUNTING AFRICAN ANIMALS AND BRINGING THEIR HEADS TO THE U.S. IS LEGAL AGAIN.

What a thoutful early Christmas gift from daddy dearest to do for a pair of savage sons, one of whom was quoted recently enjoying the sport of hunting [and therefore, presumably, killing] even better than golfing.

But what if one of them were to follow in daddy’s footsteps and get themselves elected president, as Geoge W. Bush did?

In other words, What If Junior Takes Over?

A scary thought indeed–especially for the wildlife!

The Only Way To Stop The Decline Of Hunting

https://www.americas1stfreedom.org/articles/2017/10/31/the-only-way-to-stop-the-decline-of-hunting/

 
Hunting is in decline. We’ve all seen and heard the depressing numbers. Many of us have given talks and written articles espousing the benefits of the outdoor lifestyle and encouraging the next generation to seek adventures that can only be experienced afield. We scream from the rafters, “Hunters are the real conservationists!!” While our messages are true, they’re falling on deaf ears. Our increasingly urbanized society moves on about their busy lives disconnected from the world we live in.

There are many reasons for society’s indifference. Demographics have changed; access has changed; economic reasoning has changed; policies and laws have changed. But most impactful to all of this is the emotionally charged and well-orchestrated attack on our hunting culture and traditions by animal rights organizations.

While we have all been preaching to the congregation and spending our time building better habitat for the wild lands we love, groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have been vilifying the language of hunting, giving names to beasts, working hard to give a human voice and human rights to deer, antelope and bears. They have convinced segments of society that “survival of the fittest” no longer exists in the wild. Rhetorically, they’ve begun to turn the order of life upside down. Make no mistake, all forms of hunting are in their crosshairs—it is not just lions, elephants and bears; it is pheasants and ducks, deer, elk and turkey … everything.

Make no mistake, all forms of hunting are in their crosshairs—it is not just lions, elephants and bears; it is pheasants and ducks, deer, elk and turkey … everything.

We can no longer afford to spend the majority of our time focusing on our individual corners of the hunting community. We’re all doing great work, but we’re spending too much time focused on the “trees.” Meanwhile groups like PETA, HSUS and plenty more are focused on eliminating the entire “forest.” They’re united, taking us on with well-coordinated and well-funded campaigns with a message that all hunting is evil and corrupt.

This battle will be won or lost on emotion, played out in the court of public opinion. Right now, we’ve lost ground in this battle because we’re not even in the courtroom. While we passionately debate positions on hunting practices amongst ourselves, the anti-hunting community closes in on eliminating our lifestyle.

Now is the time for us to come together as one community of hunters. We all need to exchange ideas and find common ground on messaging, strategy and tactics. We must work as peers, utilizing our individual organizations’ strengths and circles of influence to present ourselves to society in a positive manner.

But most importantly, we must all be on the same page, and move forward with solidarity.

Why is this important to an NRA member? There is an old saying: A right not exercised is a right that ceases to exist. Hunting is a primary way many Americans use their firearms. It is our Second Amendment right to own firearms that guarantees our freedom to hunt. Unlike any other nation in the world, we have this freedom because our Second Amendment right guarantees the personal ownership and use of firearms. Every freedom-loving gun owner needs to become a voice for the American hunter.

As Ronald Reagan famously encouraged, “There is no limit to the amount of good you [we] can do if we don’t care who gets the credit.” Partnering with other organizations such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Dallas Safari Club, Shikar, the Boone and Crockett Club and many more, the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum stands ready to serve as a unifying voice for the hunting community. Along with NRA’s American Hunter, the NRA HLF promotes the active, adventure-filled lifestyle of hunting and, most critically, defends our freedom to hunt. Educate yourself with great resources found at nratv.com and nrahunting.com.

NRA First Vice President Richard Childress and I will travel the country over the next year to speak to various pro-hunting organizations, to galvanize support for our cause. I look forward to encouraging everyone to visit our websites and become informed on these issues.

It is increasingly critical for individuals, leaders and organizations in the hunting community to come together on this issue. All of us together present a very powerful voice for the hunting community. Every freedom-loving gun owner needs to become a voice for the American hunter.

Poachers target Africa’s lions, vultures with poison

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/poachers-target-africas-lions-vultures-with-poison/

By

JOHANNESBURG — Hundreds of vultures in Namibia died after feeding on an elephant carcass that poachers had poisoned. Poachers in Zimbabwe used cyanide to kill dozens of elephants for their ivory tusks. In Mozambique three lions died after eating bait infused with a crop pesticide.

Poisoning Africa’s wildlife is an old practice, but conservationists fear such incidents are escalating in some areas, saying relatively easy access to agricultural chemicals and the surging illegal market for animal parts are increasing pressure on a number of already beleaguered species. The threat is compounded by the indiscriminate nature of killing with poison, in which a single contaminated carcass can take down a range of animals, particularly scavengers such as vultures.

This month, a continent-wide database was launched to gather data on wildlife poisoning and better understand a phenomenon that has been widely documented in southern Africa, where a reported 70 lions have been fatally poisoned in the last 18 months, according to managers. While the African Wildlife Poisoning Database lacks records from underreported areas including Central Africa, it dates to 1961 and lists nearly 300 poisoning incidents in 15 African countries that killed more than 8,000 animals from dozens of species, including leopards, hyenas, impalas, cranes and storks.

 “It’s still a big work in progress,” said Darcy Ogada, a Kenya-based database coordinator and assistant director of Africa programs at The Peregrine Fund, a conservation group. The goal, Ogada said, is to get governments to pay more attention to the “underground world” of wildlife poisoning that also threatens livestock, water sources and people who eat meat from birds and other poisoned animals.

Poachers with guns have killed hundreds of thousands of elephants and thousands of rhinos in Africa in past years, but wildlife traffickers have increasingly laced carcasses with poison to target vultures that circle overhead and can draw the attention of anti-poaching rangers. Previously, poisons such as strychnine were primarily used by farmers to kill jackals, wild dogs and other predators that attack livestock, though some landowners and communities have responded positively to anti-poison campaigns.

In 2013, between 400 and 600 vultures died after feeding on the poisoned carcass of an elephant that was killed for its ivory in Namibia’s Zambezi area, said Andre Botha, a poisoning database manager and special projects manager at the Endangered Wildlife Trust, a South African group.

“This is the highest number of vultures killed in a single poisoning incident that we have on the database to date,” Botha said.

 Some of Africa’s species of vulture, whose body parts are also precious in traditional medicine in parts of the continent, are listed as critically endangered. South Asian vulture populations are a fraction of what they were, largely because of feeding on carcasses of livestock treated with diclofenac, a veterinary drug that is toxic to vultures. Government bans on the drug, however, helped level those declines.

African lions are in peril partly because of human encroachment on habitats and the poaching of animals for food, which deprives lions of prey. The killing of lions by poison, once largely a result of livestock owners trying to protect their herds, appears to reflect growing local and Asian demand for lion claws, bones and other parts used in traditional medicine, according to Botha.

“What we see now is people purposely going out and targeting lions,” he said. Some 70 were poisoned in southern Africa since last year, Botha said. The database reports a total of 51 lion poisonings between 1980 and 2015.

In July, officials in Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park on the border with South Africa found poacher tracks, bait laced with poison, and the carcasses of three lions and a hyena, according to the Peace Parks Foundation, which develops cross-border conservation areas. It said authorities believe poachers used a substance containing the pesticide aldicarb, which South Africa banned because of its environmental threat.

Another pesticide, carbofuran, is the “abused product of choice” in countries including Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya, said Tim Snow, a South African conservationist who helps train southern African rangers in how to deal with poisoning sites by wearing surgical gloves for their own safety and collecting samples for study in a laboratory.

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He said poachers in Zimbabwe have killed more than 90 elephants since 2015 by poisoning water sources with cyanide, a chemical used to extract gold from ore. Authorities have seized cyanide stashes from vehicles at police roadblocks and a warehouse in Bulawayo city, Snow said.

Educating communities about the environmental fallout from poisoning wildlife is key, said Mark Anderson, CEO of BirdLife South Africa. Banning poisons, he said, has a limited impact because “there’s an unlimited supply and variety of poisons that can be used.”