B.C. grizzly bears could be shipped to Washington State

Kendra MangioneWeb Journalist / Digital Content Editor, CTV Vancouver

@kendramangione

Published Tuesday, March 14, 2017 7:08PM PDT 

Washington State is looking at ways to boost its grizzly population, including bringing in bears from north of the border.

proposal from the National Parks Service suggests shipping in grizzlies from a nearby area with bruins to spare, like British Columbia or Montana.

If approved, some of the roughly 15,000 grizzly bears living in B.C. could be captured and sent south, to a part of the state that used to be flush with the species.

Ann Froschauer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says they estimate there are fewer than 10 grizzlies in the Northern Cascades ecosystem, an area in northern Washington east of the I-5 corridor. The bears chosen to head to the area would be selected for the sole purpose of repopulating.

“We’d be looking to have a self-sustaining population of bears that would then continue to grow that population over the years,” Froschauer said.

The proposal is currently open for public input, and Canadians are welcome to share their thoughts, by clicking “Comment Now” on the page they’ve set up for the project.

More than 100,000 people have weighed in on the debate so far, largely due to an online campaign started by a Seattle cartoonist. Matthew Inman, the man behind theoatmeal.com, used social media and his website to get signatures from supporters of the plan. On Twitter, he wrote that he’d spoken with the National Park Service Monday to get the deadline for feedback extended.

While some in the States are fully supportive of the idea, other advocates north of the border are not yet on board with the plan.

“We want to see grizzly bears thrive wherever they are,” said Rachel Forbes, executive director of the Grizzly Bear Foundation.

“But we think the B.C. government has a lot more questions to answer before we decide to export populations of grizzly bears. We need to do a better job of managing them here first.”

The foundation says there are several areas of B.C. where the species is threatened, and others where populations have disappeared entirely.

“Before we say yes to this, we need to take a better look at the cumulative impacts here in B.C.,” Forbes said.

The U.S. government expects to make a decision early next year. The B.C. Ministry of Environment says the province will work with U.S. officials at that time to determine its level of involvement.

With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Scott Hurst

National Park Service - potential release area

Photo@ Jim Robertson

SAVE THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT FROM EXTINCTION

Earthjustice
The Endangered Species Act is one of the strongest, most effective wildlife protection laws in the world. It was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support more than 40 years ago to provide a legal safety net for wildlife, fish and plant species that are in danger of extinction. Now this Congress—which is shaping up to be the most anti-wildlife Congress we have ever seen—wants to slash the Endangered Species Act, threatening the very existence of the imperiled wildlife and ecosystems the Act protects.

We cannot allow this bedrock environmental law to be undermined by lawmakers who are in the pocket of polluting industries. Tell your representative to stand up for the Endangered Species Act now!

Biologists warn that our planet is facing a sixth wave of mass extinction. The Endangered Species Act, which has prevented 99 percent of the species under its care from vanishing, is precisely the kind of effective tool we need today. It has revived the bald eagle, the American alligator, the California condor and many others.

Yet anti-environment interests in the House and Senate are currently orchestrating some of the most serious threats ever posed to the Endangered Species Act. Some of the legislative proposals put specific imperiled wildlife species on the chopping block, while others attack core provisions of the Endangered Species Act itself.

House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) has said he wants to “repeal and replace” the Endangered Species Act. Others are supporting legislative proposals that would make it harder for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to resolve Endangered Species Act lawsuits.

Take action now to ensure this landmark law is not weakened by political attacks.

During the previous (114th) Congress, anti-wildlife representatives authored more than 100 bills and amendments to undermine the Endangered Species Act. Similar legislative attacks are already being introduced in the current (115th) Congress. These proposals would put imperiled species at greater risk by:

  • Establishing arbitrary land boundaries where species protections would not apply
  • Imposing limitations on the ability of citizens to help enforce the Endangered Species Act
  • Undermining the use of science under the Endangered Species Act
  • Declaring open season on individual species, including wolves and sage grouse, by blocking federal protections or denying existing protections

If anti-environment members of Congress get their way, the Endangered Species Act’s vital protections will be cast aside. Tell your congressional representatives and senators to oppose any legislation that hurts imperiled wildlife!

Earthjustice and supporters like you have been fighting to stop political attacks on the Endangered Species Act for decades. We can’t do it without you—we need your help to defend this important law.

TAKE ACTION! Don’t let anti-environment members of Congress cast aside the Endangered Species Act’s vital protections.
TAKE ACTION

 

The Endangered Species Act is one of the strongest, most effective wildlife protection laws in the world. It was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support more than 40 years ago to provide a legal safety net for wildlife, fish and plant species that are in danger of extinction. Now this Congress—which is shaping up to be the most anti-wildlife Congress we have ever seen—wants to slash the Endangered Species Act, threatening the very existence of the imperiled wildlife and ecosystems the Act protects.
Biologists warn that our planet is facing a sixth wave of mass extinction. The Endangered Species Act, which has prevented 99 percent of the species under its care from vanishing, is precisely the kind of effective tool we need today. It has revived the bald eagle, the American alligator, the California condor and many others.
Yet anti-environment interests in the House and Senate are currently orchestrating some of the most serious threats ever posed to the Endangered Species Act. Some of the legislative proposals put specific imperiled wildlife species on the chopping block, while others attack core provisions of the Endangered Species Act itself.
House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) has said he wants to “repeal and replace” the Endangered Species Act. Others are supporting legislative proposals that would make it harder for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to resolve Endangered Species Act lawsuits.
During the previous (114th) Congress, anti-wildlife representatives authored more than 100 bills and amendments to undermine the Endangered Species Act. Similar legislative attacks are already being introduced in the current (115th) Congress. These proposals would put imperiled species at greater risk by:
  • Establishing arbitrary land boundaries where species protections would not apply
  • Imposing limitations on the ability of citizens to help enforce the Endangered Species Act
  • Undermining the use of science under the Endangered Species Act
  • Declaring open season on individual species, including wolves and sage grouse, by blocking federal protections or denying existing protections
If anti-environment members of Congress get their way, the Endangered Species Act’s vital protections will be cast aside. Tell your congressional representatives and senators to oppose any legislation that hurts imperiled wildlife!
Earthjustice and supporters like you have been fighting to stop political attacks on the Endangered Species Act for decades. We can’t do it without you—we need your help to defend this important law.
Mother Grizzly Bear with cub feeding on clamps. Katmai National Park, Alaska (Andre Anita/Shutterstock)
The Endangered Species Act has prevented 99 percent of the species under its care from going extinct.

Demand that your elected officials oppose all efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act now.

Humans, the Pinnacle of Evolution?

The following is an excerpt from Richard Leaky’s book The Sixth Extinction: Patterns of Life and the Future of Humankind, chapter six, “Homo sapiens, the Pinnacle of Evolution?”

“The answer to the above question appears self-evident. Yes of course we are. In the penultimate chapter of The Origin of Species, Darwin wrote, ‘As natural selection works solely by and for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress towards perfection.’ Homo sapiens, since its origin some 150,000 years ago, has come to occupy every continent, with the exception of the hostile wastes of Antarctica, and even there we have a toehold. This surely attests to our corporeal endowment, as we have adapted to these many environments. And there is no question about our mental endowment, which is unmatched in all of nature. We are intellectually analytical, we are artistically creative, and we have invented ethical rules by which society operates. No one can doubt that our species has advanced toward, if not perfection, than a high point–the highest point–among the diversity of life on Earth. We are the pinnacle of evolution. Or are we?

“Anthropologists and biologists have struggled with this issue for a very long time, and the resolution has never been simple. We feel ourselves unique in the world of nature, and of course we are: each species is unique, by definition, so that doesn’t help much. We are but one species among many millions in today’s world. However, we feel ourselves special, among this exuberant diversity of life, because we have an unmatched capacity for spoken language and introspective consciousness, and we can shape our world as no other species can. We judge this to place us on the top of the heap. Before the fact of evolution was demonstrated, beginning with Darwin in the mid-nineteenth century, we considered Homo sapiens to have been placed on the top by Divine Creation. In the Darwinian world, our species was said to have achieved its ascendancy through the natural selection of our special qualities. The intellectual context changed, but the outcome was the same. We judged ourselves to be the pinnacle of the world of nature.

“This assessment brings two assumptions with it–one implicit, the other explicit. The implicit assumption is that the evolution of Homo sapiens was an inevitable outcome of the flow of life, in the unfolding of evolution. The explicit assumption is that the qualities we value in ourselves as a species are indeed superior in some way to the rest of the world of nature. Through evolutionary time, life became ever more complex, producing an arrow of progress. As Darwin stated in the above passage, by means of natural selection life ‘will tend to progress towards perfection.’ We are the tip of the arrow of progress, the expression of perfection. …

“Man’s view of Man in the world of nature has changed over the centuries, reflecting the scholarly context. Only in the relatively recent past have anthropologists begun to discuss human origins as they would the origin of oysters, cats and apes. …”

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The Canadian Federal Election and Wildlife

From:  Born Free USA Canadian Blog by Barry Kent MacKay


 27 Oct 2015 10:13 AM PDT

Wildlife© Mazzali

On October 19, we Canadians went to the polls, in large numbers, to vote in the federal election. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, after holding that position for nine years, went down to a stunning defeat. Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party won a majority of the seats in parliament, giving them power that may help to partly undo the truly horrific environmental record of the Conservative Party. To what degree they do so, the future will determine.

But, things could not be much worse for the environment and wildlife than they were under the steadily more authoritarian Harper regime. He did not want to be factually informed and, in 2008, eliminated the Office of the National Science Advisor. In 2010, Harper prevented scientists from talking directly to the media, or to people like me, who seek information in order to help us protect wildlife. (The “war on science” waged by Harper is far too long to list here.)

Friends of long standing who were on the federal payroll were suddenly afraid to talk to me about work they were doing with funding from my taxes! The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) scientists were not allowed to publish research without screening it to assure it did not counter government policy. Unbelievably, in 2010, geologist Scott Dallimore was not allowed to talk to media about a paper he published in Nature about a flood that had occurred 13,000 years ago. I never even got a response from a scientist about what species co-existed with a long-extinct, ice age camel!

The 25-year existence of the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, critical of Harper’s policies, was axed in 2013. In 2014, seven (of nine) research libraries of the DFO, many containing unique, century-old baseline data of previous fish population sizes, were closed, and irreplaceable documents were trashed or burned. Yes, book-burning in 21st century Canada… with scientists blindsided.

And, the following January, Environment Canada tried to stop an investigation into whether tailing ponds in oil-rich Alberta were contaminating fish habitat, contrary to the Federal Fisheries Act. Fishery scientists whose findings indicated certain environmental problems were continually thwarted, often not allowed to speak about their own findings, with Harper’s government media even keeping close to Environment Canada scientists at the International Polar Year Conference in 2012, lest they say the wrong thing. Work was impeded that indicated infectious salmon anemia and parasites could spread from “farmed” salmon to wild stocks, researchers muzzled. DFO scientists working on a shared Canadian-U.S. Arctic research endeavor had to promise confidentiality.

But, worse things happened, including Canada being the first nation to leave the Kyoto Protocols and its greenhouse gas emission targets. And, in 2012, Canada repealed key parts of the Fisheries Act, leaving previously protected fish habitat vulnerable to destruction by oil and other economic interests. Harper greatly weakened both the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the once-effective Species at Risk Act (the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Endangered Species Act). The Harper government was particularly opposed to legislation requiring public consultation and independent assessment of any project that might benefit short-term economic interest at the expense of wildlife and the environment.

By 2012, emboldened, Harper slashed some $222.2 million out of the Environment Canada budget, cutting 1,211 jobs—thus weakening many prior endeavors to protect the environment. For me, a dangerously low blow came early in 2012, when Public Safety Canada said that environmentalists were identified as “issue-based domestic terrorists” in its counter-terrorism strategy, as Harper sought to conflate many existing crimes as “terrorism” while also seeking harsher penalties for conviction. We seemed to be heading toward an authoritarian state with divisive and mean-spirited decisions coming out of Ottawa almost daily.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that Harper is now gone. As a peculiarity of our parliamentary system, his party never did win the majority of votes from Canadians; Canada never did fully share his values; and, finally, after a campaign long enough to allow even naïve Harper supporters to understand what was happening, it was all over.

It is not that I have great expectations of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party—but, the bar is low. I have little doubt that we will be able to again communicate with government employees, partake in communicating our views, perhaps undo some of the damage Harper did, and provide fact-based information without being labeled enemies of the state. It is a new chance for Canada, for the Canadian environment, and for Canadian wildlife… and we intend to make the most of it!

How Much Bad News Can We Take?

Yesterday was a bad day—news wise. It’s not like World War III broke out—yet—but with Russian jets flying over our ships off Syria, and with headlines like, “China naval chief says minor incident could spark war in South China Sea,” it sounds like we’re getting a couple of steps closer.

Meanwhile, unless you were tucked away safely under a rock somewhere, you probably ryanwaxheard that bowhunter Paul Ryan is the new Speaker of the House (just two heartbeats away from the White House). Funny, I didn’t get a chance to vote for him, not that I would have. What’s this we hear about democracy? Is this how Nazi Germany got its start? (Hopefully this means he’ll be too busy to wait in his tree stand for a passing deer to recreationally-impale.)

And the last piece of bad news announced yesterday was that China coincidentally is ending its one-child policy. The media cited numerous reasons but stopped short of telling us that their population has decreased since the 1970s when they implemented the policy.

Having their population increase from 818 million in 1970 to 1.36 billion and counting (even under the one-child policy), it seems a strange time to decide to double their allowable birth rate. Of course, you need a lot of replacement babies if you want to be a major player in the world market—or declare World War III.

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“Earth Overshoot Day” Marks Deficit in Planet’s Natural Resources

http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2015/08/13/earth-overshoot-day-marks-deficit-planets-natural-resources

Overconsumption Pushing Earth Into Overshoot Earlier Each Year

TUCSON, Ariz. – Today is Earth Overshoot Day, the day humanity exhausts the resources the planet can replenish in a year. This year overshoot comes four and a half months too soon and a week earlier than last year. The Center for Biological Diversity is partnering with the Global Footprint Network to raise awareness about overshoot and the impact of unsustainable overconsumption on the planet.

“As we continue to clearcut trees, burn fossil fuels and consume wild animals, the Earth can’t keep up,” said Leigh Moyer, the Center’s population organizer. “We see evidence of this in shrinking habitat, the global climate crisis and crashes in wildlife populations. We’re blowing through nature’s capital, and wildlife and the planet are suffering for it.”

Overshoot takes into account the amount of resources used by the Earth’s human population and the waste we produce, particularly carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere. The Global Footprint Network calculates Earth Overshoot Day by dividing the amount of ecological resources the planet generates each year by humanity’s ecological footprint (the amount of land and water needed to produce the resources we consume and absorb the waste we create), then multiplying by 365, the number of days in a year. The result is the number of days that the Earth’s resources will last at humanity’s current rates of consumption. This year the planet’s resources lasted 224 days, or until Aug. 13. The rest of the year is in “overshoot.”

“We’re currently using more than the equivalent of one and a half Earths every year,” said Moyer. “And if everyone lived like Americans, we’d use four and a half Earths. Since we only have one Earth, this clearly isn’t sustainable.”

In addition to raising awareness about overshoot, the Center is launching a public petition urging the Target retail chain to discontinue use of single-use plastic shopping bags from its stores nationwide. Target positions itself as a sustainable retailer with goals to reduce waste and cut back on greenhouse gas emissions, but continues to give away a billion plastic bags a year, many of which end up in landfills, as litter or as ocean pollution.

The Center’s Population and Sustainability program promotes a wide range of solutions to address overshoot, including reducing meat consumption, developing wildlife-friendly renewable energy sources, and universal access to birth control and family planning.

###

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature – to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

“If humans disappeared tomorrow, the world would thrive and prosper”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/15/morrissey-animals_n_7588034.html?ir=Entertainment%3Fncid%3Dnewsltushpmg00000003

Morrissey Says ‘The Only Perfect World For Animals Is A World Without Humans’

Morrissey thinks you are an evil pest, but don’t take it personally. He thinks all humans are evil pests, and “the only perfect world for animals is a world without humans.”

“If humans disappeared tomorrow, the world would thrive and prosper,” he wrote to The Huffington Post in an email. “Humans destroy everything, and for the most part they actively enjoy torturing animals.”

“The fact that the slaughterhouse or abattoir exists is the most obvious example of human evil,” he continued, explaining why he has used his platform to be a voice for animal rights. (Note: Abattoir is a fancy/Morrissey-esque word for “slaughterhouse.”)

Morrissey has been speaking out on the issue for over 30 years, if you count the February 1985 release of “Meat Is Murder” as the debut of his activism. He’s continued to spread awareness through his music and a number of collaborations with PETA.

“The slaughterhouse is the dead end for humanity, and as long as it exists we can’t possibly have any hope for the human race,” he said. “If you’ve seen abattoir footage then you cannot possibly think that humans are anything other than evil pests.”

Of course, this is not the most radical thing Morrissey has said in regard to the cause. In January of last year, he participated in a Q&A on the fan site True To You, inciting backlash when he compared eating meat to pedophilia. “They are both rape, violence, murder,” he said.

Now, before you, evil human pest, accuse dear Morrissey of ranting, know that you would be wrong. “If your views threaten any form of establishment interests, you are usually ignored or silenced or said to be ‘ranting,'” he told HuffPost. “I have never ranted in my life.”

The Huffington Post will run a longer interview with Morrissey after his June 27 show at Madison Square Garden. If you’re a fan looking to share why you love Moz or what his impact has been on you, please contact Lauren Duca at lauren.duca@huffingtonpost.com.

People are precipitating “a global spasm of biodiversity loss.”

Sixth mass extinction is here, researcher declares

Jun 19, 2015

There is no longer any doubt: We are entering a mass extinction that threatens humanity’s existence.

That is the bad news at the center of a new study by a group of scientists including Paul Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies in biology and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Ehrlich and his co-authors call for fast action to conserve threatened , populations and habitat, but warn that the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

“[The study] shows without any significant doubt that we are now entering the sixth great ,” Ehrlich said.

Although most well known for his positions on human population, Ehrlich has done extensive work on extinctions going back to his 1981 book, Extinction: The Causes and Consequences of the Disappearance of Species. He has long tied his work on coevolution, on racial, gender and economic justice, and on nuclear winter with the issue of wildlife populations and .

There is general agreement among scientists that rates have reached levels unparalleled since the dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago. However, some have challenged the theory, believing earlier estimates rested on assumptions that overestimated the crisis.

The new study, published in the journal Science Advances, shows that even with extremely conservative estimates, species are disappearing up to about 100 times faster than the normal rate between mass extinctions, known as the background rate.

“If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself would likely disappear early on,” said lead author Gerardo Ceballos of the Universidad Autónoma de México.

Conservative approach

Using fossil records and extinction counts from a range of records, the researchers compared a highly conservative estimate of current extinctions with a background rate estimate twice as high as those widely used in previous analyses. This way, they brought the two estimates – current extinction rate and average background or going-on-all-the-time extinction rate – as close to each other as possible.

Focusing on vertebrates, the group for which the most reliable modern and fossil data exist, the researchers asked whether even the lowest estimates of the difference between background and contemporary still justify the conclusion that people are precipitating “a global spasm of biodiversity loss.” The answer: a definitive yes.

“We emphasize that our calculations very likely underestimate the severity of the extinction crisis, because our aim was to place a realistic lower bound on humanity’s impact on biodiversity,” the researchers write.

To history’s steady drumbeat, a human population growing in numbers, per capita 1451324_650954518277931_1616731734_nconsumption and economic inequity has altered or destroyed natural habitats. The long list of impacts includes:

  • Land clearing for farming, logging and settlement
  • Introduction of invasive species
  • Carbon emissions that drive climate change and ocean acidification
  • Toxins that alter and poison ecosystems

Now, the specter of extinction hangs over about 41 percent of all amphibian species and 26 percent of all mammals, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which maintains an authoritative list of threatened and extinct species.

“There are examples of species all over the world that are essentially the walking dead,” Ehrlich said.

As species disappear, so do crucial ecosystem services such as honeybees’ crop pollination and wetlands’ water purification. At the current rate of species loss, people will lose many biodiversity benefits within three generations, the study’s authors write. “We are sawing off the limb that we are sitting on,” Ehrlich said.

Hope for the future

Despite the gloomy outlook, there is a meaningful way forward, according to Ehrlich and his colleagues. “Avoiding a true sixth will require rapid, greatly intensified efforts to conserve already , and to alleviate pressures on their populations – notably habitat loss, over-exploitation for economic gain and climate change,” the study’s authors write.

In the meantime, the researchers hope their work will inform conservation efforts, the maintenance of ecosystem services and public policy.

Explore further: Research group suggests modern extinction rate may be higher than thought

More information: Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction, Science Advances, advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/5/e1400253

Rhinos In Mozambique Likely Extinct, Expert Says; Elephants May Be Next

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/02/rhinos-mozambique-extinct_n_3200840.html

JOHANNESBURG — Mozambique’s rhinoceros population was wiped out more than a century ago by big game hunters. Reconstituted several years ago, the beasts again are on the brink of vanishing from the country by poachers seeking their horns for sale in Asia.

A leading expert told The Associated Press that the last rhino in the southern African nation has been killed. The warden of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park – the only place where the horned behemoths lived in Mozambique – also says poachers have wiped out the rhinos. Mozambique’s conservation director believes a few may remain.

Elephants also could vanish in Mozambique soon, the warden of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, Antonio Abacar, told AP. He said game rangers have been aiding poachers, and 30 of the park’s 100 rangers will appear in court soon.

“We caught some of them red-handed while directing poachers to a rhino area,” Abacar said.

A game ranger arrested for helping poachers in Mozambique’s northern Niassa Game Reserve said on Mozambican Television TVM last week that he was paid 2,500 meticais (about $80) to direct poachers to areas with elephants and rhinos. Game rangers are paid between 2,000 and 3,000 meticais ($64 to $96) a month.

While guilty rangers will lose their jobs, the courts serve as little deterrent to the poachers: killing wildlife and trading in illegal rhino horn and elephant tusks are only misdemeanors in Mozambique.

“Their legal system is far from adequate and an individual found guilty is given a slap on the wrist and then they say `OK. Give me my horn back,'” said Michael H. Knight, chairman of the African Rhino Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission.

A meeting of the group in February reported there might, possibly, be one white rhino left in Mozambique and no black rhinos at all, Knight said.

According to Abacar: “We have already announced the extinction of the rhino population in Limpopo National Park.”

But Bartolomeu Soto, director of Mozambique’s transfrontier conservation unit, told the AP, “We believe we still have rhinos, though we don’t know how many.”

Mozambican news reports have said the last 15 rhinos in the park were slaughtered in the past month, but park officials said those reports were wrong. Soto said the misunderstanding had arisen over Abacar’s statement to journalists that he had not seen a rhino in the three months since he was put in charge of the large park.

The only official figure available for rhino deaths is that 17 of their carcasses were found in the park in 2010, Soto said. He said officials believe poaching must be taking place because rhino horn and elephant tusks carried by Asian smugglers are regularly seized at Mozambique’s ports, although at least some of the contraband could be from animals killed by Mozambican poachers in neighboring South Africa. This week a person was arrested at the airport of the capital, Maputo, in possession of nine rhino horns, Soto said.

The price of rhino horn has overtaken the price of gold as demand has burgeoned in Asian countries, mainly China and Vietnam, where consumers wrongly believe that the horn – made of the same substance as fingernails – has powerful healing properties. Chinese traditional medicine prescribes it for everything from typhoid, infant convulsions and fever to an antidote for poison and to relieve arthritis and cure possessions by the devil. Syndicates from Vietnam, China, South Korea and Thailand have been identified as being involved in the trafficking.

Knight said rhinos first vanished from Mozambique around the turn of the last century, in the age of the big white hunters, when the animals also nearly disappeared in South Africa, now home to 90 percent of Africa’s estimated 20,000 white rhinos and 4,880 black rhinos.

In 2002, leaders of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe agreed to establish a transfrontier park straddling their borders and covering some 35,000 square kilometers (13,514 square miles) of the best established wildlife areas in southern Africa with South Africa’s famed Kruger National Park and Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park. It is funded by several international wildlife organizations and the European Union.

Soto said some 5,000 animals of various species were moved from South Africa to Mozambique, including the first 12 rhinos to roam in Mozambique in a century.

In 2006, South Africa removed some 50 kilometers (30 miles) of fence between Kruger and Limpopo National Park. Soto said the entire 200 kilometers (125 miles) of fence was not removed because Mozambique still is working to resettle some 6,000 people living in the park.

A second phase was to include two other Mozambican parks, allowing the transfrontier park to extend over 100,000 square kilometers (39,000 square miles) that would make it “the world’s largest animal kingdom,” according to the South African Peace Parks Foundation.

Those plans now are in danger, as is the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Knight said South African officials are even discussing rebuilding their fence with Mozambique.

South African officials say their country has lost 273 rhinos to poachers so far this year. They say most have been killed by Mozambicans who cross into Kruger Park. Poachers killed 668 rhinos in South Africa last year.

The slaughter continues with the number of deaths increasing even though South Africa has declared war on rhino poachers and for two years has deployed soldiers and police in Kruger, a vast park which is the size of Israel.

Soto said Mozambique’s government has been working since 2009 on a comprehensive reform of environmental laws involving consultations with all stakeholders. He said he expects the draft legislation to be presented to parliament soon. It includes criminalizing the shooting of wildlife and would impose mandatory prison sentences on offenders.

But it will come too late to save the last of the rhinos in Mozambique.

___

Associated Press writer Emmanuel Camillo contributed to this report from Maputo, Mozambique.

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