Posts Tagged With: Ivory

Another Terrorist Attack funded by poaching

Violence begets violence.

FACT: Elephants are poached by terrorist groups in order to obtain ivory to fund their terrorist operations.

A swarm of gunmen stormed a Kenya university before dawn Thursday, opening fire and taking hostages.

At least 70 people were killed at Garissa University College, the Kenyan Interior Ministry said.More than 500 students remain unaccounted for at the campus that had about 815 students, according to the Kenya National Disaster Operation Center.

The Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militant group claimed responsibility for the assault.

Kenyan defence force

The Kenyan Defence Force outside the university in Kenya. (the NewDaily)

 This is NOT a rare happening. The kidnapping of Nigerian girls , the Westgate Mall attack in Kenya …these attacks are funded by elephant poaching. Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda…they make up to 40% of their organizational funding for weapons, training, and basic supplies; through ivory.

The demand for ivory and horn stems from the Asian market; using both ivory and horn for medicinal purposes, in carvings, artwork, jewelry, and as a status symbol. The devastating effect on both elephant and rhino populations is making the product more difficult to come by. High demand, low supply equal ludicrously high product value. And THIS is the attraction for the terrorist groups.

Paying poachers less than $100 usd to do the dirty work, they gain approximately $2000/kilo in the sale of the ivory. Rhino horn is also a valued commodity for the terrorists, at a whopping $65000/kilo on the black market. An easy cash flow with little risk.

Shouldn’t the buyers of ivory and horn be held responsible for the deaths of innocent victims? At the very least they are accessories to the crime.

 It’s time to stop looking at poaching as simply an “animal rights” issue or an “African problem”. With terrorist attacks plaguing the US, Europe and African countries alike, this is a global concern demanding immediate action from every country. It’s time to get serious.

terrorism

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Ivory Bans Gaining Traction in US

96 elephants a day

3 rhinos a day

At the current rate, without intervention, extinction would be imminent in the near future.

The insatiable appetite for ivory and horn extends beyond the borders of China and Vietnam. The US is the second largest market for ivory. But since President Obama’s Executive Order to stop wildlife trafficking, the preservation of elephants and rhinos is finally gaining momentum. The US is taking positive and proactive steps to preserve wildlife and combat global trafficking.

mom and babe ele

Both New York (previously the first largest state for ivory imports) and New Jersey have bans on ivory imports. Now the following states are introducing bans as well:

  • Hawaii (third largest state for ivory imports)
  • Oklahoma
  • California (second largest state for ivory imports)
  • Massachusetts
  • Florida
  • Washington

The federal rules include banning all commercial imports of African elephant ivory regardless of age. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process of finalizing additional rules that could ban interstate trade of ivory, with some exception for antiques, and limit the number of tusks and ivory that may be brought into the U.S. by sports hunters.

Although these steps will provide better protection for the lives of elephants and rhinos, not everyone is over the moon with these motions. Antique dealers and the NRA (National Rifle Association) are concerned.  According to an NRA spokesperson, Catherine Mortensen “Consequently, many priceless personal effects will be rendered valueless.”

Black rhin mom and babe

 

 

 

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Bright spots in a Dark year

This  was a tough year for rhinos. No doubt about it. The poachings have amounted to over 1100 deaths in 2014. Outrage, grief and frustration weigh on the hearts of all of us, but there is no room for doubt or defeat. For behind the headlines of “another rhino poached”, lie seeds of hope and strength.

*Awareness groups in Vietnam, like ENV (Education for Nature Vietnam), WildAct and WildAid have launched campaigns to raise awareness and change attitudes in Vietnam about rhino horn use.

*The Javan rhino population has increased.

javan rhino

Javan rhino via International Rhino Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*The US (the second largest ivory market in the world) announced a ban on commercial ivory.

*Rhinos Without Borders and And Beyond have aided in the translocation of rhinos into safer, intensive protection zones.

*Interpol is getting involved with seeking out the capture of rhino poachers, recognizing the importance of stopping poaching on a global, criminal level.

*Skukuza has increased the amount of poaching case prosecutions.

skuzuza court

38 poaching suspects appeared in just one day in this Skukuza courtroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Namibia has devoted a specialist military army to battle poaching in 2015

*The first ever World Youth Rhino Summit was convened, educating and empowering youth throughout multiple countries to be the future leaders in conservation efforts for rhinos.

*Protected areas in Sumatra have not seen any poaching incidents since 2006.

*There have been multiple arrests of poaching kingpins and syndicates; from a kingpin in Tanzania to Kwazu-natal to a syndicate in Czech-Republic.

*The death of Karanja, a 44-year-old black rhino with an intact horn, in the Masai Mara was of natural causes, not poaching.

*Kenya claims a 50% reduction in rhino poaching.

*The first birth of a new rhino at Imire in Zimbabwe, since their 2007 poaching tragedy

Shanu and babe

Mom and baby at Imire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With combined efforts, Fight for Rhinos is gearing up for 2015 to be a year of change. Together with Helping Rhinos, RPA, WildAct and you we can make a difference. “Endelea Kupigana” (Keep fighting)!

 

 

 

 

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Last Days for Rhinos and Elephants

This extraordinary video puts the killing of our elephants and rhinos into perspective. Ultimately it all starts or stops with YOU as the consumer. Please watch and share.

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What to do with all that ivory and horn…

In light of the global demise of elephants and rhinos, many countries have made a symbolic gesture of commitment by destroying their ivory stockpiles.

China, the United States, Kenya, France, the Philippines, Gabon and Hong Kong have all taken part.

While some see this as a celebratory gesture, it is contested by others.

Black rhinoceros and Africa elephant, Africa

photo: John Downer/WWF

The price tag for a kilo of ivory on the black market is worth over $1800 usd , which makes your average elephant worth about $18,000. While a kilo of rhino horn can fetch $65,000 usd, making the average rhino worth $130,000.

Imagine how much one country’s stockpile may be worth? When the US destroyed it’s 6 ton stockpile, it was like decimating approximately $9,800,000 usd. Could that money have been sold to China, raising money for conservation? Or would it have simply fueled demand, bringing a quicker end to our imperiled elephants?

To destroy:

*Ivory and horn left intact has the good chance of finding its way back onto the market, perpetuating the demand and adding to the poaching.
*It sends a powerful statement to the world that it is NOT a commodity. There is no worth.
*It also sends the message that the country will not tolerate the trade.
*To store ivory and horn, it is a security burden to most countries.

ivory crushed in denver by steel

Ivory destroyed by a steel rock crusher in Denver, Colorado. photo: Alex Hofford

To keep:

*Saving horns and ivory allows records to be kept on genetics, both for historical purposes as well as for DNA evidence used in court cases.
*If legalization occurs, it can be sold to raise money for conservation.
*It can be used to train wildlife sniffer dogs in airports to help control trafficking.
*In general, it is argued destruction of ivory makes it more scarce, spiking the demand

afp rhino horn stockpile

It’s no secret South Africa is pushing for legal trade in rhino horn. Their current stockpile stands at over 18 tons. photo” AFP

 

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Remembering our Elephants

“You know … they say an elephant never forgets.
What they don’t tell you is, you never forget an elephant.” World Ele Day
On today, World Elephant Day, let us bow our heads and remember the gentle giants who have lost their lives to poaching. 100 a day, every day…

We pray for the safety of those who remain, and we will continue to fight like hell to stop the scourge of poaching from taking anymore.

Sign: Stop the Ivory Trade

Sign: Google-Stop Ivory Trade through your site

 

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Are Americans Grasping the Plight of the Rhino?

In a recent poll by the Center for Biological Diversity:

61 percent of Americans said they are concerned about the rate that wildlife are disappearing.

2 out of 3 Americans believe Congress should strengthen, or not make any changes to the Endangered Species Act.

Half of those polled think the country is doing too little to protect imperiled plants and animals, and that too many species are being pushed to the brink of extinction.

Much of this recent attitude has to be credited to President Obama’s executive order to combat wildlife trafficking.

Timeline in Rhino & Elephant Crisis Awareness in the US

  • May 2013- Miss USA, South African born Nana Meriwether, advocates for the plight of the rhino.
  • Jul 2013- President Obama announced the Executive Order to combat wildlife trafficking
  • Sept 2013-March for Elephants released the Elephant in Times Square billboard, educating thousands of Americans on the poaching crisis.
  • Sept 2013- Animal Planet’s Battleground Rhino Wars aired in the US, introducing many to the rhino poaching crisis for the first time.
  • Sept 2013- US Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Southern White Rhino as threatened.
  • Mar 2014- US philanthropist Howard Buffet gave a generous 24 million donation to fight rhino poaching in Kruger National Park.
  • Jun 2014- New York passes historic ban on elephant ivory and rhino horn sales (with 80% of New Yorkers in favor of the ban)
by: Ryan Huertas

by: Ryan Huertas

Of course the US still has a way to go, but for a country who at one point was the second largest ivory market to enact a ban in its most populated state, it’s certainly nothing to scoff at. This victory will set the precedence for the rest of the nation.

Additionally, if the latest backlash against well-known hunters Melissa Bachman, Corey Knowlton, and Kendall Jones is any indication, momentum is leading toward a ban against trophy imports as well.

Please take a moment to thank the President and ask him to stand strong against those who oppose the ivory ban. President Obama: Keep Fighting Poaching

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Victory-The US Addresses the Elephant in the Room

elephants holding trunks

The US is a huge part of the global trade in ivory, second only to China. And within the US, New York is the number one importer ivory into the country. So the decision by the New York Legislature to ban the sale and purchase of ivory AND rhino horn is remarkable.

With support from conservation groups (The Wildlife Conservation Society, Natural Resources Defense Council and The Humane Society of the United States) and celebrities  (Billy Joel, Meryl Streep, Kristin Davis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Dave Matthews, and Matt Sorum), the bill is expected to be signed into law.

The law places a permanent ban on the sale of elephant and mammoth ivory and rhino horn and increases the penalty for those found to be possessing or selling it.

This does not come as a complete surprise, as President Obama prioritized cracking down on wildlife trafficking in July of 2013, but it is definitely a crucial win in the battle of poaching.

rhino field

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Nigerian Kidnappings: The Link to Poaching

Rhino and elephant poaching is detrimental not only to the rhino and elephant, but to global security. Poaching profits fund terrorist activity, like the kidnapping of over 200 girls in Nigeria.

funding terrorism

On April 16, armed men took 223 girls from their beds in the middle of the night at their school in Nigeria.  They disappeared into the dense forest near the Cameroon border, and have not been seen since. Boko Haram is the Islamic extremist group responsible. They especially oppose the education of women, and it is believed the militants are selling the girls to be brides of their tormentors.

The Nigerian based  Islamic extremist group fights with advanced weaponry and equipment, which is in high contrast with the poor surroundings of the country. Their funding is vast and somewhat unknown.  In part, they may be receiving funding from other terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, they also reap benefits from robberies, and poachings.

Boka Haram poaching activity is connected to both rhinos and elephants and spans Cameroon, Somalia and Zimbabwe.

boko harem by reuters

Boko Harem (by: Reuters)

In addition to Al-Quaeda, they are linked to the Somali group, Al-Shabaab, who claimed responsiblity for the Westgate mall attack in Nairobi in 2013. A major portion of that groups’ activities are reportedly funded by poaching as well. Claims are that up to three tons of ivory are bought and sold every month through a coordinated supply chain.

Andrea Crosta, executive director of the Elephant Action League (EAL), has studied Al-Shabaab activity and states that the group makes enough through ivory to support around 40 per cent of the salaries paid to militants.

The issue of poaching is being recognized as a global threat. In 2013,  US President Obama took a strong stance on poaching, issuing an executive order to combat wildlife trafficking.obama

“The survival of protected wildlife species such as elephants, rhinos, great apes, tigers, sharks, tuna, and turtles has beneficial economic, social, and environmental impacts that are important to all nations,” it reads. “Wildlife trafficking reduces those benefits while generating billions of dollars in illicit revenues each year, contributing to the illegal economy, fueling instability, and undermining security.”

One of the methods governments utilize to defuse terrorist organizations, is through tracking their funding. Knowing they are using the wildlife to fund themselves should be reason enough to enact tougher tracking and penalties for poaching. Obviously stopping poaching will not put an end to terrorism, but it would stop enabling them, making it more difficult for them to carry out their inhumane activities.

In the meantime, there are hundreds of families in Nigeria desperately awaiting news on their daughter’s lives. Peace and prayers go with them.

Please sign the petition to draw attention and action to the kidnapped girls: Bring Back Our Girls

where are our chibok girls

Nigerian women demonstration, looking for help to free the girls.

 

(*African Daily News, Huffington Post, The Washington Times)

 

 

 

 

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Just When I Think I’ve Seen It All

elephant over fence

elephant over fence 2 by Indri Ultimate Wildlife Tours

An inspirational story that we recently received involves the Elephant in the photograph covering a huge distance across farmland without damaging a single fence! Our feeling when looking at these photographs is one of utter respect – an Elephant can easily break an obstructing farm fence! These majestic animals are full of integrity, intelligence and emotion. It’s about time they’re given the respect they deserve. (via Indri Ultimate Wildlife Tours)

We do not yet know the vast intelligence, grace and wonder of these animals.  30 elephants are lost each day to poaching for the sake of trinkets and carvings. To let them disappear would be a worldwide tragedy.

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