Posts Tagged With: Mozambique

Hunting Outfitters Involved in Poaching

From Down the Rabbit Hole by Oxpeckers 2013:

Rogue South African trophy hunters are directly involved in ‘a mad scramble’ to poach rhinos and get their horns out of the Kruger National Park, according to reliable intelligence sources. The horns are sold illegally, which is facilitated by layers of corruption among customs officials and Mozambique’s politicians. By Fiona Macleod & Estacio Valoi

Documents in the possession of Oxpeckers show the errant trophy hunters are supplying Mozambican poachers with ammunition and helping them to sell the horns illegally. They manage to avoid apprehension by bribing local officials and courting influence with Mozambican politicians.

Oxpeckers 1

The southern border of the Kruger National Park. Rangers arrested eight poaching suspects along the Crocodile river in August 2015

 

The hunters run safari outfits along the south-eastern border of the Kruger, and they gain access to the park through gaps in the fence between the two countries. They cannot be named owing to the seriousness of the trafficking allegations against them.

They operate in the vicinity of Corumana dam and the former Magud headquarters of Mozambique’s Renamo movement. Corumana dam is a popular destination among birders and fishers, and is being expanded to supply water to Maputo about 30km away.

“During the day Corumana is serene, but at night you hear the traffic of boats with engines plying their illegal trade. There is a mad scramble to get as many rhino horns out of the Kruger Park as possible,” said a fisherman who visited the area recently.

Independent intelligence sources have been monitoring the hunting operators since 2011. They say they have passed their information on to anti-poaching authorities in South Africa, but have received no feedback on whether it has been followed up.

Confidential documents reveal that the kingpin is a safari outfitter with a hunting concession close to Corumana dam. He regularly hunts wildlife without permits, according to intelligence, and smuggles animal trophies and rhino horns in a hidden compartment of his vehicle.

The documents implicate him directly in the poaching of rhinos in southern Kruger and the smuggling of their horns to Maputo and South Africa. He is also accused of bribing the local police chief to drop charges against poachers working with him.

Other hunters fingered in the investigation since 2011 include a safari outfit previously caught luring lions out of the Kruger for “canned” hunts, and another outfit previously implicated in ivory smuggling in Namibia. The network has formed strategic alliances with politicians and prominent business in Mozambique for protection, according to the intelligence.

 

 

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Mixed Messages are killing our elephants and rhinos

To crush or hoard?

That is the dilemma for African countries with ivory stockpiles. It’s a polarizing debate. Destruction eliminates any and all possibility at corruption, it will not find its way back on the market and it sends a clear message ivory NOT attached to the animal has no value.

But the other side believes saving and selling the ivory allows the money to be rolled back over into conservation efforts for the animals, and the communities.

The problem is that elephants and rhinos exist throughout the African continent, making the “product” available in multiple countries, and each country has its own stance on stockpiling. So while Mozambique destroys ivory, directly across the border in Zimbabwe the country stores it, awaiting an opportunity to sell. This creates mixed messages and a lack of unity.

horns and tusks by reuters

Seized horns and tusks on display in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters

Selling Ivory Funds Communities

Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa have a stock and sell take on ivory.

Namibia  Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta has said destroying the ivory and horn goes against government policy. Instead the stock is auctioned off to other interested countries.

“We will get a lot of money and the proceeds will go to state coffers to alleviate poverty. Also, we feel it is not an effective deterrent in fighting poaching,” said Shifeta.

While Botswana states it is “out of the question” to sell rhino horn, they’ve just announced they will seek permission to sell their ivory stockpile after the 10 years moratorium with CITES has expired in 2018.

Good news for the rhinos, considering the fact that Botswana is key to future rhino populations with the current translocations taking place from Kruger National Park.  Not so great for elephants.

Overall,  an interesting proposition considering the country’s strong stance on anti-poaching, and the large stake in their wildlife. 90% of tourists in Botswana come for the wildlife.

bots tourism

The wildlife tourism industry is estimated to continue to grow throughout the coming years, making it an invaluable component to the economy. Graph: World Travel & Tourism Council

 

 Destroy Ivory, Stop Poaching

Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi and Ethiopia have all held public burns/crushes to destroy their stockpiles of horn and ivory.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) spokesman Paul Udoto says the illegal ivory has no economic value to them, saying that “the selling is what has brought us to the state of poaching that we are in.”

kenya ivory burn bbc

Kenya burned 15 tonnes of ivory in March. President Kenyatta has vowed the entire stockpile will be burned this year. AFP photo

One-off Sales

So the hoard and sell leads to occasional one-off sales of a set amount for a limited time.

It is the belief of some that by CITES issuing these sales of horn or ivory, it fans the flames and results in a poaching spike, sending elephant and rhino populations into a tailspin. Afterall how can we  allow LEGAL one-off sales of a product AND simultaneously strive at reducing demand for the same product? Confusing to say the least.

The experts who work with elephants are in agreement.

cynthia moss 1It is very discouraging having to fight the battle to save elephants once again. The 1989 ban helped elephants to recover in most parts of Africa. Now even in Amboseli we’re losing elephants to ivory poachers for the first time in many years. The sale of any ivory–legal or not–is creating demand. No one needs ivory. It is a beautiful substance, but the only ones who need it are elephants.

– Cynthia Moss, Amboseli Elephant Research Project

ian redmond 2As long as ivory is valued as a commodity, every tusker is at risk from poachers, and only where anti-poaching efforts are sufficient will elephants survive. Anti-poaching costs money and lives. Banning the ivory trade has been the single-most effective and economical way to slow the loss of elephants across their whole range – not just where they can be protected by anti-poaching units. 

Ian Redmond, OBE Wildlife biologist and Ambassador for the UNEP Convention on Migratory Species

So who do we listen to? The experts who work with these creatures, seeing their lives and deaths and the daily effects of poaching? Or political officials with a mixed bag of agendas?

If we must view elephants, rhinos or other animal in economic terms, then we must factor in tourism. Without wildlife, there is no tourism. Period.

To read more about the fight to ban ivory and save elephants: Born Free Foundation 

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Elephant herd on a dusty day in Amboseli National Park, Kenya. Photo: Tisha Wardlow

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The commonality of Rangers and Poachers

Why do poachers poach? For the money of course. Desperation fuels the need. South Africa’s current unemployment rate sits at 25%, one of the highest in the world. While Mozambique’s is at 17%.

With Kruger National Park right in the middle, this makes for the most unfortunate situation for our rhinos. With just one horn, these men stand to better their families forever.

Rhino in Kruger via Giltedge Africa

Rhino in Kruger via Giltedge Africa

Youth unemployment is especially low; in 2013 it was as high as 63%. With underlying issues of a high drop-out rate in schools and a lack of experience and skills, these people have little chance of successfully finding a job.

The majority of South Africans who commit crimes, including poaching are married and unemployed who never complete standard 8 education. 

A number of government initiatives for education and unemployment have been issued in the last few years, but it seems too late for the current generation.

Ironically the reason poachers poach is the same reason rangers do what they do. For a source of income.

 As Ken Maggs, the head of the environmnetal crimes unit in SANParks explains about rangers,  “You’ll get some individuals that are really heart and soul conservationists, but generally speaking, it is a job, and jobs are not easy to come by,” says Maggs, “To have a job is really important.”

When asked, most poachers would choose a safer, more reliable method of bringing home a paycheck if there was an option.

 As one local poacher explained: “I don’t bear a grudge against the rangers. We’re all just trying to do the best for our family. If I was offered a job as a ranger, I wouldn’t have to poach.” But, the fact is that there just are not enough jobs to go around.

The reality is communities are fighting against one another in a war in which there are no winners. They’re trying to put food on the table for their families, while the wealthy do as they’ve always done; the Asians following a pointless trend of horn, the politicians turning a blind eye and basking in their own luxuries. And of course, an innocent species caught in middle.

President Zuma's home complete with amphitheater and pool.

President Zuma’s home complete with amphitheater and pool.

 

*Mediterranean Journal of Social Science:Crime and Unemployment in South Africa; Revisiting an Established Causality: Evidence from the Kwazulu Natal Province  N.G. Tshabalala, PhD 

*The human victims in the fight over rhino poaching in Africa by: Kenichi Serino

 

 

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The Bloody Puzzle of Rhino Poaching

Mozambique, bordering Kruger National Park, is responsible for 90% of all poaching in the park! This expose goes undercover through the pathetically porous border separating the park from Moz.

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CITES Recap on Rhino

Another CITES meeting has come and gone. So what does it mean for rhinos?

rhino in grass

In 2013 Vietnam and Mozambique were directed to strengthen their efforts on poaching and the trade of rhino horn.

Vietnam

Vietnam’s report to CITES, indicates they are taking steps to improve the situation, including initiating a rhinoceros horn demand reduction programme and tweaking their laws and regulations.

According to CITES,  “It is evident that Vietnam has managed to set in motion a political momentum to combat illegal wildlife trade, which has significantly contributed to tangible progress in its efforts to implement measures to combat illegal rhinoceros horn trade more effectively.”

Although encouraging, according to Save the Rhino, one area of concern is the limited custodial sentences for trafficking rhino horn, which they have acknowledged is an area for improvement. Heavy sentencing is a crucial deterrent to those involved in rhino horn trafficking.

confiscated horns

In March, Vietnam Deputy Minister Ha Cong Tuan stated they were considering destroying it’s storage of horns.

Mozambique

Mozambique, according to their own reports, had a notable increase in arrests and fines. They have also stated they have provided new equipment to field rangers, resettlement of villages close to the border with the Kruger National Park, established an “Intensive Protection Zone” along the length of the border with the Park, and increased cross border co-operation.

In addition they have signed the MOU (memorandum of understanding) with South Africa.

These statements beg further explanation. The villages “close to the border” are where the area known as “Poachers Alley” exists. And the protection zone- is it for protection of rhinos or poachers?

CITES is urging Mozambique to develop a national rhino horn action plan, with time-frames and milestones, and submit this to the CITES Secretariat by 8 August 2014.  According to reports, Europe and the US are ready to issue sanctions if necessary.

As the Environmental Investigation Agency has recently indicated in its petition to President Obama,  

“Available evidence indicates that Mozambican nationals constitute the highest number of foreign arrests for poaching in South Africa. Organized crime syndicates based in Mozambique are driving large-scale illegal trade in rhino horn and elephant ivory”

carvalho_muaria_mozambique

Moz Minister of Tourism, Carvalho Muaria, signs the MOU with South Africa.

China

The CITES report does not indicate anything with China regarding rhino horn trade.

But China was allegedly, vehemently complaining about the necessity of reporting its status to CITES.  In addition for the first time, they admitted to using Tiger parts (well only some of them). A Chinese delegate said, “we don’t ban trade in tiger skins but we do ban trade in tiger bones”.

There was also no mention of Thailand or Hong Kong.

For more:  the CITES working group rhino report

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As The Body Count Builds, So Does the Bullshit

CITES is currently meeting again. Discussions on the fate of our rhinos are taking place as you’re reading this.

As poachers kill, and rangers fight, CITES is talking. While the slaughter continues, CITES is handing out certificates.

CITES certificates for explemplary enforcement

Nepal, China, Kenya and the Lusaka Agreement Task Force recognized for exemplary enforcement efforts.

Looking at the CITES agenda, some of the recommendations on the rhino are as follows:

*Mozambique should develop a national rhino horn action plan, with timeframes and milestones, and submit this to the Secreteriat by 8th August 2014.

*Mozambique is requested to submit a comprehensive report on progress in the implementation of its national rhino action plan, and on any other action taken… to be submitted to the Secretariat by 31st January 2015.

*Viet Nam is requested to provide a further comprehensive report on actions taken…including, in particular, by providing an update on the implementation of the Prime Minister’s Directive On strengthening the direction and implementation of measures for controlling and protecting endangered, rare and precious wild animals, and a detailed update on update on arrests, seizures, prosecutions and penalties for offences related to illegal rhinoceros horn possession and trade in Viet Nam…to be submitted to the Secretariat by 31st January 2015.

And what happens if they don’t receive these reports? Or if the reports are showing these countries are failing? Non-compliance will be met with….what?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

558 rhinos have been killed this year (OSCAP)

It is time to enact sanctions against the offending parties. Our wildlife deserves better than “talk”. It is time for action, swift and decisive action. There isn’t time for anything else.

Please sign: Lobby CITES to list the SA Southern White Rhino in Appendix one

CITES-Don’t legalize the sale of rhino horns worldwide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Which Country is a Poacher’s Haven?

All eyes are on South Africa as the epicenter to the war on rhino poaching. As the death toll rose to over a 1000 in 2013, this year is shaping up to be comparable to that.

But rhinos, just as poachers, know no borders. So what is happening in the surrounding countries?

south africa and surrounding 2

Namibia ~ From 2005 to 2010, there were no reported poachings. 11 have been killed since then, with 4 all in this past year. Namibia has deployed soldiers in anti-poaching units to stop the escalation.

Environment and Tourism Minister Uahekua Herunga said “We have created a permanent unit made up of the army and all security services solely dedicated to anti-poaching. “The unit will be in place forever, or until poaching has been drastically reduced.”

Botswana ~ Working on sustaining its rhino population, they have recently relocated up to 100 rhinos from South Africa. Botswana is home to the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, a model for conservation, with no animals being poached since it’s founding 24 years ago.

“Our number one focus has been to make local people aware that these animals are worth more alive than dead,” Moremi Tjibae, the sanctuary’s chief warden.

whities in kharma

White Rhinos in Kharma Rhino Sanctuary

Zimbabwe ~ The bright spot for rhinos here is the Lowveld Rhino Program. Approximately 80% of the country’s surviving rhinos are in Lowveld Conservancies. Poaching levels dropped by 66% in 2013. Although it’s a comprehensive conservation program, it is hard to know if the drop is from stricter penalties or with less than 1000 rhinos, if they have simply become harder to come by.

Mozambique ~ The biggest thorn in the side of conservationists in southern Africa-where poachers and crime syndicates are so brazen, they reside in an area known as “Poacher’s Alley”, a neighborhood built on the blood of rhinos and elephants.

They have a blatant disregard for the rules of CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora). Not only do they ignore the rampant poaching, there is evidence the state is complicit in the activity.

“Many of the crime syndicates have moved their base of operation from South Africa to Mozambique, where they are able to act with impunity,” said Susie Ellis, executive director of IRF, a nonprofit rhino conservation organization with field programs around the world. “Mozambican poachers are highly organized and are slaughtering rhinos and elephants on a daily basis, while the Mozambican government turns a blind eye.”

poached mom rhino with baby near

Mozambique is thought to be responsible for 80-90% of the poaching in Kruger National Park.

It has become so out of control that on 3 July, the Environmental Investigation Agency petitioned President Obama to sanction Mozambique for their continuous role in rhino and elephant poaching.

With Obama’s Executive Order to combat wildlife trafficking announced a year ago, this is in direct and obvious violation.

“…the United States shall promote and encourage the development and enforcement by foreign nations of effective laws to prohibit the illegal taking of, and trade in, these species and to prosecute those who engage in wildlife trafficking, including by building capacity”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Time to Get Furious

Rhino Friday fury

(via Ayesha Cantor)

1722 rhino poached out of Kruger National Park since 2010

Enviro journalist, Elise Templehof, recently visited the Mozambiquan town of Messingir where she met a young man, Fàbio Ngovene -20 (name changed to protect him ) who would like to see an end to rhino poaching.

He carries a dirty notebook with him, pages and pages containing the names, into the hundreds, of local people who have been arrested over the last few years for rhino related crimes.

‘’ Each one of them caught with rhino horns in their possession, brought before a court of law and simply let go again’’ he says.

Fabio reckons that all the 25 000 residents of this village rely solely on the false economy created by rhino poaching.

The town of Massingir, resulted in the building of the Massingir dam and was expected to develop & grow as Eco Tourism to the area grew, however, there is absolutely no sign of tourism in this area. It would appear that the ever-growing residents of Messingir, are doing very well without any obvious industry if one goes by the double story houses and luxury 4 x4’s that can be found all over this town.

(Gettin angry yet?)
Even Mozambiques president, ­Armando Guebuza, was impressed having said, during a recent visit to the town ‘’This is how a town should look that is benefiting from a growing economy’’ .

Fabio also says that when he personally told the President the REAL reason behind this so-called economic growth, he simply nodded his head and had nothing further to say.

(How about now?)
Fabio and his ‘merry band of mates’ are fighting an underground war against the people who have become stinking rich off the back of our rhino, since 2011.
He mentions three kingpins by name, in particular a Mr Navara. These individuals in particular, lived in modest mud houses in poverty, just a few years ago. Now they live in obvious and opulent luxury.

South Africa’s Green Scorpions reckon that there are as many as 20 syndicate bosses operating in Massingir and another 10 in Maputo.
According to  Martins Antonio, a private investigator working in this area, rhino horns from poached KNP rhino are transported via helicopter from Messigir to Maputo

A shopping centre owner ( Name withheld by RAPPORT due to legal implications ) then takes possession of the horns and with the help of diplomats from the Vietnamese Embassyin Maputo, shipped to the East. The shopping centre owner is apparently house friends with Mosambiques president.
Jeremy Anderson of the  Wildlife and Environment Society in South Africa (Wessa) says the SAP and Organised Crime have been aware of ‘Mr Navara’s’ activities and his whereabouts for the last two years, yet nothing has been done to apprehend him.

 

The full RAPPORT article – http://www.rapport.co.za/Weekliks/Kollig/Kollig-Bloedgeld-koop-n-dorpie-se-voorspoed-20140614

 

And is if the above is not insult enough, read on ….

‘’ Some Mozambican policemen are also involved, by hiring guns out to poachers, Couto said.

He noted that the same police gun was seized from poachers in South Africa and returned to the Mozambican police three times.

Police involvement in poaching was so rampant that the entire police unit in Massingir, on the border with the Kruger Park, was transferred at the start of this year.Poaching had also “contaminated” staff in the Limpopo National Park. Couto said that several wardens and senior park officials were recently sacked for their involvement in these illicit activities.

Full report – http://allafrica.com/stories/201406190619.html?viewall=1

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

It becomes increasingly difficult to have faith in our authorities, but what choice do we have as ordinary citizens we are not in any way part of any decision-making, we are not privy to what is ACTUALLY going on and hear only snippets of info as contained in the above articles.

What we do have are our voices. I urge you to put ‘pen to paper’ and appeal to the authorities to do much, MUCH more than they say they already are.

 

Albi Modise – Chief Director: Communications/Spokesperson at National Department of Environmental Affairs
AModise@environment.gov.za

 

Mozambique High Commisioner – His Excellency, Fernando A Fazenda
Fax: +27 12 326 6388
Email: info@embamoc.co.za

 

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What is the MOU, and Does it Matter?

Recently a long-awaited MOU (memorandum of understanding) between South Africa and Mozambique was finalized. The big deal? This should affect rhino poaching.

A MOU is a signed formal agreement between two or more countries on how to handle a shared issue. In this case, the issue of poaching, or as formally stated “conservation and management” in Kruger Park.

Mozambique has been lax in anti-poaching laws and management, and of course many of the guilty parties in poaching the rhino in kruger map 1Kruger come from…yes – Mozambique. The border between the two countries is long and porous, with no official ability of “hot pursuit” allowed from South Africa rangers. This means a would-be poacher from MOZ can sneak into SA, kill a rhino, take off with the horn and even if chased, the poacher is safe once across the border.

In fact, there are settlements along the border in Mozambique referred to as “Poachers Alley”. They thrive on the money brought in from illegal poaching, and serve as an obvious place for buyers of horn to gain willing participants.

The initial discussion of a MOU was back in June of 2013. As with anything political, it’s been dragged out and re-negotiated. The final product, signed April 17th,  is a display of cooperation and collaboration between the two countries.

The MOU main areas of cooperation are:

1.Biodiversity management, conservation and protection;
2.Promotion of biodiversity sustainable use as an integral part of conservation
3.Compliance with CITES and other relevant conventions and protocols
4. Biodiversity law enforcement;
5.Compliance with domestic frameworks and regional conventions and protocols;
6.Strengthen cooperation on the above through information exchange, intelligence, best practice and search.
7.Joint technology innovation, development and enhancement;
8.Wildlife trade, protected area management, community development through biodiversity economy and sustainable livelihoods;
9.Education, awareness and capacity building in biodiversity management, conservation, protection and law enforcement

soldier walking fence border

The fence along the MOZ and SA border was taken down to allow more animals to roam, yet since poaching has increased, it may be re-built.

In addition, the fence will be re-erected along the border and there will be a well-trained and armed anti-poaching unit for joint collaboration deployed. South Africa has committed R24.9 million from the R252 million Swedish and Dutch Postcode Lottery donation secured by the Peace Parks Foundation to Mozambique to assist with these anti-poaching efforts.

In 2013, 668 rhinos were killed (although the real number could be even higher). With no sign of slowing,  a total of 294 rhinos have been killed this year, with at least 166 of them in Kruger National Park.

Will the MOU have any real, tangible effect?

Politics are too slow to keep up with the swift demise poaching is enacting on the rhino. It’s also more than a bit worrying that the country initiating the MOU to “curb poaching”, is the same one that wants to “legalize” horn trade. Perhaps the part of the MOU that’s Not on paper isn’t to stop poaching at all, but just slow it down a bit.  Afterall, how DOES that work?

Dear Mozambique,
Please stop poaching our rhino. At least leave us a few. We’re not sure we necessarily want to SAVE them. But we do want to turn as much profit as we possibly can by enacting a legal trade.  Once this happens, feel free to BUY as much horn as you’d like.

Your friends in SA

It’s difficult not to feel a bit skeptical and wary considering the present situation. Maybe we should count our lucky stars and be glad this happened at all. Just the fact these two countries are sitting down to discuss the crisis is worth something. Let’s hope its worth more than we think.

rhino sunset again

 

 

 

 

 

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To Market

What happens AFTER a rhino is poached?

rhino horn timetable

via WWF

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