Posts Tagged With: politics

Devils in the Details

There are certain times our voices matter immensely. This is one.  Please take a few minutes to send an email to: mboshoff@environment.gov.za

Comments MUST be subitted by MARCH 10th!help-me

Edna Molewa, South Africa DEA, has announced her intentions of allowing legal trade of rhino horn. As days go by, more dirty details arise, exposing the corruption at the heart of this political fiasco. There seemingly will be NO restriction on the amount of horn able to be traded!

Latest dirty laundry of horn trade: Bombshell hidden in draft rhino regulations 

“The concern of the international community is that while rhino horn prices have dropped by 50% in the last few years in Vietnam due to massive public education efforts, this will confuse the message, greatly expand the consumer base and facilitate laundering, making poaching even worse. Exactly what happened when ivory trade was re-opened in China.” -Peter Knights, WildAid

If you’re reading this, please take a couple of minutes to send an email! (Keep them simple, factual and please no profanity or too much emotion.)

 

For details: Drafted regulations on proposed horn trade

 

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The Future Rewards those who press on…

 We don’t put a lot of weight into labels, i.e. republican, democrat, etc; but into actions. What will an elected official DO to help or hinder our animals, our environment?
The actions of our current President included an almost total ban on ivory trade in the US, forming an US Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, and incorporating wildlife trafficking laws into the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership)enabling more enforceable laws on countries who heavily trade.
obama-cites

President Obama issued the executive order to combat wildlife trafficking in 2013. photo: CITES

In fact under Obama, the US has  protected more endangered species due to recovery efforts than any other Administration in history.
 The new President elect’s agenda doesn’t seem to include much promise in the way of conservation efforts and the environment.
He has stated he would cut the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), saying the environment will be fine; and has surrounded himself with “a team advisers and financial supporters tied in with trophy hunting, puppy mills, factory farming, horse slaughter, and other abusive industries” (according to the Humane Society Legislative Fund President Michael Markarian)
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 We sincerely hope that Mr. Trump’s actions are not as harsh and negligent as his words; and that the US pledge to fight wildlife trafficking continues in the way of legislature, attitude and ambition.
But while we hope, we also continue to fight.
 The victories of the last few years have not only lifted our hopes and ambitions, but have given them a backbone. We can’t forget how much has been started. That momentum will continue to drive us forward, to fight for every inch, every yard of progress in the coming months and years.
Our mission remains the same, our momentary disappointment is giving way to determination. As President Obama once said ” The future rewards those who press on…” We have been and will continue to fight to secure a future for rhinos and wildlife.
rhinos-by-chris-fischer

Photo: Chris Fischer

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CITES Recap: the good, the bad and the ugly

The CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) 2008-2020 vision states
*they will be contributing to the conservation of wildlife as an integral part of the global ecosystem on which all life depends,
*as well as promoting transparency and wider involvement of civil society in the development of conservation policies and practices

cites-17

Are they following their vision?

Well, here’s a recap. The animals who reaped ‘benefits’ from increased protection are:

*Pangolins (trade was completely banned, and the most highly trafficked animals in the world were given highest protection status)

*African Gray Parrots (trade was completely outlawed)

*Sharks and Rays (Thirteen species of rays and Thresher and Silky sharks were given highest protection status)

In addition, proposals to grant legal trade in ivory and/or horn in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland were denied.

But the disheartening news was the denial of CITES to grant the highest level of protection to:

*Elephants 

*Rhinos 

*Lions 

An added issue for lions is the trade in captive bred lion parts remains legal. This perpetuates the Asian demand, and serves as an added incentive for South Africa to continue breeding farms. (Currently there are approximately 7,000 lions kept on 200 breeding farms throughout South Africa.)

seizures-of-lion-parts

© Data from UNEP-WCMC

In theory wild lion parts are not legally traded. Yet, there is no way to tell the difference between a wild lion bone and a captive lion bone. If money is to be made, bones will likely be obtained. Like a fenced in yard with surrounded by only  three sides, protection for Africa’s lion is incomplete, and proves worrisome to an even  faster decline.

In the end, the negligence to protect one species casts a shadow over the decision to protect others. It also casts doubt on the credibility and intentions of our CITES delegates.

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President Zuma at CITES. South Africa has been accused of “selling out” both elephants in lions in their votes against added protection. Photos by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth

 

There is no necessity in trading lion parts, wild or captive. To perpetuate a market and feed a false cultural perception is not only ethically questionable, but also sends a mixed message in the overall trade of wildlife products. Why is one species an acceptable “commodity” over another? And if a species becomes “captive bred”, is the door open for that species to be traded as well?

lion-farm-by-one-green-planet

Currently there are approximately 7,000 lions kept on 200 breeding farms throughout South Africa photo: One Green Planet

For Appendices ratings, just how low do the numbers have to get for us to act? The Northern White Rhinos are a perfect example of the error in waiting too long. There are 3 left. They were never afforded protection in time. Why isn’t their predicament enough; does history teach us nothing?

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Only three Northern White Rhinos remain, all living in Kenya at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. photo: Brent Stirton/Nat Geo

(It is important to note that upgrading lions to the Appendix I status would ONLY have affected wild lions, and would not have afforded protection to their captive cousins.)

 

 

 

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What would Trump’s presidency mean for wildlife?

Trump’s opinion on the Environmental Protection Agency:

TRUMP: Environmental Protection, what they do is a disgrace. Every week they come out with new regulations.

Q: Who’s going to protect the environment?

TRUMP: We’ll be fine with the environment. We can leave a little bit, but you can’t destroy businesses.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2015 Coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Oct 18, 2015

Trump and son Justin Appenzeller

Trump and son at an interview with Field & Stream. photo: Justin Appenzeller

On the governmental budgeting and handling of public lands, Trump eludes to leaning on his sons (avid trophy hunters and defenders of the killing of Cecil the Lion) for advice:

 “..the good thing is, I’m in a family where I have—I mean, I’m a member of the NRA, but I have two longtime members of the NRA. They’ve been hunting from the time they were five years old and probably maybe even less than that. And they really understand it. And I like the fact that, you know, I can sort of use them in terms of—they know so much about every single element about every question that you’re asking. And one of the things they’ve complained about for years is how badly the federal lands are maintained, so we’ll get that changed.”

During the same interview, his son Donald Trump Jr commented: “It’s really all about access. I mean, I feel like the side that’s the anti-hunting crowd, they’re trying to eliminate that access—make it that much more difficult for people to get the next generation in.”

On his sons’ trophy hunting:

trump boys kill leopard by hunting legends

Trump sons in one of several known trophy hunts. photo: Hunting Legends

“My sons love to hunt. They are members of the NRA, very proudly. I am a big believer in the Second Amendment. Eric is a hunter and I would say he puts it on a par with golf, if not  ahead of golf.”

Source: Daily Mail

On the building of the “wall” separating the US and Mexico:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service predicts that a solid barrier running along the entire U.S.-Mexico land border, like the “great, great wall” that Donald Trump wants to build, would affect 111 endangered species, 108 migratory bird species, and four wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries. That would be an ecological disaster..

Source: Slate.com

Trump on Circus elephants:

TRUMP circ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump on climate change:

Throughout the campaign Trump has challenged the urgency of addressing climate change using a variety of explanations from saying that the issue was “created by and for the Chinese” and that he believes climate change is merely weather. His energy policy proposals—to the extent that he has any—suggest a similar view. He has promised to “cancel” the Paris Agreement to address climate change and to expand the use of coal.

Source: Time

AYR, SCOTLAND - JULY 30: Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump drives a golf buggy during his visits to his Scottish golf course Turnberry on July 30, 2015 in Ayr, Scotland. Donald Trump answered questions from the media at a press conference held in his hotel. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Although Trump has called climate change a hoax, he recently set out to build a seawall to protect his golf course from it’s effects. Photo: Jeff Mitchaell/Getty images

 

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dear Ms. Edna Molewa,

We are an US-based non-profit dedicating efforts to secure a future for the world’s rhino. Half-way across the world, and not part of the all-important “South African” voters. But concerned citizens of the world none-the less.

We understand very well that the issue of wildlife poaching will not be easily or quickly solved. It is a multi-faceted issue involving anti-poaching strategies, education in Asian communities, and legal commitment from various countries. It is the last part of this puzzle which perhaps is the most frustrating.

Legal commitment can only be changed, affected or implemented by governments. Being home to the majority of the world’s remaining rhinos, it is South Africa’s responsibility and obligation to set the tone by enacting strict regulations, restrictions and ultimately consequences to combat poaching.

Legal trade has been an agenda on the table in your office for a lengthy amount of time. Without getting into all the of usual points of debate (as I’m sure you’re aware), ultimately  it is not something agreeable by CITES or much of the general public. It has also been historically shown as a dismal failure in the past when after the last “legal” trade on ivory occurred, poaching had actually risen. Repeating the same action bears the probability of devastating consequences to remaining rhino and elephant populations.

We recently sent you a tweet on the matter, only to be blocked. Tell me how we are to have faith in your government’s system when a simple tweet offends/upsets/annoys you? WE are upset, we are passionate, and we only want answers.

On behalf of Fight for Rhinos, we support Terri Stander’s request to receive updated information on poaching arrests and convictions.

Too much has been denied, hidden, changed and twisted in the news to convince us that the government is doing what is in the best interest of wildlife. Yes, you have South African issues, but THIS is a world issue. And the world needs its wildlife. Firstly it is about the rhinos, but it also about the elephants, lions, and the entire environment. As Minister of ENVIRONMENTAL Affairs, surely you must understand the importance of it all.

Please explain why the government continues to pursue trade…what is actually being DONE, not just talked about? What can the world do to help you?

Sincerely,

Tisha Wardlow
Fight for Rhinos

Rhino and babe by chris minihane

photo by Chris Minihane

 

 

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Call for Presidential Protection for Rhinos

jacob zumaThe South African Presidents office has called on us to let him know what we would like to hear him say during this weeks State Of The Nation address.

Protecting the world’s largest wild rhino population rests heavily South Africa’s shoulders. Respectfully let President Zuma know it’s time to stop brushing poaching under the rug. A little political will would go a long way!

Tweet  your suggestions to @PresidencyZA #SONA2015

Go to The Presidency South Africa and submit your comments under “contact us”.

 

international rhino

 

 

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Update on South Africa’s “Strategic Rhino Management Plan”

Five months ago Edna Molewa, South Africa’s Minister of Environmental Affairs, announced the “Strategic Rhino Management Plan”. It comprised elements of better intelligence and law enforcement involvement, strengthened anti-poaching efforts, and translocating rhinos into safer zones.

After the worst year of poaching in history, Molewa reported on the progress of the strategy in a media briefing today.

Here are the highlights:

Translocation Update: The program is ongoing and continues to be a success. In the last quarter of 2014, 56 rhinos had been moved out of poaching hotspots and translocated from certain areas within the Kruger National Park (KNP) to an Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ) as well as well as to other more secure areas .

In addition, approximately 100 rhinos have been translocated to neighboring States during 2014, through both private partnerships and government initiatives.

rhino relocation cornel can heerden

Rhino relocation  (Cornel Van Heerden)

Rhino Sales Update: Twenty bids were received during the SANParks tender process for the purchase of white rhino from the Kruger National Park.

Proceeds from the sale of rhino will be allocated to a ring-fenced fund that will be ploughed into conservation projects, including rhino conservation.

Security and habitat suitability assessments are to be carried out following site inspections at the properties owned by the leading bidders.

Proactive anti-poaching initiatives: During 2014 there was increased collaboration between provincial, national and international law-enforcement agencies, as well as the criminal justice system and prosecution service.

Protection Zones, including the Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ) have been set up and are fully functional.

An Intelligence Working Group on Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWG), coordinated by the National Intelligence Coordination Committee (NICOC) has been established and has started work.

forensics at rhino poaching courtesy of kruger

Forensics plays a large part in prosecution of rhino poachers. (Sibongile Khumalo)

 

Forensics: Space for the SAPS Environmental Forensic Laboratory has been identified.

Funding has been transferred to the University of Pretoria Veterinary Genetics Lab to increase capacity to process rhino DNA routine samples and to cover the costs of DNA kits

Forensic trailers have been procured and are in the process of being fitted with equipment and branded.

Arrests, investigations and prosecutions: The number of alleged poachers, couriers and syndicate members arrested has risen from 343 in 2013 to 386 in 2014.

A conviction rate of 61 per cent was secured: a figure we as the DEA remains confident will be improved. At the end of October 2014, with six months to go, the conviction rate stood at 50 per cent.

In addition there was mention of additional “training programs” at the airports and with magistrates, as well as community involvement initiatives.

molewa file picture

Molewa 2014

 

According to Molewa: “We as the Department of Environmental Affairs remain confident that the integrated strategic management of rhinoceros plan is bearing fruit.

However, in the light of increased poaching numbers, it is clear that existing interventions need to be strengthened.

As we count the cost not only in terms of financial costs, but also loss of human life and risks to national security; it is important to re-emphasise that South Africa and other countries impacted by these activities, cannot win this fight alone.”

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rhino “Safekeeping” in Question

runnin rhinos

It’s no secret that South Africa has been gunning for legal trade in rhino horn. This has been their agenda all along. But with the recent CITES convention, independent analysis from varying groups and global public pressure; it’s evident they may not get their way.

Yet rhino continue to be slaughtered. So what options do they have?

They could have stricter laws against poaching. Straight jail time with no chance at a lessened sentence or parole would be a good start. Prosecutors who specialize in poaching and trafficking crime, who have no choice but to implement the stricter law, and a shoot-to-kill policy for their rangers, combined with immunity for those rangers put in a shooting situation.

Zuma could direct funding toward supplies for rangers and APUs, and work in tandem with other countries to stop the massacre. As President, he has the power to set the tone by conveying a no tolerance policy.

BUT instead they choose to send the rhinos away. Mr. Zuma “Is it really easier to change locations for hundreds of one ton animals instead of changing laws?”

zuma meme 2

Still, this move could almost be applauded if they were only being moved to a country like Botswana, a country with a no-tolerance, shoot-to-kill policy against poachers. A country where trophy hunting is now obsolete, a place further away from the scourge of poachers thriving in Mozambique.

BUT losing out on the money that legal trade would’ve given them, they have to make it up somehow. So half of the rhino being moved, are being sold to hunting safaris. (This move, which was denied repeatedly by SANParks and Edna Molewa, has been in the works since November of 2013 according to Oxpeckers)

hunter in sun

Winterhoek , Chapunga and Steyn Safaris are the three in contract with the rhino purchases.

Like a bad episode of Lost, the twists and turns in the rhino saga continue to respond to questions with yet more questions. The corruption and mere incompetence continue to leave the world shaking their heads and wondering at the outcome.

Is there really no super power to swoop in and save the day? Can no one step in, take the reins from these bumbling fools and say “Enough!”?

Attorney Christopher Bean, Terri Stander, Shadow Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, and Allison Thomson of OSCAP have requested an urgent investigation into these contracts with the hunting safaris.  Hope for a more reasonable outcome lies with them.

For more on the rhino move, see SANParks Allegedly Sold Rhinos to Hunting Farms for ‘Safekeeping’

Wildlife SA cartoon WAR

via WAR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Molewa with rhino

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Good News, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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