Posts Tagged With: Sudan

Baby rhino gives Sudan new lease on life

The baby southern white rhino was abandoned by mom and found by the Ol Pejeta team when he was only 2 weeks old. Very sick and barely alive, he has made an amazing recovery with the help of caretakers.

Named Ringo, after rhino advocate Ringo Starr, he has been introduced to Sudan, the last male northern white rhino on the planet. The two make quite the pair. Click below to watch more:

ringo rhino opc

 Photo By: Camilla Le May Photography

Categories: Rhino Ramblings, Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Rape and Pillage of Africa’s Wildlife

The Chinese are welcomed into parts of Africa with increasing regularity to “work” and “aid” Africans with economic gains. With the intent of modernizing infrastructures (roads and railways), or to mine minerals or to offer government incentives, they have become integrated into at least 24 countries across the dark continent over the last five years.

chinese investment in africa 2010

A delicate and controversial marriage to say the least, as they seemingly covet Africa’s jobs, land and minerals.

One thing that cannot be denied is the boldness with which they have exploited Africa’s wildlife. According to Born Free USA,  “Chinese illicit ivory traffickers in particular have been arrested across nearly every single African range state, and operate at nearly every point along the ivory supply chain.”

Tanzania – In a report from the Environmental Investigation Agency, interviews with poachers claim they have sold ivory to members of the Chinese Embassy. It also links a surge in the Tanzanian ivory market during an official visit from a Chinese naval task force and even claims that members of President Xi Jinping’s entourage smuggled ivory out of Tanzania on the presidential plane during his visit in March 2013.

 Republic of Congo – Asian migrant laborers are involved in the logging industry here (70-75% of which is illegal), and are in direct contact with elephants and other area wildlife. It has been suspected their presence has been responsible for increased poaching.

congolese worker watched by chinese foreman

Congolese worker being watched by Chinese foreman. photo: Saturday’s Daily Telegraph

Mathieu Eckel, head of the APU in Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Congo has been watching activity of the Chinese construction camps in the area. He said “We’ve had many stories that involve local poachers and Chinese, but to get the Chinese you have to find them with the ivory”.

In previous attempts where workers in the area had been caught red-handed, corruption or incompetence of Congolese Prosecution has led to no charges being filed. (CNN Report)

Gabon – After seeing elephant skins hanging outside a construction camp, rangers raided the camp and seized carved chopsticks, horns sheared from a Bongo antelope, the scales of a pangolin, a quantity of unworked ivory, and breakfast: several servings of roasted elephant trunk.

Lee White, the head of Gabon National Parks said, “The suspicion is they were hiding the finished pieces (of ivory) in timber containers which were being shipped to China.”

Zimbabwe – Perhaps one of the most controversial and heartbreaking moves comes from the government allowing China to come into the National Park and remove elephants for their zoos, many of them have been infants ripped from their mothers. Zimbabwe’s defense- the sale of the elephants is needed to raise funds for conservation efforts. 

Zimbabwe elephant herd

A herd of African elephants drinking at a muddy waterhole in Hwange national Park in Zimbabwe. Photograph: Zdenek Maly/Alamy

Rhinos of course have also been a target. John Pameri, head of security and chief ranger at the Lewa Conservancy in Kenya believes the recent influx of Chinese construction workers into Kenya has helped to renew awareness among locals and crime networks that rhino horns can be sold for thousands of pounds on the black market.

“Our local intelligence suggests some of the poachers come from Somalia, but the demand is from the Chinese workers,” Pameri stated.

lewa rhino

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is one of the two main rhino sanctuaries in East Africa. Luckily in 2014, with high security, they managed to evade any poaching incidents. photo: Lewa Conservancy

The Kenya Wildlife Service has also noted a correlation between the influx of Chinese labour and poaching, and has blamed the crisis on the increasing number of Chinese nationals living in Kenya. (There are currently between 3000-10000 Chinese living in Kenya).

Other victims found at these construction sites include giraffes, pythons, leopards and even local dogs being poached and consumed by the workers. In Zimbabwe authorities found 40 rare tortoises at a worker’s home, most of which were merely skeletal remains left after consumption.

But the culprits are not just in the construction sector, Chinese merchants often sell cheap trinkets and clothing in small shops throughout Africa, but the real money is in their back door business of wildlife trade. One such area revealed in an investigation by Hongxiang Huang and Oxpeckers exposed Katima, Namibia as a central hub of trading between trans-border African smugglers and Chinese shop keepers and traders.

Many of these shop owners are linked to the ivory trade in the guise of buying and selling of ivory souvenirs and artifacts for export and sale to tourists, which is perceived to be legal.

South Africa is seeing the largest flux of Chinese migrants. Wildlife trafficking syndicates here continue to brazenly sell rhino horn and ivory at the Chinese markets in SA’s own capital cities, even in the face of global attempts to crack down on the illicit trade in endangered species.

The Chinese have a poor track record when it comes to wildlife conservation, but African countries must accept responsibility for protecting their own wildlife. The price of losing the land and animals is too great to pay for any economic gain.

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Building Bridges or Killing Elephants?

China’s ever-increasing presence in African countries can’t be ignored. Since the 90’s, China has been staking its claim in oil, infrastructure and mining projects across the dark continent. What does their business mean to Africans? Is this an economic investment or a global takeover? Either way, what can’t be denied is the environmental sabotage in their wake. (See previous post: Africa’s Asian Invasion)

They have built  controversial damns across the continent (Gabon, Ghana, Zambia, Ethiopia, and Sudan) which have had adverse environmental impact. For example, in Ghana  the  Bui Dam Project  is flooding nearly a quarter of the Bui National Park, destroying habitat for rare hippos, forcibly resettling 2,600 people and affecting thousands more.

bui dam

Bui Dam

They are also responsible  for long-term river and farmland pollution from mining projects in South Africa and Ghana.  One recent project, the China-Africa Sunlight Energy has received permission to mine coal in  Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.  This is a delicate and crucial wildlife area that mining will likely damage, as well as exposing the wild animals to poaching.

But perhaps the most obvious infraction on mother nature is in the killing of the elephants to smuggle their ivory.

Chinese construction camps in Africa have long been suspected of smuggling ivory. A CNN report reveals that numerous camps in the Republic of Congo and neighbouring countries are suspected of facilitating the large-scale ivory trade.

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Rangers hunting the hunters in the Congo.

Although workers at the camps have at times been caught red-handed, prosecution does not come easy. Actual investigation of the camps is even more difficult, as in once incident  a regional prosecutor blocked an anti-poaching unit from searching a camp – even though ivory pieces were found there.

According to  CNN, when asked about the incident, the prosecutor said the search was halted because the translator for the Chinese was away and they couldn’t conduct a search without explaining to the Chinese why it was happening.

Many of these camps are set up near small villages, which have their own track record of poaching involvement.  Poor villagers, ivory-hungry workers-a potent combination; but add in law enforcement turning a blind eye, it’s a complete disaster.

tbd

Ranger examining elephant trunk after poaching in the Congo.

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…And Then There Were Four

armed guard rhinos

Ol Pejeta-Like rockstars of the conservancy, the Northern White Rhinos live surrounded by 24 hour bodyguards watching their every move. The four rhinos have an extraordinary relationship with the team of armed guards who lean on them, scratch them, and display affection for them.

But the extreme desperate truth is that thanks to poaching,  these are the last 4 Northern White Rhinos left on the planet.  There are two males; 37-year-old Sudan and 31-year-old Suni and two females; 22-year-old Najin and her daughter 13-year-old Fatu.

The rhinos were moved to Ol Pejeta as a final chance. It is the hope that the natural environment of the reservation will activate hormones in the two females, encouraging breeding attempts.  Recently Najin and Suni were seen mating, which needless to say is remarkable news. The entire survival of their kind rests on them-the situation could not possibly be more urgent or tragic.

The White Rhinos are divided into two sub-species; the northern (the four at the conservancy) and the southern. There are approximately 14,000 of the southern species left.

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