News From Africa
News From Africa
Cameroon's Forestry and Wildlife Minister and Chad's Environment Minister have signed an agreement in August to increase elephant protection in a combined protected area of more than 300,000 ha stretching over Cameroon's Bouba Ndjidda Park and Chad's Sena Oura Park. There are approximately 3,000 elephant left on the Chad side and only 300 elephants in Cameroon's portion.
Once again Kenya and some animal welfare organisations set up a show for the world-media and burnt 5 tons of impounded ivory. The 300 tusks arriving from Kenya had been confiscated in Singapore 10 years ago. Such show events demonstrate that those range-countries who have failed most in elephant conservation at home are on the forefront of global emotional campaigning against legal ivory trade.
The CBD Liaison Group on Bushmeat and the CITES Central Africa Bushmeat Working Group met in June 2011 in Nairobi, Kenya . The "empty forest syndrome" - a loss of forest fauna has reached critical levels in many countries across the tropics and sub-tropics. Population growth, poverty in rural areas and the absence of livelihood alternatives, increased urban consumption, forestry activities, and extractive industries in remote forests are all contributing to unsustainable levels of commercial and subsistence meat hunting. The increasing scale and commercialization of bushmeat use is also posing a severe threat to the food security, customary practices, livelihoods, and cultural and spiritual identity of indigenous peoples and local communities. The full report of the Joint Meeting of the CBD Liaison Group on Bushmeat and the CITES Central Africa Bushmeat Working Group is available on the CBD website.
In July the entire Hoaruseb of desert lion pride was poisoned in the Kunene region. It is suspected that strychnine was used, but test results are pending (see www.desertlion.info). The lions formed part of intense studies and monitoring for a number of years, providing valuable data on desert lions.
Hunting as a way of life may save wildlife in Namibia, suggested a report of the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC. Trade in bushmeat all over Africa has been seen as a major threat to wildlife, but in Namibia, the report says, a vibrant bushmeat trade could be sustainable. "On privately owned farmlands in Namibia, large quantities (between 16-26 million kilograms) of game meat are produced annually, most of which is used domestically," the report said. "Making supplies of affordable game meat available to residents of communal land ... in farming areas may help reduce wildlife poaching," researcher Peter Lindsey said and added 努ildlife-based land uses are potentially less risky than livestock production because ... not so dependent on rainfall ... and because wild animals are better adapted to Namibia's harsh environment."
Early September two leopard skins from Namibia were seized bu USF&WS. According to informed sources, USF&WS maintains that Namibian tag donot comply with CITES regulations as the quota info is being hand etched on the tag, rather than stamped. USF&WS HQ made a decision that tags do not comply with CITES wording of original stamp.
The Western Cape Government announced in June on the eve of the first game auction in the recent history of the Western Cape that the Western Cape's ecotourism industry is set to receive a major boost with the imminent introduction of animals such as rhino, buffalo and giraffe. Game species indigenous to South Africa, which were not allowed into the Western Cape Province in terms of the previous Mammalian Translocation Policy, are now allowed following amendments to CapeNature's policy now known as the Game Translocation and Utilization Policy (GTUP). The result is amongst others, extended ranges for certain game species such as bontebok, blesbok, black wildebeest, gemsbok and kudu and the legal translocation of species including giraffe and rhino. Certain game species can now be brought in, provided the associated ecological and environmental risks in CapeNature's policy are adequately addressed and managed. The criteria to move and manage certain species across the Province remain strict and transport, import and export permits from CapeNature are always needed.
In February, Tanzania submitted a request for a modification to the boundaries of the Selous Game Reserve. The 50,000 km2 reserve, one of the largest remaining wilderness areas with the largest remaining elephant population in Africa, has been inscribed on the World Heritage List since 1982. The request for modification of boundaries concerns the exclusion of an area of 19,793 ha on the southern boundary and has been motivated by plans to mine uranium deposits. The World Heritage Committee has warned Tanzania not to start mining and not to continue with dam building plans in the Selous Game Reserve, before it has provided hard data on the ecological consequences. Otherwise the Reserve may be declared a "World Heritage Site in Danger". Tanzania was also requested to firm up its commitment to secure and enhance the continued effectiveness of the Selous-Niassa corridor as a key feature to maintaining the long-term integrity of the Selous GR.
In the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCAA) Maasai community elders and the Ngorongoro Pastoralist Council told the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism that the tribe was living in constant fear of attacks from wild beasts. "We cannot defend ourselves because it is illegal to kill wild animals, the penalty is 20 years in prison," said Maasai representatives and recalled that the same issue arose in Tarangire National Park 2 years ago. "If the situation continues, we won't be surprised if people here start poisoning animals," they warned. NCAA which covers 8,300 km2 is the only park in the country where ca. 50,000 Maasai with 13,660 cattle and 20,000 goats and sheep are permitted to coexist alongside wildlife.. Lions, leopards and hyenas have been described as principal hazard to people and livestock. The Maasai demand hefty compensation for livestock lost. The Minister pointed out that through the revised Wildlife Act 5 of 2009 the government will be paying owners compensation of Shs 50,000/- for every cow, Shs 25,000 for goats, sheep, lambs or donkeys and Shs 10,000/- for poultry. The Minister also mentioned that after banning farming in the area in 2009, the Government is now conducting research on subsistence farming addressing a request by local residents that subsistence farming is allowed in the conservation area.
The Tanzanian Government banned the export of live animals for one year, after it had come under heavy fire in Parliament due to the smuggling of an estimated 120 animals out of Arusha aboard a Qatari military cargo plane last year. The recently appointed Director of Wildlife, Obeid Mbangwa was suspended. Mbangwa had been the Director of the utilization section in the Wildlife Department at that time. Tanzania is one of the major exporters of live animals, in particular birds, in the world with180 firms holding a license. Many of them are not able to keep the animals under appropriate conditions and the mortality of birds is high. Illegal exports have been frequent. James Lembeli, chairman of Parliament's Lands, Natural Resources and Environment Committee and a former staff member of TANAPA, said when reacting to the ministry's budget proposals that the animals were smuggled out of the country by a syndicate comprising Wildlife Department officials and foreigners. The scandal happened in the midst of hot political discussions about the new allocation of hunting blocks. Presently the Government is in the final stage to decide about the allocation of blocks, with Tanzania nationals receiving favorable consideration. The opposition in Parliament criticized this. The problem in the past has been that many Tanzanians had received blocks due to political connections, but were unable to manage safari hunting and consequently subleased their block to foreign professional hunters. This led to corruption and unsustainable hunting practices.
Two containers with a yet unknown number of elephant tusks en route to Malaysia were impounded at Zanzibar port on August 23rd. It was only said that they were hidden in 132 bags of dried fish from Mwanza and that the cargo was being transferred by people of Chinese origin.
Britain has secured international agreement to clamp down on the illegal rhino horn trade and will lead a global CITES steering group. The UK will support a workshop in South Africa in September to develop better co-operation between countries where rhinos are poached and those where their horns are sold. Last September UK authorities detected a rise in the number of rhino horn products sold through auction houses and issued a warning that almost all applications to export such items would be refused. Under these rules, backed by the EU, licenses are granted only if the item's artistic value exceeds its potential black market value, if it is part of a genuine exchange of goods between institutions such as museums, if it is being taken as an heirloom by a family moving country, or if it is part of a bona fide research project.
Gonarezhou National Park, which is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, has seen an alarming upsurge in cross-border elephant poaching. Late last year 10 elephants were killed in Gonarezhou and at least 6 more are said to have been killed in the same area in the last month alone. In May a report emerged that ZANU PF is linked to a complex, international syndicate that is specializing in the trafficking and poaching of Zimbabwe's wildlife. According the Daily News, ZANU PF officials are part of an "intricate web of international trafficking in wildlife that has raised the hackles of animal lovers and wildlife conservationists." The party's involvement has been revealed in the ongoing case against a group dubbed the "Musina Mafia," which is believed to be Africa's biggest rhino, elephant and lion poaching syndicate. 11 members of the group were arrested in South African border town Musina last year and are facing charges of poaching, illegal gun possession and other crimes. Their boss, the SA citizen Dawie Groenewald, has connections with top ZANU PF officials who have been implicated in poaching rings since before 2003.