News From Africa 2009

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  1. AFRICAN INDABA

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    News From Africa 2009

    Asian nations, principally China, South Korea and India, buy up vast tracts of African land at rock-bottom prices. A study by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), commissioned by FAO and the IFAD investigated cases in Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Madagascar and Sudan, finding that land-based investment has been rising in the past 5 years, totaling about 2.5-million ha. The report found that there are no known examples of single Chinese land acquisitions in Africa in excess of 50,000ha. China’s “friendship farms” in various African countries are formally owned by a Chinese parastatal organization, but are mostly medium-scale, usually below 1,000ha in extent. For the most part Asian countries and companies are buying up African land to help them bolster food and energy security at home. China wants to grow palm oil for biofuel on 2.8-million ha in DR Congo, and also proposed growing biofuels on 2 million ha in Zambia. The report found that many countries do not have adequate mechanisms to protect local rights and shore up local interests, livelihoods and welfare. Media reports have estimated that this year a million Chinese farm laborers will be working in Africa.

    Africa
    Elephant Export Quotas 2009 (04/03/09)
    (Tusks and other trophies)
    Botswana 400 animals
    Cameroon 80 animals
    Mozambique 60 animals
    Namibia 90 animals
    South Africa 150 animals
    Tanzania 200 animals
    Zambia 20 animals
    Zimbabwe 500 animals
    (Link to Export Quota .pdf File)

    Angola
    The Minister of Environment Fátima Jardim released the first guidebook on Angolan Mammals. The project is being implemented by the Unit of Biodiversity Management and Co-ordination of the Ministry of Environment and aims at reinforcing the management and inspection of conservation areas in Angola, through the training of human resources in the process of rehabilitating and managing the Angolan biodiversity.

    China/Japan
    The first 100 tons of ivory have arrived in the designated ports; China received its shipment (approx. 60 tons) in March and Japan received its shipment (approx. 40 tons) in April. Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, will share an amount of approximately US$16 million which will be devoted to enhance community development and to further conservation of African elephants and the habitats they share with people.

    Democratic Republic of the Congo
    The Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI) and the government of the DRC announced the establishment of the 4,875 km2 Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve, a community-managed protected area which harbors one of the largest known wild populations of the endangered bonobo (Pan paniscus). Found only in the DRC, bonobos inhabit the heart of Africa’s Congo Basin. The reserve is the model site for the Bonobo Peace Forest, a proposed constellation of community-based nature reserves.

    Eritrea
    Elephants in Eritrea are the most northerly distributed population in Africa occurring in areas like Antore, along the Setit River and the riverine areas of Gash River from Augaro to Haykota. Currently their number is believed to be around 150. Eritrea is also home to rare wildlife species like the Nubian Ibex and African wild ass.

    Kenya
    Kenyan authorities seized 300kg of elephant tusks and rhino horn hidden in coffins at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. This large haul, valued at approximately $ 1-million, is thought to have either come from Tanzania or South Africa and was headed for Laos. Officials of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) however speculate that the load’s final destination was indeed China.

    Kenya
    KWS Head of Species Conservation and Management Patrick Omondi says Kenya had more than 20,000 African lions in 1963. It dropped to 2,749 in 2002 and stood at 1,970 last year. The African elephant numbers stood at 167,000 in 1963 before dropping to 16,000 in 1989, recovering to 32,000 today. Cheetahs and wild dogs roamed the bushlands in tens of thousands in the 1980s, but today there are only 1,160 cheetahs and 800 wild dogs left. KWS data show the country has only 100 roan antelopes, confined at Ruma National Park, in the 80s more than 20,000 roamed the country. Sable antelopes have been reduced from 10,000 in the same period to less than 200 today, while the population of the Hirola antelope has fallen from 14,000 in 1970 to 600 today. The Grevy’s Zebra population, only found in Kenya and Ethiopia, has fallen from more than 20,000 in 1970 to less than 1,800 today.

    Mali
    The future of the northernmost herd of 350 to 450 desert elephants in Gourma/Mali is under threat from a relentless drought. The elephants are being forced to trek extreme distances across the fringes of the Sahara to find scarce water. Very few options now exist for finding water and elephants undertake erratic movements further and further afield as they desperately search for water and forage.

    The WILD Foundation, in collaboration with the Direction Nationale de la Conservation de la Nature (DNCN), have monitored these last rare desert elephants using 9 GPS collars. Two pumps already exist at Banzena.

    Mozambique
    Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia have agreed that the three countries will jointly manage the natural resources in their cross border conservation areas. The preparation of this cross-border conservation area, to be known as ZIMOZA, has dragged on for more than 7 years and the document from the tourism ministries must be submitted to the justice authorities in each country, to ensure that it is in conformity with their legal systems, and only then will it be formally signed. The joint management will cover such matters as fishing, hunting, access to water and the conservation of local cultural heritage prioritizing community participation. On the Mozambican side, the districts of Magoe and Zumbo, in Tete province, and much of Cahora Bassa lake are within the conservation area.

    Mozambique
    Bushpigs and warthogs are favored prey of lions in Niassa and major pests for subsistence farmers. Lions are being enticed into the fields by the pigs and this brings them into close contact with people, increasing the chances of lion attack. The wet season is a peak period of lion attacks and the majority of attacks occur in the fields or villages. A few farmers in Niassa are building bamboo fences to keep bushpigs out and NCP wanted to test how effective these fences were. Just before the rains arrived NCP held a community meeting in Mbamba Village with traditional leaders and elders. In December, NCP and members of the community built the test fences. So far (March 2009) no bushpigs have broken through but the rains are late this year and the peak period of crop damage is still to come. If these fences are successful at keeping the bushpigs out then our next task must be to ensure bamboo can be harvested sustainably and to spread the message to other communities (Source: Niassa Carnivore News).

    Mozambique
    Between 1969 and 2007 lions attacked people on 18 occasions in the north eastern section of the reserve around Negomano village with 13 attacks since 2000 and a peak of six attacks in 2006. Surprisingly there were no further attacks in 2007 and 2008. Conversations with the communities showed that the majority of the attacks were on adult men. Risk factors included sleeping outside in fields and in the village, walking alone at night, chasing bushpigs and warthogs out of fields at night, walking to the toilet at night and provoked attacks when hunting lions or after they have been caught in a snare. After the 2006 lion attacks, people changed their behavior by building high bamboo and grass walls around their homes, stronger houses in the fields or decided to sleep in the village rather than the fields. In some cases people abandoned isolated fields all together. In 2009 a similar survey will be done in the Mavago-Msawize village complex in the west of Niassa completing the human-lion conflict surveys. (Source: Niassa Carnivore News).

    Mozambique
    Niassa Reserve has several sport hunting concessions within the protected area boundary. These concessions provide essential income to SRN for management and conservation activities and to Niassa communities. NCP provides independent assessment of the lion and leopard trophies and collects information on hunting effort to ensure the sport hunting of lions and leopards in Niassa is sustainable. Each year we age and assess all lion and leopard trophies before they leave the protected area. We have also been working in collaboration with professional hunters, and SRN to develop lion hunting regulations and validate ways for hunters to accurately age animals in the field from manes, nose pigmentation and general body condition.

    Over the past 5 years the number of underage (younger than six years old) lions taken as trophies has dropped from 75% of the quota to zero in 2008. All four of the lions taken as trophies in 2008 were over the age of six. This means that the sport hunting of lions in Niassa is unlikely to be having any negative effects on the lion population at present. We commend all professional hunters, Niassa sport hunting operators and SRN for their commitment to sustainable lion hunting. (Source: Niassa Carnivore News).

    Namibia
    The Boards of Trustees of the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) and the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN) have recently resolved to create a strategic alliance between these two organizations and, in so doing, to create a “Namibia Institute for Sustainable Development” which will incorporate both the NNF and DRFN. While NNF and DRFN will continue to work in their individual capacities, the “Namibia Institute for Sustainable Development” will provide an umbrella mechanism for coordination and collaboration.

    Namibia
    Namibia will not be issuing any more CITES export permits for leopard during the remainder of the 2009 season as per information received from the Namibia Professional Hunting Association in June. The 2009 CITES export quota has been exhausted and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism will not issue any more permits for trophy hunt leopards.

    South Africa
    Three white rhino hunted in Dwesa Nature Reserve on the Wild Coast in early May as part of a phased removal of alien species by the Eastern Cape Parks Board (ECPB).

    The news had raised rumblings of surprise and concern in hunting and conservation circles, but the board‘s scientific services head Dr Dave Balfour said “the decision to hunt them was only made as a last resort after the feasibility of capturing them had been discounted due to the difficult nature of the terrain and the unusual behavior of the rhino in the area. Dwesa is managed by the board, but the application to hunt and the permits issued were dealt with by the department of environmental affairs.” Balfour also confirmed that proper hunting permits had been issued.

    The ECPB 2007/2008 annual report states that giraffe, blue wildebeest, blesbuck and other species need to be culled, hunted or sold in keeping with national legislation, because they do not belong in the area now called the Eastern Cape.

    South Africa
    The 2009 Ezemvelo auction of more than 1,600 animals fetched 13 million Rand (1.1 million € or 1.4 million US$) in Pietermaritzburg/South Africa, exceeding the hopes of organizers since prices were generally down during the past six months Rhinos prices fell about 20%, but Springbok saw a doubling of price. Last year's auction reached 14 million Rand.

    South Africa
    South Africa has been about 2% hotter and at least 6% drier over the last ten years than during the 1970s. This change may not seem significant, but for South Africa, where already over 90% of the land is arid or semi-arid, there is little scope for comfort, as both the frequency and severity of droughts are likely to increase as a consequence of climate change. (S. Afr. J. Sci, 105 (1/2), 24-68.)

    South Africa
    New regulations for the marking of rhino horn and the hunting of white rhino have been gazetted in the Government Gazette. All rhino horns will be micro chipped measured and photographed. DNA samples will now also be kept by provincial authorities.

    South Africa
    Applications of U.S. hunters for enhancement import permits for scimitar horned oryx taken at game ranches in South Africa are denied and will continue to be denied by the USF&WS. It is extremely unlikely that import permits will ever be granted. The scimitar horned oryx has been listed as endangered on the ESA. Since the scimitar horned oryx is not a native species of South Africa, the authorities want it eliminated under the newly introduced TOPs.

    South Africa
    Delta Airlines has announced that its non-stop flights between its main hub in Atlanta in the USA and Johannesburg commenced with the arrival of its new larger aircraft the Boeing 777LR on June 02.

    South Africa
    The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization awarded Vhembe in South Africa biosphere reserve status. Vhembe, inhabited mainly by Venda, Shangaan and Sepedi people, is world renowned for its rich cultural and biological diversity. The area includes the northern part of the Kruger National Park, Makuleke Wetlands Ramsar Site, the Soutpansberg and Blouberg bio-diversity hot spots, as well as the Mapungube Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site and the Makgabeng Plateau with more than 1,000 rock art sites. Human activities in the site are predominately agricultural, including production of subtropical fruits and vegetables, cattle and game farming and hunting.

    South Africa
    On 24 June, 2009 at approximately 17h00 a gang of 5 or 6 armed males held up several members of the Addo Elephant National Park staff and forced the Conservation Manager to open the walk-in safe so that they could gain access to the rhino horn stock. The Addo rhino horn stock and 3 motor vehicles were stolen during the robbery. Two of the stolen vehicles were later found abandoned. A combined SAP, SANParks and Eastern Cape Conservation investigation is underway.

    Tanzania
    30 years after being categorized among the 'World Heritage Sites,' Ngorongoro Conservation area, with its legendary wildlife-filled crater is in danger of being 'delisted'. UNESCO's concern is the increased human activities in the conservation area topped with a population boom, driving the world's heritage site into brink of collapse. UNESCO has stipulated that the ecological deterioration within NCAA brought about by increased farming activities, infrastructural development and more than doubled number of residents with tripling herds of livestock has placed Ngorongoro in a very awkward position. The international body opposes cultivation activities within the NCA, traffic congestion into the crater at the rate of 300 vehicles per day on average, proposed major hotel constructions around the crater rim and mass tourism policy. Last year Ngorongoro received 425,000 visitors, previously the number averaged at 350,000 per annum. Matengoe Ole Tawo, an elder in the area, said that during earlier days there were plenty of wild animals, but surprisingly when the modern conservation initiative began, animals started decreasing. He advised that modern conservationists should borrow a leaf from the indigenous ones.

    Tanzania
    Residents of Mbugwe division in Babati district, Manyara region are living in fear because of attacks by elephants from the neighboring national parks. One villager was recently trampled to death. The entire Nkaiti ward used to be an animal corridor before hundreds of families settled there. The wildlife corridor links Tarangire with the neighboring Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), Serengeti National Park as well as the game reserves around Lake Natron. Tarangire NP, located some 120km south west of Arusha, has one of the largest concentrations of elephants. Up to five people have died of animal attacks in the area in the last two years.

    Tanzania
    Three black rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli) from the Czech Republic arrived in Tanzania at the Mkomazi Rhino sanctuary in Kilimanjaro region. They were transported from Amsterdam aboard a large customized cargo craft of Martinair in three huge wooden crates. The translocation cost over US $70,000 funded by the Suzuki Rhino Club of Netherlands.

    Zambia
    Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) has in the past eight years contributed more than K20 billion towards the rural developmental projects as an incentive for co-managing the wildlife in the country. Funded projects included road infrastructure, schools and clinics for the communities within Game Management Areas. The money came from income through consumptive and non-consumptive tourism activities.

    Zimbabwe
    Dubai World a state-owned company will invest in Zimbabwe’s Bubye Game Reserve where poaching has been rising as humans encroached. However, the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has refuted the media reports that Dubai World is investing in a game park in Zimbabwe.

    Zimbabwe
    Rhino poaching in the country has reached threatening levels with at least 70 rhinos slaughtered for their horns in the past 12 months. Patrols of the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority together with the police have killed four poachers and arrested several during separate contacts. However, the biggest challenge is lack of resources, particularly trained and equipped personnel, to cover the length and breadth of the parks and conservancies. The involvement of well coordinated local, regional and international syndicates in the poaching remains a worrisome fact. The resurgence in rhino poaching has attracted the attention of the CITES. Areas targeted by rhino poachers are Lake Chivero, the Midlands, Hwange and the South-Eastern Lowveld, where there were many unlicensed guns smuggled through the country's border with Mozambique.

    Zimbabwe
    Police in Masvingo at the weekend shot and killed four poachers including one believed to be a soldier, following a shootout at Ruware Conservancy in Chiredzi, bringing to 7 the number of poachers killed in the Lowveld over the past month. It is believed that the four, who were part of a group of 7 suspected poachers, wanted to kill and de-horn rhinos when they were intercepted by a police team working in conjunction with game rangers from the conservancy.

    Zimbabwe
    Three Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe security officers based at the Harare International Airport allegedly assisted a Chinese man identified as Wu Ming Quan to smuggle 500kg of ivory. The three officers detected the ivory and instead of arresting the owner, allegedly connived with three soldiers to facilitate the smuggling of 500kg of ivory from Zimbabwe to China. The ivory was detected on arrival at Beijing International Airport. The accused who are denying the allegations appeared in court, were denied bail and remanded in custody to June 18. Three National Handling Services employees at the Harare International Airport are also being investigated.

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