Posted 23 August 2012
I’ve had so many wonderful days in Africa, there was bound to be tough one.
Former Chinese NBA player and WildAid ambassador Yao Ming observes the carcass of a poached elephant in Namunyak, Kenya. Photograph: Kristian Schmidt/WildAid/EPA
Earlier this week, I witnessed how illegal ivory was obtained, along with Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid , with whom I’ve worked for several years now. With the help of Kenya Wildlife Service, we travelled via helicopter to access the carcasses. Iain Douglas-Hamilton of Save the Elephants had spotted the bodies from the air in his small plane, and marked the spot for our pilot to bring down the chopper in a dry riverbed. It was so tight we did a little hedge trimming on the way down.
Not 20 yards away, I saw the body of an elephant poached for its ivory three weeks ago. Its face had been cut off by poachers and its body scavenged by hyenas, scattering bones around the area. A sad mass of skin and bone. The smell was overwhelming and seemed to cling to us, even after we left.
I really was speechless. After seeing these animals up close and watching them interact in loving and protective family groups, it was heart wrenching and deeply depressing to see this one cruelly taken before its time.
People, like Iain, have spent their lives studying and living intimately with these animals and now, just like in 1989 before the international ivory trade was banned, they must spend their lives looking for bodies, using metal detectors to find bullets and conducting autopsies.
Before the international ivory trade ban, in addition to legal ivory from natural deaths, huge amounts of illegal ivory were laundered into the trade despite years of attempted regulation. This “regulated” trade led to the halving of elephant numbers from 1.2 million to around 600,000 in two decades. West, central and east Africa were hardest hit, while southern African populations remained stable and even increased.
Post-ban, the price of ivory fell to a quarter of its previous levels as markets in the US, Europe and much of the world, collapsed. For a number of years, elephant numbers stabilised and poaching declined. Some South African countries pushed for re-opening ivory trade for their stockpiles, but each time this was done, poaching increased again on speculation of a renewed market.
Theoretically, I’m told we could have a market in ivory supplied from elephants that die naturally. But unfortunately, with the high amount of money at stake, few will wait for the elephant to die to make a profit. There are too many people with access to weapons to do the killing here and too many people ready to buy the ivory without questioning how it was obtained.
Read the rest of this News Link:–http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/aug/23/ivory-slaughter-yao-ming
Using Chinese star power to fight ivory poaching in Africa – August 28, 2012
The biggest demand for ivory is in China, so conservationists are trying to teach Chinese consumers about poaching – with the help of Chinese celebrities like Yao Ming.
Former NBA star Yao Ming visits an elephant orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya.
The former athlete is urging his fellow Chinese to stop purchasing ivory products.
William Davies/Special to The Christian Science Monitor.
He is one of a dozen of China’s most famous actors, athletes, talk-show hosts, and musicians lending their names to recent conservation campaigns inside their homeland.
Many are directed by WildAid , a charity based in San Francisco, which uses slick television advertisements featuring these superstars and the simple slogan, “When the buying stops, the killing will too.”
Such ads are now common on Chinese television. Anti-poaching posters with similar slogans fill billboards in Chinese cities, including one hoisted above a subway station serving Guangzhou city’s famous Ivory Street.
“To win this battle against poaching, we need multiple approaches,” Yao told the Monitor during his visit to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust , which runs the elephant orphanage.
“What I am trying to do is to raise people’s awareness, to show them the reality of the ivory business. When the killing of elephants happens 10,000 miles away from you, it’s easy to hide yourself from that truth. If we show people, they will stop buying ivory. Then elephants will stop dying.”
Traditionally, the fight against poachers has been carried out by rangers patrolling Africa’s savannas and forests, and by sniffer dogs and customs officials scouring its air- and seaports.
Read the rest of this news:–http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/2012/0828/Using-Chinese-star-power-to-fight-ivory-poaching-in-Africa
Unimaginable horror as helicopter-borne poachers massacre 22 elephants before hacking off their tusks and genitals PUBLISHED: 23:35, 24 April 2012 | UPDATED: 23:53, 24 April 2012
In a scene of inconceivable horror, these slaughtered elephant carcasses show the barbaric lengths poachers will go to in their hunt for nature’s grim booty.
The bodies were among a herd of 22 animals massacred in a helicopter-borne attack by professionals who swooped over their quarry.
The scene beneath the rotor blades would have been chilling – panicked mothers shielding their young, hair-raising screeches and a mad scramble through the blood-stained bush as bullets rained down from the sky.
Barbaric: In a scene too graphic to show in full, the carcasses of some of the 22 massacred elephants lay strewn across Garamba National Park in the Congo after being gunned down by helicopter-borne poachers
When the shooting was over, all of the herd lay dead, one of the worst such killings in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo in living memory.
Conservation group TRAFFIC, which monitors the global trade in animals and plants, said 2011 was the worst year for large ivory seizures in the more than two decades it has been running a database tracking the trends.
Conservationists say there was a spike in the mid 1990s driven by emerging Chinese demand that bubbled for a few years, then dropped off as red flags were raised.
Endangered: A White Rhino and her calf walk in the dusk light in Pilanesberg National Park. More than 180 have been killed in South Africa so far this year Zimbabwe-based Tom Milliken, who manages TRAFFIC’s Elephant Trade Information System, said since 2004 ‘the trend has been escalating upwards again, dramatically so over the last three years.
‘Ben Janse van Rensburg, head of enforcement for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the international treaty that governs trade in plants and animals, said: ‘The biggest challenge is that in the last few years there has been a big shift from your ordinary poachers to your organized crime groups.
‘This was on display in Congo last month, where investigators determined the poachers shot from the air because of the trajectory of the bullet wounds.
Helicopters do not come cheaply and their use points to a high level of organization. Ken Maggs, the head of the environmental crimes investigation unit for South African National Parks, said one person recently arrested for trade in rhino horn had 5.1 million rand ($652,400) in cash in the boot of his car.
South Africa is the epicentre of rhino poaching beecause it hosts virtually the entire population of white rhino – 18,800 head or 93 per cent – and about 40 per cent of Africa’s much rarer black rhino.
As of the middle of April, 181 rhinos had been killed in South Africa in 2012, according to official government data.At this rate, more than 600 will be lost to poachers this year compared with 448 in 2011.A decade ago, only a handful were being taken.
Read The Rest News Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2134696/Scene-unimaginable-horror-helicopter-borne-poachers-massacre-22-elephants.html#ixzz24VEQyMBX
Published on 10 Aug 2012 by wwfus
Warning: Contains Graphic Images
Over 300 elephants were killed between January and March 2012 when heavily-armed foreign poachers invaded Cameroon’s Bouba N’Djida National Park. Entire elephant populations could be wiped out from Central Africa if ivory poaching and wildlife trade continue unabated. Tens of thousands of elephants are killed each year for their tusks which are in high demand in Asian black markets.
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We need your help to save wildlife and people from becoming victims of wildlife crime. Join our campaign and help us:
- Push governments to protect threatened animal populations by increasing law enforcement, imposing strict deterrents, reducing demand for endangered species products and honoring international commitments made under CITES.
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- Reduce demand for illegal wildlife parts and products by encouraging others to ask questions and get the facts before buying any wildlife or plant product.
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