Archive for the ‘International Union for Conservation of Nature’ Tag

Serow: Eaten to the brink   1 comment

From:  The Star Online

BY TAN CHENG LI

Endangered species: Serows in a zoo. Already rare in the wild, they are now in further decline due to poaching. — Filepix

Endangered species: Serows in a zoo. Already rare in the wild, they are now in further decline due to poaching. — Filepix

 

Serows are being hunted and traded in Peninsular Malaysia, in violation of strong wildlife laws.

We all know about tigers, elephants and rhinos going extinct. But there is one little-known animal that is just as endangered – the Sumatran serow (Capricornis sumatraensis). This antelope-like mammal inhabits mainly an unforgiving habitat of steep forested mountains, limestone hills and quartz ridges, and so have remain little-studied.

However, they have not escaped the scrutiny of poachers. Just like tigers, pangolins, turtles, tortoises, sun bears, rhinos and deer, serows, too, are hunted for their meat and body parts.

The easy availability of serow meat in exotic meat restaurants, as well as seizures of serow body parts (used in traditional medicine and for purported magical purposes) from smugglers reveal that hunting of this species might well be rife.

Researchers from Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring group, have raised concerns that poaching is driving the species to decline in Peninsular Malaysia.

A paper, Observations of Illegal Trade in Sumatran Serows in Malaysia by Traffic South-East Asia regional director Dr Chris R. Shepherd and programme manager Kanitha Krishnasamy, states that “despite robust legal protection, widespread poaching and illegal trade continues”.

“Few people know what serows are or are even aware of their existence, and therefore this remarkable animal receives little attention from conservationists, researchers or enforcement agencies,” they say.

Of the six species of serow found worldwide, only one occurs in Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia and southern Thailand.

Though found throughout the peninsula, they appear to be concentrated largely in the north, especially in the states of Kelantan, Perlis and Perak. Many of the populations are believed to be small and isolated.

Wildlife sanctuary

In 1936, the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge in Ulu Klang, Selangor, was gazetted as a wildlife sanctuary chiefly to protect the serow.

The species, however, is rarely seen there now due to hunting. It suffers a similar fate in Bukit Takun, Selangor, and also Genting Highlands.

Aside from being hunted for trade, the species is also threatened by habitat destruction caused by limestone quarrying, logging and habitat fragmentation by roads, plantations and other human-altered landscapes.

All these have pushed the species to the category of “vulnerable to extinction” in the Red List of Threatened Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

A wildlife officer with serow body parts seized from a bomoh couple in Kampung Ulu Jepai, Lenggong, Perak, in 2007. — Filepix

A wildlife officer with serow body parts seized from a bomoh couple iin Kampung Ulu Jepai, Lenggong, Perak, in 2007. – Filepix

 

In order to highlight the threats to the serow and its conservation needs, Traffic had compiled information on illegal hunting and trade of the species between 2003 and 2012. Serow meat is prized among consumers of wild meat.

In a 2012 survey of restaurants serving such fare, Traffic researchers discovered serow to be the most commonly observed totally protected species on the menu, being sold for up to RM30 per serving. Of the 165 restaurants that were surveyed in Peninsular Malaysia, 18 offered serow meat: Johor (six), Pahang (five), Perak (three), Malacca (three) and Selangor (one).

Based on seizure reports, the researchers found that at least 10 serows were hunted in the Belum-Temengor forest in Perak between 2009 and June 2013. Serow hunting is known to be both targeted and opportunistic. In forests where wildlife poaching is common, the species is also threatened by snares, which indiscriminately kill a wide range of species.

In April 2012, Traffic staff had encountered a man who had a serow head soaking in oil, at a rest stop along the East-West Highway, some 15km from Belum-Temenggor forest. The following month, Traffic researchers detected a serow hunter on an online forum frequently used by army personnel. The hunter had explained in detail how he tracked the elusive animal in the Temengor forest, the weapons used, and hunting hotspots.

Totally protected

The serow is totally protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010. So, anyone found guilty of hunting, taking or keeping serow parts or derivatives is liable to a fine of between RM100,000 and RM500,000. The minimum fine goes up to RM200,000 if the offence involves a female serow, and RM150,000 if it is a juvenile serow. Offenders also face a possible jail term of up to five years.

Also, the serow cannot be traded internationally, as it is on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Under the International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008, anyone caught importing or exporting serow parts can be fined between RM200,000 and RM1mil, and can be jailed for up to seven years.

Despite laws with bite, there has been minimal prosecutions. The Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) has recorded only 10 confiscations of serow parts in the 10 years from 2003 to 2012, and only five cases resulted in convictions (see table).

One of the goriest find was that of six chopped up serows, which were being boiled by a couple who were both bomoh (shaman) in March 2007, in Lenggong, Perak.

However, for reasons unknown, the couple, said to have been using serow parts for healing rituals for over 35 years, were not prosecuted.

Information on illegal trade of serows which has been collected by Traffic has been passed on to Perhilitan for action.

Unfortunately, the researchers say the outcome of these reports is not often known or made publicly available. They urge Perhilitan to intensify monitoring of restaurants selling wild meat, traditional medicine shops and faith healers, and to take action against violaters. They also call on the judiciary to issue maximum penalties to offenders, to serve as a deterrent.

 

Black rhino horns and elephant tusks for auction: activists outraged   1 comment

From:  The Sydney Morning Herald – New South Wales

 

By  Esther Han

 

A rhinoceros in the wild.

 

A rhinoceros in the wild. Photo: Greg Newington/AFR

WARNING: Some readers may find picture below disturbing

Conservation groups have joined forces to stop the auction of black rhinoceros horns and elephant tusks in Sydney on Friday, saying the sales will increase demand and consequently poaching, which is decimating the species.

Auction house Lawsons, based in Leichhardt, expects the bidding war for the black rhino horns to hit $70,000; the pair of unmounted African elephant tusks to reach $70,000, and the embellished elephant tusks with a gong  to reach $16,000.

A white rhinoceros killed by poachers for its horns in 2012.

A white rhinoceros killed by poachers for its horns in 2012. Photo: Humane Society International

Humane Society International (HSI), with backing from the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Greenpeace, is demanding Lawsons pull the items from auction and change its policies to prevent similar items from surfacing in the future.

“The pressure on the remaining wildlife populations of rhino in Africa, India and [south east] Asia is such that all efforts must be made to stop rhino horn being trafficked,” wrote Alexia Wellbelove, senior program manager at HSI, in a letter to Martin Farrah, managing director at Lawsons.

“Even the export of one antique horn from Australia onto south-east Asia markets further promotes and encourages trade, perpetuating this devastating cycle of killing.”

 

A pair of elephant ivory tusks expected to fetch up to $70,000 at an auction on Friday

A pair of elephant ivory tusks expected to fetch up to $70,000 at an auction on Friday Photo: Lawsons Auctioneers

Ms Wellbelove said two letters expressing concern were ignored, and in a follow-up phone call last week Mr Farrah told her: “We have nothing else to say.”

The world rhino population has dropped from 500,000 at the start of the 20th century to just 29,000 because of poaching, according to the Save the Rhino organisation based in London.

The price of rhino horns has skyrocketed in the past decade because of rising demand from Chinese and Vietnamese people who believe it can cure cancer and be used as an aphrodisiac.

In March, Lawsons sold a pair of rhino horns mounted on a wooden plinth for $92,500 – a figure that shocked antique and auction experts across the country.

Simon Hill, general manager of Lawsons, said the black rhino horns belonged to a Cairns woman who inherited them from her father who migrated from Africa to Australia in 1950.

He said the auction house has contacted the federal environment department to obtain approval for Friday’s sale of the 4.6 kilogram rhino horns set and elephant tusks.

Under Australian law, the import and export of rhino horns dated from 1950 is banned and, since July, anyone wishing to export vintage rhino horns must conclusively prove its age through radiocarbon dating.

A department spokesman confirmed to Fairfax Media that investigators had assessed the specimens and were satisfied of their lawful origins. The department granted approval for the domestic sale of the three items only.

Mr Hill said it was only the third time since 1999 that he had seen rhino horns up for auction at Lawsons.

“I understand [the conservationists’] concerns and we have them equally. We take it very, very seriously and that’s why we go through the relevant bodies to make sure we’re doing the right thing,” he said.

“I would not know if there is any direct correlation of the selling of antique items and increasing in poaching. If there was, I’d love to see the hard data on it.”

So far this year, 969 rhinos have been poached in South Africa, according Save the Rhino. It claims poaching is “dramatically increasing”.

The Western black rhino was declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2011. All five remaining species are listed on its threatened species Redlist, with three classified as critically endangered.

“Elephant populations are also in big trouble in Africa and elsewhere. By continuing to sell elephant ivory, we’re continuing to create demand and therefore increase poaching the populations can’t sustain,” Ms Wellbelove from HSI said.

On Tuesday, Greenpeace rallied its 400,000 supporters via email, urging them to contact Mr Farrah to demand he pull the horns and ivory from Friday’s Natural History, Taxidermy and Science auction and change Lawsons’ policies.

An International Fund for Animal Welfare report released this year revealed the number of products derived from endangered animals offered for sale on Australian websites has more than doubled since 2008.

A pair of black rhinoceros horns expected to fetch $70,000 at Lawsons auction on Friday.

A pair of black rhinoceros horns expected to fetch $70,000 at Lawsons auction on Friday. Photo: Lawsons Auctioneers

English: A Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)...

English: A Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) in Tanzania Deutsch: Spitzmaulnashorn (Diceros bicornis) in Tanzania Français : Rhinocéros noir Nederlands: Zwarte neushoorn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Male Diceros bicornis (Black rhinoceros or Hoo...

Male Diceros bicornis (Black rhinoceros or Hook-lipped rhinoceros) at the Saint Louis Zoological Park in Missouri Français : Rhinocéros noir (Diceros bicornis) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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