Archive for the ‘Ivory trade’ Tag

Elephant poaching soars as Sumatran forests turn into plantations   2 comments

 

Elephant poaching soars as Sumatran forests turn into plantations.

Originally written for Mongabay-Indonesia by Zamzami; translated into English by Olivia Rondonuwu 
August 14, 2014
Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0814-zamzami-riau-elephants-poaching.html#7biEg4Xq4KJMg5F6.99

Reported kills for 2014 in Riau Province reached 22 by June, surpassing 2013 numbers by 63 percent

There has been a spike in elephant deaths in Sumatra this year, and conversion of rainforest to plantations is one of the main causes, according to the Indonesian Elephant Conservation Forum, or FKGI. The number of Sumatran elephants (Elephas maximus sumatranus) poached in the province of Riau so far this year is staggering, with 22 reported kills in the first six months of 2014 compared to 14 for the entirety of 2013. 

FKGI – a group comprised of several NGOs and individuals promoting conservation of elephants and their habitat — said conversion of natural forest to industrial forest such as timber plantations has split open the ecosystem and provides hunters easy access to elephant areas. 

Sumatran elephants in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park. Photos by Rhett A. Butler.

Sumatran elephants in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park. Photos by Rhett A. Butler.

The Sumatran elephant is protected by Indonesia’s Law No. 5/1990 on Sustainable Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation. Due to a rapidly diminishing population, in 2011 the IUCN changed the status of the subspecies from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered – just one rung above extinction. 

The ivory trade is thought to be the main motive of the recent spate of elephant deaths, with WWF Indonesia reporting most carcasses were devoid of tusks. Unlike African elephants that grow tusks regardless of sex, only male Asian elephants have tusks. 

The group said that 18 out of 22 elephant corpses were discovered near Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper’s (RAPP) concession area. The company is a subsidiary of APRIL, the pulp & paper division of the Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) Group, a conglomerate owned by Singapore-based businessman Sukanto Tanoto

“The corpse of the [last] elephant was found in an acacia plantation just 50 meters from the main logging road and not far from a RAPP security checkpoint,” FKGI head Krismanko Padang said in a press statement. 

Four other dead elephants were found in Hutani Sola, Balai Raja Elephant Training Center, which is the concession area of the firm Arara Abadi. 

Security posts set up by timber plantation companies have been loose and unable to inspect people passing through the checkpoints, FKGI added. 

“From the information we gather, hunters’ car often enter the plantation area but the security officers could not stop them,” Krismanko said. 

To address the situation, FKGI called for industrial forest companies such as RAPP to play a more active role in protecting elephants roaming their concession by showing more responsibility, as well as pursuing poaching cases and determining the perpetrators and the motives behind the killings.

Palm oil and wood fiber concessions have taken over the majority of Riau (province indicated by green line). Map courtesy of Global Forest Watch.

In the last decade, at least 142 elephants have been killed by poison or gunfire, but only a single case has been brought to court. That happened in 2005 in Mahato, Rokan Hulu district, and the perpetrator was sentenced to 12.5 years in jail for poaching, possessing a firearm and defying authorities. 

Elephant deaths have also occurred at Tesso Nilo, one of the last remaining lowland rainforests on Sumatra, which has been designated the Center for Elephant Conservation by the Forestry Ministry. The deaths occurred in the concession areas of Rimba Peranap Indah, Siak Raya Timber and Arara Abadi in the Tesso Nilo forest block. 

The head of Riau Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) said investigation of elephant deaths is difficult. This is due to a lack of available funds and human resources, as well as the difficulty in finding witnesses, as the places where killings take place are often very remote. 

“We are not making excuses but the reality is our human resources and funds are very limited. There are still other problems we need to tackle such as forest fires, illegal logging and forest encroachment,” said Kemal Amas, head of BKSDA. 

According to Krismanko, attempts have been made to reach out to RAPP, with a request to RAPP management to convene and discuss the deaths. However, the request was denied by a company representative, who said they were unavailable due to the Islamic Eid holiday. 

“It goes to show that Sumatran elephant death is not a priority for RAPP,” Krismanko said. “So let RAPP’s image become bad in the eye of the people and consumers. Their commitment is questionable.” 

Sunarto, a species specialist from WWF, said plantation firms whose area is part of elephant range should be active in conserving elephants and be willing to allocate space for their movements. 

“The government should give incentives and appreciation to companies and people who helped save elephants,” Sunarto said. “The government must also enforce the law on those involved in damaging the habitat and even worse those who hunt and kill this highly intelligent and sociable animal.”

This article was originally published on Mongabay-Indonesia on July 18, 2014.

 

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NRA Pushing Bill to Legalize Ivory Trade, Protect Right to Hunt Endangered Elephants | Ring of Fire   Leave a comment

NRA Pushing Bill to Legalize Ivory Trade, Protect Right to Hunt Endangered Elephants | Ring of Fire.

Posted on August 15, 2014

Poaching elephants for the illegal collection and sale of ivory continues to be a huge problem globally. Last year, the US. Fish and Wildlife Service destroyed nearly six tons of illegal ivory it ha obtained through custom seizures and criminal investigations. Currently the US ranks second only to China in the amount of illegal ivory imported. More than 20,000 elephants were killed across the African continent last year alone, with the countries of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda accounting for around 80 percent of all continental ivory seizures.

The US government is continuing to take steps to combat the ivory trade industry. Last year, the Obama administration announced its National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, which included the ban of commercially traded elephant ivory and the domestic sale of all non-antique ivory. In April of this year, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced a suspension on the import of “sport-hunted African elephant trophies” coming in from Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

A press release said,

“Questionable management practices, a lack of effective law enforcement, and weak governance have resulted in uncontrolled poaching and catastrophic population declines of African elephants in Tanzania. In Zimbabwe [there has been] a significant decline in the elephant population. Anecdotal evidence, such as the widely publicized poisoning last year of 300 elephants in Hwange National Park, suggests that Zimbabwe’s elephants are also under siege.”

Of course the National Rifle Association (NRA) doesn’t see these steps as necessary measures to save the African elephant population from complete extinction; it sees them as an attack on personal freedoms, including the freedom to shoot an endangered species.

Regarding the ban on selling non-antique ivory, the NRA, not mentioning once the damage to the elephant population, called upon its members to contact the White House, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and their US Representative to express their opposition. The NRA called the ban “another attempt by this anti-gun Administration to ban firearms.”

The NRA later released an update on their efforts, announcing that Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) had introduced the Lawful Ivory Protection Act of 2014. The NRA said the bill, which served as a response to the government’s “overreach of authority,” would “protect firearm owners and sportsmen from a federal ban on the sale and trade of objects containing the trade of objects containing lawfully-imported elephant ivory.”

Only briefly and at the end of the update was a mention of the protection of the rights of Americans to hunt elephants in Africa.

“Your actions today may determine if the sale and trade of firearms that contain ivory, as well as the importation of sport-hunted elephants, will be banned.”

If the government completely bans the import of all sport-trophies, the banning of Americans buying elephant-hunting permits from African countries would logically follow at some point. Most Americans actually support the banning of ivory if it meant it would further protect the elephant population.

But, as it did with the universal background checks that were supported by 80 to 90 percent of the public, the NRA is ignoring the greater good for its own selfish interests. It continues to wield its ridiculous power over politicians to sway legislation in its favor.

Amy is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow her on Twitter @AEddings31.

African Elephants May Be Extinct By 2020 Because People Keep Eating With Ivory Chopsticks   6 comments

Reblogged from Huffington Post :

Chopsticks, hair pins, pendants, trinkets: These are why African elephants are dying in droves.

In 2013, more than 35,000 elephants across Africa were killed for their ivory, which is often carved and sold as ornaments, jewelry and other gift items. China is a major importer of ivory, where it’s highly prized as a luxury good. Ivory sellers also do a roaring trade in Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and other parts of Asia; and troublingly, demand seems to be rising.

“Ivory is beautiful,” long-time ranger and conservationist Rory Young admits. “The problem is, we just can’t do this anymore.”

If we don’t stop the slaughter soon, he told The Huffington Post over Skype on Tuesday, not only will there be no more ivory to carve or sell, but no African elephants left on the planet, either.

In 2008, conservationists warned that African elephants would become extinct by 2020 if widespread poaching continued. Young says that given the current rate of slaughter, he’s “absolutely convinced” that African elephants could indeed be annihilated in the next six years.

ivory trinketsA customer, left, shops for ivory bracelets at an ivory shop in Nakhon Sawan province, 130 miles north of Bangkok, Thailand, April 17, 2002.

“It’s difficult to know where to start,” Young said, when asked to describe the extent of the African elephant poaching problem. “I could take you tomorrow to a park and show you fresh carcasses. It’s a tidal wave of destruction flooding across the continent.”

A ranger in Africa for more than two decades, Young has for years been on the forefront of the fight against poaching. He was one of the founders of Chengeta Wildlife, an organization that works to equip and train wildlife protection teams, and he now travels across Africa, training aspiring rangers and connecting with governments to urge them to adopt anti-poaching campaigns.

It’s a constant uphill battle.

Poachers are dangerous. They sometimes arm themselves with machine guns, and their tactics are unpredictable — and brutal. Sometimes elephants are shot, but they are also trapped with snares and poisoned. Last year, for instance, poachers in Zimbabwe killed more than 300 elephants by lacing waterholes in Hwange National Park with cyanide.

Warning: Graphic photos below.

The challenge to protect these majestic creatures becomes even greater in areas of conflict and abject poverty.

“In well-funded, ‘celebrity-endorsed’ places like parts of Kenya and South Africa, poaching is bad enough, but if you look at other countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, the Central African Republic, Mozambique, et cetera, elephants are just being wiped out,” said Young. “These are the countries that are absolutely desperate, and what I’m trying to do and what Chengeta is trying to do is to bring training to the guys there — or the elephants will all soon be gone.”

elephant poachA rotting elephant carcass in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, after poachers poisoned waterholes with cyanide, Sept. 29, 2013.

Elephants, said Young, are the “most magnificent creatures.”

“They can empathize. They’re self-aware,” he went on to say. “When I see an elephant lying dead on the ground, it’s like seeing a friend getting shot.”

But if elephants went extinct, we wouldn’t just be losing an extraordinary animal, we’d also have an environmental calamity on our hands.

“Elephants are a keystone species,” said Young. “They have a profound effect on the ecosystem. If you protect an elephant, you protect the environment and all the animals around them.”

african elephant deadIn this photo, taken May 21, 2014, Park rangers stand next to the remains of elephants that were killed by poachers in the Garamba National Park, situated in Democratic Republic of Congo.

The time to act, Young says, is now.

The extinction of African elephants is “not a foregone conclusion,” he insisted. “I’m doing everything I can in my life to stop that from happening. We can stop it.” He also said the bush elephants’ populations can grow very quickly when the animals are left in peace.

But to allow these populations to grow and flourish, everyone has to get involved.

“This is not just one group. It’s not the African poachers, it’s not China, it’s everyone. It takes governments in Africa actually doing something about the poachers on the ground; it takes an education system to teach the people — kids in the schools, the villagers — telling them it’s wrong. The same applies to people in Asia, who are buying the stuff,” said Young. “It shouldn’t be easy to buy ivory. It shouldn’t be taken lightly.”

It’s also about raising awareness on a global scale, he added.

“When Jackie Chan stands up [to speak against the ivory trade], a kid might be watching and he might tell his dad to not go out to buy that ivory envelope opener, but to buy a gold one instead. It takes a whole movement all around us to fix the problem. Everyone’s responsible; everyone’s to blame.”

To draw attention to the work that Rory Young and Chengeta Wildlife are doing, this infographic was recently created to highlight the “true cost of ivory trinkets.” Scroll down to see it in full:

ivory trinkets
Infographic byJoe Chernov and Robin Richards.

To find out more about the African elephant and how you can help, visit the websites of the WWF, Save the Elephants and Chengeta Wildlife.

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