Archive for the ‘Kenya’ Tag

Illegal killing for ivory drives global decline in African elephants   Leave a comment

Proceedings of the National Academy of Science...

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tusks of African and Asian elephants.

Tusks of African and Asian elephants. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

African Elephant in Okaukuejo, Etosha, Namibia...

African Elephant in Okaukuejo, Etosha, Namibia. Rushing for the waterhole at sundown. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Difference between Asian (left) and African (r...

Difference between Asian (left) and African (right) elephant ears. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reblogged from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences :

Significance

Illegal harvest for commercial trade has recently surged to become a major threat to some of the world’s most endangered and charismatic species. Unfortunately, the cryptic nature of illegal killing makes estimation of rates and impacts difficult. Applying a model based on field census of carcasses, to our knowledge we provide the first detailed assessment of African elephant illegal killing rates at population, regional, and continental scales. Illegal harvest for commercial trade in ivory has recently surged, coinciding with increases in illegal ivory seizures and black market ivory prices. As a result, the species declined over the past 4 y, during which tens of thousands of elephants have been killed annually across the continent. Solutions to this crisis require global action.

Abstract

Illegal wildlife trade has reached alarming levels globally, extirpating populations of commercially valuable species. As a driver of biodiversity loss, quantifying illegal harvest is essential for conservation and sociopolitical affairs but notoriously difficult. Here we combine field-based carcass monitoring with fine-scale demographic data from an intensively studied wild African elephant population in Samburu, Kenya, to partition mortality into natural and illegal causes. We then expand our analytical framework to model illegal killing rates and population trends of elephants at regional and continental scales using carcass data collected by a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species program. At the intensively monitored site, illegal killing increased markedly after 2008 and was correlated strongly with the local black market ivory price and increased seizures of ivory destined for China. More broadly, results from application to continental data indicated illegal killing levels were unsustainable for the species between 2010 and 2012, peaking to ∼8% in 2011 which extrapolates to ∼40,000 elephants illegally killed and a probable species reduction of ∼3% that year. Preliminary data from 2013 indicate overharvesting continued. In contrast to the rest of Africa, our analysis corroborates that Central African forest elephants experienced decline throughout the last decade. These results provide the most comprehensive assessment of illegal ivory harvest to date and confirm that current ivory consumption is not sustainable. Further, our approach provides a powerful basis to determine cryptic mortality and gain understanding of the demography of at-risk species.

Footnotes

  • Author contributions: G.W., J.B., I.D.-H., P.O., and K.P.B. designed research; G.W., J.M.N., J.B., and I.D.-H. performed research; G.W., J.B., P.O., and K.P.B. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; G.W., J.M.N., J.B., and K.P.B. analyzed data; and G.W. wrote the paper.

  • The authors declare no conflict of interest.

  • This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.

  • This article contains supporting information online at www.pnas.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1073/pnas.1403984111/-/DCSupplemental.

Freely available online through the PNAS open access option.

Stepping up the fight against elephant poachers   1 comment

NIGHT STALKERS who hunt and kill African elephants for their ivory are threatening the existence of that species. And even the most drastic protective measures by conservationists are not enough. We caution you that some of the images in this Cover Story are painful to watch. M. Sanjayan of Conservation International is a CBS News Contributor:

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/stepping-up-the-fight-against-elephant-poachers/

This story was broadcast on March 9, 2014.

As a cloudless day yields to a moonlit night in this savannah in Northern Kenya, a dozen wildlife rangers armed with automatic weapons begin their nightly patrol.

Tonight, the team is on edge, says Commander John Palmieri.

“They give us a big, big worry,” he said, as there is more poaching on the full moon.

And it is a deadly business. Dozens of rangers have been killed in Africa battling poachers in the last few years.

Each night, rangers go up to an observation point at higher ground, then sit all night long and scour these valleys, looking for any sign of movement, or a gunshot.

Night vision goggles help spot elephants — and see potential human threats.

For this night at least, it was all quiet for Nature’s so-called “great masterpiece.”

The African elephant is the largest mammal to walk the Earth; a majestic creature that shares many noble characteristics with humans — strong family units and maternal bonds, intelligence, longevity and, yes, terrific memories.

Also, like us, they seem to grieve, and appear to mourn their dead, a trait which, tragically, has been on display far too often of late.

Some 25,000 elephants a year are now being lost to poachers in Africa.

“It’s the worst that it’s been in the last 30 years,” said Ian Craig. “It’s a steady deterioration, and it’s getting worse.”

The Kenyan-born Craig leads conservation efforts for the Northern Rangelands Trust, an innovative partnership of nearly 20 wildlife conservancies.

In years past, said Craig, the typical poacher was a solitary local simply trying to feed his family. Today, though, foreign criminal syndicates with sophisticated equipment kill viciously and in ever greater numbers.

In an infamous 2012 episode, an estimated 300 elephants were gunned down in Cameroon right inside a national park.

So who’s behind it?

“I think clearly China is driving this, or it’s coming from the Far East,” said Craig. “Ninety percent of the ivory being picked up in Nairobi Airport, or Kenya’s port of entry and exit, is with Chinese nationals.”

Despite laws banning the harvest and sale of ivory, it remains a powerful status symbol in China and the Far East, where it is used commonly to make artworks and religious icons.

The economic boom there has tripled the price of ivory in just the last four years. And it has rejuvenated the poaching economy in Africa.

The price on an elephant’s head, Craig said, is about $2,000, or $2,500 to the gunman

“So it’s several years’ worth of wages from that elephant,” said Sanjayan.

And therefore, said Craig, “People are prepared to risk their lives to kill them.”

You hear about ivory wars, said Sanjayan, but it doesn’t seem real until one comes across an elephant’s carcass … the animal had no chance against being shot by automatic weapons, no chance at all.

And then, it comes flooding right at you, and you can’t escape the fact that people are willing to kill something this big just for a tooth.

There are some encouraging signs.

This past January, China crushed six tons of illegal ivory, and Hong Kong pledged to destroy 28 tons over the next two years.

Kenya has also enacted tougher anti-poaching laws. One smuggler faces seven years in jail.

But the poaching continues . . . and protecting elephants has become an arms race.

Kenya spends tens of millions of dollars a year on its 3,000-member wildlife ranger force.

Tracking dogs hunt poachers in the field and detect ivory being smuggled.

Digital radio systems now connect rangers with observation posts throughout the country. And GPS collars can track family groups of elephants in real time.

They’ve even built wildlife “underpasses” beneath highways, allowing elephants to travel safely through historic migration corridors.

Just as important, is getting locals invested in wildlife. In many areas, tribesmen don’t just lead tours, they run the preserves.

Profits from tourism help communities understand that living elephants can be more valuable than dead ones.

“They’re seeing these new lodges developing,” said Ian Craig. “They’re seeing better security for themselves. They’re seeing money being generated from tourism going into education. And so where these benefits are clean and clear to communities, it’s working.”

But changing attitudes takes time — and time is NOT on the elephant’s side.

From a high of 1.3 million African elephants in the late 1970s, poaching reduced populations to critical levels by 1980.

The numbers are plummeting again: there are only about 500,000 elephants left. If poaching continues unchecked, African elephants could be functionally extinct in our lifetime.

In an extraordinary attempt to save the life of just one animal, a Kenyan veterinarian armed with a tranquilizer dart shot Mountain Bull, a 6-ton local legend who’s been targeted by poachers for his massive tusks.

This magnificent bull elephant has already had lots of interaction with poachers; in one incident alone, he’s been shot 8 times — the slugs are still within his body — but he has survived.

Now conservationists and rangers are doing something dramatic: they’re taking off part of his tusks in the hopes that it will make him less of a target. The operation was over quickly, and eventually the noble giant wobbled to his feet and headed back to the bush to hopefully live out his days in peace.

But sadly is was not meant to be. Recently, the carcass of Mountain Bull was found near the foot of Mt. Kenya attacked with poison spears. The reminiscence of his tusks were unceremonious hacked off by poachers.

Craig worries that unless the lust for ivory is controlled, the elephant may not survive.

“The supply here is finite,” he said. “This isn’t gold. This isn’t diamonds. This is even more precious, because it’s been grown by an animal, and we’re killing that animal to supply that demand.”

For more info:

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.

Opulence

Budget Friendly Luxury and Beauty

Jen Dionne's Website

One Family's Adventures in Windsor, CO

One Mom's Journey with CrossFit

Relentlessly Pursuing Excellence in CrossFit & In Life

AtoZMom's Blog

Where God, Life, & Community Meet

Stigfinnaren i Älvsund

vägen inåt är vägen framåt

Wildlife in Deutschland

Naturfotografie von Jan Bürgel

MyYellowFeather

Your guide to style! 💛

European Wilderness Society

Our passion is Wilderness and its wildlife

The Divine Masculine

Striving for the balance between Anima and Animus

On Life and Wildlife

Thoughts on a wild life in wild places

CBS Denver

Find Denver news, Colorado news, Colorado weather forecasts and sports reports including Denver Broncos at CBSDenver.com.

Busiga mor

My Home My Place My Life

emmzeebee.wordpress.com/

A self-confessed blogaholic since January 2017

THE OBSESSIVE WRITER

Because life is too overrated to ignore

Hugh's Views & News  

A man with dyslexia writing about this and that and everything else!

Discover

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

Mrs S. London

She's Whiskey In A Teacup

Sizzles & Strings

Hostel-friendly recipes from an aspiring little chef. Fire Burn & Cauldron Bubble.

Over the Border

Man made borders not to limit himself, but to have something to cross. ~Anonymous

%d bloggers like this: