How the Head of the N.R.A. and His Wife Secretly Shipped Their Elephant Trophies Home

www.newyorker.com

Condé Nast


This story was published in partnership with The Trace, a nonprofit news organization covering guns in America.

In the early fall of 2013, an export company in Botswana prepared a shipment of animal parts for Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association, and his wife, Susan. One of the business’s managers e-mailed the couple a list of trophies from their recent hunt and asked them to confirm its accuracy: one cape-buffalo skull, two sheets of elephant skin, two elephant ears, four elephant tusks, and four front elephant feet. Once the inventory was confirmed, the e-mail stated, “we will be able to start the dipping and packing process.” Ten days later, Susan wrote back with a request: the shipment should have no clear links to the LaPierres. She told the shipping company to use the name of an American taxidermist as “the consignee” for the items, and further requested that the company “not use our names anywhere if at all possible.” Susan noted that the couple also expected to receive, along with the elephant trophies, an assortment of skulls and skins from warthogs, impalas, a zebra, and a hyena. Once the animal parts arrived in the States, the taxidermist would turn them into decorations for the couple’s home in Virginia, and prepare the elephant skins so they could be used to make personal accessories, such as handbags.

The LaPierres felt secrecy was needed, the e-mails show, because of a public uproar over an episode of the hunting show “Under Wild Skies,” in which the host, Tony Makris, had fatally shot an elephant. The N.R.A. sponsored the program, and the couple feared potential blowback if the details of their Botswana hunt became public. Footage of their safari, which was filmed for “Under Wild Skies” and recently published by The Trace and The New Yorker, shows that Wayne had struggled to kill an elephant at close range, while Susan felled hers with a single shot and cut off its tail in jubilation. Plans to air an episode featuring the LaPierres’ hunt were cancelled.

Records obtained by The Trace and The New Yorker show that Susan leveraged the LaPierres’ status to secretly ship animal trophies from their safari to the U.S., where the couple received free taxidermy work. New York Attorney General Letitia James, who has regulatory authority over the N.R.A., is currently seeking to dissolve the nonprofit for a range of alleged abuses, including a disregard for internal controls designed to prevent self-dealing and corruption by its executives. In a complaint filed last August, James’s office asserted that trophy fees and taxidermy work “constituted private benefits and gifts in excess of authorized amounts pursuant to NRA policy to LaPierre and his wife.” The new records appear to confirm those allegations. The N.R.A.’s rules explicitly state that gifts from contractors cannot exceed two hundred and fifty dollars. The shipping and taxidermy of the Botswana trophies cost thousands, and provided no benefit to the N.R.A.—only to the LaPierres. In the complaint, James’s office alleged that the LaPierres also received improper benefits related to big-game hunting trips in countries including Tanzania, South Africa, and Argentina. The attorney general declined to comment further on the details of the case.

Taxidermy work orders containing the LaPierres’ names called for the elephants’ four front feet to be turned into “stools,” an “umbrella stand,” and a “trash can.” At their request, tusks were mounted, skulls were preserved, and the hyena became a rug. The episode represents a rare instance in which the gun group’s embattled chief executive is captured, on paper, unambiguously violating N.R.A. rules; the e-mails show that Susan directed the process while Makris’s company, Under Wild Skies Inc., which received millions of dollars from the N.R.A., picked up the tab.

Andrew Arulanandam, the N.R.A.’s managing director of public affairs, said, over e-mail, that the LaPierres’ “activity in Botswana—from more than seven years ago—was legal and fully permitted.” The couple’s safari trips, he added, were meant to “extol the benefits of hunting and promote the brand of the N.R.A. with one of its core audiences.” Moreover, he claimed, “Many of the most notable hunting trophies in question are at the N.R.A. museum or have been donated by the N.R.A. to other public attractions.”

The LaPierres’ effort to keep their taxidermy work secret spanned four months and involved multiple individuals, companies, and countries. On September 27, 2013, the shipping company in Botswana sent its first e-mail to the LaPierres and informed them that the animal parts would be sent to a different company, in Johannesburg, South Africa, before making their way to the United States. “We will be keeping you advised on the progress of this shipment as it moves along these processes,” the message said. In early October, after multiple phone calls with Susan, the American taxidermist wrote to one of the shipping agents involved in the exportation process. He explained that there had been a recent controversy involving Makris, and that the LaPierres “can not afford bad publicity and a out cry.” The taxidermist added, “That is why they are trying not to have there names show up on these shipments so the information does not fall into the wrong hands.” Two months later, the taxidermist checked in with Makris, and asked what he should do with the items once he received them. “W and Susan will tell you how they want theirs mounted,” Makris replied, before reminding the taxidermist that “they said you could handle the import discreetly.” Makris then informed the taxidermist that he would pick up the couple’s tab.

Throughout December, 2013, e-mails show that the taxidermist negotiated with both export companies on the couple’s behalf, with Susan, and also others, copied. “AS requested by the LaPierre’s in a earlier email there name and contact information is to be replaced with my name and contact information,” one note to the Botswana company read. The organization replied that trophies “can only be exported from Botswana in the name of the licensee,” and that “it’s been that way for years, and the export regulations stipulate this.” The taxidermist replied, “This request was only made by Susan and Wayne LaPierre and understand you need to follow the law were applicable.”

The taxidermist then turned his attention to the company in South Africa. On December 10th, the taxidermist told Susan that, once the hunting trophies arrived in Johannesburg, an agent would generate a new air waybill to attach to the shipment and enter the taxidermist’s name on it as the consignee, instead of the LaPierres’. When the trophies arrived in the United States and were cleared through government agencies, it would look as though they belonged to the taxidermist. “Awesome,” Susan replied.

Once the shipping crates landed in Johannesburg, another contact of the taxidermist’s drove two hours to check if the LaPierres’ names were written on the containers. When the friend discovered that they were, he scrubbed them off. In late January, 2014, the taxidermist told Susan that the shipment had arrived. “Looks like everything is here and no protestors,” he wrote.

After Susan killed the elephant in Botswana, video shows, she was fixated on the creature’s feet. As she touched them, she said, “He’s so wrinkly. . . . Wow. A podiatrist would love working on him.” Photographs of the taxidermied appendages show that the animal’s wrinkled gray skin, the light coating of hair, and the massive, cracked toenails are all preserved, and, in the case of the stools, topped with wooden rings and black leather seating pads.

The taxidermist had successfully completed a highly sensitive, laborious project. Two years later, in 2016, he reached out to Susan because he was trying to buy a boat from someone she and Wayne knew, and he hoped that Wayne could connect them. In an e-mail, the taxidermist said it was fine if she could not help, noting that “life will go on.” Still, he asked for the courtesy of a reply, one way or the other. He did not receive one.

Arulanandam, the N.R.A spokesman, alleged that “communications” with the taxidermist stopped after he “appeared to make threats against members of an N.R.A. delegation that participated in the Botswana excursion. He also sought benefits and payments to which he was not entitled.”

The taxidermist wrote a parting e-mail three months later, expressing his frustration at the lack of response. It wasn’t so long ago, he said, that Susan had “begged” him over the phone to remove the LaPierres’ names from their “harvested Elephants” and promised him “ ‘A BIG FAVOR’ ” in return. In case she had forgotten, he reminded her, “you could not afford protesters” and a “media shit storm.”


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South Africa’s rhino crisis: Poachers, magistrates and kingpins

www.standard.co.uk

Abbianca Makoni

Poachers masquerading as rangers, magistrates allegedly taking bribes from kingpins and lenient sentences handed out to ruthless criminals – this is the current state of South Africa’s rhino crisis, according to campaigners.

Strict limits on travel due to coronavirus, imposed last year, had a positive effect on keeping poachers and smugglers at bay, with just 394 rhinos poached in the country in 2021, 30 percent fewer than the year before and the lowest yearly tally since 2011.

But with gates open again, the onslaught on rhinos and corruption inside courtrooms is once again rising, according to Jamie Joseph, head of the environmental charity, Saving the Wild.

Speaking from an undisclosed location in Africa, Joseph told the Standard: “For the last decade corruption has been driving rhinos into extinction, and it’s just getting worse.

The kingpins call the shots; we run the intel, they get arrested, but then they always get bail and never go to jail

Ms Joseph alleged that kingpins were able to “rule” because of the “dirty officers and magistrates on their payroll.”

Following the campaign’s expose on how the UK’s red list could pose a threat to African conservation efforts, campaigners have told the Standard that corruption in South Africa needs serious attention as Covid restrictions continue to ease.

The country is home to 80 per cent of Africa’s rhino population, but there are only about 25,000 rhinos left and roughly 1,000 are killed every year for their horn.

But the violent and deadly trade has brewed in the country for decades–in 2007 the country lost just 13 rhinos to poaching, the next year, that number jumped to 83. By 2014, a total of 1,215 had been killed in one year and deaths are still high.

The horns are made of keratin, the same substance as fingernails, which means they can grow back. They are considered to be worth more by weight than cocaine, and so traffickers go to great lengths to smuggle it out of, or around, Africa.

Corruption

Ms Joseph, a dedicated conservationist originally born in Zimbabwe, first launched what she describes as the “Blood Rhino Blacklist” in 2017 – a list of allegedly corrupt magistrates and lawyers who she claims have taken bribes on rhino poaching and other crimes.

Her Blacklist investigations led the Ministry of Justice to suspend KwaZulu Natal Court President, Eric Nzimande.

Nzimande, who was responsible for, among other things, the appointment of presiding officers to the province’s regional courts was suspended in October 2018.

He now he faces 112 disciplinary charges, including appointing acting regional court magistrates in return for payments.

Other cases of alleged corruption in courts include the case of alleged kingpin Dumisani Gwala, who is accused of running a trafficking ring.

He was arrested with rhino horn, but has pleaded not guilty to charges of dealing in protected wildlife parts.

Donate to the stop the illegal wildlife trade, here: / ESI Media

Donate to the stop the illegal wildlife trade, here:

An eight-month intelligence-driven operation led to Gwala’s arrest in December 2014.

It was hailed a significant bust as he had been caught several times before, but the cases had either been withdrawn, or the dockets “suspiciously” went missing, according to Joseph.

The case of Gwala is still ongoing but the campaigner said his trial at Mtubatuba Court is “long overdue.”

It has been mired with controversy and back in 2017 several wildlife campaigners argued that the case needed to be moved to a different court.

The trial is now scheduled for June 28 this year after it was delayed 30 times, Joseph told the Standard.

Jean​-Pierre Roux, the former police endangered wildlife detective, who arrested Gwala, said: “We faced corruption in all facets from police involvement in criminal activities, the robbery and corruption that comes after people are confronted or arrested to the corruption with the magistrates and prosecutors.

“We had to deal with all of that.”

Mr Roux, who has faced death threats for getting too close to information, claimed that some police officers left or retired from forces due to the state of the alleged corruption.

I think proper vetting should be implemented as well as background checks. But then you must take into consideration as well, that not all criminals or corrupt officials start off corrupt but they change when they come in.

“But another issue is that those good officials or rangers are afraid of speaking up out of fear of losing their lives because they might live in the same area as the criminal. They could get killed,” he added.

On the field

Ms Joseph claims that corruption doesn’t just lie inside courtrooms in South Africa but it also takes place on the fields, where rangers should be protecting the wildlife.

Ms Joseph alleged that the greatest challenge the Kruger faces “is the enemy within.”

One bust includes that of Phineas Dinda, who is a former Sanparks full corporal in the Rangers Corps.

He was arrested in Tshokwane section in May 2019 and was found in possession of trespassing the Kruger National Park, conspiracy to commit a crime, and possession of an unlicensed firearm, live ammunition and an axe, reported the Times Live.

Dinda was convicted for 16 years.

Three other SanParks employees were arrested for poaching in October 2020, according to Ewn news.

The two security guards and another worker from the technical services division were arrested during an operation between the park and the police.

In a statement published by Gareth Coleman, the managing executive of the Kruger National Park, at the time, he said: “It is always disheartening when colleagues from Sanparks are involved in criminal activities.

“It breaks down trust amongst employees which impacts our responsibilities to act as an effective conservation authority serving the people of South Africa,” it added.

Joseph, however, argues much more needs to be done as “rangers are being forced to work with poachers masquerading as rangers.”

“The thing is, you can have all the money and all the technology and all the weapons and all the soldiers in the world. But if you lose the war on corruption, you lose the war on everything,” she added.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/stop-wildlife-trade/south-africa-poaching-rhino-crisis-corruption-magistrates-kingpins-b940827.html

Woman arrested at US border with sloth, crocodile parts

cbs58.com

Posted: May 28, 2021 9:22 PM CDT

By: Associated Press

HIGHGATE SPRINGS, Vt. (AP) — A Montreal woman has been arrested on charges of trying to cross the U.S. border into Canada with “numerous undeclared wildlife items,” including a three-toed sloth, 18 crocodile skulls and heads and seven crocodile feet.

The federal complaint says the boutique owner also was in possession of two horseshoe crabs, 23 racoon feet, eight African antelope horns and one human skull on Wednesday when she tried to cross the border at Highgate Springs, Vermont.

The Lacey Act prohibits the trafficking of items that come from endangered species and all wildlife must be declared to the Fish and Wildlife Service upon import.

https://cbs58.com/news/woman-arrested-at-us-border-with-sloth-crocodile-parts?fbclid=IwAR3I7DQgpCT1WDBXGfkU1_ohLv9fb2cbFSPeEXAPUImy9jNcgd8QqXbVAZU

Breaking! Four Poachers, Including A Former SANParks Ranger, Received Prison Sentences For Killing Rhinos In Kruger National Park

World Animal News

Lauren Lewis 3 hours ago

South African National Parks (SANParks) announced today the finalization of two long-running rhino poaching trials by the Skukuza Regional Court. One rhino poacher was sentenced on May 14th, while three, including a former SANParks employee, were sentenced yesterday.

Nito Mathebula was arrested in Tshokwane Section in January of 2019 while hunting in Kruger National Park illegally. Two of his accomplices managed to evade arrest. Mathebula was found guilty of trespassing in a national park, breaking the Immigration Act, and the killing of a rhino. Mathebula was sentenced to 13 years in jail after being found guilty on three poaching related charges.

Phineas Dinda, a former SANParks full corporal in the Rangers Corps, Arlindo Manyike from Mozambique, and Alfa Gwebana, a South African citizen, were arrested in the Tshokwane Section of Kruger National Park in May of 2019. The three were found guilty of trespassing in a national park, conspiracy to commit a crime, as well as possession of an unlicensed firearm, live ammunition, and an axe. Manyike was also found guilty of contravening the Immigration Act. They were all sentenced to 16 years in prison.

“We would like to congratulate the prosecution, SAPS, and our hard-working dedicated Rangers Corps who arrested the suspects and presented credible evidence that led to the sentences imposed by the courts,” Managing Executive of Kruger National Park, Gareth Coleman said in a statement. We hope this will send a message to others that justice will ultimately be served. It is particularly concerning that one of our own employees has been arrested and imprisoned.”

Coleman noted that since the Skukuza Court resumed hearing cases on April 1st after attempts were made to close it down, there has been a significant increase in convictions.

“We expect this trend to increase and poachers may find short term benefit from poaching, but they will be apprehended, impacting themselves, their families, and community livelihoods.”

SANParks employees who have information pertaining to these cases are encouraged to come forward or use the Ethics and Fraud Hotline at 0800 000 221.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

Categories: Breaking News, News Tags: Animal News, Animal Protection, Animal Welfare, animal welfare organizations, Poachers, Rhinos, South Africa

World Animal News

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Petition: Stop Illegal Ivory Sales on Ebay

Courtesy of Greenwich Photography (Flickr)

PETITION TARGET: Ebay’s SVP Legal Affairs/General Counsel Marie Oh Huber

Shot down with rifles and hacked to pieces for the ivory in their tusks, wild elephants needlessly die to be made into trinkets for people’s pleasure.

It’s all made possible because of the illegal wildlife trade — a multi-billion dollar global atrocity enabled by continued sales of illegal ivory on online shopping platforms, including Ebay. 

Ebay’s policies prohibit the sale of products containing ivory. Yet researchers recently found more than 140 listings containing illegal ivory on the platform. 

They also found that Ebay only removed between 1% and 7% of the illegal listings they reported.  The rest of the items were sold or re-listed.

The brutal killing of elephants and the illegal sales of products containing their ivory must stop. Ebay must take action to keep elephant ivory off of its platform. 

The company already has the needed procedures in place; Ebay said it has removed 265,000 listings prohibited under its animal policy in the last two years alone and that it works closely with international and domestic law enforcement agencies.

Sign this petition urging Ebay to use all its internal and international resources to prevent, identify and stop the sale of illegal ivory on its platform and to crack down on sellers exploiting the suffering and deaths of thousands of innocent and endangered elephants.

https://ladyfreethinker.org/sign-stop-illegal-ivory-sales-on-ebay/

#SaveSuman Campaign – Wildlife SOS

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wildlifesos.org

On September 27, 2011, in a dank and filthy circus camp in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, a 24 year old female elephant named Chanda gave birth to her second calf, a tiny baby girl named Suman. Suman’s father Bijli – a magnificent bull despite his missing left tusk – was also at the circus. Further off, her older sister stood restrained uncomfortably by both her feet, her head swaying monotonously.

That night signaled the beginning of Suman’s story, one that has been riddled with terror, suffering and fear – despite just being 6 years old.

In 2013, two years after she was born, Suman, Chanda and Bijli were illegally sold by the Moonlight Circus to the father of a man named Sameer ‘Ballu’ Khan, and illegally trafficked across state borders to the city of Jaipur in Rajasthan. The transfer of ownership of the elephants was done without any of the requisite paperwork, those involved being wholly aware of the illegality of what they were doing.

Today, Sameer Khan, who inherited the elephants from his father is widely regarded as the most cruel of all the elephant owners in Jaipur, a city widely regarded as the most cruel place in the country to the over 100 elephants that are held captive and exploited there. Horrifying footage and stories of him mercilessly beating his elephants with weapons including axes, burning the delicate footpads of their feet and of the number of his elephants that seem to die early, unnatural deaths emerge constantly, leaving us in no doubt of the authenticity of the claims of his evil disregard for the lives of the gentle giants he exploits for money.

A year passes, and the cruelty baby Suman experiences over these days is only an initiation into what she is going to go through in the coming years, and possibly the rest of her life. She is being indoctrinated into captivity, undergoing a brutal process aptly called ‘breaking the spirit’ of the elephant, to prepare her for a life of subservience to cruel human masters. Then, in 2014, Suman finds herself being transported to the state of Gujarat to star in a TV show. The process of training her for the show, and the conditions she is forced to live in during shooting result in animal welfare groups campaigning for the shows end and Suman being relieved from her exploitation. Abruptly, the show is taken off-air and the baby elephant is returned back to Jaipur.chanda-carrying-tourists_01

Chanda(Elephant 112) carrying tourists at the Amer Fort

Another year passes, Suman is housed near her mother, but restrained so tightly she can’t reach her. Her father Bijli is rented out to weddings and processions, much in demand being one of the only two bulls in the city. His missing tusk is camouflaged with a heavy false tusk, fixed awkwardly onto him and hidden under heavy, uncomfortable and gaudy decorations. Chanda, the mother, also spends her days garishly caparisoned at the Amer Fort, slowly and excruciatingly making her way up the arduous climb to the top of the fort with a heavy carrier pressing down on her protruding spine, filled with tourists and a handler that keeps a sharpened stick always at the ready to punish her for any steps out of place or exhausted resistance.

TheNut Herd rescued & moved to the WSOS ECCC from the ‘Moonlight Circus.’

In 2015, the three elephants’ original home – The Moonlight Circus – is shut down on grounds of legal violations and the four elephants still in the circus, including Suman’s sister, are rescued by Wildlife SOS and taken to our rescue centre in Mathura to live out the rest of their lives surrounded by people that care for them, and other elephants, receiving medical care, and every amenity they need to thrive in their new home. The elephants are nicknamed the Nutherd, and the youngest of these four elephants, the first daughter of Bijli and Chanda, is named Peanut – the much adored baby of the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Centre.

Shortly after we rescued the Nutherd, and Peanut, we found out she had a sister, and that her parents were in captivity too – we investigated the claims, and followed multiple leads till dead ends, before stumbling upon the three elephants in Jaipur – exploited, tortured and denied everything, including each other’s company. It broke our hearts. Peanut’s rescue, her gradual development into the naughty, wonderful and gleeful young calf she is today gives us so much joy, but in the back of our hearts, Suman’s story – and that of her parents – casts a depressing shadow. We have to get her out.

Last year, we introduced Suman tentatively to our supporters – but use the name Hazel and cropped pictures of her to avoid risking the lives of our sources and jeopardizing her rescue. All the while we struggle to gather intelligence on the elephant – she is hidden away now, chained in a basement that she is never allowed to leave. We hear heartbreaking stories of how she is no longer allowed to see her mother because they both get so overwhelmed and cry when they see each other. We hear she ran amuck when she was taken out last, she’s a baby elephant so it isn’t at all surprising that she still has a little spirit left in her – but that ever since then, she isn’t even taken out anymore, just tightly restrained by two feet in the dungeon that is her home now.chanda_o1

Chanda, mother of Suman and Peanut.

She sways her head miserably, monotonously. She’s stressed, bored and scared – worst of all she is alone, except for humans that hurt her. At the fort, and at tourist spots across the city, Chanda lugs tourists around on her back in the blistering heat, her footpads searing on the hot tarred roads and rocky streets. She must be in unimaginable anguish, but the pain of losing her babies – twice – must be infinitely worse. As a bull, Bijli is hidden away, likely being beaten regularly to keep him submissive, despite all the anguish humans have imparted him.Bijli_dad

Bijli, father of Suman and Peanut.

Their status in Jaipur is never legalized, since their sale and transport was illegal, but the government, the Forest Department, everyone entrusted with ensuring their welfare, seems oblivious to their existence. Attempts are made to sell them which we manage to put a hold on, even as attempts are made to obtain false documents for the three.

Just as the authorities turn a blind eye to the plight of these three elephants, they turn a deaf ear to our repeated attempts to reach out to them for help. Tourism drives the city of Jaipur, and the elephants drive tourism – a government that takes a stand to actually enforce the law for the welfare of these animals also stands to lose favor amongst the locals, and a lot of tourism money.

We feel helpless, but we cannot give up on Suman and her family. As a baby, she is faced with an uncertain future – either 50 years of abuse, beatings, neglect and fear or 50 years of safety, kindness, veterinary care and love from people and other elephants at our rescue centre. Five decades of cruelty, or five decades of care. We are reaching out to our supporters, and elephant lovers across the world to stand strong for Suman and ensure her future is safe with us – please join us in imploring the authorities in Jaipur to save Suman and her family and reunite her with her sister in ECCC.

The information we have shows that we can’t wait any longer for the authorities to take action and we need international pressure to speak out on behalf of Suman and her family.  Their freedom will come with international pressure.  

The ways you can take action are to:

  1. Sign the petition to the Chief Wildlife Warden asking for their freedom.  He has the power to take action on behalf of all 3 elephants.
  2. Share this link with people who love elephants that explains the campaign.
  3. Stay informed- we will be doing regular updates with new ways you can help.
  4. Boycott elephant attractions in Jaipur like the Amer Fort and report to your travel agent/guide that the reason you don’t want to go is because of the cruelty inflicted upon the elephants there.
  5. However, if you or someone you know is visiting Jaipur- tell them to keep an eye out for elephant 112 carrying tourists up to the fort,  a baby elephant and male elephant with one tusk missing (although he is sometimes fixed with a prosthetic tusk.).  Very few male elephants live in Jaipur so there is a high likelihood that any males could be Bijli. Send information to us at info@wildlifesos.org

We will be doing everything we can to keep an eye on these elephants.  We will be spending what we can on a public awareness and pressure campaign to help these elephants get freedom.

Speak up, push hard, and raise your voices against this injustice – bring Suman and her family, a family that has already suffered so much pain and loss, out of the darkness and towards a better, kinder future!

https://wildlifesos.org/animals/revealing-hazels-identity-savesuman/

“Earth Day 2020- Message from Wildlife SOS co-founder Kartick Satyanarayan”

Please Do Not Support the Ivory Trade‼️

Vietnamese toddler suffers severe poisoning after drinking rhino horn powder – Tuoi Tre News

Smuggled rhino horns are confiscated by police officers in Vietnam. Photo: A.X. / Tuoi Tre
Tuoi Tre News July 31,2019

Doctors in Ho Chi Minh City have been able to save a 22-month-old baby from severe poisoning after her parents attempted to treat her fever with rhino horn powder.

The young patient is N.K.A.D., who resides in Cu Chi District, the Children’s Hospital 2 confirmed on Wednesday morning.

D. was taken to the infirmary in District 1 by her parents on the afternoon of July 18 with such symptoms as high fever, fatigue, and cyanosis.

As doctors did not detect any heart and lung problems after performing X-ray and echocardiography tests on the toddler, they suspected the cause might be poisoning.

The patient was then given a blood test, whose result indicated that her Methemoglobin level had reached 30 percent, about ten times higher than the normal limit.

The parents stated they had given her a type of drink made from rhino horn powder, believing it could help treat her febrile seizure.

But her condition only got worse, with bluish and purplish colors found on the skin of her fingers, they admitted.

In order to rescue the child, doctors used a ventilator to support her breathing and activated carbon to absorb the toxic substances.

She also underwent blood transfusion and other types of supportive therapy.

D. was able to breathe on her own five days after admission to the hospital, while her cyanosis was also alleviated.

As the functions of her organs were back to normal, the patient was transferred to the Department of General Internal Medicine for further monitoring and treatment.

According to Nguyen Van Loc, a senior doctor at the hospital, D. suffered from Methemoglobinemia, a condition caused by elevated levels of methemoglobin in the blood, which leads to an overall reduced ability of the red blood cell to release oxygen to tissues.

Children can be affected by the condition after consuming certain types of medicine, chemicals, or food, Dr. Loc elaborated.

Methemoglobin concentration in normal people remains at zero to three percent, he stated.

Tissue hypoxia, fatigue, headache, and dizziness may occur if the level reaches 15 to 30 percent, Loc continue, adding that it can be fatal if Methemoglobin concentration exceeds 70 percent.

Rhino horn powder is believed by many in Vietnam to have medicinal or even magical properties.

But Dr. Loc strongly advised against the use of rhino horn as medicine as there has been no scientific evidence showing that they could treat febrile seizure or other health conditions.

https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/society/20190731/vietnamese-toddler-suffers-severe-poisoning-after-drinking-rhino-horn-powder/50832.html

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Photography collective takes a stand against wildlife crime

theartnewspaper.com
Tom Seymour

Neil Aldridge’s image of a blindfolded young white rhino, which was sedated for transport to preserve it from poachers, features in the book. The price of rhino horn on the black market is more valuable by weight than gold, diamonds or cocaine, according to a study NEIL ALDRIDGE/photographersagainstwildlifecrime.com

At the beginning of the 20th century, half a million rhinos roamed Africa. Today, there are fewer than 5,000. In 2007, 13 rhinos were poached; since 2013, more than 1,000 have been killed each year. Overwhelmingly, their horns end up on the Chinese and Vietnamese market, where a burgeoning elite views rhino products as an elixir for all manner of ills, or as an ornamental trinket—the ultimate status symbol.

Rhinos are the most iconic of a host of endangered species driven to extinction by such rampant black markets. Pangolins, the only mammal with scales, are frequently found roasted and served in restaurants across East Asia. Black bears are farmed for their bile, which is extracted for use in traditional medicines, while shark fins and turtles are turned into soup. More than 6,000 tigers are held in captivity in China today—before their skeletons are soaked in rice wine and sold to the elite.

This has posed a challenge to some of the world’s most celebrated wildlife photographers. Should their practice and livelihood change as the animals they spend their careers capturing teeter on the brink of extinction?

“Magazines shy away from publishing such imagery. It doesn’t sell well”

Bigeye Thresher Shark Caught in Net by Brian Skerry (2012) © Brian Skerry

A new collective, Photographers Against Wildlife Crime, has formed to address this question and to confront the nation primarily connected to this horrific rise in poaching: China. Co-founded by the award-winning photographer Britta Jaschinski, the group includes some of the most renowned wildlife photographers in the world, including Adrian Steirn, Brent Stirton and Brian Skerry. It was formed in part due to wildlife crime’s lack of visibility in Western publications, Jaschinski says.

“Millions of animals are caught and harvested from the wild and sold in China as food, pets, tourist curios, trophies and for use in traditional Chinese medicine,” she says, adding that the issue doesn’t get the column inches it deserves. “The subject is so upsetting for a lot of people that magazines shy away from publishing such imagery,” Jaschinski adds. “It doesn’t sell well.”
Reaching the target audience

Together, Jaschinski and her colleagues crowdfunded and self-published a collection of their photographs alongside contemporary reporting on the issues behind wildlife crime. The book was initially published in English and quickly sold out. “But we realised we weren’t reaching the target audience that really mattered,” Jaschinski says.

Working in conjunction with a Chinese printer based in London, Jaschinski and her team have translated the book into Mandarin. After months of negotiating with the authorities, they are now in the process of distributing the book across the Chinese mainland.

The book is the first of its kind to be created specifically for a Chinese audience, and explicitly sets out to end the demand for wildlife products in China. It will be launched across the country in July and August, actively targeting the Chinese wildlife consumer market, the trading nucleus for one of the biggest black markets in the world.

Frozen pangolins by Paul Hilton © Paul Hilton

The illegal wildlife trade is the world’s fourth biggest criminal trade after drug smuggling, illegal firearms trade and human trafficking. The price of rhino horn on the black market, Jaschinski points out, is more valuable by weight than gold, diamonds or cocaine, according to a study by Science Advances. Rhino horn is estimated to fetch up to $60,000 per pound on the black market, and the illicit industry as a whole is estimated to be worth $20bn. Andrea Crosta, the director of the Elephant Action League, has called ivory the “white gold of jihad”, pointing out that al-Shabaab, an Islamic terrorist organisation, is funded directly by the illicit ivory and rhino horn trade in China.
Ban is barely enforced

In 2017, the Chinese authorities announced that all trade in ivory and its products would be made illegal. But the ban was barely enforced, Jaschinki says. The trade in rhino and tiger has been prohibited since 1993, but in October 2018, China alarmed conservationists by announcing that products from captive animals are authorised “for scientific, medical and cultural use”.

“I’ve worked on wildlife crime for 25 years—and I don’t distinguish between legal and illegal wildlife crime,” Jaschinski says. “China is becoming the economic leader of the world; I wanted to look at the horrendous treatment of animals and nature in the country, and especially at the link between poaching and trade in the country, and the mistreatment of animals in captivity in China.”

Bruno D’Amicis’s image of a Fennec fox pup offered for sale to a tourist after being caught in the desert in Tunisia. (Kebili Governorate, Tunisia, May 2012) © Bruno D’Amicis

While the images are often appalling, they have artistic merit, for each photographer involved has approached the subject from a different perspective, and by employing a different style. In the introduction to the book, Roz Kidman Cox, the chair of the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year jury, writes: “Some set out to highlight injustice through statement art, creating images that are unforgettable through their power—fury expressed beautifully. Others take dismembered beauty and reincarnate it in a haunting arrangement, turning evidence into art. Or they use the iconography of classical art to give their compositions human resonance, echoing a crucifixion, a deathbed repose or the spoils of war.”

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/amp/news/photography-collective-takes-a-stand-against-wildlife-crime?__twitter_impression=true

What to Do if You Witness Wildlife Crime While Traveling

sierraclub.org

Kim Carson Cianciola, an insurance subrogation specialist out of Englewood, Colorado, was appalled when she spotted jaguar and tiger cubs chained within a tent in the middle of a marketplace while on vacation in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. For a few bucks, tourists could get a snap with these young big cats.

Cianciola didn’t believe what she was seeing could be legal, but she didn’t know what to do about it. “I was so furious and upset when I saw that,” she says. “The little tiger cub was just looking at me, and the jaguar cub looked so sad, and there was nothing I could do about it.”

While traveling abroad, tourists may witness wildlife crime and abuses on many fronts, including at restaurants and in local shops. Travelers don’t have to feel helpless, however. Here are some tips from representatives at the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the nongovernmental organization TRAFFIC, which specializes in the wildlife trade on a global level.

Know Before You Go

“I’m sure the overwhelming majority of tourists don’t wish to encourage illegal or questionable wildlife trade, but there are a number of ways in which they may inadvertently do so,” says Richard Thomas, global communications coordinator at TRAFFIC.

For instance, many tourists may know that wildlife products like ivory are a big no-no but might not be aware that certain species of shell like the queen conch—widely harvested in the Caribbean—are also protected by international law, says Thomas. Another example of an item illegally sold in the Caribbean is the coral necklace, says Christina Meister, national public affairs specialist with USFWS.

However, not all distasteful wildlife activity is illegal. That situation with the two big cat cubs, while no doubt unpleasant for Cianciola to witness, could have been legal in Mexico, depending on the origin of the cubs. Because laws and regulations (as well as at-risk wildlife species) vary by region and country, it’s important to research the area you’re visiting beforehand, says Meister. You can do so by visiting the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna’s (CITES) website. Meister says you can also call or email USFWS ahead of your trip with any specific questions or concerns: 1-844-FWS-TIPS (397-8477) or fws_tips@fws.gov.

Trust Your Gut and Ask Questions

So you’ve reached your vacation destination and something makes you feel uncomfortable. What should you do? “We usually tell people the best thing to do is be situationally aware and trust their guts,” says Meister.

If you think you’ve encountered questionable wildlife activity and you feel comfortable doing so, ask the vendor questions like “Do you have the paperwork for this?” and “Where did this come from?” Meister says tourists most frequently encounter illegal wildlife activity at restaurants and shops and adds that it might not always “look” like crime. To illustrate this point, she uses an example of an elderly woman on the corner selling coral jewelry.

Also, consider where animals originated and where they may end up. “A slow loris used as a photo prop is doubtless sourced from the wild, probably snatched from its mother and having had its teeth removed,” says Thomas. “Elephants used for trekking may be wild sourced and beaten into submission before they enter service; what happens to a lion cub once it grows too big for petting

Gather Details for Authorities

Once you decide that you’ve encountered a potential wildlife crime, collect as many details as you can. The more facts you can include in your report—this includes information like license plate numbers, time of day, exact location, and a description of the animals and people—the better. “Just those little details can help law enforcement officials,” says Meister.SIERRA-Monkey seized in Spain during Operation Thunderbird INTERPOL-WB(2)

Monkey seized in Spain during Operation Thunderbird Courtesy of Interloper

Be Safe and Discreet

Although reporting wildlife crime is important, never do anything to jeopardize your own safety. This may mean reporting the crime when you get home, and that’s OK. “Slightly older information is better than none at all . . . it all helps to build up the overall picture of wildlife markets,” says Thomas. “Clearly, information that is actionable needs to come in as soon as possible, but the issue of personal safety is critical.”

Meister adds that aside from asking the basic questions mentioned above, tourists should resist confronting anyone they suspect may be involved in wildlife crime. “I’d rather leave that up to local law enforcement,” she says.

Coral necklaces | Courtesy of Rachel Kramer

Photograph the Scene (or Don’t)

You can also take photos if you feel comfortable doing so. “I wish that I’d taken a bunch of pictures, but I was so upset,” Cianciola said of her brush with big cat photo tourism in Mexico.

Both Meister and Thomas warn that vendors might not take kindly to photos, so if you decide to document the scene, take care. “Photos are obviously very useful as they help confirm species identification and potentially can be counted, but I’d urge caution in taking them,” says Thomas. “The overriding consideration must be personal safety, first and foremost.”SIERRA-Repository Ryan Moehring USFWS-WB(2)

Courtesy of Ryan Morning/USFWS

 

Finally, Report the Incident

There are a number of ways to report wildlife crime while abroad:
  1. Download and use Wildlife Witness, an app from TRAFFIC available on Apple and Android devices. “All such reports are analyzed by a specialist in TRAFFIC and we pass on all credible reports to appropriate authorities,” says Thomas. During the 2017–18 period, the organization received 268 submissions from 159 users in relation to 156 unique locations across nine countries in Southeast Asia, says Thomas.
  2. Call or email USFWS’s 24-hour wildlife hotline: 1-844-FWS-TIPS (397-8477) or fws_tips@fws.gov. According to the USFWS website, you can call anonymously or work with officers as a confidential informant. While the Fish and Wildlife Service may not have jurisdiction in the country you visited, the information you provide may help with a larger international or ongoing investigation, says Meister.
  3. Contact local authorities or nongovernmental organizations yourself. This will require research on your part, but you can start by looking for local environment departments or ministries and local nonprofit organizations specializing in wildlife rescue.

https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/what-do-if-you-witness-wildlife-crime-while-traveling?amp&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=sierramag&utm_medium=social&__twitter_impression=true

Thousands of wild animals seized in smuggling crackdown

3000

 

theguardian.com
Agence France-Presse

Nearly 600 arrests in Interpol operation that nets primates, big cats, birds and reptiles
Caged animals seized during a police crackdown
The operation, which covered 109 countries, led to 582 people being detained. Photograph: Kerek Wongsa/Reuters

Police across the globe have seized thousands of wild animals, including primates and big cats, and arrested nearly 600 suspects in a crackdown on illegal wildlife smuggling, Interpol has said.

Covering 109 countries, the operation was carried out in coordination with the World Customs Organization (WCO), with investigators homing in on trafficking routes and crime hotspots, the international policing body said.

Operation Thunderball, based in Singapore, was aimed at transnational crime networks seeking to profit from wildlife smuggling activities. It was the third such Interpol mission in recent years.

An Interpol spokeswoman said police were holding 582 suspects, with further arrests and prosecutions expected to follow. Among the animals seized were 23 primates, 30 big cats, more than 4,300 birds, nearly 1,500 live reptiles and close to 10,000 turtles and tortoises, the organisation said.

They also confiscated 440 elephant tusks and an additional 545kg of ivory, the organisation said, pointing to a flourishing illegal wildlife trade online.

In Spain, 21 people were arrested thanks to an online investigation, and in Italy, a similar probe led police to seize 1,850 birds.

“Wildlife crime not only strips our environment of its resources, it also has an impact through the associated violence, money laundering and fraud,” said Interpol’s secretary general, Jürgen Stock.

Interpol said slight declines in the seizures of certain species were a sign that continued enforcement efforts were working and that compliance levels were improving.

“It is vital that we stop criminals from putting livelihoods, security, economies and the sustainability of our planet at risk by illegally exploiting wild flora and fauna,” said Ivonne Higuero, secretary general of CITES, an international treaty to protect wild animals and plants.

Interpol has previously carried out similar large-scale crackdowns in 2017 and 2018 that netted seizures worth several million dollars.
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Poachers slammed with 80 year sentence for illegal poaching

dailynews.co.tz
Tanzania Standard Newspapers Ltd

THE Manyoni District Court in Singida Region yesterday sentenced two poachers to 80 years imprisonment for unlawful dealing in government trophies by killing five wildlife animals and illegal possession of firearm.

Resident Magistrate Stella Kiama convicted the duo, Ramadhan Saidi, alias Kitoweo, and Mohamed Rashid Sanda, of the offences after being satisfied by the evidence produced by prosecution witnesses.

The prosecution’s team led by State Attorneys Salimu Msemo, Patrida Muta and Tulumanywa Majigo had told the court that the convicts were involved in killing of three elephants and one giraffe, which are government trophies.

Magistrate Kiama sentenced both convicts to 20 years in jail each for dealing in trophies by killing the four elephants and another 20 years imprisonment sentence for dealing in trophies by killing the giraffe.

The convicts were also sentenced to 20 years in jail each for being found with a rifle in suspicious circumstances, while Kitoweo alone was given additional 20 years custodian sentence for unlawful possession of firearm.

However, the magistrate ordered each convict to remain in jail for only 20 years because the sentences provided in every count run concurrent with the other.

In addition to such custodian sentence, the magistrate ordered for forfeiture to the government of the United Republic of Tanzania the firearm.

It was alleged by the prosecution that on diverse dates between the year 2016 and 2017 at Sikonge District in Tabora region and at Manyoni District in Singida region, the convicts dealt in government trophies by killing the said four wild animals.

According to the prosecution, the convicts committed such offences without permit from the Director of Wildlife Division.

The court was also told that on June 10, 2017 at Magumukila area within Sikonge district, Kitoweo was found with the firearm without having a valid permit.

https://dailynews.co.tz/news/2019-06-025cf37158be565.aspx

Petition: Elephant Massacre in Botswana; Restore Anti-Poaching Units Now!

change.org

Nicole Rojas started this petition to President Mokgweetsi Masisi and 1 other

On September 3rd, 87 elephant carcasses were found near the Okavango Delta wildlife sanctuary in Botswana. This is an unprecedented massacre considering Botswana has been recognized as one of the formidable defenders and conservationists of wildlife in Africa.

Botswana is home to approximately 130,000 elephants. Due to its steadfast conservation, elephants from other countries were crossing the borders into Botswana for safety.

However, after the election of President Mokgweetsi Masisi in May of this year, anti-poaching units (APU) were removed from the country’s borders and the anti-poaching teams’ weapons were confiscated. If these APUs were present, this recent killing spree of elephants could have been thwarted successfully.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council in 2017, 74% of travel to Botswana was by tourists compared to business travel. Monies generated by tourists was 686.6 million USD or 7,119.6 million BWP (Botswana Pula) and this contributed to 26,000 jobs for 2017. The obvious reason tourists travel to Botswana is to see wildlife. If anti-poaching units are not restored, the number of wildlife will continue to dwindle and in effect lead to a loss of revenue and jobs, affecting the economy as a whole.

Each year approximately 35,000 elephants are killed in Africa. If their population continues to decline due to poaching, ecosystems will be affected. The presence of elephants in the delicate ecosystem is undeniably paramount in not only supporting other wildlife but for the people who live in Africa as well. Elephants in the wild aide in generating tourism dollars which fuels the economy that then helps to feed the hungry, finance education programs and enable health-care programs that save lives.

The wildlife presence in Botswana has an obvious overwhelming positive effect on human life. If we stand idly by, the loss of wildlife will have a negative effect in the quality of life for the people of Botswana.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi and the government of Botswana, your gravitas and solemnity are being beckoned by the world for you to restore the Anti-Poaching Units and arm game rangers. Your conservation efforts to protect the wildlife will in effect help your people and maintain the economy of Botswana.
https://www.change.org/p/president-mokgweetsi-masisi-restore-anti-poaching-units-to-prevent-future-elephant-poaching-in-botswana

Breaking! Tiger Poachers Arrested In Thailand; Authorities Warn More Criminal Gangs Are Threatening Critically Endangered Tigers In The Wild – World Animal News

By WAN –
January 24, 2019

An image found on a confiscated mobile phone documents a suspected poacher standing over a dead tiger in a forest in Thailand. Photo from Freeland Foundation.
Following a three-month investigation, Thai officials are warning that organized crime gangs that are dispatched across borders are targeting the endangered wild tigers in Thailand and Malaysia.
According to Freeland Foundation, a frontline counter-trafficking organization working for a world that is free of wildlife trafficking and human slavery, Thai authorities have arrested one of many gangs.
The investigation was initiated after the successful arrest of two Vietnamese males by Thai Police in October 2018 following a tip-off from a Thai driver-for-hire.
The observant driver, who was taking the men from the western town of Tak to Pitsanalok, thought the baggage was suspicious, so he called the police who subsequently stopped the vehicle, inspected the bag, and discovered a fresh tiger skeleton inside.
The police arrested the owners of the bag, took the suspects and tiger remains to the Nakorn Sawan Police station, and inspected the suspects’ belongings, including their phones.

Police then contacted Freeland for analytical assistance.
Freeland’s forensics experts were dispatched to the scene and provided on-the-job training. Using Cellebrite digital forensics technology, police found evidence that the poaching coordinators, originating from Vietnam, had crossed Laos into Thailand to sponsor targeted hunting inside the forests of Thailand and Malaysia, and possibly Myanmar. The poachers documented their trips on their phones, including tiger kills.
Freeland believes the poachers were working on assignment from a Vietnamese criminal syndicate.
“We do not think this was the poacher’s or poaching coordinators’ first time in Thailand, or working together, and we have reason to believe they were planning to strike again,” Petcharat Sangchai, Director of Freeland-Thailand said in a statement.
Following the discovery of the gang and poached tiger, Thai rangers were put on high alert.
“This gang has been removed as a threat, but we should be aware that whoever employed them may dispatch more hunters to kill our country’s tigers,” said Sanchai. “Police, rangers, and the public must remain vigilant.”
Tragically, there are only an estimated 2,500 tigers remaining in the wild.
Freeland Foundation is requesting that people with any information on the “poachers’ ID, whereabouts, or about other poaching coordinators” to contact them; noting on their Facebook page that “solid tips” like the one that resulted in the arrest of two poaching coordinators who are in jail now, may be rewarded.”
Freeland Thailand is located at 92/1 Soi Phahonyothin 5, Phahonyothin Road, Phaya Thai, Bangkok 10400 THAILAND. The phone number is +(66) 2-278 2033 and fax number is +(66) 2-278 2037. Tips may also be sent to info@freeland.org

https://worldanimalnews.com/breaking-tiger-poachers-arrested-in-thailand-authorities-warn-more-criminal-gangs-are-threatening-endangered-species/

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Breaking! Three Rangers Arrested On Suspicion Of Rhino Poaching In Kruger National Park, South Africa – World Animal News

By WAN –
January 18, 2019

South African National Parks (SANParks) announced today that three Field Rangers were arrested earlier this week on suspicion of rhino poaching in Kruger National Park (KNP).
The Rangers, who were based at Crocodile Bridge, were apprehended on Tuesday and subsequently held in custody for further investigation.
30-year-old Mr. Lucky Mkansi and 32-year-old Mr. Nzima Joe Sihlangu, appeared in the Skukuza Magistrate Court yesterday. They were released on bail fixed at R10,000 each with strict conditions, which include; not travelling without informing the investigating office, barring them from having contact either physically or by electronic means with rangers, as well as being under 24 hours house arrest.
The third Field Ranger arrested is due to appear at the Bushbuckridge Magistrate Court this afternoon.
“It is always very sad when your own staff become involved in poaching, however, we want to congratulate the SANParks and SAPS investigators for their diligent work in bringing these members to book. Slowly but surely, we are coming to grips with people within our ranks who are sabotaging our efforts in this campaign,” KNP Managing Executive, Glenn Phillips, said in a statement. “We still have confidence in those who are committed and loyal; and would like to encourage them to continue with their excellent work. We will not be deterred in ensuring that we are successful in continuing the fight against the scourge of wildlife crime in KNP.”
SANParks internal disciplinary procedures against the corrupt rangers are also underway.
The arrests were a joint effort by the SANParks Rangers, Environmental Investigation Unit, SAPS and Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation.
SANParks remains committed to doing everything in its power to fight the scourge of poaching.

https://worldanimalnews.com/breaking-three-field-rangers-arrested-on-suspicion-of-rhino-poaching-in-kruger-national-park-south-africa/

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rhino poaching South Africa

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Demand Justice for Baby Rhino Orphaned by Poachers

Baby rhino David was left as an orphan after poachers slaughtered his entire family for their horns. Demand justice for David and stricter anti-poaching laws in South Africa.

Source: Demand Justice for Baby Rhino Orphaned by Poachers

Sign Petition: Justice for David — The Rhino Calf Whose Entire Family Was Killed By Poachers

by: Care2 Team
recipient: SANParks

135,530 SUPPORTERS – 140,000 GOAL

One day David the 4-month-old rhino was frolicking in the savannas of South Africa, without a care in the world, running alongside his uncles and aunts, tugging on his mother’s tail. But the next day would change his life forever.

Under the cover of darkness, poachers came upon his family and slaughtered all of them. When park officials and rescuers from David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation came upon the adult rhinos’ carcasses, they found the young rhino calf petrified and cowering next to his mother’s body.

Now David, like so many other rhino calves is an orphan. One who will never learn the vital lessons his mother could have taught him to better survive in the wild. David was so tiny that rescuers — in tears from the tragic sight — were able to lift him into the back of a truck in order to take him to his new home, a rhino orphanage.

Rhinos are under threat. In total there are less than 30,000 in rhinos left on Earth separated into five different species. From the Javan rhino which numbers less than 70 to the white rhino at 20,000. These animals are all teetering on the edge. Currently, 3 rhinos are poached per day around the world.

All in all, Africa has seen a constant slaughter of their rhino population. Over the last decade more than 7,250 were killed and in South Africa — where David’s family was massacred — more than 1000 alone were poached for their horns in the last year.

This cannot continue. The world demands that governments work harder than ever to protect Africa’s rhinos. The world demands justice for David. Please sign the petition and tell South Africa to do more to stop the poaching and bring the killers of David’s family to justice.For more info, visit the David Shepherd Wildlife foundation.

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/341/366/192/

 

Dozens Of Cheetahs Are Being Sold On Social Media Platforms Contributing To The Illegal Wildlife Trade; What Is Being Done To Stop It? – World Animal News

By WAN –
November 25, 2018

A recent analysis of Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) research establishes that dozens of cheetahs are being advertised for sale every year on social media platforms.
The analysis, which covers the period between January 2012 and June 2018, aims to determine the extent to which the illegal cheetah trade exists online and to document the most relevant threats.
Cheetahs are listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This means trade in wild-born cheetahs is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. However, CCF data analysis shows that 1,367 documented cheetahs were offered for sale through 906 advertisments, which is approximately one-fifth (20%) of the world’s remaining wild cheetah population. Cheetahs are on a swift decline, dropping from an estimated 100,000 individuals a century ago to fewer than 7,500 today.
The most utilized platforms in 15 countries are Instagram, 4Sale (mobile app) and YouTube, with the Gulf Cooperation Council accounting for over 90% of the ads, and Saudi Arabia totaling more than 60% of those.
The analysis focused on the three top sellers, all of whom are based in Saudi Arabia and posted 20% of all advertisments. Of these sellers, one alone accounted for 12% of all ads analyzed, and was found to offer multiple species that include: lions, tigers, jaguars, wolves, gibbons, and chimpanzees.
“The illegal trade in live cheetahs impacts the smaller, fragmented populations in East Africa the most. Mitigating the threat requires a concerted effort by governments to not only confiscate the animals, but to embark on awareness campaigns to reduce demand for endangered species as pets,” Dr Laurie Marker, CCF Founder and Executive Director said in a statement. “Already vulnerable, cheetah populations, particularly those in Ethiopia and Somalia, are at risk of local extinction because of poaching for the illegal pet trade.”
CCF estimates put the number of smuggled cheetahs out of East Africa at 300 per year. Many more die before being shipped to the Middle East.
“CCF maintains a ‘safe house’ in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, where a team of animal keepers are caring for eleven confiscated cheetahs,” said Patricia Tricorache, CCF’s Assistant Director of Illegal Wildlife Trade. “Eight were confiscated within a three-week period, and two were just three-weeks-old when intercepted. One of the youngest died a few days after confiscation.”
CCF has been working on counter poaching and trafficking since 2005.
Since 2011, CCF has assisted the Somaliland government with the surrender or confiscation of 50 cheetahs. On August 28th, a landmark victory was achieved in local courts when two subjects charged with wildlife trafficking were sentenced to three years in prison and fined $300 USD and their vehicle seized; marking the first conviction for the illegal cheetah trade in Somaliland.

https://worldanimalnews.com/dozens-of-cheetahs-are-being-sold-on-social-media-platforms-contributing-to-the-illegal-wildlife-trade-what-is-being-done-to-stop-it/

 

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