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Elephant bodies lay strewn over the vast Okavango Delta bushes north of Botswana. Their tusks were still intact and no gunshots or other physical wounds were detected.
What killed at least 275 of these giant mammals remains a mystery three months later.
After post-mortems and laboratory analyses failed to reveal the cause of death, Botswana sought assistance from laboratories in South Africa, Zimbabwe and the US.
The discovery of the wildlife disaster, according to the Botswana government, was on April 25 in areas around the Okavango Delta. Government has so far verified the 275 elephant carcasses of the 356 that were reported to its wildlife and national parks body.
Botswana says it cares about elephants
Botswana, which has considered culling to deal with the elephant-human conflict, said the impression had been created that it had no interest in the mass elephant deaths.
“It is not true that the Botswana government has not been keen in finding out what has been killing our elephants. These allegations that we have not been showing keenness, seriousness and promptness in attending to this issue is a concern for us in that we are now wrongly reduced to a government that is irresponsible and not protecting its wildlife which is our treasure and the backbone of our economy, that is not true,” said Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism Minister Philda Kereng.
“We do not want to rule out any human factor or anything that has to do with toxicology but investigation is ongoing to find out what exactly has been killing our elephants”
Government’s action so far
Kereng said they sprang to action the moment the first case was reported to the department.
“A search was launched to locate the carcasses and get the numbers and when we realise mortality cases were increasing, an investigation team of wildlife veterinarians and biologists was put together to start a wider investigation. Post mortems were done on some of the elephants and we did not find any definitive cause of deaths,” she said.
Tissue samples were taken to veterinary laboratories for analysis and a detailed investigation was done with veterinarians, epidemiologists, pathologists and biologists.
“We also took the samples to laboratories in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Canada and the US. There have been delays due to the Covid-19 restrictions in terms of transportation and travel but we are expecting the last analysis from the US this week.”
The possibilities and suspicions
Earlier this month, Botswana announced that there was no evidence of poaching, especially because the elephants were found with their tusks still intact.
Wild animals such as elephants have been put down in Botswana after they attacked and killed people. Farmers and community members have killed elephants after they attacked them or destroyed their crops. These human wildlife conflict incidents pushed Botswana to do something about its high population of elephants.
The department revealed that the elephants were dying in the Okavango region covering Seronga, Beetsha, Gunutsonga and Eretsha villages.
Government has also warned communities near the areas where dead elephants were found not to touch them or consume their meat.
“It is not true that the Botswana government has not been keen in finding out what has been killing our elephants.”
There are suggestions that the animals might have been poisoned. However, government has maintained that despite the increase in human wildlife conflict cases, Batswana have lived side by side with the wildlife animals and would not just kill them for no reason. But pressure is mounting for Botswana to establish what killed the elephants.
“We do not want to rule out any human factor or anything that has to do with toxicology but investigation is ongoing to find out what exactly has been killing our elephants,” she said.
The minister said the mysterious deaths were a first in Botswana.
The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) are in the process of laying animal cruelty charges in terms of the Animal Protection Act (APA), 71 of 1962, against Walter Slippers, owner of two captive predator breeding facilities in Alldays, Limpopo.
Leaked photos show the emaciated lions at Walter Slippers’ Lion Breeding Farm – March 2020. All photos supplied.
During inspections in April and May 2020, the NSPCA found deplorable conditions with underweight lions, lack of adequate shelter, lack of veterinary treatment, as well as unhygienic and small enclosures.
Slippers has 72 lions on his farm, which is in liquidation, and he allegedly feeds them a giraffe every two to three weeks.
On 12 May 2020, the NSPCA was informed that seven of the lions housed at one of Slippers’ facilities had escaped… which appears to support their findings that he is not only negligent in the way these lions are kept from a welfare point of view, but also in terms of public safety.Lions at Walter Slippers Lion Breeding Farm – April 2018
“We believe that permits should never have been granted to keep lions, or any other predators like the tigers, as not only was the fencing wholly inadequate, but there are specific dramatic shortfalls on the welfare of these animals – and their welfare has consistently been compromised,” said Senior Inspector Douglas Wolhuter (Manager NSPCA Wildlife Protection Unit).
The NSPCA has issued further warnings in terms of contraventions of the APA to all role players concerned. A deadline has also been issued for an action plan regarding the animals and the NSPCA is taking further legal action, which will see criminal charges brought about.Walter Slippers Lion Breeding Farm – July 2016
Sadly, this is not the first time that evidence of shocking animal neglect and cruelty has emerged from Slippers farms, with images of malnourished lions surfacing in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2020. More in Home
In 2016, Slippers accepted responsibility and promised the NSPCA he would address the frequency and quantity of his lion feeding regime, as well as provide them with ongoing vet records.
With subsequent evidence of abuse in 2018 and now again in 2020, a consistent pattern of neglect is unfortunately emerging from his farm, putting Slippers in breach of his permit conditions and in further non-compliance with the APA, according to a press statement from Blood Lions.
“In the absence of national norms and standards for the captive keeping and breeding of big cats for commercial purposes, sadly animal cruelty and issues of neglect are rife in this industry,” says Dr Louise de Waal (Blood Lions Campaign Manager).
“Considering there are at least 8,000 lions in captivity in South Africa, but probably many more, the scale of such welfare issues is of huge concern.”
Paul Tully from Captured in Africa told SAPeople: “It’s quite absurd to think that the South African Government continues to allow what are clearly crimes against nature. The connected industries of lion parks (that offer tourists a chance to pet lion cubs) and the disgraceful lion bone trade – which is still legal in South Africa and clearly promotes the continued poaching of lions (both wild and captive) for their parts – must be industries that are ended sooner rather than later, before more lions are abused and tourists scammed out of their money.”
In October 2018, the Lion Coalition wrote a letter to Sam Makhubele (LEDET’s Director for Wildlife Trade and Regulation) asking for Slippers’ predator breeding permit to be revoked and to ensure he would never be allowed to breed big cats again.
Notwithstanding, Limpopo’s provincial nature conservation authority has renewed his permit every single time.
Images from Walter Slippers Lion Breeding Farm – February 2015
Slippers has a history of controversy going back as far as 2010, when he attempted to purchase two white rhino bulls for pseudo-hunts involving Vietnamese citizens. It was also reported that he used to transport cubs from his breeding facility to his restaurant, Toeka Plaas Kombuis, for visitors to interact with.
The NSPCA is the statutory body tasked with responding to wild animal welfare complaints, conducting its own welfare investigations and attempting to regulate good welfare practices without state funding or resources. They need your help to carry out their duty of looking after the welfare of our wild animals. Please help by donating HERE.
Show captionHen harriers are among the falcons being targeted. Photograph: AlamyRSPB
Charity says lockdown has been seen as green light to target birds in belief there is less chance of getting caught
The RSPB has been “overrun” with reports of birds of prey being illegally killed since lockdown began.
Police have been called out to investigate multiple cases of raptors being shot, trapped or suspected of having been poisoned, with the charity saying most incidents were on or close to sporting estates managed for game bird shooting.
The RSPB has logged at least 56 potential offences – more than one a day on average – since lockdown began on 23 March, including 15 confirmed shot birds of prey and 24 birds submitted for further postmortem analysis after suspected illegal killing.
Birds targeted in the last six weeks include hen harriers, peregrine falcons, red kites, goshawks, buzzards and a barn owl.
On 29 March, a buzzard was found with its wing fractured by gunshot at Shipton, near York. The buzzard was rehabilitated by a local wildlife expert and recovered. Over the Easter weekend, a red kite was found shot dead near Leeds with 12 shotgun pellets in its body.
In Scotland, the police are investigating several raptor persecution cases and reports of the use of illegal traps on grouse moors.
Mark Thomas, head of UK investigations for the RSPB, said: “Since lockdown began, the RSPB has been overrun with reports of birds of prey being targeted. It is clear that criminals on some sporting estates, both in the uplands and lowlands, have used the wider closure of the countryside as an opportunity to ramp up their efforts to kill birds of prey.
“Spring is the time when birds of prey are most visible and therefore vulnerable, as they put on courtship displays, build nests and find food ready to breed. The criminal actions are targeted and malicious in nature, taking out birds before they have the opportunity to breed, often in areas where they have previously faced persecution.”
“Lockdown has been seen as a green light by those involved in raptor persecution offences to continue committing crimes, presumably in the belief that there are fewer people around to catch them doing so,” he said. “I remain grateful to everyone involved in investigating these crimes, and thankfully in the vast majority of the cases I am aware of, it looks like some really good lines of inquiry are taking place which should lead to arrests and interviews.”
Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association, said: “Any confirmed reports of raptor persecution are cause for concern. The incidents specified near Leeds and York … [by the RSPB] are clearly not on grouse moors, while reports we have from our members in the uplands have suggested that many birds of prey are in fact benefiting from the lockdown restrictions and the subsequent reduction in disturbance from members of the public. Estates across the country have reported a number of raptors including peregrine, merlin and hen harriers nesting and living on those landscapes.
“We condemn any illegal activity and Moorland Association members have signed up to a cross-sector zero tolerance approach to wildlife crime.”
Dr Ruth Tingay of Raptor Persecution UK and co-founder of Wild Justice, said: “The reported surge really shouldn’t come as any surprise. Birds of prey have been ruthlessly targeted on many game-shooting estates for decades; lockdown simply provides the criminals with more opportunity to pursue their targets with little fear of detection or consequence.
“The big question remains the same – lockdown or not: when will this government acknowledge the scale and extent of the problem and hold these shooting estates to account? Wilful blindness can no longer be tolerated.”
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In Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, a Brookville teen was sentenced to two years of probation on Monday after pleading guilty to animal cruelty as he and another teen were caught on a viral video kicking and abusing an injured deer.
Alexander Smith, 18, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor cruelty to animals and four summary offenses, according to the Jefferson Prothonotary’s Office. Smith had originally been charged with four counts of felony animal cruelty, but those charges have since been dismissed.
According to CbsPittsburgh ,the video was posted on November 30 by Gregg Rossman, who identified the teens after first seeing the footage on Snapchat.
“Something definitely needs done. This video was shared to me from a mutual friend on Snapchat,” Rossman said. “I was not a part of this! I shared simply to get the attention of authorities!”
Video: (copy and paste url into your browser to view )
The viral video showed Smith and another teen laughing as they kicked the injured white-tailed buck in the face and ripped off one of her antlers. Brookville Police Chief Vince Markle identified one of the teens in the video as his stepson and stated he was sickened by the situations.
In addition to two years of probation, Smith will also serve 200 hours of community service and must be available to the game commission to speak at hunting safety courses, schools and youth groups. Smith also had his hunting license revoked for 15 years.
No information has been made available as to the other teen involved in this egregious animal cruelty case.
Myanmar transit route for China’s wildlife trade
NE NOW NEWS
Myanmar is an important trade and transit route for wildlife products of China.
It has also suffered from the loss of its own wildlife to the trade.
The capture and killing of wild animals in the country to help satisfy the appetite across the border in China threaten many species that are under threat or facing extinction, including pangolins and elephants, according to reports.
The situation for Asian elephants living in Myanmar has worsened.
According to the NGO Rainforest Rescue, until recently only male Asian elephants were in danger of being poached for ivory, as the females do not have tusks.
Now, the poachers are killing every animal they can find – including females and calves.
After the elephants slowly succumb to poisoned arrows, the poachers skin their prey on the spot.
The NGO claims the survival of the species is at stake if the killing continues.
More than 100 elephants are known to have been poached in Myanmar since 2013 to meet Chinese demand for elephant skin – a market that didn’t exist six years ago that is driven entirely by the criminal energy of southeast Asian elephant poachers.
According to a new study, the business is spreading to other countries via Myanmar and China.
A major hub of the elephant-skin trade is the lawless Myanmar border town Mong La.
It is also flourishing at a market near the Golden Rock, one of Myanmar’s most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites.
The elephant skin is dried, powdered and mixed with coconut oil to make an ointment that is touted as a cure for skin conditions and digestive problems.
Traffickers also mix powdered elephant skin and pangolin scales.
The skin is also made into jewellery, such as beaded bracelets selling for less than $100.
Rainforest Rescue claims the criminal business is internationally organized and the local authorities turn a blind eye.
In Myanmar, elephant poachers face up to seven years in prison, but it has been found that violations are rarely prosecuted.
Many animals or animal parts can be found openly being sold in markets in the country.
However, there is some respite to China’s deadly illicit trade in wildlife as Beijing recently announced a temporary ban on the sale of wildlife in the wake of the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan that is suspected to have originated in the city’s wet market.
While the focus is on demand in China for live and dead animals for consumption for questionable health reasons, Myanmar is caught in the cross-hairs as an important transit route in the illicit trade.
Illegal wildlife traders in china selling Rhino Horn as Medicine for Coronavirus.
Illegal wildlife traders in china selling Rhino Horn as Medicine for Coronavirus.
Practically all the investigations have indicated that the source of the fatal Coronavirus episode that is unleashing devastation in China and around the globe was the illegal wildlife market in Wuhan.
It is accepted that the infection was moved from bats to people by means of pangolin, an endangered creature that is a much looked for after product in the Chinese illegal wildlife exchange markets.
Wuhan has a large market that sells a wide range of animals or animal-based items, including live foxes, wolf puppies, monster lizards, snakes, crocodiles, porcupines, camel meat, rodents, peacocks, and so forth including numerous of those who are restricted.
Presently even after the dangerous infection has spread out, illegal wildlife dealers are attempting to make money.
As per the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), wildlife dealers are presently offering an alleged remedy for Coronavirus, including rhino horns and other rare species parts.
Wildlife dealers and traders in China and Laos have been utilizing online social media websites to peddle items like Angong Niuhuang Wan; a great solution trusted to treat the impacts of strokes and decrease fever. It is sold on the internet via networking websites as pellets and balls made up of animal parts, minerals & herbs. Presently, this old drug is being touted by a few venders as a powerful medicine for the new Coronavirus.
Illegal wildlife traders in china selling Rhino Horn as Medicine for Coronavirus.
“The irony of dealers promoting an illegal wildlife item to treat an infection which was accepted to have begun in the wildlife meat exchange again stresses the necessity for governments, especially China, to handle interest for undermined wildlife utilized in customary medicine,” the EIA said.
The nation has, for some time, been blamed by preservationists for enduring a shadowy exchange of endangered animals as components in traditional drugs or rare meat.
China stays an essential buyer of parts and results of rhinos, large cats, pangolins, and a few different animal types, incorporating for their utilization in conventional medications. To handle this interest, strategy changes required include a far-reaching, permanent restriction on the usage of parts and products of endangered wildlife threatened by the traders, including those from captive sources.
Rhino, one of the most fundamentally endangered animals on the planet, is a much looked for after item in the secret markets of China. In spite of the fact that conventional Chinese medication asserts that the rhino horn has a few therapeutic properties, present-day science has dismissed it. Rhino horns are made of keratin, a similar kind of protein that makes up hair and fingernails
This has, though not prevented Rhinos from being executed for their horns, both in Africa and Asian nations, including India.
As the demand for the Pangolins meat and scales is rising higher than ever in Asia, poachers are employing an array of sophisticated methods to avoid detection and arrest
Today the docile and endangered Pangolin has sadly earned the title of Most trafficked mammal in the world thanks largely to the ever rising demand for the animals meat and scales which are used in traditional Chinese medicines which are thought to cure ailments and disease.
Although Pangolins have been listed as a protected species in China since November 2018, the demand for their scales and meat has grown significantly on the Chinese, Hong Kong and Vietnamese black markets.
It is estimated that over 2.7 Million Pangolins are killed and trafficked from Africa every year. There are currently eight species of Pangolins with four found in Africa and the remaining four found in Asia.
To date the largest ever seizure of illegally trafficked pangolin scales was in Singapore when a shipment containing 12.7 tonnes of scales was seized. The shipment was travelling from Nigeria to Vietnam and it is estimates they belonged to 36,000 pangolins which were Killed and scaled.
The punishment for trafficking pangolins or their body parts in Hong Kong is 10 years in jail and HK$10 Million (AUD $1,930,000).
Cuttack: Officials of Cuttack Forest Division on Sunday arrested a notorious elephant poacher, Babuli Mahalik (45) for his alleged involvement in hunting of over 20 elephants in Athagarh Forest Division of the district.
Acting on a tip-off, a special squad of forest officials led by Athagarh Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Sasmita Lenka, raided the house of Mahalik at Durgaprasad village under in Narsinghpur area of the district and arrested him.
Upon interrogation, Mahalik confessed that he along with his two associates poached two tuskers in Athagarh division under Maniabandha section of the district on 20 February in 2018 and sold the tusks in Nayagarh area.
Mahalik informed that he charges around Rs 30,000 for shooting down an elephant and revealed that he has killed over 20 elephants so far. The forest officials also seized deer skins, antlers and a country-made gun from his possession.
“Babuli is a habitual poacher of Narsinghpur area. He has shot down more than 20 tuskers till date and smuggled tusks to several places. During interrogation, he confessed to have killed two elephants and smuggled their tusks in February in 2018. The case was handed over to Crime Branch after the forest department failed to make any arrests in connection with the case,” informed the DFO.
“After being tipped off regarding his plans to hunt another elephant, we picked him up from his house,” added Lenka.
Based on the inputs of Mahalik about selling the tusks of elephants in Nayagarh area, Lenka said that Nayagarh DFO has been intimated about the matter and investigation will be initiated in this regard soon.
On Saturday, two persons were arrested by the forest department officials for their alleged involvement in elephant poaching case in Sonepur in 2019. The accused have been identified as Suresh Karna and Kalia Karna of Meghanand village of the district. Two tusks weighing nearly 3 kg each were also recovered from their possession.
Wild burros are the target of an unidentified shooter, resulting in dozens of deaths so far. The casualties have been adding up for months and there is no end in sight as long as this offender walks free. Demand justice for these iconic creatures.
Multiple raccoons have been killed and placed in gory displays throughout a small town. Hung by the intestines or nailed to buildings, these poor animals did nothing to deserve this cruelty. Demand that this killer be brought to justice.
The Malawi Police Service, in conjunction with the Department of Parks and Wildlife, have arrested one of Malawi’s most wanted suspected wildlife trafficker, Yunhua Lin.
Lin, 46, a Chinese national, was arrested on Friday, 16 August 2019, in Lilongwe after a three months manhunt. He has been placed on remand in Maula prison, Lilongwe until 11 September when the next hearing will take place.
He is allegedly involved in the smuggling of elephant ivory, rhino horns, pangolin scales among other trophies and has been on the run following the arrest of nine other Chinese nationals and four Malawians in May this year including his wife Qin Hua Zhang.
Police received a tip that Lin was in hiding and managed to arrest him in Lilongwe during a joint operation with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife.
He is connected to the recovery of, a number of wildlife trophies including 3 live pangolins, 556 pangolin scales, 103 pieces of rhino horns, 2 hippo teeth, ivory made chopsticks and processed ivory.
Currently Lin is facing charges of ; illegal possession of listed species contrary to section 86 of National Parks and Wildlife Act as read with section 110 and Dealing in Government trophies contrary to section 91 of National Parks and Wildlife Act. Investigations are on going.
His arrest comes barely three months after nine other Chinese nationals were arrested in connection to the syndicate.
The nine–Yanwu Zhuo (37), Guohua Zhang(47), Jinfu Zeng(58), Guozong Zhang, Lio Hao Yuan(42), Qiang Chen(43), Shine He, Ya Shen Zhuo(51) and Qin Hua Zhang (43)- are currently being remanded to Maula Prison.
Four Malawians suspected accomplices James Mkwezalamba, Cosmas Sakugwa, Julius Sanudia and Steven Daza were also arrested in May this year and are remanded at Maula Prison.
Lin Hao Yuan was previously convicted of attempting to export processed Ivory at KIA in 2014. His wife Qin Hua Zhang and others are on court bail, case under senior resident magistrate , His Worship Msokera, following their arrest in Wildlife related offences in December 2017.
Two young coyote pups were dangled by their feet from a utility pole in front of a home in Vermont’s rural Essex County. The grisly sight took place on a main road and horrified people who passed by. These innocent victims were hunted, killed, and hanged in a smug showcase of vanity.
Brenna Galdenzi of the group Protect our Wildlife was shocked when she saw these poor creatures strung up for a gruesome display. Outraged, she told New England Cable News, “I don’t really think there’s any other way to look at those photos than to be completely appalled.”
Because these pups were hanged on private property, no current laws were violated. Coyotes can be hunted all year in Vermont. In fact, it’s open season on coyotes year-round in most of the US. Even more sickening, most states hold annual coyote-killing contests that are nothing short of “gruesome celebrations of slaughter,” as reported by The Washington Post.
Vermont has recently become the 2nd state to ban these horrific contests, but we need more. Animal advocates are calling for change. However, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board recently denied a petition to restrict coyote hunting. We must speak out to save coyotes and other animals from such brutal treatment.
Sign this petition to urge Governor Scott to call for legislation that would protect coyotes and end barbaric practices such as stringing them up like criminals on display.
PETITION TARGET: Plainfield Police Department Director Lisa Burgess
A defenseless raccoon trapped in a cage in Plainsfield, New Jersey was soaked in accelerant and burned alive, dying in terror and agony on the 4th of July.
Police discovered the body of the juvenile raccoon in the early morning after responding to calls reporting the incident. They found the burned corpse in a small cage on the curbside.
Two other raccoons were discovered in cages outside the home, but they were unharmed. An investigation revealed that a pest control company set up the cages.
Plainfield Police are still investigating this horrific act of cruelty and ask anyone with information to contact Police Lt. Edward Hafekin at 908-753-3131 or Prosecutor’s Office Sgt. Vito Colacitti at 908-527-4670.
Anyone capable of torturing and murdering an innocent animal in this way is a danger to animals and humans, and needs to be caught.
Sign this petition urging Plainfield Police Director Lisa Burgess to ensure police conduct a thorough investigation and prosecute whoever did this to the fullest extent of the law.
(Photo by Hoberman Collection/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
June 24, 2019 12:45PM
More than 500 endangered vultures died in northern Botswana after feasting on elephant carcasses laced with poison, the country’s government announced last week. Conservationists say that poachers targeted the birds—two tawny eagles and 537 vultures comprising five different species—because their scavenging activities, particularly circling carrion, can alert authorities to hunters’ presence.
“Vultures are sentinels to poached animals, so they’re directly being targeted,” Kerri Wolter, CEO and founder of conservation charity VulPro, tells The New York Times’ Kimon de Greef.
According to the government statement, the dead include 468 white-backed vultures, 28 hooded vultures, 17 white-headed vultures, 14 lappet-faced vultures and 10 cape vultures. (White-backed vultures in particular were once common across Africa but they’re now among the most threatened of the continent’s vulture species, with mere thousands remaining in the wild.) Per the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, all of these species are endangered or critically endangered.
As the Telegraph’s Catrina Stewart notes, it’s likely that the ramifications of this event will extend far beyond the initial death count. Given the fact that it is currently vulture breeding season, many of the deceased were new parents; now, they leave behind orphaned youngsters ill-equipped to survive on their own.
“[Since] vultures are late maturing and slow breeders, the magnitude of losing just under 600 vultures in one week is incomprehensible,” Wolter says to BBC News’ Alastair Leithead. “The species cannot withstand these losses and it is impossible to recover the disappearance of these individuals and breeding pairs in our lifetime.”
While vultures may pose an obstacle to poachers, the African Wildlife Federation explains that they are essential for maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Ella Hurworth of CNN further writes that the scavengers help keep the environment clean and minimize the spread of contagious disease. In India, where vultures have “all but disappeared,” according to De Greef of The New York Times, rat and feral dog populations have skyrocketed, leading to an increased likelihood of severe disease outbreaks.
As De Greef reports, the birds were found in a wildlife management area near the border of Botswana and Zimbabwe. Although the mass killing isn’t the first of its kind—in 2013, some 400 to 600 vultures died after dining on a poisoned carcass in Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, and between 2012 and 2014, researchers catalogued 2,044 poaching-related vulture deaths in seven African countries—it is the first to be widely reported in lieu of Botswana’s recent decision to lift its five-year suspension of elephant hunting.
The reversal, which has been criticized by conservationists but lauded by locals who say wild elephants are wreaking havoc on their livelihoods, could pave the way for increased poaching activity in the region. Previously, Rachael Bale points out for National Geographic, Botswana “appeared to have largely escaped the recent ivory poaching crisis,” but in 2017 and 2018, according to the Telegraph’s Stewart, poachers reportedly killed around 400 of the country’s elephants.
If elephant poaching becomes more prevalent in Botswana, vultures will pay part of the price, falling prey to poison left by illegal ivory hunters hoping to evade detection. For now, however, authorities are focusing on decontaminating the area where the birds were found and sending samples of the animals’ carcasses for laboratory analysis.
“The public in the vicinity … is [requested] to report any wildlife mortalities which may be spotted in their areas,” the government statement concludes. “The Department is concerned with the habit of some individuals who deliberately poison animals, as this is dangerous and harmful to the environment. Furthermore, the public is encouraged to desist from engaging in such illegal acts and report any suspicious activities which may suggest environmental poisoning to the nearest wildlife office or the police.”
During World War I, a pigeon named Cher Ami flew for the US Army Signal Corp in France, and served on the front lines for many months. She is credited with single-handedly saving the lives of over 200 American soldiers by flying 25 miles and through a sky of bullets, sustaining serious injuries in the process, to deliver a life-saving message to the Allied lines on behalf of the embattled 77th Infantry Division. Cher Ami was awarded the French Croix de Guerre and the “silver medal” by General Pershing for his heroism and bravery.
What a contrast with how we treat pigeons in Pennsylvania.
In Pennsylvania, pigeons like Cher Ami are netted, often unlawfully and from out of state, stockpiled, and then used for live target shooting competitions known as pigeon shoots.
The British depended on pigeons so extensively during…
Thousands of birds fly over Malta during the migratory season.
And thousands are killed, both legally and illegally. Illegal killings amount to more than 200,000 birds per year — and these are only the documented ones.
Legally, birds that are protected worldwide (including storks) can be shot and caught in nets in Malta, by taking advantage of loopholes that allow hunters to collect birds for “traditional” and “cultural” practices. The black stork is an extremely rare bird and people have been shooting them, using these loopholes.
Although not as screen-worthy as the slaughtering of dolphins in other countries, what happens in Malta is no different. There is no need to hunt these protected species — they are protected for a reason!
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 email@example.com
A father has been sentenced to jail time after he and his son were caught on camera killing a mother bear and her cubs in April of 2018.
After both men pleaded guilty to multiple counts, including illegal killing of the mother bear and her cubs, the father, Andrew Renner, was sentenced on Tuesday to three months in jail while his 18-year-old son Owen Renner received only 30 days of suspended time in connection with the killings.
Clearly, the punishment does not fit the crime for this senseless killing.
The mother bear that was killed was one of 20 fitted with collars for a three-year study that started in 2016, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The study by the department and Chugach National Forest came in response to concerns about declining numbers of black bears in Prince William Sound.
A U.S. Forest Service employee reported the deaths of the mother bear and her cubs to Alaska Wildlife Troopers on April 23rd 2018.
As previously reported by WAN, the shocking slaughter was caught on video by a motion-activated camera outside the den. After they shot the mother bear, they dragged her from the den and realized she had a Fish and Game collar. It also captured Andrew Renner saying, ‘I’m gonna get rid of these guys’ while tossing the cubs’ limp carcasses onto the snow outside the den, the documents said.
The clip captured the younger Renner saying, ‘We got the collar off.’ Next, Andrew Renner said, ‘We’re gonna skin it that way,’ and points away from the den. Owen Renner agrees, saying, ‘They’ll never be able to link it to us.’ They proceed to butcher the sow and place it in game bags, then ski away.
Andrew Renner took the black bear sow to a state wildlife office on April 30th, claiming he and his son had killed it near Granite Bay in Prince William Sound on April 14th, clearly lying.
Troopers said that while interviewing Renner, he said he had skinned the bear, brought the collar, and expressed that he had no knowledge of the mother bear having cubs, and that no cubs were in the area, yet another scathing lie.
Thankfully, everything was caught on camera and Renner and his son have been exposed.
Assistant Attorney General Aaron Peterson said the case was the “most egregious bear cub poaching case his office has ever seen.”
The world’s giraffe population has dropped an alarming 40 percent in the last 20 years, partly due to a booming trade of giraffe parts in the United States. These beautiful, gentle creatures will disappear forever if this is allowed to continue. Sign this petition to save the remaining giraffes from extinction.
On the Fourth of July, a large group of visitors to tiny Sand Island off the coast of Alabama decided to play volleyball on the beach. But there was a problem: bird nests filled with eggs were in the way of where they wanted to play.
So, did the tourists look for another spot to create a volleyball court? Nope. They scooped up the unhatched eggs and scared away the adult birds. Then they “actually made a little dome of sand and placed the eggs around it to decorate it,” Andrew Haffenden, a wildlife researcher who was conducting a bird survey for Birmingham Audubon when he discovered the relocated eggs, told AL.com.
By removing the eggs from their nests, the tourists may have killed hundreds of federally protected least terns — small, white shorebirds with black caps that weigh no more than 1.5 ounces. They lay their grape-sized eggs inside shallow holes they make in the sand on a wide stretch of the beach. Female birds sit on these nests to keep the eggs cool and prevent them from literally baking in the hot summer sun.
To protect their eggs from threats like big waves, larger birds, foxes and other predators, least terns nest in colonies of dozens to hundreds of pairs of birds. Their nests are only a foot or two apart.
“I always refer to them as the world’s best parents,” Katie Barnes, chief biologist for Birmingham Audubon’s Coastal Program, told the New York Times.
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While the Washington Post headline about this disturbing incident said the tourists “accidentally” killed the birds, there’s nothing at all accidental about it. They intentionally disturbed all those unhatched eggs, so they could selfishly play volleyball on the beach.
“It’s pretty nasty”: Beach volleyball players in Alabama accidentally kill hundreds of birds https://t.co/lCexdhL4RP
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 9, 2018
“The thing about the eggs, people think, ‘Oh, they’re eggs,’ but they are also almost fully formed chicks inside. They can walk almost as soon as they hatch,” Haffenden told AL.com. “In that pile of eggs, there were a number that were about to hatch. In fact, if you look at the pictures of the pile you can see an egg that showed pipping [cracks where a chick is pecking its way out of the shell]. What the people did was take those eggs away from the protection of the parents from the sun. So we had dozens of functional chicks die by being baked. It’s pretty nasty.”
Haffenden said he’d seen “swirls of the birds” flying around the small island before he counted 17 boats docked there on the Fourth of July – “so I was pretty disturbed,” he told AL.com. He estimated that hundreds of birds, frightened by the onslaught of people, would have left their nests.
None of the people who moved the eggs have yet been identified. Least terns are included under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which was enacted 100 years ago to protect birds from people. The act makes it illegal for anyone to take their eggs without a federal permit. The penalty is $15,000 and up to a year in jail.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was immediately contacted and is investigating the case. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources was also alerted and is patrolling the island.
To prevent more birds from being killed, Birmingham Audubon has roped off nesting areas on Sand Island and posted signs informing visitors about least terns and urging them to respect their nests. It seems to be working. “We have not seen a human footprint in the area,” Barnes told AL.com. “Boaters have not pulled up to that area.”
There is some good news for least terns on Sand Island: There was a population boom this year. In fact, according to Barnes, their colony might be the largest on record in Alabama. While it’s tragic that hundreds of birds were killed for a volleyball game, Barnes told AL.com the island “has still been a big success for these birds.”
Please please sign and share this petition urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to charge the tourists not only with violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but with animal cruelty to the fullest extent of the law.
Want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling? You, too, can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.
On Esther Island in Alaska, a motion-detecting camera was set up in a bear den as part of a joint three-year study between the US Forest Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. What that camera captured has now led to felony and misdemeanor charges against a Palmer father and son, who authorities say shot dead a sow black bear and her two just-born cubs. The Anchorage Daily News reports that the poachers then tried to cover it up once they saw the mother bear was collared.
Per court documents, Andrew Renner, 41, and Owen Renner, 18, were charged after video clips showed them skiing past the bear den on April 14, when the sow caught their eye. Per an Alaska State Troopers dispatch, Owen Renner then shot at the mother bear twice, and when the baby bears started “shrieking,” Andrew Renner shot and killed them, too. The mother bear was wearing a tracking collar and Renner removed it and attempted to cover up the crime.
PLEASE sign so that these bears can be given justice and the habit of poaching can be shown to be a serious crime!
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Captain Leath says that acts like this poaching incident stand in antithesis to what it means to be a hunter as well as the resource management of the state.
“This is unfortunately a prime example of how even with the state’s best efforts when individuals go out there and take bears legally, as well as this being fairly egregious killing cubs like this, not only undermines the complete foundation of the sportsman’s perspective on it, but it also undermines any effort by the state and the Department of Fish & Game to support that population growth.”
The vessel, vehicle used in the hunt, and hunting rifles were all seized ruing the investigation. Charges against these men include: Tampering with Physical Evidence, Unlawfully Take Female Bear with Cubs, Unlawfully Take Bear Cub x 2, Possess/Transport Illegally Taken Game x 3. A. Renner was additionally charged with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor and Unsworn Falsification in the Second Degree. The case number is AK18027153.
Even though there was stark video evidence of the crime, Captain Leath tells us that the investigation was still extensive.
“The case building, while the video and audio footage no doubt about it was very helpful in identifying the suspect and the crimes of hand, the subsequent investigation that into that as far as identifying the individuals, serving search warrants on the residence, find the vessel and vehicle they used to facilitate the crime, all those additional tasks that were involved, led to quite a lengthy investigation.”
R.I.P. Ranger Respect Mathebula
While still mourning the tragic death of one of their own late last month, members of the Rangers Corps in South Africa are responsible for the recent arrests of 23 suspected rhino poachers in Kruger National Park (KNP).
Tragically, as previously reported by WAN, on Thursday, July 19th, Respect Mathebula became the second Ranger casualty since 1958 involving a poacher contact in Park. Mathebula was shot after making contact with a poaching group that they had been tracking.
As per the organization, Respect joined SANParks in February 2015 as Field Ranger at Shangoni Ranger Section. In July 2016, he moved to Crocodile Bridge Section in the same position and worked there until he passed away.
In a statement released earlier this week by South African National Parks, Managing Executive of KNP, Glenn Phillips commended the work of the Rangers saying they are resilient in the aftermath of the tragic loss of a colleague.
“The arrests are a sign that the Spirit of Respect is being honored by the Rangers Corps,” noted Phillips. “Further to this, the fact that no poachers were wounded or killed in these contacts is a clear demonstration of the professionalism and discipline that embodies our Ranger Corps.”
According to Phillips, there has been relentless poacher activity since Mathebula’s passing, with 156 incidents reported including contacts.
“We are still making a plea to our neighbouring communities to help us in this fight by exposing those who are exploiting their children, husbands, and relatives to hunt rhino illegally,” continued Phillips. “These people do not have the welfare of the communities at heart but are criminals without a conscience, and they need to be put behind bars for a long time for their criminal acts.”
The 23 arrested suspects were also in possession of 10 high calibre rifles and poaching equipment. They will be facing charges related to poaching and possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.
“Very few people have the courage and necessary skills to perform this important task other than Rangers, in which Respect was and will forever be part of. Etlela hi kurhula Respect – May your soul rest in peace,” the organization shared in a tribute to the lost hero who left behind his wife, Wisdom Ndlovu, their four children, five brothers, two sisters and all other family members. “You upheld the Ranger values and flew the SANParks flag high with honour. We are poorer with your absence but will continue where you left off.”
WAN salutes Mathebula and his fellow Rangers who continue to work tirelessly and selflessly to protect some of the world’s most endangered species from some of the planet’s most egregious predators, greedy humans!
Picture from South China Morning Post. The shipment arrived from Lagos, Nigeria.
Sad news from Hong Kong was revealed last week after the Tsing Yi customs cargo examination compound came across a 40 foot container which the manifest claimed contained more than 880 bags of plastic raw materials.
Tragically, the custom agents discovered that the large container was actually carrying 7 tonnes of scales from critically endangered pangolins, which was in route from Nigeria to Hong Kong.
The Customs Department stated that the shipment had an estimated market value of HK$3.55 million (US$450,000) making it the second largest seizure of its kind in a decade.
According to The South China Morning Post, the biggest recent seizure that was also found in a container from Nigeria, contained 7.2 tonnes of pangolin scales, which was discovered in May of 2017.
Regarding the recent shipment discovered last week, a law enforcement source said, “A total of 284 bags carrying suspected pangolin scales were found in the container.” He also mentioned that the shipment was en route for Guangdong province, and that it was possible the scales would be used in Chinese medicine.
According to World Wildlife Fund, Pangolins continue to be the most trafficked mammals in Asia and increasingly, in Africa. Their meat is considered a delicacy and their scales are used in traditional medicine in countries like China and Vietnam.
It’s infuriating that these beautiful and shy creatures continue to be killed even though their species are protected under national and international laws. What is even more heartbreaking is that in recent years, the illegal trade in pangolins have actually increased due to growing demand.
In Hong Kong, importing or exporting undeclared cargo carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment and a HK$2 million fine.
Any person found guilty of importing an endangered species without a license is liable to a maximum fine of HK$10 million ($1.3 million) and imprisonment for 10 years, under Hong Kong’s “Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance.”
The department said no one has been arrested and the investigation was still under way.
By WAN –
July 16, 2018
Photo from EPA
An angry mob of Indonesian villagers massacred close to 300 crocodiles over the weekend.
The tragic event occurred on Saturday following the funeral of a 48-year-old man who was killed by a crocodile after entering an area around a breeding pond. He was reportedly most likely looking for grass to feed his livestock.
According to authorities, the farm received a license in 2013 to breed protected saltwater and New Guinea crocodiles for preservation, as well as to harvest some of the animals.
Heart-wrenching images have emerged of the 292 battered and bloodied crocodile carcasses, including “palm-sized” babies, that were stacked upon one another in a pile in the Sorong district of the eastern Indonesian province of West Papua.
“One of the crocodile farm employees heard someone screaming for help and ran to the scene where they saw a person being mauled by a crocodile,” said Basar Manullang, head of Indonesia’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency in West Papua, according to multiple media outlets including ChannelNewsAsia.
Police and conservation officials responded to the scene but were unable to stop the mass slaughter because they were outnumbered by the mob.
Authorities are now questioning witnesses to determine if criminal charges will be filed against those responsible for the grisly attack on the crocodiles.
Breaking! Two Suspects Apprehended In Cambodia Following Raid & Seizure Of Massive Amount Of Wildlife Products Sold on Facebook
By WAN – May 15, 2018
Photos from Wildlife Alliance
Two suspects were sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Cambodia yesterday for smuggling illegal wildlife products, which were found during a joint-force raid on two houses in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district on Thursday.
As per a post by Wildlife Alliance on Friday, the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team arrested the alleged wildlife traffickers who were selling parts of endangered species on Facebook.
As previously noted by WAN and supported by a statement released by Wildlife Alliance, Facebook has sadly become a dominant marketplace for buying and selling wildlife products.
According to Wildlife Alliance, in Cambodia, the problem is becoming rampant with wildlife traders easily reaching a nationwide audience in both urban and rural markets.
After investigating a Facebook page selling wildlife products, the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT) obtained a search warrant.
In the early morning on May 10th, the WRRT split into two teams and simultaneously surrounded two houses containing wildlife products. The WRRT searched the homes and found a staggering amount of native and imported wildlife products including leopard, clouded leopard and sun bear pelts; elephant ivory; tiger claws and whiskers; sun bear and Asiatic black bear claws and gallbladder; elephant, leopard, black bear, sun bear, muntjac, sambar, porcupine and macaque skulls and skull parts (56 total); porcupine stomach and whiskers; hippopotamus teeth; 72 wild pig tusks; and a variety of other wildlife products.
As explained in the Phnom Perth Post, article 49 of the Forestry Law prohibits the processing, hunting, transporting and trading of rare species, while the Law on Natural Protected Areas legislates for a one-to-five-year prison sentence and a fine of between 3,750.00 to $25,000.00 for those who prey on endangered species.
African Wildlife Foundation – #DislikeIt. Facebook allows groups to trade elephant ivory and rhino horn on their social media platforms and is reportedly running ads on those pages. This puts #elephants and #rhinos directly in the poachers’ crosshairs. Be one of 60K to sign our petition demanding Facebook immediately purge #wildlifetrafficking from its platforms! Add your name. http://bit.ly/tell-facebook-to-stop
As a member of African Wildlife Foundation’s community of activists, I am horrified to learn that Facebook has been accused of running ads on pages advertising the sale of elephant ivory, rhino horn, and other wildlife products.
This must stop immediately. You must also prioritize identifying and purging all activity related to wildlife trafficking on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, including deleting posts that sell ivory and rhino horn, shutting down Facebook groups devoted to sales of wildlife products, and stopping Facebook Messenger from being used to negotiate prices.
The rampant wildlife trafficking activity on your social media platforms is abhorrent and contributes to the rapid decline of Africa’s elephant, rhino, and other iconic wildlife populations. We will not be satisfied with a few new policies asking wildlife criminals to self-regulate.
In March, Facebook joined the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online along with 20 other technology companies. Yet weeks later, wildlife trafficking is still rampant on your network. If Facebook’s commitment to the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online is genuine, then ending the facilitation of black market sales must become a top-line priority. I stand with AWF and the world’s community of wildlife activists who demand you to take action to stop Facebook’s participation in wildlife trafficking immediately. The word is out and the world is watching what you do next.
“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” - Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard