We know that plastic bags, straws and microplastics have a deadly reputation when they wind up in the ocean, but there are other everyday items that are killing animals regularly without us noticing.
This story contains images that readers may find distressing.
Recently, a platypus was found dead in Warburton, 2 hours east of Melbourne, with an old hair tie wrapped around its neck.
Geoff Williams from the Australian Platypus Conservancy says platypuses are killed from hair ties more often than you might think.
“We are currently aware of one or two platypus deaths per year in Victoria caused by hair ties. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg,” he says.
“Very few dead platypus are ever found as the animals typically die in the water or in underground burrows. The actual number of platypuses that are killed by litter entanglement is much higher.”
Dr Kate Robb from the Marine Mammal Foundation says entanglements are a constant threat for marine life.
“We’re very well aware of things like plastic bags, food wrappings and balloon strings … but there are these other lesser-known hazards that [are killing animals],” Dr Robb says.
“Anything that has a ring structure can be deadly, for example box [packing] tape is problematic, especially when we are getting more and more things delivered.”
Common dangers for animals
Here are some of the items causing regular animal entanglements that Dr Robb believes should be brought the public’s attention:
“The rim around your hat that keeps it on your head becomes an issue when the hat breaks down,” she says.
“The velcro at the back of your hat also becomes a circular object and is dangerous.”
“Just like hats, buckets that are used for bait can blow off into our waterways and they can also create those circular rings that cause entanglements,” Dr Robb says.
“A lot of birds are getting caught in face masks … in the straps that go around the ears,” she says.
“Anything that forms a circular shape can be really problematic and dangerous for our animals.”
Boating supplies in beach waste
Victorian environmental warrior Colleen Hughson says she has noticed a myriad of random things washing up on beaches in Western Victoria.
“We found lots of fishing gear, fishing ropes and nets, 200 litre drums and chemical containers,” she says.
Ms Hughson recently walked 100 kilometres over seven days collecting rubbish between Portland and Warrnambool.
“Most of the stuff we found was ocean-based waste and litter. Not so much your single use items … but rubbish that was falling off ships and boats,” she says.
“We were collecting some bottle neck rings … but the fishing rope is the biggest issue. Birds get tangled up so easily in fishing rope.”
Dr Robb says there are ways we can dispose of rubbish and make sure it doesn’t end up around an animal’s neck.
“One of the main things we can do is to cut anything that is ring shaped before throwing it out. Rip straps off your face masks … and cut hair ties before throwing them out,” she says.
“Cut anything that has a ring shape before you put them in the bin or into the recycling.”
Ongoing plastic production an issue
“We can change our processes further upstream with the way things are manufactured, but it changes with the consumer,” says Dr Robb.
“There’s a push from the consumer for manufacturers to create products that are more sustainable, and is less likely to kill our wildlife.”
Dr Paul Read from Sea Shepherd Australia says we should be looking at a more significant problem when it comes to marine life entanglements — the waste from commercial fishing boats and the amount of plastic we produce.
“We need to address the plastic problem at the source, which is the constantly running tap of plastic production, as well as combating the massive amount of debris caused by the industrial fishing industry,” he says.
“We need to campaign for plastic alternatives, remove existing fishing nets from the ocean, ensure compliance with fisheries laws by commercial fishers and combat illegal fishing.”
Maggie Howell is the executive director of the Wolf Conservation Center.
Wolves are being slaughtered with a zeal that goes beyond the typical thrill of the hunt. Last month, Oregon state police asked for help and nonprofits offered a reward of nearly $50,000 for leads in identifying the criminals who poisoned two wolf packs, killing eight of these noble creatures in one of the slowest, most horrific ways possible.
Such slaughters have ramped up since the Trump administration removed the gray wolf from the endangered species list in October 2020. The change took effect in January 2021, leaving a patchwork of state regulations and wolf populations vulnerable not only to newly sanctioned hunting but to poaching, or illegal hunting, as well.
Meanwhile, states like Montana and Idaho have green-lit baiting and trapping and allow hunters to use vehicles — like ATVs and helicopters — to chase down wolves. In Idaho, hunters can use packs of dogs and shoot wolf pups in their dens. To encourage wolf hunting, the state will even reimburse hunters for as much as $2,500 in costs for each wolf killed, essentially offering a bounty. Though these types of hunting practices are banned for certain species, state governments have perplexingly decided to allow them for wolf hunts — policies that swiftly followed Trump’s removal of wolf protections, all led by Republican legislatures.
Opposition to protecting wolves tends to come from ranchers and some hunters, who see the wolves as threats to livestock and game. As Idaho State Senator Van Burtenshaw put it, “There’s a wave of wolves coming in, and we just want to slow that wave down, minimize our costs, and bring back the ranching family.” But data show that wolves can easily coexist with cattle, sheep, and other animals. There are many options for non-lethal wolf management, like erecting flags around cattle pens to scare off wolves. And the reality is that wolves are not a major threat: Studies show they are responsible for just 1 percent of livestock deaths (dogs are responsible for more losses than wolves). Meanwhile, ethical hunters who understand ecology appreciate wolves because they make deer and elk populations stronger by selecting for weaker members of the herd.
Unfortunately, wolf management is no longer simply a debate among farmers, ranchers, and wildlife conservationists. Wolves have become politicized. After Montana Governor Greg Gianforte illegally slaughtered a wolf last spring, Vox reporter Benji Jones noted that “The wolf debate doesn’t seem to have much to do with science-based management. Instead, it comes down to how people view wolves … and how their politics inform those views.”
What’s driving hunters to kill as many wolves as possible in the most torturous ways possible is another facet of our bitterly divided country. Gianforte trapped and killed a banded wolf that had wandered across the border from Yellowstone Park — he was in violation of a licensing requirement but received only a warning letter. This fall, he expressed his frustration with the federal government reconsidering wolf protections, tweeting, “We don’t need Washington coming in” to manage wolves. U.S. Representative Liz Cheney complained about “Efforts from the radical environmentalist left to re-list the Gray Wolf.” Wolves seem to have become a focal point for those railing against big government, a symbol of coastal elitism encroaching on rural values. When I talk to hunters from my home office in Westchester, New York, they will offer a version of “how would you feel if we put wolves in Central Park?”
In the wilderness, however, wolves are what’s called a keystone species, meaning they have a disproportionately large impact on their entire ecosystem. It only takes a few of these apex predators to effectively manage populations of deer, elk, and bison, which in turn ensures a healthy level of vegetation to sustain smaller animals like beavers, songbirds, and fish.
Prior to the 1900s, roughly a quarter of a million wolves thrived throughout the lower 48 states. Without really understanding the ecological consequences, settlers nearly killed them all by the mid-20th century, reducing their range to a small portion of the Great Lakes region. Thankfully, with the Endangered Species Act of 1973, we began giving this animal opportunities to recover.
When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park, scientists found they rejuvenated the landscape. Freed from predation for 70 years, the elk and bison populations had exploded. The aspen trees, willows, and cottonwoods were stripped bare, leaving nothing for the smaller animals, and the landscape degraded. Without the structure that trees and plants offered, the soil lost its integrity and riverbanks collapsed, redirecting waterways. Countless other animals vanished when the food they had depended on had been overgrazed. The return of the top predator kept those big herbivores moving, allowing habitats to rebound.
Each year, Yellowstone draws an estimated $35 million from people who visit specifically to see the wolves. Yet hunters have killed 23 during this winter’s hunting season; just 91 remain within the park.
The current anti-wolf frenzy is not based on economics, and it’s not based on science. It’s driven by something deeper and darker. Some of my peers have received anonymous emails with graphic photos of slaughtered wolves, and such pictures with celebratory comments are not uncommon on social media. Former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Dan Ashe, who supported lifting wolf hunting restrictions but has since called on Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to authorize an emergency relisting, said, “What is happening in Idaho and Montana is not hunting. It is pure, unbridled cruelty.”
There was no valid scientific reason for delisting the gray wolf in the first place; it was purely a political move to mobilize Trump’s base days before the 2020 election. Biden can easily reverse this by emergency order. We don’t even need to wait for the year-long review being undertaken by U.S. Fish & Wildlife — the inhumane trophy hunting can be temporarily halted tomorrow.
The larger challenge will be helping people see the wolf as an ecosystem guardian rather than a fairytale villian. If people feel that the government is encroaching on their freedom, taking out anger on our country’s majestic animals won’t solve it.
The views expressed here reflect those of the author.
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“The initial investigation revealed that the wolf likely died as a result of being shot,” state police said. “The wolf, OR 106, was a two-year-old collared female. OR 106 was a lone wolf that dispersed from the Chesnimnus Pack.” (OSP)
A concerned citizen reported finding a dead wolf wearing a tracking collar January 8, 2022, on Parsnip Creek Road, southeast of Wallowa. The area is in the Sled Springs wildlife management unit.
Oregon State Police troopers and Oregon Department of Wildlife staff investigated.
“The initial investigation revealed that the wolf likely died as a result of being shot,” state police said. “The wolf, OR 106, was a two-year-old collared female. OR 106 was a lone wolf that dispersed from the Chesnimnus Pack.“
State police ask anyone with information in the case to call the Oregon State Police Tip-line at 1-800-452-7888, *OSP (*677), or email at TIP@state.or.us in reference to case #SP22006179.
People who turn in wolf poachers qualify for 5 preference points or a cash reward in Oregon.
Wolf advocates at the Center for Biological Diversity called on the state to investigate and hold the people responsible accountable, noting “only three illegal wolf killings in Oregon have resulted in a prosecution and conviction.”
“This wolf’s lonely death highlights why Oregon needs to establish a special prosecutor’s office for wildlife-related crime,” said Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Oregon’s wolves are in extreme danger from illegal killings, and the killers often escape consequences. In the past 21 years, 30 wolves have been illegally killed, and the deaths of two others were deemed mysterious. The state needs to do much more to investigate and punish these sickening crimes.”
The wolves that live in Norway and Sweden today are actually Finns, as extensive studies of their genetic make-up have shown.
Hunters wiped out the original Norwegian wolf population in the wild around 1970.
Solitary gray wolf / grey wolf (Canis lupus) hunting in the snow in forest in winter -Norway
“The original Norwegian-Swedish wolves probably had no genetic similarities with today’s wolves in Norway and Sweden,” says Hans Stenøien, director of the University Museum of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
Stenøien is the lead author of a new report that looks at the genetic makeup of the Norwegian-Swedish wolf population in much more detail than has previously been the case.
“We did the largest genetic study on wolves in the world,” says Stenøien.
This is part of an extensive report on the wolf in Norway commissioned by the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) in 2016. But by that…
Each and every animal on this planet is blessed with something; a unique trait. It can be a physical attribute or a specific skill or talent that makes it superior to others.
The cheetah has the speed, man has the brains (well mostly…), bees have the co-ordination power, the elephant obviously has the strength, but did you know that it could smell for water from three miles away? Then comes the giraffe. Its long robust neck and body structure makes it nearly impossible to ever hide.
A study in 2016 by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) determined that habitat loss resulting from expanding agricultural activities, increased mortality brought on by illegal hunting, and the effects of ongoing civil unrest in a handful of African countries had caused giraffe populations to plummet by 36–40 percent between 1985 and 2015.
PORTLAND, OREGON—Conservation and animal protection groups and individuals are offering a combined $42,977 reward for information leading to a conviction in the deliberate poisoning and killing of eight gray wolves in eastern Oregon earlier this year.
On Feb. 9 Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division Troopers found the five members of the Catherine wolf pack — three male, two female — dead at a location southeast of Mount Harris in Union County. On March 11 troopers detected a mortality signal in the same location and found a slain wolf: a radio-collared female that had dispersed from the Keating pack.
Two more collared wolves were subsequently found dead in Union County. In April an adult male wolf from the Five Points pack was discovered west of Elgin, and in July a young female wolf from the Clark Creek pack was found northeast of La Grande.
According to the Oregon State Police, toxicology reports confirmed the presence of differing types of poison in both wolves. Investigators determined the death of the young female wolf may be related to the earlier six poisonings.
“Poisoning wildlife is a profoundly dangerous and serious crime, putting imperiled species, companion animals and people all at risk,” said Bethany Cotton, conservation director for Cascadia Wildlands. “We call on those with information about this reckless killing to come forward to protect Oregon’s wildlife and our communities.”
“These despicable poisonings are a huge setback for the recovery of Oregon’s endangered wolves, and we need an all-out response from state officials,” said Sophia Ressler, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Catching the culprit is critical, but Oregon also needs to think hard about what more can be done to protect these incredibly vulnerable animals. We hope anyone with info on these killings steps forward, and we hope wildlife officials see this as a wake-up call.”
“This is a cowardly and despicable act,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, an Oregon based national wildlife advocacy nonprofit. “It is absolutely critical that the perpetrator of this crime be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The Oregon State Police should aggressively pursue all leads that will help bring the individual who carried out these atrocities to justice.”
“We are devastated by the egregious illegal poisoning and killing of the Catherine Pack and members of the Keating Pack, the Five Points Pack, and the Clark Creek Pack,” said Kelly Peterson, Oregon senior state director at the Humane Society of the United States. “These eight individuals had rich social lives and families that depended on them and contributed to the health and biological diversity of our environment. Wolves are one of the most misunderstood and persecuted species in North America; yet we know that Oregon’s wolves are beloved by the majority of Oregonians, and we urge anyone with information about the person or persons responsible for this heinous crime to come forward.”
“A majority of Oregonians are disgusted by poachers and those who would indiscriminately poison and kill wildlife,” said Danielle Moser, wildlife program coordinator at Oregon Wild. “Unfortunately, there remains a persistent culture of poaching in Oregon. This culture is emboldened by politicians and interest groups that demonize imperiled wildlife like wolves and then turn the other way when laws are broken. When people are told that native wildlife should be resented and feared, it’s no wonder they take matters into their own hands in the incredibly ugly fashion that we see here.”
“It is tragic that we are losing so many wolves in Oregon, as wolves continue to be lethally targeted both here and nationally,” said Lizzy Pennock of WildEarth Guardians. “The loss of these wolves, in addition to extensive lethal removals at the hands of the Department this year, is a stark reminder of the need to enhance proactive nonlethal measures in wolf management to foster coexistence.”
“We are furious and appalled. These poisonings are a significant blow to wolf recovery in Oregon. Such a targeted attack against these incredible creatures is unacceptable and we hope our reward will help bring the criminals who did this to justice,” said Sristi Kamal, senior northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife.
Anyone with information about this case should contact the Oregon State Police Tip Line at (800) 452-7888 or *OSP (677) or TIP E-Mail: TIP@state.or.us. Callers may remain anonymous.
The $36,000 in combined rewards are offered by the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands, Defenders of Wildlife, The Humane Society of the United States, Northeast Oregon Ecosystems, Oregon Wild, Predator Defense, WildEarth Guardians, Wolves of the Rockies, Trap Free Montana, The 06 Legacy Project, Hells Canyon Preservation, the Humane Society of the United States, and private donations.
A critically endangered Sumatran Tiger was found dead after being caught in a trap on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, authorities said on Monday, in the latest setback for a species whose numbers are estimated to have dwindled to about 400.
The female Tiger, aged between 4 and 5 years, was found dead Sunday near Bukit Batu Wildlife Reserve in the Bengkalis district of Riau province, said Fifin Arfiana Jogasara, the head of Riau’s conservation agency.
Jogasara said an examination determined the Tiger died from dehydration five days after being caught in the snare trap, apparently set by a poacher, which broke one of its legs.
She said her agency will cooperate with law enforcement agencies in an investigation.
Sumatran Tigers, the most critically endangered Tiger subspecies, are under increasing pressure due to poaching as their jungle habitat shrinks, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It estimated fewer…
The body of Grizzly 394, a 25-year-old male, attracted lots of human photo ops in Gardiner but now is a criminal case after someone removed its head and claws, officials say
Photo of Grizzly 394 courtesy George Bumann
by Todd Wilkinson
An old dead grizzly bear that attracted photo opportunities for rafters floating the Yellowstone River just north of Yellowstone National Park has now become the subject of a criminal investigation after both the bruin’s head and claw-filled paws were removed from its body.
Kevin Frey, senior grizzly specialist with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, told Mountain Journal the US Fish and Wildlife Service is taking a lead role in the case because removing parts from a federally-protected animal is a violation of the Endangered Species Act and punishable potentially by fines and jail time.
“I understand the desire someone might have to take the head and claws as souvenirs, but what they did—whether they realize it or not— is a serious matter and it’s against the law,” Frey said. “It makes no difference if a person poaches a bear to kill it or to take its hide and claws as trophies or comes upon a dead grizzly and decides to help themselves to the parts. Grizzlies are a federally protected species and it’s illegal.”
Transporting grizzly parts across state lines is also a violation of the federal Lacey Act, a law that first came on the books as a result of a bison poaching case in Yellowstone more than a century ago.
Apart from the latest poaching intrigue, the sudden appearance of the grizzly carcass in June set off a buzz of public attention in and around Gardiner, Montana, a Yellowstone Park gateway community and Yellowstone River town. It started after the 25-year-old bruin’s hulking body was spotted at the edge of the river and could even be seen from houses above.
As avid speculation ensued among locals about the potential cause of the bear’s demise, including people who posted their theories on social media, the dead male griz also became a magnet for humans wanting to pose with it.
“It’s kind of amazing to me how popular the dead bear was,” said Kerry Gunther, Yellowstone Park’s chief bear management specialist who has spent three decades studying grizzlies and lives in Gardiner. “Every raft guide in town going down the river probably stopped. People who were rafting would stop and hold the bear up and get a picture. It was quite the tourist attraction. I would bet that half the town of Gardiner went out and looked at it.”
“It’s kind of amazing to me how popular the dead bear was. Every raft guide in town going down the river probably stopped. People who were rafting would stop and hold the bear up and get a picture. It was quite the tourist attraction. I would bet that half the town of Gardiner went out and looked at it.” —Yellowstone chief grizzly bear manager Kerry Gunther
Gunther did not venture down to the river to inspect the bear but he did see it from Highway 89 and he photos taken which showed it had an ear tag. According to Frey, the state had planned to remove the animal either via helicopter or by boat but by the time arrangements could be made for transport someone had already gotten to the grizzly and severed its head and claws.
The bear, who had been given the numeric ID 394, had for years been part of ongoing grizzly research efforts carried out by Yellowstone Park, other agencies and the USGS’s interagency grizzly bear study team. In reviewing 394’s file, Gunther said the bear had a home range that encompassed Hayden Valley in the center of the park but, like many male grizzlies, ranged widely.
Looking back at significant events in the bear’s life, Gunther highlighted several points of intrigue. Grizzly 394 had been caught four different times by bear managers in 2011, as park officials attempted to capture a grizzly that killed 59-year-old John Wallace from Michigan. In August of that year Wallace was fatally mauled while he hiked alone along Mary Mountain Trail in Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley.
Grizzly 394 had been caught four different times by bear managers in 2011, as park officials attempted to capture a grizzly that killed 59-year-old John Wallace from Michigan. In August of that year Wallace was fatally mauled while he hiked alone along Mary Mountain Trail in Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley.
Grizzly 394 was not implicated in the fatal attack, Gunther said, though he was among several different bears that were in the area following Wallace’s death, some of which may have fed on the hiker’s body—this according to details presented in a federal report that investigated the incident.
A decade prior, as a five year old, 394 roamed Yellowstone but headed south. “The interesting thing is he was involved in sheep depredations on the Bridger-Teton National Forest in 2001,” Gunther said. “He was trapped and relocated and then stayed out of trouble the rest of his life.” Gunther added that the sheep depredations happened near Klondike Creek in the Upper Green River drainage and the bear was transported to Mormon Creek between Yellowstone’s East Entrance and Cody, Wyoming on the Shoshone National Forest. After that, 394 headed back to familiar terrain in Yellowstone.
It’s not clear how 394 died and the cause may never be known. Gardiner-based naturalist and wildlife artist George Bumann had taken photos of the bear, posted them on Facebook, and speculated that 394 might have died following a violent scrape with another male grizzly. His musing was published at Mountain Journaland can be read by clicking here.
Both Frey and Gunther said there is no overt evidence to support the theory of 394 being killed by another bruin though Frey said the animal did have slight non-fatal facial wounds consistent with coming in contact with another bear.
As far as 394 being called, by some, “a Hayden Valley bear,” Gunther noted: “It’s not that far a stretch to have a bear associated with Hayden Valley turn up in places a long ways away like the northern end of the park,” Gunther said. “We have males [bears] that use Lamar Valley and have gone all the way out [more than 100 miles] to the Centennial Valley in far southwest Montana.”
Frey and Gunther say it is entirely possible 394 might have died trying to ford the Yellowstone River and was drowned. “What we do know is his teeth were bad, which isn’t uncommon for a grizzly that old,” Frey said, noting that photos confirmed both worn down or chipped molars and canid teeth. Both bear experts further noted that while 394 weighed 500 pounds in his prime, his muscle mass and physical appearance was in obvious decline.
Frey cited a handful of incidents in which poachers in Montana have killed grizzlies and removed their capes, heads and claws. However, Gunther noted, “In my career we’ve never had a grizzly poached in the park that we’ve found.
How uncommon is it for a male bear to reach a quarter century old? “Inside Yellowstone it’s not that unusual,” Gunther said, noting that the oldest bear documented in the park was 31. “Outside the park where there are so many more things and ways that bears can get into trouble, reach that age is probably more rare.”
Frey encourages those with information about the removal of 394’s head and claws to call 1-800-TIP-MONT (800-847-6668). He said tipsters can remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward.
About Todd Wilkinson
Todd Wilkinson, founder of Mountain Journal, is an American author and journalist proudly trained in the old school tradition. He’s been a journalist for 35 years and writes for publications ranging from National Geographic to The Guardian. He is author of several books on topics ranging from scientific whistleblowers to Ted Turner and the story of Jackson Hole grizzly mother 399, the most famous bear in the world which features photographs by Thomas Mangelsen. For more information on Wilkinson, click here. (Photo by David J Swift).
Yesterday, animal welfare and conservation groups announced a reward of $15,000 for information on the poaching of the breeding female of the Wedge wolf pack. Today, Peace 4 Animals and WAN contributed $5,000 to raise the reward to $20,000 to bring justice to this slain female wolf. The mother wolf was found dead of a gunshot wound on May 26th in the Sheep Creek area of Stevens County in northeast Washington state.
Biologists with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife discovered that the female wolf likely gave birth to pups earlier this year. It is speculated that the pups would not yet have been fully weaned and that her litter might not be able to survive on their own. Tragically, the female wolf’s death is thought to mark the demise of the Wedge wolf pack, as she was likely the only remaining female left. Now, it is thought that only one male wolf remains.
While gray wolves were prematurely stripped of their federal Endangered Species Act protections, they remain protected under state law in Washington. Despite those legal safeguards, since 2010, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlifehas confirmed at least 12 poaching deaths of state-endangered wolves. Annual wolf reports issued by the agency over the same time period show that another eight to 16 additional wolves were found dead of “unknown causes.” Just a single poaching conviction resulted from these cases.
“There are currently a minimum of 178wolves remaining in Washington state,” Julia Smith, Wolf Coordinator at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife told WAN.
“It’s incredibly important to the agency to bring wildlife poaching to justice. This helps put a spotlight on poaching, and we will do anything to stop it. Poaching of any wildlife is despicable. In many cases, with help from the public, we have been able to bring poachers to justice. Any sort of help or tips we can get is greatly appreciated,” continued Smith.
Since wolves began recolonizing Washington state in 2007, humans have been responsible for the majority of their decline. Wolves have also been killed by ranchers for conflicts with livestock, as well as by hikers and hunters in so-called “self-defense,” even though wolves try to avoid humans and are not known to attack people.
“Sadly, it’s not surprising, after months of expanded and legalized wolf-killing across the country, that a criminal would be emboldened to poach a wolf in Washington,” said Samantha Bruegger, Wildlife Coexistence Campaigner for WildEarth Guardians.“We hope for justice for this wolf, but we know that even more wolves will die nationwide, legally and illegally, until Endangered Species Act protections are restored.”
Anyone with information regarding this sickening incident should call the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at (360) 902-2928, report a violation on the department’s website, or text WDFWTIP to 847411.
You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg
A Canadian woman, Vanessa Rondeau, was arrested and charged with the illegal sale and transportation of polar bear skulls to an agent pretending to be a buyer in Buffalo, New York.
A statement released by the Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York confirmed the incident.
The charges carry a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Rondeau, 26, was released on $50,000 bail and will appear next in court in mid-June, World Animal News reported.
“On December 3, 2019, and again on December 28, 2019, Rondeau offered a polar bear skull for sale. The post included photographs listed an asking price of $750 dollars (in the first posting) and $799 (in the second posting). The post instructed interested buyers to “pm [private message] if interested.” On January 13, 2020, in a covert capacity, the USFWS Special Agent contacted the defendant and requested photos of any available polar bear skulls. Rondeau sent a photograph of a polar bear skull with a comment that it was her “Last one.” The defendant offered to sell the polar bear skull for $750, plus $30 for shipping to Buffalo, NY. After requesting and receiving additional photographs, the Special Agent agreed to buy the polar bear skull. The Special Agent received the polar bear skull on February 2, 2020,” the Justice Department’s statement read.
Rondeau owns and operates a business called The Old Cavern Boutique, which sells a “variety of unique curiosity and oddity items, many composed in whole or in part from wildlife.” Many of the items posted for sale are protected under federal laws.
Sign this petition to ask G20 leaders to end the global wildlife trade.
This article was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 8 June 2021. Lead Image Source: Zhiltsov Alexandr/ Shutterstock.com.
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By Chelsea Pieterse and Kara van der BergADVERTISEMENTnull
The police have confirmed the fatal shooting of Petros Sidney Mabuza, also known as ‘Mr Big’ or ‘Mshengu’.
He was allegedly shot in Hazyview earlier today and reportedly died on his way to Kiaat Hospital in Mbombela this afternoon.
Mabuza has been in and out of the courts since 2018 on charges of rhino poaching.
In 2018 he was arrested and charged with crimes ranging from rhino horn theft to the illegal possession of rifles and live ammunition. Family of Petros Mabuza gather in the Kiaat Hospital parking lot following the news of his death earlier today.
This is a developing story. Lowvelder will keep you updated.
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.
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.
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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.
In August of 2020 a defenseless Raccoon was tortured and slaughtered on the street in New York City by a mob of horrible people. The video was posted online and can easily be found but it has permanently scarred me for life so I don’t want to share the link unless needed. There needs to be justice for this poor creature and a message needs to be sent to animal abusers that these actions will not be tolerated and will have consequences. Please sign this petition so we can get this to the Mayor of New York City and justice can be served.Start a petition of your ownThis petition starter stood up and took action. Will you do the same?Start a petition
By Afp and Charlotte Mitchell For Dailymail.Com 20:58 31 May 2021, updated 20:58 31 May 2021
Habib Talukder – nicknamed Tiger Habib – was caught early on Saturday morning
The 50-year-old is suspected of killing as many as 70 endangered Bengal tigers
He hunted in the vast Sundarbans mangrove forest region on the Indian border
Tiger pelts, bones and even flesh can be sold lucratively on the black market
A notorious tiger poacher thought to have killed some 70 endangered cats has been arrested in Bangladesh after a 20-year hunt.
Local police chief Saidur Rahman said that Habib Talukder – nicknamed Tiger Habib – lived next to a forest and would flee whenever officers raided the area.
‘Acting on a tip-off, we finally succeeded and sent him to jail,’ Rahman told AFP news agency.
Talukder’s hunting ground was the vast Sundarbans mangrove forest region straddling India and Bangladesh.
The site is home to one of the world’s largest populations of Bengal tigers. The species is endangered, with only a few thousand estimated to remain in the wild.
The cats’ pelts, bones and even flesh would be bought by black market traders who would sell them in China and elsewhere. A notorious tiger poacher thought to have killed some 70 endangered cats has been arrested in Bangladesh after a 20-year hunt [Stock image]
Talukder, 50, started out collecting honey from wild bees in the forest but became a local legend for avoiding arrest as he began hunting tigers.
‘We equally respect him and are scared of him,’ local honey hunter Abdus Salam said.
‘He’s a dangerous man who could fight alone with Mama (tiger) inside the forest.’
Sharankhola Station Officer Md Abdul Mannan told The Dhaka Tribune that Habib was listed as a most wanted fugitive by both police and the Forest Department.
‘He secretly entered the Sundarbans and hunted wild animals despite being banned from entering the forest long ago. He has been carrying out these criminal activities even though there are multiple cases against him… some powerful gangs are involved in this,’ he said
Local media reported that Talukder was arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning. Bengal tigers are unique among big cats in being able to live and hunt in the brackish water of the mangrove forests, and are adept swimmers [Stock image]
Bengal tigers are unique among big cats in being able to live and hunt in the brackish water of the mangrove forests, and are adept swimmers.
According to the Bangladesh Forest Department, the Bengal tiger population fell to a record low of 106 in 2015 from 440 in 2004.
As of 2019, the population had crept up to 114 thanks to a crackdown on poaching and banditry in the region.
Regional forest conservation officer Mainuddin Khan said that the news of Talukder’s arrest had brought ‘sighs of relief’.
‘He was a big headache for us. He posed a great threat to the forest’s biodiversity,’ he told AFP.
His callsign is Tango 5, or Tango for short. Tango is an undercover investigator in one of the most dangerous jobs in the world – taking on the elephant and rhino poachers of Africa’s organized crime syndicates.
It is too dangerous for Tango, and his family, to reveal his name, face, or current location.
Crime syndicates are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of elephants, rhinos, and other animals each year. Their business is worth a staggering $20 billion annually in illicit profits.
But they can be stopped. And Tango is one of the best at stopping them. He works for the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) based in Zimbabwe.
The IAPF protects more than 1.5 million hectares of African wilderness. Where the IAPF operates, poaching is reduced by over 80 percent.
The IAPF is the conversation group behind ‘Akashinga’- the all-women vegan anti-poaching team featured in the National Geographic film of the same name.
But anti-poaching work remains incredibly dangerous. Two rangers, investigators or wildlife protectors are killed every week trying to save the wild animals of the forests and savannah.
Which makes Tango luckier than some.
Earlier this month, Tango was returning home to be with his family after a successful undercover operation involving IAPF and government agencies, which saw the arrest of two suspects involved with rhino poaching.
It was a Sunday evening. He was driving from Beitbridge to the capital Harare when he was allegedly forced off the road by two vehicles and assaulted. The assailants poured petrol over both Tango and his car and set it alight while he was inside, blindfolded with his jacket and tied with his own shoelaces to the steering wheel. Tango’s Car Was Totally Obliterated by Fire. Credit: IAPF
The fire engulfed the car and the windows began to explode. However, Tango managed to get one hand free and then extricate himself from the burning car. That was not before suffering serious burns to around 30 percent of his face, neck, arms, chest, and stomach.
He was in desperate need of help on the side of the road by a burning vehicle. He attempted to wave vehicles down for help, but they drove past.
Eventually, a good Samaritan stopped and took him to Beitbridge hospital, a remote border town in southern Zimbabwe. The public medical system there struggles with basic needs, strained even further with COVID-19 cases. Left there, he would have died.
They were only able to offer limited primary care. But they kept him alive overnight. The next morning he was evacuated by air to a private hospital where a medical team was on standby.
That’s where Tango remains today. His whereabouts are a secret, and his room is being guarded by the investigation team to guarantee his survival.
Tango is 28 years old. His injuries – both physical and psychological – mean he’s likely never to work again as an undercover investigator, but will be redeployed within IAPF.
Tango is currently in intensive care. Credit: IAPF
“He’s a silent warrior,” says Iraq War veteran Damien Mander, who founded IAPF in 2009. “It’s no understatement to say he moves amongst the shadows of night in the fight against wildlife crime. And he is one of the best, as part of a region-wide team operating across borders.”
The crime syndicates specialize in rhino horn and ivory poaching, as well as other illicit trades such as weapons and human trafficking.
“Tango has been one of our most fearless and committed wildlife crime fighters for a long time,” added Mander.mil
The attack appeared to be in direct retaliation for arrests made earlier on that Sunday, involving those suspected rhino poachers.
Tango and others like him are the last line of defense for African wildlife, animals under serious threat of being poached and hunted to extinction.
According to the IUCN, populations of African forest elephants have fallen by more than 86 percent over 31 years, while African savanna elephants have decreased by 60 percent over the last 50 years.
For some African rhinos, the situation is worse. In 1970 there were 70,000 black rhinos, but just 2,410 in 1995 – a dramatic decline of 96 percent.
Thanks to the efforts of conservation by organizations such as the IAPF, black rhino numbers have risen to a population of between 5,366 and 5,627 individuals. But that is still over 85 percent down from 1970.
Globally the combined pressures of animal agriculture, wildlife trafficking, and poaching mean only four percent of the total mass of mammals on the planet are free-living wild animals. More than 60 percent of all living mammals are now animals farmed for agriculture such as cows, pigs, and sheep. Humans make up the other 36 percent.
That makes it critical to protect those animals who are left – and support those on the frontline of protecting them.
Every year it gets harder. It is a perverse law of market economics that the more endangered the animals become, the more valuable they are. This attracts even more attention from the organized crime syndicates. Rhino horn is currently selling for around $65,000 per kilogram on the black market.
And that makes the job of protecting them even more dangerous.
The IAPF, and Tango, knew that something like this could happen. As the crime syndicates get more involved, the costs – and the risks – to protect wildlife increase.
Tango will stay with the IAPF on full pay throughout his recovery. He’ll be retrained for another role within the company. But, his loss to the Special Investigations Unit is a big blow.
“He’s been involved in hundreds of arrests,” says Mander. “It’s a huge loss for us and the animals.
“We’ll need to replace him too, and that requires us to retrain a new operator over a minimum of 12 months. And provide additional training and protective resources for all investigation officers.”
The IAPF will be covering the ongoing costs and compensation with the help of donors until Tango returns.
But that may not be for a while. Right now, he’s in a sealed-off room specifically set aside for serious burns. His screams of pain can be heard throughout the hospital when his bandages are changed daily.
“He’ll be severely scarred both mentally and physically for life,” explains Mander. “He’s having flashbacks. He’s in and out of consciousness and is in a serious but stable condition.
The IAPF does plan financially for emergencies, but Tango’s is an extreme case. There are no “victims of crime” compensation payment systems in Zimbabwe.
“The best way the international community can help right now is to donate to Tango’s recovery fund,” says Mander. “We’ve already raised $21,000 for him.
“We’ve got medical bills, the air evacuation and paramedic treatment, the secure room in a private hospital, a burns specialist, and trauma counseling. The costs will get closer to $100,000.”
The special investigations team works across Zimbabwe and other regions alongside and as part of Akashinga, the world’s only armed all-female teams of wildlife rangers, the plant-based project that protects much of Zimbabwe’s wildlife in the Zambezi Valley. Donors to the campaign have the option to be kept regularly updated with Tango’s recovery.
Luckily, no other IAPF rangers or staff were involved in the assault. It does at least mean they can continue normal operations in protecting Zimbabwe’s environment, communities, and wildlife.
Tango is still in intensive care, although Mander points out their priority is to get him back to good health, and he’s responding well.
“He’s there until at least the end of the month,” he says, “but Tango is fighting strong. He’s started to speak now, and wiggle his fingers.”
IAPF is focused on driving the investigation and bringing those responsible for this attempted murder to justice. It’s essential – a strong message that the culprits are held responsible will protect other investigators. And as such, more animals.
“The reason investigators like Tango are so effective is that they go precisely where the problem is,” explains Mander. “We use limited resources in a focused way.
“Only three percent of crimes are solved by catching someone in the act. The other 97 percent is through investigation,and then getting law enforcement to take action.
“This is the only way to continue to crush these and similar organized crime syndicates.
“We condemn the use of violence against those who attempt to uphold the laws of Zimbabwe and protect its wildlife against poaching. We are working with the appropriate authorities and will leave no stone unturned in efforts to bring the perpetrators of this horrific crime to justice.”
International Anti-Poaching Foundation is a USA-registered 501c(3) charity. IAPF has the Platinum Seal of approval from independent charity evaluator GuideStar. This is the highest level that GuideStar recognizes and less than 0.5 percent of nonprofits in the USA earn it.
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
Five conservation organizations are offering rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the illegal shooting of a female grizzly bear in Fremont County, Idaho. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game confirmed Monday that a 6-to-8-week-old cub also died in its den as a result of its mother’s death.
“There have been decades of collaborative conservation work in Idaho since grizzly bears were listed as threatened,” said Kathy Rinaldi, Idaho Conservation Coordinator for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, in a statement. “This bear was not only a productive female, but incredibly important to research. Poaching incidents like this only exacerbate our challenges for long-term grizzly bear conservation.”
Grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are currently listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to shoot a grizzly bear in Idaho unless in the case of self-defense.
The bear’s carcass was found partially submerged in the Little Warm River near Island Park, Idaho. The incident took place between March 15th and March 23rd,according to Fish and Game.
This is the third grizzly bear shooting in the same general area over the past seven months. In September, an adult male grizzly was shot and killed in Coyote Meadows. In November, a young male bear was killed near Cold Springs Road. All three cases remain under investigation.
“The third illegal killing of a grizzly bear near Island Park in less than seven months is appalling,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The killing of even one grizzly is a setback to bear recovery, but this poaching led to two dead bears, including a young cub that likely starved to death in its den. The cowardly act of killing this mother grizzly bear must be punished.”
“Poaching is a serious crime and a threat to grizzly bears and other wildlife,” said Erin Edge, senior Rockies and Plains representative at Defenders of Wildlife. “We urge anyone with information about this heinous crime to come forward.”
If you have information about these crimes please call the department’s Upper Snake Regional Office at (208) 525-7290 or the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at (800) 632-2999. Callers may remain anonymous.
“It has been a successful weekend in the fight to keep our rhinos alive in the park. We are delighted with our anti-poaching teams who were able to arrest suspects before any animal was killed,” Gareth Coleman, the Managing Executive of the KNP,” said in a statement.“The actions are a morale booster for our anti-poaching teams and conservation efforts.”
On Saturday, SANParks Rangers, supported by Airwing, and K9 units, apprehended one alleged poacher and recovered poaching equipment including a rifle and an axe. The second suspect was trampled to death by a herd of elephants. The third, who reportedly sustained an eye injury, managed to escape.
Sunday, after detecting another incursion on a routine patrol, the Rangers tracked spoor until they made contact with a group of three suspected poachers who were subsequently arrested in the Pretoriuskop Section of the Park. A high-calibre hunting rifle, poaching equipment, and ammunition were also recovered.
“We hope the arrests send a strong message to poachers that we are determined to stop them in their tracks within the Park. SANParks is committed to working harder with law enforcement agencies and communities outside the Park to intensify efforts to crack the criminal syndicates driving these crimes.
“Only through discipline, teamwork, and tenacity will we be able to help stem the tide of rhino poaching in KNP.
“The campaign against poaching is the responsibility of us all; it threatens many livelihoods, destroys families, and takes much-needed resources to fight crime which could otherwise be used for creating jobs and development,” concluded Coleman.
You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg
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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.
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