Human-Wildlife Conflict Driving African Wild Dogs To Extinction

The African wild dog (also known as Painted Dogs) has become one of the most critically endangered species in Africa.

A PACK OF WILD DOGS CREDIT: PHOTO BY CHAD COCKING

At one time, nearly 500 000 wild dogs roamed the continent, but now only an estimated 7 000 of them remain.

With massively reduced numbers from the encroachment of farming activities, there is lack of genetic variation and a new strand of canine distemper threatens the species further.

The African Wildlife Foundation says habitat fragmentation and human-wildlife conflicts have nearly driven African wild dogs to extinction.

We need your pledge to raise awareness about the threats to these colourful carnivores now,” the foundation said in a statement.

“There are only about 6 600 remaining in the wild, but AWF is working to increase their numbers by expanding undisturbed wilderness areas where dogs can roam, collaborating with farmers to protect livestock, and more.

“African wild dogs are efficient hunters, with a hunt success rate of almost 80%. This makes them the third most productive hunter in the wild.”

The African wild dogs are said to be one of the top three most efficient hunting animals in Africa and are found in most parts of the continent aside from the drier deserts in the north, and the denser forests of the southern tip.

As some of the most social and vocal animals roaming the earth today, the African wild dog was an essential species to maintaining biodiversity in the African plains.

The African wild dog has been listed as an endangered species since 1990, and the species may soon be listed as critically endangered.

Their shrinking range is now located in the southern half of the continent.

In Zimbabwe, poachers are endangering the wild dogs in the Hwange National Park.

With limited employment opportunities and sporadic rainfall that negatively impacts farming yields, bush meat hunting has gained popularity over the past several years as a means to make a living.

As a result, poachers use wire snares, which kill animals indiscriminately. Wild dogs are particularly vulnerable to injury or death by snares because they cover a lot of ground while hunting and travel more than 12 miles per day on average.

A WILD DOG CAUGHT IN A SNARE. PHOTO BY KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

In addition to snares, poachers sometimes poison water sources with cyanide.

They are normally targeting Elephants for their ivory but kill a variety of other species in the process, including the African wild dog.

The range of the African wild dog, as described by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is shrinking daily as humans attain more land and are pushing the animals into smaller, less desirable territories.

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We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals. It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

Protect All Wildlife are involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to Protect All Wildlife supports ALL of our worthy programmes and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Your donations make our work possible. Thank you for your support.

There Is No Excuse For Animal Abuse So Let’s Help End It!

ACTOR, COMEDIAN AND ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST RICKY GERVAIS

Cruelty to animals, also called animal abuseanimal neglect or animal cruelty, is the infliction by omission (neglect) or by commission by humans of suffering or harm upon any animal. More narrowly, it can be the causing of harm or suffering for specific achievement, such as killing animals for entertainment; cruelty to animals sometimes encompasses inflicting harm or suffering as an end in itself, defined as zoosadism.

Animal cruelty can be broken down into two main categories: active and passive. Passive cruelty is typified by cases of neglect, in which the cruelty is a lack of action rather than the action itself. Oftentimes passive animal cruelty is accidental, born of ignorance. In many cases of neglect in which an investigator believes that the cruelty occurred out of ignorance, the investigator may attempt to educate the pet owner, then revisit the situation. In more severe cases, exigent circumstances may require that the animal be removed for veterinary care.

Whether it is Elephants killed for their tusks or beaten so they comply in the Asian tourism ‘industry’, Rhino slaughtered for their horns for ‘traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), animals skinned alive for the fur trade etc, animal activists need to stand together to fight for their rights.

At many elephant ‘sanctuaries’ across Thailand and in other countries, the elephants are taught to fear humans. This is so that they will act with compliancy. From babies they are tied up, starved and beaten in what is known as a ‘crush’. This is the act of breaking a young elephant’s spirit. And it’s mostly true what they say: an elephant never forgets. This means that, with their long memories, elephants remember this period of abuse for the rest of their lives. It ensures that the elephants will do what the trainers (also known as mahouts) say, and are more easily trained.

They are also commonly beaten with hooks and sticks that have nails poking out of them – this is when they are seen to be misbehaving or not following orders, or being too slow to respond. The mahouts want the animals to be constantly putting on a performance for those tourists who are there for elephant riding in Thailand.

UNDERCOVER FOOTAGE SHOWS CRUEL TRAINING USED ON BABY ELEPHANTS TO BOOST THAILAND TOURISM

As poaching and habitat loss ravage rhinoceros and elephant populations, protections for these species are vitally important. Today, all five rhino species and both elephant species are threatened with extinction. Efforts are underway across the globe to save these iconic animals.

Elephants and rhinos often experience painful deaths when poached. Rhinos may have their horns cut off while they are still alive and contrary to belief, elephants do not lose their tusks; they are hacked out by poachers.

More than a thousand rhinos and tens of thousands of elephants are killed each year to feed demand for ivory and rhino horn. The international trade in elephants, rhinos, and other species is the second-largest threat to wildlife after habitat loss. If the market continues to drive poaching, both rhinos and elephants could vanish from the wild as early as 2034.

HORRIFIC IMAGES OF ELEPHANTS POACHED FOR THEIR TUSKS AND A RHINO FOR ITS HORN

Every year, hundreds of badgers meet a horrific death in the name of ‘sport’ in the UK at the hands of terriermen. Many of those who have been caught digging into badger setts have used the excuse that they were after foxes – and many have escaped prosecution by so doing.

More than 10,000 are caught, tortured and killed in the UK each year by huntsmen with terriers – with almost a third of these illegal acts being carried out in Wales. Alarmingly, this figure is rising constantly. Terry Spamer, a former RSPCA inspector, believes that there are around 2,000 people involved in badger baiting currently. However, only around three people are caught and convicted of badger baiting each year, while the majority carry on breaking the law.

Traditional fox hunting was banned in England and Wales under the Hunting Act 2004. In spite of existing legislation, there has been 500 successful prosecutions under the Act. However, many incidents of illegal hunting have gone unpunished.

FOX HUNTING AND BADGER BAITING IS ILLEGAL IN THE UK BUT CARRIES ON WITH WITH APPARENT IMPUNITY

Dogfighting is an inhumane ‘bloodsport’ where dogs who have been bred, conditioned and trained to fight are placed in a pit to fight each other for spectator ‘entertainment’ and profit. Fights average one to two hours, ending when one of the dogs cannot continue.

Dog fights usually take part in quiet, private locations, such as in an industrial unit or farm building. Participants will spend months training their dogs in preparation, much like boxing, the fighters will have to hit a target weight to take part. Organisers will create a fighting ‘pit’ for the dogs to fight within.

Dogs who have been used in fighting often have serious injuries to their head, ears, front legs and chest that are caused as they go head-to-head in a pit. They will also have injuries of different ages, some old scars and some fresh wounds.

IT IS BELIEVED OVER 16000 DOGS DIE EACH YEAR IN ORGANIZED DOG FIGHTS

Each year, thousands of bulls are barbarically slaughtered in bullrings around the world. Over the centuries, bullfighters have found countless ways to rig the “fight” in their favor. Bulls are often weakened with drugs or by having sandbags dropped on their backs. Their horns have been shaved to keep them off balance, or petroleum jelly has been rubbed into their eyes to impair their vision.

Every year, approximately 250,000 bulls are killed in bullfights. Bullfighting is already banned by law in many countries including Argentina, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Italy and the United Kingdom. Although legal in Spain, some Spanish cities, such as Calonge, Tossa de Mar, Vilamacolum and La Vajol, have outlawed the practice of bullfighting. There are only a few countries throughout the world where this practice still takes place (Spain, France, Portugal, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador). ~ HSI.

BULLS ARE TORTURED IN THE NAME OF CULTURE AND TRADITION

Each year from approximately September 1 to March 1, a large-scale hunt of dolphins takes place in the small village of Taiji, Japan, as featured in the 2010 Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove. During this six month season, dolphin hunters utilize drive hunt techniques to herd large numbers of dolphins to shore, resulting in their capture or death.

The captured dolphins may be selected for live trade to aquariums and marine parks for display, while others are slaughtered for their meat. The price for live captures is many times higher than those killed.

THE ANNUAL TAIJI DOLPHIN SLAUGHTER

What you can do to help animals in need:

Support ‘Protect All Wildlife’ by donating as little as £1 – It only takes a minute but it can last a lifetime for an animal in need. Thank you.

We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals. It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

Protect All Wildlife are involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to Protect All Wildlife supports ALL of our worthy programmes and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Your donations make our work possible. Thank you for your support.

Baby Elephant Max Squeezes Into The Back Of A Four-Seater Plane To Escape Poachers Who Slaughtered His Family

This is the incredible moment a baby elephant was flown in the back of a four-seater plane to escape from poachers who slaughtered its entire family.

The young orphan, named Max, was rescued after 100 other elephants, including its relatives, were killed by poachers between Chad and Cameroon in Central Africa.

It was squeezed into the back of the small aircraft alongside Gary Roberts, an American nurse and missionary, before being flown to Mr Roberts’s house for medical treatment.

Footage shows the 353lb elephant waving its trunk around as it sits in the plane, before gripping a bottle of water in its jaws.

‘With an animal that size, you can feel its weight shifting in the aircraft,’ Mr Roberts later told BBC News.

Unfortunately, Max died just a few days after his ordeal in March 2013 as a result of his traumatic experience and the cow’s milk he was fed in a village before being rescued.

Social media users have deemed the video ‘heartbreaking’ with many condemning the poachers for their ‘massacre’ of the baby elephants’ family.

One wrote: ‘A sad story of genuine humans giving it all to try and save the only survivor of poachers’ massacre.’ Another added: ‘How sad that the elephant died after all that effort.’

 Original article by Sophie Jane Evans for Mail Online September 2014.

African elephant species now Endangered and Critically Endangered – IUCN Red List

52 Sad Poaching Statistics You Must Know (2022 UPDATE)

What you can do

Support ‘Protect All Wildlife’ by donating as little as £1 – It only takes a minute but it can last a lifetime for an animal in need. Thank you.

Protect All Wildlife are involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to Protect All Wildlife supports ALL of our worthy programmes and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Your donations make our work possible. Thank you your support.

We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals.It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

Trophy Hunting Will NOT Save Africa’s Lions – So the UK Ban On Imports Is a Positive Step For Wildlife Conservation.

TROPHY HUNTING WILL NOT SAVE LIONS

Hans Bauer, Research fellow at Northern Lion Conservation: “Over the past 25 years, I have spent a lot of time counting Lions as part of my job. Only last month, I spent three hours with two males – possibly brothers – right next to my car in Maze National Park, Ethiopia. Lions come in the night, very quietly. Despite weighing well over 20 stone (around 150kg), you do not hear their footsteps. What you hear is their breathing, the turbo of the killing machine.

Had I turned on a light immediately, they would have run away. These Lions are skittish, even if they face no threat from trophy hunters in Africa’s national parks. So we spend half an hour in the pitch dark before I finally switch on a small red light to count the eye reflections. Another pause, then a bigger red light enables us to see their sex and age.

We get lucky: with the big spotlight they move to a discrete distance, but we still get to watch them for an hour before retiring to our tents a few hundred metres away. The Lions have long lost interest in us but the ranger makes a campfire which smoulders all night, just to be safe. This park has no outposts, no visitors and no emergency services, so we need to stay out of trouble.

HANS BAEUR ASSISTING WITH TRANSLOCATING A LIVESTOCK-RAIDING LION TO WAZA NATIONAL PARK, CAMEROON.

Maybe you have counted Lions in a zoo or wildlife park: “I see three – no wait, there’s a tip of another tail and a flickering ear, so four, or five?” People on safari in popular destinations where Lions are habituated to cars may have had the same experience. In the wilderness, however, Lions are hard to spot – across much of their range you don’t see them very often at all, especially during the day.

I have spent countless nights sitting on top of my vehicle, playing buffalo or warthog cries with a megaphone, trying to catch a glimpse of Lions attracted by these sounds. I have walked for days to find footprints or put up automated camera traps. For every day of fieldwork there is a day of grant writing before and a day of reporting afterwards – but yes, it is a wonderful job.

I once found Lions in a part of Ethiopia where they had not been documented and added a blob on the distribution map. Unfortunately, over the last 25 years, it has been much more common to reduce or delete entries from our African Lion Database.

My research shows that during this time, Lion numbers have decreased by 43% throughout Africa, and that their range has declined by more than 90%. There are now roughly 25,000 Lions in 60 separate population groups, half of which consist of less than 100 Lions. Their existence is particularly threatened across West, Central and East Africa.

I first went to Cameroon in 1992 to do my masters project in Waza National Park, and have worked in various parts of Africa ever since (I currently live in Mali). My main research focus with WildCRU – Europe’s first university-based conservation research unit – is the mitigation of human-Lion conflicts. I study the difficult balance between people’s livelihoods and the conservation of biodiversity, working close-up at village level but also at national and international perspectives.

This led to me being asked to give evidence to the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Banning Trophy Hunting, which on 29 June 2022 presented its report on the impacts of trophy hunting to the environment secretary, George Eustice. This follows the UK government’s announcement in December 2021 that it would ban the importing of body parts of 7,000 species including Lions, rhinos, elephants and polar bears. On average, roughly ten Lion “trophies” are imported into the UK each year, among many other threatened species.

There are many ways to look at this issue, and the debate usually ends up in a deadlock between utilitarians and moralists. I won’t hide my sympathy for the latter – I work with organisations such as the Born Free Foundation. But after a week in the field living on pasta and tinned tomato sauce, I will eat bushmeat in a village with no alternatives if it has been harvested legally and sustainably.

The future of trophy hunting in Africa was not on the table during the APPG’s discussions about a UK import ban – and if it was, it would be for African scientists to advise their governments of the pros and cons. In my view, however, the evidence is clear that trophy hunting has not delivered for wildlife in most parts of Africa, and that local communities benefit next to nothing from its continued practice.

How trophy hunting works

Trophy hunting is a controversial topic in conservation circles. In some cases, the fact that Lions are doing better in parts of southern Africa has – wrongly, in my view – been attributed to it. But in itself, trophy hunting is not the Lions’ biggest threat either; my research shows that more are killed when they attack livestock, or perish when their habitat and prey is diminished by agricultural encroachment or poaching.

In Africa, trophy hunting’s popularity grew during colonial times when all sorts of slain animals were sent back to Europe. Nowadays, antelopes are this industry’s most hunted animals – but the most prestigious targets remain the “big five”: Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhinoceros and Buffalo.

LION IMAGE FROM A CAMERA TRAP IN DINDER NATIONAL PARK, SUDAN. HANS BAUER

A client might pay a local entrepreneur or hunting guide anywhere between £10,000 and £100,000 for a “bag” that includes a Lion – and the super-rich may pay (or donate) even more. It’s a lot of money for a holiday, and trophy hunting mostly attracts rich, white, middle-aged men from western countries.

Hunting guides are businessmen (almost all are male). They generally lease government land that has been designated for conservation through “sustainable use”. Known as trophy hunting “blocks”, these areas vary widely (anywhere between 500km² and 5,000km²) and each has annual quotas for the amounts of different species that may be shot by trophy hunters.

In theory, this restricts the killings to a level the population can sustain. Hunting guides then manage their blocks to maintain these wildlife numbers, including organising anti-poaching patrols. The guides employ staff, pay the land lease, trophy fees and a bunch of other costs – including to a taxidermist and export company to deliver the skin and skull to their client after the kill. It is a big industry that claims to be good for both wildlife and local people, but these guides are not charity workers; they maximise their benefits and minimise their costs.

Trophy hunting also does not focus (as is sometimes suggested) on killing off the older, weaker animals in any block. Wildlife populations grow fastest when their densities are low, so that food and aggression are not limiting factors. In order to minimise any such competition – and to offer the biggest trophies – trophy hunts will target healthy animals, not just the old and infirm.

Lions and livestock

The methodology used for setting trophy hunting quotas varies from country to country. Cameroon, for example, has traditionally had very high quotas for Lions, but these were not based on scientific rigour. In 2015 we published our first survey results based on observations done by three teams tracking Lions over a vast range.

Each team drove for thousands of kilometres across Cameroon, very slowly, always with two trackers stationed on the bonnet of each 4×4 looking for footprints. We got stuck, camped, waited for trophy hunters to depart before being allowed into a particular area, struggled to get diesel, tolerated the heat and the tsetse flies – it was all part of our daily routine following the Lions.

Ultimately, we counted 250 Lions, 316 Leopards and 1,376 Spotted Hyenas. Cameroon does not offer a trophy hunting quota for Leopards, and Hyenas are not popular with hunters – but as a result of our count, the country’s annual Lion quota was reduced from 30 to ten. Today this quota is still applied throughout northern Cameroon’s Bénoué ecosystem, which has 32 trophy hunting blocks in between its three national parks.

Of these 32 blocks, however, more than ten no longer have any resident Lions. And when the blocks lose their Lions, this also threatens those living in the national parks – as there is a big difference between having 250 Lions spread across 30,000km² of contiguous habitat, or three isolated populations of 50 in parks of 3,000km² each.

GRAZING LIVESTOCK CAN BE EASY PREY FOR LIONS AT NIGHT. HANS BAUER

When I visited Cameroon again in 2021, I observed cattle everywhere – which is not a good combination with Lions. Many of these herds had come from neighbouring countries – pastoralists running from the threat of terrorists in Mali and Niger. As a result, the pressure on these areas, and those who manage them, is intense. It is hard enough to integrate local communities in conservation work, much harder with nomadic people.

Whenever livestock grazes in an area with Lions, you inevitably get some depredation. Lions will kill some livestock and, in retaliation, people will kill some Lions. This is perhaps the biggest challenge in Lion conservation, and all the programmes I know are working to mitigate it. There are tools available to reduce the damage, from flashlights and watchdogs to mobile enclosures and more. But this only works if you know the people living there and can collaborate towards a common goal – not if you have different people passing through every time.

In fact, the pastoralists I have met are usually quite tolerant – they like Lions. A herder in Cameroon once told me: “If a Lion attacks one cow this year, I will know that God has not forgotten me.” Another in Ethiopia said: “We do not think Lions take our livestock to hurt us. As a result, we do not refer to it as an ‘attack’ or ‘killing’ – they are taking what they need.”

Nonetheless, some people – pastoralists and others – inevitably pay a high price for co-existing with Lions, and they would prefer them in someone else’s backyard.

I have collared Lions in several countries. I know the thrill of a hunt, but a dart gun does not kill – and the information you get from a Lion’s collar is amazing. In Waza National Park, I followed Lions this way and some behaved very well – but the worst offender killed a hundred-thousand dollars’ worth of cattle in our time there. The park’s warden asked me: “How long do you think the local people will pay this price for Lion conservation?”

Almost all Lion trophy hunting zones in Africa are part of larger ecosystems that include national parks, and in most cases the hunt quotas are based on the entire population of Lions, including those living in the parks. An argument used by trophy hunters is that they are protecting extra land with extra Lions – but it’s not that simple.

While trophy hunting blocks do add Lions and extra habitat, they can still become a drain on the overall population when Lions move out of the parks into emptied territories within the blocks. These so-called “source-sink dynamics” became a global news story in July 2015 because of Cecil, the black-maned Lion that my WildCRU colleagues were satellite-tracking when he was killed by an American trophy hunter.

Cecil had been lured from Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and was shot by Walter Palmer, a dentist from the Minneapolis area. It was actually quite a routine occurrence, but the death of Cecil the Lion created a worldwide media storm – feeding into the UK’s proposal for a ban on trophy hunt imports.

The model starts to unravel

Throughout most of Africa, Lion numbers are declining. While trophy hunting is far from the only reason for this, the evidence clearly shows it has failed in its promise to provide a significant boost to wildlife conservation. I once thought it might offer benefits too, but studying its impacts and costs has taught me otherwise.

Trophy hunting is allowed in countries throughout East, Central and West Africa including Burkina Faso, Benin, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Sudan and the Congo – and in all these countries, Lion declines have been particularly steep. The Central African Republic is the most extreme example: almost half the country was designated as hunting blocks, yet wildlife there has all but disappeared. In 2012, the late researcher and conservationist Philippe Bouché published Game Over! – the title said it all.

A MALE LION IN ZAKOUMA NATIONAL PARK, CHAD. PHOTOGRAPH: HANS BAUER

Trophy hunting has proved increasingly vulnerable to, on one hand, rising management costs due to the increased threats of agricultural encroachment and poaching (of both Lions and their prey), and on the other, reduced income from smaller wildlife populations.

Two rules-of-thumb are widely used: a sustainable annual “harvest” is one Lion per 2,000km², and the annual management of a trophy hunt block costs around US$1,000 per km² . Together, they suggest it costs around two milLion dollars to “produce a Lion”. These numbers vary hugely between areas and, of course, trophy hunters shoot other species at the same time, but exceptional conditions are needed for the hunt companies to break even. At the same time, local communities living with wildlife are, understandably, demanding their fair share. The model starts to unravel and fall apart.

In Zambia and Tanzania, for example, 40% and 72% respectively of trophy hunting areas have been abandoned. Management costs are rising and private operators do not find it profitable any more, except in a handful of the best areas. This is not due to any outright ban but rather, the inability to balance of costs and benefits.

Across Africa, in the vast majority of cases, trophy hunting has not delivered more Lions – whether because of financial imbalances, increased terrorism, land mismanagement or increased livestock mobility (or a combination of these factors). This failure to deliver undermines the already contested justification for the continued killing of Lions by trophy hunters. And as the decline continues, many communities stand to lose a wildlife heritage that could, under a different approach to conservation, provide them with employment and stability.

Success stories?

Namibia and Botswana in southern Africa are often cited as models for conservation, which implies their experience could be replicated elsewhere. Trophy hunting has been presented as a success factor in these countries. But in reality, how instructive are the experiences of two large countries with a combined population of less than 5 milLion people for the other bilLion-plus Africans living in more densely populated areas?

Certainly, these two countries have a lot of wildlife – but is this due to the effects of trophy hunting, or to very low human population densities, diversified tourism industries and well-resourced wildlife institutions? In Botswana, trophy hunting was banned from 2014 to 2020, but despite abundant polemicising from both pro- and anti-hunting advocacy groups, I’m not aware of any evidence of a significant impact on its national Lion and elephant numbers. In short, Botswana’s conservation efforts will succeed with or without trophy hunting.

LION NUMBERS ARE HOLDING UP WELL IN BOTSWANA.

While southern Africa has, in general, been quite successful in keeping its wildlife species stable, this is also not always through natural processes. There has been a lot of habitat engineering and captive breeding, so that many of the animals you find in confined nature reserves are, in fact, bred and auctioned.

In South Africa, for example, around 8,000 Lions live in captivity for the benefit of a small number of rich owners, having been bred like livestock. This model does nothing to improve habitat or biodiversity levels, nor does it support rural socio-economic development. The country’s overall trophy hunting quota is around five wild Lions and 500 captive Lions each year, and while the US banned trophy imports from South Africa in 2016, most imported Lion trophies into the UK have been killed there.

Another issue for Africa as a whole is that biologists have flocked to southern Africa’s conservation hotspots such as the Okavango Delta in Botswana and Kruger National Park in South Africa, which possess good infrastructure and lots of wildlife. As a result, there is an over-representation of people who have worked there among Africa’s community of conservation science, advocacy and practice. Many may never have worked outside southern Africa, and may not be aware of what is happening in the rest of the continent.

I’m not denying that some countries have been successful in their conservation efforts, and that trophy hunting has, in isolated cases, been part of that success. But the “if it pays, it stays” approach which seems to underpin many arguments in favour of trophy hunting has much more often led to the loss of natural ecosystems. This decay affects the vast majority of Lion ranges, and an even greater majority of African citizens.

The banning of trophy hunt imports in the UK and elsewhere can, I believe, help to reduce or even reverse this decline. The UK ban is supported by a large majority of British voters. France, the Netherlands and Australia have already banned Lion trophy imports, and the EU and US have restricted their imports. Since most clients want their trophy, that means significantly fewer potential clients overall, indirectly affecting Africa’s policy options.

The way forward

Throughout the continent, most policymakers stick to the prevailing narrative that trophy hunting supports conservation. In this way, a small white elite continues to have exclusive access to conservation areas that are off-limits for the average citizen to visit, or for public agencies to invest in. Trophy hunting is getting in the way of much-needed innovation and investment.

I agree with trophy hunters that the land they use is important habitat for Lions and their prey. No one wants these areas to spiral down. However, the current situation feels like that famous frog in boiling water story – countries in Africa are afraid to jump out until they no longer can.

HANS BAUER ASSISTING AUTHORITIES TO MOVE A CONFISCATED LION CUB IN ETHIOPIA

The largest and most important conservation area in West Africa is the 25,000km² W-Arly-Pendjari (WAP) region, on the boundary between Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. With around 400 Lions, it is the only three-digit Lion population in West Africa, and it also possesses the largest West African populations of elephant and buffalo.

Half of WAP’s land is managed for trophy hunting. Yet over 20 years, these blocks have contributed less than 1% of the region’s total conservation budget. Much of the area is now increasingly threatened by terrorist incursions and large parts have been abandoned, including the hunting blocks.

In Benin, however, the situation is changing. Lion trophy hunting has been ditched and a trust fund established that promises to fund the country’s conservation activities in perpetuity. While mainly funded by Benin and German government agencies, the fund has an independent international structure and several other donors have contributed. The park’s management, now delegated to a non-profit organisation, is striving to improve local livelihoods by generating employment and offering support for community initiatives that do not harm the local wildlife.

Of course, we should not expect wildlife to fix poverty and instability where 50 years of development work have been unsuccessful. But I visit Benin every year and where I used to find a dozen friendly but unorganised staff, I now see hundreds of local people trained, employed and proud. In the past, some children might have gone to school reluctant to learn things they would not need as subsistence farmers. After visiting the park, however, I see signs that they want to learn skills and compete for career options their parents did not have.

Another glimpse of a better future can be seen in Akagera National Park, Rwanda, which was completely depleted in the 1980s and 1990s. Rwanda is the only country in Africa with a population density higher than India’s. It is a country facing a huge number of challenges, yet Akagera is a conservation success story. Following an initial investment in the area’s recovery, it is now breaking even through ecotourism with primarily Rwandan visitors. While this cannot be expected to work everywhere, it has worked in this most unlikely of places.

The true cost of saving African Lions, and their prey and habitats, is estimated to be around US$1bilLion per year. With such funding, Africa could quadruple its Lion numbers up to 100,000 without creating any new protected areas. At the moment, Lions exist at only about a quarter of their ranges’ full capacities. Funding and community engagement are both critical to increasing this figure.

Ultimately, international solidarity is a much more substantial, and sustainable, source of funding than trophy hunting. Our approach to the extinction crisis should be similar to the one for climate: biodiversity justice as well as climate justice. The 2021 COP26 climate summit in Glasgow discussed the proposed annual fund of US$100 bilLion to help less wealthy nations adapt to climate change and mitigate further rises in temperature. A similar fund for supporting global biodiversity will be proposed at the COP15 summit in Montreal in December 2023. A bilLion dollars for Africa’s Lions and other wildlife may sound unrealistic, but in the arena of international policy, it should not really be a problem.

African nations are sovereign, and hold the key to the future of the Lion. Some may be keen to retain trophy hunting – but they know that demand is shrinking as UK politicians are the latest to respond to the concerns of their constituents.

Above all, the trophy hunting debate is divisive, draining energy from conservationists in Africa and around the world who agree on most other issues. Now is surely the time to focus our efforts on far better alternatives for the conservation of Lions and other endangered species.

Remember those two Lions in Maze National Park? They are part of a small population which has the park as its core area, but which roam the entire landscape in that part of southern Ethiopia. Sometimes a few Lions make it across to the next park for some welcome genetic exchange. Maze’s head warden has lots of rangers to assist in monitoring them, but only one motorbike. There is no hotel for hours around, no fuel station, no media. He does not need trophy hunters, he needs a car.

As told by Hans Bauer, Research fellow at Northern Lion Conservation, University of Oxford.

PROTECT ALL WILDLIFE

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Ivory From At Least 150 Poached Elephants Seized In A DRC Raid

  • A three-year investigation has led authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo to 2 metric tons of ivory hidden in a stash house in the southern city of Lubumbashi.
  • The tusks are valued at $6 million on the international market and estimated to have come from more than 150 elephants.
  • The three people arrested in the May 14 raid are allegedly members of a major wildlife trafficking ring in the Southern African region.
POACHED ELEPHANT ON ITS KNEES WITH ANOTHER LYING DEAD BEHIND IT

Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo have seized 2 metric tons of ivory in the city of Lubumbashi, a hub for ivory trafficking.

The May 14 seizure is one of the largest in recent years, according to Adams Cassinga, who heads Conserv Congo, an NGO that fights wildlife trafficking and which took part in the operation. The seized ivory is estimated to be worth $6 million.

Authorities arrested three people, believed to be members of one of the major wildlife trafficking rings in the region. The network is linked to the smuggling of 20 metric tons of ivory in the past five years alone.

The latest seizure represents more than 150 elephants killed for their tusks, Cassinga said. The tusks originated from countries in Southern Africa, which has seen a surge in ivory trafficking in the 2000s, fueled by demand from Asia, particularly China.

Ivory found in a stash house in Lubumbashi, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Image courtesy of Adams Cassinga/Conserv Congo
Ivory found in a stash house in Lubumbashi, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Image courtesy of Adams Cassinga/Conserv Congo

At the height of the crisis, 30,000 elephants were being killed every year, an average of 80 a day. African elephant populations have shrunk by 80% in the past 100 years, according to an analysis by WWF. The African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) is considered endangered on the IUCN Red List, while the forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) is critically endangered, only a step away from being extinct in the wild.

Poaching has declined in recent years, a 2021 report by Geneva-based nonprofit Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) found. One of the factors cited for the dip is the weakening of criminal networks because of raids and arrests.

DR CONGO AUTHORITIES SEIZE 1.5 TONNES OF ELEPHANT IVORY

“The reduced poaching seems to be the result of the dismembering through arrests and prosecutions of a large number of transnational organized criminal networks involved in ivory poaching and trafficking in East and southern Africa between 2014 and 2020,” the GI-TOC report said.

The Lubumbashi raid was led by the DRC’s top conservation authority, known by its French acronym, the ICCN. It included members of the national police force, court officials and the NGO Conserv Congo.

The team recovered the ivory from a stash house in Lubumbashi in the southern DRC. Traffickers brought the poached parts into the DRC from Zambia, which lies on the country’s southern border. Lubumbashi has emerged as a major hub from where poached wildlife parts are funneled out of Africa. The items originate primarily in Southern African countries like South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

“We are sure it will bring a great deal of deterrence in a place where previously wildlife laws were neglected and not applied,” Cassinga said in a tweet.

Weak enforcement of laws, armed conflict and corruption have allowed international gangs to operate with impunity in western and Central Africa. The DRC, which shares borders with nine countries, serves as an important transit point for the movement of trafficked parts. The Central African nation, which hosts the largest swath of Congo Basin rainforest, is also a source country for illegal wildlife goods.

Yet, from 2000 to 2014, when elephant poaching was rampant, the DRC recovered only around 8 metric tons of ivory in seizures. Then, between 2015 and 2019, authorities there confiscated 20 metric tons, according to data collected by the Environmental Investigation Agency, an NGO based in the U.K.

“We are making strong efforts to take down all the illegal trade networks. With time, we have bigger impacts on the illegal networks,” Olivier Mushiete, head of the ICCN, said in a phone interview with Mongabay.

The Lubumbashi raid follows a series of raids in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, last year. Mushiete told Reuters at that time that they expect to recover more than 60 metric tons in future seizures. The current operation was a result of three years of investigation.

“The relationship between the government and the civil society is improving. You can see that it is yielding results,” Cassinga said. He added that support from partners like Zambia-based Wildlife Crime Prevention and international donors like the Rhino Recovery Fund is helping them combat wildlife trafficking.

The skull of an elephant recently killed by poachers who ripped out its tusks in Province Orientale, DRC.
The skull of an elephant recently killed by poachers who ripped out its tusks in Province Orientale, DRC. Image by Matchbox Media Collective via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Ivory poaching is one of the most lucrative illicit trades, valued at around $23 billion a year, according to Bloomberg.

CITES, the global convention on the wildlife trade, banned the international commercial trade in ivory in 1989. However, some countries continue to allow domestic trade and international trade, subject to varying degrees of regulation.

In the past decade, efforts to curb ivory demand have gathered pace, with the U.S. imposing a near-complete ban on elephant ivory trade in 2016 and China banning the domestic trade in 2017. The EU tightened its rules on the ivory trade in 2021. Narrower exemptions limit the legal ivory trade, which conservationists say often serves as a cover for unlawful transactions.

The three suspected traffickers from the Lubumbashi raid are due to appear in court this week.

Even if seizures and arrests increase, the impact on poaching could be limited by countries’ failure to prosecute alleged traffickers. Coordinating cross-border investigations and amassing the necessary evidence is tricky. Wildlife crimes are often not prioritized by law enforcement agencies or judicial authorities.

The arrest of two Vietnamese nationals during the seizure of 3.3 metric tons of ivory from Uganda’s capital, Kampala, in 2019 did not result in convictions because both suspects skipped bail.

Raids also tend to net intermediaries but rarely lead to the capture of those who organize, fund and benefit the most from this illegal trade. “As far as dismantling the network, that is unlikely. It may be slowed down,” said Chris Morris, who works with the Kenya-based organization Saving Elephants through Education and Justice (SEEJ). “These cartels are a business. They are prepared for losses from seizures and arrests.”

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A Poacher’s Attack Through The Eyes Of Rhino Calf Ntombi

As the number of rhinos killed by poachers keep rising and more traumatized orphaned calves are in need of care, Kirsten Everett, a volunteer at Nikela, takes us on a touching journey as she looks at the horrors of a poacher attack though the eyes of a young Rhino calf called Ntombi.

Vet Karen Trendler With Ntombi

“My mother and I were contently filling our hungry stomachs when we heard a strange noise. I carried on eating but she smelt the air for unknown scents. I saw the terrified look in her eye before she managed to control it; the unnatural smell meant something. A few minutes later we heard the ‘whop, whop’ of a metal monster flying closer towards us. Just when my mother focussed on it the men crept out of the bushes with a crunch of sticks. Something seemed to hit her and she grunted in surprise. The birds abandoned their posts heading away from the danger. I stood helplessly as she tried to run but ended up falling to the ground. The men surrounded her and tried to chase me away. I ran forward scared enough to not care about the men as they had done something to my mother, I needed her and they must go away.

Out of nowhere one of the big men spun on me and hit me hard with something sharp. Blood oozed from my wound as my mother answered my cry for help with a weak beg, ‘Away, away’. I backed away nursing my wound, how could I get to her?? She grunted again so I didn’t give up. I ran forward again but this time the angry man was merciless, determined to get his message across. As quietly as possible I took the cuts to my poor head trying not to worry my mother even more.

This The Work Of Poachers

Confused I backed away into the bushes calling to her to get up, but the eerie silence dragged on and she didn’t move a muscle. Fear glued me to the floor as I felt my young heart pulsing with anger and fear. A breeze blew, as I waited for the monsters to go so I could go to my poor mommy and find out what was wrong. My heart skipped a beat when I realised this was what my cousin had gone through only a full moon ago. It was terrible, my body couldn’t stop shaking and I couldn’t think clearly, I felt lightheaded from all my blood loss.

Finally when the monsters left I ran to her side, ‘Mom wake up.’ My voice cracked with emotion but still she didn’t respond. I took a step back and saw the pool of blood. Her horn had been brutally cut off and she lay lifeless. Above me a crow flew over.

I turned to run then I asked myself some important questions… where would I go? I wasn’t old enough to know the way to the dam yet. Who would protect me from predators? The truth was that I wasn’t strong enough to survive by myself yet. Would I be with my mother in the sky sooner than I thought? The last question scared me the most; out in the wild without my mother I might just be able to survive a week.

I heard the snap of a twig, I wasn’t alone. This time I didn’t have the strength to care what these humans wanted with me. I collapsed and slept for a few hours. I was almost completely unconscious though I sensed kindness near me. Too traumatised to do anything I lay as they treated my wounds. The people who tried to comfort me planted a seed of hope. Hope that I could survive and hope that the rest of the human race would come to its senses and help my species and all the others out there”.

Let’s stop the babies’ cries! Let’s save the last rhin0!

Written by Kirsten Everett. Based loosely on the story of “Ntombi” who was rescued by Karen Trendler and her team.

Update (July 31, 2013): This is Ntombi feeling good and playful

NTOMBI

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The Texas Trophy Hunter Whose Wall Of Death Sent Social Media Into Meltdown

As the Internet went into meltdown over the poaching of Cecil the Lion by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, another man was causing a stir after a photo published in National Geographic went viral at the same time.

Kerry Krottinger, a wealthy Texas hunter and businessman, has slaughtered so much African wildlife over the years that he amassed a veritable “wall of death” in his Dallas-area home. The National Geographic portrait depicts him sitting with his wife among the taxidermied bodies of Lions, Rhinos, Cheetah, Giraffes and enough Elephant tusks to open a traditional Chinese hospital.

The British-based charity LionAID, which uploaded the photo to their Facebook page, took a markedly dim view. “This is just one Texas trophy hunter with a ‘love’ of Africa,” they write. “Is it any wonder that Africa’s wildlife is disappearing? Just have a count of the various species displayed. Three Lions? So many Elephant tusks? A Giraffe? A Rhino? Kerry must be one of the leading conservation hunters on the planet!”

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Kerry and Libby Krottinger in their ‘Wall Of Death’ room

Little is known about Krottinger’s personal life. Aside from being an energy millionaire with multiple companies to his name, he and his wife Libby operate a Gypsy horse farm called Ndugu Ranch. A website about the property had been taken offline, but a cache copy can be viewed here. A Facebook page also associated with the ranch was also taken down. Next to a smiling photo of the pair, Krottinger wrote he named the ranch after the Swahili word for “brother” or “family member,” and that the couple has “a great love for Africa.”

Krottinger’s kingly haul of animal carcasses was acquired through what’s known as “conservation hunting,” a practice that is supposedly designed to protect species by allowing people to hunt animals for a high fee that’s then to be used for other conservation efforts. Palmer, who is now facing indictment in Zimbabwe for poaching, said in a statement that he had trusted his guides and assumed his activities had been legal.

Far from poachers, conservations hunters — and the websites that promote them — see themselves as environmentalists. LionAID’s director Pieter Kat said the whole premise was nonsense.

“Conservation hunting is a complete myth,” he told Mic. “If conservation hunting had been effective, Cecil the Lion would not have to have been poached out of a national park, because conservation hunting would have maintained a viable and sustainable Lion population within their own trophy hunting concession.” According to Kat, steep fees like the more than $50,000 Palmer paid to kill Cecil typically end up in the pockets of tour operators. “Sustainable hunting does not sustain anything,” he said.

PETA president Ingrid Newkirk was blunter still. “The idea of killing animals to ‘protect’ their species is like having 5-year-olds build a child-labor museum,” she said in a statement to Mic. “True conservationists are the people who pay to keep animals alive through highly lucrative eco-tourism, not the power-hungry people who pay for the cheap thrill of taking magnificent animals’ lives and putting their heads on a wall.”

On Twitter, the response was one of almost universal disgust, with the photo generating near Cecil-levels of rage.

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Kat was unapologetic about the Krottinger-shaming on LionAID’s Facebook page. “What we were trying to do there is to alert people to the fact that trophy hunters have this sort of enjoyment of their activity, and what we would like to expose to people is these sorts of people belong in the 19th century,” he said.

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REMEMBERING SATAO, THE ELEPHANT KILLED BY POACHERS FOR HIS TUSKS SO LONG THEY TOUCHED THE GROUND

THE MAGNIFICENT SATAO ~ RICHARD MOLLER/TSAVO TRUST

Satao was one of the largest Elephants in the world. His weight was estimated to be over 7 tons and his tusks were so long he could rest them on the ground.

By logic, his size should have made him unreachable for any natural predators. However, in a world of destruction and corruption, logic doesn’t prevent the extinction of the African Elephant. Satao fell prey to poachers for his ivory in May 2014, which triggered a huge wave of grief in Kenya followed by international outrage in the news and on Twitter and Facebook.

Born in the late 1960s in Tsavo, Satao caused great amazement to everyone who ever caught a glimpse of him; rangers, tourists but also poachers. Many believe that Satao had the understanding that his tusks were beyond the ordinary. In fact, he had adjusted his behaviour to keep his tusks out of sight, which was incredibly impressive and heart-breaking at the same time. Impressive, because this once again proved how very intelligent Elephants really are, and sad, because Satao was nonetheless poisoned by arrows that caused his death.

The Tsavo Trust had been monitoring the Elephant’s movements using aerial reconnaissance for the last 18 months, and thanks to his enormous tucks the beast was ‘easily identifiable’ from the air.

But the technology was not enough to save the iconic beast from the hands of the poachers.

A Tsavo Trust spokesman said at the time: ‘With great sadness, we report the death of Satao, one of Tsavo’s most iconic and well-loved tuskers.

‘This magnificent Elephant was widely known in Tsavo East National Park, where he was observed with awe by many thousands of Tsavo’s visitors over the years.

‘No longer will Tsavo and Kenya benefit from his mighty presence.’

‘Satao, whose tusks were so long they trailed the ground, was discovered with his face hacked off at Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park’

He added: ‘The arrow had entered his left flank and he stood no chance of survival. We spotted his carcass on 2nd June but to avoid any potential false alarms, we first took pains to verify the carcass really was his.

‘Today it is with enormous regret that we confirm there is no doubt that Satao is dead, killed by an ivory poacher’s poisoned arrow to feed the seemingly insatiable demand for ivory in far off countries.

‘A great life lost so that someone far away can have a trinket on their mantelpiece.’

‘Rest in peace, Old Friend, you will be missed, he added.

Photos of his hacked off face and tusks circled the Internet and recorded the bitter loss and undignified death of this incredibly rare tusker.

AN UNDIGNIFEID END: SATAO WAS FOUND WITH HIS FACE AND TUSKS HACKED OFF!

Wildlife filmmaker based in Kenya Mark Deeble who had written a blog post Satao: last of the great tuskers about how poachers had been hunting Satao for some time and how he was injured but managed to escape until now:

He said “I was thankful that the bull’s wounds were healing and that we hadn’t had to dart him, but I was devastated that poachers had somehow managed to predict his movements and get close enough to fire two poison arrows into him. I am appalled at what that means – that the survival skills that the bull has painstakingly learnt over half a century have been rendered useless by the poachers’ use of mass-produced Chinese goods, GPS smartphones, cheap motorcycles and night vision goggles.

I think the old bull knows that poachers want his tusks, and I hate that he knows.

More than anything, I hate the thought that poachers are now closing in on one of the world’s most iconic Elephants.”

His fears came to reality on the 30th of May 2014!!

RIP Satao, you will NEVER be forgotten.

SATAO DRINKS AT A WATER HOLE IN TSAVO EAST NATIONAL PARK, KENYA, IN 2013, WHEN THE MAGNIFICENT TUSKER WAS IN HIS PRIME – MARK DEEBLE

NO ONE IN THE WORLD NEEDS AN ELEPHANT TUSK BUT AN ELEPHANT. ~ THOMAS SCHMID

A variety of styles of Nobody In The World Needs An Elephant Tusk Except Elephants tops are available at Save The Elephant with all proceeds helping Elephant charities.

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A Critically Endangered Sumatran Tiger Has Been Found Dead In An Animal Trap In Indonesia

MEMBERS OF NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION AGENCY INSPECT A SUMATRAN TIGER FOUND DEAD AFTER BEING CAUGHT IN A SNARE TRAP IN PEKANBARU, RIAU

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.

A STUNNING SUMATRAN TIGER

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 than 400 Sumatran Tigers remain in the wild.

It was the latest killing of endangered animals on Sumatra island. Conservationists say the coronavirus pandemic has led to increased poaching as villagers turn to hunting for economic reasons.

Three Sumatran Tigers, including two cubs, were found dead in late August after being caught in traps in the Leuser Ecosystem Area, a region for tiger conservation in Aceh province.

In early July, a female Tiger was found dead with injuries caused by a snare trap in South Aceh district.

An Elephant was found without its head on July 11 in a palm plantation in East Aceh. Police arrested a suspected poacher along with four people accused of buying ivory from the dead animal.

AN ELEPHANT FOUND WITHOUT ITS HEAD AFTER BEING KILLED BY POACHERS

Aceh police also arrested four men in June for allegedly catching a Tiger with a snare trap and selling its remains for 100 million rupiah ($6,900). Days later, another Sumatran Tiger died after it ate a goat laced with rat poison in neighbouring North Sumatra province.

Via A P News

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Asian Elephants Face New Threat Due To The Illicit Traffic In Skin Trade For Traditional Chinese Medicine And Luxury Goods

A female Asian elephant skinned in Myanmar.

Once targeted for their ivory tusks, Asia’s already endangered elephants are facing a new threat to their survival: Poachers in Myanmar and elsewhere are selling their hides to be turned into purported cures for stomach ulcers and cancer as well as jewellery and prayer beads for sale in China. Elsewhere, the skins are being turned into luxury leather goods from golf bags and designer boots to wallets, belts and even motorcycle seats.

Trafficking in Asian elephant hides has grown over the past four years from small-scale sales of skins to a wholesale commercial trade. In Asia, this includes sales on open, online forums as well as by some Chinese pharmaceutical companies, according to the U.K.-based wildlife conservation group Elephant Family, which believes most of the Chinese products come from illegally traded Asian elephant hides. Legally licensed trade in hides from four African countries is strictly controlled and regulated.

Conservationists fear that elephant skin may even begin to replace ivory as a motive for poaching, and that any legal trade provides a loop-hole for illegal trade. For these reasons, they have urged countries to completely ban its importation.

PIECES OF ELEPHANT SKIN

Asian Elephants live across a vast range of 13 countries, from India to Indonesia, yet their global population of 30,000-50,000 is barely 10% of their African cousins. While all Elephants face the threats of habitat loss, conflict with people, and poaching for ivory, Asian Elephants are also threatened by illicit live trade for the entertainment industry and, most recently, by poaching for the illegal trade in their skins.

An investigation by Elephant Family into the illegal trade in Asian Elephants since 2014, through research, analysis and field investigations. Initially monitoring live trade, they were alarmed to discover a marked  increase in poaching in Myanmar, and seeing images of carcasses found with strips of skin missing but with the rest of the body left largely intact. They began investigating the trade in Elephant skin products both online and in physical markets and, in 2016, exposed this trade to the international conservation community at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The first conservation organisation to investigate the Elephant skin trade chain, their research revealed that this trade continues to grow both in scope and in volume. Traders are diversifying and experimenting.

Initially, powdered Elephant skin was sold as a traditional medicine ingredient. Then a new trend emerged where dried Elephant skin was carved and polished into prayer beads and other Chinese collectibles, with traders extolling the qualities of the blood-red hue in the translucent subcutaneous layers.

There is now an increase in the online advertising of powdered Elephant skin for sale to, apparently exclusively, buyers in mainland China. Videos posted on marketing sites show images of backyards in Myanmar and Laos being used by traders to carve up chunks of Elephant skin, remove coarse hair with blow-torches and dry it in ovens before grinding it into a fine powder. It is then packaged for sale as Traditional Chinese Medicine for stomach ailments. Field investigations revealed that while some consumers are satisfied with these prepared products delivered to them by courier, more discerning buyers in China’s cities prefer to buy whole skin pieces complete with creases and hair to prove their authenticity, before grinding them into powder themselves.

The main source for Elephant skin is, at present, Myanmar, where officials have identified a poaching crisis that has developed rapidly since 2010. But traders have also mentioned other Asian Elephant range countries. Undoubtedly, the vast majority of known importers, online traders, physical salespeople and consumers are in China. The product labels are printed in Chinese, online traders communicate in  Mandarin and prices are quoted in Chinese currency. In early 2018, the investigation found Elephant skin products on sale in Yunnan, Guangdong, and Fujian provinces of China.

Like many forms of illegal wildlife trade, traffickers are exploiting a traditional, usually medicinal use, to create new trends that drive demand, and allow them to profit from poaching. Of particular concern is the discovery that Chinese pharmaceutical companies are advertising the sale of medicine that contains Asian Elephant skin derivatives, and that China’s State Forestry Administration has apparently issued licenses for these products.

At a time when China has shown commitment to ending its domestic trade in Elephant ivory, it would be troubling and perverse to find that, at the same time, it is creating a new legal demand for Elephant skin products. Conservationists, law enforcement specialists and many governments agree that domestic wildlife markets facilitate the laundering of illicit commodities while simultaneously placing increased demand on law enforcement agencies as they attempt to address a growing and illegal wildlife trade with limited resources, inadequate criminal justice responses and institutional corruption.

The report outlines Elephant Family’s findings and provides evidence of a profoundly worrying trend in Elephant skin trade that severely threatens already fragile populations of Asian Elephants. Moreover, this new trend could easily spread to Africa as has been seen with other species. As one trader told Elephant Family investigators “it’s only skin – who cares if it comes from Asian Elephants or African Elephants”.

A trader in Xishuangbanna, China, weighs a piece of Asian elephant skin in August 2016. This 420.3g piece would cost about $335

The report aims to provide greater insight into the illicit trade in Asian Elephant skin. We also raise critical questions that need answers, and make recommendations to guide urgent action by key stakeholders.

Key Findings Of The Report Found:

Since 2014, the trade in Asian Elephant skin has expanded from small-scale use to wholesale commercial trade as traffickers stimulate demand.

The first account of manufacturing Elephant skin beads was posted online in 2014. Elephant skin powder is now a dominant commodity sold as a medicine for stomach complaints.

Manufacture of Elephant skin products is taking place in Myanmar, Laos and China. The market in China is where skin products can reach several times the value at source. Elephant skin beads and powder are mainly traded through open online forums such as Baidu, and private personal messaging platforms such as WeChat. Traders use only Chinese language on forums and quote prices in Chinese currency.

The primary source of Asian Elephants used in the skin trade now appears to be Myanmar where poaching incidents have increased dramatically since 2010, with Elephant carcasses found with their skin removed entirely or in strips. Most traders also confirm that Elephant skin products use Asian Elephants, a species protected under Appendix I of CITES.

Elephant skin products have been found in physical markets in Mong La, Myanmar, and Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province, China and in January 2018 were also found in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China.

Documentation shows that China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA) issued licenses for the manufacture and sale of pharmaceutical products containing Elephant skin. These commercially produced products, claiming to contain African and Asian Elephant skin, were advertised for sale by several Chinese companies.

AT RISK

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