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retta rhino report 820

Nairobi, Sept 18 - Criminal networks of Chinese origin operating in South Africa are now processing rhino horn locally into beads, bracelets, bangles and powder to evade detection and provide ready-made products to consumers in Asia, mainly in Viet Nam and China, the wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC said in a report released today.

The report, Pendants, Powder and Pathways—A rapid assessment of smuggling routes and techniques used in the illicit trade in African rhino horn, documents recent cases in which police have discovered small home-based workshops for processing rhino horn and have seized beads, bracelets and bags of rhino horn powder.

Prior to these cases, seizures have typically comprised whole horns, or ones simply cut into two or more pieces, TRAFFIC said in a press release.

“It is a growing problem,” Colonel Johan Jooste, national commander of the Endangered Species Section in South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), told TRAFFIC researchers. “The syndicates no longer want to export whole horns. They have begun cutting them up into what they call ‘disks’ and large beads in line with demand on the market side and in order to avoid detection…”

More than 7,100 rhinos have been killed for their horns in Africa over the past decade. South Africa, home to 79 percent of Africa’s last remaining rhinos, is the centre of the storm, suffering 91 per cent of the continent’s known poaching losses in 2016. Facilitated by resilient, highly-adaptive criminal networks and endemic corruption in many countries along the illicit supply chain, demand for rhino horn is driven by consumers in Asia, with Viet Nam and China identified as the dominant end use markets.

Drawing on 456 seizures recorded by TRAFFIC between 2010 and June 2017, Pendants, Powder and Pathways presents a detailed overview of known smuggling routes from Africa to Asia and some of the myriad methods used by criminal networks to smuggle their contraband.

It is estimated that between 2010 and June 2017, at least 2,149 rhino horns, weighing more than five tonnes, were seized by law enforcement agencies globally.

This is a fraction of the estimated 37.04 tonnes of rhino horn obtained from the 6,661 rhinos officially reported to have been killed by poachers in Africa between 2010 and 2016 and doubtless entering illegal trade.

In most cases, rhino horn is smuggled by air. The report examines several airports in Africa and Asia that have emerged as key hotspots. At least two tonnes of rhino horn was seized at airports during the period under review, with approximately 24 per cent of cases recorded in TRAFFIC’s seizures database involving the simultaneous trafficking of other wildlife products, particularly ivory.

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White Giraffe credit Hirola conservation

Nairobi, Sept 15 - Two rare white giraffes have been sighted in eastern Kenya, a conservation group reported.

The mother and its calf were seen in June in the Ishaqbini conservancy in Garissa County, the Hirola Conservation Program said in a blog post.


“White giraffe sightings or leucistic giraffe as they are better known have become more frequent and common nowadays,” according to the blog.


“In fact, the only two known sightings have been made in Kenya and Tanzania. The very first reports of a white giraffe in the wild was reported in January 2016 in Tarangire National park, Tanzania; a second sighting was again reported in March 2016 in Ishaqbini conservancy, Garissa county, Kenya.”


Experts have explained that the condition is known as leucism, which results in the partial loss of the pigmentation of the giraffes original colour.

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China Ivory Destructi Leff compressed


Nairobi, Sept 14 - The United Nations General Assembly this week adopted a far-reaching resolution on tackling illegal wildlife trafficking.

Measures in the resolution, adopted on September 11, reinforce the focus on key areas in the fight against illicit trafficking in wildlife, including enhanced national legislation, supporting sustainable livelihoods, stronger law enforcement, countering corruption, deploying information technologies and undertaking well-targeted demand reduction efforts.

“This new UNGA Resolution reinforces the heightened level of political concern over the devastating impacts these highly destructive crimes are having on wildlife and people,” said John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), welcoming the new resoution.

The resolution recognizes the important work of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), a collaborative effort of the CITES Secretariat, the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank and the World Customs Organization (WCO),  including through supporting Member States in the implementation of the Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit, which is aimed at strengthening the capacity of relevant law enforcement authorities and judiciaries in investigating, prosecuting and adjudicating wildlife-related offences.

The Assembly expressed concern that illicit trafficking in protected species of wild fauna and flora is, in some cases, an increasingly sophisticated form of transnational organized crime that poses a threat to health and safety, security, good governance and the sustainable development of States.

The resolution also stress that the protection of wildlife must be part of a comprehensive approach to achieving poverty eradication, food security, sustainable development, including conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, economic growth, social well-being and sustainable livelihoods.

It calls for firm and strengthened national measures, and an enhanced regional and global response. It is aimed at both supply and demand sides, including by strengthening the legislation necessary for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of offences, treating certain wildlife offences as a serious crimes, providing for illegal trade in wildlife offences to be treated as predicate offences (for anti-money laundering offences), recording and monitoring seizures and successful prosecutions, supporting the exchange of evidence between States and taking steps to prohibit, prevent and counter corruption.

It urges States to reduce demand for illegal wildlife products using targeted strategies to influence consumer behavior, emphasizes that the protection of wildlife must be part of a comprehensive approach to achieving, inter alia, sustainable development and sustainable livelihoods and encourages States to address sustainable and alternative livelihoods for affected communities to enable them to benefit from wildlife and wilderness.

The Resolution calls upon Member States to ensure that legal domestic markets for wildlife products are not used to mask the trade in illegal wildlife products, and in this regard urges parties to implement the CITES resolution as amended at CoP17 recommending that all governments close legal domestic ivory markets, as a matter of urgency, if these markets contribute to poaching or illegal trade.

Source: CITES

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dry land with shrubs credit Hat.Net


The consumption of Earth’s natural reserves has doubled in the past 30 years, with a third of the planet’s land now severely degraded, according to a new publication unveiled this week at the 13th meeting of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Ordos, China.

“Each year, the [world] loses 15 billion trees and 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil. Smallholder farmers, women and indigenous communities are the most vulnerable, given their reliance on land-based resources, compounded by their exclusion from wider infrastructure and economic development,” according to the publication entitled The Global Land Outlook (GLO).

Currently, more than 1.3 billion people are trapped on degrading agricultural land, drastically increasing competition for crucial ecosystem services such as food, water and energy. The GLO draws on an analysis of recent trends in land productivity and modelling of land demand scenarios up to the year 2050. It outlines how reversing trends in the condition of land resources could accelerate efforts to achieve many of the Sustainable Development Goals, by adopting more efficient planning and sustainable practices.
Speaking at the launch, UNCCD Executive Secretary Monique Barbut said: “Land degradation and drought are global challenges and intimately linked to most, if not all aspects of human security and well-being – food security, employment and migration, in particular.”
“As the ready supply of healthy and productive land dries up and the population grows, competition is intensifying, for land within countries and globally. As the competition increases, there are winners and losers.

“To minimize the losses, The Outlook suggests it is in all our interests to step back and rethink how we are managing the pressures and the competition. The Outlook presents a vision for transforming the way in which we use and manage land because we are all decision-makers and our choices can make a difference – even small steps matter,” she added.

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 SGR PIC 1 min 1

Nairobi, Sept 13 – The East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) today voiced concern over the continuation of work related to the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) inside the Nairobi National Park in what the Society said could be blatant disregard of a judicial order halting such activities.

The National Environment Tribunal (NET) on 5 April 2017 ordered the Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) to halt railway construction in the park after a petition by civil society.

EAWLS said in a press release that it had learnt that KRC and China Roads & Bridge Corporation (CRBC) have continued SGR-related activities in the park in an apparent disregard of the court order.

The court injunction stated that “all activities relating to the appeal in question must be stopped until the appeal is heard and determined by the Tribunal.”

Construction of the railway in the park is being challenged by Kenya Coalition for Wildlife Conservation and Management and activist Okiya Omtatah. The lobby has argued that the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) irregularly awarded KRC an environment impact assessment licence paving the way for work to start inside the park.

The petitioners maintain that the licence was hurriedly issued in controversial circumstances and without consultations with institutions responsible for wildlife and environment conservation.

EAWLS stressed that due process of the law must followed on all matters related to natural resources and the environment. “In this regard, EAWLS wishes to reemphasize the need for Kenya Railways to comply with the STOP ORDERS issued by NET and respect the rule of law and subsequently stop any activities related to the SGR Phase 2A with immediate effect,” according to the press release.

Conservationists have been critical of the decision to route the railway through the Nairobi National Park, which they said ignored the railroad’s effect of wildlife.

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