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In the latest news wrap Singapore has seized 12.9 tonnes of pangolin scales found in a shipping container destined for Vietnam, the biggest seizure of its kind globally in five years; death row “nuisance” elephant Riff Raff gets a reprieve as judge intervenes to prevent shooting; three rhino poachers from the notorious Ndlovu gang were sentenced to an effective 25 years behind bars; and two field rangers were attacked and injured by an elephant in the Kruger National Park while conducting a routine patrol.

Nearly 13 tonnes of pangolin scales worth S$52 million seized in Singapore (full story: Channel News Asia)
Seized pangolin scales
A sample of the pangolin scales seized by authorities. Image source: Channel News Asia/Singapore Customs

An illegal shipment carrying nearly 13 tonnes of pangolin scales, worth S$52.3 million, was intercepted and seized by Singapore authorities on Wednesday. It was the largest seizure of pangolin scales globally in five years, said the Singapore Customs and National Parks Board (NParks). Around 17,000 pangolins were killed to make up the shipment.

The shipment was also carrying 177 kg of cut up and carved elephant ivory, worth US$88,500 (S$120,000), said Singapore Customs and NParks in a news release on Thursday.

“That’s heartbreaking from the conservation point of view because pangolin scales are just made of keratin – the same material as your hair – so scientifically there is no basis for its purported cure for illnesses,” said Dr Adrian Loo, group director for wildlife management at NParks.

The haul, which was en route from Nigeria to Vietnam, was discovered in a 40-footer container, packed with frozen beef, at the Pasir Panjang Export Inspection Station. It was declared to contain only frozen beef.

The seizure was based on information received by Singapore Customs. The scales come from four pangolin species that are native to Africa, namely the white-bellied tree pangolin, black-bellied tree pangolin, Temminck’s ground pangolin and giant ground pangolin. All four species are considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature… (Continue to full story here)

Death row “nuisance” elephant Riff Raff gets a reprieve as judge intervenes to prevent shooting (full story: AG News Desk)
Riff Raff the elephant bull
Riff Raff, a mature elephant bull who has been labelled a “nuisance” by landowners, has been given a temporary stay of execution by a judge © Waldo Swiegers/AP Images for Humane Society International

Animal campaigners in South Africa were in court on Tuesday fighting to save the life of a collared bull elephant called Riff Raff who faces being shot for being considered a “nuisance”. Riff Raff’s habit of trampling fences to gain access to land that has been in his territory for more than half his life, led neighbours to his reserve to apply to have him killed, despite the fact that campaigners from Humane Society International/Africa and Global Supplies had already found him a new home approximately 450 km away.

However, when permission to relocate Riff Raff was turned down by the Limpopo government, the destruction order would likely have gone ahead, but at the last-minute Acting Deputy Judge President Mr Justice M.G. Phatudi intervened and granted Riff Raff a temporary stay of execution. The decision by the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism to reject the plan to relocate the elephant must now be reviewed by the court.

HSI/Africa and its partners have been trying to save Riff Raff for two years, including relocating him to a new reserve last year when neighbouring landowners threatened to apply for his destruction. Despite successfully transporting Riff Raff to the new reserve, he turned around and walked the 40-mile journey back to his original territory, and back in the line of fire… (Continue to full story here)

Ndlovu trio sentenced to 25 years behind bars for rhino poaching (full story: IOL)
Three rhino poachers in court
Three poachers from the notorious Ndlovu Gang were each sentenced to an effective 25 years behind bars by the Eastern Cape High Court in Makhanda on Wednesday. Image source: IOL

Three poachers from the notorious Ndlovu gang were each sentenced to an effective 25 years behind bars by the Eastern Cape High Court in Makhanda, formerly Grahamstown, on Wednesday.

The trio was earlier found guilty of the poaching of 13 rhinos between 2013 and 2016.

Police spokesperson, Colonel Sbongile Soci, said no incidents of darting rhino had been reported since the arrest of the poaching gang members. Soci said Jabulani Ndlovu, 40, Forget Ndlovu, 37, and Sikhumbuzo Ndlovu, 38, were found guilty of all 55 separate counts relating to the poaching and harvesting of the horns… (Continue to full story here)

Two Kruger National Park rangers injured in elephant attack (full story: IOL)
Elephant in Kruger National Park
Stock image of elephant in Kruger National Park

South African National Parks (SANParks) said on Tuesday that two of their field rangers were attacked and injured by an elephant in the Kruger National Park while conducting a routine patrol. SANParks said the incident happened on Saturday.

Acting general manager of communications at the Kruger National Park (KNP), Nhlanhla Themba said “Alfred Maluleke and Bethuel Khoza stationed in Pafuri in the north of the park whilst on patrol to do their routine duties had an encounter with an elephant.”

Themba said due to their skills and knowledge of wildlife behaviour they managed to escape with minor injuries.

“The Field Rangers were rushed to a nearby Hospital for observation and were later discharged.”

Kruger National Park Managing Executive, Glenn Phillips, has extended his well wishes to the two Field Rangers on behalf of all SANParks staff: “These are some of the many dangers that our Rangers faces on a daily basis, it is not only poachers that poses threat to our men and women in green”… (Continue to full story here)

 

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