In this week’s news wrap Malaysian authorities discovered 50 pieces of rhino horn in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in what is believed to be southeast Asia’s largest single seizure of rhino horns; two Tanzanians were trampled to death by elephants in the north of the country; a nationwide survey has revealed that the majority of South Africans believe the captive lion breeding industry is harming the country’s international reputation; conservationists in Kenya are warning of an imminent poaching crisis should proposals to open the doors to game hunting sail through; and police in Cameroon have shut down an international poaching gang after catching six traffickers carrying more than 700 kilos of pangolin scales.
Malaysia makes massive Vietnam-bound rhino horn seizure (full story: TRAFFIC)
Authorities have discovered 50 pieces of rhino horn at a postal aviation centre in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in what is believed to be southeast Asia’s largest single seizure of rhino horns. The horns were packed in boxes that also contained nine whole carnivore carcasses, and all were bound for Ha Noi, Vietnam.
This incident follows several high-profile rhino horn seizures in southeast Asia in 2017 and earlier this year. It includes a case of 46 rhino horns seized at Vietnam’s Ha Noi’s Noi Bai International Airport in March 2017 that were smuggled in two suitcases on a flight from Kenya. A month later, Malaysian Customs seized 18 horns smuggled on a flight from Mozambique to Doha.
In February this year, Singapore jailed a Vietnamese for 15 months for attempting to smuggle eight pieces of cut horn and a bag of shavings. Just last month, a Vietnamese man was stopped at Tan Son Nhat airport for illegally transporting 12 rhino horns from Angola.
The rhino horn seizure took place on 13th August when officials of the export branch of Pos Aviation suspected something amiss with a consignment at the cargo terminal building in the airport’s Free Commercial Zone. They alerted the Royal Malaysian Customs who in turn called on the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan).
The agent who managed the consignment is under investigation, said Perhilitan Director-General Dato’ Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim, who added that initial investigations showed false information had been used in the shipping document.
Neither the source of the horns and the carcasses, nor the length of time they have been in storage, is known. (Continue to full story and video here)
Elephants trample and kill two Tanzanians (ful story: AG News Desk)
Two Tanzanians have been trampled to death by elephants in the north of the country, police said on Monday.
A 24-year-old man and a 70-year-old woman were killed on Sunday in the district of Korogwe by “elephants who had left the national Mkomazi park”, said regional police spokesperson Edward Bukombe. The little-known Mkomazi National Park runs on from Kenya’s Tsavo National Park on the other side of the border, and is situated a short distance from Mount Kilimanjaro.
Clashes between humans and wild animals are a growing problem in parts of east Africa, as burgeoning populations seek to carve out a space for themselves. Communities increasingly attack animals seen as a threat, while residents are injured or occasionally killed in these encounters, or have their crops destroyed. (Continue to full story here)
New survey: Lion breeding industry harming South Africa’s reputation (full story: AG News Desk)
A nationwide survey, by the Humane Society International (HSI), has revealed that the majority of South Africans believe the captive lion breeding industry is harming the country’s international reputation. This announcement comes on the first of a two-day South African Parliamentary inquiry into the lion breeding industry. According to the study, South Africans demonstrate a deep dislike of activities associated with the lion breeding industry, including trophy hunting and canned hunting of tame lions, and are also concerned that the trade in lion bones will stimulate market demand leading to increased poaching of lions and big cats.
The results showed the following:
• That South Africans, by more than a three to one margin, agree that the industry is harming South Africa’s international reputation, with 65% strongly agreeing/agreeing, and 21% strongly disagreeing/disagreeing;
• More broadly, 56% of South Africans fully oppose/oppose to some extent trophy hunting, 60% fully oppose/oppose to some extent canned lion hunting;
• And by nearly a six to one margin, 77% strongly agree/agree with conservationists who say that the trade in lion bones will stimulate market demand leading to increased poaching of lions and big cats.
Results followed the recent local and global backlash against an announcement by South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs that it would allow 1,500 captive-bred lion skeletons to be exported this year, nearly double last year’s export quota of 800 captive-bred lion skeletons. (Continue to full story here)
Game hunting in Kenya will cause poaching crisis, experts warn (full story: AG News Desk)
Conservationists in Kenya are warning of an imminent poaching crisis should proposals to open the doors to game hunting sail through.
Dr Paula Kahumbu, CEO of WildlifeDirect, told Daily Nation over the phone on Tuesday that the proposed consumptive utilisation of wildlife would be a shoo-in for international wildlife poaching syndicates, who are after wildlife trophies, to return into the country as well as exacerbate the problem of local bushmeat hunters to go on hunting sprees.
Loss of wildlife has been detrimental to the tourism sector for decades. Kenya Wildlife Service has over time complained about lack of adequate equipment to carry out anti-poaching operations as the main challenge the country faces to dealing with the problem. (Continue to full story here)
Cameroon pangolin traffickers caught in the act (full story: News24)
Police in Cameroon have shut down an international poaching gang after catching six traffickers carrying more than 700 kilos of pangolin scales, a conservation group said on Tuesday.
Pangolins, or scaly anteaters, are one of the world’s most trafficked species and are threatened with extinction. Their scales are widely used in traditional Chinese medicine and their meat is a delicacy in many Asian and African countries.
The six poachers – five Cameroonians and one from the Central African Republic – were arrested on August 18 in Douala, a coastal city in southwest Cameroon, according to the Last Great Ape Organisation (LAGA). Most of the 718 kilos of scales they were carrying were from the Democratic Republic of Congo, it said.
The gang bought pangolins from smaller traffickers in Cameroon, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo before sending them to Nigeria, where they were prepared for export to Asia, it said. (Continue to full story here)