Tourism industry working around the clock to prevent loss of up to 600 000 jobs

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By Tshidi Madia, Media 24 | May 24, 2020

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Stakeholders in the South African tourism industry have told President Cyril Ramaphosa the industry could lose up to 600 000 jobs by September, if Covid-19 lockdown regulations continue to prevent it from operating.

On Friday, Ramaphosa held a virtual meeting with the sector as part of his ongoing engagements with numerous stakeholders ahead of his address to the nation on Sunday evening.

Over the past week, the president met with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), opposition parties in the National Assembly, religious and traditional leaders.

Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane told News24 that many in the sector were struggling, with those in the informal sector, such as tour guides, being left in distress by the pandemic and the lockdown.

The country’s borders were shut in March, after Ramaphosa announced a national lockdown. This was part of government’s efforts to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

This meant a ban on both international and domestic travel, along with the closure of hotels, schools, parks and recreational areas.

The lockdown also prohibits gatherings of large groups of people.

Huge job losses

Kubayi-Ngubane said the industry anticipated the loss of 500 000 to 600 000 jobs if it remained shut until September.

“A lot of the informal sectors aren’t covered and are seriously in distress and won’t get part of the relief fund and won’t get UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund). It’s difficult because we want to help everyone, we want to support everyone but the money that we have is too little,” she told News24.

The tourism department instituted a R200 million relief fund, which would be handed out as once-off R50 000 grants to help businesses survive as the country prepares to be open up more sectors of the economy.

Kubayi-Ngubane acknowledged the money simply was not enough, and government couldn’t help everyone. She encouraged some big businesses in the industry to help their smaller counterparts and share some business once the industry was back in full swing.

The meeting was also attended by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, who she said committed to support her portfolio in aiding the industry to find its feet.

“We have said allow us to put together the recovery strategy but commit to supporting us once the recovery strategy is in place, and they have agreed to that,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.

No sense in demanding more money

The minister said when it came to the adjustment budget, set to be delivered by Mboweni in June, it made no sense for her to demand more money when it was needed for more pressing issues.

“We have to be practical, all of us as colleagues in Cabinet. If we asked for money to do marketing while there is no money for PPEs (personal protective equipment), can we justify this in the public domain?” she said.

“When Mboweni says I need more money for fighting the battle, for health, you can’t ask for money to do marketing, it becomes illogical,” she continued.

The tourism minister said numerous reports were presented to the president and he in turn tasked her and other government leaders “working around the clock” for ways to address outstanding challenges.

“He said we needed to look at our employees as a sector. In mining, they are able to isolate cases, screen, test and then isolate affected people. The president said considerations were needed on how employees who got affected would be assisted,” she explained.

Hotels to remain closed

While the minister did not give details of how Level 3 of the Covid-19 lockdown would affect her industry, it’s understood hotels and other tourism facilities would remain closed.

Kubayi-Ngubane said the tourism sector was people and interaction based, which made many uncomfortable about how it would function during the Covid-19 pandemic.

But, she said, this was precisely what the protocols would be addressing.

“The protocols we are working on is to give comfort to people so we can operate,” she said.

Some of the stakeholders also pitched for interprovincial travel and self-catering accommodation to be included on Level 3 of the lockdown.


SA’s international wildlife trade ‘poorly enforced, indefensible and shameful’ – report

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By Don Pinnock, Sunday Times | May 24, 2020

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The legal trade in wildlife between SA and China is extensive and often corrupt, with glaring violations overlooked by authorities and benefits flowing to a few wealthy traders. It’s also acting as a cover for illicit trade.

This is documented in an extensive, meticulous report by Ban Animal Trading and the EMS Foundation — the outcome of four years of research.

The report says photos taken at Chinese importing centres show barren enclosures that “tell their own story of animal welfare violation and naked greed” despite the danger of Covid-type diseases.

The authors found that export permits frequently list fake destinations and that the issuing of permits under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is so lax it’s almost nonexistent.

As a result, wild animals are subjected to cruel and degrading conditions when captured, bred, transported, displayed in Chinese “theme parks” or used in scientific experiments. Their welfare is being ignored.

Given that the trade in wildlife has triggered a global pandemic, says the report, this is extremely worrying, threatening not only the lives of animals but of humans too. Infectious zoonotic (transmitted from animals to people) disease outbreaks have increased dramatically in the past 30 years.

A lonely chacma baboon stares out the window of his ‘hok’ at Tianjin Zoo.

A lonely chacma baboon stares out the window of his ‘hok’ at Tianjin Zoo. Image: Karl Ammann

The most likely causes are commercialisation through exploitation of wildlife.

This includes hunting, trade in and transport of wild and farmed animals, habitat degradation, an increase in the number of farmed animals, particularly wild animals, intensified agricultural activities and expansion of agricultural land.

According to the report, “habitat loss, global travel and a persistent and growing appetite for wild tastes and exotic products has created a perfect storm for the next human pandemic”.

The CITES regulatory system, it says, has created a false sense of security for those who believe the international trade in wildlife is justified, sustainable and educational — and contributes to conservation.

“In fact it facilitates the illegal trade by enabling the laundering of animals while boosting demand for illegal wildlife and illegal wildlife products,” it says.

The report, which is based on investigations in China, open-source research and information obtained from governmental and nongovernmental sources, shines a glaring spotlight on SA’s “legal” trade in live wild animals with China.

This trade, it says, is “riddled with irregularities” with “gaping loopholes” in the CITES permitting system. These include:

• Illegal shipments masquerading as legal exports of wildlife species classified as threatened by extinction (Appendix I) and endangered (Appendix II) by CITES;

• Brokering and wholesale companies and zoos implicated in the trafficking of wild-caught CITES Appendix I-listed species;

• The sale of CITES-listed species to theme and amusement parks, circuses, laboratories and zoos and so-called safari parks in violation of CITES rules;

• Untraceable destinations, importers and addresses despite these being required in CITES permits;

• Enforcement negligence, particularly in relation to likely false declarations made by traders, agents and exporters;

• Animals traded being untraceable after export;

• Absent verification measures;

• Lack of transparency and access to permits; and

• An intertwining of the legal local and global permit system with illegal wildlife trade.

Some of the many young giraffes at Jinan Zoo in Shandong province.

Some of the many young giraffes at Jinan Zoo in Shandong province. Image: Karl Ammann

“The repetitive box-ticking exercise that defines CITES is, in a very real sense, dangerous because it creates the illusion of a well-controlled system of compliance, efficiency and verification — and therefore protection,” the report notes.

SA’s policies and procedures actively promote this convergence. For these reasons, “transnational wildlife trafficking networks and crimes perpetrated against wild animals cannot be disrupted without focusing on the entire supply and demand chain of the so-called ‘legal’ trade”.

The details that back these claims are shocking and demand the urgent attention of the department of environment, fisheries & forestry (DEFF). The report lists a litany of bad practices, questionable decisions and shady deals.

SA is the largest exporter in Africa of live wild animals to Asia, but authorities repeatedly fail to comply with the very basic CITES regulations governing this trade.

Between 2016 and 2018, SA and China were listed among the top five countries for wildlife trafficking seizures.

The country’s “consumptive use” wildlife doctrine and lax regulations risk unleashing myriad Covid-type diseases.

The DEFF encourages trade in wild animals and their body parts without scientific evidence and without properly assessing the impact this may have on free-ranging populations of wild animals, the report says. DEFF says its trade in wildlife is regulated, “but this does not accord with our observations”.

Nearly all exported primates are not bred in captivity; they are wild-caught and illegally traded out of Africa and Indonesia.

African white rhinos are confined to paddocks at Jinan Zoo, one of China’s largest wildlife enclosures.

African white rhinos are confined to paddocks at Jinan Zoo, one of China’s largest wildlife enclosures. Image: Karl Ammann

False declarations by traders, agents and exporters are common yet not a single offender has been prosecuted.

The origin of any given animal is almost impossible to trace. Once animals leave SA it is similarly impossible to identify where they end up. Many destinations are “pure fiction”.

Most export permits are in breach of CITES regulations. CITES import permits are often not signed or dated.

Local and CITES legal wildlife trade monitoring systems contain extensive loopholes, gaps and opportunities to launder illegal items into the legal market.

The source of so-called captive-bred animals is not checked or properly verified.

Archaic, paper-based local and CITES legal wildlife trade monitoring systems make it virtually impossible to reconcile and audit trade information or to cross-check information provided on waybills.

The name of the importer on the permit is very often not the actual destination or address that the exported animals will be sent to.

In China, animal welfare laws governing captive wild animals are nonexistent.

The idea of “well-regulated” markets is a myth, a smokescreen behind which deeply embedded interests exploit wild animals for purely commercial gain.

DNA tests are rarely done.

It is extremely difficult to identify the source of baby animals arriving in China from Africa.

CITES members are using zoos as a shield to absolve themselves of any responsibility for animal welfare. Far from being places of care and safety, “zoos are places of stress-inducing confinement and captivity and there is no conservation-education value to the use of wild animals”.

CITES as an international treaty is “weak, untenable, impracticable, unfeasible and irreparable”.

A young chimpanzee is threatened by its keeper.

A young chimpanzee is threatened by its keeper. Image: Karl Ammann

The research found that, between 2015 and 2019, at least 32 wild species from SA were exported to China. It lists 15 exporters and 41 importers, finding questionable listed information and permit violations in many cases. Many of the animals were being used to perform in circuses and wildlife events or were going to labs for experimentation and vivisection in violation of CITES regulations.

Of particular concern was the export of CITES Appendix 1-listed chimpanzees and tigers (not indigenous to SA), cheetahs, rhinos, lions, caracal, monkeys, giraffes and unlisted species such as wild dogs, hyenas and meerkats.

The report concludes that the wildlife trade between SA and China is “massive, ever-expanding, ecologically unsustainable, damaging and closely intertwined with illegal activities”.

“South Africa’s wildlife conservation reputation is effectively in tatters because DEFF has misinterpreted section 24 of the South African constitution and is instead and expediently interpreting the notion of ‘sustainable use’ as a catch-all justification for rampant exploitation of wild animals.”

Wildlife trade between SA and China is  ‘massive, ecologically unsustainable, damaging and closely intertwined with illegal activities … SA’s conservation reputation is in tatters’

The country’s international live wildlife trade, says the report, is “large, poorly enforced, indefensible and shameful”. The report says bans should be placed on:

• The live trade of wild animals, including captive-bred wild animals;

• Captive breeding and farming of wildlife for trade;

• The consumption of wild animals; and

• Wet markets and wild animal markets.

It calls for a prohibition on the international commercial legal trade and sale of wild animals and their body parts and a precautionary and compassionate approach in relation to wildlife.

The NGOs recommend the crafting of a comprehensive global agreement “as a matter of extreme urgency, to tackle the dangerous, inhumane and indiscriminate trade in wild animals”.

The report is part of larger research into the wildlife trade, which will include Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, it was decided to release the China section ahead of the final publication.

Francisco Pérez, a CITES communications officer, responded to the report: “We will review the report carefully and will not hesitate to take up any serious breaches of the Convention with the States concerned or bring matters to the attention of the CITES standing committee if required.”

The DEFF did not respond when approached for comment.

Tech deployment sees rhino poaching decline in SA

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Admire Moyo, IT Web | February 5, 2020

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Technology has been hailed for playing a critical role in the fight against rhino poaching in SA.

This emerged yesterday in a Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries report on rhino poaching in the country in 2019.

According to the department, rhino poaching in SA continues to decline as additional steps are taken by government to ensure the crime is effectively dealt with.

The department says in 2018, 769 rhino were killed for their horn in SA. During 2019, rhino poaching continued to decline, with 594 rhino poached nationally during the year.

This decline can be attributed to a combination of measures implemented in line with government’s strategy, including improved capabilities to react to poaching incidents linked to better situational awareness and deployment of technology, improved information collection and sharing among law enforcement authorities, says the department.

Original photo as published by IT Web.

Solutions galore
Tech companies that have been involved in the fight against rhino poaching in SA include MTN, Cisco, Dimension Data, IBM and Microsoft, among others.

The companies have run a pilot project since November 2015 in a private reserve outside the Kruger National Park, reducing rhino poaching incidents by 96%.

Non-profit organisation Peace Parks Foundation is using Microsoft Azure-enabled artificial intelligence technology to help fight against the scourge.

Mobile operator MTN and US-based computing giant IBM deployed an Internet of things solution at the Welgevonden Nature Reserve in Limpopo to improve conservation efforts in and around SA.

Eutelsat Communications and Sigfox Foundation partnered on what they call the “Now Rhinos Speak” project for the protection of the endangered rhinoceros population in Africa.

Using Sigfox’s very low-speed network, the Sigfox Foundation has designed and implemented a remote tracking solution for rhinos that uses GPS sensors fitted in the horn of each animal to send positioning data to a secure online platform via Eutelsat satellite resources.

Law enforcement aspects
Minister of environment, forestry and fisheries Barbara Creecy says the steps to address rhino poaching and wildlife crime across the country are presently aligned to the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros as well as the principles set out in the draft National Integrated Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking (NISCWT), which will be taken to Cabinet for consideration in the first half of this year.

The NISCWT was a recommendation of the Committee of Inquiry into whether SA should table a recommendation for the legal trade, or not, of rhino horn to the 17th Conference of Parties to the Convention on the Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in 2016.

It aims to strengthen the law enforcement aspects of the successful multi-disciplinary approach – the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros – and broadens the scope to combat other wildlife trafficking, not only rhino poaching.

“Because wildlife trafficking constitutes a highly sophisticated form of serious transnational organised crime that threatens national security, the aim is to establish an integrated strategic framework for an intelligence-led, well-resourced, multidisciplinary and consolidated law enforcement approach to focus and direct law enforcement’s ability supported by the whole of government and society,” says Creecy.

“A decline in poaching for five consecutive years is a reflection of the diligent work of the men and women who put their lives on the line daily to combat rhino poaching, often coming into direct contact with ruthless poachers.”

Despite the 2 014 incursions and poacher activities recorded in the park during the year, a total of 327 rhino were lost as a result of poaching in the Kruger National Park (KNP) during 2019.

With regard to elephant poaching, the department reports that 31 elephant have been poached in SA in 2019 – 30 animals in the KNP and one in Mapungubwe National Park.

This is a decrease in the number of elephant poached in 2018, when 71 were killed for their tusks.

Since the last report on the rhino poaching situation and efforts being made to address the crime, rhino horn samples have been received for analysis from Vietnam to determine if the horns confiscated are linked to crimes in South Africa.

The Hawks have also received good co-operation from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan in their efforts to combat wildlife trafficking.

Hublot’s newest Big Bang Unico was made for rhino conservation

By Conservation, News, Uncategorized No Comments
Ambrose Leung, Hypebeast | October 1, 2019

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Hublot has just released a new special edition Big Bang Unico watch that’s dedicated to the conservation of Rhinos. Working with SORAI (Save Our Rhino Africa India), the 45mm microblasted ceramic Big Bang Unico takes on a beige-sand color with contrasting black pushers and hardware.

Original photo as published by Hypebeast

The skeleton dial continues the same color scheme as the case and strap, and features the silhouette of a rhino at the 9 o’clock subdial. Powered by Hublot’s HUB1242 movement, the watch has a power reserve of 72 hours and has a water resistance rating to 100 meters. The Big Bang Unico SORAI is finished with a display back that carries the SORAI name and has the watch edition number.

Priced at approximately $25,000 USD, and limited to 100 examples, proceeds from the Big Bang Unico SORAI will go towards SORAI’s efforts in saving rhinos.

Indonesia’s Aceh says wildlife poachers to get 100 lashes

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Lowvelder | October 7, 2019

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JAKARTA: Despite international condemnation, public flogging is a common punishment for a range of offences in the conservative region on Sumatra island, including gambling, drinking alcohol, and having gay or pre-marital sex.

Aceh is the only region in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, that imposes religious law.

But the new rules, adopted last week, mark the first time that crimes against wildlife fall under Aceh’s strict sharia code.

The punishment — expected to come into effect early next year — could see people convicted of endangering or exploiting wildlife receive up to 100 strokes from a rattan cane, in addition to any prison time under national laws, officials said.

Civil servants charged with protecting animals could be whipped as many as 60 times if they are found to be negligent in their duties.

Original photo as published by Lowvelder: Conservative Aceh already regularly lashes people for gambling, drinking or having gay or pre-marital sex | © AFP/File | CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN

In July, three people were flogged 100 times each for having premarital sex, while two men caught having sex with underaged girls were also whipped 100 times last year. Other offences tend to carry dozens or even fewer lashes.

Aceh lawmaker Nurzahri said the harsh new punishment underscored efforts to clamp down on poaching and other threats to local wildlife, including birds endemic to jungle-clad Sumatra.

“Maintaining nature and its balance is part of Islamic law,” the politician, who goes by one name, told AFP on Friday.

“Aceh is the centre of biodiversity in Sumatra and it’s the habitat of some animals like Sumatran orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers,” he added.

Rights groups have slammed public caning as cruel, and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has called for it to end, but the practice has wide support among Aceh’s population. About 98 percent of the region’s five million residents are Muslim.

Protected Areas wildlife management bill in final stages (Namibia)

By Conservation, namibia, News, Uncategorized No Comments
Albertina Nakale, New Era | September 30, 2019

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WINDHOEK: The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has announced that the Protected Areas and Wildlife Management Bill is in the stages of finalisation.

This was revealed by environment deputy minister Bernadette Jagger during the World Rhino Day celebrated in Khorixas over the weekend.

Original photo as published by New Era Live

She confirmed that once passed, the Bill will enable the prosecution of poachers and stiffer sentences for those who benefit from illicit wildlife trade.

Equally, Jagger explained that the ministry is busy revising the National Strategy on Wildlife Protection and Law Enforcement.

“The revised strategy will respond to new challenges posed by poaching and illegal wildlife trade. To address both the supply of and demand for illegal wildlife products, institutions and law enforcement must be strengthened at all levels, across all affected regions and close cooperation with neighbouring countries,” she said.

Wildlife trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar business that is decimating Africa’s iconic animal populations. Many iconic species such as the African rhinoceros face the risk of significant decline or even extinction.

According to latest statistics, a total of 9 273 rhinos have been poached in Africa between 2007-2018. World Rhino Day is an international event celebrated annually on September 22. In Namibia the day is an opportunity for the government, non-governmental organisations and communities to come together to celebrate this magnificent species and create more awareness about it.

This year’s event was celebrated under the theme “I am a Rhino Friend Forever”. The event was hosted by the Namibia Nature Foundation and Save the Rhino Trust, under the Rhino Pride Campaign, supported by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the World Wildlife Fund in Namibia (WWF).

The partnership between the United States and Namibia includes the USAID-funded Combating Wildlife Crime Project. This five-year initiative began in April 2017. It is being implemented by WWF in Namibia, in partnership with a consortium of 12 non-governmental organisations that are supporting the government and communities to combat wildlife crime and illegal wildlife traffic.

In Namibia, wildlife tourism is a growing and increasingly important industry that brings benefits to the national economy. Therefore, the Namibia Nature Foundation feels decimating wildlife species and destroying natural ecosystems threaten this prosperous development sector and improved livelihoods for communities.

The event also highlighted the contribution of the Rhino Pride Campaign towards safeguarding rhinos.

The Rhino Pride Campaign encourages a sense of pride in living with rhinos and fosters the notion that wildlife crime is economically damaging to the region and the nation.

U.S. Ambassador Lisa Johnson said she is happy to report that their hard work together is already paying off.

“I am so encouraged to hear that zero rhinos have been poached over the last two years in the north-western communal areas of Kunene,” she said.

For Behati Prinsloo, Africa’s animals beckon

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Lucy Cohen Blatter, Barron’s | September 21, 2019

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When her small plane touched down on the tarmac near Desert Rhino Camp in Namibia last May, Behati Prinsloo was greeted with a welcome song, sung to her by the camp’s employees. That kind of hospitality, she says, continued throughout her stay. Often gathered around a bonfire in the middle of the desert, Prinsloo, her travel partners—which included a photographer and a videographer—and the staff of Desert Rhino Camp would share stories and take in the majesty of the free-roaming rhinoceroses around them.

Prinsloo was raised in the Namibian town of Grootfontein, about a six-hour drive from Desert Rhino Camp. But the model and environmental activist’s 10-day trip to Namibia last spring was more than just a homecoming—it was the first step on a mission of animal conservation. She traveled from her current home in Los Angeles to Africa with Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) Namibia, kicking off a partnership with the nonprofit organization.

“It is so important for anyone who has a platform to take a stand,” says the 31-year-old Victoria’s Secret model and wife of Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. “We don’t have time to waste when it comes to the environment.”

As the mother of two young daughters, ages 1 and 3, Prinsloo often thinks about how future generations will experience Africa and its animals, hoping that others—including her daughters—will be able to interact with them the way she did. Grootfontein is about an hour from Etosha National Park, known for a wealth of wildlife. Her father, she says, is very adventurous, and family vacations were often safaris in places like Botswana and South Africa.

Original photo by Hugh Lippe as published by Barron’s.

“When you grow up there, you’re part of nature, and you appreciate it in a different way,” she says. “You know that if you lose any of those animals, Africa loses a part of its soul.”

Prinsloo, who moved to London at age 15, hadn’t been back to Namibia since 2012, due in part to the births of her children. “Now was the right time in my life because I just had my two kids, and I really felt the need to live by example for them,” she said over tea at a Midtown Manhattan hotel a few weeks after her trip.

While she visited several areas of Namibia on her journey, the heart of the trip was in the northwest at Desert Rhino Camp, a joint venture between travel group Wilderness Safaris, SRT, and local conservancies. It’s also open to the public, and all visitors can get an education in SRT’s work. The camp is home to the last free-roaming black rhino population in the world. SRT “trackers” monitor the land as well as the health of the rhinos, working to ensure they don’t get poached. It’s a job they’ve been doing there since 1982.

Ginger Mauney, a conservationist, SRT board member, and longtime resident of Namibia, who planned the trip for Prinsloo, says there are a couple of reasons rhinos are valued by poachers. One has to do with the belief—largely in China and Vietnam—that rhino horns have medicinal qualities, curing everything from headaches to cancer. “That’s been proven not to be true,” Mauney says. In addition, some illegal horn traders participate in what’s called “gambling on extinction,” meaning they keep pieces of endangered animals in case that breed becomes extinct, and as a result, the pieces rise in value.

Today there are fewer than 5,000 black rhinos left in the wild, and with epidemic poaching across Africa, “the critically endangered black rhinos’ last stand may be in northwestern Namibia,” SRT says. But there is some promising news, too: “This past year has been a very good year,” Mauney adds. At Desert Rhino Camp alone, “we’ve had 22 births, and we’ve gone nearly two years without a poaching.”

Much of that success at Desert Rhino Camp can be traced back to the trackers, each of whom spends 21 days a month tracking, covering 28 miles a day. Prinsloo says following them around was one of the most eye-opening experiences of her trip.

But her entire experience at the camp was magical, she says, from the moment her plane—which traveled from the capital city of Windhoek to Desert Rhino Camp—landed on the dirt tarmac. The plane had to wait to land until animals had left. “It was all very National Geographic,” she says.

The terrain that Prinsloo, Mauney, and the trackers crossed was rocky and rugged (“It looks like Mars,” Prinsloo says) and incredibly hot. Namibia has also been experiencing seven years of drought, Mauney says, with this year being particularly trying. In fact, water is so scarce at Desert Rhino Camp that when taking a shower, guests are asked to keep a bucket beside them to catch the cold water that runs before it turns warm, so it can be reused. The eco-friendly camp forbids plastic; glass bottles are used for drinking water.

Prinsloo and her guests stayed in accommodations she described as “glamping.” The tents each have an en-suite bathroom with a shower and a toilet, as well as “a comfortable bed, lovely linens, and a porch out front,” Mauney says. It’s enchanting, but also very basic. “There’s no spa,” Prinsloo jokes. “Here, it’s about the rhinos, and they really educate you on that.”

There’s a near-100% chance of seeing rhinos at the camp, and Prinsloo also spotted hyenas and oryxes. “I was overwhelmed by it all,” says Prinsloo, referring both to the majesty of the animals and the urgency of the work needed to keep them thriving. “So many times I just wanted to cry my eyes out.”

Now, she wants to transfer her knowledge of SRT’s work to her fans, posting about the cause on her social-media platforms, appearing on talk shows to discuss the mission, and educating young people in countries that lead the market for rhino horns. “Many people are doing life-saving things for the environment, and they don’t have the platform or the means to get their message out there.”

Prinsloo also appreciates how crucial a healthy wildlife population is to the country’s economic well-being, by way of its tourism. Getting to travel to her homeland through her conservation efforts is icing on the cake. “Africa,” she says, “is so ancient, and has so many stories, you feel it when you stand on the ground there. You feel connected and part of the circle of life.”

Zero poachings, 26 births recorded at Lewa Conservancy (Kenya)

By Antipoaching, Land conservation, Uncategorized No Comments
Gilbert Koech, The Star | September 20, 2019

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There has been no poaching at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in six years. This is despite the demand for the rhino horn in the Asian black markets remaining constant in the period.

Lewa head of conservation and wildlife, Geoffrey Chege said the conservancy has been devoted to protecting the rhino population and other wildlife by maintaining a sustainable natural habitat. “We are really impressed by the thriving rhino population across the landscape. The gains show that our conservation efforts are paying off,” he said.

The conservationist has steered various efforts in support of species’ recovery on Lewa, Borana and beyond for the past 15 years.

Chege said Lewa is now a “Key 1” black rhino population on the International Union for Conservation of Nature African Rhino Specialist Group categorisation.

Original photo as published by The Star of Kenya: Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) rangers and vets try to move a tranquillised wild female black rhino named Tupac at Lewa Wildlife conservancy on August 27, 2013. (Image: FILE)

The mission of the specialist group is to promote the development and long term maintenance of viable populations of the various sub-species of African rhinos in the wild.

Membership consists of official country representatives from the main African rhino range states and other specialists.

Founded in 1995, the Lewa Conservancy spans 61,000 acres and catalyzes conservation across northern Kenya.

Lewa holds 13 per cent of Kenya’s black rhino population and 12 per cent of the world’s Grevy’s zebras.

There are currently 105 and 99 black and southern white rhinos respectively at the conservancy, with 26 rhino births recorded by September 1.

Kenya is now home to just over 760 black rhinos and 620 southern white rhinos. According to the Kenya Wildlife Service, at the end of 2018, Kenya had close to 1,400 rhinos, and the Lewa-Borana landscape is home to 13 per cent of this population.

The black rhino is classified as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List.

The latest Lewa annual wildlife census shows that in the past three years, Southern white rhinos have increased by 24 per cent. The species, though native to South Africa, is doing well in Kenya.

It is a conservation success story, having been brought back from the very brink of extinction in the 20th century.

Conservation efforts on Lewa began in the early 1980s to protect the last of black rhinos from extinction. At the time, there were only 15 individual rhinos.

Lewa head of anti-poaching, Edward Ndiritu said that the most pressing threat to the rhino’s continued survival is poaching for the illegal trade.

Ndiritu said Lewa continues to adapt to the rapid threat of poaching to protect the critically endangered species.

He attributes their success to close cooperation with the local communities, well-trained and motivated anti-poaching conservation heroes such as rangers, and the use of technology.

“We are now more than ever determined to work tirelessly and demonstrate to the world that zero poachings can be achieved. It is a fact that poaching is incredibly detrimental to the population of the critically endangered rhinos and also damage livelihood and growth of local communities,” he said.

In Asia, rhino horn is believed to be having curative values.

World Rhino Day will be marked on September 22. Rhino horn trade has been banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) since 1977.

Over the years, rhino numbers have increased on the landscape due to successful conservation efforts.

Lewa manages its wildlife and carries out conservation work in partnership with its western neighbour, Borana Conservancy.

European MPs want trophy hunting of elephants, rhinos banned

By Law & legislation, Uncategorized No Comments
Halligan Agade, CGTN | August 18, 2019

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European parliamentarians and conservation groups want the regulator of global wildlife trade to ban all trophy hunting of rhinos, elephants and other endangered animals.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) bans all commercial trade in more than 1,000 species of animals and plants considered to be endangered, listed under its Appendix I.

In a letter handed to CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero Sunday, more than 50 European MPs and an equal number of conservationist groups decried that trophy hunting, which is deemed “non-commercial”, has been exempt from that ban.

“A considerable number of Appendix I species trophies are traded each year, (including) trophies of species listed as extinct in the wild, critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable or near threatened on the IUCN Red List,” the letter said.

The signatories called on CITES to “treat the trade in hunting trophies in the same manner as it treats all other trade in wildlife,” and to “implement an immediate moratorium on the import of all Appendix I species.”

They also called for an end to allowing captive farming of lions for hunting trophies.

The letter was delivered during an ongoing global wildlife conference in Geneva tasked with evaluating the CITES rules, but the issue is currently not on the agenda for debate.

The Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, which is behind the push to close the CITES “loophole”, said in a statement that “CITES permits have been issued (by) hunters wanting to shoot and take home trophies of some of the world’s most endangered animals.”

A wide range of species are coveted by hunters, including elephants, white and black rhinos, giraffes, but also primates like chimpanzees, cheetahs, crocodiles and grey parrots.

Eduardo Goncalves, the founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, told AFP the CITES exemption for trophy hunting was “absolutely inexplicable.”

Trophy hunting, he said, is a “global multi-million dollar industry”, which is “clearly commercial”.

The United States, which by far sees the biggest import of hunting trophies, has issued an estimated 200,000 import permits in the past decade, according to a report by the campaign.

The report also noted significant recent increases in trophy hunting by citizens from a range of other countries, including Canada, Belgium, Austria and Russia.

Government-licensed hunting is common across parts of Africa, with tourists paying to shoot a small number of selected animals. The practice is controversial but many wildlife experts accept that hunting can aid long-term conservation.