Rhino poaching in Zimbabwe

Sun May 20, 2012 8:48 am

18.04.12 The Zimbabwean, Staff Reporter

The names of four senior Zanu (PF) officials repeatedly resurface in rumours about rhino poaching, according to United States diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks.

In a cable dispatched on December 14, 2009, US Ambassador Charles Ray named Environment Minister Francis Nhema, Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, Defence Forces Chief Constantine Chiwenga and chief of conservation in the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Vitalis Chadenga. He said it was widely suspected that rhino poaching has been rampant for decades because of lax law enforcement and collaboration between armed poachers and senior government officials.

“Given the numerous cases in which the accused persons in poaching were granted bail or absconded, many believe bribes or pressure from senior government officials is thwarting justice in these cases,” says the cable.

“Despite these persistent allegations, neither conservationists nor journalists have been able to uncover definitive links between specific senior officials and those who are found in possession of illegal ivory or rhino horns. These same conservationists and journalists, however, have been warned not to investigate too deeply into the issue, adding more legitimacy to the concerns that top government officials are involved,”it adds.

Efforts to get comments from the officials named have been fruitless, but one official close to Chiwenga said: “Those are imaginations of our western detractors. How can Chiwenga or Mpofu afford time to go poaching considering their busy schedules?”

The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force announced that two rhino in the Save Valley Conservancy were shot by poachers over the Easter weekend. “It would be a very simple matter for either the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources or National Parks to put a stop to this madness and we can’t understand why they seem reluctant to do so. Extensive reports and photos have been tabled in Parliament and still there is no change,” said the task force.

A senior prison officer, Assistant Commissioner Apinos Mudzamiri was arrested last month after being caught with four elephant tusks and a quantity of marijuana, but such cases are rare.

Despite considerable evidence of unrestrained poaching, Environment Minister Frances Nhema has publicly proclaimed that things are under control and downplayed criticism of Zimbabwe’s management of its rhinos. In the last three years, approximately one-quarter of all black rhinos have been killed by poachers.

Local conservationists are increasingly concerned that Zimbabwe’s rhinos are on a path to extinction as government officials fail to take adequate action to stop the slaughter and bring the rhino killers and horn traffickers to justice.

Horns now have a street value of over $65,000 a kilo -- more expensive than gold or platinum. Some Chinese are loudly lobbying for the trade in horn to be relaxed.

Poaching in Botswana

Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:57 pm


Official: Botswana tourist firms aid poachers

Nov 13, 2012
Botswana Defence Force spokesman Major Bernard Regalase maintains that anti-poaching operations that members of the BDF have been engaged in have observed their primary duty to arrest suspected poachers and to return fire only in self-defence.

Botswana and South Africa are two southern African countries in which law enforcement agencies are fighting both commercial poaching and poaching for the pot. However, unlike South Africa, Botswana is yet to prosecute a commercial poacher, while many Batswana who hunt for the pot are routinely in and out jail.

A South African court recently convicted a "leading figure" in international rhino poaching and sentenced him to 40 years imprisonment. Botswana's prosecution record is poor despite several law enforcement agencies being involved in anti-poaching operations. They include the intelligence unit of the Department of Wildlife, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security and BDF units. Yet Botswana has yet to nail and successfully crack organised commercial poaching syndicates.

Instead, men on the ground bear the fatal brunt of BDF firepower, leaving out the sponsors of commercial poaching who send them. A source who requested anonymity says commercial poaching in the Chobe National Park is mainly sponsored by big names in tourism and on Government Enclave. The source says at several tourist facilities, clients are served game meat obtained through poaching while some animals are captured live and kept on private farms.

Many tourist outfits actually provide counter intelligence to commercial poachers to facilitate their work on the ground, informing them of planned operations as insiders, sources say. However, anti-poaching operations that do not involve tourism businesses are generally more successful.

Source: mmegi.bw

Poachers kill four rhino in Zimbabwe

Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:30 pm

2013-01-04 22:07

Harare - Poachers killed four white rhino in a raid on a privately-run game reserve in north-eastern Zimbabwe on New Year's Day, the parks department said on Friday.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesperson Caroline Washaya-Moyo said the animals' horns had been sawed off the carcasses, but were yet to be moved when rangers discovered the killings at the Thetford Estate in the farming town of Mazowe.

The raid raises fears that a rhino poaching epidemic in South Africa may be spreading to neighbouring countries.

"The animals comprised two adult males, one adult female and one sub-adult male and are valued at $480 000," Washaya-Moyo said in a statement.

"A total of eight rhino horns were recovered... as well as 18 spent cartridges fired from a suspected 308 hunting rifle or an FN automatic rifle."

She said Zimbabwe, with an estimated population of around 700 rhino, lost 19 to poachers last year, a slight drop from 23 the previous year.

Poaching is rife in Zimbabwe's game reserves, fuelled by cross-border syndicates from Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa.

Perpetrators are armed with advanced technology and aircraft, often outstripping wardens' resources.

The rhino is targeted for its horn which is believed to be an aphrodisiac, anti-carcinogenic and an amulet in some Asian countries.

There is no scientific evidence to support those claims.

South Africa last year lost a record 633 rhino to poaching.


Re: Poachers kill four rhino in Zimbabwe

Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:45 pm

So not a good start into 2013. Just hope it won't proceed at this rate.
Otherwise Zim will have a serious problem with their rhino population.
Well, actually, not - because they won't have any anymore. :shock:

Re: Poachers kill four rhino in Zimbabwe

Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:14 pm

I fear rhino poaching in Zim is also under-reported...lots of government officials with their claws on conservation land! 0*\

Rhino Poaching (outside SA) & Horn Trafficking

Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:41 pm

Syndicates target loopholes in SA hunting permits

February 5 2013 at 10:43am
By Tony Carnie

Last year, in an attempt to plug a legal loophole exploited by Vietnamese organised crime syndicates, Environment Minister Edna Molewa announced that the government would refuse to issue any more rhino-hunting permits to Vietnamese citizens.

The move came after widespread abuse of hunting permits to circumvent the rhino horn trading ban under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).

Since 2003 Vietnamese citizens have hunted more than 400 rhinos legally in South Africa, sparking a major outcry from several conservation groups.

This has pressured the government to stop a situation whereby people with no prior hunting experience were being recruited by organised crime groups to obtain rhino horn for the black market under the pretext of legitimate sport-hunting permits.

Now it has emerged that the crime syndicates changed their strategy rapidly, even before the ban on Vietnamese hunters took effect in South Africa in April last year.

A new report to be presented to the Cites meeting in Bangkok on March 3 has suggested that Vietnamese middle-men hired sport hunters from Poland and the Czech Republic to visit South Africa as “proxy pseudo-hunters”.

An intelligence report from the Czech Environmental Inspectorate to the Cites rhino working group in September last year warned that several Czech hunters (mainly from one area in northern Bohemia) were being recruited by Vietnamese agents living in the Czech Republic.

“These recruited ‘hunters’ are not members of any Czech hunting associations, do not have hunting licences and have no previous hunting experience. They allegedly travel to South Africa to hunt a rhinoceros at a selected location, identified by the recruiter,” reads the report.

Expedition expenses had been covered by the recruiters, who also made Czechs sign a declaration to give up the rhino trophy when they returned home.

“Once the trophy reaches the Czech Republic it is laundered into the illegal trade,” says the report, which notes that Czech and South African authorities were co-operating to deal with the new trend.

According to a summary report co-authored by Richard Emslie, the Pietermaritzburg-based scientific officer of the African Rhino Specialist Group, rhino horn smuggling remained “one of the most structured criminal activities currently faced by Cites”.

There was also evidence that Polish and Russian proxy hunters were being recruited for the same purpose, while syndicates were scrambling to fill the growing demand for rhino horn by raiding museums, antique dealers, auction houses, taxidermists and private collections worldwide.

Since 2009 at least 94 rhino horns had been stolen in Argentina, Europe and the US.

Europol had reported at least 67 rhino horn thefts and 15 attempted thefts in Europe since 2011, although the spate of museum thefts appeared to have dropped significantly since the UK and some European nations introduced tighter controls last year to prevent rhino horns being laundered into the black market.

Although the South African Department of Environmental Affairs had been alerted to the bogus hunts by Poles and Czechs, the Cites report said there was still a need for vigilance to ensure that only bona fide hunters were granted permits.

Ironically, there were indications that the clampdown on Vietnamese and other bogus hunters and tougher domestic clamps in South Africa may be driving the unrelenting rhino-poaching spree.

According to Emslie’s report, the clampdown on bogus hunts and the plugging of other loopholes “appears to have significantly constricted the illicit rhino horn supply from pseudo-hunting; and this might have resulted in shifts to other sources of horn such as poaching (the largest source of illegal horn), illegal dehorning, or thefts”.

However, Emslie said other factors could be also at play, including increasing corruption or the emergence of new rhino horn markets.

Mozambique was also emerging as a major link in the chain in the horn smuggling routes to the Far East, with evidence that, increasingly, horns were being shifted out via Maputo International Airport and other sea or airports in Mozambique.

Horns were then sent to Nairobi, Addis Ababa and Mauritius and to Vietnam and China.

There was also evidence that local professional hunters were involved in the scams, particularly after the country imposed tighter regulations on the number of rhinos which could be shot by a single hunter.

“In some cases, professional hunters in South Africa, rather than the ‘hunter’ listed on the permit, illegally shot the rhino, which is a violation of the country’s hunting laws.” - The Mercury

Re: Syndicates target loopholes in SA hunting permits

Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:14 am

As long as hunting is legal, there will be loopholes to get around the laws!! :O^


Sat Mar 30, 2013 9:43 pm


Rhino poachers are targeting two wildlife parks in southeast England, police have warned.
Port Lympne and Howletts Wild Animal Parks in Kent have been told that their black rhino herds are at risk from poachers eager to harvest their horns. Although rhino horns have been stolen from museums in previous raids, it is thought to be the first time that criminal gangs have targeted live animals in Britain.
The Aspinall Foundation, a conservation charity, is appealing for volunteer watchmen. Rhino horns have soared in value due to demand from traditional healers in southeast Asia.
“It is tragic and beyond belief

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/environme ... 2013_03_30


Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:09 am

0*\ 0*\

UK Wildlife Parks Warned

Mon Apr 01, 2013 1:21 pm

Rhino poachers 'target UK wildlife parks'
2013-04-01 09:40

London - British police said on Saturday they have stepped up security around wildlife parks after conservationists warned their critically-endangered black rhino were being targeted by poachers.

The Aspinall Foundation, a wildlife charity which runs two animal parks in Kent in southeastern England, has also appealed for volunteers to help keep watch for any suspicious activity.

Police constable Michael Laidlow, wildlife crime officer for the Kent force, said they had received an anonymous tip-off about a possible attack on rhinos.

"All our wildlife officers are aware of the information and we're taking steps to increase patrols in the area," he said.

The Aspinall Foundation's chairman, Damian Aspinall, said police had told them there was a "genuine threat" which it attributed to poachers seeking the rhinos' valuable horns.

"It is tragic and beyond belief that, as we do everything possible to restore these magnificent animals safely to the wild, the traders who seek to profit from their slaughter should bring their vile activities to the UK," he said.

The foundation has 20 black rhinos across its two parks in Kent, out of an estimated 200 held in captivity around the world and just 700 who survive in the wild.

It claims to have successfully bred 33 baby black rhino in captivity over the last seven years, and three animals were returned to the wild in Tanzania in East Africa nine months ago.

Rhinos are victims of a booming demand for their horns, which some people in Asia think have medicinal properties. The medical claim is widely discredited.


News24: http://www.news24.com/Green/News/Rhino- ... s-20130330