Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Tag
From: SA people News
December 15, 2014 By
British photographer Richard Humphries, who recently won an award for his graphic photographic portrait of “South Africa’s Rhino War”, describes the poaching scenes he witnessed in the Kruger National Park as nothing less than a “full-on war”.
Photo: Richard Humphries
Richard has a history with South Africa, having lived in the country, with his wife Jill, for three years from 2009 to 2012 (and they “LOVE it”), but when he visited earlier this year, from their new base in Malaysia, he was shocked by what he came across.
Richard told SAPeople that he returned “for a visit with the intention to explore the Rhino story while I was there.
“Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. I can only describe it as a full-on war – a war between the anti-poaching teams, and well-armed, well-funded, criminal syndicate gangs.”
Photo: Richard Humphries
He cites Limpopo and Mpumalanga province as representing the front line of this Rhino War, with the small town of Hoedspruit – where he was based with Protrack anti-poaching unit – as being the “Forward Operating Base” for anti-poaching teams, thanks to its proximity to the Kruger.
Photo: Richard Humphries
In his entry, which won him the Neutral Density Photo Award for Special Photographer of the Year, Richard explains that “Anti-Poaching teams provide security for the game parks within the Kruger area by using highly trained units to patrol large game areas,” but he adds that “despite being well trained, heavily armed, and connected to a deep intelligence network, the Anti-Poaching units often find themselves one step being the criminal gangs.”
Photo: Richard Humphries
Richard’s award-winning photos were all taken in January and February this year in the Kruger Park area…and reveal some of the true horror of the poaching that is driving a species to extinction.
In “South Africa’s Rhino War”, Richard points out that:
- The Tragic Numbers
A record 1,004 rhinos were killed in South Africa in 2013, up from 668 in 2012, a 50 per cent increase in just one year. If this trend continues in 2014 we will reach the tipping point for Rhinos by the end of the year. By the end of 2014 we will start to be in the negative in terms of deaths and poaching outstripping birth, and the population will start to decline very quickly.
- The Endangered Lists
According to the 2013 IUCN Red List the Southern White Rhino is near threatened and the Black Rhino is critically endangered.
- The Insatiable Demand
A seemingly insatiable demand for Rhino horn from the medicine markets of Vietnam and China is feeding this madness. Driven by a common belief in Asia that ground-up rhino horns can cure cancer and other ills, the trade has been embraced by ruthless criminal syndicates that normally traffic drugs and guns, but have now branched into the underground animal parts business because it is seen as a low risk, high profit enterprise.
- The Value
Rhino horn is now worth more than gold and cocaine on the black market.
As Richard writes, “rhino poaching is fast becoming an epidemic, and one of the most pressing conservation issues in the world today.”
Let’s hope that more international figures like Richard bring attention to this crisis in our land, and on our planet, and that we can turn the tide and save the Rhino. We need all the help we can get…
View more of Richard Humphries’ award-winning “South Africa’s Rhino War” photographs here.
Police warn fishermen who are illegally poaching shad during the closed season.
From: Northglen News
by Shiraz Habbib | 26 November 2014 13:22
A picture of shad confiscated by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife officers. According to the organisation, officers confiscate between 30 to 80 shad per patrol.
THE illegal overfishing of shad along the Durban North and uMhlanga shoreline is continuing despite the season being closed. Hundreds of fishermen have ignored the law and have been fined and arrested along various beaches said Lt Raymond Deokaran, spokesman for the Durban North police station.
The most popular spots are the Shipwreck Beach (La Lucia), Glenashley Beach and Peace Cottage (uMhlanga). The shad season closed on the 1 October and ends on 30 November.
“Fishermen are still taking the chance and are illegally fishing for the shad. We have fined a number of them, but it still hasn’t deterred them. If you are caught with 10 or more shad, there is no bail, you are arrested and will appear in front of a magistrate and you will be left with a criminal record,” he said.
Approximately 60 per cent of all fish caught by shore anglers on the KZN coast are shad.
In an interview with Northglen News in October, Basil Pather, conservation manager at the Beachwood Nature Reserve, highlighted the plight of the sought after fish, saying the overfishing during the closed season was ‘killing’ the species.
“At the moment we have a situation where there’s a dwindling number of shad catches during the open season and anglers are illegally catching more shad during the closed season, which in turn affects the population. As a result we are compromising the breeding stock,” Pather said.
“Fishermen are unaware that their actions are directly impacting the declining shad population.”
BY SHARON VAN WYK – 5 OCTOBER, 2014 – SUNDAY INDEPENDENT – FREE TO REPUBLISH
While Africa is losing an elephant every 15 minutes to ivory poachers, trophy hunters are targeting the cross-border population of the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA) to the extent that scientists predict trophy bulls will be all but gone from the region in a mere 10 years’ time.
The region’s hunting quotas, which are too high to sustain according to a study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of KwaZulu Natal, are also having a negative impact on the movement, dynamics and social structures of the GMTFCA’s elephants.
The conservation area encompasses the common boundaries between Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa and has at its centre the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers where both rivers form natural borders between the neighbouring states.
Declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 2003, this area includes protected areas such as South Africa’s Mapungubwe National Park and Botswana’s Northern Tuli Game Reserve.
It is also home to numerous hunting concessions.
The research team of Sarah-Anne Jeanetta Selier, Bruce Page, Abi Tamim Vanak and Rob Slotow began their case study in 1999 and used population viability analysis software, distribution data from six aerial surveys and data from hunting operations in each country to reach its conclusions that at current levels, trophy hunting of elephant in the GMTFCA is completely unsustainable.
“Hunting of trophy bulls had a direct effect in reducing overall bull numbers,” says Selier.
A trophy bull is a male elephant over the age of 35 years.
Where elephants are concerned the older bulls, between 40 and 50-years of age, are the dominant breeders in the population.
By targeting these animals hunters are removing the breeding bulls, which will have a huge negative impact on the overall population.
“It also had an indirect effect on the population due to the disturbance, which resulted in elephants moving away from the hunting areas.
“Bull elephants returned to hunting areas relatively quickly, but it took far longer for breeding herds to return, the case study found, causing considerable disruption to the normal behaviour of these herds in the process.”
Importantly, the study also found that high levels of hunting of bulls caused a disturbance effect within breeding herds, with exacerbated stress levels observed throughout the population of the GMTFCA.
This disturbance has major ramifications for a region where both consumptive and non-consumptive use is made of elephants, with hunting concessions sitting alongside eco and photographic tourism destinations, says the study.
Excessive hunting invariably has a negative impact on tourism. During the course of the study, between anywhere from two to 43 elephant were hunted annually from the GMTFCA population.
And although from 2006 a zero hunting quota was set for elephants in South Africa, disturbingly 18 elephants were shot between 2006 and 2010 as “problem animals.”
Eleven of these were mature breeding bulls hunted by paying clients.
For the 2010 hunting season, the last monitored by the study, 40 bulls older than 35 years were killed within Botswana and Zimbabwe combined.
This is more than four times the quota identified and recommended by the study.
Botswana has banned trophy hunting since the study was completed because its government does not believe it has any value to conservation, however hunting is still prevalent within the GMTFCA as both Zimbabwe and South Africa have policies of sustainable utilisation which support it.
“It’s our recommendation that the quota system is revised as a matter of urgency and that a single, cross-border management authority be established to regulate hunting of both elephant and other species which range across the transfrontier region,” says Selier.
It is also perhaps pertinent to ascertain the circumstances in which South African authorities identify and target “problem elephants” where no hunting quotas have been set.
The aim of allocating hunting permits in terms of problem animal control laws are to deter elephants from entering communal areas and to compensate local communities for damage to crops and property in an effort to improve the tolerance of these communities towards elephants.
But the study shows that hunting bull elephants are not an effective deterrent as elephants return to the region within a year of the hunt taking place.
South Africa’s current system with regards to problem animals is ad hoc and lacks any systematic approach, says the study, and does not deal sufficiently with migratory cross-border movements of elephants.
The same can be said for the process used to set quotas.
“Throughout the period of our study there was no single approach to hunting quotas within the GMTFCA.
“Each country involved in the TFCA had its own method of calculating quotas and none were based on the actual biological population or took into account its various dynamics and movement patterns,” says Selier.
One of the common problems in the administration of the TFCA model is that there is no single management plan in effect, but rather three different and often opposing plans for each sovereign state involved.
“Management plans invariably aim for the sky but fall short on implementation because of a lack of budget,” explains Selier.
“Signatories to TFCAs need to adopt a more hands-on approach to the management of cross-border wildlife populations, especially elephants.
“Management plans need to be made to fit budgets and there needs to be monitoring of the implementation of these plans to ensure compliance, with solid international agreements in place,” she adds.
“Elephants notoriously move away from areas where they are being hunted, which will then place more ecological pressure on the areas they move to. They are exceptionally clever animals in this respect.”
Is there a solution? Selier feels it is perhaps time that the management of TFCAs is re-examined.
“We need to start thinking out of the box and work together to find ways to make the utilisation of natural resources more responsible. We also need to find creative ways to keep each stakeholder in a TFCA involved in its overall management, and responsible for it,” she explains.
“The current quotas are neither sustainable nor responsible, and this needs to change quickly, before it’s too late.”
Main Photo: Mapungubwe Elephant (Derek Keats)
Calculated hot pursuit suggested as option to halt rhino poaching
Written by Kim Helfrich, Monday, 01 September 2014
With Parliament setting aside three hours tomorrow for a debate on rhino poaching and its impact on national heritage, the timing of a letter seeking Ministerial approval for “calculated hot pursuit” could not have been better.
The letter, penned by Randburg lawyer Christopher Bean, asks Environment Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa, to “extend the principle of hot pursuit to include capture and arrest of known poachers and middlemen residing in Mozambique”.
The use of hot pursuit as a deterrent to particularly rhino poachers operating in the Kruger National Park first came up a year ago when retired Army General Johan Jooste suggested it to SANParks management. Indications are it was discussed when a South African Department of Environmental Affairs delegation met their Mozambican counterparts for discussions on a conservation memorandum of understanding. This included counter-poaching.
At the time of the MOU signing it was said hot pursuit was not yet part of the agreement but there would be further discussions.
Last month National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega told a media briefing hot pursuit was happening.
“Yes, we have a hot pursuit agreement meaning that when somebody crosses the border we do have an agreement with Mozambique to follow through,” she was quoted as saying.
This was subsequently expanded on by police spokesman, Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale, in response to a defenceWeb enquiry. He said hot pursuit was not confined to suspected rhino poachers but also to suspects of crimes such as stock and vehicle theft as well as drug and human trafficking.
The hot pursuit option was in accordance with a Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO) operational agreement.
He declined to provide details of specific rhino poaching hot pursuit incidents as did Jooste, who referred defenceWeb to the SA Police Service.
This public has to date had no response from the Department of Environment Affairs on its question as to whether it was aware of any SADC agreement regarding hot pursuit ahead of discussions with Mozambique on the conservation MOU.
One who is unhappy about the hot pursuit issue is Democratic Alliance shadow deputy environment minister Terri Stander. She questions its legality and extradition issues and will raise these points in Tuesday’s debate.
As far as legality is concerned Bean maintains “calculated hot pursuit” is in use worldwide and can be used to back rangers and soldiers crossing into Mozambique “armed with information/evidence as to the existence of known poachers and middlemen financing them”.
He terms it “a means of remedying a wrong committed on South African soil without having to go to war to rectify that wrong. In short, hot pursuit is a form of safety valve against war,” he states in his letter to Minister Molewa.
Environment Affairs has not yet issued a monthly update on rhino poaching statistics with the last information released on July 31. That indicated 618 rhinos killed national with Kruger accounting for by far the majority – 400.
Conservationists in South Africa are using computerized bracelets powered by Intel Galileo technology to help regenerate the critically endangered rhino population.
Thin and light he is not. An adult male black rhinoceros can tip the scale — if you can coax him onto one — some measuring nearly 1.5 tons, or 1,350 kilograms.
Not only that, black rhino are the fastest kind of rhino, reaching a top speed of 55 km per hour, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The WWF documents how “the Daily Mirror, in 1961, said that rhinos were doomed to disappear from the face of the earth due to man’s folly, greed, neglect.” Ever since, poachers have continued to push rhinos into the brink of extinction.
Today, people in southern Africa are trying to help save these critically endangered animals, including white rhinos, using Intel’s super-tiny Intel Quark system on a chip (SOC).
In 1981, only 10,000-15,000 black rhino remained, according to the WWF, which states that since 1980, the species has probably disappeared from Angola, Botswana, Chad, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan and Zambia.
When poachers kill rhinos, they typically hack off the rhinos’ prized horns, which often get ground into powder and sold for medicinal or aphrodisiac value. A single rhino horn can reportedly fetch as much as $3 million. The carcass is most often left to rot.
The WWF reports that after dipping to only 2,475 black rhinos recorded in 1993, conservation and anti-poaching efforts have helped the population grow to nearly 5,000.
In a unique pilot project now underway in South Africa, Intel is contributing a number of credit card-sized Intel Galileo motherboards — complete with processor, 3G communications and data storage — which are affixed to the big beasts.
The project is the outgrowth of a partnership between Intel South Africa and Dimension Data, a cloud services and data center company.
Organizing the work in the field is the Madikwe Conservation Project and i-Detect, a global software company that helps companies manage risk.
Attempting to affix technology to a rhino is risky. The rhino is not an easy customer. It hangs around in the baking hot African sun. It lounges in mud. It rolls in dirt. It stomps its massive 3-toed feet on stuff it doesn’t fancy. With a charge of 55 km per hour, it strikes a mighty blow.
The low-power Intel Galileo board is encased in an utterly rhino-proof, Kevlar-based ankle collar, which also features a durable solar panel to recharge the board’s battery.
What is the best way to attach a “wearable” to a rhino? Very carefully. And not until the huge animal is sedated.
Cellular provider Vodafone is contributing wireless connectivity. Each collared rhino’s geolocation and movement data is encrypted to ensure poachers cannot get to it, then sent to the cloud.
When the wild animals are sedated for their collar fitting, teams embed a tiny RFID chip in each animal’s horn. If the Galileo board detects a break in proximity between ankle and horn, anti-poaching teams can be alerted with helicopters, drones and ground-based vehicles to apprehend the poachers.
While the current pilot is focused on five animals, the technology is working and the cost is proving to be modest and appealing enough to expand to more rhinos.
The project’s next phase will monitor each rhino’s vital stats, such as heart rate. In this way, anti-poaching teams will be able to detect a stressed rhino and swoop in on criminal poachers before they do the deed.
“This incredible creature is in real threat of extinction if we cannot help stop the poaching.” said Gordon Graylish, Intel’s EMEA-based sales and marketing VP who recently checked out the rhino-saving project.
“The ease with which our local team could take our technology and apply it to a real world issue in a novel way was amazing. It also points to the way to even more work like this for us in the future,” he said.
“At Intel, we constantly strive to enable new possibilities, not just for the human race, but for all species of flora and fauna,” said Intel South Africa Country Manager Videsha Proothveerajh. “This project helps us holistically care for our planet.”
By Walden Kirsch, iQ Contributor & Intel Communications
Tablets in the Wild: See This Photographer Use Tech to Capture Wildlife
How Technology Is Decoding the Secret Language of Nature
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Legal ivory sale will create grey market – IOL SciTech | IOL.co.za.
Cape Town – South Africa’s probable application to sell its ivory stockpile in a new “one-off sale” in two years will face increased opposition, from within the country and internationally.
This is apparent from recent developments that include:
l A symbolic burning of mock “ivory” at a Cape Town beach to mark International Elephant Day this week.
l The destruction of ivory in several countries like the US, France and China in the past year.
l The banning of all ivory and rhino horn trade from this month by the US states of New York and New Jersey.
l The publication of a peer-reviewed essay in the scientific journal Conservation Biology that calls for a ban on all ivory sales for at least 10 years – including antique ivory.
Also, mounting concern about ivory poaching has been fuelled by confirmation by SA National Parks in May that the first elephant poached for its tusks “in well over 10 years” had been killed in the Kruger National Park, followed by a second last month, also in the northern Pafuri region of the park.
In October 1989, elephants were listed under Appendix 1 of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), which effectively banned all trade in this species, including ivory.
Although the animals were “downlisted” to Cites Appendix 2 during a meeting in the Netherlands in July 2007, meaning trade in elephant products was allowed under permit, a moratorium on ivory sales was maintained, pending development of internationally agreed safeguards to prevent poached ivory from being laundered.
Since then, there have been three controlled “one-off” ivory sales by elephant range countries sanctioned by Cites: 49 tons in 1997; another 60 tons in 2006; and a further 108 tons in 2008, where Japan and China were accredited to bid for ivory from South Africa (51.1 tons), Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe. A nine-year ban on any further trade came into effect after this sale. In July last year, the cabinet took a firm decision to seek permission from Cites for a further one-off sale of South Africa’s ivory stockpile from natural mortalities and seized contraband, and will apply at the convention’s 17th Conference of Parties in South Africa in 2016. However, the government also said it would listen to all arguments before formulating its final application to Cites.
At a news conference this week to announce the cabinet’s approval of new initiatives to counter rhino poaching, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa reminded journalists of the government’s policy of sustainable utilisation. In theory, this supports the commercial use of all animal products, including ivory and rhino horn.
The government’s view is that the substantial funds generated by ivory sales can be ploughed back into conservation. Also, a legal supply will sharply reduce demand and price for poached ivory, this argument goes. The same applies to rhino horn. But a strong conservation lobby argues that this doesn’t work in practice.
The “Cape Town Burn” event was organised by the Conservation Action Trust, which says elephants may face extinction in the wild and that at least 20 000 of them were killed for their tusks last year. The influx of legal ivory into the main market in China “simply… created a grey market”, said the trust’s Francis Garrard.
“The insatiable demand for ivory… now threatens the very survival of elephants in many countries, with governments, including our own, continuing to accumulate stockpiles of ivory, perpetuating the concept that there is a commercial value for ivory.”
In her essay in Conservation Biology, Elizabeth Bennett, the vice-president for species conservation at the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, says the illegal ivory trade has more than doubled since 2007 and that African elephants are facing “the most serious conservation crisis since 1989”.
Too little, too late for elephants
In 1979, there were an estimated 1.3 million African elephants, but today there are just 470 000 – and some authorities estimate a much lower number, says the Kenya Elephant Forum.
“The loss of a million elephants has been due primarily to killing for ivory. Natural habitat loss is a second important factor: human population has tripled in elephant range states since 1970.”
Cites (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) identified eight countries last year as the worst offenders in the illegal ivory trade chain: supply states Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda; consumer states China and Thailand; and transit countries Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
There have been at least four symbolic events in which ivory has been destroyed in the past year to highlight poaching and the illegal ivory market:
l At an event in Denver in November last year, the US Fish and Wildlife Service used a gravel crusher to destroy six tons of illegal elephant ivory tusks, trinkets and souvenirs seized over 20 years.
l In January, more than six tons of illegal ivory was chipped and ground into powder in Guangzhou, China.
l In February, France became the first European country to destroy its stocks of illegal ivory, crushing three tons of ivory at a Paris site in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
l In May, a burning in Hong Kong marked the first stage of the government’s plans to destroy its 28-ton stockpile of ivory confiscated over years.