Sunday, July 29, 2012

Anticipatory Bail Plea Rejected for Anil Madhukar Naik in Blackbuck Poaching


It has been announced that a Washim additional district sessions judge has recently rejected the anticipatory bail applications of Anil Madhukar Naik, nephew of Maharashtra state food and drugs minister Manohar Naik, who was accused along with his five associates for allegedly killing a blackbuck. Along with Naik, three others involved in the incident were also refused the plea. The poaching of the blackbuck occurred on the night of July 16 by eight people. Forest officials arrested one accused named Yasin Shah Gulzar Shah, who was involved in the disposing of the animal's carcass. According to assistant conservator of forest (ACF) and investigating officer V.G Tehre, Naik and his three associates applied for anticipatory bail through their lawyers and denied their involvement in the incident. However, the court refused their bail application and has decided to hold the final hearing of the matter on July 30. Meanwhile, the accused Shah has been given police custody remand (PCR) until that date. All the eight accused departed secretly.

Although I'm satisfied that Naik and his associates were rejected bail, I hope that the hearing set on July 30 would be satisfactory. That is, all eight of the accused would be prosecuted for the crime they had committed. The blackbuck is listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, and anyone found guilty for illegally killing this graceful antelope would be sentenced for up to seven years imprisonment. And even though this penalty applies to people everywhere in India, the case of Anil Madhukar Naik was an exception. Instead of being booked under the act, he and his fellow associates were set free after the police learned that he was Manohar Naik's nephew. This gives an idea of how the public perceives politicians and their kin as powerful, compared to any one else including the Indian Army. One person who made this remark of comparing politicians to the army is Kishore Rithe, president of an Amravati-based NGO called the Satpuda Foundation. The organization has demanded a CBI investigation helped by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB). Rithe further added that the issue has "become necessary as both, police and wildlife department, work under the state government, whose minister is misusing his position to scuttle the probe."

I firmly believe that just because Anil Madhukar Naik is a relative of a powerful politician it does not mean that he should be allowed to get away with the crime he has allegedly committed. Politicians maybe higher than other people in terms of status, but they are still human beings and should tried for whatever misdemeanor the same way as regular citizens. While Naik's hearing is scheduled for July 30, the next key figure who has recently been in the news for the same offense is none other than Bollywood celebrity Salman Khan. After fourteen years since his alleged offense in poaching a blackbuck, the film industry's favorite romantic hero of countless movies is likely to stand trial after the Rajasthan High Court finalized the charges against him. If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison according to Section 51 of the Wildlife Act. The news about these two powerful figures should serve as examples to the people of India regardless of what class, or status they fall under. The wildlife of the Indian subcontinent is vulnerable to threats of poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, and the public needs to step up in order to help protect their natural heritage from these ongoing threats.

View article here

Friday, July 27, 2012

Seven Countries Face Punishments Over Trading of Endangered Species

Hong Kong Vietnam Worst Wildlife Crime
Seized rhino horns at the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.

It has been recently reported that a total of seven countries may lose their privilege to legally trade endangered species after U.N conservation delegates came to an agreement on Thursday to punish them for lacking strict laws or failure to report on their illegal wildlife trade. These countries include Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Nepal, Paraguay, Rwanda, the Solomon Islands, and Syria, whose suspensions were favored by the consensus among the delegates will go into effect on October 1. According to Juan Carlos Vasquez, a spokesman for the U.N office that controls the agreement, the suspensions would prevent the seven countries from legally trading any of the 35,000 species managed by the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). Committees to the week-long meeting of CITES in Geneva agreed to place suspensions on the seven countries based on their lack of national enactments for controlling the wildlife trade. The meeting's attendees also agreed to place suspensions based on the countries' failure to properly report what they are doing to regulate the lucrative trade, as required to do under the CITES treaty.
Mountain gorilla in Virunga National Park

However, it is said that the seven countries could avoid the penalties and losing the possibility of losing millions of dollars in commerce either by framing a required legislation or turning in missing annual reports to CITES by October 1. CITES states that about 97 percent of the species it controls are commercially traded for building materials, clothing, collections, food, forest products, fuel, health care, ornaments, religious items, trophy hunting, and other things. The other three percent are usually banned. It estimates that the controlled wildlife trade is between $350 million and $530 million a year, or almost $2.2 billion over four years from 2006 to 2010. During that time period, the logging of the big leaf mahogany estimated for $168 million in trade. By volume, American black bears, Malaysian box turtles, Senegal parrots, and South American gray foxes were among the most traded. The wildlife trade monitoring network, Traffic, estimates that the commercial trade of wildlife has increased sharply from around $160 billion a year in the early 1990s. But the multibillion-dollar trade is a growing problem, and environmentalists state that the reason is due to the nations' failure to conduct severe penalties for traffickers or implement wildlife laws that are already on the books. The delegates are expected to consider a proposal to resume legal ivory trade as an effort to stop the recent surge in Africa's elephant poaching. The proposal, which is asserted in a CITES-commissioned report, would establish a centralized system to allow for ivory sale from elephants that either died of natural causes or trophy hunting, or culled for ecological reasons. In addition to that, the rise in Africa's rhino poaching is also on the agenda.
A pair of tigers in one of Vietnam's several tiger farms

I'm very much surprised to see that a handful of countries are facing this unusual penalty of being disallowed to trade endangered species. Based on the article, the reasons for coming up with this punishment imposed on these nations is because they do not have stiff laws against the ongoing threat of the illegal wildlife trade and the failure to report any illicit activities related to this ongoing threat. I think this news should serve as a warning, as well as a wake-up call, for other countries around the world that have a similar reputation of enforcing weak laws against the wildlife trade and failing to report any activities related it. One of those could be Vietnam, whose so-called "tiger farms" have been labeled as major hubs for the illegal wildlife trade by the World Wildlife Fund. In addition to that, the delegates who had agreed to impose the penalties on these seven nations, have also started focusing on the resumption of the ivory trade as a way to battle elephant poaching in Africa. The objectives of this plan is to allow selling of ivory from elephants that have died either of natural causes, or as a result of trophy hunting and ecological culling. In my opinion, this plan should be looked over by the governments of various African countries where elephants live. Meanwhile, I believe the main objective is to target poachers and other operators of the illegal wildlife trade. In order to do so, various countries where the threat of poaching and wildlife smuggling persists should impose harsh penalties against these wildlife crimes and report any such activities. Otherwise, they would face similar consequences like these seven countries featured in this news.

View article here

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rajasthan State Government to Establish Rescue Center at Ranthambore National Park

Tiger in Ranthambore National Park

It has been recently announced that the Forest and Environment Department of Rajasthan is planning to establish a rescue center in Ranthambore National Park. The purpose of setting up this facility is to help prevent any man-wildlife conflict resulting from tigers and other wild animals straying out of the national park. The most recent conflict occurred last Tuesday when villagers Hanuman Prajapat and Badri Lal were injured by a tiger in the Mai Kalan Village in Ranthambore's Khandar Range. In response, Rajasthan forest minister Beena Kak declared on Thursday that a compensation of 20,000 rupees each will be given to the two victims. She further added that the department will have to pay the expenses acquired on the medical care for the victims. In addition to compensation, Minister Kak also stated that the park boundary will be more modified. That is, the wall around the park is in the process of being raised up further from its initial height at around six feet. Furthermore, the top of the wall will be fixed with iron angles with barbed wire to make it more difficult for tigers to move out of the park. In addition to that, the gaps in the wall will be fixed. It is also said that the government is working on a project to develop buffer zones in the outskirts of Ranthambore in sight of the national park's growing tiger population. The project, which anticipates an expenditure of 175 crore rupees, has been submitted to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and the Planning Commission for approval. Meanwhile, the forest department has also worked out a plan to create natural corridors joining Ranthambore with the neighboring Kaila Devi Sanctuary in Bharatpur district. As part of the plan, 23 villages in Kaila Devi will be shifted outside the forest area so that it would be protected to form prey base for tigers.

I'm very happy and proud to see what government of Rajasthan is doing, in order to help both the people and wildlife in the state. Apart from providing compensation to any villagers, the government has also taken the initiative of establishing a rescue center to prevent any further conflicts between the villagers and the wildlife. Furthermore, the project also includes a modification of Ranthambore National Park's boundary such as increasing the height of the wall and fixing barbed wire on top of it along with repairing gaps to prevent any animals from straying outside. In addition to that, the government also plans to create buffer zones along the edges of the national park for the increasing tiger population while the forest department has devised a plan to develop natural corridors connecting Ranthambore to Kaila Devi. In my opinion, this series of planning and development of helping both the people and the wildlife should be taken as an inspiration for governments and forest departments in other parts of India and around the world in places like Africa. The reason is because people living alongside wildlife are known to have an uneasy coexistence, where people are either seriously injured or even killed by animals they come into encounters with. When this happens, usually the response is either to have an animal responsible for the assault either relocated or killed depending on how serious the situation. This is why it is extremely crucial to conduct steps similar to what the government of Rajasthan has done in order to help both people and wildlife coexist with one another peacefully.

View article here

Sunday, July 22, 2012

North America's Mexican Wolf Pack Count Exceeds Fourteen

Mexican wolf (female)

It has been recently reported that federal wildlife managers in the American Southwest have marked two more packs of Mexican wolves in the state of New Mexico, increasing the pack numbers to fourteen in the region. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has been trying to reintroduce this magnificent subspecies of the gray wolf in historic range from Arizona to New Mexico for more than twelve years. However, the efforts have been distressed by issues ranging from politics, to illegal shooting and courtroom battles. Historically, the first collection of these wolves was released into the wild in May 1998. There are currently 58 Mexican wolves remaining in those two states. A recent annual survey indicated that at least eighteen pups among packs at the beginning of the year. According to Liz Jozwiak, the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program's field coordinator, several packs are showing signs of denning behavior which could mean a possibility of having a new litter of pups. However, biologists are concerned about the genetic diversity within such a small population. That is, without new wolves released into the wild, inbreeding can result in smaller litter sizes and greater pup mortality. Last year, 38 pups were observed in the wild out of which less than half survived towards the end of the year. While the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery team is hoping for a higher survival rate this year, Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity argued that hope should not be used as a hurdle against the extinction of the Mexican wolf. Although the two new packs are good news, he stated that the federal government needs to release more wolves into the wild to help the population that has been held back by poaching, lack of new releases, and past instances of trappings and devastating removals caused by encounters with livestock. In addition to that, ranchers have been critical of the program saying that it has not done enough to protect their livelihood.
Mexican wolf (male)

I also happen to feel that the Mexican wolf recovery program has to do more than just have hope about this recent good news about the animals they are trying to save. I personally think that the program should join forces with the Center for Biological Diversity, in order to help bring the Mexican wolf back from the brink of extinction. That is, it should follow the footsteps of the center in addressing the federal government to release more of these wolves into the wild. The population of the Mexican wolf in the wild is still in a critical condition, which is why it is a critically endangered species in the U.S along with its relative the red wolf compared to other gray wolf subspecies in North America. While the news about these two new wolf packs is a good news, there is still a lot to be done to help the subspecies. Releasing more wolves into the wild is an absolute must, and at the same time the federal government with the help from conservation groups should help local ranchers come up with harmless methods to prevent any livestock losses from these wolves. One of the ways would be to use electric fencing with enough voltage to stun the wolves rather than kill them. Also, providing ranchers with livestock guardian dogs to keep the wolves off their land is another effective method. This tactic is being used by the government of Catalonia to help farmers keep wolves away from their livestock. If this strategy worked for the Catalonian farmers, it should work for the ranchers in the American Southwest and elsewhere in North American where there are wolves, coyotes, and even grizzly bears. In addition to that, there has to be a community outreach in order to raise awareness about the importance of Mexican wolves with a message conveying to help by reporting any suspicious activities related to poaching. Furthermore, poaching should be closely monitored by any cost. These magnificent creatures are struggling to make a comeback in their historic range, and they need our help to make their return.

View article here

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Blackbuck Killed by Maharashtra Minister's Nephew; Police Fail to Take Action


The killing of the magnificent blackbuck of India came into the public spotlight when Bollywood actor Salman Khan was caught shooting and killing one by the Bishnoi community in Rajasthan fourteen years ago. But this time, another key figure of India was caught allegedly doing the same crime: Anil Madhukar Naik, the nephew of Maharashtra minister of food and drugs and senior NCP leader Manohar Naik. The incident occurred on Tuesday when Naik and his five associates allegedly killed a blackbuck near the Jambharun jungle in Maharashtra's Washim district, some 350 kilometers from the city of Nagpur in the western Vidarbha region. Similarly in Salman Khan's case, the six offenders were caught by the local villagers when they took the carcass away in a red four-wheeler. After stopping them, the villagers informed a nearby police station from which police sub-inspector Pratapsinh Chavan arrived at the scene and took the offenders into custody. The carcass and the vehicle were also seized by the police. However, when the police came to know that Naik was one of the alleged offenders, they simply let them go free. According to reports, there was tremendous pressure on the police officials to keep the matter a secret. The news sparked a great deal of anguish amongst wildlife officials. One of them was state wildlife warden and principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) SWH Naqvi, who has ordered an investigation into the matter and instructed others to check into it and guarantee that the guilty party should be arrested immediately. He further added that senior forest officials and veterinary officers arrived at the scene, and carried out a post-mortem for the carcass. In addition to that, he also stated that they are in talks with senior police officials to arrest the offenders immediately and punish the police officers who set them free.

I'm very much shocked and upset that these alleged offenders were allowed to walk free after what they had done. But what really troubled me about this news was the fact that the offenders were associated with the government of Maharashtra, and not some loose gang of poachers or a powerful criminal syndicate specializing in such evil and horrendous deeds. This article is a clear representation to why India must intensify its efforts to combat poaching and punish the people involved in this ongoing threat, regardless of what class they come from. Just because these people involved, who come from an upper class society, does not mean they should be allowed to go free without any charges pressed against them. They are still regular people like everybody else, and should be tried the same way as other people in India. I hope that this news would serve as a training for police departments everywhere in India when it comes to helping in the battle against poaching. That is, to never hesitate to take action in pressing charges against any would-be offender(s) caught poaching by witnesses.

View article here

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Climate Change Threatens Tibetan Antelopes' Gestation Period

Tibetan antelope

In China's remote northwest region, it is said that Tibetan antelopes follow a particular migration pattern every summer to give birth which is the key to their survival. Around 30,000 female antelopes migrate in June and July to the Hoh Xil Nature Reserve on the eastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau to give birth to their calves. Although scientists have been unable to explain why the antelopes favor this place for their deliveries, there have been concerning signs of change in this pattern because of climate change. In recent months, limitless rainfalls and melting glaciers have caused overflowing of several lakes in the nature reserve forming rivers. According to Tseten, a senior official of the Hoh Xil Nature Reserve administration, the channels prevented some pregnant female antelopes from reaching their calving ground this year. Zhao Xinlu, an official in charge of the reserve's Drolnai area, stated that the females cannot cross these channels to reach the southern bank of Drolnai Lake where they have been known to give birth to their calves over the last few decades. He further added that around 3,000 antelopes were marooned on their way to Drolnai Lake, and had to deliver their fawns near Khuse Lake this year which was not previously favored as a delivery site.

Once threatened to near extinction due to rampant poaching for its horns and skin, the Tibetan antelope made a successful comeback thanks to intensified government protection. The Hoh Xil Nature Reserve is now home to 70,000 of these magnificent antelopes. But now, they are facing a new kind of threat coming from none other than nature itself: climate change. Tseten stated that the antelopes' survival rate is already 30 percent low, adding that the figure might deteriorate as more pregnant females are forced to give birth in unfamiliar environments. Pointing to snow-capped mountains off in the distance, he further added saying that the peaks were once covered with snow but now only they can only be seen on mountain tips. It is said that melting snow is the primary source Researchers have discovered with alarming results that glaciers on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau are also melting rapidly. Cheng Haining, a senior engineer with the Qinghai provincial surveying and mapping bureau stated that satellite pictures of the glaciers indicated that most have diminished over the past decades, some by as much as 12.9 percent. He further added that about 5.3 percent (70 kilometers) of glaciers in the Yangtze river sources had melted over the past thirty years, along with two small ones. This, according to Haining, is closely connected to global warming. He further added that the data gathered by three meteorological stations over the past five decades indicated an ongoing rise in the average temperature in the area.

This article gives a clear picture of what the world must do, in order to put a stop to global warming. In places where there is an abundance of snow, the surrounding area is prone to the devastation of floods. One of those places is the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, where the melting of the ice and overflowing of lakes have formed networks of channels that disrupt the movement patterns of various species of animals native to this vast stretch of land. One of those animals is the Tibetan antelope, which scientists and researchers say has been tremendously affected by the change in climate that has hindered its migration pattern to various spots for giving birth every summer. Xiao Penghu, a deputy chief of the Hoh Xil Nature Reserve's administration, stated that in addition to obstructing the animals' migratory patterns for a long term, the channels and lakes would then dry up which is "disastrous" to the region's ecology. Tseten, the administration's senior official, added that the fate of the Tibetan antelope is "in our hands" as he called for people around the world to join together to combat climate change. He also conveyed a message saying that once global warming wipes out these antelopes, humans would eventually be wiped off the face of this planet. This is why it is extremely crucial that we should all unite to take a stand against global warming before it further takes its toll on various natural environments around the world, including the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.

View article here

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Two Manhattan Jewelers Plead Guilty in Illegal Ivory Trade

Jewelry made of ivory seized from Manhattan's two jewelry stores

It has been recently reported that one of the largest seizures of illegal ivory on New York's Manhattan Island resulted in the arrest of two jewelers, who pleaded guilty on Thursday to marketing more than $2 million worth of the contraband. The seized goods consisted of bangles, necklaces, rings, statuettes, and toys, which made up only a small part of the one-ton seizure. According to one expert, the following items had probably cost lives of 25 elephants. But Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. stated that the illegal ivory trade is "booming and pushing both species of elephants to the brink of extinction." This case is one of several cases that has resulted in the onslaught of elephant populations around the world. The wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic stated that more than 24 tons of ivory was seized from around the world from estimated 2,500 elephants last year. The incident marked 2011 as the worst year for elephant poaching since the international ban on ivory in 1989. The network further added that much of the ivory leaves Africa through Kenya and Tanzania, and is bound for China and Thailand. The Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) stated that poachers are responsible for deaths of eight to ten elephants in Africa this year, compared to four out of ten elephants from 2002 to 2006.
Johnson Jung-Chien Lu of the New York Jewelry Mart plead guilty for the illegal selling of ivory.

Prosecutors stated that the ivory was seized from two jewelry shops in Manhattan: the New York Jewelry Mart and Raja Jewels. Both the stores' owners, which included Johnson Jung-Chien Lu of New York Jewelry Mart and Mukesh Gupta of Raja Jewels, plead guilty to individual counts of illegal commercialization of wildlife. Neil Mendelsohn, an acting special agent in charge of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service's Northeast region, said that the case began when an off-duty inspector for the service, whose job is to inspect baggage and cargo at the Kennedy International Airport, spotted ivory merchandise while shopping. Officials stated that Mr. Lu was arrested in January and Mr. Gupta in June. Mr. Gupta, who had more than $1 million in ivory, agreed to pay $45,000 in fines and other amends. Mr. Lu, who had about $120,000 in ivory, agreed to pay a $10,000 fine. The money would be sent to the Wildlife Conservation Society. According to Lieutenant John Fitzpatrick, the State Department of Environmental Conservation's investigative supervisor, Mr. Gupta provided him with accounts from Hong Kong from the 1970s while he was posing as a shopper during the investigation. He stated that it was an attempt to show that Mr. Gupta had bought ivory when it was legal to do so. However, most of his items had packaging showing that they were made in India and he did not have accounts for those. District Attorney Vance stressed that under the New York state law, retailers must have a license from the department to sell such products. The licensees are required to prove that their merchandise was legally obtained before the ban went into effect. He also added that the state law regards the illegal sale of ivory as a minor offense, which meant that neither Mr. Gupta nor Mr. Lu faced major prison time. Instead, they simply agreed to surrender the ivory and pay their fines.
Mukesh Gupta of Raja Jewels also plead guilty for the same charge.

I feel that this news should be considered to be a wake-up call for every state in the U.S when it comes to dealing with the illegal wildlife trade. This lucrative and illicit business is known to extend overseas, and is known to find its way in developed countries of Europe and North America in addition to China where the demand remains high for the consumption of such illegal wildlife products. In the U.S, especially in the case of New York where ivory smuggling is continuous, the penalty against this ongoing threat appears to be so lax that the perpetrators behind the crime do not end up serving major prison time. One example was seen in 2008 when six people were charged with the smuggling of several shipments of African elephant ivory worth hundreds of thousands of dollars at the Kennedy International Airport. In spite of the immense amount of ivory seized, all six of them were given sentences varying from a year's probation to fourteen months in prison. Following this recent ivory bust and the conviction of the two jewelry store owners, Mr. Vance persuaded state officials to improve the law to provide stricter penalties for the sale of such extraordinary amounts of ivory. I also believe that the state of New York needs to have stronger punishments against the illegal wildlife trade, and so does every other state that makes up the United States of America. The world of wildlife around the world is constantly being pillaged and plundered by poachers, and that so many animals are being illegally smuggled overseas to a particular destination. The U.S is one of the destinations for the illegal wildlife trade after China and Southeast Asia. One of the reasons is because of the abundance of ethnic enclaves, most notably Chinatowns where one can find pharmacies illegally selling traditional Chinese medicine which is known to include animal substances of endangered species. However, such products are not always restricted to a particular ethnic community. This report gives a clear idea about how these products also end up elsewhere in big cities across the U.S unsuspectingly. This is why it is extremely crucial for the U.S to play its part in combating the illegal wildlife trade by keeping a look out for any flow of illegal wildlife products spilling into its cities and towns, and implementing stronger penalties against those convicted of international wildlife crimes.

View article here

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Conservation Reserve Chosen for Asiatic Lions Outside Gir Forest

Asiatic lion

The Asiatic lion population in India's Gujarat state has been growing exponentially over the past years, and several of these big cats have been reported to have dispersed beyond the borders of Gir Forest National Park. The ongoing expansion in the lions' range has recently led the forest department to consider establishing a conservation reserve between Amreli and Bhavnagar districts. The 109-square kilometer-area is said to be established in the Jesar-Hipavadli zone, which is located about seventy kilometers away from Gir Forest. According to officials, the state government will set up breeding and water facilities for the lions in the proposed reserve just as they did for the ones in Gir Forest. However, this area will not be a national park where the movement of people is restricted without legitimate permission. Instead, the movement of people will not be restricted but any other forms of human activity will be banned in the area. Also, people will not be encouraged to relocate as in the case of those living within Gir Forest. Since May 2010, the lion population in India was estimated to have reached 411 individuals. The lion census also disclosed that like Savarkundla, adjacent areas of Amreli and Bhavnagar have a fixed population of 53 lions. Officials added that in addition to being a home to lions, the reserve also functions as a corridor for the animals to travel along the banks of the Shatrunjay River banks and gain access to newer territories near Amreli and Bhavnagar. They also stated that the status of the conservation zone would make way for the area to be named a wildlife sanctuary.

I'm very happy and proud to see what the forest department of Gujarat is doing, in order to help the Asiatic lions as they make their way out of Gir Forest National Park. By proposing an area to be declared a conservation reserve for these majestic beasts, the officials have been keeping track of the lions and seeing in which areas outside Gir Forest they are present at. I was also somehow surprised to see that as part of the plan in creating this reserve, officials do not want to place any restrictions for people to move through the area. One senior wildlife officer said that the reserve would allow people to coexist with the lions. I sure hope that as part of the initiative, forest department officials will find ways to help keep both the lions and people safe from each other. Nevertheless, I feel that this plan to establish a sanctuary for lions outside Gir Forest is a major accomplishment for the state of Gujarat. In addition to that, I believe that the forest department should also look where else in Gujarat could lions be headed outside Gir Forest besides Amreli and Bhavnagar. That way, officials can help set up similar areas of conservation for lions in order to help them flourish. Furthermore, I also think that similar initiatives should be conducted in other parts of India where populations of endangered species are dispersing beyond the borders of any national parks.

View article here

Monday, July 9, 2012

South Africa- New Ways Sought to Fight Rhino Poaching

White rhinoceros

It has been recently reported that South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs has called on animal rights activists to join forces with the government in its efforts to battle rhino poaching. The country has lost a total of 262 rhinos to illegal poaching since the beginning of this year, and 173 people have been arrested in connection to the ongoing catastrophe. Among the provinces targeted include KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and North West provinces which together account for a hundred rhinos killed. The department stated that South Africa would continue its efforts both nationally and internationally to address the issue. It has been said that South African Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa improved the norms and standards for the marking of rhinos and their horns, and for trophy hunting of rhinos to intensify the needs related to hunting. The newly revised norms and standards came into effect on April 10, and include, among others, that an applicant must turn in certain information to the issuing authority. This information includes a proof of membership of a hunting association in the client's country of usual residence. In addition to that, the association must be recognized by the government of that client's country of usual residence. Furthermore, the information should also include a curriculum profile showing the client's hunting experience in his/her country of residence and proof of previous experience in hunting of any African species.

As part of the procedure, the issuing authority must consider whether the hunting client's country of usual residence, where a rhino horn and rest of the trophy will be imported to, has proper legislation to guarantee that the horns and the rest of the trophy will be used for the purpose as shown on the permit. The department has advised to all provincial conservation authorities, responsible for issuing hunting permits, to shun all white rhino hunting applications by foreign hunters coming from Vietnam. This recommendation will be in place until Vietnam has verified, in writing, that all rhino trophies exported since 2010 are still in the hunters' possession. Also, Vietnam's CITES Management Authority informed the department and the CITES Secretariat that they were carrying out this process. A list of permits affirmed at the OR Tambo International Airport has been provided to Vietnam. The department stated that due to the implementation of these measures, a number of hunting applications has diminished and no further applications have been received from the supposed consumer nations of China, Thailand, and Vietnam. As of now, all hunting applications have been submitted to the department to confirm whether an applicant has hunted a rhino within the specific calendar year.

I find this article very interesting because it gives an idea what South Africa is doing in its efforts to protect the rhinos by conducting changes in the rules of hunting of these animals. This includes providing clients with a recommendation to submit information, which consists of showing proof of membership to any hunting association(s) in their countries of usual residence, proof that those associations have been recognized by the governments of those countries, a curriculum profile indicating clients' experience in hunting, and proof of any previous experience in the hunting of any African species. Furthermore, as part of these newly revised norms and standards, a client may only be allowed to hunt one white rhino within a particular calendar year. In my opinion, this layout of rules gives an idea of how South Africa has intensified its laws in legalized hunting of wild animals. But what really surprised me is that when these measurements were taken into effect, none of South Africa's provinces received hunting applications from any would-be hunting client in South Africa or anywhere in the world. I think because of these new norms and standards, people seem to be taking the amendment as a message that they do not want to take any chance of hunting a rhino or any other animal in South Africa. However, I also know that one can never be too sure. There have been perpetrators who have done whatever it took to diminish the rhino population over the years, and there will always be more to continue the ongoing slaughter. It is the same concept which applies to other parts of the world in places rich in biodiversity. The battle against poaching and the illegal wildlife trade is a never-ending one. For this reason, I feel that it is crucial that governments around the world should forge alliances with each other, along with local and international conservation organizations in order to put a stop to the ongoing killings and pillaging of the natural world.

View article here

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Maharashtra's Tiger Numbers Fall At an Alarming Rate


Last year, the Indian state of Maharashtra became well-renowned for its tiger-rearing program with more than a hundred of these majestic cats making their home in the state. However, within few months, that figure has taken a tragic turn as eleven tigers have died since January this year. In the last three days, two tigers had been found dead in Maharashtra alone. One tiger's carcass was recovered in the Junona jungles in Chandrapur district, while a four-month-old tiger cub's body was found in the Gondhi Pimpri jungles. Forest officials were unsure how the two animals died, although one forest officer from Chandrapur stated that the cub could likely have been killed by a pack of Indian wild dogs since part of its body was eaten. He further added that the second tiger was found to be ten years old, which could mean that it was a target for poachers. As of now, the team is waiting for a post-mortem report in order to know how the two tigers died. The Chandrapur district alone saw deaths of six tigers this year, out of which four died as a result of poaching. Last month, the government of Maharashtra sounded the alarm after it got reports of the Baheliya community from Madhya Pradesh that is involved in poaching and getting a contract to kill 25 tigers. The report said that the community had been given forty lakh rupees in advance for getting a tiger skin and bones, which are in high demand in China and the Far East.

I'm extremely shocked and  to see what Maharashtra has been through over the past months, despite a recent effort to protect the state's tigers by providing an order to shoot-on-sight when battling poachers. It has been found out that forest officials have joined forces with poachers, making the battle more and more difficult for the authorities. Last week, two forest department officials along with three poachers were arrested for their involvement in the killing of a tiger in the Tadoba Tiger Reserve in May. Last month, three bodies of tigers were found in the reserve. To hear about members of the state forest department to form alliances with poachers is utterly shocking and a disgrace to wildlife conservation in India. It can definitely be compared to the poaching of rhinos in South Africa, in which perpetrators involved have been wildlife veterinarians. I feel that Maharashtra is in the need of help, and has to use more than just a shoot-on-sight order to combat poaching. One possible way would be to involve the community in the fight against poaching, in which people can help by providing information on any would-be suspects through vigilance. Furthermore, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has made a statement saying that India and other South Asian nations lack resources to fight this ongoing problem. For this reason I think India had sought a loan of $30 billion dollars from the World Bank, in order to tackle poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. The plight of Maharashtra's tigers, along with other animals of South Asia, is in dire jeopardy and unless proper action is taken, they will disappear from the face of this earth within years.

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