Thefts, murders and mutilation of Africa’s wildlife, from white rhinos to elephants with their prized horns and tusks, are at an all-time high, say conservationists who are keeping track of the poaching of species by fortune-seeking hunters.
On Feb. 13, 2014, heads of state and ministers from 41 countries met in London to inject a new level of political momentum into efforts to combat the growing global threat posed by illegal wildlife trade to species such as elephants, rhinos and tigers.
Indigenous and wildlife conservationists have common goals and common adversaries, but seem to be struggling to find common ground in the fight for sustainable forests.
A coalition of international organisations, led by INTERPOL and backed by the United Nations, is pursuing a growing new brand of criminals - primarily accused of serious environmental crimes - who have mostly escaped the long arm of the law.
A surge in wildlife crime is fuelling criminal syndicates, perpetuating terrorism, and resulting in the loss of major revenues from tourism and industries dependent on iconic species while also endangering the livelihoods of the rural poor.But this surge in wildlife crime is not only threatening iconic species, which include elephants, rhinos and tigers, but also lesser-known animals that are also on the brink of extinction.
For over five years, 33-year-old Maheshwar Basumatary, a member of the indigenous Bodo community, made a living by killing wild animals in the protected forests of the Manas National Park, a tiger reserve, elephant sanctuary and UNESCO World Heritage Site that lies on the India-Bhutan border.
While South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar agreed last week to end the country’s devastating six-month conflict by forming a transitional government within the next two months, it may come too late for this country’s wildlife as conservation officials accuse fighters on both sides of engaging in killing wild animals to feed their forces.
The lack of markets to supply raw materials for Cuba’s new private sector, along with the poverty in isolated rural communities, is fuelling the poaching of endangered species of flora and fauna.
A group of international organisations fighting illicit wildlife trafficking has unveiled a new website aimed at assisting whistleblowers who want to aid in the fight against wildlife crimes.
Top diplomats and retired U.S. military officials are urging Western and African governments to step up the global fight against illegal wildlife poaching.
Ali Nyenge, a resident of Iputi ward in Tanzania's northern Ulanga District, woke up as anti-poaching security officers surrounded his home. He says they accused him of illegal hunting and in front of his 11-year-old son, made him take his clothes off, poured salt water on his body and whipped him with a cane.
In a recent report to the U.N. Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged the possibility of poaching as a threat to not just wildlife or endangered species, but to the greater stability and peace in general.
President Barack Obama on Monday announced a series of new initiatives to combat spiking levels of international poaching and draft a new national plan on wildlife trafficking, an industry that has grown so significantly in recent years that the president now calls it an “international crisis”.
More civil unrest in Africa, another coup d’état, more reports of child soldiers in the front line, involvement of foreign troops, the poorest of the poor losing what little they have – and all the while the proceeds of a country’s wealth are diverted from much-needed social and economic development to financing death and destruction.
Environment groups are applauding a new United Nations decision to officially characterise international wildlife and timber trafficking as a serious organised crime, in a move that advocates say will finally give international law enforcement officials the tools necessary to counter spiking rates of poaching.