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Earth Champions: South African anti-poaching group wins UNEP award

The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit
The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit








By NewsGram Staff Writer

Cape Town: Black Mambas, a South African anti-poaching group was awarded ‘Champions of the Earth’ prize for its efforts to protect the endangered rhinos by United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

The group was awarded on Monday for the “rapid and impressive impact” it had made in combating poaching, Xinhua reported.

The group has been devoted to anti-poaching patrols and education for communities near areas that are home to wildlife, according to South Africa’s Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa.

“Community-led initiatives are crucial to combating the illegal trade in wildlife, and the Black Mambas highlights how effective local knowledge and commitment can be,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

The award will be handed to the group by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in New York on September 27.

Molewa said the South African government is working to create “economically viable models” to make local communities “less vulnerable to being recruited by poaching syndicates.”

“The introduction of environmental monitors into areas facing high numbers of poaching incidents has played a demonstrable role in combating this crime through their work of educating communities in the area on the benefits of conservation and rhino protection,” the official said.

Established in 2013, Black Mambas comprises of 25 women and one man who are all from local communities close to national reserves in north-east South Africa.

Since they were deployed at the Balule Nature Reserve in the north Limpopo province, only four rhino have been poached.

The group has assisted in the arrest of six poachers, removed over 1,000 snares and broke down two bush-meat kitchens.

“The Black Mambas are a shining example of the promise of government, the private sector and communities to eradicating rhino poaching in South Africa,” Molewa said.

As of August 27, South Africa has lost 749 rhinos to poaching this year.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Wildlife Poaching Incidents Double Amid COVID Lockdown: Study

Poaching incidents for consumption and local trade have more than doubled during the lockdown period, says study

Wildlife poaching
Poaching of many animals including 'small mammals', including hares, porcupines pangolins, giant squirrels, civets, monkeys, smaller wild cats is on rise. Pixabay

Poaching incidents for consumption and local trade have more than doubled during the lockdown period, according to a recent study. A report published by TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network with WWF India support, indicated that despite consistent efforts of the law enforcement agencies, wild animal populations in India are under “additional threat” during the lockdown period.

The highest increase in poaching was reported to be of ungulates mainly for meat, and the percentage jumped from nearly eight out of 22 per cent pre-lockdown to 44 per cent during the lockdown period. The second group which showed a marked increase was poaching of ‘small mammals’, including hares, porcupines pangolins, giant squirrels, civets, monkeys, smaller wild cats.

Although some have always been in high demand in the international markets, most hunting during the lockdown period is presumably for meat or for local trade. Cases for these rose from 17 per cent to 25 per cent between the pre-and lockdown periods.
Among the big cats, leopard poaching showed an increase during the lockdown period as nine Leopards were reported to have been killed compared to four in the pre-lockdown period.

A total of 222 persons were arrested in poaching related cases by various law enforcement agencies during the lockdown period across the country, significantly higher than the 85 suspects reported as arrested during the pre-lockdown phase, the report stated. Incidences related to wild pet-bird seizures, however, came down significantly from 14 per cent to 7 per cent between the pre-lockdown and lockdown periods, presumably due to a lack of transport and closed markets during the lockdown period.

Pangolins and other small mammals are poached for their meat widely. Pixabay

Larger birds such as Indian Peafowls and game birds such as Grey Francolins, which are popular for their meat, were reported to be targeted during the lockdown. There was less reporting of poaching and illegal trade in tortoises and freshwater turtles, with almost no seizures of these species during the lockdown period.

Saket Badola, Head of TRAFFIC’s India Office said, “The more than doubling of reported poaching cases, mainly of ungulates and small wild animals for meat is doubtless placing additional burdens on wildlife law enforcement agencies. Therefore, it is imperative that these agencies are supported adequately and in a timely manner so they can control the situation”.

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Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO, WWF-India added, “If poaching of ungulates and small animals remains unchecked it will lead to depletion of prey base for big cats like Tigers and Leopards and a depletion of the ecosystems.” He said that it will lead to higher incidences of human-wildlife conflicts and will undermine the significant successes that India has achieved in the field of wildlife conservation. (IANS)

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Rhino Poaching in Namibia Drops in 2019: Ministy of Environment and Tourism

Namibia Rhino poaching drops in 2019, after sharp rise last year

Rhino poaching in Namibia has dropped since the last year. Pixabay

Rhino poaching in Namibia dropped to 41 individuals killed in all of 2019 so far, compared with nearly 72 during the same period last year, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism said Saturday.

Namibia has the second-largest population of white rhinos in the world after South Africa and, according to NGO Save the Rhino, it holds one-third of the world’s remaining black rhinos.

Poaching in Namibia to feed mostly East Asian markets has yo-yoed since peaking in 2015 at 95 rhinos, falling to 60 in 2016, 36 in 2017 and then going up to 72 again last year — all figures counted from January through mid-December.

“The public continues to assist us in arresting perpetrators of this crime,” ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said by telephone. “We have also beefed up our intelligence so that we can anticipate poaching activities before they happen.”

A newborn female southern white rhinoceros calf, born August 14 and weighing 50 kilograms, stands next to its mother, Tanda, at the Safari Zoo in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, Israel. VOA

Despite being composed of the same substance as hair and fingernails, rhino horn is prized in East Asia as a supposed medicine for multiple ailments, and is also prized by business elites for trinkets and other products because of its rarity.

While cracking down on poachers, Namibia is also lobbying against the rules that govern the global trade in endangered species, after other countries rejected proposals to relax restrictions on legal hunting and exporting its white rhinos.

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It wants to allow more trophy hunting of rhinos and export of live animals, arguing that the funds it would raise would help it to protect the species, an argument rejected in August by countries that are party to the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species.

The ministry’s data showed 329 people were charged with poaching offenses between 2014 and 2018, of whom all were African apart from 17 Chinese. (VOA)

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Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage in Zimbabwe Educates Against Poaching

The Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage is home to 25 animal species, some endangered, some rescued from poachers

poaching, chipangali wildlife orphanage
Animals outdoors at Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage, near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city on April 20, 2019. The orphanage is home to 25 species, some endangered, some rescued from poachers. VOA

An animal orphanage in Zimbabwe is one of the organizations leading efforts to ensure poaching and development do not wipe out the wildlife of the southern African nation.

About half an hour drive southeast of Bulawayo is a special orphanage caring for abandoned and injured animals. The Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage is home to 25 animal species, some endangered, some rescued from poachers.

Vivian and Paddy Wilson established the orphanage in 1973 and a second generation now runs it. Chipangali’s co-director Nicky Wilson explains what motivated her in-laws to begin rescuing wildlife.

“(When) Chipangali was formed there was only CROW (Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife), which was in Durban (South Africa) and Daphne Sheldrick Orphanage in Kenya. There was no other places where you would put animals that wouldn’t survive in the wild,” Wilson said.

Animals are brought to Chipangali after being injured, seized, or orphaned, says Wilson. Some are later released into the wild, and some are not.

“Some birds might have flown into power lines and are missing part of their wings, they won’t be able to be released. We also have baby animals, sometimes if they are reared, they become too tame and assume that every human is friendly, unfortunately that is not the case in our world. So, they will stay here permanently and utilize them for our education,” Wilson said.

The oldest resident of the orphanage is a crocodile rescued four decades ago from a community angry it was eating their goats and cattle.

The locals wanted to kill the crocodile, believed to be in its 90s, but at Chipangali it was made part of the education program for visitors. Wilson shows visiting journalists a display of animal fetuses, removed from mothers that died in poacher’s snares.

Nicky Wilson, co-director Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage about half an hour drive southeast of Bulawayo a special orphanage caring for the abandoned and injured offspring of local animals on April 20, 2019. VOA

“We are obviously trying to educate mainly locals and anyone who comes visit us here at Chipangali into the importance of Zimbabwe wildlife heritage. Tourists would not come and visit Zimbabwe if it weren’t for the big five: elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and then rhino. Because without our wildlife, they wouldn’t come to Zimbabwe. So we are trying to tell people to look after our animals,” Wilson said.

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Since its creation, Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage has rescued and released numerous animals into the nearby Matobo National Park. They include several troops of vervet monkeys and baboons, more than 30 pangolins, five leopards, 20 cheetahs, and various antelopes, small carnivores, and birds of prey. (VOA)