News from Africa
November 2013, Volume 11-5&6

South Africa
The Zululand Anti-Poaching Wing (ZAP- Wing) pioneers the use of aviation in rhino anti-poaching operations in 24 formal game reserves, numerous smaller game farms and community-owned game reserves (+300,000 ha) hosting Northern KZN biggest rhino populations (ca. 3,000 white and black rhino). A Cheetah light sport aircraft with a dedicated pilot undertakes daily aerial patrols helicopter patrols over Hluhluwe-iMfolozi were re-established. Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the private conservation community agreed to amalgamate their aerial surveillance operations in northern KZN. In March 2013 KZN Provincial Treasury started funding two helicopters for Ezemvelo to extend aerial operations to every game reserve in this high-risk region.

South Africa
On 10 September South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) announced that they have started to poison their rhino horn with a chemical cocktail that is claimed not to cause intentional deaths of consumers. Horns are now extremely toxic and consumption will cause ‘serious’ sickness.  Part of the chemical cocktail is a bright red dye to warn people The cost of poisoning Ezemvelo rhino horns is being sponsored by Peace Parks Foundation,

South Africa
The Department of Environmental Affairs had made a public call for the registration of all rhino-related funders and anti-poaching ventures to register by 30 September 2013 as part of the creation of a national database of organizations involved in the industry so as to primarily allow for monitoring of fund raising operations, activities and uses of the funds raised. The initiative aims at ridding the sector of illegitimate and ill-intended operations and to ensure greater legitimacy of organizations and individuals involved in rhino anti-poaching projects. The establishment of a national database, and a credible national financing mechanism for rhino anti-poaching, were agreed to by government and rhino stakeholders during a public engagement in July 2013 since numerous industry role-players raised concerns about the legitimacy of organizations involved in fighting rhino poaching, and some of the projects, particularly fundraising. In an effort to coordinate anti-poaching initiatives and in response to the recommendation of the Rhino Issue Management (RIM) process, the Department is planning to establish a National Rhino Fund in consultation with the National Treasury and other affected role players. The Fund will support interventions directed to rhino poaching. The National Rhino Fund will result in the consolidation of all funding requirements and ensure that funding is distributed successfully to state-and privately-owned rhino anti-poaching initiatives, including conservation, safety and security, skills development and research.

South Africa
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) ordered the Provincial Treasury take over the finances of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife after a qualified audit opinion for the fifth consecutive year. Ezemvelo leaders had told SCOPA Ezemvelo had taken action against the previous chief finance officer. Ezemvelo manages more than 100 game and nature reserves and receives an annual subsidy of more than R500m (US$ 50m). Ezemvelo raised R190m (US$19m) of its own revenue from tourist accommodation, hunting, game sales and other services, but salary costs accounted for more than R517m (US$ 52m) of total expenditure (Sources: The Mercury, Oct. 22nd and The Witness, Oct.21st).

South Africa/Viet Nam
Vietnamese zoos are aggressively importing South African rhino and other wildlife.  Vietnam’s last native rhino was killed in 2010, and since then the nation has been importing them from South African game reserves – allegedly for educational purposes. “There are 26 rhino in Vietnam. They are all legally imported from South Africa,” said Nguyen Quan of the Vietnam Wildlife Crime Unit.

South Africa/Viet Nam
Government official Tuan Nhan acknowledged in September after a Vietnamese Delegation visited South Africa that Vietnam is one of the top three consumers of rhino horn. Vietnamese celebrity Xuan Bac said he was horrified when he smelled a rotting rhino carcass in South Africa. The delegates promised to do their best to influence policy changes and public opinion about rhino horn consumption.

Democratic Republic of Congo
The 13,700 km2 Okapi Wildlife Reserve in Epulu, a World Heritage Site, was set up in 1992 in order to protect one of the world’s most important populations of okapis (Okapia johnstoni). On June 24th 2012, MaiMai Simba rebels, led by an elephant poacher known as Morgan, launched a devastating attack on the Reserve headquarters in response to a crackdown on poaching and illegal mining in the park, leaving buildings burned, equipment destroyed, and six people dead including two rangers. The militia also killed the 14 captive okapis at the headquarters. Over a year later security and peace has begun to return to Epulu, with the armed militias being run out of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, according to renowned conservationist John Lukas. Working with okapi protection for 25 years, Lukas is head of the Okapi Conservation Project (OCP), which was instrumental in founding the park and helps manage the protected area along with the Institute in the Congo for Conservation of Nature (ICCN). According to Lukas, the reserve holds a population of about 3,000 okapis.

Mozambique
The planned aerial survey of the Niassa National Reserve and Quirimbas National Park in neighboring Mozambique was cancelled as a result of delays in securing the necessary avgas.  According to reliable sources elephant poaching in these protected areas is “out of control”.  The lower jaws of approximately 90 elephant poached in the Park have been recovered. Elephants of all ages were shot, including young that carried no ivory (African Indaba Editor).

Mozambique
Lion populations have risen by around 60 percent in just seven years in Niassa National Reserve say researchers Colleen and Keith Begg who run the Niassa Carnivore Project (NCP). In order to safeguard Niassa’s lions, the Beggs work with the people of the Reserve and partner with communities to build predator-proof livestock pens and mitigate poaching including the use of snares (which often unintentionally catches predators like lions). “I think we should never forget or minimize the high costs that local communities have to bear when living in close proximity to dangerous animals like lions and elephants,” Colleen Begg said. “The costs may be too high in some areas and we will need to be pragmatic and agree that not all lion populations can be saved. A lion attack is a horrific event that is never forgotten and losing livestock is like losing your savings. In some areas, we can get it to work but it depends on the numbers—how many lions, how much natural prey and how many people.” The Begg’s have been working in Niassa Reserve in collaboration with the Mozambican Reserve Management Authority and Ministry of Tourism since 2003. They survey the lion population every 3-4 years across the whole Reserve and also monitor lions in an intensive study area of 600 km2. Over this period the lion population in Niassa Reserve has increased from between 600-800 lions in 2005, to 1,000-1,200 lions in 2012. This makes Niassa National Reserve a stronghold for lion conservation in Africa and one of less than 10 areas in Africa that still have more than 1,000 lions. Begg also mentioned that according to their estimate more than 40 lions a year are killed in the snares deployed for bushmeat.

Viet Nam
On April 4, Customs officers at Noi Bai International Airport confiscated 26 kg ivory products hidden in checked luggage on a flight originating in Qatar. The 27-year-old subject is awaiting prosecution (Case ref.  4780/ENV). On May 4, authorities at Noi Bai International Airport seized 19 pieces of rhino horn from three subjects on a flight from Qatar, transiting in Bangkok. Later, in early June, authorities confiscated three pieces of rhino horn from another subject whose flight route was also from Qatar through Bangkok (Case ref. 4920 and 5003/ENV). ENV Wildlife Crime Unit, Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV)

Europe
European CITES Agencies and health authorities worry about the African bush meat illegally reaching European markets through the airports in Paris, London and Brussels; such meat is also entering Switzerland, Germany and other countries.  Recipients are mainly the African immigrant communities. The dried and often semi-rotten meat comes from antelopes, apes, monkeys, cane rats, elephant, lions and other species. Swiss scientists are presently preparing a DNA-data base in order to facilitate the identification. A French study in 2010 estimated that 270 tons are smuggled each year into Charles de Gaulle airport alone.

USA
CITES has announced that the United States would crush and destroy 5.4 tonnes of impounded ivory. The material included raw and carved ivory which was seized by the authorities over the past 25 years. The actions are part of a coordinated effort by the Government to implement President Barack Obama’s Executive Order of Combating Wildlife Trafficking.