News From and About Africa
July 2014, Volume 12-4

Pedro vaz Pinto reported with photos of giant sable calves from trap cameras in Cangandala NP. The poaching curse is far from resolved despite of the significant successes. However, the recovery and survival of this magnificent and iconic species hangs by a thread.

Botswana’s Okavango Delta became the 1000th site inscribed on the World Heritage List at the June meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Doha, Qatar. The delta, one of the few major interior systems that do not flow into a sea or ocean, comprises permanent marshlands and seasonally flooded plains during the dry season, with the result that the native plants and animals have synchronised their biological cycles with these seasonal rains and floods.

Congo, Democratic Republic of
UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee and IUCN stated that no extractive exploration or extraction activities should be carried out in World Heritage sites. “Virunga has been danger-listed for 20 years but it has not lost its outstanding values and international efforts are still focused on its conservation” said Tim Badman, Director of IUCN’s World Heritage Program.

Kenya’s central government will oversee the running of the country’s wildlife authority for the next three months in a bid to stop poaching of the country’s elephants and rhinos after six senior KWS officials were placed on leave to pave the way for investigations into the wildlife service’s operations. Sources at KWS said they are just the first casualties and more changes are coming. This follows allegation by Richard Leakey that the service had been infiltrated by powerful people enriching themselves from poaching.

WWF Wildlife Trade Policy expert Colman O’Criodain said that “Mozambique has emerged as one of the main locations for elephant slaughters and the illegal transportation of ivory in Africa”. WWF stated that in a survey last year of Mozambique’s Quirimbas NP, almost half of the elephants sighted by air were carcasses.

A bill which dramatically increases the penalties for poaching passed parliament in first reading. It proposes prison sentences of between 8 and 12 years for poachers. Using illegal firearms or snares can carry 2 years. Illegal exploitation, storage, transport or sale of protected species will be fined between 50 and 1,000 times the minimum monthly national wage (at current exchange rates between USD 4,425 to 88,500).

Between 2005 and 2011 just two elephant were illegally killed, while 121 have been poached in the past 2 ½ years. During the same periods the figures for rhino are zero, and 11 respectively. Most poaching occurs in protected areas. The Namibian government recognized the poaching problem and actively works on counter measures.

South Africa – Mozambique
South African and Mozambique signed a MoU in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management to assist in addressing wildlife crimes, including rhino poaching.

South Africa
SANParks confirmed on May 18TH that an elephant bull was poached and its tusks removed in the Pafuri region (close the Mozambique border) in the far north of Kruger NP – the first such incident to hit KNP in 10 years.

Indigenous Maasai and Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) may head for a land dispute. The Maasai Community is up in arms against a ‘secret NCAA move’ to lease prime lands within the fragile ecosystem to private developers. The community has threatened to disrupt tourism activities should the NCAA go ahead. Traditional Maasai leaders claim that the disputed areas serve as crucial pastureland, sustaining nearly 60,000 livestock.

Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve has been listed as “World Heritage in Danger” at the 38th World Heritage Committee meeting in Doha due to the unprecedented levels of illegal wildlife trade. The decision, which aims to trigger international action, follows the advice of IUCN.

The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) declared that the proposed action by Tanzania to construct a high way road across Serengeti National Park was unlawful and an infringement of articles which provide for the promotion of sustainable utilization of natural resources of Partner States and the taking of measures that would effectively protect the natural environment of Partner States of the East African Community Treaty. The Court also added that all these issues must be looked at from the common thread [of the] need to protect the Serengeti ecosystem for the sake of future generations and whether the road project has potential for causing irreparable damages.