Call on Japan to Ban Ivory Trade

WildlifeDirect recently became aware of the scale of laundering of illegal ivory in the ivory markets of Japan through its contact with the Japanese NGO Tears of the African Elephant. Please see more about the interview we did on NTV Wild via this link:https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Cvsj21F_FI4 . We have joined forces with other conservation organizations in Africa and Japan to take the opportunity provided by the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) conference happening here in Nairobi, Kenya to publish a joint appeal to Japan to ban all trade in ivory trade, following the lead of China and the USA.

Japan is one of Africa’s most important development partners. They have made major contributions and commitments to support conservation. Now the conservation community call for 5 actions to be agreed at TICAD:

  1. Japan to permanently close legal domestic markets of ivory, and aggressively close down online trading sites that deal in ivory, all to crush demand.
  2. Japan to suspend ivory registration immediately, to prevent loopholes that allow fraudulent registration and laundering of illegal ivory.
  3. Japan to support the Elephant Protection Initiative.
  4. Japan to strengthen cooperation on elephant conservation initiatives and combating the trafficking of ivory to Japan through joint investigations and mutual legal assistance.
  5. Japan’s Prime Minister and First Lady to jointly issue statements to discourage the selling and buying of ivory in Japan and to initiate an education and outreach campaign to Japanese citizens on the importance of saving elephants by stopping poaching and ending ivory trade.

We urge Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is the head of the Giants Club of African presidents supporting elephant conservation, and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinz? Abe, to seize this unique opportunity at TICAD6 to discuss the issue as part of their duty towards the development agendas of Africa and Japan.

We also urge the H.E. the First Lady of Japan, Akie Abe, an ardent conservationist, to join H.E. the First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta in raising awareness about elephants and their conservation needs.

You can access the English and Japanese versions of the joint statement here: Joint Statement-TICAD6

 

 

 

 

Notorious Kenyan Ivory Trafficker Jailed for 20 Years and Fined USD 200,000

On Friday, a Mombasa law court sentenced Feisal Mohamed Ali to 20 years in jail after finding him guilty of illegal possession of ivory worth 44 million shillings (US $440,000). The court also imposed a fine of 20 million shillings.

This landmark ruling by the Kenyan court is the end of a long story that began with the seizure of 2 tonnes of ivory at Fuji Motors car yard in Mombasa in June 2014.

Read more about this story on The Guardian

Calling the World to help save African Elephants

 

African Elephants

 

WildlifeDirect supports the African Elephant Coalition (AEC) in the call to the world to help save African elephants.

As an organization that has been in the forefront calling for a total ban on all ivory trade, WildlifeDirect urges other African countries not represented at the meeting held in Montreux, Switzerland from 24 to 26 June 2016 to join AEC in this call to save the our iconic species that are in danger of extinction if nothing is done.

In a press release by AEC, 29 member states call on all governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations for their support, and calls on citizens around the world to ask their respective governments and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) representatives to support the five proposals and to help the Coalition in its mission to list all elephants in Appendix I.

The Coalition of 29 African member states submitted to CITES five proposals designed to reverse the poaching crisis facing elephants and to put an end to the ivory trade to afford elephants the highest protection under international law.

The five proposals are:

  1. Listing all elephants in CITES Appendix I
  1. Closure of domestic ivory markets
  1. Ivory stockpile destruction and management
  1. The Decision-Making Mechanism for a process of trade in ivory (DMM)
  1. Restricting trade in live elephants

AEC agreed to launch a social media campaign in a bid to gain support for the five proposals to the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) of CITES in September-October in Johannesburg, South Africa. We invite you to use the hashtags #WorthMoreAlive, #EndIvoryTrade and #Vote4Elephants to support the campaign.

Speaking at the meeting in Montreux, Bourama Niagaté from Mali, a member of the Council of the Elders for the Coalition noted that there was need for all relevant stakeholders to pull together for the sake of Africa’s elephants.

Kenya, a member state of AEC has taken a zero tolerance approach to poaching and ivory trafficking.

In April this year, Kenya took a bold step in burning 105 tons of ivory and 1.5 tons of rhino horn. This is reportedly the world’s largest stockpile of elephant ivory and rhino horns ever to be burnt. The historic burn demonstrated Kenya’s commitment to seeking a total global ban of ivory and rhino horns.

Speaking at the burn, President Uhuru Kenyatta said, “by destroying ivory we declare once and for all that our national heritage is not for sale”. The only value that ivory has is tusks on a live elephant.

It is this commitment from the highest level of government and collaboration with conservationists and law enforcement that has seen Kenya achieve 80 percent reduction in deaths of elephants in the last three years.

 

You can download the Press Release Here

Mayes and Mactavish score sensational Safari Rally podium

Geoff and JamieSafari guide and wildlife photographer Geoff Mayes and Scottish born Jamie Mactavish successfully guided their SPV class V8 rally raid car to a top twenty overall position and third in class on the just finished KCB Safari Rally.
This years event saw crews face two and a half challenging days in the Great Rift Valley over terrain more suited to a Dakar event than a flat out motor rally. Attrition was high as cars succumbed to rocks, ruts, dust and even encounters with wild animals but through it all the Landrover continued. Mayes and Mactavish did have their own dramas, an unmarked ditch in the organisers notes saw the raid car flung into the trees at high speed, emerging with body damage but only minimal time loss.
Mayes, “this is our second safari finish and probably more fun. We had the perfect car for the weekend but not being able to recce meant we had to be more cautious. The car was faultless and full credit must go to my team. To my sponsors, Purdy Arms, Punda Milias and Que Pasa, an enormous thank you! We bashed the suspension a lot and it never broke, which is testimony to Team Magic. We hit a lot of rocks, some whilst very sideways, and didn’t get a single puncture so thank you Maxxis Tyres. And finally a huge thank you to my title sponsors SilversprNo Ivory On Boardead Team Meru, without whose support I would never have even made the start of this prestigious event!
This years KCB Safari Rally was won by reigning champions Jassi Chatthe and Gugu Panesar in a Mitsubishi Evo X. Only 21 cars finished from a start list of 42, with Mayes and Mactavish finishing 19th overall and 3rd in class.
Photos courtesy Suzanne Zwager

WildlifeDirect’s 2nd Courtroom Monitoring Report 2014 & 2015

A study by WildlifeDirect of wildlife trials in 18 courts between 2008 and 2013 concluded that Kenya was a safe haven for wildlife criminals because of major weaknesses in the legal chain. This second study examines progress made in the wildlife trials in Kenya in 2014 and 2015, after the enactment of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013 (WCMA 2013)

CMR

Here is the link to the full report

WildlifeDirect Courtroom Monitoring Report(1)

NTV Wild Talk: Season 1 & 2 Episodes

WildlifeDirect has partnered with Kenya Wildlife Service and NTV to bring you NTV Wild, a program that brings award winning documentaries on wildlife and also provides the platform for debate and discussion with experts on Kenya’s wildlife, its conservation and why it matters so much.

NTV Wild Talk S1 E1

“The mystery of Mzima”
Smriti Vidyarthi visits Mzima springs to bring a story about the spring that would be lifeless without hippos. A world class site that is amazing.

NTV Wild Talk S1 E2
“Kenya-US relations in protecting wildlife”
Smriti Vidyarthi engages US ambassador to Kenya Ambassador Robert F. Godec and the US Secretary – Interior Sally Jewell as #NTVWild talk focuses on US-Kenya relations in protecting our wildlife

NTV Wild Talk S1 E3
“Stopping wildlife trafficking through Kenya”
Smriti Vidyarthi takes a look at wildlife trafficking and wildlife crime.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCWvvfCad2U

TV Wild Talk S1 E4
“Saving Kenya’s big cats”
From the seventh wonder of the world, Maasai Mara is home to the largest population of lions. Smriti Vidyarthi share the incredible life stories of two cat families.

NTV Wild Talk S1 E5
“Safeguarding Karura Forest”
Smriti Vidyarthi takes a look at whether Karura forest is under threat or not. The show looks at the struggles to save Karura forest from land grabbers.

NTV Wild Talk S1 E6
“Wildlife Newbies & Champions”
Smriti Vidyarthi speaks to some of the new faces linked with protection of wildlife.


Read More »

Kenyan Government Issues a 21 Day Amnesty on Ivory and Wildlife Trophies

The Kenyan government has issued a 21 day amnesty for the surrender of any wildlife trophy without Kenya Wildlife Service permit. Those who take advantage of the amnesty, which took effect from March 30, 2016 will not be punished. Speaking during the launch of site preparations for the historic burning of elephant ivory and rhino horns, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Regional Development, Prof.  Judi Wakhungu said, “Anybody holding any ivory, rhino horns or any other wildlife trophies, jewellery or trinkets to surrender to the KWS Director General at the KWS headquarters. The items can also be surrendered to the Assistant Directors at KWS regional offices in Mombasa, Voi, Nyeri, Marsabit, Nakuru, Kitale and Meru National Park.”

 

Prof. Wakhungu stated that the government of Kenya, led by President Uhuru Kenyatta will on April 30, 2016 set ablaze the world’s largest stockpile of elephant ivory and rhino horns ever to be burnt. The government has attached great significance to this State event and to this end, the president has invited dignitaries from all over the world who will come to express solidarity with Kenyans in conservation efforts. Although the destruction of ivory and rhino horns will not in itself put an end to the illegal trade in these items, it demonstrates Kenya’s commitment to seeking a total global ban of ivory and rhino horns.

 

Speaking to the media at the same event, our Chief Executive Officer Dr. Paula Kahumbu also emphasized the importance of not attaching economic use to ivory and rhino horns. WildlifeDirect continues to work towards change of hearts, minds and laws to protect elephants. Our current campaign dubbed HandsOffOurElephants focuses on raising awareness and political support to stop poaching, trafficking and buying of ivory.

 

As a build up to the upcoming Ivory and Rhino Horn Burn, WildlifeDirect is working in collaboration with other partners including KWS and USAID to hold a Conservation Media event that will rally people around the globe to make commitments to act to save the elephants and rhinos.

 

Prof. Wakhungu further stated that the poaching of elephants and rhinos and illegal wildlife trade continues to be a major problem in Africa and threatens the very survival of these iconic species. Poaching is facilitated by international criminal syndicates and fuels corruption. It is important for the public to know that the poaching undermines the rule of law and funds other criminal activities that not only harm local communities but also national economies.

 

In the past three years, Kenya has redoubled its efforts and put measures in combating elephant poaching and illegal trade in elephant ivory within and across its boarders. In 2014, 164 elephants were poached in the country which significantly reduced to 96 elephants in 2015. Also in 2014, 35 rhinos were illegally killed compared to 11 in 2015. Another key milestone that was highlighted was the national audit of the stockpile of ivory and rhinoceroses horn for enhance monitoring and management purpose. The audit recorded 135.8 tonnes of elephant ivory and 1.5 tonnes of rhino horns.

Leakey interview in SWARA and on NTV Wild Talk at 10 pm

NTV Wild Talk, broadcast an interview with Richard Leakey about the past and the present for wildlife and heritage in Kenya. It aired on Tuesday March 15 on NTV at 10 pm.
I also want to draw attention to the new article in SWARA here  in which he states

“Parks will only be sustainable if Kenyans want them to be sustainable. Middle class Kenyans who own TV sets watch international soccer, international vanity shows and news but none of them watch wildlife programmes because they’ve never been put on air in this country.”

Richard Leakey

This sentiment is the reason that we created NTV Wild. For those who have not been able to catch previous episodes, NTV Wild is a partnership between NTV, WildlifeDirect and KWS to broadcast wildlife documentaries made in Kenya and Africa on national Television for the first time in our history to inspire Kenyans to visit our parks and appreciate our spectacular wildlife heritage. The program airs on Saturdays and a discussion program on Tuesdays.
This is the list of all the NTV Wild documentaries so far on Saturday’s at 8 pm
1. Mzima Haunt of the River Horse – Mark Deeble and Vicky Stone
2. The Last Lions – Derek and Beverly Joubert
3. African Cats – DisneyNature
4. Here be Dragons – Alan Root
5. Battle For the Elephants – Nat Geo
6. The Queen of Trees – Mark Deeble and Vicky Stone
NTV Wild Talk on Tuesdays at 10 pm

 

Launching the series with Jonathan Scott

 

NTV Wild Talk S1 E1 “The mystery of Mzima”

 NTV Wild Talk S1 E2 “Kenya-US relations in protecting wildlife”

NTV Wild Talk S1 E3 “Stopping wildlife trafficking through Kenya”

NTV Wild Talk S1 E4 “Saving Kenya’s big cats”

NTV Wild Talk S1 E5 “Safeguarding Karura Forest”

 

TV Wild Talk S1 E6 “Wildlife Newbies & Champions”

In this episode: Kitili Mbathi shares the challenges & successes at KWS, Lena Munge tells of how she hopes to transform the Masai Mara, Najib Balala explains why he jumped off a plane for conservation & 12 yr old Luca Berardi stresses the importance of wildlife for future generations.

Both the documentaries and the talk shows have been trending on twitter since we began 7 weeks ago and people are telling us that they are setting their alarm clocks to catch the programs. We are already on week 7 and we have 45 more  to go! Enjoy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, Kenyans can watch their own country’s wildlife on TV

A ground-breaking series of programmes on Kenyan TV is set to transform public attitudes toward wildlife conservation

Publicity image for NTV Wild, a series of wildlife documentaries shown on Kenyan TV in 2016
Publicity image for NTV Wild, a series of wildlife documentaries shown on Kenyan TV in 2016 Photograph: Munir Virani/Courtesy of NTV/The Peregrine Fund

Africa’s unique wildlife heritage attracts millions of tourists to the continent and contributes enormously to the economy. It is a tragic irony that this wildlife remains unknown to the majority of Africans.

Recently I have been involved in an initiative that aims to change this state of affairs. Launched in January, the TV series “NTV Wild” is a collaboration between NTV, Kenya’s leading TV channel, my NGO WildlifeDirect, and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

NTV Wild will broadcast two hours of programmes on African wildlife on prime-time TV every week of this year. Screening of an hour-long documentary on NTV and its sister Kiswahili language channel QTV on Saturday night is followed on Tuesday evening at 10 pm by “NTV Wild Talk”: an extended in-depth discussion of the issues by leading film makers, conservationists, politicians and legal experts

The first eagerly awaited programmes attracted record numbers of viewers and provoked huge excitement on social media. Here are some of my favourite tweets:

@janegatwiri3

My Saturday night is booked.Thanks to . pic.twitter.com/rLDI8I5axq

Njoki Njoroge @Njokay

, of I can take a safari while seated in front of a TV. Yaaaay

@ntvkenya Came running, literally, huh!…arrived just in time for , now glued @paulakahumbu.

I’m so loving the responses to . Nature does that to people…it brings us together

Not all reactions were positive. Following screening of ‘Mzima – Haunt of the River Horse’, an Emmy award winning film by Mark Deeble and Vicky Stone about the secret lives of hippos (click here to watch a trailer ), one blogger complained that the film was 15 years old. This was stale stuff, he wrote: “You know, a lot can happen in 15 years … in the hippo calendar. Viewers were hooked, but also hoodwinked”.

It’s true that many of the films to be shown by NTV Wild are classics, years – or even decades – old. They are familiar to and loved by hundreds of millions of viewers across the world. So why haven’t Kenyans seen them before?

Economics has a lot to do with it. The sights and sounds of our wildlife are transformed by film makers into products that are simply too expensive for African TV channels to buy – and therefore beyond the reach of most ordinary Africans.

But that’s not the whole story. On last night’s NTV Wild Talk discussion, film maker Mark Deeble revealed that he had offered ‘Haunt of the River Horse’ free to Kenyan TV channels when it first came out. But they had refused, reflecting the widespread (but profoundly mistaken) prejudice that “Kenyans aren’t interested in that sort of thing.”

Whatever the reason, it is scandalous that, for decades, TV viewers in most African countries including Kenya have been denied access to these documentaries made about our own wildlife.

Most people that I speak to about the lack of access to wildlife documentaries in Kenya are aghast and astounded – and one person was even reduced to tears – by the fact that American and European children know the names of our lions in the Masai Mara, and our elephants in Amboseli and Samburu, while ours do not.

This also goes against the avowed intentions of many distributors of wildlife films. For example, National Geographic describes itself as:

… a global nonprofit membership organization driven by a passionate belief in the power of science, exploration and storytelling to change the world. Working to inspire, illuminate and teach, National Geographic reaches more than 700 million people a month through its media platforms, products, events and experiences.

How can National Geographic fulfil this mission if its films are not seen in Africa, where they could be inspiring Africans to save their continent’s natural heritage?

In fact, I know that many producers and distributors would like to make their films available in Africa, but they are locked into a commercially-driven system that is very hard to change.

When I spoke to leading wildlife film makers when they met at last year’s Jackson Hole Film Festival, I discovered that many of them had been unhappy about this situation for years. A group of them, including Mark Deeble, Vicky Stone, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, Lisa Samford and many others got together and agreed to make a concerted appeal to major distributors to make them more widely available in Africa on a non-commercial basis.

The breakthrough came last year, when National Geographic gave permission for one free broadcast of the recently released documentary “Warlords of Ivory” on Kenyan TV. (Click here to see my article about this hard-hitting film that provides direct evidence of links between elephant poaching and terrorism in Africa.) Within five minutes the show was trending on twitter in Kenya.

The experience of that broadcast persuaded NTV to partner with WildlifeDirect for a year to bring world-class award winning wildlife documentaries to Kenyan audiences on a regular basis. We knew then we had an audience, but we didn’t know how hard it would be to get the films.

When I first floated this idea to distributors on behalf of NTV, responses were not encouraging. The following was typical of the replies we received:

Dear Paula,

I picked up this request and contacted our Africa sales team to run this request by them but they are still exploiting these titles. They are tasked with generating as much profit as possible from content in the African territory so that we can return funding to the [the company] to enable them to make these programmes in the first place.

I’m sorry not to have a more positive response for you.

This provoked the following impassioned response from one of the programme hosts:

It beggars belief that Paula’s current initiative – with its sensitizing and educational rationale – would in any substantial way detract from the [the company’s] licensing agreements. Talk of ‘profit’ at this point is insulting to the very nature of what Paula is trying to do. It sends a very clear message – money rules.

I thinks these sentiments portray [us] in a very poor light and are contrary to my long held belief that [we are] not purely driven by commercial considerations – but educational and inspirational ones too. These are things people like Paula have dedicated their life to doing. I believe we have to find a way to support these kinds of initiatives. Is that not still possible?

Thankfully arguments like these are winning the day. Disney Nature and the BBC World Wide are among major companies that have already agreed to make their films available and we are optimistic that others can be persuaded that they had nothing to lose and much to gain from supporting our proposal. We have written to Discovery and National Geographic as well as smaller production houses.

My fingers are tightly crossed and I make wishes on every shooting star in the Kenyan night sky.

Putting wildlife programs on African TV is not a “nice to have”. It’s a globally important imperative, and change cannot come too soon. The future of African wildlife hangs in the balance, under the impact of multiple threats, including poaching, climate change, habitat loss and land degradation. One of the main reasons why African governments have failed to respond to this unfolding crisis is that few Africans even know or understand what we stand to lose.

Our critic was right that a lot can happen in 15 years. Last night’s “NTV Wild Talk”, shot on location at the iconic Mzima Springs in Tasvo West National Park, revealed how all the hippos in Mzima Springs died in the drought of 2009. The ecosystem collapsed and since then recovery has been very slow, with only a handful of hippos there today.

Smriti Vidyarthi (right), host of NTV Wild, hosts a discussion with panellists Mark Deeble, Robert Obrein and Richard Leakey, filmed at Mzima Springs, Tsavo West National Park, Kenya
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Smriti Vidyarthi (right), host of NTV Wild, hosts a discussion with panellists Mark Deeble, Robert Obrein and Richard Leakey, filmed at Mzima Springs, Tsavo West National Park, Kenya Photograph: Norbert Rottcher

Moderator Smriti Vidyarti engaged panellists Mark Deeble, KWS Chairman Richard Leakey, and Regional Assistant Director Robert Obrein in an informed discussion of the complex causes of this collapse. They described how drought, fires, and the encroachment of cattle into the National Park had created a ‘perfect storm’ for Mzima’s hippos, and how the loss of the hippos had affected the entire ecosystem.

The panellists also explained how Mzima was also key to Kenya’s economic development as the principal source of water for the city of Mombasa, and the importance of forest conservation in the watershed to maintain continuity of supplies. They discussed threats to the area posed by urbanization and proposed infrastructure projects.

The three panellists did not pull their punches. Richard Leakey described corruption as the biggest threat to African wildlife. Robert O’Brein talked frankly about the problems involved in administering Tsavo’s national parks.

In short, viewers were treated to an informed and intelligent, but by no means pessimistic discussion of key issues for the future of Kenya and global biodiversity conservation – that topped the ratings on prime-time TV!

This is only the start. With the support of KWS and tour operators, the programmes shown on NTV Wild are linked to promotions to boost local tourism to Kenya’s national parks. WildlifeDirect is partnering with local schools to take more students into the wilderness and national parks to do science, art and other subjects (click here to read about our visit with Nairobi school children to Amboseli National Park).

We are also planning to produce our own wildlife reality show, bringing celebrities and Kenyan scientific experts together in an informative and entertaining exploration of our country’s astounding wildlife.

I am sure that initiatives like these can have transformational effect. They will inspire more Africans to go to the parks and witness our wildlife first hand, just as they have inspired tens of millions of international tourists. They will encourage the emergence– for the first time – of a new generation of African wildlife film makers.

Above all, Africans will be motivated to demand more of their leaders, and will possess the knowledge and confidence they need to do so.

Behind fun projects like school visits and reality game shows, our aims are deadly serious, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. The wider aim is to mainstream wildlife at all level of Kenyan life and society: as headlines news and a political priority, as family entertainment, as part of the curriculum in schools and universities, in corporate social responsibility programmes, and in the worlds of sport, music and fashion.

The age-old aphorism states that “knowledge is power”. Only by giving Africans knowledge about our wildlife can we acquire the power to save it.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/africa-wild/2016/feb/03/finally-kenyans-can-watch-their-own-countrys-wildlife-on-tv

#NTVWild Talk on NTV Kenya

If you missed the discussion on #NTVWild about Mzima Springs, Mzima: Haunt of the Riverhorse (the film), Tsavo National Parks and conservation issues in that region of Kenya, watch it here

 

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