Category Archives: WildlifeDirect news

China MUST act, but AFRICA take the lead to stop ivory trade

China must act, but Africa take the lead to stop ivory trade

By Paula Kahumbu with Andrew Hallyday

 

Workers destroy confiscated ivory in Dongguan, southern Guangdong province, China, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. Photograph: Vincent Yu/AP

Workers destroy confiscated ivory in Dongguan, southern Guangdong province, China, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. Photograph: Vincent Yu/AP

 

A major new study provides disturbing proof that the crisis facing African elephants is even worse than people imagined, driven by the exploding trade in illegal ivory in China.

The study, written by ivory market researchers Lucy Vigne and Esmond Martin, and funded by Save the Elephants (STE) and the Aspinall Foundation, found that skyrocketing demand for ivory in China has sparked a booming trade in smuggled ivory. There are ever greater numbers of items on sale, carving factories, and legal and illegal retail outlets.

The expanding legal trade provides a perfect cover for laundering vast quantities of illegal ivory. The Chinese government is taking some measures to control the illegal ivory market, but it’s not doing enough. The situation is currently out of control.

The study concludes: “without China’s leadership in ending demand for ivory Africa’s elephants could disappear from the wild within a generation.”

This conclusion seems self evident. In fact this point has been made time and again. For example, an article published in Time magazine almost exactly a year ago concluded that if the Chinese authorities don’t act fast, we could be heading toward a future without elephants.

In the run-up to London summit on wildlife crime in February, I wrote “all eyes are on China” and in the aftermath suggested that we are losing to battle to save wildlife because “western leaders … don’t have the guts to take on China”.

What’s depressing is that so little has changed, despite the impassioned rhetoric of world leaders, high profile campaigns celebrities and British royals, and the sterling efforts of campaigning organisations like STE. To make change happen I suggest we need to challenge the notion of “China’s leadership” on two counts.

First, although Chinese action is essential to save Africa’s elephants, the leadership should come from Africa. While China may face a “conservation challenge” as stated in the title of the report, it is Africa’s elephants that are facing extinction.

 

Young demonstrators sit with a placard as they prepare to take part in the “Global March for Elephants and Rhinos” in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP

Young demonstrators sit with a placard as they prepare to take part in the “Global March for Elephants and Rhinos” in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP

Unfortunately, despite growing civil society engagement with wildlife issues, so far few African leaders have demonstrated they are serious about taking action. One of them, President Khama of Botswana, recently asked me, despairingly: “Where is the pride of Africa? Why aren’t we setting the agenda here? It is we who have the elephants.”

A recent Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) report made some highly publicised claims about involvement of visiting Chinese officials in ivory smuggling out of Tanzania. These claims were furiously – and unconvincingly – denied by Chinese authorities. What got less publicity was the much longer part of the EIA report analysing ingrained institutional corruption in Tanzania and the complicity of Tanzanian authorities in the illegal ivory trade.

Africans will not have the political or moral authority to make demands on the Chinese until we put our own house in order.

Secondly we have to stop thinking about “China” as a monolith – a single actor in the unfolding drama.

China is a highly complex society. The dynamic of ivory trade is driven by interactions among a wide range of actors. Political leaders, government officials, organised criminals, consumers and civil society organisations all contribute to the illegal ivory trade and attempts to control it in different ways. We need to understand their roles and target our actions and campaigns accordingly.

For example, was the ivory spending spree by the Chinese delegation in Tanzania sanctioned ‘from above’ or was it a case of lower-level officials getting out of control? In the first case, a high level diplomatic protest might be in order. But in the second case it might be more effective to engage with Chinese civil society organizations already combating corrupts officials at home.

Consumers who purchase ivory are also driven by different motives. The report suggests that “investors banking on continued rises in the price of ivory appear to be a significant factor in the recent boom, rather than buyers of traditional ivory carvings”.

This is important information. Buyers of handicrafts might well be swayed by awareness raising campaigns, but law enforcement is likely to be a more effective strategy against unscrupulous investors – and of course also against the organised crime networks that supply them.

Let’s be clear: China is also a highly centralised society. If the Chinese nation is contributing to the ongoing extinction of Africa’s elephants – as it is – the Chinese government deserves the lion’s share of the blame.

But, here again, we need to understand China better in order to know the best way to the influence Chinese authorities. China’s leaders are sensitive to pressure from foreign governments— and the hard evidence of reports by organizations like STE and EIA. It was notable that the first online report I found of the press conference in Nairobi today to launch the report was a long article in the South China Morning Post.

But Chinese authorities are also sensitive to pressure from an increasing confident civil society inside China. A recent visit to China by two young African activists, Christopher Kiarie of WildlifeDirect and Resson Kantai of STE, provided encouraging evidence of the potential for linkages between African and Chinese civil society organizations, to work together to increase pressure on the Chinese government to change.

A joined-up strategy led by Africans at all levels of society offers the best chance of success in these desperate times.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/africa-wild/2014/dec/09/china-must-act-but-africa-take-the-lead-in-stopping-ivory-trade

 

WildlifeDirect Welcomes Statement by Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu on Destruction of Ivory Stockpiles in Kenya

25 November 2014, Nairobi

 

Press Statement

 

WildlifeDirect Welcomes Statement by Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu on Destruction of Ivory Stockpiles in Kenya

The Chairman of WildlifeDirect Kenya, Philip Murgor, and the CEO of WildlifeDirect, Dr Paula Kahumbu, would like to strongly support the Cabinet Secretary for Environment , Water and Natural Resources, Judi Wakhungu, for her statement and stand in regard to ivory stockpiles in Kenya.

“At WildlifeDirect, we are very pleased that the minister has openly advocated for the destruction of ivory stockpiles in Kenya,” said Dr Kahumbu. “We agree with the minister, that the only way of stopping the ivory from getting into the market is by destroying it. Our elephants are facing extinction, and we must do what it takes to conserve them, not just for us but as a world heritage”.

The cabinet secretary was quoted in a media report this week, saying that ivory stockpiles should be destroyed to keep them from getting back into the market, adding that the move will deter the supply and demand for ivory.

On his part, the chairman Philip Murgor said that Kenya had demonstrated leadership and courage to go against the grain in the late 80s, when the then president Daniel Moi destroyed 12 tonnes of ivory in order to persuade the world to end trade in ivory.

“This bold move worked in the 90s. Elephant numbers began to rise across the continent.  It can work again, and the current trend of 35,000 elephants killed every year in Africa can be reversed. We are very pleased that the current leadership appreciates the significance of destroying ivory stockpiles”.

 

-END-

 

For more information, please contact Dr Paula Kahumbu on 0722 685 106 or Bertha Kang’ong’oi on 0720 712 730.

KEEP TIM ALIVE

Keep Tim Alive
An encounter with a wounded tusker reminds me that saving elephants is the only true measure of success of our campaigns

Tim, one of the world's largest Tuskers

Tim, one of the world’s largest Tuskers

Photograph: John Heminway/WildlifeDirect
Amboseli, Kenya, 7 November 2014.

We are sitting in the beautiful Tortillis camp overlooking the wide savannah. Just as we are about to move on to another item on the agenda, Scott Asen, one of our newest board members, consults his phone and announces: “Tim just sent me a text. He’s waiting. I think we should go now.” Words said in jest that had a profound meaning for all of us present.

Tim is one of the world’s biggest tuskers and his home is Amboseli. Like other bull elephants he leads a nomadic life, roaming far and wide across the vast national park and beyond. We felt blessed that he had shown up on this particular day. After two days of hard work and important progress for elephant conservation we felt Tim was here to say “thank you”. But what we saw shocked us to the core. Tim had not come to say thank you, he was pleading with us: “Help me.”

The WildlifeDirect Board of 14 extraordinary men and women from USA, UK and Kenya had met less than 24 hours earlier with Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, the First Lady of Kenya, and with Judi Wakhungu, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources.

We presented the successes of the Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign, launched by WildlifeDirect a year ago, in bringing together Kenyans from all walks of life to stand up for elephants and wildlife, and lobbying governments worldwide to take action against the international crime cartels behind the poaching crisis that is threatening Africa’s elephants.

Then we heard about the ministry’s successes in passing new laws and strengthening the protection agencies, and about the many challenges remaining. And then at the most unexpected moment, the usually shy and withdrawn First Lady stepped up to agree to a raft of requests: for her to spearhead the replication of the campaign across Africa, and for Kenya’s elephants and rhinos to be declared national treasures.

She also supported our call for a Kenyan national Wildlife Festival to enlist all sectors of society in wildlife conservation efforts. Everything was going swimmingly, and then the First Lady turned to ask: “But why aren’t you guys working together?” I felt busted and immediately agreed to work with Judi to assemble an independent team of experts to conduct a national assessment of Kenya’s elephants and rhinos.

As we left the meeting The First Lady hugged me and said: “Don’t ever give up, you must fight on”. I left State House on a cloud, and things got better as the day progressed.

That evening we celebrated the achievements of the first year of the campaign with supporters and partners in government and beyond. Our Facebook page described the “colour and pomp, smiles and hugs” of the Hands Off Our Elephants first birthday party.

The US Ambassador Bob Godec brought some members of the audience to tears with a powerful speech from the heart. He said it was not just his job to help us save elephants, but also a deeply held personal conviction.

Our keynote speaker, the Chief Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga, remembered the first day he ‘met’ me through what he described as the first of a series of “angry emails”. I had been going to court, and was appalled to see how ivory poachers and traffickers were being let off. The emails were to tell him just how diabolical it all was. He gave WildlifeDirect permission to continue our hard-hitting approach: “Don’t stop being angry.”

Fast forward, and the next evening we are all sitting atop of Land Rovers, off-road somewhere in Amboseli National Park. It is dense palm thicket and we can hear branches cracking. Tim is near. Then we see a monumental trunk above the palms, reaching high into the branches. It is only when we drive around to get a full view that we see the magnificence of his full body and his gigantic tusks.

It is 4.50 pm and the sun is gleaming on his ivory. An audible “aaaaaahhh” emanates from all of us. Tim is truly spectacular. Then Tim notices us and turns. It is as if he is hiding that which we find so beautiful, which too many Chinese are addicted to, and which translates to dollar signs for greedy poachers.

We sit quietly contemplating the giant Tim. I am acutely aware that it is very strange for this elephant I know so well to be so shy. He is usually proud and confident, and loves attention and cameras. And then the bombshell, as we see the sore his left flank, where blood and white clumps of puss are oozing out. This is why Tim is acting so strangely. He is in great pain.

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Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign material was already calling to “Keep Tim Alive” before he was found injured in November 2014. Photograph: John Heminway/WildlifeDirect

Majestic Tim is injured. We can only speculate about recent events, that Tim has possibly been speared by someone from the local community. He may have threatened farmers, or perhaps a poacher was after him.

All of us sit in our own silence as we watch Tim for over an hour. Then Tim steps out in front of us and walks amongst us, but his walk is strained. I cannot describe the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I feel so helpless, but also chastened. We have been celebrating the successes of our campaign, but what right do we have to celebrate when poaching and human-wildlife conflict still threaten elephants every day?

Within seconds the purpose of WildlifeDirect is suddenly vivid. Kenya has already lost two iconic tuskers, Satao and Mountain Bull, this year. Hands Off Our Elephants was already campaigning to Keep Tim Alive. Now he needs our help.

In minutes we have a plan to give the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) 25 thousand US dollars to to monitor and protect Tim 24/7. We call Julius Cheptei, the KWS Assistant Director, and he agrees to assign a vet to the case immediately.

As we leave Tim, the six other bulls that make up his escort are walking off towards the edge of the park. We follow them for a short while, and see they are heading towards some local settlements. I am not worried. It’s their normal routine and the communities here are usually very tolerant of elephants.

But Tim does not follow. He stays 200 meters behind and then peels off towards the centre of the swamp. He is not going to put himself at risk again.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/africa-wild/2014/nov/09/keep-tim-alive

New Chairman for WildlifeDirect Kenya

Press Statement
14 November 2014, Nairobi
Philip Murgor is Appointed as the new Chairman of WildlifeDirect Kenya
The Board of Directors of WildlifeDirect is happy to announce the appointment of Philip Murgor as the new Chairman of the board of WildlifeDirect Kenya.
Murgor’s appointment was made at a board meeting held at the Amboseli National Park in early November 2014. The international board was in Kenya to mark the first anniversary of WildlifeDirect’s flagship campaign, Hands Off Our Elephants.
This appointment will greatly strengthen the organisation, given his wealth of experience gained over two decades, working in both local and international litigation, serving as formerly as a State Counsel, as Kenya’s Director of Public Prosecutions and currently as the managing partner of Murgor and Murgor Advocates.
WildlifeDirect is committed and dedicated to changing laws and people’s behaviour and attitudes related to wildlife crime in Kenya and throughout Africa. In the last year, WildlifeDirect, through its Hands Off Our Elephants campaign, was in the forefront in championing the passing into law of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013. Currently, the organisation is conducting a study into the enforceability of the new law in relation to wildlife trafficking crimes in Kenya.
Philip Murgor’s contribution towards this end will not only be felt in Kenya but across the entire African continent where the Hands Off our Elephants campaign will go to.
Other members of the Kenyan board include development expert Irungu Houghton and Ali Daud Mohamed, the Climate Change Advisor in the office of the Deputy President.
The First Lady Margaret Kenyatta is the patron of the Hands Off Our Elephants campaign, launched to advocate for the protection of remaining elephant populations.

For More Information, Please contact CEO of WildlifeDirect Dr Paula Kahumbu on 0722 685 106 or the Communications Manager Bertha Kang’ong’oi on 0720 712 730

HANDS OFF OUR ELEPHANTS CAMPAIGN

OVERVIEW OF THE CHALLENGE
During the past 10 years there has been an unprecedented growth in the illegal ivory markets and in 2011, the poaching of elephants in Africa reached a ten year record[i] with more than 25,000 elephants illegally killed[ii], corresponding with an all-time record of 38.8 tons of ivory seized[1]. Simultaneously, the price of ivory exploded from US$150/kg to over US$1,000/kg between 2008 and 2012. Importantly, the illegal ivory trade is believed to be financing local conflicts and international terrorism[2] through Al Qaeda’s Somali wing, Al Shabaab[3], the Lord’s Resistance Army[4] and Sudan’s Janjaweed. Further, the escalation of elephant poaching has rendered large parts of Eastern and Central Africa insecure for all, including poor and vulnerable rural communities and key income and job sectors, like tourism[5].

This massive growth in the illegal ivory markets grew in response to rising affluence in China’s middle class who demand and use ivory for artifacts as status symbols. This demand is fuelled through poor controls of domestic markets in China and other Asian countries, allowing illegal ivory to be laundered through legal domestic markets and exacerbated by the simultaneous presence of China in Africa as a development and trade partner – with hundreds of thousands of Chinese immigrants now operating in Kenya and millions across the continent.
This ivory trade is driven by criminal cartels threatening not only elephants and other species, but also people, their livelihoods, management of natural resources, the tourism sector (second biggest contributor at 12% of GDP) and local and national security. In recent speeches US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, stated that wildlife trafficking has serious implications for the security and prosperity of people around the world and it needs to be addressed through partnerships as robust as the criminal networks themselves[6]. She noted that governments, civil society, businesses, scientists and activists must work together in educating people about the whole-scale devastation caused by wildlife trafficking.

KENYA’S POSITION
Kenya traditionally has been on the front lines in combating elephant poaching in Africa and has been a leading voice on elephant conservation through various international conventions including CITES, the Convention on Biodiversity, the Convention on Migratory species and others. Despite these commitments, the current response of the Kenyan government to the crisis continues to falter and is wholly inadequate for the size of the problem. The combination of corruption and weak domestic wildlife laws means that Kenya has now become the second largest transiting country for illegal ivory in Africa, second only to Tanzania. Moreover, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda alone now account for nearly 70% of the illegal ivory flowing out of Africa. At the recently concluded CITES conference, the member nations put eight (8) countries (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and China), on notice to put an action plan in place to deal with the elephant poaching and ivory trading crisis, otherwise they will suffer sanctions stopping all wildlife trade, legal or illegal. Kenya’s leading role and voice in conservation has been undermined by this recent incident.

WILDLIFE DIRECT’S RESPONSE
In response to this double-edged crisis, Wildlife Direct (see annex) has launched a Kenyan (with the option of replicating it to other African countries), multi-strand strategy to combat the key issues and challenges:

WildlifeDirect is a Kenyan NGO and US registered 501(c) (3) organization founded in 2006 by Kenyan conservationist Dr Richard Leakey, who is credited with putting an end to the elephant slaughter in Kenya in the 1980s and delivering an international ban on ivory trade. WildlifeDirect is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. WildlifeDirect was conceived as an online platform that promotes conservation of Africa’s spectacular wildlife by building an online community of supporters for conservationists at the frontline in Africa. Realizing, that our work, while effective, was inadequate to halt the emerging crises facing Africa’s elephants and other wildlife, WildlifeDirect has now re-positioned itself as Africa’s foremost campaigning organization for wildlife conservation. Hands Off Our Elephants, our flagship campaign comprises a winning combination of expertise including, wildlife ecologists, communications, law, politics, media, strategists, and linguists, making us bold, influential, and successful. This African led initiative is supported Kenya’s First Lady, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta as patron. The campaign has already won international recognition for creating public awareness and driving legal reforms in Kenya and East Africa. WLD partners with civil society, government agencies and is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative on elephants.

Our goal is to demonstrate excellence in Kenya, a country formerly renowned for it’s conservation successes and now reputed to be amongst the worlds most complicit in the illegal trafficking of ivory. We deliver political support for a strategy that achieves excellence in law enforcement through deterrent penalties combined with high probability of being arrested, excellent prosecutions, and fair trials.

We have secured success by mobilizing the public and drawing attention to key concerns.

To secure lasting results we seek ultimately to change the culture and therefore behavior of all Kenyans, and thereby also alter the global view of Kenya and thus attract support to enforce the national strategy for combatting international wildlife crime. Kenya’s success will only be secured if similar changes occur in the region – thus ultimately the outcome of this campaign must be replicated.

How We Work:
WildlifeDirect has an Africa focus with Kenya as the launch pad for its activities.

WildlifeDirect’s main strengths are:-

1. WildlifeDirect has relationships with multi-levels of Kenyan and international society across a diverse range of interests and entities, e.g., international NGOs, government authorities, management bodies, civil society groups, grass-root communities and their constituencies.
2. High-level international profile and combined expertise of the founder Dr. Richard Leakey, board members John Heminway, Philip Murgor, Irungu Houghton, Ali Mohamed, and Executive Director Dr. Paula Kahumbu.
3. High level of expertise through a diverse professional board, advisers, and consultants and a talented, committed staff.
5. WildlifeDirect plays a prominent leadership role in the non-governmental arena – including wildlife, environment, development, legal, tourism, conservation, and education.
6. WildlifeDirect has a proven track record of provoking action in conservation at governmental, intergovernmental and international levels.
7. WildlifeDirect’s visibility in traditional media (television, radio and newspapers), and innovative use of new media e.g. the internet to tell stories from the conservation ‘frontline’, raise awareness of crises and causing urgent actions to be instigated.

WildlifeDirect’s ability to mobilize African and international action in support of wildlife conservation.

[1] T. Milliken, R. B. (2012). The elephant Trade Information System and illicit trade in Ivory: Report to CITES Cop 16. TRAFFIC.

[2] Puhl, H. K. (2012, September 13). Brutal Elephant Slaughter Funds African Conflicts. Retrieved from Spiegel: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/blood-ivory-brutal-elephant-slaughter-funds-african-conflicts-a-855237.html

[3] Gathura, G. (2012, December). Poachers funding Al-Shabaab, reveals KWS. Retrieved from Horn portal: http://horn.so/poachers-funding-al-shabaab-reveals-kws

[4] Witcher, T. (2012, December 19). LRA poaching ivory as Kony hunt intensifies. Retrieved from Reuters: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hcUql6ZHKSL2vxBmQ4QKuRo1ITaQ?docId=CNG.c60aa170c84f09544220fe3d340f8b33.31

[5] Goldenberg, S. (2012). http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/nov/08/us-intelligence-wildlife-poachers. London: The Guardian.

[6] Clinton, Hilary. Remarks at the Partnership Meeting on Wildlife Trafficking. 8th November 2012

Conservation leader from Kenya wins 2014 Whitley Award

Green Oscar” awarded for conservation of Kenya’s elephants   

 London, UK: 8 May 2014 – HRH The Princess Royal will today present a Whitley Award, a prestigious international nature conservation prize, to Paula Kahumbu at a special ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in honour of her work to inspire Kenyans to put an end to the country’s  elephant poaching crisis.

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Dr Paula Kahumbu is one of eight exceptional individuals to have been awarded a share of prize funding worth £280,000 by the Whitley Fund for Nature, winning a Whitley Award donated by The LJC Fund in memory of Anthea and Lindsey Turner. Paula, aged 47, is Executive Director of WildlifeDirect which launched “Hands Off Our Elephants” in 2013, a campaign to tackle poaching, and the trafficking of ivory, and with the ultimate ambition of closing down the international ivory trade.

Kenya is famous for its marathon runners and its wildlife, yet its elephant populations are running out of time in the fight for survival. Elephants make a major contribution to Kenya’s economy through tourism, accounting for 12% of Kenya’s GDP and employing over 300,000 people. Yet when CITES endorsed the sale of ivory to China in 2009, this triggered a massive wave of elephant poaching across Africa, where almost 100 elephants are now killed every day.

Paula Kahumbu is one of Kenya’s most influential and passionate voices for elephant conservation and she is stepping up her Country’s fight against poaching.  More ivory is trafficked through Kenya than any other country and the Hands Off Our Elephants campaign, with the support of its patron, Kenya’s first lady, Margaret Kenyatta , is informing and mobilising Kenyans to take action to beat this iniquitous trade. Key to Paula’s approach is engaging directly with government authorities and prosecutors to adopt new legislation that ensures those found guilty of poaching and other wildlife crimes are brought to justice and receive much stricter sentences.

Sir David Attenborough, a Trustee of the Whitley Fund for Nature, said: “Whitley Award winners are successful because they don’t just watch and measure – they act!  They are the conservation experts – not us – they know what to do and, more importantly, how to get it done.”

Other winners in the 2014 Whitley Awards are:

Shivani Bhalla - Warrior Watch: Creating coexistence between people and lions in northern Kenya, Whitley Award donated by The Garden House School Parents’ Association

  • Tess Gatan-Balbas - Taking local action to save the world’s rarest crocodile in the Philippines, Whitley Award donated by WWF-UK
  • Monica Gonzalez - Community conservation of the long-wattled umbrellabird and its disappearing habitat in Ecuador, Whitley Award donated by Sarah Chenevix-Trench
  • Melvin Gumal - Protecting Borneo’s iconic great apes: Conservation of orang-utans in Sarawak, Malaysia, Whitley Award for Conservation in Ape Habitats, donated by the Arcus Foundation
  • Fitry Pakiding - Uniting coastal communities to secure the last stronghold of Pacific leatherback turtles in the Bird’s Head Seascape, West Papua, Indonesia, Whitley Award donated by The Shears Foundation
  • Stoycho Stoychev - The Imperial Eagle as a flagship for conserving the wild grasslands of south-eastern Bulgaria, Whitley Award donated by Fondation Segré
  • Luis Torres - Building a national movement to protect Cuba’s amazing plant life, Whitley Award donated by The William Brake Charitable Trust in memory of William Brake

HRH The Princess Royal also presented a special prize donated by The Friends and The Scottish Friends of The Whitley fund for Nature, the Whitley Gold Award worth £50,000, to Jean Wiener, a past Award winner who has achieved particularly outstanding results in conserving Haiti’s coastal ecosystems and securing its first ever Marine Protected Areas.  Joining the Judging Panel to assist in selection, the Gold winner also acts as mentor to Whitley Award winners receiving their Awards in the same year.  

Edward Whitley, Founder of The Whitley Fund for Nature, says: “We recognise that wildlife and habitat conservation in developing countries cannot be successful without the involvement of people at the grassroots level.  Every year, I am delighted to meet the winners of the Whitley Awards.  Although they each face remarkable and different challenges in their home countries, these individuals are passionate about the natural world and remain determined to involve local communities in making a long-term difference.  The Whitley Awards honour these conservation leaders for their outstanding achievements and celebrate their efforts to secure a better future for both people and wildlife alike.”

 

Visit www.whitleyaward.org to find out more.

 

- ENDS -

 

Media contacts:

For further information or to arrange interviews contact Firebird PR: Jane Bevan or Susannah Penn at Firebird PR on +00 44 01235 835297 / +00 44 07977 459547 or via email to sp@firebirdpr.co.uk

 Press materials available:

  • Copyright-cleared photographs of Paula Kahumbu, her project and the awards ceremony will be available to download online via Picasa from 22.00 BST on Thursday 8 May: https://picasaweb.google.com/105548002819098368093
  • Video footage of the awards ceremony and an individual film featuring Paula Kahumbu will be available upon arrangement with Firebird PR: contact Jane Bevan or Susannah Penn at Firebird PR on +00 44 01235 835297 / +00 44 07977 459547 or via email to sp@firebirdpr.co.uk

 

Notes to Editors:

  • The Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) is a UK registered charity that champions outstanding grassroots leaders in nature conservation across the developing world.
  • The Whitley Awards are prestigious international prizes presented to individuals in recognition of their achievements in nature conservation.  Each Award Winner receives a prize worth £35,000 to be spent over one year.  The charity’s patron, HRH The Princess Royal, presents the Awards each year at a special ceremony in London.
  • WFN operates a rigorous application process involving expert panel representation from international NGOs including WWF-UK and Fauna and Flora International.  This year, WFN received nearly 200 applications which passed through four stages of assessment, reviewed at every step by the expert screeners and panellists who kindly offer their expertise voluntarily.
  • ·         The Whitley Awards are open to individuals working on wildlife conservation issues in developing countries.  Further eligibility criteria are available from Firebird PR.
  • Whitley Award winners join an international network of Whitley Alumni eligible to apply for Continuation Funding.  These follow-on grants are awarded competitively to winners seeking to scale up their effective conservation results on the ground.  Each grant is worth up to £70,000 for projects of between one to two years in length.
  • The Whitley Gold Award recognises an outstanding past recipient of a Whitley Award who has gone on to make a significant contribution to conservation.  Joining the Judging Panel to assist in selection, the Gold winner also acts as mentor to Whitley Award winners receiving their Awards in the same year.
  • WFN is generously supported by: Arcus Foundation; The William Brake Charitable Trust; Byford Trust; The Evolution Education Trust; Garden House School Parents’ Association; HSBC Holdings Plc; The LJC Fund; Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin; The Rufford Foundation; Sarah Chenevix-Trench; The Schroder Foundation; Fondation Segré; The Shears Foundation; The Whitley Animal Protection Trust; WWF-UK; The Friends and The Scottish Friends of the Whitley Fund for Nature; and many individual donors.
  • The Whitley Awards have been presented annually since 1994.  Since then, the Whitley Fund for Nature has given over £10 million to conservation and recognised more than 160 conservation leaders in over 70 countries.
  • During their trip to London to accept their award, winners have the opportunity to meet the judges, WFN trustees, including Sir David Attenborough and HRH The Princess Royal. In addition they are able to network with the other finalists, attend receptions with leading conservation organisations and academics, meet Whitley Fund for Nature donors and participate in professional development training.  Meeting the media is also a significant event since publicity both in the UK and their home countries helps raise the profile of their work.

WildlifeDirect launches wildlife crimes report for Kenya

Dear Friends,

We would like to share a report on the outcomes of wildlife crimes in Kenyan courts. We completed this report this week.

Download the WILDLIFEDIRECT court study 26.1.14

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Here are some highlights

Executive Summary

This report is based on a survey conducted in May and June 2013, which looked at court records in eighteen courts adjudicating on wildlife related crime. The offences involved killing wild animals and/or trading in their products. The aim of the study was to examine the files and analyse outcomes of those cases with a view to determining how legislation in Kenya was being implemented in combating wildlife crime. The study focused on the judicial outcomes of elephant and rhino related offences, but crimes involving other species were also considered.

Between January 2008 and June 2013, a total of 743 pending and closed wildlife related cases were registered in criminal registries of law courts in Embu, Isiolo, Kajiado, Karatina, Kerugoya, Makadara (Nairobi), Makindu, Maralal, Meru, Mombasa, Nakuru, Nanyuki, Narok, Nyahururu, Nyeri, Rumuruti5, Voi, and Wajir towns. These towns were chosen because of their proximity to key conservation areas including Amboseli, Isiolo, Laikipia, Maasai Mara, Samburu and Tsavo as well as major ports through which wildlife trophies are known to be trafficked. The magistrates’ courts in these towns have jurisdiction falling within the target ecosystems. All cases are brought to court by the Kenya Police Service and/or the Kenya Wildlife Service and most are prosecuted by the Police.

A major finding of the study was that in total, only 4% of offenders convicted of wildlife crimes went to jail. In cases of offences against elephants and rhinos which can potentially attract jail sentences of up to 10 years, only 7% of offenders in this category were jailed. Though there were frequent news reports of KWS officers being arrested for involvement in these crimes, the study did not find a single verdict that highlghted this problem.

overall wildlife crimes

The study clearly showed that wildlife related crime in Kenya is treated as a misdemeanor or petty crime and is ‘mismanaged’ within the Kenyan court systems. Of the 743 cases registered that were part of the study, 70% of the case files were reported missing or misplaced in the courts. Only 202 files were available to the study team for perusal, and these were of cases against 314 offenders that had been concluded. 224 offenders (78%) were found guilty of crimes ranging from illegal hunting, illegal possessions of weapons with intent to kill animals, trespassing in protected areas, illegal possession of wildlife trophies, dealing/ trafficking in wildlife etc. No case file could be found for ivory or rhino horn trafficking in Mombasa despite frequent news reports of ivory seizures in the Port of Mombasa and allegations that Mombasa is one of the world’s most notorious ports for ivory trafficking. In Nairobi’s Makadara Court which deals with airport arrests, suspects were exclusively foreign – mainly nationals of Asian origin. All pleaded guilty but only one defendant received a jail sentence of six months in June 2013. During the period of the study, criminals were consistently given lenient sentences and fines well below the maximum of KES 40,000/= (approx USD$ 460).

composition of species

It is also apparent that poor file and case management is hindering the prosecution of wildlife related crime and that the full might of the existing law is not being bought to bear on offenders. There is a huge financial incentive for non-compliance which has led to a culture of impunity amongst the criminal fraternity and even within the government departments responsible for protecting these national assets. If this impunity is not stopped, Kenya may be viewed as a safe haven for local, as well as organized international wildlife traffickers, poachers and dealers.

RECOMMENDATIONS

 

1.     Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) to develop and/or adopt Standard Operating Procedures to allow sufficient time for investigation and application of appropriate laws associated with endangered species like elephants and rhino. Currently, cases of wildlife related offences are charged and disposed of by police prosecutors and are not always reported to KWS or the ODPP. As a result, poor charging decisions are rife, ancillary orders such as forfeiture are rarely applied for and sentencing powers are not fully utilized possibly through lack of awareness by police prosecutors of what is available.

 

2.     Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) to be responsible for charging decisions on all rhino, elephant, rhino horn and ivory cases. KWS prosecutors are gazetted to prosecute under the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act (Cap 376 of 1989) while the ODPP can prosecute under other Acts such as the Firearms Act, the Proceeds of Organized Crime Act (POCA) and (POCAMLA) or Money Laundering Act.

 

3.     Chief Justice (CJ) to assign a dedicated judge and court in each of the conservation areas and together with the Attorney General, CJ and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), seek agreement to take judicial notice that poaching offences are ‘organised criminal activities’, and support ODPP with adequate capacity to prosecute these under the full range of laws.

 

4.     The National Council of the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) to adopt and implement rules for streamlining wildlife trials to achieve interagency cooperation. With the enactment of the new Wildlife Act, it is foreseeable that there will be an increase in the number of trials relating to wildlife offences. The NCAJ should agree upon and implement rules for streamlining the progress between first appearance and the conclusion of the case and avoid unnecessary delays.

5.     Chief Justice to issue Sentencing Guidelines. Sentencing patterns are haphazard across the country and there is currently no consistency between courts. With the new wildlife law and possible increase in prosecutions, magistrates will need guidance on the task of sentencing e.g. aggravating features, value and quantity of the trophy, whether the defendant was in a position of authority etc.

6.     Chief Justice to issue a practice direction to the judiciary identifying compelling reasons for withholding bail in offences associated with endangered species like elephants and rhino. Bail is currently issued on a haphazard basis across the country and is hampering wildlife prosecutions.

7.     An NGO structure to support wildlife investigations and prosecutions needs to be established. In order to address the gap between law and implementation, a specialized NGO structure that collaborates closely with Government on investigations, arrest operations and prosecutions of wildlife traffickers should be established. This structure would fight corruption within the enforcement and justice system, ensuring good governance and transparency.

8.     Government to authorise an independent annual stock take and audit of all ivory and horn stockpiles, exhibits and movement of exhibits currently in Government custody. Wildlife trophies that have been confiscated are handed over to the Kenya Wildlife Service. Allowing an independent body to undertake a stock take and audit of the same would reduce loss of exhibits.

9.     Kenya Wildlife Service to transform its relationship with communities and private sector in line with provisions in the Constitution of Kenya, and empower citizens to participate in the fight against wildlife crime by encouraging them to act as independent court monitors and through the creation of a wildlife reporting hotline. The role of ordinary Kenyans is crucial and under-utilized in the fight against poaching and trafficking.

10 Chief Justice should fast track reforms in court registries on the establishment of an efficient and effective standardized case file management with rapid file call-up system (preferably digitized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Nimkoff races in Rolex 24 for WildlifeDirect

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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nimkoff

 

Contacts: John Heminway / Matthew Ambroziak

Email: john.heminway@wildlifedirect.org /paula@wildlifedirect.org/ matt@trg-amr.com

Phone: 917-842-9799 /336.517.6936

Date: January 22, 2014

MOTOR SPORTS CHAMPION ROBERT NIMKOFF DEDICATES WORLD FAMOUS ENDURANCE RACE TO SAVING ELEPHANTS IN AFRICA

Daytona 22 January 2014: It may seem like a wild and crazy idea, but motor sports racer Robert Nimkoff will be racing for elephants on the 25th of January at the 52nd Anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona. This will be the first time that Nimkoff has dedicated a race to an animal cause. Through the race, Nimkoff will be drawing attention to the crisis facing African elephants. It is estimated that nearly 100 of these magnificent creatures are gunned down each day for their tusks to supply ivory markets in China, Thailand and even the USA. Unless the killing ends, elephants will be gone from the wild in 10 years.

rolex24

 

Nimkoff is partnering with Kenya-based WildlifeDirect, a conservation organization that has launched the campaign “HANDS OFF OUR ELEPHANTS”, with the First Lady of Kenya Margaret Kenyatta as patron. African motor sports enthusiasts, along with millions of others worldwide, will be eagerly watching this world famous endurance race. Make sure to pay close attention to the black TRG-Aston Martin Racing car number 009 with Nimkoff behind the wheel.

“I am so outraged that elephants are being gunned down for their two front teeth so that people around the world can have ivory trinkets, that I just have to do something. Elephants are like humans: intelligent, compassionate and family oriented. By partnering with WildlifeDirect, I hope that I can raise awareness and support from my fans and fellow drivers to help to save elephants” said Nimkoff.

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WildlifeDirect has achieved national and international fame through its campaign HANDS OFF OUR ELEPHANTS, which has already resulted in the Kenyan leadership enacting new laws that will send poachers and ivory dealers to jail for life. As a partner of the Clinton Global initiative, WildlifeDirect is working closely with Kenyan authorities, the private sector and other conservation organizations to end the illegal trade in ivory, which is a multi-billion dollar business involving criminal cartels and may be linked to terrorism groups including Joseph Kony and Al Shabaab. The poaching of elephants is contributing to local conflicts and international insecurity, as well as posing a threat to the large job-creating tourism business in Kenya and other African countries.

John Heminway, Chairman of WildlifeDirect, says: “Elephants have this incredible knack of bringing unlikely people together. We are truly honored that Robert Nimkoff has chosen to support WildlifeDirect. Through this history-making race he will bring much needed attention to the American public and the world about how they can help end the crisis in Africa.”

About WildlifeDirect: Founded by world famous paleoanthropologist and conservationist Dr. Richard Leakey in 2004. The Chairman is National Geographic award-winning documentary maker John Heminway. His recent film “Battle for the Elephants” revealed the scale of the demand for ivory in China, and won Best Conservation Film award at the 2013 Jackson Hole Film Festival. The Executive Director is Kenyan elephant expert Dr. Paula Kahumbu. WildlifeDirect is a 501(c)3 registered charity and is based in Nairobi, Kenya. The Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign was launched in July 2013.

To find out more go to wildlifedirect.org or Hands Off Our Elephants on FB. # # #

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Dr. Paula Kahumbu at paula@wildlifedirect.org

On the 16th of December, Kenya Wildlife Service held a Conservation Heroes Day to honour wardens and rangers who lost their lives for the greater good of protecting our precious wildlife. The annual event provides a special occasion to reflect on the lives of those who displayed courage and self-sacrifice in the face of danger and adversity and to celebrate the continued commitment by their remaining colleagues.Most of these heroes died in combat with armed bandits, preventing wildlife crimes, on rescue missions and protecting people’s lives and property from damage by wild animals.

here are pictures of how it went.

Rangers paying tribute to the Heros

Rangers paying tribute to the Heros

The Cabinet secretary Hon Judi Wakhungu and KWS Director William Kiprono paying tribute to the heroes

The Cabinet secretary Hon Judi Wakhungu and KWS Director William Kiprono paying tribute to the heroes

 

 

CAbinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu, Chairman KWS David Mwiraria, KWS Director William Kiprono and Permanant Secretary Richard Lesiyampe

CAbinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu, Chairman KWS David Mwiraria, KWS Director William Kiprono and Permanant Secretary Richard Lesiyampe

 

KWS Rangers singing

KWS Rangers singing

Guest Join in the singing

Guest Join in the singing

KWS rangers doing a poem

KWS rangers doing a poem

 

Guests dancing to a song by KWS artist

Guests dancing to a song by KWS artist

 

 

Lemi & Tito

We are happy to bring you a preview of the first in a series of animated cartoons about Lemi the boy hero, and Tito his elephant friend.

Lemi is a boy who discovers his voice in a series of adventure across Africa to save his father from poachers. He is no ordinary village kid, he’s the first generation lap top kid in Kenya, and he uses the best of traditional knowledge and values, and combines it with technology in a beautiful and inspiring tale by Dr. Paula Kahumbu and illustrated by Chief Nyamweya and his amazing team of animators at Tsunami Studios.

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube DirektThe Adventures of Lemi and Tito