Tag Archives: extinction

Target the ring leaders to defeat poaching

Richard Leakey, founder of the Kenyan Wildlife Service, has called on President Kenyatta to declare a national emergency and take personal charge of the war on poaching

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Richard Leakey and Paula Kahumbu at press conference organized by WildlifeDirect on March 19, 2014 in Nairobi. Richard Leakey and Paula Kahumbu at the press conference organized by Wildlife Direct on March 19, 2014 in Nairobi. Photograph: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images

Nairobi 19th March: Four days ago I was in the bush, heartbroken, by the mutilated body of a rhino gunned down by poachers. Now I am in the Serena Hotel in Nairobi at a crowded press conference called by Wildlife Direct, the organization I work for.

In a strongly worded statement, WildlifeDirect’s founder and chairman Richard Leakey calls on Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta to take decisive action in the war against the poachers.

The current situation is dire. Poachers are killing rhinos and elephants with impunity, even in heavily fortified private conservancies that were thought to be impregnable. Despite tough new laws, smugglers and poachers caught red-handed are still walking free from Kenyan courts.

Our press release argues that poaching and smuggling are controlled by international crime rings that pose a major threat to the economy and national security. Reports in Kenyan media reflect the sense of hopelessness that many feel in the face of this powerful enemy.

However, though critical, the situation is not hopeless.

As head of the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) in the 1980s, Richard Leakey is credited with having turned around the war on poaching in a matter of months at the time of the last major crisis. With the right leadership, he is convinced it can be done again.
NTV Kenya news report of Wildlife Direct press conference, Nairobi March 19th, 2014

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The story of piracy off the coast of Somalia shows how crises like these can be overcome. Piracy and poaching are similar in many ways. In both cases, the scene of the crime is sub-Saharan Africa. Both were long-standing problems that suddenly became major crises and threatened to spiral out of control. In both cases, poor people using primitive technology were able to inflict massive damage that threatened global interests.

The major difference is that piracy directly threatens western commercial interests. In response world leaders have acted decisively – and effectively. After 46 hijackings off the coast of Somalia in 2009 and 47 in 2010, there have been none at all since 12 May 2012.

Crucially, money has been no object when it came to taking on the pirates. The current annual cost of anti-piracy security off the coast of Somalia is more than US $ 2.5 billion. This finances two key elements of the anti-piracy strategy: surveillance and protection. Around $1 billion goes on round-the-clock military naval patrols; the rest is spent by ship operators on employing privately contracted armed guards.

Piracy has also been stopped by the simple measure of locking up the criminals. More than 1,100 Somali pirates are currently in jail in 21 countries, many of them in Kenya.

Operations are coordinated by the UN’s Contact Group on Piracy, which includes more than 85 countries as well as international agencies and private sector representatives. If you have never heard of this organization, that’s because they’re not interested in publicity, just in getting the job done.

Four “C words” sum up how piracy was defeated: Cash – lots of it, a Coherent strategy, Coordination, and Commitment. How far are these four “keys to success” in place in the war on wildlife crime?

Unlike the war on piracy, until now this one has too often seemed to be all about publicity. In the run-up to the London summit on wildlife crime in February, National Geographic commented: “Everybody and his uncle in wildlife conservation is clamouring for a seat at the table.”

Hopefully this is about to change. America grabbed the headlines at the London summit in February with the launch of a new National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. The strategy makes some big promises about US commitment to tackle all aspects of the crisis. Secretary of State John Kerry affirmed: “We must act now. The Departments of State, Justice, and Interior are leading the President’s whole-of-government fight against wildlife trafficking”.

There are also signs that western countries and international agencies are now prepared to commit serious money to fight wildlife crime – even though the amounts are still minuscule compared to what is spent on controlling piracy.

For example, the Clinton Global Initiative recently unveiled a three-year $80 million anti-ivory poaching partnership with conservation organizations that will deploy sniffer-dog teams at key ivory transit points in Africa and hire 3,000 rangers to help protect elephants at 50 sites.

These are encouraging signs of more cash, improved coordination, and greater commitment. But what is still missing is a coherent strategy that recognizes and responds to the truth that Richard Leakey spelled out forcefully at our press conference: the traffickers are getting away with it because in many countries authorities are not prepared to take on the small numbers of gang leaders who control the operations.

The best equipped and trained rangers, and the most stringent laws, will remain impotent as long as the gang leaders are at liberty to use threats and bribery to neutralize them.

After the London summit, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague commented: “this is not just about governments, this is about the public understanding that the ivory trade involves the death of elephants on a great scale”. This sounds as if the UK government is trying to evade responsibility.

The truth is, only states have the resources needed to defeat the organized crime networks controlling the $10 billion trade in illegal wildlife products. People across the world already understand the problem and what is at stake. We are waiting for our governments to take decisive action to target the gang leaders, and root out the high-level corruption that allows them to operate with impunity.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/africa-wild/2014/mar/23/target-ring-leaders-defeat-poaching

Richard Leakey calls on President Kenyatta to invoke Emergency Response on Elephant and Rhino poaching

19 March 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:Dr Richard Leakey, Founder –WildlifeDirect, leakey@turkanabasin.org

“My fellow Kenyans, poaching and the destruction of our environment has no future in this country”

These were the words of President Uhuru Kenyatta at his inauguration almost exactly one year ago. Today in the year of the 50th anniversary of Kenyan independence, I am asking the president to put his words into action and declare a NATIONAL DISASTER. I ask him to invoke emergency measures to crack down on the poachers and to declare elephants and rhinos National Treasures under protection of the state. In 1989, President Daniel Arap Moi took such extraordinary measures and wildlife poaching was curbed within 6 months. I am certain that this can be achieved again.
Elephants and rhinos declining in Kenya
Though KWS are not making information public, already this year we have lost at least 14 rhinos, more than in the whole of last year. Rhinos have been gunned down in our national parks, often in broad daylight and from sites close to ranger posts. Rhinos have also been lost from heavily fortified private conservancies that were believed impregnable. KWS estimates the population of Kenyan rhinos at more than 1,000 of which just over 50% are in the National Parks. However, independent scientists doubt this figure and question the data – 38 rhinos that have not been seen for more than 3 years are still in the parks are still counted in the total. An independent audit of rhinos is conducted in all conservancies but not parks.

KWS report that fewer than 400 elephants are killed annually across the country. The results of a KWS census last month reveal that the elephant population in the Tsavo Ecosystem alone has fallen by 1,500 over 4 years. The census found 800 elephant carcasses.

Newspaper coverage and conservationists in the field also report that elephant are being shot and killed in Tsavo, Masai Mara, and Amboseli and other parks by poachers armed with automatic weapons. Many others are shot with poison arrows, causing unimaginable pain followed by slow death.
Kenya is the world’s hub for ivory smuggling
The latest Interpol report reveals that Kenya is now No. 1 in the world for ivory smuggling. The port of Mombasa serves as a staging post for ivory from Tanzania and many other countries. More than 13 tons of ivory were seized in Kenya last year and we can only speculate at the quantities that passed through undetected.
A study of trials in Kenya reveal that fewer than 4% of all convicted poachers are ever jailed. Interpol reveal that despite many ivory seizures in Kenya, no dealers have ever been arrested and prosecuted in court. A major rhino horn smugglers caught at JKIA was released. A Chinese ivory dealer was sent back to China. If a Kenyan threatened a Chinese Panda bear, he or she would face life imprisonment.

Current measures are not enough
Despite our best efforts, the new law, the creation of an elite force in KWS, the promises of the Judiciary and DPP, and the commitment stated by the President, our elephants and rhinos are being massacred across the nation.

Tough new laws that mean convicted poachers and traffickers can be given life sentences,have not resulted in a single offender jailed without the option of a fine. In a recent case a Chinese man was arrested in Riverside Drive where he was manufacturing ivory carvings and sending them out of Kenya through Chinese mules who are being sent to Kenya as “tourists”. He was sent back to China without ever going to a Kenyan court. Last week the court acquitted Chinese national, Ou Kai Ming, even though he had been caught red-handed by customs officials at JKIA.

On the ground poachers have a free rein in many places. KWS staff who attempt to do their job are under increasing threat of violence and at least 8 KWS rangers have lost their lives to poachers in recent years. Managers who allow poaching to happen on their watch are simply moved to other locations, instead of being held to account for their dereliction of duty.
Emergency provisions under status as National Disaster
The failure of leadership and resources at KWS is compounded by the failure of the state to recognize that this is not just a wildlife crime. The president can no longer ignore the fact that these criminals belong to international crime rings that pose a major threat to the economy and national security. In 1989 President Moi recognized that the country was facing a national crisis and acted presidentially to stop it.
I am calling on the president of the Republic of Kenya to address the problem because our national security agencies are not working together to combat this threat to national security. I am sure that the Ministry, NIS, CID, KWS all know who the top dealers and financiers of this bloody business are. They number fewer than 50 people, some of whom have been exposed in the media, but not one has been arrested to date.
In responding to the threat of piracy Kenya’s performance was exemplary. This is the kind of coordinated, fully committed response we need to the poaching crisis.
The voice and political will of our president are most critically needed if we are to win this war. The Kenyan public, corporations and our international partners will all respond favorably when decisive action is taken. The president cannot afford to leave a legacy for future generations of Kenyans that does not include elephant and rhinos.

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Richard Leakey, 19 March 2014

About us:
WildlifeDirect is a Kenyan NGO and US registered 501(c) (3) organization co-founded in 2004 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. Kenyan Trustees include Irungu Houghton, Ali Mohamed and Philip Murgor. The CEO is Dr. Paula Kahumbu. WildlifeDirect is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. WildlifeDirect is dedicated to “Changing minds, behavior and laws to ensure Africa’s critical species endure forever.”

Hands Off Our Elephants, our flagship campaign comprises a winning combination of expertise including wildlife ecologists, communications specialists, lawyers, politicians, media representatives, strategists, and linguists, making us bold, influential, and successful. This African led initiative is supported by Kenya’s First Lady, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta as patron. The campaign has already mobilized the public in Kenya and driven 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.
Contact Paula@wildlifedirect.org

Sheria (The Law) is DEAD!!! Rhino Poaching incident this weekend

Dear Friends,

It is with great sadness that I share this, my latest blog post about meeting a 15 year old rhino named Sheria in Ol Pejeta Conservancy. It is about the horror and reality of meeting a freshly butchered rhino face to face.

By taking James Mworia one of Kenya’s youngest entrepreneurs (Centum Investments), as well as CEO of Africa Air Rescue Jagi Gakunju, and other board members of Lewa to see, to smell and to feel Sheria in his death, I hope a seed of change has been sown. Sheria was one of two rhinos murdered this weekend.
We are now calling on His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare Elephant and Rhinos National Treasures, and to take personal responsibility for the war against poachers and traffickers.
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/africa-wild/2014/mar/16/bloody-horror-of-rhino-poaching

Kenya: Wildlife Protection Can Bring Peace, Jobs

By Ambassador Robert F. Godec, The Star
3 March 2014

Protecting wildlife is a central challenge of our time. Far too many elephants, rhinos and other animals are dying at the hands of poachers. Just in the last year, poachers in Kenya alone killed hundreds of elephants for their ivory and at least 59 rhinos for their horns. Unless the carnage is stopped here and elsewhere, our children may be left with no more than photos of many magnificent species.

If we work together with creativity and determination, it doesn’t have to be this way. Last week in Nasuulu Community Conservancy, I saw first-hand one example of how hard work and commitment can protect wildlife while building peace and creating jobs. Communities can solve problems; I saw it happening in Nasuulu. After a day in Isiolo speaking with leaders and citizens, I was deeply impressed by what they had achieved. Thousands of people have better lives and new hope while many animals–including elephants, rhinos and the elegant Grevy’s zebra–are thriving. All as the result of local people coming together to make a difference.

The Nasuulu Community Conservancy is the newest of the 27 conservancies that form the Northern Rangelands Trust. The trust uses a community conservation model that brings together villages and groups historically at odds with one another in a democratic, multi-ethnic forum to manage their own resources. Everyone involved has a stake in the outcome of their conservation efforts. The model has been extraordinarily successful in a part of the country where a harsh environment and distance mean communities feel marginalized. Now local residents benefit from greater investment in the area and in turn feel less sidelined. When asked what this has brought to their communities, leaders answer, “peace, jobs and wildlife.”

Clearly community conservation is only one piece of the larger conservation effort in Kenya. The Kenya Wildlife Service and its dedicated employees are on the front line of safeguarding wildlife throughout the country, managing large tracts of protected land and fighting the scourge of poaching, occasionally at the tragic cost of their own lives. Their leadership is crucial to species protection in Kenya.

In addition to KWS, Kenya’s leaders and citizens are making important contributions. President Kenyatta signed the impressive Wildlife Conservation and Management Act in December. The new law stipulates serious punishments for poachers and allocates greater resources to the national parks and reserves. It will help Kenya end the terrible killing of elephants and rhinos. Civil society also plays a critical role in wildlife conservation in Kenya. NGOs, funded and staffed locally and internationally, contribute ideas, help with wildlife management and assist communities with conservation. Organizations such as Save the Elephants, which I also visited last week, are doing vitally important work. First Lady Margaret Kenyatta is making a difference through her support for such powerful initiatives as the “Hands Off Our Elephants” campaign.

The international community has also stepped up to help. President Obama has made the protection of wildlife a priority and conservation is a top goal of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya. The United States has long prohibited the import of ivory and we recently banned domestic commercial ivory sales. Last November, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crushed six tons of ivory to demonstrate our commitment to end the ivory trade and draw attention to the seriousness of the elephant poaching problem.

Here in Nairobi, I meet frequently with government and KWS officials, with civil society and with other leaders in the wildlife conservation community. At the Embassy we created a task force to focus our assistance and ensure it has the greatest possible impact. Today, we provide support to community conservancies such as the Northern Rangelands Trust and training for both KWS and community conservancy rangers. These rangers risk their lives to protect Kenya’s wildlife and we want to ensure they are well-prepared and well-equipped for the task. Since 2004, the Embassy has spent Sh4.4 billion to help wildlife and communities in Kenya. And, last year, President Obama committed another Sh250 million to the effort. In the fight to protect wildlife, the United States is “all in.”

Of course, there remain tough challenges ahead. For example, we must find ways to reduce demand for ivory and rhino horn. Nevertheless, there is hope. During my visit to Nasuulu, I was impressed by the commitment of the community and how fully it understands the value of wildlife. The people of Nasuulu recognize how protecting animals can bring jobs, roads and schools where there were none before. They were grateful for the peace the conservancy has brought and value wildlife as part of their heritage. They are justly proud of what they are doing for themselves, and for the world.

Although it is not the answer for every problem, the community conservancy model is powerful. In making their community better and protecting our common heritage, the people of Nasuulu and the Northern Rangelands Trust have a lesson for all of us.

As a partner for 50 years, the United States is fully committed to working with Kenya on conservation. Together, by marshalling our resources and working creatively, I’m confident we can succeed and protect Kenya’s wonderful wildlife for future generations.

The author is the US envoy to Kenya.

Article at the following link:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201403031078.html?viewall=1

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Good news for Wildlife Conservation as DPP sets up Wildlife Crimes Unit in Kenya

March 3, 2014…
The Director of Public Prosecutions Mr Keriako Tobiko, has swiftly moved to boost the local wildlife and environmental conservation efforts by setting up a fully-fledged Wildlife Crimes Prosecution Unit.

The unit is, headed by the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Kioko Kamula, and is, mandated to provide prosecutorial services for all offences committed contrary to the recently enacted Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013. The unit comprises of 35 Prosecutors who have already undergone specialist training.

Officers drawn from the unit are also part of a team reviewing the new law on wildlife (Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013) and are, expected to propose suitable amendments to facilitate its efficient application.

Among other milestones, the new unit has already developed a rapid reference guide and model charge sheets on provisions of the law relating to wildlife offences.

“As the world celebrates the World Wildlife Day today, the ODPP wishes to reaffirm its commitment towards protection of our wildlife, which is our national heritage,” Tobiko said.

And added: “The DPP is fully committed to work with all state and non-state actors in the wildlife conservation and criminal justice sectors, to ensure that the law is robustly applied against offenders.We urge increased cooperation and support from all stakeholders and the wider public.”

 As part of the Wildlife Crimes Prosecution Unit’s role, the ODPP has also established a working committee with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to coordinate investigation and prosecution processes as well as conduct joint trainings.

 A standard operating procedure (SoP) manual for the prosecution of wildlife crimes has also been developed and shared with all stakeholders at the second National Dialogue on wildlife crimes.

 

Ends

Outrageous! Ugandan court to release smuggled ivory

Conservation groups say the current poaching crisis is killing up to 25,000 elephants per year.

Photograph: Bobby Yip/Reuters

Photograph: Bobby Yip/Reuters

This outrageous news went unnoticed on the day when the Ugandan media was focused on the signing of a controversial anti-gay bill into law by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni.

The Ugandan Revenue Authority (URA) had seized the ivory being smuggled through Uganda from the DR Congo on 17 October last year. Reportedly consisting of 832 individual pieces, the haul is gruesome evidence of the deaths of many hundreds of elephants and has a market value of several million dollars. According to the Ugandan authorities the culprits behind this heinous crime are Ugandan, Congolese and Kenyan, reflecting the international nature of wildlife crimes in Africa today. However following the confiscation of the material, the traffickers sought a court order to compel the URA to release the ivory, which they claimed had been imported legally. Despite the traffickers never putting an appearance in court, and there being no documentation confirming the ivory entering Uganda, high court judge Justice Musalu Musene ruled in their favour and ordered the ivory to be released for onward export.

In a press release today (26 February) Maria Mutagamba, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, has expressed her shock at this ruling:

We are very dismayed by the said judgment and the likely implications it has for Uganda as a contracting party to CITES Convention [and] … most importantly the damage this has on tourism development and wildlife conservation in Uganda. A team of lawyers of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and URA have already filed a notice of appeal to challenge the judgement. We shall decisively pursue the criminal prosecution of suspects (owners of the confiscated ivory) until they are brought to book. Security Agencies continue to pursue these suspects who are at large.

The minister called on all the organs of the state to proactively support government efforts to stamp out illegal wildlife trade and trafficking in order to conserve Uganda’s heritage and tourism aspirations which are essential for the social transformation of the economy

Meanwhile Charles Tumwesigye, the UWA’s Deputy Director of Conservation, has vowed the UWA will do everything possible to ensure this consignment does not leave Uganda’s borders.

This case contrasts with recent successes in Kenya, where traffickers have been successfully prosecuted and given hefty sentences. These successes reflect improved inter-agency collaboration and high-level political commitment to combat wildlife crime, as well as informed public awareness of the issue. It will take time to create these favourable conditions in Uganda. But this case is a flagrant violation of Uganda’s treaty obligations and the international community should make it clear that it will not be tolerated. CITES should be asked to impose sanctions on Uganda. This court’s decision undermines those Ugandan authorities, such as the UWA, that are seriously working to protect wildlife.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/africa-wild/2014/feb/26/uganda-to-release-smuggled-ivory

London wildlife crime summit: all eyes on China

No matter what is agreed and how much money is raised, little will change without China’s endorsement of a domestic ban of trade in ivory and rhino horn

A summit at Lancaster House in London , attended by high-level delegations from more than 50 countries, will discuss “urgent measures” to stop the illegal trade in products of three endangered wildlife species: elephants, rhinos and tigers. Following recent intergovernmental meetings hosted by Cites and the IUCN, all agree that we are facing a crisis and something must be done. But this meeting is the big one: it’s make or break time. The UK government hosting the event, and its royal backers, will be fervently hoping for a successful outcome that makes for positive headlines on Friday morning. But all eyes will be on one delegation: China.

With regard to the two African species, elephants and rhinos, progress is being made. The government of my country, Kenya, has passed – and is enacting – tough new anti-trafficking laws. The US, no doubt with an eye to stealing the headlines, has just announced a complete ban on trade in ivory. Prince William will be launching United for Wildlife, a collaboration between seven international NGOs, and a new African organization, Stop Ivory, has been formed to work with governments, NGOs, and the private sector to remove ivory from stockpiles and support governments’ efforts to implement their elephant action plans. But populations of elephants and rhinos are falling, mainly as a result of slaughter and trafficking controlled by criminal gangs based in China. No matter what is agreed at the conference and how much money is raised, if it fails to get China’s endorsement of a domestic ban of trade in ivory and rhino horn, little will change.

It has been suggested that western nations are wary of upsetting the Chinese government by engaging on this issue. They shouldn’t be. Calling for a crackdown on illegal trade in ivory doesn’t pose any existential threat to China, politically or economically. Chinese leaders are pragmatists. They will know they have nothing lose by combating domestic organised crime. Their presence at the conference shows that they appreciate the extent of global concern for the future of these emblematic species, as do their recent actions, including the public destruction of some ivory stockpiles and the arrest of an ivory smuggling gang leader extradited from Kenya. This conference is an opportunity for the Chinese, not a threat. Western delegates should stress the huge global prestige that China could gain by being seen to take a lead on this issue.

Africa is waking up to the reality of the loss of elephants. Countries that were hard-nosed about their right to sell ivory, including Tanzania and Botswana, have agreed to stop, as they recognise that selling ivory just feeds the illegal demand. But African countries don’t have the resources to fight organised wildlife crime on their own. They need support from global agencies and western governments. In fact, it can be argued that Africa needs support from the west to counter organised crime more than it needs economic aid. But above all, African countries need China to take action to stop its citizens pillaging the continent’s heritage.

The partnership between China and Africa is becoming a key driver of global socio-economic development, with the potential to lift billions out of poverty. Africans understand that development carries environmental costs, and that difficult trade-offs often have to be made. But in dealings with the Chinese, African leaders should make it clear that the future of rhinos and elephants is not up for negotiation – and that the announcement of effective action to defeat wildlife crime would boost their standing immeasurably on the African continent. African delegations will then be able to greet the Chinese with outstretched hands, not asking for money, but to shake on new partnerships.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/africa-wild/2014/feb/13/london-wildlife-summit-all-eyes-on-china

Royal ivory: Why Prince William is right

Prince William’s announcement that he wants the royal family’s ivory to be destroyed is praiseworthy and shows his personal commitment to do everything he can to help save species threatened by wildlife crime. It is also the right thing to do.

This article examines some of the arguments for and against destroying ivory as part of the wider global strategy to save African elephants.

When Kenya became the first country to destroy ivory stockpiles by burning them in 1989, it was a hugely symbolic act that inspired the global ban in ivory trade the following year. This demonstration of commitment by an African nation played a key role in galvanising largely successful efforts to control elephant poaching over the next decade.

Now that elephants are once again threatened, William’s initiative – if carried out – could help focus the world’s attention on the problem in a similar way. The sight of arguably the world’s most famous family destroying its ivory collection would have a tremendous impact.

Two arguments have been made against the idea. The first objection is that it would be wrong to destroy works of art that are of beauty and cultural value. However, in emergency situations, it is often necessary to destroy things of value in order to achieve a more important objective: the surgeon amputates a diseased limb to save the patient; fire fighters cut down trees to contain a forest fire; nature reserve managers cull a species that is threatening the integrity of the ecosystem. Make no mistake: this is also an emergency. Within a few years, African elephants may well be all but extinct in the wild if no effective action is taken. So this first argument against destroying ivory only holds water if you believe that ivory artworks are more important than elephants. But by destroying works of art you are not destroying the culture that made them, nor the living cultural tradition that they inspire. If the African elephant becomes extinct it will be gone forever: the ecological, cultural, economic – and moral – loss to humanity would be incalculable.

The second argument is that destroying ivory would not help to save the elephants. This argument has to be taken seriously. The fact is that the complexity of the problem makes it hard to know whether any one action taken to resolve it will have the desired effect or not. Development agencies working to save human populations threatened by war and famine describe these situations as “complex emergencies”. They are complex because war, crime, hunger, disease and many other factors interact with each other in often unpredictable ways. This means that agencies have to take difficult decisions in conditions that are highly uncertain. They cannot always be sure, for example, that aid sent in to feed the hungry will not end up being used to buy arms.

The situation of animals threatened by wildlife crime in Africa today is also a complex emergency. The only difference is that the principal victims are not humans but animals. (Although there are also human victims, just as the environment is also a victim in human complex emergencies.) So there is a legitimate concern that destroying ivory will not have the desired effect, but rather serve to increase its value to criminals and thereby make poaching even more lucrative. It is true that our knowledge of what is driving the increased demand for ivory, especially from China, is insufficient. But the recent studies suggest that this fear is unfounded. The demand comes mainly from the “tuhao”, the wealthy middle class who are buying ivory as a long-term investment, just as they are also buying up huge quantities of gold.

Investors in China and elsewhere have to be persuaded that buying ivory is, firstly, morally wrong and, secondly, a bad investment. Prince William’s proposal would contribute to both of these aims. According to best-selling Kenyan author and environmentalist Kuki Gallman:

‘If to make ivory undesirable by putting a stigma on possessing and exhibiting ivory objects – however refined and precious they may be – is the ultimate aim, so as to stop the market that drives the killing, I cannot think of more powerful a gesture than destroying the royal ivory collection.’

In the medium term the aim should be to shut down the ivory market completely, so that it becomes impossible to buy or sell ivory legally anywhere in the world. To deter would-be investors, it is essential to send a clear signal that the ban on ivory trade is forever; which is why it is so important that countries like Tanzania and Botswana that have announced temporary bans on ivory trade extend them and make them permanent. This measure would not deter organise criminals of course, but it would discourage otherwise law-abiding citizens from investing their savings in ivory and result in a huge decrease in global demand.

So bring on the bonfire of royal ivory in front of Buckingham Palace. Better still, why not give other UK institutions and ordinary citizens the chance to demonstrate their support by adding their own ivory to the pyre?

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/africa-wild/2014/feb/19/royal-ivory-prince-william-destruction

Robert Nimkoff races in Rolex 24 for WildlifeDirect

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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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.

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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

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.

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YouTube DirektThe Adventures of Lemi and Tito