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Preview: WWF - News about the conservation of endangered species

WWF - News about the conservation of endangered species



News, publications and job feeds from WWF - the global conservation organization



 



Signs of hope as population of endangered Indus River dolphin jumps in Pakistan

2017-12-12Tue, 12 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000

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Despite severe threats to Indus River dolphins throughout their remaining range, results from a comprehensive WWF survey released today show a dramatic increase in the population of the endangered species – thanks largely to successful, community-based conservation efforts.
 
Following the month-long survey, there are now estimated to be 1,816 Indus River dolphins in Pakistan – 50 per cent more than the 1,200 dolphins estimated after WWF's first census in 2001, when the species appeared to be heading for extinction.
 
"Significantly increasing the number of Indus River dolphins over the past 15 years is a remarkable achievement considering the ever-increasing pressure on the river and the species, and shows that progress is possible when governments, conservationist and communities work together," said Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan.
 
"While celebrating this national success, we must not forget that there are still less than 2,000 Indus River dolphins in the world and we need to redouble our efforts to tackle all the threats to their survival and ensure their numbers continue to rise," added Khan.
 
Also known as the blind dolphin, the Indus River dolphin is listed as endangered in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species with all the remaining dolphins in Pakistan except for a tiny isolated population of around 30 in India's Beas River.
 
Currently confined to just 20 per cent of their natural habitat range due to the construction of numerous dams and barrages along the Indus River, the dolphins are also threatened by worsening water pollution, stranding in irrigation canals and accidentally becoming caught in fishing nets.
 
Faced with all these threats, WWF has spearheaded an innovative and collaborative approach to save the species, integrating research, effective law enforcement, and, critically, community engagement. Since 1992, WWF-Pakistan and the Sindh Wildlife Department have led a dolphin rescue programme, which has successfully saved 131 dolphins from being stranded in irrigation canals and safely released them back into the river. A dolphin monitoring network in collaboration with local communities and a 24-hour phone helpline have also been established.
 
"Indus River dolphin numbers would still be decreasing if it were not for the active participation of communities along the river: they are our eyes and ears and have helped to brink these iconic animals back from the brink," said Khan. "Our efforts to save the dolphin are also critical for these communities since the species is an indicator of the health of the river, upon which tens of millions of people depend."
 
Led by WWF, the survey took place from 20 March to 13 April 2017 during low water season when the dolphins are most concentrated and easiest to count. A team of 20 scientists and researchers from WWF-Pakistan, Zoological Survey of Pakistan, and provincial wildlife departments travelled in four boats covering the Indus River dolphin range from the Chashma to Sukkur barrages. Data was recorded by four observers watching from viewing platforms on two boats that travelled downstream in tandem


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Consumers in China support upcoming ivory ban, but awareness is low, largest-ever ivory consumer survey finds

2017-12-12Tue, 12 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000

The world's largest legal ivory market is closing down at the end of this month, meaning that all trade in ivory in China will be illegal from the 1 January 2018. The ban is widely hailed by the international community as a game changer that could help to stop elephant poaching and reverse the decline of African elephant populations.As the landmark ban on domestic ivory trade comes into effect, TRAFFIC and WWF surveys found that there is widespread support in China; 86% of those surveyed agree with the ban after reading about it and it's looking promising that the new law will significantly reduce ivory buying. However, the majority of citizens are still unaware of the upcoming ban, making it essential in the coming months for everyone to play their role in spreading the word. The research, "Demand under the Ban: China ivory consumption research 2017," also found that ivory purchasing has dropped in the last three years in major cities like Beijing and Chengdu, where regulations might be stricter and there is more awareness about the upcoming ivory trade ban. But, ivory buying has moved from these metropolitan cities to regional cities in China; this shift in demand can be expected to continue. "China has shown great leadership on this urgent issue within a region plagued by illegal wildlife trade activity, which is exacerbated by legal markets. It is a huge step forward and a clear commitment to securing a future for Africa's elephants.  Yet, it's clear that the next few months will be absolutely critical for the ban to be effectively enforced and communicated." Margaret Kinnaird, WWF Wildlife Practice Leader said.  "We remain confident that as the doors to the largest legal ivory trade close, we start 2018 a step closer to securing a world where demand for ivory is significantly reduced."Recent market surveys from TRAFFIC suggest that many people still have little knowledge about the legality issues around ivory. This means as part of TRAFFIC and WWF's work, in line with the Chinese government, it will be vital to improve understanding and knowledge about the ivory trade ban."By closing its ivory markets, China is showing its commitment to end its role in the poaching epidemic plaguing Africa's elephants," said Ginette Hemley, WWF US Senior Vice President and TRAFFIC Board Member. "It is now critical that efforts to enact an ivory trade ban should be accompanied by efforts to change consumer behaviour in order to reduce demand."The  survey, conducted by GlobeScan, found that close to 1 in 5 people say they still intend to purchase ivory even after the ban is implemented. However, 62% of these are willing to reconsider their future purchase, suggesting the potential and importance of being able to influence them to change their mind with impactful messages."In this context, raising awareness about the law and the consequences of violating the law could provide an important enabling environment for an ivory trade ban in China to influence consumer behaviour," said Zhou Fei , Head of TRAFFIC China Programme and WWF China Wildlife Trade Programme.According to  a TRAFFIC report released earlier this year, Revisiting China's Ivory Markets in 2017, the number of ivory items offered for sale—in both legal and illegal ivory markets in China—has declined alongside falling ivory prices after the announcement of the ban.  "It is gratifying that China's domestic ivory ban is on track and in place now. It is vital to be vigilant in monitoring its impacts as many challenges remain, such as ensuring stockpiled ivory is prevented from illegally entering markets at home or abroad," said Zhou Fei.TRAFFIC and WWF are working to support ivory trade decisions under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which calls for closure of all legal domestic markets for ivory that are contributing to poaching or illegal trade."Given the leadership role that China plays across Asia-Pacific, we expect the Chinese ban to [...]


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First ever tagging of Amazon dolphins to boost conservation efforts

2017-12-05Tue, 05 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000

(image) For the first time ever, WWF and research partners  are now tracking river dolphins in the Amazon using satellite technology after scientists successfully tagged dolphins in Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia, attaching small transmitters that will provide new insights into the animals' movements and behaviour and the growing threats they face.

As of today, 11 dolphins, including both Amazonian and Bolivian river dolphins – two of the four species of freshwater dolphin found in the world's largest river system – have safely been tagged and researchers are already studying the incoming data.

Despite their iconic status, little is known about the populations, habits or key habitats of river dolphins in the Amazon. While there are estimated to be tens of thousands of river dolphins, the species are currently listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The tags will enable WWF and its partners to study where the dolphins go, where they feed, and how far they migrate.

"Satellite tracking will help us better understand the lives of this iconic Amazonian species more than ever before, helping to transform our approach to protecting them and the entire ecosystem," said Marcelo Oliveira, WWF Conservation Specialist, who led the expedition in Brazil. "Tagging these dolphins is the start of a new era for our work because we will finally be able to map where they go when they disappear from sight."

The tracking data will also guide efforts to tackle some of the major threats facing river dolphins, including hundreds of planned dams that would fragment many of the Amazon's remaining free flowing rivers, worsening mercury contamination from small-scale gold mining, and illegal fishing.

"We who live in the Amazon know that our environment is facing growing and unprecedented threats and that our future is linked to the future of dolphins," said Fernando Trujillo from Fundación Omacha, a Colombian research partner.

"This tagging project is critical because it will generate information that will enable governments across the region to target resources to protect dolphins and their habitats, which so many other species and communities also depend on," added Trujillo.
 
The capture and tagging of the dolphins followed a rigid protocol that prioritises the welfare of the animals. Having been caught in nets by teams of specialists, the dolphins were taken to shore for tagging in an operation lasting 15 minutes on average, before being released back into the water. None of the dolphins were injured during the operation and none displayed any ill effects after release.
 
Along with installing the transmitters, the scientists also took samples from the animals, which they will analyse for mercury levels and general health.

WWF and its partners will assess this historic tagging operation over the coming months and will look to scale it up and tag more dolphins if the technology continues to prove successful. The initiative is the latest step in WWF's long-term efforts to conserve river dolphins across the Amazon.
 
In addition to scientific research, WWF will continue to work with communities, advocate with authorities and promote the creation of new protected areas.


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Snow leopard debate indicates the real need for more research on this elusive cat. But all agree that snow leopards are threatened, and face a high risk of extinction in the wild.

2017-09-14Thu, 14 Sep 2017 00:00:00 +0000

Recent debates have abounded around the snow leopard, with IUCN announcing that based on a reassessment of the species, it will be listed as 'vulnerable' rather than 'endangered' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with some  scientists believing the data better supports an 'endangered' listing.  This debate is no surprise given that much of the  snow leopard's range has yet to be surveyed,  and reiterates the urgent need for increased snow leopard population assessments in these remote mountain habitats. "There must be no mistaking the severity of the situation for the snow leopard in the wild. Unlike other conservation success stories, this change from 'endangered' to 'vulnerable' is due to a reassessment and not yet attributed to an increase in population numbers. The IUCN Red List's threatened categories are sadly reserved for species that at best, are facing a high risk of extinction," said Margaret Kinnaird, WWF's Wildlife Practice Leader.However the most important point is that all scientists agree that snow leopards are threatened, and that they face, at minimum, a 'high risk of extinction in the wild'.  No one doubts the enormous threats facing snow leopards – from increasing human wildlife conflict, poaching, and massive infrastructure development and habitat encroachment, to climate change that has already begun to profoundly affect their range.Kinnaird continues, "The snow leopard will face increasing threats in the coming years, which will further jeopardise its survival. We remain committed to working towards a future which sees snow leopards thriving alongside healthy habitats and flourishing communities."The snow leopard is a key part of a unique and intricate cycle of life across the remote grasslands and snowy ridgelines that stretch from southern Siberia in the North to the Himalayas in the South. These high altitude regions are not only home to a unique assemblage of other wildlife, supporting the livelihoods of local communities but also store more snow and ice than anywhere on the planet other than the poles. This "third pole" is the headwaters for Asia's largest rivers that support billions of people downstream.By recent estimates, as much as 70% of snow leopard habitat could be lost due to climate change by 2070. Communities across high Asia have already begun to face these changes, as more frequent and intense extreme weather, unreliable precipitation, and rapid warming have devastated their livelihoods, destroying crops, livestock, and forcing migration to urban areas. Continuing change as global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise will only place even greater pressure on these communities, ecosystems, and the snow leopard.WWF is also urging governments to ramp up efforts in tackling levels of poaching and human / snow leopard conflict.  A recent TRAFFIC report estimates up to 450 snow leopards are poached every year – part of the same illegal trade which is decimating elephants, rhinos and tigers across Asia and Africa.Increased conflict between people and snow leopards is due to loss of wild prey and shrinking habitats caused by overstocking of rangelands and worsened by the warming temperatures. Lack of wild prey forces snow leopards to kill livestock and mountain communities often retaliate by killing and poisoning them.Whether snow leopards are vulnerable or endangered, there is no debate about the urgency to address the threats to their survival, and develop sustainable pathways that benefit rural communities and support biodiversity conservation.  WWF is committed to working towards this aim, in collaboration with other excellent organizations working on snow leopards and their habitats.[...]


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Snow leopard unites range countries in the battle to save the species

2017-08-29Tue, 29 Aug 2017 00:00:00 +0000

(image) The International Snow Leopard and Ecosystems Forum  came  to a close with all twelve snow leopard range countries uniting to increase efforts to secure a future for the species and its habitat, on which hundreds of millions of people depend. The summit, which took in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan set the stage for critical talks including the urgent need to tackle growing threats to snow leopards such as climate change and unsustainable infrastructure development.

Last week, range governments built on the ambitious goal set in 2013 to secure 20 snow leopard landscapes by 2020.  It has been four years since these countries first brought the plight of this iconic species into the spotlight. Yet, as we pass the half-way point, there remain as few as 4,000 snow leopards and its habitat, which is home to the headwaters of 20 major rivers in Asia and known as the 'world's water towers', continues to shrink.

During the summit, Nepal showed the highest level of commitment towards snow leopard conservation by becoming the first country to launch its climate-smart snow leopard landscape management plan, which will be used as a model for other range countries to adopt.

"Nepal has once again established itself as a leader in conservation, showing much-needed ambition despite facing some of the toughest environmental, economic and political conditions. It sends a clear message to the rest of the world that Nepal is fully committed to safeguarding the snow leopard and its habitat, on which millions of people depend," said Ghana S. Gurung, Conservation Director at WWF-Nepal.

The summit also highlighted that support for the snow leopard and its home isn't isolated to the range countries across Asia. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres sent a strong message of worldwide support, along with a joint petition handover from WWF, Snow Leopard Trust and NABU, which had an unprecedented 202,349 signatories, including Academy Award-winning actor, environmentalist, and WWF-US board member, Leonardo DiCaprio and actress Megan Fox.

"Even in the face of tough geographical and political differences, the drive to safeguard a future for the snow leopard is a shared vision worldwide. There is no doubt the coming years will prove critical for the survival of this iconic big cat. We've reached a pivotal point at which we need to see greater action in order to understand and protect the snow leopard and its vast habitat," comments Rishi Kumar Sharma, WWF's snow leopard lead scientist.

With the whole world watching, WWF now urges all the range countries to bolster efforts; starting by signing the Bishkek Declaration to strengthen commitments and  pave the way for more substantial action in securing 20 snow leopard landscapes by 2020.


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More than 200,000 people worldwide along with leading conservationists and global influencers call for greater action at International Snow Leopard Summit this week

2017-08-22Tue, 22 Aug 2017 00:00:00 +0000

(image) This week world leaders will begin critical talks over the future of the snow leopard and its habitat; the headwaters for rivers that more than 3 billion people depend as a source of freshwater. The International Snow Leopard Summit and Ecosystem Forum, 23- 25 August in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan will see all twelve snow leopard range countries, meet for a second time to strengthen previous commitments to save this beautiful species.  

It has been four years since the range countries first met in 2013, when they committed to an ambitious goal of securing 20 snow leopard landscapes by 2020. This has brought the plight of this iconic, endangered species into the spotlight and created hope that this commitment from the range country governments could set an example of conservation success worldwide. However, as we pass the half-way point, there remains as few as 4,000 snow leopards in the wild and its habitat, which is home to the headwaters of 20 major rivers in Asia and known as the 'world's water towers', continues to shrink.

A joint global petition from WWF, Snow Leopard Trust and NABU, which garnered support from an unprecedented  202,349 people, including Academy Award-winning actor, environmentalist, and WWF board member, Leonardo DiCaprio and actress Megan Fox, calls for increased efforts in tackling major threats to the species.

With high level government officials attending from each range country, the summit provides a unique and rare opportunity to address two of the greatest emerging threats for the snow leopard and its vital habitat; climate change and unstainable infrastructure development. Both of these threats transcend far beyond political borders of countries and need a united approach to succeed.
 
Recent research suggests that climate change could wipe out more than two thirds of snow leopard habitat in the next fifty years. This, coupled with infrastructure projects which could cut ribbons across many of the snow leopard landscapes, mean the coming years will push the species even closer to the brink of survival.
 
WWF is also urging countries at the summit to ramp up efforts in tackling levels of poaching and human / snow leopard conflict.  A recent TRAFFIC report estimates up to 450 snow leopards are poached every year – part of the same illegal trade which is decimating elephants, rhinos and tigers across Asia and Africa.
Increased conflict between people and snow leopards is due to loss of wild prey and shrinking habitats caused by overstocking of rangelands and worsened by the warming temperatures. Lack of wild prey forces snow leopards to kill livestock and mountain communities often retaliate by killing and poisoning them.

Losing this species will incur yet another tragic loss of wildlife due to human activity and will have catastrophic and cascading effects that will not only damage the natural cycle of life in snow leopard habitats but also threaten the already precarious livelihoods of local communities, as well as jeopardise the health of a major source of freshwater for Asia.
 
The Bishkek Declaration which will be signed by all twelve range states at the close of the International Snow Leopard Summit, must pave the way for more substantial action in securing 20 snow leopard landscapes by 2020.

Read more about WWF's work on snow leopards here. 


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China to close over a third of legal ivory factories and shops by today, to remain on track to complete ivory trade ban by end of this year

2017-03-30Thu, 30 Mar 2017 00:00:00 +0000

(image) 31 March: Today marks the end of the first stage in implementing China's ivory trade ban. On March 24, China's State Forestry Administration announced a list of 12 licensed ivory factories (out of 34) and 55 retail ivory shops (out of 143) that are to be closed by the end of March. The rest will be closed by the end of year.

In response to this announcement and to mark the end of the first phase of the trade ban,  Colman O'Criodain, WWF's Policy Manager for the Wildlife Practice, comments:

"China is the world's largest ivory market and its trade ban is a significant conservation win for elephants. We are extremely pleased to see that China has announced the first stage of their ban is on track. Should this progress continue and the ban be fully implemented by the end of this year, we would expect to see a significant reduction in illegal ivory trade, which is fueling the poaching crisis overseas. We strongly encourage other countries that have legal ivory markets that are contributing to the illegal trade to urgently adopt similar bans. This is particularly important for China's immediate neighbours, to prevent its legal ivory stocks going into other markets.

"Law enforcement will be key to ensuring success of this ban and others. It's imperative that we increase
monitoring of illegal sales including online trade and ensure criminals face tough sentences. WWF and TRAFFIC are committed to stopping the rampant poaching of elephants, eradicating consumer desire for ivory and tackling the wider illegal wildlife trade."


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Tanzania's most wanted elephant ivory trafficker sentenced to 12 years in prison

2017-03-03Fri, 03 Mar 2017 00:00:00 +0000

(image) ​Dodoma, Tanzania: One of Tanzania's most notorious ivory traffickers was found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in jail. Boniface Matthew Mariango, who has been referred to by law enforcement officials as "Shetani" or "The Devil," was captured in November 2015 after a manhunt that lasted over one year.

He was accused of being linked to 15 poaching gangs in 5 countries and directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of elephants over the past years. When he was arrested he was found in possession of 118 tusks.

Amani Ngusaru, WWF-Tanzania Country Director, comments:

"WWF congratulates the Tanzanian authorities involved in Shetani's arrest and successful prosecution. Poaching elephants for ivory is robbing Tanzania of its heritage. This prosecution sends out a strong message that Tanzania's authorities are taking it seriously and are working to eliminate poaching in the country."
 
The prosecution of illegal traffickers is a key part in protecting Tanzania's wildlife and returning the elephant population back to the levels it was at before. President Magufuli has strongly supported action against poaching calling on federal security agencies to "arrest all those involved in this illicit trade."
 
Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania's largest protected area, was home to one of the greatest concentrations of African elephants on the continent, but rampant ivory poaching has seen the population reduced by 90 per cent in fewer than 40 years. Nearly 110,000 elephants once roamed the savannahs, wetlands and forests of Selous, but now only about 15,000 remain in the ecosystem. 
 
This is the latest in a string of arrests and prosecutions against wildlife trafficking gangs in Tanzania. 


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Latest official poaching figures show that South Africa is still losing three rhinos a day

2017-02-27Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:00:00 +0000

Today, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs announced that in 2016 1,054 rhinos were reported killed in the country. This is a decline from 1,215 in 2014 and 1,175 in 2015.Enhanced enforcement efforts in the Kruger National Park, one of Africa's biggest wildlife reserves and home to the world's largest population of white rhino, also resulted in a decline in the number of rhinos killed. The number fell from 826 in 2015 to 662 in 2016 (a 20 per cent reduction) despite an increase in the number of reported incursions in the 19 500km2 park.Dr Jo Shaw, Rhino Programme Manager for WWF-SA, comments: "A decade has now passed since the initial upsurge in poaching in South Africa and huge effort has been invested in rhino protection. The toll on those working to address the challenge in the region is also unsustainably high."Committed conservationists have been defending wildlife at great personal cost. While military-style interventions may provide wins in the short term, these come with longer-term financial and socio-economic costs on both people living around protected areas and other conservation efforts. Ultimately, a more holistic approach is required in addressing the drivers of wildlife crime."However, despite showing some positive progress, rhino populations remain perilously close to the tipping point. The latest figures also highlight the impacts of poaching sweeping across South Africa, as criminal syndicates shift their focus in response to law enforcement actions. Key populations in KwaZulu-Natal in particular bore the brunt of the poaching, with 161 rhinos killed in the province during 2016 – an increase of 38 per cent from the previous year.Dr Margaret Kinnaird, Wildlife Practice Leader, at WWF International, comments:"We cannot win the fight against poaching without addressing the demand for illicit rhino horn. Lack of global action to control transnational wildlife trafficking is failing the people protecting rhinos on the ground. In addition to on-going anti-poaching efforts at country level, we need to see tougher law enforcement and prosecutions of people implicated in the trafficking and use of rhino horn, particularly in consumer countries such as Viet Nam."Corruption continues to hamper efforts at all levels. This year will see greater collaborative partnerships between conservation and anti-corruption communities to deepen understanding of corruption risks and mitigation strategies."--- ends ---Notes to editor:For the full details from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs see https://www.environment.gov.za/mediarelease/molewa_progressonintegrated_strategicmanagement_ofrhinocerosFor more information please contact:Lianne Mason | WWF | lmason@wwf.org.uk | (+44) 7771818699About WWFWWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.panda.org/news for latest news and media resources[...]


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New field ranger training guidelines, could save the lives of those on the front line of the poaching battle

2017-02-08Wed, 08 Feb 2017 00:00:00 +0000

Over the past decade, more than 1,000 rangers have been killed on duty*, with 80 per cent murdered by poachers and armed militia groups. This tragic loss of life underlines the need for well-trained and well-equipped anti-poaching rangers.The team of experts who developed this resource have over a century of combined experience and are amongst the most respected wildlife rangers in the world. This is the first in a series of guidelines that will be rolled out worldwide by the International Ranger Federation, the Global Tiger Forum, Thin Green Line Foundation, PAMS Foundation and WWF.Sean Willmore, President - International Ranger Federation, comments:"The illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products is resulting in significant declines in the populations of many species across the globe. For example, the levels of poaching of elephants, rhinos, pangolins and tigers are threatening these species with extinction in the wild. Anti-poaching training needs to be effective so that protected area authorities and rangers can better safeguard wildlife from this grave threat."The illegal wildlife trade is the fourth most lucrative criminal trade and estimated to be worth at least USD $19 billion per year. Poachers targeting iconic species such as elephants, rhinos and tigers are using increasingly sophisticated techniques and violent tactics to fulfil their missions. The deployment of insufficiently trained rangers has at times resulted in the failure of operations, serious injuries and even death. Many rangers still have no insurance today; should they suffer injuries – or even death – they would no longer able to provide for their families.Dr Rajesh Gopal, Secretary General – Global Tiger Forum, comments: "The stark reality for rangers means facing the threat of serious injury or the loss of life on a daily basis. Very often, operations fail due to lack of training, funding and staffing. This must change if we hope to protect our wildlife and greatly improve the lives of those striving to do so."Last year, WWF carried out the first ever Ranger Perception Surveys that were completed by wildlife rangers across Asia and Africa. The results revealed that most rangers had faced a life-threatening situation while on duty, and believe that they are underequipped. Nearly half felt they lacked adequate training to do their jobs safely and effectively.Wayne Lotter: PAMS Foundation "It is essential that rangers have the essential skills and tools training to do their job safely and successfully. The development of the best practice guidelines represents a landmark step in the process towards ensuring that anti-poaching rangers get the level of training they deserve."Field ranger basic training is the most important part of the development of field rangers. It prepares them for the actual circumstances that they will encounter during the day-to-day tasks to be performed once employed as field rangers.Field rangers play a critical role in safeguarding the world's most endangered species. Recent figures revealed around 20,000 elephants are poached every year in Africa. Since Selous Game Reserve became a World Heritage site in 1982, nearly 90% of its elephants have been lost mainly due to poaching. Selous now risks losing its World Heritage status. Across Asia, the 13 tiger ranger countries are working tirelessly to double tiger numbers by 2022 - the illegal wildlife trade is one of the greatest threats with recent progress hanging on a knife edge due to this illicit activity. -ENDS-Notes to EditorMore about the Training Guidelines for Field RangersThe Training Guidelines for Field Rangers is the first of a series of guidelines to provide a standard for training field rangers. These guidelines are the result of a collaborative initiative from International Ranger Federation, G[...]


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Nepal announces new ambitious action plan to help secure future for its snow leopards

2017-01-20Fri, 20 Jan 2017 00:00:00 +0000

The Snow Leopard Conservation Action Plan 2017-2021 sets the stage for Nepal to achieve its goal of ensuring that at least 100 snow leopards of breeding age populate each three of its landscapes by 2020. This commitment was made under the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP), a combined effort of all twelve snow leopard range countries. Prime Minister of Nepal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal comments: "Snow leopards are the guardians of the water towers and the indicator of the health of the ecosystem. Thus it is not just the responsibility of a handful of snow leopard range nations to protect the snow leopard habitat. It is the need of everyone who needs clean air and water." The action plan will address the urgent need to continue research and monitoring using cutting-edge technology; improve habitat and corridors; mitigate conflict through community engagement; reduce wildlife crimes; and, strengthen trans-boundary coordination and cooperation. This all-encompassing new plan is estimated to cost $3.15 million. To date Nepal has achieved many milestones in conservation, including satellite telemetry of snow leopards, innovative livestock insurance schemes, and increased participation of communities in research and conservation. Man Bahadur Khadka, Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation comments: "The Snow Leopard Conservation Action Plan 2017-2021 will continue to provide crucial guidance to carry on the good work done by the country in the past decade, supported by its people and organizations like National Trust for Nature Conservation and WWF Nepal." The updated action plan has been prepared by a technical team formed by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, with consultations at local to national levels, and interviews with key government officials, partner organizations and individual experts. WWF Nepal provided financial and technical support for the effort. Earlier this week, the Government of Nepal also presented the status of its climate-integrated landscape management plan to secure snow leopard ecosystem in the Eastern Conservation Landscape*, discussing it with practitioners from the twelve snow leopard range countries. The landscape management plan is informed by geospatial, hydrological and climate models, and shows shifts in snow leopard habitats in various climate change scenarios. Ghana Shyam Gurung, Senior Conservation Director for WWF Nepal, comments:  "Together, these two plans will bolster Nepal's efforts to ensure that snow leopards thrive, even in the face of complex challenges like climate change. We are honoured to play a key role in this critical government effort and will continue our support to save this beautiful cat." The GSLEP steering committee meeting and landscape management planning workshops hosted by Nepal are both geared towards preparation for a Global Snow Leopard Summit of the twelve range nations, to be hosted by Kyrgyzstan on September 7 and 8, 2017. -ends- Notes to editor: *Development of the landscape management plan is supported by USAID, as part of the Conservation and Adaptation in Asia's High Mountains project. For more information please contact: Lianne Mason| lmason@wwf.org.uk | +44 7771818699 About WWFWWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reducti[...]


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Wildlife crime makes debut at International Anti-Corruption Conference

2016-12-06Tue, 06 Dec 2016 00:00:00 +0000

In a major boost to global efforts to fight wildlife crime, a consortium of 11 organizations shone a light on illicit financial flows and corruption during the 17th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Panama (1st-4st December 2016) — identifying a series of steps to help tackle the scourge. The unprecedented workshop was the first time that illicit financial flows and corruption in wildlife crime, including fisheries, had been part of the official agenda of an IACC. Entitled Shared planet, shared responsibility: creating multi-stakeholder alliances to combat wildlife, forest and fisheries crime, the event was a collaborative initiative, involving 11 partners including TRAFFIC and co-ordinated by WWF under the auspices of the 3C Network for Countering Conservation-related Corruption. Moderated by Juan Carlos Navarro, the former Mayor of Panama City, and Nicole Botha, Senior Advisor on Anticorruption and Integrity with GIZ, the session discussed how corruption occurs at every stage of living natural resource value chains and looked at the role of both grand and petty corruption in enabling wildlife, forest and fisheries crime. Funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), USAID through the Wildlife, Trafficking, Response, Assessment and Priority Setting Project (Wildlife TRAPS) implemented by TRAFFIC, Transparency International and WWF, the workshop provided a platform for a participatory approach from the conservation, financial and anti-corruption communities to deepen understanding of corruption, links to illicit flows and entry points to tackle it. Critically, it highlighted how illicit financial flows associated with wildlife crime exacerbate poverty and economic disparities, and undermine resource management plans and legal trade regimes, threatening food security and the economic, environmental and social pillars of sustainable development."This meeting highlights the growing international recognition that wildlife crime is not simply an environmental matter: it carries with it all the trappings of serious, organized crime and needs to be dealt with accordingly," said TRAFFIC's Wildlife TRAPS Project Leader, Nick Ahlers."Political corruption and systemic governmental corruption are pervasive facilitators of wildlife and fisheries crime, providing the enabling environment for supply chain corruption," said Robert Barrington, CEO, Transparency International - UK."This workshop provided the platform for diverse experts from the conservation, financial, anti-corruption and judicial sectors to come together and demonstrate that there is a common language and a shared goal – only by working together can we make real headway," said Rob Parry-Jones, WWF Global Policy Lead, Wildlife Crime Initiative.Indeed, greater collaboration was the key recommendation of the workshop and its high level panel, including Mrs Dorcas Agik Oduor, Kenya's Deputy Director Public Prosecutions, Tom Keatinge, Director of the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, Dr Gail Lugten, an expert in international fisheries law from the University of Tasmania, James Swenson, Head of Financial Crime and Reputational Risk Managed Services at Thomson Reuters, Candice Welsch of UNODC, and Sebastian Wegner from the Fisheries Transparency Initiative. The workshop outcomes recommended that anti-corruption, financial and conservation communities must join forces to deepen understanding of what types of corruption occur where and how, and the links between wildlife crime, illicit financial flows and associated financial crime.The conservation community could contribute to efforts in the private sector, [...]


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Collaboration key to tackling corruption and financial crime in wildlife crime

2016-12-01Thu, 01 Dec 2016 00:00:00 +0000

Increasingly recognised as the main enabler of wildlife crime, corruption is gaining increasing prominence in the global conservation agenda with a series of high level international agreements highlighting its critical role in facilitating wildlife crime. Despite this global policy focus, anti-corruption approaches are still not being effectively incorporated into conservation planning. One of the main reasons is a lack of strategic collaboration between conservationists and anti-corruption experts – a fact that is highlighted in a new publication by the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre and will be discussed by a high level panel at the 17th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Panama on December 2nd. Published this week, The resource bites back: Entry-points for addressing corruption in wildlife crime identifies entry-points for addressing corruption in wildlife crime based on recent anti-corruption effectiveness literature, including the establishment of credible corruption risk assessment and corruption risk management procedures to improve wildlife conservation programming. Written by Aled Williams (U4/Chr. Michelsen Institute), Rob Parry-Jones (WWF Wildlife Crime Initiative) and Dilys Roe (International Institute for Environment and Development), the publication details how existing studies tend to discuss corruption associated with wildlife crime through a conservation lens. "Only very few discuss corruption and wildlife crime through an explicit anti-corruption lens and even here, the majority of authors come from a conservation rather than an anti-corruption background," say the authors. Limited collaboration and cross-fertilization of ideas and methods between the wildlife conservation and anti-corruption policy and practice communities "undermines the identification and promotion of effective measures to address corruption in wildlife crime." Researchers, policy-makers and practitioners in each of these communities can play a role in generating new and useful empirical evidence, in sharing lessons from experience, in proposing and helping implement innovative policy and practice solutions, and in monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of these interventions over time. While there have been some recent efforts to enhance cross-fertilization – particularly through the newly-created 3C Network for Countering Conservation-related Corruption that was convened by WWF International, Transparency International-UK and the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) – there is still limited exposure of the wildlife conservation community to the most recent anti-corruption effectiveness debates and vice versa. This is why the cross-sectoral workshop at the IACC on corruption and illicit financial flows in wildlife crime, including fisheries, is so critical. For the first time, this topic will be on the official agenda of the conference – the world's premier forum for civil society, governments and the private sector working together to fight corruption. Entitled Shared planet, shared responsibility: creating multi-stakeholder alliances to combat wildlife, forest and fisheries crime, the workshop is a collaborative multi-stakeholder approach from a consortium of 11 partners, coordinated by WWF under the auspices of the 3C network. It will bring renowned experts from across the globe together to seek to identify solutions and highlight shared responsibility across the wildlife conservation, anti-corruption, anti-illicit trade, and anti-organized crime communities.Along with enhancing everyone's understanding of the types of corruption in the wildlife sector and their environmental and human impact, the sessio[...]


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No reduction in poaching pressure as African elephant population keeps falling

2016-11-22Tue, 22 Nov 2016 00:00:00 +0000

The overall African elephant population plummeted by over 20 per cent in the past decade, falling to an estimated 415,000 mainly due to a dramatic surge in ivory poaching. According to the IUCN, around 111,000 elephants were lost between 2006-2015 with the largest declines in Central Africa, Tanzania and Mozambique, with the majority being illegally killed for their tusks to meet rising demand for ivory in Asia. Despite increasing national and international efforts to stop the killing and the illegal ivory trade, there have been few signs of any sustained reduction in the overall poaching pressure across Africa, although some countries, such as Kenya, have managed to cut poaching rates. Around 20,000 elephants are now being poached each year across Africa. While this new figure is less than estimates for previous years, it is still an unsustainable number – an ongoing slaughter that is driving the continent's elephant population lower and lower. Based on data and analysis in a recent report by the CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme, the lower number does not represent any lessening in the overall poaching threat. Instead, it indicates that poachers are now unable to find and kill as many elephants as before since there are fewer roaming the continent, with the majority living in southern African countries that have avoided the worst of the poaching crisis until now. The new figure certainly does not suggest that Africa has brought the poaching crisis under control. There is still an urgent need for African countries to scale up their efforts to tackle poaching and target the trafficking kingpins, while consumer countries in Asia must rapidly act to reduce the demand fuelling the crisis by closing their domestic ivory markets and cracking down on the illegal trade. Indeed, there are already indications that poachers – and the transnational organized crime networks driving the illegal trade – are turning their attention to the sizeable elephant populations in previously secure parts of southern Africa.  There has been an increase in the killing of elephants in South Africa's Kruger National Park and reports of poaching incidents in Botswana, which boasts the largest population of elephants on the continent. Furthermore, there is anecdotal evidence of an emerging trade in elephant skin and bones, which would add to the poaching threat. "This lower estimate for the number of elephants poached each year is no cause for cheer or complacency: tens of thousands of elephants are still being killed and the overall population is falling," said Margaret Kinnaird, WWF Wildlife Practice Leader. "The poaching crisis is very far from over." Indeed, analysis by TRAFFIC has shown that the global ivory trade continued unabated in 2015 (the latest year analysed), while Viet Nam seized five shipments of ivory this October alone – amounting to 4.5 tonnes. "There has been some progress in recent years with growing international momentum to tackle the illegal ivory trade and an increasing number of countries taking concrete steps to strengthen their anti-poaching and anti-trafficking efforts," added Kinnaird."But we are not winning yet. And Africa's elephants cannot survive if around 20,000 of them continue to be killed each year."[...]


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Asian infrastructure boom could be end of the road for tigers

2016-11-22Tue, 22 Nov 2016 00:00:00 +0000

With massive infrastructure plans threatening all tiger landscapes and risking recent gains in tiger conservation, Asian governments must adopt a sustainable approach to infrastructure planning and construction or drive tigers toward extinction, according to a new analysis by WWF. Released at the halfway point of an ambitious global effort to double the number of wild tigers between 2010 and 2022, The Road Ahead: Protecting Tigers from Asia's Infrastructure Development Boom highlights the unprecedented threat posed by a vast network of planned infrastructure across the continent. Around 11,000 kilometres of roads and railways are on the drawing board, along with new canals, oil and gas pipelines, and power lines. Part of a projected US$8 trillion in projected infrastructure spending across Asia from 2012 through 2020, this infrastructure would cut through every existing tiger habitat, increasing habitat fragmentation, poaching and conflict with communities. "The global collaboration to double wild tigers has transformed tiger conservation and given the species a real chance of survival, but the scale of Asia's infrastructure plans could destroy all the recent gains as well as hopes for the future of wild tigers," said Mike Baltzer, leader of WWF's Tiger's Alive Initiative. "Infrastructure is central to Asia's development, but we need to ensure it is sustainable and does not come at the expense of tigers and tiger landscapes." The release of the analysis comes on the anniversary of the 2010 'Tiger Summit' in St Petersburg, Russia, where global leaders and representatives of all 13 tiger range governments committed to the Tx2 goal to double wild tigers by 2022.The new analysis marks the midway point in this global effort, warning that new challenges lie ahead for tigers and Asia's rich natural heritage – a vital lifeline for millions of people across the continent. Governments need to act now or face all of their work unravelling as unsustainable construction breaks down the natural systems that tigers represent. At the time of the summit, there were as few as 3,200 tigers in the wild – down from 100,000 just a century before. But over the past six years, tigers have shown signs of recovery in a number of critical landscapes and countries thanks to better management of protected areas, regional endorsement of the Zero Poaching approach, greatly improved monitoring capacity and enhanced efforts to tackle tiger trafficking.There are now an estimated 3,890 tigers in the wild, with numbers inching up in India, Russia, Nepal and Bhutan. But the situation remains precarious. India has lost 76 tigers to poachers already this year, while China, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia, with less than 500 tigers between them, could lose their tigers in the next decade, especially if poorly-designed infrastructure plans are given the green light. Produced for WWF by Dalberg Global Development Advisors, the analysis calls on Asian governments to pursue a sustainable path that promotes development, while also protecting tigers and their habitats, which benefit millions of people across the region. According to the analysis, protecting tiger landscapes from harmful infrastructure will preserve their economic and environmental value, benefiting communities across the continent, including many indigenous groups. "Countries must urgently integrate the conservation of tigers and tiger landscapes into their development planning," said Baltzer. "The good news is that solutions exist and it is not too late. But if countries do not act now, the damage will be irreparable." WWF is calling for tiger range states to incorpor[...]


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Global petition calls for Viet Nam to end illegal wildlife trade

2016-11-18Fri, 18 Nov 2016 00:00:00 +0000

(image) With Viet Nam under intense international pressure to tackle rampant wildlife crime, over 225,000 people have signed a WWF petition calling on the authorities in Hanoi to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade.
 
In recent years, Viet Nam has become a major global wildlife trafficking hub, with rhino horns, ivory tusks, tiger parts and pangolin scales openly for sale in the country or being smuggled through it to other markets, particularly China.
 
But very little has been done to stop this. Indeed, there has not been a single recorded prosecution of any rhino horn or ivory trafficking kingpins, despite all the available evidence, including material gathered by the Wildlife Justice Commission during its investigations.
 
Dismayed by Viet Nam's failure to act, over a quarter of a million people from 154 countries added their voices to WWF's call for urgent measures to be taken.
 
Addressed to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the petition was officially handed over to the Vietnamese authorities the day before an international illegal wildlife trade conference in Hanoi began– demonstrating that people around the world are watching what is happening in Viet Nam.
 
As the petition said: "Concrete action from Viet Nam could play a critical role in tackling the poaching crisis that not only threatens Africa's rhinos and elephants but also endangers communities by robbing them of their natural heritage and livelihoods. It is time to act."
 
The petition was deliberately timed to coincide with the Hanoi conference to build as much international pressure as possible on the Vietnamese authorities to act.
 
And they did announce some important steps during the meeting, pledging to strictly monitor domestic markets and eradicate illegal wildlife trade points, strengthen law enforcement, and improve cross border cooperation.
 
But much more still needs to be done.
 
"Viet Nam can no longer turn a blind eye to wildlife crime because the world is watching," said Kirsten Schuijt, CEO of WWF Netherlands, which was the driving force behind the petition.
 
"Viet Nam has committed to combating wildlife crime and taken some significant steps recently but the government needs to do more to close down illegal markets where threatened wildlife products are being sold, as well as pursue the prosecution of the organized criminals driving the trade."


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WWF Reaction to the Hanoi Statement on Wildlife Crime

2016-11-17Thu, 17 Nov 2016 00:00:00 +0000

(image)
Statement from Colman O'Criodain, WWF Wildlife Practice Policy Manager 

The Hanoi Statement on Illegal Wildlife Trade that was released on November 17th is a good step forward with major commitments from donor countries – including the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany – to contribute extra funding to the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), Interpol and key countries, including Viet Nam, to expand their efforts to tackle the poaching crisis and illegal wildlife trade. 

However, the number of countries that have made concrete, binding commitments, and the lack of ambition of most of those commitments, is disappointing. 

Viet Nam's decision to host the international conference is admirable and it has helped shine a much needed light on the illegal wildlife trade across the Greater Mekong Region – a trade that is emptying forests of wildlife and impacting species such as rhinos, elephants and pangolins in Africa.

But as the host country and a major hub of illegal wildlife trade, Viet Nam needed to commit to more concrete action plans that will have an impact on the ground.

It did pledge to strictly monitor domestic markets and eradicate illegal wildlife trade points, strengthen law enforcement, improve cross border cooperation, but much more detail is needed, especially on legislative reform and the closure of tiger farms. 

In the wider Greater Mekong Region, we had hoped for strong commitments to close the most visible part of the illegal wildlife trade chain – the markets, restaurants and shops that openly sell ivory, tiger skins, rhino horn, pangolin scales and dozens of other endangered species.  It is regrettable that more countries across the region did not use this golden opportunity to announce specific timebound measures to close domestic ivory markets and tiger farms.


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Viet Nam and all Greater Mekong countries must close illegal wildlife markets

2016-11-16Wed, 16 Nov 2016 00:00:00 +0000

Already facing intense global scrutiny for its failure to tackle rampant wildlife crime, the Vietnamese government is under increasing pressure to announce concrete steps to crack down on the trafficking of rhino horn, ivory and tiger parts during the international conference on illegal wildlife trade starting today in Hanoi. One of the world's major wildlife trafficking hubs, Viet Nam conducted its first destruction of seized ivory and rhino horn the weekend before the conference but it has made little effort so far to shut down its illegal wildlife markets or target major traders and smugglers of illicit wildlife products.The other countries in the Greater Mekong region – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand – have also failed to close their illegal wildlife markets, which openly sell body parts from hundreds of threatened species. All of them will be in the spotlight at the high-level Hanoi Conference, when representatives from 54 nations will meet to review their progress toward commitments to tackle wildlife crime made at the London Conference in 2014 and the Kasane Conference in 2015. "Viet Nam can no longer turn a blind eye to wildlife crime because the world is watching: the government must use this conference to signal a new start by announcing concrete plans to end the rhino horn and ivory trade and close all tiger farms," said Thinh Van Ngoc, WWF Vietnam Country Director."The destruction event was a step in the right direction, but Viet Nam should use this conference to launch a concerted campaign against wildlife crime and other countries in the Greater Mekong region should follow suit – starting with a clear commitment to close their notorious illegal wildlife markets, particularly in the Golden Triangle." Last month, because of its role as the main destination country for trafficked rhino horn, Viet Nam was given an ultimatum by governments from across the world to tackle rhino horn trade or face the threat of trade sanctions under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).This week it came under pressure to act from a coalition of local organisations as well as 225,000 people who signed a global WWF petition, which was handed to the Vietnamese authorities the day before the conference. The Wildlife Justice Commission also held a public hearing into the wealth of evidence it had gathered during an investigation into the illegal wildlife trade in Viet Nam. Highlighting its growing role in the illegal ivory trade, Viet Nam seized five major shipments in October totalling over 4.5 tonnes. However, the country has still not reported a single prosecution of an ivory or rhino horn trafficking kingpin. "While seizing this huge haul of ivory shows that some law enforcement efforts are bearing fruit, it also demonstrates that Viet Nam's weak laws and poor prosecution record are encouraging organised crime syndicates to traffic large amounts of illegal wildlife products through the country," said Kanitha Krishnasamy, Senior Programme Manager with TRAFFIC, based in Southeast Asia."Enforcement is one part of the solution: At the Hanoi conference, end-user countries must also demonstrate what actions they have undertaken as part of their international commitments to shut down the demand that is fuelling wildlife crime."Despite growing international momentum to tackle wildlife crime, the global poaching crisis and surge in illegal wildlife trade show few signs of abating – largely because many countries are not living up to their commitments. At least 1[...]


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Surge in seizures of captive-bred tigers strengthens call for Asia to close all tiger farms

2016-11-15Tue, 15 Nov 2016 00:00:00 +0000

With commercial tiger breeding in Asia threatening the future of the world's remaining wild tigers, governments must announce concrete steps to close all the continent's tiger farms within the next three years at the international conference on illegal wildlife trade starting tomorrow in Viet Nam.A full TRAFFIC report released today on tiger trafficking found that an estimated 30 per cent of tigers seized between 2012 and 2015 were reported to come from captive breeding facilities, highlighting their growing role in the illegal trade. While complicating enforcement activities, tiger farms also legitimise the sale of tiger parts and products, which drives up demand."There is no longer any doubt that tiger farms are stimulating and expanding the illegal tiger trade or that they should all be closed down," said Michael Baltzer, Leader of WWF's Tigers Alive Initiative. "The Hanoi Conference is the perfect platform for governments to commit to shutting Asia's tiger farms, which would contribute enormously to the survival and recovery of tigers in the wild."Tigers will be high on the agenda at the conference in Viet Nam. Despite enhanced regional efforts to stop the poaching and trafficking, the Reduced to Skin and Bones Re-examined report indicated that an average of 110 tigers were killed and traded each year since 2000. And the true number is surely higher since these figures come from reported seizures, while much of the trade goes undetected.Viet Nam has also become an increasingly significant hub for tiger trafficking and home to a growing number of tiger farms – close to 40 per cent of the country's reported seizures came from captive facilities. Its role in the illegal tiger trade was highlighted by the Wildlife Justice Commission at its public hearing this week in The Hague. Overall, there are estimated to be more than 7,000 tigers in farms in Asia, mostly in China, Laos, Thailand and Viet Nam."The rising number of tigers suspected to be from captive sources is a sure indication that these farms are leaky. This is most prominent in Laos, Thailand and Viet Nam," said Kanitha Krishnasamy, author of the TRAFFIC report.In October, Laos announced that it would close its tiger farms, while Thailand has initiated investigations into all of its captive breeding facilities after shocking discoveries at the Tiger Temple earlier this year, including finding the corpses of 40 tiger cubs preserved in jars."Thailand and Laos have already signalled an end to tiger farming: Viet Nam should join them and help lead efforts to ban commercial tiger breeding across Asia," said Thinh Van Ngoc, Country Director of WWF Viet Nam. "There are no more excuses for allowing tiger farms to operate. The evidence is clear, while technical and financial assistance is available – all that's needed is the political will."On November 23rd, the world will mark the 6th anniversary of the groundbreaking "Tiger Summit" in St Petersburg and the halfway point of the global Tx2 campaign to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022 – the most ambitious and visionary recovery programme created for a single species.For the first time in a century, global wild tiger numbers have increased slightly. But with only an estimated 3,890 in the wild, the species is still far from safe, particularly as poaching shows no signs of abating. Indeed, India has reported 76 tigers poached this year – its highest figure for 6 years."Decades of campaigning and on-the ground efforts to halt tiger poaching have achieved some significant successes, but the threat remains a[...]


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Tanzanian president leads crackdown on elephant poaching

2016-11-04Fri, 04 Nov 2016 00:00:00 +0000

(image) While inspecting the country's seized ivory stockpile this week, Tanzanian President Dr John Pombe Magufuli ordered law enforcement officials to crack down on elephant poaching and trafficking syndicates. 
 
"We are not going to allow our natural resources to be depleted," Magufuli said, while offering federal security agencies his full support and urging them to "arrest all those involved in this illicit trade."
 
"I am behind you," he said, "protect our elephants from being slaughtered."
 
A number of significant poaching arrests have been made across the country in recent weeks, and have led to the seizure of at least 50 pieces of ivory.
 
Last month, Magufuli visited the Dar es Salaam airport, a major transnational trafficking point, to ensure that security officials were able to detect concealed ivory.
 
Although Tanzania's elephant populations have suffered significantly from industrial-scale poaching, Magufuli said he was confident that the crime would soon be "history."
 
Selous Game Reserve, for example, has lost almost 90 per cent of its elephants in recent decades, but poaching rates appear to be slowing.  
 
"WWF congratulates President Magufuli for his leadership and the actions taken by his government in tackling poaching and saving elephants," said Amani Ngusaru, WWF-Tanzania Country Director. "He continues to demonstrate his support and drive positive action to the eliminating poaching in Tanzania." 
 
WWF is working in partnership with the Tanzanian government to save Selous Game Reserve from industrial threats, including poaching of elephants.
 
A WWF study released last week found that investing in elephant conservation brings significant economic returns. In East African countries like Tanzania, for every dollar invested in protecting elephants yields back $1.78. 


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