Category: Poaching


Dozens more dead cubs have been found at Thailand’s controversial Tiger Temple, this time in jars containing liquid, as authorities continue their raid on the tourist attraction.

The exact number of cubs found varies. The Bangkok Post reports that 30 cubs were discovered, whereas wildlife charities put the number at 50.

This find follows Wednesday’s discovery of 40 tiger cub carcasses, which were found in a freezer at the Buddhist temple, located in the Kanchanaburi province.

Wildlife officials are continuing with their raid on the temple as they remove tigers from the facility in a move to bring the animals under state control.

On Thursday police caught a monk trying to flee the temple in a truck carrying animal skins and teeth.

Hundreds of amulets containing tiger body parts, including a range of skins and fangs, were found in the vehicle.

A post on Tiger Temple’s Facebook page reads: “The recent discovery of the tiger skins and necklaces comes as a shock to us as well as the rest of the world. We are disgusted at this discovery and we don’t condone this.

“We are looking forward to the authorities bringing the culprits to justice.”

Charity Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) says that there are concerns as to the whereabouts of 20 live tiger cubs who are missing from the Tiger Temple.

The temple denies allegations that they have sold the cubs.

Tiger Temple promotes itself as a wildlife sanctuary, but in recent years it has been investigated for suspected links to wildlife trafficking and animal abuse.

Wildlife charities and animal welfare groups have been condemning the facility for years, as the temple grew in popularity with tourists wanting to have their photos taken with tigers.

A raid that began on Monday is the latest move in a tug-of-war since 2001 to bring the tigers under state control.

Officials were not sure why the temple kept the cubs in the freezer.

“They must be of some value for the temple to keep them,” said Adisorn Nuchdamrong, deputy director-general of the Department of National Parks.

“But for what is beyond me.”

More than 130 tigers were kept at the temple.

Thailand has long been a hub for the illicit trafficking of wildlife and forest products, including ivory.

And exotic birds, mammals and reptiles, some of them endangered species, can often be found on sale in markets.

WFFT, a charity that has been working with Thai authorities and other NGOs to remove the tigers, said in a Facebook post on Thursday that staff at Tiger Temple have been dismissed, raising concerns about who will look after the animals.

The post read:  “The abbot of the temple has fired all his staff, meaning there is now no longer Tiger Temple staff on site to take care of all the other animals, including domestic cattle, buffalo, deer and wild pigs.

“The WFFT along with Thai Animal Guardians Association are in talks with the authorities on how we can handle this situation and ensure that all the animals are cared for properly. What will the coming days bring.”

On Tuesday, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals group said the temple was “hell for animals” and called on tourists to stop visiting animal attractions at home and abroad.

The raids follow the controversial shooting of a gorilla at a Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday. The critically-endangered animal was killed after a child fell into its enclosure.

World Animal Protection said: “The cruelty towards tigers at the temple, and the latest scenes of dead cubs, is extremely disturbing.

“It’s clear that the welfare of the tigers is not a priority and their lives are full of abuse and commercial exploitation for the entertainment of tourists.”

The animal protection group commended authorities for taking action against the temple, but further urged the government to investigate how the cubs died, and to find an “appropriate safe environment” for the tigers it had already recused to spend the remainder of their lives. 

Source: Tiger Temple Raid Reveals Dead Tiger Cubs In Jars Of Liquid At Controversial Tourist Attraction In Thailand

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  • Two white lions were discovered having been killed at a farm in Limpopo 
  • The big cats also had their heads and their paws missing from their bodies 
  • It is believed the lions were targeted to use body parts for black magic 
  • Police have started an investigation and are already probing suspects 
  • WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT 

 

A pair of majestic white lions have been poisoned by poachers in South Africa who then beheaded them and chopped off their paws.

The big cats, who were kept in captivity at a farm in Limpopo, were found dead on Friday.

It is believed the lions were targeted by poachers as part of a muti-killing, where animal body parts are used for healing in black magic rituals.

Before they were killed, it is believed the lions were fed a pesticide called Temik, which is used to get rid of spider mites and other pests.

Local police said they had picked up a number of suspects relating to the killing near the Stockpoort border crossing with Botswana.

A police spokesman said that an investigation was under way.

It has been estimated that 8,000 lions are bred in captivity in South Africa.

A source told the Daily Express: ‘The lions are often sold to facilities which offer walking experiences with lions.

‘The final journey for most of these hand-reared lions is as a trophy to be mounted on a hunter’s wall.’

Animal rights activists say canned – or ‘captive’ – hunting in South Africa, where lions have been reduced to little more than ‘farmyard chickens’, is popular to meet the market of high-paying tourists who hunt them down using guns or bows for the ultimate ‘trophy’ kill.

Source: Poachers poison white lions and then decapitate them for black magic rituals | Daily Mail Online

Governments around the world need to pass national laws outlawing the possession of wildlife and timber that has been illegally harvested or traded elsewhere, a new report by the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) urges.

At present, unlisted but endangered flora and fauna can be legally sold in other nations, even if it was illicitly taken from the countries of origin, due to a lack of coverage in the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).

As the Guardian revealed last year, conservation authorities believe that the survival of many endangered species is being threatened as a result.

The level of concern is such that the UN is now calling for “each country to prohibit, under national law, the possession of wildlife that was illegally harvested in, or illegally traded from, anywhere else in the world.”

“Domestic environmental laws should be expanded to provide protection to wildlife from other parts of the world,” the report adds.

Draft laws could be prepared nationally, regionally or internationally, to give a legal basis for contraband seizures by customs officers, without having to refer to international protected species lists, according to the UN paper.

Theodore Leggett, the study’s author, told the Guardian there was a good chance for the idea gaining traction in the international community.

“There is tremendous international goodwill on this right now. No one is going to stand up and say that wildlife trade should be less regulated,” he said.

“An additional wildlife protocol to the transnational organised crime convention has been proposed before. You could have an international agreement dealing with wildlife crime. You could also do it in national regulations, or on a regional basis with blocs effectively saying: “‘If it is illegal in your country, it is illegal in my country’.”

However, there is currently no internationally agreed definition for “wildlife crime” and the transnational organised crime convention’s assessment of a “serious crime” – carrying a prison sentence of four years or more – may be contentious for some.

A survey of 131 countries in the report shows that while 26% favour putting wildlife offences in the “serious crimes” category, 43% say infractions should be punished by less than four years in prison, and 31% want violations of Cites codes to merit fines only.

At present, the 182 Cites signatories can set their own punishments for violations of the agreement and these vary widely.

The Liberal MEP Catherine Bearder said: “Organised criminal gangs are exploiting the minor penalties against wildlife trafficking in some European countries to accrue massive profits. Time is running out for many of our most beloved species. The penalty of wildlife trafficking must fit the seriousness of this crime.”

The paper suggests considering wildlife trafficking a theft of state property in countries that offer national protection to endangered species. Anti-corruption statutes could also be used to prosecute traffickers.

Public authorities should also be obliged to alert other countries when they know that contraband shipments are taking place, the paper says.

Dr Dan Challender, a species programme officer for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which advised the UN on the report, said that it had drawn from analyses of 164,000 wildlife product seizures in 120 countries.

He said: “The report reinforces wildlife crime as a truly global issue, and in calling for legislative reforms, including laws recognising the illegal status of wildlife products that have been illegally harvested or trafficked from another country, offers potential solutions, which are needed as part of a multi-faceted strategy to combat wildlife crime.”

Wildlife protection debates are often clouded by tension between advocates of trade as a means of conservation – because of the added utility this provides – and environmentalists who object to any financial commodification of animal species, particularly endangered ones.

“Both these people love animals and want to save them but they have incompatible points of view,” Leggett said. “One side wants to promote the elephant trade. The other says that is not possible as it gets infiltrated by poachers.”

In broad terms, the UN approach is to monitor the legal wildlife trade and give an assessment of sustainable offtakes. “That way countries can take out every last fish that can be sustainably farmed, and then allow the ocean to replenish itself,” Leggett said.

The UN study calls for new industry standards based on technologies such as “track and trace”, which identify where, when, how and by whom a product was caught. In Germany, the mechanism has proved popular and workable for the wild-sourced fish industry.

Cites members could also detain those caught in possession of suspect products, shifting the burden of proof onto the importer, the report says.

Source: UN calls for overhaul of national laws to tackle wildlife crime | Environment | The Guardian

The courtroom is tiny, hot and crowded. It’s standing-room-only.

The accused stands silently, looking towards the window so that it is impossible to see her face or read any emotion.

She is a 66-year-old Chinese grandmother; by appearance an unlikely candidate for criminal mastermind.

When it comes to law enforcement, usually it is the foot soldiers that get arrested.

It is exceedingly rare to get what is claimed to be a senior figure, let alone a Chinese citizen, into court.

But here, in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar Es Salaam, Yang Feng Glan has become better known as the infamous ‘Ivory Queen’.

It’s alleged that she ruled a network that linked local poachers to powerful Chinese buyers.

Her arrest is being heralded as a major breakthrough for the country’s anti-poaching task force in its battle against a brutal trade that has seen Tanzania’s population of elephants decline at a catastrophic rate.

“It’s a big victory for the task force, a big victory for the elephants,” claims Malcolm Ryen, a local conservationist.

Mrs Yang first came Tanzania in the 1970s, as a translator when China was building a railway here

She stayed and developed high level contacts. At the time of her arrest, she was vice–president the Tanzania China-Africa Business Council.

But does that business also include the lucrative and illicit trade in ivory, so popular in far east?

Source: Arrest of alleged ‘Ivory Queen’ hailed a breakthrough in anti-poaching battle – ITV News

Thailand is among the world’s most dangerous countries in which to oppose powerful interests that profit from coal plants, toxic waste dumping, land grabs or illegal logging. Some 60 people who spoke out on these issues have been killed over the past 20 years, although few perpetrators have been prosecuted in a culture in which powerful people have the last word and professional killers are easy to find.

A 2014 report by the environmental watchdog group Global Witness ranked Thailand as the eighth most dangerous country in which to defend land and environmental rights. It is the second most dangerous country in Asia, after the Philippines.

The killings often involve small-scale conflicts in remote areas, and issues that might seem too narrow to carry assassination as a penalty. Few of them have received national coverage, and few of the names of those killed are widely known.

Portraits of 37 of these largely obscure victims comprise a new project by the Bangkok-based photographer Luke Duggleby and were exhibited this month in Geneva, timed to coincide with a United Nations Human Rights Council review of Thailand’s human rights record.

“It is vital, for the victims and the families, that their fight and their death should not be forgotten and left unrecognized,” Mr. Duggleby said in a statement accompanying his portfolio.

The question was how to present them. The victims were dead, or in a few cases had been abducted and disappeared. The only records in some cases were in the memories of families and in the portraits they kept of their relatives, sometimes in a frame on the wall, sometimes at a Buddhist altar.

It was these photographs that inspired the concept of his project: to place and photograph a portrait of the victim at the site of the murder or abduction. The result is a surprisingly moving set of photographs, mostly expressionless faces in formal photographs looking out from a field, a forest or rubber plantation or a roadside. In one case, the family had only an identification card picture, so Mr. Duggleby photographed and printed it to place at the scene.

The silent portraits, looking small and vulnerable in their settings, seem like tiny, passive missives from the victims, looking back at the viewer from the scene of their last terrifying moments.

In this way, in a very different context and with a very different aesthetic, they share a hollow resonance with the well-known black-and-white portraits of the dead that cover the walls of Tuol Sleng in Cambodia, the former prison where thousands of people were photographed before being tortured and killed.

Tallying the disparate, barely reported killings in Thailand has been difficult, and the first comprehensive list has only recently been compiled by Protection International, a human rights nongovernmental organization. One of its members, Pranom Somwong, worked with Mr. Duggleby in researching many of the cases.

For more than a year, Mr. Duggleby, who speaks fluent Thai, traveled with a Thai assistant throughout the country, covering by his calculation 10,000 kilometers, or more than 6,000 miles. He said he took great care not to endanger people or to make a situation worse.

Some of the disputes and threats remained real; in some cases other people had stepped forward to continue the resistance. One victim, for example, Chai Boonthonglek, 61, who was shot dead on Feb. 11, 2015, was the fourth member of his community to be murdered in five years during a dispute over land rights with a palm-oil company.

“The most important thing was the safety of the villagers,” Mr. Duggleby said. “We made our presence very quiet and very quick. I’d talk to them, spend a few hours with them, finish and drive on to the next place.”

Source: Murdered After Defending Thailand’s Environment – The New York Times

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