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Mugabe is biggest poacher, says Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
[The Zimbabwe] Government has been exporting baby elephants, mostly to China, claiming that this would help generate revenue for the country - but it is not clear that the money ever actually gets to the treasury.
Johnny Rodrigues, ZCTF chairman, said Mugabe and his wife, Grace, were among the worst offenders in the scam involving the abuse and ill-treatment of wildlife.
Reports indicate that Zanu (PF) supporters will be fed on game meat during Mugabe’s 91st birthday celebrations in Victoria Falls, one of the areas hardest hit by poaching.
“Many wild animals will be killed to celebrate Mugabe’s birthday. That is a scandal! The president is the biggest poacher, alongside his wife,” said Rodrigues. He accused Grace of arm twisting the parks and wildlife department to build a fence at her Mashonaland Central wildlife farm where she intends to accommodate hundreds of wild animals.
“She is not buying a single animal. All those animals that will be put on her game reserves will come from National Parks yet she is going to make a killing out of the business of keeping the wildlife,” he added. Grace has evicted hundreds of families from Panzou farm in the province to make way for the game sanctuary. Rodrigues said government would soon export more baby elephants despite their petition that has been signed by about 1.5 million people.
Twenty seven elephants are destined for Thailand in the coming days - part of an order for 100. Nine will be going to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and 80 more will follow, said Rodrigues, while China will receive hundreds others.
Government officials say one elephant fetches between $40,000 and $60,000, but the figures are suspected to be higher.
Rodrigues said the ruling elite that includes politicians and securocrats benefited most from the sale of wildlife while local communities do not get anything.
Full story at www.thezimbabwean.co/news/zimbabwe-news/75025/mugabe-is-biggest-poacher-says.html
Image: This elephant, exported from Zimbabwe in 2012, now lives alone at Taiyuan Zoo in cold north-central China (c) Change for Animal Foundation ... See MoreSee Less
7 hours ago ·
China and the rosewood carve-up
- The ancient forests of Southeast Asia are being razed to supply growing Chinese demand for prized ‘red timbers’ -
... Rosewood and other luxury timbers have become a metaphor for a rapacious age in Southeast Asia. From gems to water, Mekong countries are seeing resources sucked up by their giant neighbour to the north. The Siamese rosewood is now so threatened that in 2013 it was placed on the endangered list by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).
A report published last year by the Environmental Investigation Agency, a UK-based non-governmental group, said Chinese demand for prized red timbers, known as hongmu, which include Siamese rosewood, began to rise in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has exploded since. In 2011, EIA investigators found a rosewood bed selling in Shanghai for $1m. By March 2014, demand and stockpiling had forced up prices by more than a third in a year, to in excess of $17,000 per tonne. Market spikes can push the price as high as $80,000. “Over the past 10 years, demand in China for luxury reproduction wood furniture and cultural artworks rooted in Ming and Qing dynasty aesthetics has soared,” the report said. “The increasing rarity of the timbers involved has led to dramatic price rises, exacerbated by a flow of hot investment money.”
While some of this wood comes from turbulent states outside Asia, notably Madagascar, the bulk of Chinese hongmu imports are thought to come from Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. The trade has flourished in an area of porous borders and conflict zones. In the Myanmar border state of Kachin more than 100 suspected Chinese loggers were detained in January. In the same month the Thai authorities announced they had seized 30 shipping containers that contained logs cut in Thailand, sent to Laos for false labelling and then returned to Thailand for onward shipment to China. (The Laos state media claimed that only seven small pieces of rosewood were found.) The business also reaches deep into officialdom: on February 12, a Thai court sentenced Pongpat Chayapan, a former head of the country’s Central Investigation Bureau, to nine months in jail for possessing illegal rosewood.
“The timber mafia is winning this nasty war,” says Tim Redford, a programme director at Freeland, a Bangkok-based environmental NGO. “More attention must be paid to this crisis, because these gangs are going to destroy these forests, one species at a time.”
Full story at www.ft.com/cms/s/2/5134ca48-bd41-11e4-b523-00144feab7de.html
Image: Carving in rosewood furniture, China (c) EIA ... See MoreSee Less
8 hours ago ·
Spring feels right around the corner, training regimes are stepping up a notch - it must be nearing time for the London Marathon.
On April 26, Franziska Dieterle will be running the iconic 26.2-mile route for EIA to raise funds to help our work exposing and opposing environmental crime.
You can sponsor her by making a donation through her JustGiving page at www.justgiving.com/franziska/.
Every pound she raises will go directly towards our unique investigations and campaigns.
#LondonMarathon ... See MoreSee Less
1 day ago ·