Poachers have new targets - the rangers

2013-03-09 09:14
Cites logo

Cites logo

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bangkok - Ruthless and heavily armed "criminal syndicates" linked to drug smugglers and militias are running the global wildlife trade and turning their guns on the park rangers tasked with protecting endangered species.

Hundreds of rangers have been killed over recent years as poachers stop at nothing in their quest for lucrative animal parts such as ivory and rhino horn, according to experts at a global convention on protecting wildlife in Bangkok.

The illegal trade "poses an immediate risk to wildlife and to people, including those serving on the frontlines to protect wildlife", says John Scanlon, secretary general of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).

"It increasingly involves organised crime syndicates and in some cases rebel militia."

The death toll among the rangers has risen as the slaughter of elephants and rhinos reaches record levels - with photographs of carcasses stripped of horns or tusks stirring public outcry.

At least 1 000 rangers have been killed in 35 different countries over the last decade, said Sean Willmore, president of the International Ranger Federation (IRF), adding that the real global figure may be up to 5 000.

"There is an undeclared war going on on the front line of conservation," he told AFP citing the example of a group of 50 rangers in the Democratic Republic of Congo who stumbled across a 5 000-strong militia group out poaching armed with AK47s.

And while attacks by lions or elephants make their work "dangerous enough", he says 75% of the dead were killed by traffickers, with their lack of equipment, training and low wages weighing against them.

Every weakness is exploited by criminals determined to cash in on large animal reserves in some of the world's poorest, most unstable countries.

"Wildlife crime has historically been known as a low-risk, high-profit crime," according to Ben Janse Van Rensburg a senior Cites official.

Other illicit trades

Alarmingly, the groups are part of a web of global criminals involved in other illicit trades such as drug and human trafficking, he said.

Although the countries worst hit by the scourge of wildlife trafficking have shown willing to tackle the issue, they do so with limited means.

But some countries have not even made the issue a serious crime "making conviction difficult", says Jorge Rios of the UN Office against Drugs and Crime (UNodc), urging political commitment to be "accompanied by resources at national and international level".

For poaching to be curbed those resources must be targeted at a the whole trafficking chain.

"We cannot just focus on poachers... we also have to deal with middle men working in transit countries, and people distributing and selling the merchandise in market countries," Dan Ashe, director of the US Fish and Wildlife service told AFP.

"We have to deal with people who are financing these operations."

But it is not an easy task, with corruption lubricating the movement of illicit wildlife -- often destined for Asia as delicacies or use in traditional medicines.

"They [traffickers] have a lot of money... they are paying for the right to do whatever they want," says Steve Galster, executive director, of conservation group the Freeland Foundation.

After several years of investigation his group accused Vixay Keosavang, an influential Laos national, of orchestrating a major trafficking network.

Tigers, turtles, pangolins, snakes and monkeys from Africa arrived on the banks of the Mekong river in legitimate breeding farms used as a front to sell protected or poached species, he said, highlighting the "loopholes" of Cites that have failed to stop people like him flouting the law.

Read more on:    cites  |  poaching
NEXT ON NEWS24X

10 held for rhino poaching

2014-09-19 21:58
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
33 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Fashion
 

6 life hacks you simply have to know

A few simple tricks can make your life so much easier!

 
 

For chic geeks...

Device lets disabled people talk through their nose
It’s THIS easy for someone to steal your ATM pin!
This is why you should install iOS 8
17 photo illusions that look so real

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It may feel like you are treading water and going nowhere fast. You may want to get off the merry go round. By pushing yourself...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.