Humane Society International / Africa


Locals worry that Humba and Netsai, two male lions dubbed “Cecil’s heirs,” could be sitting targets of foreign trophy hunters.

Humane Society International / Africa


Bliznetsov/iStock.com

Humane Society International/Liberia, in collaboration with Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority (FDA), recently convened a two-day wildlife law enforcement training for members of the country’s security sector and judiciary.

Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Bomi County Inspector Jumah E S Goll challenged the participants to enhance their skills to protect wildlife by implementing the law. He also said that the protection of wildlife is the collective effort of every Liberian, including the security sector and the judiciary–and that knowledge concerning wildlife will go a long way to protecting the animals across the country.

Inspector Jumah Goll emphasised that enforcing the law will ensure the preservation of wildlife in their natural habitat and that serious attention should be given to the laws protecting Liberia’s wild animals.

“It is essential for security personnel and the judiciary to participate in the FDA’s mandate to ensure that Liberia`s biodiversity is preserved,” added HSI/Liberia country director, Morris Darbo.

According to Darbo, Liberia presents a unique biodiversity hotspot in the sub-region that needs to be conserved for future generations. He also appealed to the participants to use the training as an opportunity to learn and to join the FDA in combating wildlife crime in the country.

Technical Manager for the Conservation Department of FDA, Blamah S. Goll said that the wildlife law enforcement training should be taken seriously.

“Our forefathers should be lauded for preserving the biodiversity over the years and now this generation should be able to protect and preserve wildlife for the future,” added Manager Goll.

The death of Mopane is reminiscent of Cecil’s demise

Humane Society International / Africa


Chris Upton/Alamy Stock Photo Lion in the wild.

LONDON—A majestic lion named Mopane was killed allegedly by an American hunter outside of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe last week. Mopane’s death has sparked international outcry with details surrounding his killing similar to those of Cecil the lion, slaughtered in 2015 in the same area. With his impressive mane, Mopane was well-known to local tour guides and international tourists visiting the area to catch a glimpse of him.

Just like 13-year-old Cecil who was lured with an elephant carcass as bait, it was reported that the approximately 12-year-old Mopane was possibly lured out of the Hwange National Park with bait and killed in in the same place that Cecil was killed on land adjacent to the Park. Like Cecil who headed up a lion pride, Mopane was known to have formed a coalition with another male lion named Sidhule, and the two males formed a pride with two adult females and six sub-adults of about 16 to 18 months old. Locals were concerned that Sidhule and Mopane would be targeted by trophy hunters and started a petition to protect them. Unfortunately, Sidhule fell victim to a trophy hunter and was killed two years ago this month in 2019.

Kitty Block, CEO of Humane Society International and president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said, “Mopane was a father and played a significant role in his pride. Without him, his pride is now vulnerable to takeover by another male or group of males, which may lead to the killing of the cubs and females in his pride. Yet, as with Cecil six years ago, the perverse pleasure some people derive from killing iconic animals brought this noble lion’s life to a tragic end. Another trophy hunter spending tens of thousands of dollars on a globe-trotting thrill-to-kill escapade shows humanity at its worst. It is shameful that the U.S. has the distinction of being the world’s biggest importer of hunting trophies. Enough is enough.” 

The African lion is protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. However, trophy hunters continue to be authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to import trophy-hunted lions and other species threatened with extinction under a permitting scheme that HSUS and HSI have challenged as violating federal law. The Humane Society Legislative Fund is currently working with the Administration and Congress to address this dangerous and broken import permit system.

Neither Cecil’s nor Mopane’s killings are anomalies. Between 2009 and 2018, 7,667 lion trophies were traded internationally, including into the U.S. and the European Union. In addition to advocating to eliminate the import of lion trophies into the U.S., HSI is working in South Africa to prohibit the export of lion trophies and in the U.K. and European Union to prohibit the import of imperiled species trophies.

Arthur Thomas, Humane Society International/UK’s public affairs manager, said: “The tragic news that another magnificent male lion in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park has been baited and killed by a trophy hunter, brings back heart-wrenching memories of the day six years ago that Cecil the lion died a similar fate at the hands of a hunter. It’s a sobering reminder, if one were needed, that we must end trophy hunting and afford our precious wild animals the protection they desperately need. This lion’s death comes as the UK government is yet to make good on its pledge to ban UK trophy imports and exports. Our plea to Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to demonstrate global leadership on this issue and bring forward a comprehensive and rigorously-enforced ban on all hunting trophies now, and help stop this barbaric practice.”

Additional information:

  • An estimated 20,000 mature lions remain in the wild in Africa.
  • Lions are infanticidal species. Infanticide occurs when adult males take over a new territory and kills the dependent cubs in order to increase mating opportunities with resident females that have dependent offspring.
  • Human-induced removal of lions, such as trophy hunting, disrupts social group and results in infanticide. More information on African lions can be found
  • While the U.S. is the largest importer of hunting trophies, the EU has surpassed the U.S. as the largest importer of lion trophies between 2016 and 2018 according to a new report by HSI/Europe.

ENDS

Media Contacts: 

The death of Mopane is reminiscent of Cecil’s demise

Humane Society International / Africa


Chris Upton/Alamy Stock Photo Lion in the wild.

WASHINGTON—A majestic lion named Mopane was allegedly killed by an American hunter outside of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe last week. Mopane’s death has sparked international outcry with details surrounding his killing similar to those of Cecil the lion, slaughtered in 2015 in the same area. With his impressive mane, Mopane was well-known to local tour guides and international tourists visiting the area to catch a glimpse of him.

Just like 13-year-old Cecil who was lured with an elephant carcass as bait, it was reported that the approximately 12-year-old Mopane was possibly lured out of the Hwange National Park with bait and killed in in the same place that Cecil was killed on land adjacent to the Park. Like Cecil who headed up a lion pride, Mopane was known to have formed a coalition with another male lion named Sidhule, and the two males formed a pride with two adult females and six sub-adults of about 16 to 18 months old. Locals were concerned that Sidhule and Mopane would be targeted by trophy hunters and started a petition to protect them. Unfortunately, Sidhule fell victim to a trophy hunter and was killed two years ago this month in 2019.

Kitty Block, CEO of Humane Society International and president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said, “Mopane was a father and played a significant role in his pride. Without him, his pride is now vulnerable to takeover by another male or group of males, which may lead to the killing of the cubs and females in his pride. Yet, as with Cecil six years ago, the perverse pleasure some people derive from killing iconic animals brought this noble lion’s life to a tragic end. Another trophy hunter spending tens of thousands of dollars on a globe-trotting thrill-to-kill escapade shows humanity at its worst. It is shameful that the U.S. has the distinction of being the world’s biggest importer of hunting trophies. Enough is enough.” 

Sara Amundson, president of Humane Society Legislative Fund said, “The individual depravity that underlies trophy hunting is self-evident. But the terrible truth is that our federal government systematically enables trophy hunting of threatened and endangered species by Americans through its failure to revise import policies that permit the bloodshed to continue. On the campaign trail President Biden expressed his concern for this issue and he can and should now direct the relevant federal agencies to halt the import of trophy parts from species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Until we have a properly implemented regulatory framework that upholds the conservation mandate in federal law, this is little more than lawless carnage.”

The African lion is protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. However, trophy hunters continue to be authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to import trophy-hunted lions and other species threatened with extinction under a permitting scheme that HSUS and HSI have challenged as violating federal law. The Humane Society Legislative Fund is currently working with the Administration and Congress to address this dangerous and broken import permit system.

Neither Cecil’s nor Mopane’s killings are anomalies. Between 2009 and 2018, 7,667 lion trophies were traded internationally, including into the U.S. and the European Union. In addition to advocating to eliminate the import of lion trophies into the U.S., HSI is working in South Africa to prohibit the export of lion trophies and in the U.K. and European Union to prohibit the import of imperiled species trophies.

Additional information:

  • An estimated 20,000 mature lions remain in the wild in Africa.
  • Lions are infanticidal species. Infanticide occurs when adult males take over a new territory and kills the dependent cubs in order to increase mating opportunities with resident females that have dependent offspring.
  • Human-induced removal of lions, such as trophy hunting, disrupts social group and results in infanticide. More information on African lions can be found
  • While the U.S. is the largest importer of hunting trophies, the EU has surpassed the U.S. as the largest importer of lion trophies between 2016 and 2018 according to a new report by HSI/Europe.

ENDS

Media Contacts:

Humane Society International / Africa


Sam Delaney/ Elephant Reintegration Trust From Left to Right: Tenisha Roos (Elephant Researcher), Tammy Eggeling (Principle Elephant Researcher, ERT), Brett Mitchell (Chairman, ERT), Dr Audrey Delsink (Wildlife Director, HSI/Africa) and JJ van Altena (Global Supplies/HSI/Africa Project Implementation Specialist) with immobilised elephant bull fitted with a satellite tracking collar to facilitate remote monitoring.

CAPE TOWN—Humane Society International/Africa (HSI/Africa) and the Elephant Reintegration Trust (ERT) have joined forces in a research project that could change the way that elephants are managed in South Africa in the future.

Nine reserves are currently part of the research project, with more due to join as the project progresses.

“While we know a lot about elephants, there’s so much more to learn – especially the effects that human interventions and management have on their lives and welfare,” said HSI/Africa wildlife director, Dr Audrey Delsink.

HSI/Africa’s elephant immunocontraception programme is already successfully ensuring non-lethal population control amongst elephant cows, with > 1150 females already contracepted in South Africa.

“This prevents the need for lethal culling as it controls local population densities, helping to mitigate potential elephant-human conflict in communities alongside reserves. However, we need to examine the effects of decisions that have been taken particularly for bull elephants—because not all are favourable or biologically relevant,” added Delsink.

According to the ERT, many undesirable bull elephant behaviours may be due to lack of knowledge around the importance of elephant social dynamics which results in poor management practices such as unbalanced demographics, or the incorrect or prolonged use of treatments to suppress musth and aggression in bulls.

“Extensive observation, monitoring and tracking is showing us how elephants use their landscape. When bull elephants break out of reserves, show aggression or unwanted behaviour, this invariably points towards a lack of space or social stability in the system, often resulting due to previous uninformed management decisions. If not responsibly addressed such behaviours will likely escalate,” said ERT chairman, Brett Mitchell.

The research team aims to use their findings to guide the management of free ranging elephants and the reintegration of captive elephants back into wild systems.

“We’re also aiming to develop a meta-population management approach to assist reserves to monitor and manage their elephant populations more effectively so that potential problems can be mitigated before they arise,” added Delsink.

The ERT and HSI/Africa team were recently at the Khamab Kalahari Reserve in the North West province with partner Global Supplies and veterinarian Dr Zoe Glyphis to deploy additional satellite collars on elephant bulls. This will help the team to better understand the dynamics of the elephants’ movement ahead of an introduction of new, various aged bulls, selected with the intention of building up the current bull hierarchy.

Download Photos/Video

ENDS

Media Contact: Marisol Gutierrez: 072 358 9531; mgutierrez@hsi.org

Humane Society International / Global


Speak out now to save elephants

While human lives and livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic, COVID-19 has also compromised organisations that care for animals—including a sanctuary that cares for big cats saved from South Africa’s notorious captive lion breeding industry

Humane Society International / Africa


Panthera Africa Lioness Jade, who was rescued from the captive lion breeding industry in South Africa, now lives at Panthera Africa, an ethical big cat sanctuary in South Africa.

CAPE TOWN—As part of its global COVID-19 relief programme, Humane Society International is supporting an ethical big cat sanctuary in the Western Cape that cares for 26 big cats and other wild animals, including lions rescued from South Africa’s notorious captive lion breeding industry.

Panthera Africa, which counts itself as one of only six ethical big cat sanctuaries in South Africa, had derived much of its funding from paying, international volunteers and tourists, but this was abruptly stopped by COVID-imposed travel restrictions in 2020. The sanctuary’s volunteer and tourist activities were only able to resume recently and currently run at 28% capacity.

“Over a year into the pandemic organisations like Panthera Africa continue to face compromised funding, despite their continued best efforts,” said Marisol Gutierrez, HSI/Africa media and communications manager. “No breeding, trade, physical interaction or petting takes place at this sanctuary, which is why it’s considered ethical. Thanks to HSI’s corporate and other supporters, we were able to help and we’re proud to be associated with Panthera Africa.”

Panthera Africa provides educational tours to members of the public, by appointment, but there is no physical contact with any of the resident big cats, which include lions, tigers, a ‘black panther,’ leopard, caracal and cheetah.

“We accepted the relief funds from HSI/Africa with much gratitude; we’re still trying to recover from the enormous financial pressure that COVID-19 has caused. But now we can celebrate the resumption of our volunteer and education programmes, the award of the HSI grant and the recent announcement that captive lion breeding will be banned,” said Panthera Africa co-founder, Lizaene Cornwall.

Cruel breeding farms

The High Level Advisory Panel appointed by the Minister of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment recently released recommendations that include an end to captive lion breeding, its associated spin-off industries such as cub-petting and lion walking and the commercial trade of lion derivatives, as well as expressly recognizing animal welfare as a central pillar of wildlife management policy. These were key proposals made by HSI/Africa in comprehensive written and oral submissions to the panel, as well as in comments submitted during public participation processes in species-specific norms and standards development.

“HSI applauds the panel’s recommendation to end captive lion breeding. It puts a stop to these inhumane breeding farms and brings an end to the suffering of thousands of lions who have been awaiting their fate as either canned trophies or bags of bones for the legal lion bone trade,” added Gutierrez.

Lioness Jade is one of very few lions who was rescued from a captive lion breeding facility and now has safe sanctuary at Panthera Africa.

“When Jade came to us, her stomach and nipples were severely swollen after the excessive breeding she’d endured. She’d had seven litters in just three years—which was only possible because her cubs were taken away from her when they were only days old, forcing her to come into estrous again. Her back-to-back pregnancies, without time to heal, had caused Jade’s womb to attach to some of her other organs. Our vet had to cut the womb free in order to complete her spay,” explained Cornwall.

According to Panthera Africa, the instinct of a mother lioness is to protect and nurture her cubs for up to two years, and when this is denied time and time again—as it is in the captive breeding industry—the emotional and psychological impacts are substantial.

Download photos.

ENDS

Media contact: Marisol Gutierrez, HSI/Africa media and communications manager: +27 72 358 9531; mgutierrez@hsi.org

Humane Society International / Africa


A bold elephant relocation and contraception exercise has seen Humane Society International place > 1040 female elephants on immunocontraceptive birth control.

Humane Society International / Africa (in South Africa)


Audrey Delsink for HSI Relocation, collaring and contraception of elephants from Atherstone Game Reserve to undisclosed new reserve with partners Global Supplies – Conservation Initiatives, Elephant Reintegration Trust and Fondation Franz Weber.

CAPE TOWN— A wild herd of elephants that roamed in Limpopo’s Atherstone Game Reserve has been translocated by Global Supplies – Conservation Initiatives to a safe haven through the collaborative efforts of the Elephant Reintegration Trust, global animal welfare organisation Humane Society International-Africa (HSI-Africa) and Fondation Franz Weber, a Swiss organisation that has been dedicated to the protection of elephants since 1975.

At the same time, HSI-Africa treated the herd’s females with immunocontraception to humanely control the population growth at their new home.

Elephant immunocontraception – a non-steroidal, non-hormonal and humane method of elephant population control – has been researched and funded by HSI and the Humane Society of the United States since 1996. Immunocontraception uses the female elephant’s own immune response to block egg fertilisation.

Female elephants over the age of 10 years are darted remotely from a helicopter with a dropout dart that contains the immunocontraception vaccine and a marking dye. This marks the elephant at the dart site, creating a quick aerial reference of which animals have been darted. The dart falls out a short while afterwards. Thus, the animals do not need to be immobilised in order to be treated and the vaccinations are completed within minutes.

“This relocation marks the 36th population and 1041th female elephant on immunocontraceptive treatment to date. This is more than half of all breeding age female elephants in populations outside of the Kruger National Park.

“Considering that a female is capable of reproducing eight to 10 elephant calves within her lifespan, the exponential effect of our immunocontraception programme means that thousands of elephants have been spared from death through a cull as they compete for land and resources with people in an ever-shrinking habitat,” says HSI-Africa wildlife director, Audrey Delsink.

Smart elephant management

In addition to contracepting the females, HSI-Africa and partner Global Supplies – Conservation Initiatives also deployed a satellite tracking collar on one of the herd members to remotely monitor the elephants at their new home under the watchful eye of the Elephant Reintegration Trust. This translocation forms part of groundbreaking research into elephant behaviour and reintegration and is critical to our understanding of elephant management.

“The collaring and immunocontraception are part of a long-term, proactive elephant management strategy. Both activities work to save elephants’ lives and mitigate human-elephant conflict. We are extremely proud and excited to be part of this project that will not only lead to the enrichment of the lives of these elephants but will change the way in which we manage elephants in the future.

“We are delighted to collaborate with the Elephant Reintegration Trust, Fondation Franz Weber, who provided funding for the transportation of the elephants, and our partner, Global Supplies – Conservation Initiatives, as well as the progressive reserve that has willingly accepted this herd. We all share the same vision of peaceful human-animal co-existence,” added Delsink.

HSI-Africa is the only non-profit organisation that specifically works on humane methods of population management in and around reserves where elephants could come into conflict with surrounding communities.

ENDS

Media contact: Marisol Gutierrez, HSI-Africa media and communications manager, +27 72 358 9531, mgutierrez@hsi.org

Download photos of the elephant relocation

World Elephant Day is a reminder that peaceful coexistence with this imperiled species is possible and necessary

Humane Society International / South Africa


Anton Van Niekerk/for HSI JJ van Altena mixes elephant immunocontraceptive vaccine and injects it into darts, as Audrey Delsink of HSI assists. South Africa, August 2020

CAPE TOWN—This World Elephant Day, Humane Society International/Africa is celebrating the treatment of its 34th population of African elephants using the immunocontraception vaccine as a humane population growth control method. This brings the total number of females under treatment in South Africa to 1,035 – which is more than half of all breeding-age female elephants outside of the Kruger National Park, which does not use contraception.

As an effective alternative to the traditional method of culling – when family groups are gunned down – immunocontraception uses the female elephant’s own immune response to block egg fertilisation. Female elephants over the age of 10 years are treated remotely from a helicopter with a dart that contains the immunocontraception vaccine and a marking substance.that creates a quick reference of which animals have been darted. The dart falls out shortly afterwards. The animals do not need to be immobilised to be treated and vaccinations are completed within minutes.

Download photos and video of elephants receiving the immunocontraception vaccine.

“Shooting these magnificent animals to control their numbers is an antiquated, cruel and unnecessary way to deal with an elephant population that is increasingly squeezed by human encroachment. Immunocontraception is the future of humane elephant conservation,” said Audrey Delsink, wildlife director for HSI/Africa and an elephant biologist.

“Elephants are widely acknowledged as highly cognitive, sentient beings with close-knit family bonds that span generations. It has also been well documented that these sensitive animals suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress for decades after undergoing traumatic experiences such as capture from the wild, culling or poaching,” said Delsink.

Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States have funded cutting-edge research on the use of this non-steroidal, non-hormonal and humane method of elephant population control since 1996. HSI adopts a science-based approach, and with its research partners, has published numerous scientific papers documenting the vaccine’s efficacy, reversibility, lack of behavioural side effects and cost-effectiveness.

“African elephants face many challenges, particularly habitat loss,” added Delsink. “The past three decades have seen their habitat shrink by half, which also leads to increased opportunities for human-elephant conflict on the fringes of neighbouring rural communities, parks and reserves.”

HSI/Africa is working to protect elephants from these and other threats through advocacy, education, policy and regulatory reforms, ivory-demand reduction programmes and on-the-ground conflict resolution efforts. It is the only non-governmental organisation that specifically works on humane methods of birth control in and around zones where elephants could come into conflict with surrounding communities.

With natural processes such as elephant migration curtailed by fences and borders and elephants limited to smaller areas, the ecosystem within the animals’ range also needs to be carefully managed. With females able to produce eight to 10 calves in their lifetime, elephant populations are able to double every 10 to 15 years, making immunocontraception a vital tool in elephant management plans.

Boys will be … bulls

Young male or bull elephants are sometimes incorrectly labelled as ‘problem’ or ‘damage-causing’ animals because they do what they are biologically programmed to do: to seek out new territory after leaving their natal herd. In the process, conflict with people can occur and the animals may be legally destroyed.

To mitigate such conflict in a community in rural KwaZulu-Natal, HSI/Africa and partners Global Supplies and Conservation Outcomes recently deployed three satellite collars on two bulls and a member of a family herd. The collars facilitate the remote monitoring of the animals’ movements: when a collared elephant nears a defined perimeter, reserve management are alerted and can then take steps to reduce the chance of conflict.

This is the second community reserve in the province where the partnership has deployed immunocontraception and satellite collars, embracing science and technology to provide more humane solutions that allow people and elephants to peacefully co-exist.

Download photos and video of elephants receiving the immunocontraception vaccine.

ENDS

Media contact: Marisol Gutierrez, HSI/Africa media and communications manager, +27 72 358 9531, mgutierrez@hsi.org

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