More lions in cruel captivity than in the wild, says Humane Society International

Humane Society International / South Africa


Chris Upton/Alamy Stock Photo

CAPE TOWN—South Africa is not a good place for lions today, on World Lion Day—and it won’t be tomorrow either, with an estimated 11,000 lions held captive in more than 300 facilities across the country. The captive lion breeding industry is marked by ongoing exposure of poor conditions and welfare standards, inhumane slaughter and pending cruelty cases.

“Like the pitiful circuses of old, the clock is ticking for this abusive industry, and the South African government should be doing more to hasten its end,” said Audrey Delsink, wildlife director for Humane Society International/Africa. “As consumers become increasingly aware of the cruel and exploitative practices in captive lion breeding and its spin-off industries, taking concrete steps to shut down this profit-driven, putrid trade would be a fitting way to honour World Lion Day.”

In addition to serious welfare and conservation concerns, COVID-19 has also placed a spotlight on infectious disease outbreaks linked to the wildlife trade.

“In captive breeding facilities, many lions are confined under unhygienic, stressful conditions, and they are often slaughtered on site, creating ideal conditions for the spread of zoonoses,” said Delsink.

There are almost four times more lions in cruel captivity in South Africa than there are in the wild. The country is home to only 3,000 wild lions.

The captive lion industry has no conservation value and is believed to be contributing to the growing demand for body parts of big cats and threatening global populations of other big carnivores—including tigers who are bred, slaughtered and hunted along with lion. The World Wildlife Crime Report issued in May 2020 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime stated that illicit markets in big cats raise conservation concerns for the species.

The industry’s associated activities—such as cub petting, lion walking, ‘canned’ hunting and the trade in lion bone and other body parts—have continued despite the 2018 Parliamentary Colloquium that led to a committee resolution calling for the closure of the industry.

HSI/Africa provided an extensive submission to the high-level panel commissioned by the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy to inform state policy on the management of lions, leopards and other wild animals in the country.

HSI/Africa called on the panel to take the following actions:

  • Implement the directives of the Parliamentary resolution addressing captive lion breeding without further delay;
  • Place an immediate moratorium on new captive lion breeding facilities or further breeding at existing lion facilities;
  • Place a moratorium on the international import and export of live animals and animal parts, pending an independent investigation into allegations of CITES and local regulation non-compliance; and
  • Engage with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to repeal recent amendments to legislation that facilitate the management of wild animals as farm animals, and the slaughter and consumption of lion and other wild animals as human food.

Tourists are often not aware that South Africa’s wildlife ‘entertainment’ facilities are linked to canned lion hunting, and many such facilities dupe unsuspecting tourists into spending time and money on volunteering at these places under the guise of ‘conservation’.

Trophy hunting

Lions exist in only 8% of their former range and are suffering from loss of habitat and prey, in addition to being decimated by trophy hunting.

HSI analysis of CITES trade data shows that between 2017 and 2018, the European Union imported 398 lion trophies, while the United States imported 150. Of the 406 EU trophies, 312 were from captive lion hunting facilities in South Africa.

Despite claims that the captive predator breeding industry and trophy hunting of captive-bred lions is a significant contributor to the economy, the contribution to South Africa’s GDP is marginal and benefits only a few. A recently published paper estimates that total gross revenue for the sub-sector is estimated at roughly USD $180 million per annum. These revenues represent a mere 0,96% of tourism’s total GDP contribution in 2019 (USD $18.8 million) but may entail extensive opportunity costs. The reputational damage to South Africa and the cost to its tourism is a far-greater risk than the country can afford as consumers increasingly seek out ethical tourist destinations around the world.

Panthera leo is classified by CITES as endangered, listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and is also listed in the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

ENDS

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

Indonesia, India, Vietnam among countries where wild animal markets pose a disease risk

Humane Society International / Global


Masked man in Hong Kong market
Jayne Russell/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News

WASHINGTON —Wildlife campaigners across the globe from animal charity Humane Society International have called for an urgent worldwide ban on the wildlife trade after China’s announcement that it will prohibit the buying and selling of wild animals for food in light of the mounting threat associated with coronavirus. The capture, market trade, and butchery of wild animal species for human consumption happens across large parts of Asia and Africa such as Indonesia, India, Vietnam, and West, Central and East Africa, as well as in Latin America, says HSI, posing a very real threat of spreading zoonotic and potentially fatal diseases. Governments around the world must take China’s lead and shut down this trade for good. HSI leadership in South Africa, Nepal, India, South Korea, Canada, the United States, Australia, Guatemala, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, the United Kingdom, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica have joined the call for global action.

Jeffrey Flocken, HSI president, says: “China has taken decisive action to halt the wildlife trade for human consumption implicated in the global coronavirus crisis, but it would be a grave mistake for us to think that the threat is isolated to China. The capture and consumption of wild animals is a global trade that causes immense suffering for hundreds of thousands of animals every year, including endangered wildlife species being traded to the brink of extinction. The trade can also spawn global health crises like the current coronavirus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and the deadly bird flu. Wildlife markets across the globe, but particularly in Asia and Africa, are widespread and could easily be the start of disease outbreaks in the future.”

In the north eastern states of India, wild species such as the Chinese pangolin and several species of wild birds are routinely sold for human consumption. Bengal monitor lizard meat is also consumed across India, driven mainly by the superstitious belief that the fat stored in the tail can cure arthritis, and meat from the Indian flap-shell turtle is also popular across the country, despite both species being listed under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. In some north Indian states, owl eyes are also consumed for their perceived medicinal benefits for human vision.

Indonesia also has hundreds of “extreme” animal markets where the conditions are the same as those described by scientists as the perfect breeding ground for new and deadly zoonotic viruses, such as coronaviruses. Wild animals are sold and slaughtered in public and unsanitary conditions. The trade takes place alongside that of dogs and cats which itself has already been shown to pose a risk of rabies transmission. In January this year, Humane Society International wrote to Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo as part of the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition, calling for urgent measures to ensure that Indonesia does not become the next point of origin of a deadly virus by tackling the risk posed by these animal markets.

Mr. Flocken adds: “We already know that dog and cat meat markets in Indonesia are a hotbed for disease transmission, and we also know from our investigations that rabies-positive dogs are being sold and slaughtered for consumption in these markets. Given that dogs are caged and slaughtered alongside wild animals such as snakes, bats and rats, Indonesia must surely take preventative measures now to ensure it does not become the next point of origin of a deadly virus. Similar risks can be observed in wild animal markets across the globe and especially in Asia and Africa. The trade in wildlife is a global crisis that calls for global action, now.”

Wild meat consumption is also an issue in Vietnam where wild pig, goat and bird species are eaten as well as softshell turtle, bear, snake, pangolin and civet, and snake wine is also consumed. A number of studies conducted in recent years reveal that a significant percentage of the Vietnamese population consumes wild animals.

Bush meat, including that derived from primates, is still consumed in many parts of Africa. Earlier this month, the Tanzanian government endorsed the establishment of butcheries specifically for the bushmeat trade. And in South Africa, approximately 12,000 lions are captive bred in deplorable conditions, to facilitate the export of lion skeletons to Southeast Asia for tiger bone wine. Lions are hosts for the tuberculosis (TB) virus, which can survive in bones ground to powder.

In Guatemala and El Salvador, meat from crocodile, iguana and other reptiles is often eaten during Lent despite it being illegal to do so.

This week, the National People’s Congress, the Chinese national legislature, elevated an originally temporary ban on wildlife trade for human consumption from an administrative action to the level of a national law. Specifically, the announcement, issued as an emergency measure, creates a comprehensive ban on the trade in terrestrial wild animals bought and sold for food, including those who are bred or reared in captivity.

Download video footage of Indonesia’s wild animal and dog/cat meat markets here: https://www.dropbox.com/home/Indonesia%20Extreme%20Markets

ENDS

Media contact: Wendy Higgins whiggins@hsi.org

Humane Society International / Global


Arindam Bhattacharya/Alamy Stock Photo An Asian elephant (elephas maximus) eats grass in Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India

Gandhinagar — Representatives from more than 130 nations agreed to vital protections for migratory wild species at what’s being hailed as a landmark wildlife convention in Gandhinagar, India. Delegates agreed to increased or first-time conservation protection status for the endangered Mainland Asian elephant, the critically endangered great Indian bustard and Bengal florican, the jaguar, the oceanic whitetip shark, smooth hammerhead and tope shark.  The circumstances of all of these species, require multi-nation conservation co-operation because their ranges traverse country boundaries.

Sixty percent of Mainland Asian elephants are found in India, and the species has been listed as Endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 1986, a victim of habitat loss and increasing human/elephant conflict. The great Indian bustard, whose population has dwindled to around 150 individuals in India, is persecuted by hunting in Pakistan, and the Bengal florican has a population of less than 1000 birds, struggling to survive amidst habitat loss in India and Nepal.

Mark Simmonds OBE, senior marine scientist at Humane Society International, said: “With estimates of up to one million species at risk of extinction right now, nations have a shared responsibility to act, especially in the case of migratory species. Species such as the Asian elephant and hammerhead shark are in desperate need of attention and cooperation from the countries through which they roam, mate, give birth or feed. This truly is proving to be a landmark wildlife convention because we’ve successfully secured increased conservation protection status for many species and we can now set to work on concrete measures to protect them and their habitats.  

The Asian elephant is endangered throughout much of its range, trying to survive in continually shrinking, degraded and fragmented habitat, and increasingly coming into conflict with people. Its protection will be vastly improved if range countries work together to tackle these challenges, and inclusion in CMS Appendix I will significantly aid that.”

Rebecca Regnery, Humane Society International’s deputy director of wildlife, said: “The jaguar, the largest native cat of the Americas, is now absent from more than 77% of its historic range in Central America. Despite protection in all its range states, the jaguar is threatened by illegal killing and trade.  Listing on CMS will formalize range state collaboration on conservation efforts, creating an international legal framework for the first time. This will provide increased incentives and funding opportunities for this work, which is critical for curbing habitat destruction, maintaining key migration corridors and reducing violence and human deaths associated with retaliation and trafficking.”

Lawrence Chlebeck, marine biologist with HSI Australia, said, “This is a fantastic success for international shark conservation efforts. Three of the shark species hardest hit by commercial fishing will, from today, receive brand new international attention and coordination. Sharks are especially susceptible to population decline due to late maturation and low reproductive potential, and they are therefore some of the most threatened animals on our planet. International, cooperative conservation measures, such as those that will result from these listings, are absolutely vital to the ecological viability and survival of these species.”

Summary of key decisions today at CMS CoP 13

  • Mainland Asian elephant/Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) added to Appendix I
  • Great Indian bustard and Bengal florican added to Appendix I
  • The jaguar (Panthera onca) added to Appendices I and II
  • The antipodean albatross (Diomedea antipodensis) added to Appendix I
  • Oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) added in Appendix I
  • Smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena) added to Appendix II
  • Tope shark (Galeorhinus galeus) added to Appendix II.

These decisions have been made in the convention’s ‘Meeting in the Whole’ and are subject to formal verification in the closing plenary of the CoP on 22nd February. However, as they have been agreed by consensus, this is now a formality.

ENDS

Media contact: Wendy Higgins whiggins@hsi.org

Donald Trump Jr. was a speaker at the February 5 to 8 convention

Humane Society International / Africa


SOUTH AFRICA — As animal protection organizations fight for the survival of many African wildlife species, an undercover investigation by Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States has exposed exhibitors peddling wild animal products and pay-to-slay trophy hunts at the Safari Club International convention in Nevada, USA, last week. The SCI convention is one of the world largest trophy hunting expos with over 870 exhibitors from 34 countries and more than ten thousand attendees. Sale offerings at the February 2020 event included a captive-bred lion hunt in South Africa for $8,000. One South African outfitter said hunting a giraffe costs “only” $1,200 because they have “too many giraffes” and need to “get rid of the animals.”

Other hunting trips for sale at the SCI 2020 convention included:

  • A $350,000 hunt for a critically endangered black rhino in Namibia.
  • An outfitter advertised its “Trump Special” – a $25,000 hunt for a buffalo, sable, roan and crocodile.
  • A $6,000 hunt for any six animals that a customer can choose to kill in South Africa, such as zebras, wildebeest, warthogs, impalas, hartebeest, gemsbok, nyala, and waterbuck.
  • A $13,000 hunt for black-backed jackal, African wildcat, caracal and bat-eared foxes in South Africa.
  • A tuskless elephant hunt in Zambia for $14,500.
  • A polar bear hunt in Canada sold for $60,000.
  • An Asiatic black bear hunt in Russia for $15,000.
  • Four South African exhibitors offered to sell or broker captive-bred lion hunts. One vendor bragged that his safari company holds five of the top 10 lions ever taken in SCI’s Record Book.

Audrey Delsink, wildlife director for Humane Society International/Africa said, “We are devastated to see the SCI convention offering so many opportunities to destroy our already-threatened wildlife, including giraffes which was listed on Appendix II by CITES last year. Giraffe numbers have declined by 40% in the past 30 years, plummeting to fewer than 69,000 mature animals left in the wild, and here we have exhibitors offering their destruction. The sale of canned lion hunts at the convention is also a huge concern – violating SCI’s own ban that it implemented in 2018. In South Africa there are more lions bred in captivity than exist in the wild, with as few as 3,000 wild lions roaming freely compared to 8 in captivity. Studies show that captive lion breeding and canned trophy hunting do not support conservation, are wrought with welfare travesties and are simply money-driven industries that benefit a handful. It’s time for this needless cruelty to stop.”

Jeff Flocken, president of Humane Society International, said, “Our shocking investigation shows that no animals are off limits to trophy hunters. From shooting giraffes, hyenas, zebras, elephants, hippos, primates and lions in Africa to deer, ibex and wild boar in the UK and Europe, the trophy hunting industry reveals its true nature – one that is motivated by the thrill to kill, and not by conservation.”

According to CITES trade data, South Africa is the second largest hunting trophy exporting nation after Canada.

Other items for sale at the SCI convention were boots made of giraffe skin ($1,390) and kangaroo skin ($1,080), and trips to hunt Asiatic black bears, giraffes, elephants, lions, hippos, and more. The featured speakers and entertainers at the convention included Donald Trump Jr. and the Beach Boys. A “dream hunt” with Donald Trump Jr. in a luxury yacht in Alaska to kill black-tailed deer and sea ducks was sold at auction for a whopping $340,000. A taxidermy ibex mountain goat that Trump Jr. reportedly killed was on display on the convention floor.

Some items on the convention floor, such as belts and boots made of elephant, hippo and stingray, appear to violate Nevada’s law on wildlife trafficking. This is not the first time that vendors at SCI’s convention defied local authorities. Last year a dozen vendors were found selling illegal wildlife products in potential violation of the state law. HSI and the HSUS have submitted evidence of the violations of state law to local enforcement authorities.

 

Investigation Report here.

Photos/video from the 2020 investigation.

 

ENDS

 

Media contacts:

SA: Leozette Roode, +27713601104, LRoode@hsi.org

UK: Wendy Higgins, +44 (0)7989 972 423, whiggins@hsi.org

USA: Nancy Hwa, 202-676-2337, nhwa@hsi.org

 

Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. For more than 25 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide – on the Web at hsi.org.

Humane Society International / Africa


Photograph by David Paul Morris

South Africa — City Lodge Hotel Group (CLHG) has become the first African hotel chain to announce a cage-free eggs commitment, after working for two years with animal protection organisation Humane Society International to develop its animal welfare policy. By the end of 2025 CLHG will source exclusively cage-free eggs throughout its entire supply chain, which serves approximately 1.4-million eggs annually. CLHG and HSI will continue to work together on the implementation of this policy.

Ross Phinn, divisional director of operations at CLHG, said: “Food is an important component of our overall offering to guests and we are committed to the switch to cage-free eggs. This is one of several steps that CLHG is taking on its sustainability, environmentally-friendly and responsible tourism journey.”

Leozette Roode, media and outreach manager for HSI-Africa, said: “HSI-Africa has been working with City Lodge Hotel Group for more than two years on their journey to adopting a 100% cage-free egg policy, and we commend the leadership of the organisation for deciding to join the global movement towards higher animal welfare standards.  Consumers rely on food companies to ensure high standards of animal care in their supply chains, and CLHG is taking the lead to improve the lives of animals in South Africa’s food system. This move will relieve thousands of egg-laying hens from a life of extreme confinement, and sends a clear message to the egg industry that the future of egg production is cage-free. We are looking forward to working with CLHG to implement this commitment and encourage other food service providers to follow their example.”

Approximately 86% of egg-laying hens in South Africa spend their entire lives confined in wire battery cages, laying egg after egg for human consumption. Each hen is offered less space than the size of an A4 piece of paper, preventing them from fully performing their natural behaviors, such as nesting, perching, dust-bathing, running, flying, wing-flapping, and even freely walking. Studies show that battery caged hens suffer from psychological stress as well as physical harm. HSI is working globally to end the intensive confinement of egg-laying hens in cages. Businesses are increasingly realizing the economic value of more humane purchasing policies and farms are moving to meet the higher welfare requirements of their customers.

CLHG joins hundreds of international food corporations that have already committed to switching to exclusively cage-free eggs. HSI has worked with Unilever and Nestlé, the largest food companies in the world, on their cage-free policies, as well as two of the world’s largest food service providers, Sodexo and Compass Group, on their new global animal welfare and corporate social responsibility policies. After working with HSI-Africa, McDonalds South Africa committed to switching to 100% cage-free eggs in 2017.  For more information on other HSI corporate cage-free commitments, see https://cagefreeworld.org/global/.

Fast facts:

  • With a gross turnover of R10.77 billion at producer level, eggs remain the fourth largest animal product sector in agriculture in South Africa.[1]
  • Approximately 7.1 billion eggs are produced in South Africa in a year (2017).[2]
  • Over 25 million egg-laying hens are raised in South Africa,[3], approximately 86% of whom are confined in battery cages.[4]
  • As well as enduring psychological stress, battery hens also endure physical harm including bone weakness, feather loss, and in some cases metabolic disorders, including disuse osteoporosis and liver damage.[5]

 

ENDS

 

 MEDIA CONTACT:

 Leozette Roode, HSI-Africa media and outreach manager, e: LRoode@hsi.org, t: +27 71360 1104

Susan Reynard, communications & PR consultant (sreynard@clhg.com  / sreynard.joburg@gmail.com ; 083 446 0544) on behalf of: City Lodge Hotel Group

 

[1] https://www.sapoultry.co.za/pdf-statistics/Egg-industry-stats-summary.pdf

[2] https://www.sapoultry.co.za/pdf-statistics/Egg-industry-stats-summary.pdf

[3] http://www.sapoultry.co.za/pdf-statistics/egg-industry.pdf

[4] www.internationalegg.com/stats

[5] https://www.hsi.org/wp-content/uploads/assets/pdfs/scientists-and-experts-on-battery-cages-and-laying-hen-welfarehsi.pdf

Canada shockingly still allows elephant ivory trade

Humane Society International / Canada


Vanessa Mignon Wild African Elephant

MONTREAL—Amid global recognition of the threatened survival of elephants, a hunting club in Calgary is poised to auction off the first licence for a foreigner to hunt elephant in Botswana. The Ivory-Free Canada Coalition, a partnership of Canadian non-profit organisations, including: Humane Society International/Canada, Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, World Elephant Day, Elephanatics, and the Global March for Elephants and Rhino-Toronto, has petitioned the federal government for two years to ban the import, domestic sale, and export of all elephant ivory, including hunting trophies.

The Ivory-Free Canada Coalition believes a full elephant ivory ban in Canada is more important than ever, as the Calgary chapter of Safari Club International is shockingly set to award the elephant hunt to the highest bidder at their 27th Annual Fundraiser on January 25 (provided the bid is over $84,000 CAD). Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi lifted a ban on elephant hunting in May last year, inciting worldwide outrage. He previously gifted stools made from elephant feet to regional leaders during a meeting to discuss the animals’ fate. The ban was installed six years ago by Ian Khama, Botswana’s previous president.

Michael Bernard, deputy director – HSI/Canada, stated: “It is absolutely appalling that in this day and age Canada is still complicit with the slaughter of elephants for trophies. We are urgently calling on the Canadian Government to ban all trade in elephant ivory and end Canada’s role in further endangering these magnificent creatures.”

Fran Duthie, president of Elephanatics, added: “Statistics have shown large-tusked elephants are in decline and need to be protected from trophy hunting and poaching. With the increase in illegal trade in ivory the need to ban trophy hunting is even more necessary.”

Patricia Sims, founder of World Elephant Day and president – World Elephant Society, also stated: “The trophy hunting of elephants is atrocious and needs to be banned worldwide. Elephants are a vital keystone species, they are the caretakers of their habitats and climate change mitigators in their role of maintaining biodiversity. Killing elephants ultimately destroys habitats and Canada needs to take a stand now to ban elephant ivory and protect elephants for their survival and the health of our planet.”

A staggering 20,000 African elephants are killed each year. Scientists anticipate they will be extinct in the wild within 20 years if threats continue. While poaching is the main threat to elephants, legal trophy hunting only exacerbates the threat and drives up the demand for elephant ivory.

Both the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Flora and Fauna (CITES) and members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have asked all countries to ban their domestic trade of ivory to save elephants. At least nine countries and 10 US states have done so. At the last IUCN Congress, Canada – along with Japan, Namibia and South Africa – refused to support the motion on domestic ivory trade bans.

Over 100 African elephant tusks were imported into Canada as hunting trophies over the past decade, according to the data Canada reported to CITES in its annual trade reports. Yet, exporting countries reported that over 300 African elephant tusks were exported to Canada in this same time period. The reason for the discrepancy is unknown.

Botswana was previously considered one of the last safe havens for elephants. It is home to 130,000 elephants which is almost a third of Africa’s total population.

In order to press the Canadian government into action, the Ivory-Free Canada Coalition launched a petition to ban elephant ivory and hunting trophies at change.org/ivoryfreecanada. With over 517,000 signatures, it is one of the largest Canadian petitions on Change.org for 2019.

For interviews and/or more information, please call or email the media contact below.

-30-

Media contact: Christopher Paré, director of communications, HSI/Canada – office: 514-395-2914 x 206, cell: 438-402-0643, email: cpare@hsi.org

Media contact: Tessa Vanderkop, Director of Strategic Relationships and Advocacy, Elephanatics – cell: 604.789.8886, email: elephanaticsinfo@gmail.com, www.elephanatics.org

The Ivory-Free Canada Coalition is a partnership of non-profit organizations petitioning the Canadian government to ban the import, domestic trade and export of all elephant ivory, including hunting trophies. The coalition includes Elephanatics, Global March for Elephants and Rhinos-Toronto, World Elephant Day, Humane Society International/Canada and the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada. Sign the Petition:  www.change.org/ivoryfreecanada

Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, with active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation, farm animal welfare and animals in research. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International which, together with its affiliates, constitutes one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide and on the web at hsicanada.ca.

World’s most illegally trafficked mammal in grave danger of extinction

Humane Society International / United States


Natural History Media/Alamy Stock photo

WASHINGTON— Wildlife conservation groups sued the Trump administration today to force officials to propose Endangered Species Act protections for critically imperiled pangolins.

Today’s lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service notes that pangolins, which inhabit Asia and Africa, are in grave danger of extinction. A massive demand for their scales, erroneously believed to have curative properties in East Asian medicine, and their meat, consumed as a delicacy in some Asian countries, has fueled their decline.

“These odd, adorable animals may look like pinecones with legs, but the massive trafficking in pangolin parts is no joke,” said Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If poachers keep killing thousands of pangolins a week, they’ll disappear in decades. The Trump administration needs to help protect these unique creatures from exploitation and extinction.”

The world’s only mammal with scales, pangolins are also the world’s most trafficked mammals. Between 2004 and 2014, more than a million were illegally traded — an average of nearly 300 animals killed per day. Despite a 2016 ban on the international commercial trade in pangolin parts, several massive seizures in Singapore, Malaysia and China in 2019, representing tens of thousands of dead pangolins, show rampant illegal trade continues.

“The United States’ delay in listing these species belies its role as a leader in combating poaching worldwide,” said Adam Peyman, programs and operations manager for Humane Society International and co-author of the 2015 listing petition. “The U.S. market for pangolin products feeds poaching and trafficking in the countries where the animals are found. By giving all pangolin species the Endangered Species Act protection they desperately need, the Fish and Wildlife Service will have the tools it needs to stop U.S. trade in pangolin parts.”

While most illegally sourced pangolins are destined for markets in China and Vietnam, the United States also drives demand. At least 26,000 imports of pangolin products were seized in the United States between 2004 and 2013, and a 2015 report by Humane Society International found “medicinal” products containing or likely to contain pangolin parts openly for sale online and at U.S. stores.

“Pangolins cruelly suffer and die for their meat and the so-called medicinal properties of their scales. It is past time for the Fish and Wildlife Service to take action to prevent the illegal trade and eventual extinction of this species,” said Angela Grimes, CEO of Born Free USA.

One pangolin species, the Temminck’s ground pangolin, is already protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. In July 2015 wildlife groups petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to list the other seven pangolin species. The law required the Service to either propose protections or find protections “not warranted” by July 2016, more than three and a half years ago.

“The Trump administration should get with the program and do its part to save pangolins.” said Elly Pepper, deputy director of international wildlife conservation at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “With scientists predicting the extinction of over one million species, the time for transformative change is now. We must rein in destructive consumption patterns like those decimating pangolins.”

Today’s suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. If pangolins are protected as endangered, the law would prohibit the import and interstate sale of pangolin parts in the United States, except for scientific or other conservation purposes. Listing would also heighten global awareness about pangolins and their threats and make funding available for anti-trafficking and habitat conservation efforts.

Contacts:

Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe refuse to cooperate with global community to protect iconic species and prohibit wild-caught live elephant trade to zoos

Humane Society International / Global


Michelle Riley/HSUS Wild giraffe in South Africa

WASHINGTON—Today, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora announced that several countries stated their intention to not implement agreements to protect species from international trade — agreements that were reached at CITES’ August meeting.

  • Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe refused to enact protections for giraffe by entering “reservations” to the listing of the giraffe on CITES Appendix II. In doing so, these nations will not take vital steps to ensure that the export of giraffe products from their lands does not harm the long-term future of the species.
  • Botswana and Zimbabwe are also refusing to abide by CITES’ near total ban on trade in wild-caught live elephants from their countries to foreign zoos. They were joined by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Namibia, Tanzania and South Africa.
  • Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Japan, Indonesia, Namibia, Norway, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe also took a reservation to CITES protection for long-fin and short-fin mako sharks. Of these countries, South Africa and Japan are major players in mako shark fishing and trade.
  • Thailand entered reservations for the star tortoise and the tokay gecko. Thailand is the major exporter of tokay geckos and a major importer of star tortoises for the pet trade.

Canada routinely enters reservations to new CITES protections and later withdraws them after it has made the necessary regulatory changes to its federal laws.

Since South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia are the top exporters of giraffe parts and products to the U.S., the action taken by the eight southern Africa nations raises significant concerns.

Adam Peyman, wildlife programs and operations manager for Humane Society International, said, It is unacceptable that these nations are not going to join the other 176 countries that are CITES Parties to help ensure to the future of giraffe in the wild. The Appendix II listing marks the first international protection for the species, and the reservations undermine this monumental decision.”

“We are very disappointed that Botswana and Zimbabwe have refused to accept the overwhelming consensus that the capture and export of live wild-caught baby elephants to foreign zoos must stop,” said Audrey Delsink, an elephant biologist who is director of wildlife for HSI Africa. “It is now up to other nations to prohibit the import of wild-caught elephants.”

After an animal is given CITES protection, countries are allowed to enter reservations within 90 days. These reservations were likely entered in November but made public only today. By entering reservations on Appendix II listings, such as the giraffe, these nations can export these species — dead or alive, in part or whole — without determining that the items were legally acquired and verifying that the export will not harm the survival of the species in the wild. Nor will they report export data for these species to CITES, thus hampering the global community’s ability to gain a full picture of the international trade in them.

Importing countries that are CITES Parties are still recommended to require proof from the exporting country that the export will not harm the species and that the items were obtained legally according to the laws of the country of export. In addition, they will have to report their imports, so this important trade monitoring data will still be collected.

“We urge all these Parties to withdraw these reservations as soon as possible,” said Dr. Teresa Telecky, wildlife vice president for HSI.

END

Media contact: Nancy Hwa, nhwa@hsi.org, 202-596-0808 (cell)

Humane Society International / Global


Credit: Vanessa Mignon

CAPE TOWN — World-renowned elephant scientists and conservationists have united in an urgent plea to Zimbabwe, China and other countries considering exporting or importing wild-caught elephants for captive use, to abide by an internationally-agreed near-total ban on such activities that takes effect on 26th November 2019. The experts’ plea comes in the wake of Zimbabwe exporting at least 30 baby elephants to China last month after taking them from their wild families almost a year ago and holding them captive at Hwange National Park.

The 30+ elephants are now being held in quarantine pending distribution to amusement parks and other facilities within China. This is the latest in a long line of similar exports by Zimbabwe; since 2012 ZimParks has captured 141 juvenile elephants and exported them to China and Dubai.

Following international condemnation, a historic resolution was reached at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora’s 18th Conference of the Parties held in Geneva in August this year, supported by an overwhelming majority of governments. It introduced a near total ban on live elephant exports from Zimbabwe and Botswana to zoos, stating that the only ‘Appropriate and Acceptable destination’ for live elephants exported from Zimbabwe or Botswana should be “in-situ conservation programmes or secure areas in the wild, within the species’ natural and historical range in Africa, except in exceptional circumstances where, in consultation with the Animals Committee, through its Chair with the support of the Secretariat, and in consultation with the IUCN elephant specialist group, it is considered that a transfer to ex-situ locations will provide demonstrable in-situ conservation benefits for African elephants, or in the case of temporary transfer in emergency situations.”

As the CITES resolution did not take effect until 26th Nov., it would appear that Zimbabwe took advantage of the time window to ship the elephants to China. Experts remain concerned that Zimbabwe may intend to capture more elephants from the wild, and even defy the CITES ruling completely.

Audrey Delsink, elephant biologist and wildlife director at Humane Society International/Africa in South Africa and one of the expert signatories, said: “Elephant scientists across the globe are united in our opposition to the capture of young elephants from the wild for a life of captivity. In addition to the deep distress this causes the wild herd deprived of their babies, substandard zoos and circuses cannot provide natural environments and utterly fail to meet the psychological and physiological needs of elephants. The recent transport of young elephants from Zimbabwe is the latest inexcusable case. These captures must end, and we call upon CITES to ensure that nations like Zimbabwe, China, Dubai and Pakistan are left in no doubt whatsoever that removing elephants from the wild and condemning them to a life of miserable captivity, is against the spirit and the letter of the ban.”

In October 2019 HSI/Africa released the last known video footage of the 30+ elephants before they were flown to China. Download video here.

Read the experts’ statement.

ENDS

Contacts:

  • HSI/ Africa: Media & Outreach Manager, Leozette Roode, mobile +27 71 360 1104, lroode@hsi.org

HSI/UK: Director of International Media Wendy Higgins, mobile +44 (0) 7989 972 423, whiggins@hsi.org

Army trucks moved in despite campaigners’ legal effort

Humane Society International / Africa


Oscar Nkala Wild-caught young elephants are held captive in a fenced boma by Zimbabwe authorities awaiting shipment to China.

CAPE TOWN—Animal protection experts at Humane Society International/Africa and Zimbabwe animal groups have today expressed their outrage and heartbreak at the news that more than 30 wild-caught baby elephants held captive for nearly a year in Hwange National Park, have been flown out of the country via Victoria Falls Airport. The news comes on the same day Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ZNSPCA), supported by HSI/Africa, Advocates4Earth, and Sibanye Animal & Welfare Conservancy Trust, filed urgent court papers at Harare High Court in an attempt to stop the shipment to Chinese zoos. Zimbabwe has exported 108 young elephants to zoos in China since 2012.

HSI/Africa has also today released new, exclusive footage of the young elephants taken just days ago, showing them eating dry branches and walking around a small water hole in their fenced boma. These are the last known images of the elephants before their removal today.

HSI/Africa’s sources on the ground report that army trucks moved in to remove the elephants, and that ZimParks staff on the scene had their mobile phones removed, presumably to stop news of the shipment getting out. Sources previously reported that ZimParks officials – apparently planning to accompany the baby elephants to China – had applied for visas to China.

DOWNLOAD HSI/Africa’s fresh images and video footage of the baby elephants here.

The shipment to China is in defiance of the spirit of a landmark vote at the August meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangerd Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) at which a near total ban on live elephant exports from Zimbabwe and Botswana to zoos was agreed. The new CITES rules don’t take effect until 26th November, so it appears that Zimbabwe is attempting to export the elephants before the deadline.

Elephant biologist Audrey Delsink, wildlife director at Humane Society International/Africa, said: “We are left feeling outraged and heartbroken at this news today that the Zimbabwe authorities have shipped these poor baby elephants out of the country. Zimbabwe is showing total disregard for the spirit of the CITES ruling as well as ignoring local and global criticism. Condemning these elephants to a life of captivity in Chinese zoos is a tragedy. We and others have been working for months to try and stop these elephants being shipped because all that awaits them in China is a life of monotonous deprivation in zoos or circuses. As an elephant biologist used to observing these magnificent animals in their natural wild habitat, I am devastated by this outcome. These animals should be roaming in the wild with their families but instead they have been ripped away from their mothers for more than a year and now sold off for lifelong captivity.”    

Lenin Chisaira, an environmental lawyer from Zimbabwe-based Advocates4Earth who filed an interdict to try to stop the exports in May 2019, and which has been working with HSI/Africa and others on efforts to release the elephants, said: “The secrecy around the ongoing  capture and trade of Zimbabwe’s wildlife exposes lack of accountability, transparency and a hint of arrogance by Zimbabwean authorities. They seem prepared to go ahead despite global outcry and advice. They also seem keen to go against local pressure , and local legal processes considering the case we launched early this year which is centred on the welfare and trading of these elephants.”

Over the past year, elephant experts and wildlife protection groups across Africa have called for the elephant export to be halted and for all future captures to be stopped. The African Elephant Coalition, an alliance of 32 African countries, has called on Zimbabwe to end the export of wild elephants to zoos and other captive facilities.

Nomusa Dube, founder of Zimbabwe Elephant Foundation, said: “The Zimbabwe Constitution Wild Life Act states that all Zimbabwe wildlife is owned by the citizens, and right now Constitutional national laws have been broken. The capture and export of wildlife in Zimbabwe is unconstitutional and unlawful thus any CITES permits are illegal.”  

ENDS

Contacts:
HSI/Africa: Media & Outreach Manager Leozette Roode, mobile +27 71 360 1104, lroode@hsi.org
HSI/UK: Director of International Media Wendy Higgins, mobile +44 (0) 7989 972 423, whiggins@hsi.org

Notes
CITES Parties agreed a near ban on the export of wild-caught African elephants from Zimbabwe and Botswana to captive situations, with exceptions only if in consultation with the CITES Animals Committee and the IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group, an expert group that has publicly stated it does not believe there to be conservation benefits to wild caught elephants being sent to captive facilities. Notably, the government of China abstained while Zimbabwe along with the United States voted against the near-total ban. African elephants in Zimbabwe are listed on Appendix II of CITES with an annotation that allows live elephants to be exported to “appropriate and acceptable” destinations. Under this definition, Zimbabwe has been capturing live baby African elephants in the wild for years and exporting them to zoos in China and elsewhere. The new position agreed by CITES Parties in August 2019 clarifies that captive situations outside of the elephants’ natural range and not for conservation purposes, do not constitute appropriate or acceptable destinations.

Learn More Button Inserter