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In pursuit of the tortoise smugglers

Stuffed in suitcases or strapped to passengers’ bodies, more and more rare species are finding their way on to the black market. But a radical new wave of wildlife detectives is on the case. By Rowan Moore Gerety

In February 2016, Richard Lewis, a wildlife conservationist working in Madagascar, was contacted by a veterinary clinic with an unusual request. “Someone went to a vet and said: ‘Can you take a microchip out of a ploughshare?’” Lewis recalled. “So they called us.”

The ploughshare tortoise is one of the rarest tortoises on the planet: with fewer than 50 adults thought to be left in the wild, each one is worth as much as $50,000 on the global exotic pet market. Like gold or ivory, their very rarity is part of what drives smugglers’ interest. Lewis runs the Madagascar programme of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, which operates a captive breeding site where ploughshares are reared for more than a decade before being released into the wild. Both buying and selling ploughshares, or keeping them as pets, is illegal, and the breeding site is heavily defended, with barbed wire and round-the-clock armed security. As a further measure against smuggling, the organisation implants every ploughshare it encounters with a microchip. Anyone hoping to remove the microchip is likely to be involved with tortoise trafficking.

Related: ‘A different dimension of loss’: inside the great insect die-off

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Rhinoceros DNA database successful in aiding poaching prosecutions

Statistical study shows how powerful RhODIS database is in linking forensic evidence to particular animals, say researchers

A large database of rhinoceros DNA is successfully being used to prosecute poachers and those trading rhino horns, new research has revealed.

While numbers of the southern white rhino – the only wild subspecies of white rhino in Africa – have grown to about 20,000, fewer than 5,500 black rhinos are thought to exist in the wild, and both species are affected by poaching.

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Man jailed after rhino horns and elephant tusks are found in attic

Abbas Allawi is sentenced to 14 months for trying to sell on Instagram endangered animal parts worth up to £2m

A would-be trader in endangered animal parts has been jailed after rhino horns, elephant tusks and hippo teeth worth up to £2m were discovered by specially trained search dogs in a police raid.

Abbas Allawi, 52, was arrested when officers from the Metropolitan police’s wildlife crime unit searched his home in Gisburne Way, Watford, on 19 October last year.

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Man jailed after rhino horns and elephant tusks are found in attic

Abbas Allawi is sentenced to 14 months for trying to sell on Instagram endangered animal parts worth up to £2m

A would-be trader in endangered animal parts has been jailed after rhino horns, elephant tusks and hippo teeth worth up to £2m were discovered by specially trained search dogs in a police raid.

Abbas Allawi, 52, was arrested when officers from the Metropolitan police’s wildlife crime unit searched his home in Gisburne Way, Watford, on 19 October last year.

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It’s chic to save the elephant, but what about the world? | Lucy Siegle

This poshest of enviro-crusades fails to question why animals are facing extinction

When Michael Gove teased the announcement of an environmental victory on the Today programme last week, I wondered if he had solved climate change.

But no… of course it was elephants. A partial ban on the UK’s domestic ivory trade, missing since the manifesto, was back on the table, he revealed. Gove tipped his hat to former environment secretary and major landowner Owen Paterson for championing the elephant. (Paterson’s greatest hits include an attempt to scrap the UK’s Climate Change Act.)

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Rescue of the olive ridley sea turtle

Of the millions of eggs laid by the endangered olive ridley sea turtles on one Costa Rican beach, few survive both predators and poachers. But how could allowing local villagers to harvest the eggs be a solution?

Dawn on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast and the dark figure of a man at the water’s edge gradually becomes distinct under a pinkening sky. I switch off my torch. Jairo Quiros Rosales and I are the only people to be seen on this broad black beach, the volcanic sands of which stretch north for several miles. Jairo is beckoning, so I hurry down to him, scanning the beach and murky shoreline. As the light grows, I make out the funereal vultures flecking the distance, and assorted mutts appear from the gloom to sniff the night from the sands.

And then I see them: about 100 metres further up the beach, like strange, regularly humped stones, hundreds of olive ridley sea turtles are making their way from the ocean on to the beach to lay their eggs. This is the arribada. It means “the arrival” in Spanish, and I have been waiting more than a month to see it.

Her shell heaves with obvious effort and her eyes stare unresponsively as she enters a trance-like state

The poachers have turned violent, threatening and attacking, even killing the environmentalists

All around me, local men and women are dancing a tarantella on the sand, stamping gently in bare feet to find nests

Related: The pioneering vets who save rhinos left for dead by poachers – in pictures

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Marchers across the world demand justic for wildlife

Paula Kahumbu: The Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions brings people in cities across the world together to demand action to save threatened wildlife from extinction

Today, 7 October 2017, thousands of people are gathering in more than 100 cities all over the world to show solidarity with wildlife in the Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions. This year’s theme ‘Justice for All’ draws attention to the dire threat to these species as a result of international wildlife crime.

In my home city Nairobi, the planning for this march has involved tens of organizations, including NGOs, local and national government agencies, universities, schools, companies, diplomatic embassies and local communities. More than 100 young volunteers have helped with preparations and will be present on the day to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Some great strides have been made to save elephants. There is a global momentum against illegal trafficking in wild animal products, as evidenced by China’s ban on trade in ivory products and the recent decision by Japanese online retailer Rakuten to join the list of others who no longer allow the sale of animal trophies on their platforms. These moves raise hopes that the life expectancy of elephants and other endangered species in the wildlands will go up in the coming years.

If we don’t make wildlife relevant for Africans, and African economies, we will lose the space that wildlife needs and I fear that our animals will become homeless. We are losing habitats at an alarming rate. In the period between 2010 and 2015, Africa lost an estimated 2.8 million hectares of forest per year.

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UK ivory trade ban to help end ‘shame’ of elephant poaching

Current UK law allows trade in ‘antiques’ carved before 1947 but government bows to campaigners and will ban sale of ivory regardless of age

The UK government has bowed to campaigners and will ban the sale of ivory regardless of age, according to a new consultation.

The UK is the biggest exporter of legal ivory in the world and shutting down the trade will help prevent illegal ivory being laundered by criminals. More than 50 elephants are killed by poachers every day on average and the population of African elephants plunged by a third between 2007-14 alone, leading to warnings that the entire species could go extinct.

Related: Exclusive: footage shows young elephants being captured in Zimbabwe for Chinese zoos

Related: China's ivory ban sparks dramatic drop in prices across Asia

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The pioneering vets who save rhinos left for dead by poachers – in pictures

South Africa’s rising poaching problem has seen a shocking 6,115 rhinos killed in the last nine years. Saving the Survivors’ ground-breaking initiative sees a small team of vets race to the scene to try and treat the animals before it’s too late

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Rhino horn sales: banking on extinction

Paula Kahumbu: The sale of rhino horn in South Africa won’t help save rhinos, but it will benefit organised crime

South Africa has just launched the first ever legal rhino horn auction. If you are based in South Africa and would like to buy some rhino horn you can place your bid here.

This is not a government auction, although it is sanctioned by the South African government. It has been organised by private rhino rancher, John Hume, who took the government to court and won the right to sell 265 rhino horns weighing about 500 kg. Trade in rhino horn is illegal in most countries, but the black market value of one kilogram is said to be USD 100,000—more than the price of platinum.

As the demand for rhino horn has increased globally, a trend led by Asia, we have seen the growth of rhino being poached in South Africa escalate at alarming levels to match that demand. We are at a crossroad where we, as a nation, need to view alternative approaches to conserve our species … We firmly believe that legal rhino horn trading is the best way to save the rhino…

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Victory for WildLeaks! Green Mile Safari Accused of Poaching in Tanzania

In 2016 Elephant Action League – through our whistleblower program WildLeaks – received videos showing illegal and cruel trophy hunting in Tanzania committed by the safari company called Green Mile Safari Co. Ltd. Among the shocking violations in the Green Mile videos are hunting with automatic weapons, having children hunt with automatic weapons, gunning down...

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The post Victory for WildLeaks! Green Mile Safari Accused of Poaching in Tanzania appeared first on Elephant Action League.

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Train Plows Into Elephant Herd in India, Killing 5 Animals

The authorities say the train driver was going too fast and ignored villagers who were waving flashlights to urge him to slow down.
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Speeding Train Plows Into Elephants in India, Killing 5 Animals

The authorities say the train driver was going too fast and ignored villagers who were waving flashlights to urge him to slow down.
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Speeding Train Plows Into Elephants in India, Killing 5 Animals

The authorities say the train driver was going too fast and ignored villagers who were waving flashlights to urge him to slow down.
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Kenya:Prominent Ivory Trade Investigator Killed in Nairobi Home

[Deutsche Welle] World-renowned ivory investigator Esmond Bradley Martin has been found dead in his home with a stab wound to the neck. Martin had spent decades tracing the trade of ivory and rhino horns from Africa to Asian markets.
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Kenya:Ivory Trade Investigator Found Dead in Karen, Nairobi

[Nation] A world-renowned ivory investigator has been killed at his home in Karen, Nairobi, police said.
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Top ivory investigator murdered in Kenya

Esmond Bradley Martin, whose groundbreaking investigations helped the fight against elephant poaching, died after being stabbed at home in NairobiA well-known American ivory-trade investigator, who pioneered efforts to combat elephant and rhino poachin...
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Top ivory investigator murdered in Kenya

Esmond Bradley Martin, whose groundbreaking investigations helped the fight against elephant poaching, died after being stabbed at home in NairobiA well-known American ivory-trade investigator, who pioneered efforts to combat elephant and rhino poachin...
Read More »

Nigeria:Thailand Seizes Nigeria’s Smuggled Ivory As Rescued Chimpanzees Face Uncertain Future

[Guardian] Ivory worth 15 million baht ($469,800) smuggled from Nigeria has been seized in Thailand, customs officials said.Three elephant tusks and 31 ivory pieces weighing a combined 148 kilograms were seized at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in ...
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South Africa:Policewoman Provides Gifts to Help Grandmother, Baby

[News24Wire] A fluffy grey elephant, pink-frilled clothing, soothing creams and nourishing formula are amongst the gifts from the heart given by an Eastern Cape police captain to an elderly granny taking care of her tiny granddaughter.
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Overwhelming response to UK ivory surrender to protect elephants

Publication Date:  Feb 2 2018 Image:  An ivory surrender to help protect elephants from further slaughter for the i...
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Overwhelming response to UK ivory surrender to protect elephants

Publication Date:  Feb 2 2018 Image:  An ivory surrender to help protect elephants from further slaughter for the i...
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