Category Archives: China

Cambodia’s plan to reintroduce tigers

The Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) is one of the six living tiger subspecies, and is found in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and southwestern China.

The total population is less than 325 individuals in the wild. The largest population unit survives in Thailand estimated at 175 to 200 individuals. There are 75 individuals in Myanmar, and only 20 Indochinese tigers remain in Vietnam. The last tiger seen in China was 2009 in the Yunnan province.

As recently as 1999, Cambodia was home to one of the world’s largest tiger populations. Within a decade, the big cats had been eliminated from the country due to poaching and habitat loss. The last  Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) was captured by camera trap roaming the lush Mondulkiri Province in the country’s east in 2007. Nearly 11 years later, none have been seen.

The Cambodian government is looking to change that. The Ministry of Environment announced in late September that it is moving forward with a plan, along with the WWF, to reintroduce tigers to Cambodia — a scheme that has drawn criticism from wildlife experts across the globe due to weak rule of law, rampant poaching and the destruction of Cambodia’s environment through illegal logging and other practices

However are there are a number of conservation organizations and scientists that feel now is not the right time to launch this program in Cambodia.

To read more visit: https://news.mongabay.com/2017/11/is-cambodias-plan-to-reintroduce-tigers-doomed-to-fail/?n3wsletter&utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=1868686cdf-newsletter_2017_11_02&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-1868686cdf-67233543

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5 Years in Prison for Canadian Turtle Smuggler

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On April 12, Kai Xu, a Canadian man caught in 2014 attempting to smuggle 51 live turtles in his pants, was sentenced to fifty-seven months in prison by a US federal judge. According to prosecutors, Canadian border guards had found “41 turtles taped to his legs and 10 hidden between his legs”, and he had already sent over 1000 turtles to Shanghai in suitcases via a co-conspirator.
Since his arrest in September 2014, the 27-year-old has spent his days in prison. He has admitted he’s tried to smuggle over 1600 turtles, ranging in species from Eastern box turtles and red-eared sliders to Diamondback Terrapins, from the US to China between April 2014 and his arrest. The Associated Press reported that Xu entered Michigan multiple times to buy and ship turtles to China without a federal permit. Assistant US Attorney Sara Woodward noted his wildlife smuggling crimes to be among the largest in recent years.
Xu, who claimed in a letter to US District Judge John Corbett O’Meara to be selling the turtles in part to fund his college degree, thanked agents “for stopping the darkness of my greed and ignorance”, and expressed remorse for his actions. The sentencing marks a victory against the dangerous and widespread global trend of wildlife trafficking.
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Source: Dasgupta, Shreya. “Turtle smuggler sentenced to five years in prison.” Mongabay, 18 April, 2016.

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Caught: The Killers of Elephants

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Boniface Matthew Mariango,  “SHETANI” / “The DEVIL”

Boniface Matthew Mariango,  “SHETANI” has spent the past years managing at least 15 poaching syndicates throughout Tanzania, Burundi, Zambia, Mozambique and southern Kenya, according to the Elephant Action League. Last Thursday he was arrested in Tanzania.

This arrest is another substantial breakthrough in Tanzania’s anti-poaching and anti-trafficking efforts, with implications also reaching into neighboring countries. Finally, those directly responsible for illegal Ivory trade are getting caught for the heinous crimes by international law enforcement.

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 Yang Fenglan, a Chinese national “The Queen of Ivory,”

It is believed that 96 elephants are killed every day, 35,000 a year in Africa by poachers for their valuable ivory. With only 400,000 elephants left in the Africa wild, it is believed that if this rate of mass murder continues, elephants will be extinct by the year 2025. Breakthrough arrests like Bonicafe Mariango and recently Ms. Yang Fenglan, a Chinese national “The Queen of Ivory,” cannot come soon enough.

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Recent commitment to ban elephant ivory by President Barack Hussein Obama and Chinese Present Xi Jinping gives hope for elephants.

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The Vaquita: Desert Porpoise of Mexico

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The vaquita, is the smallest members of the porpoise family and found only in the waters of Mexico’s northern Gulf of California. The marine mammal, whose name means “little cow” in Spanish is rapidly becoming extinct as they accidentally drown in the gill nets local fishers deploy for fish and shrimp. According to a new report, their numbers have declined by more than 40 percent in just a single year. Now, only around 50

Vaquitas are shy creatures, and rarely seen, except when they are pulled to the surface, usually dead in fishing nets. They have been known to science only since 1958, when three skulls were found on a beach. At the time, it was thought that they numbered in the low thousands. Scientists and fishers alike say the animals, with their pretty facial markings and sleek bodies, are endearing.

There’s danger now that the porpoises will become the second cetacean (the first was the baiji, or Chinese river dolphin) to succumb to human pressures, most likely disappearing forever by 2018.

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Indeed, the government of Mexico established a presidential commission on vaquita conservation in 2012, when scientists estimated the porpoise’s population at 200. In 2005 Mexico created a refuge for them, banned all commercial fishing in the refuge’s waters, beefed up enforcement, and invested more than $30 million (U.S.) to compensate fishers and encourage them to switch to other fishing methods.

It also established the international scientific team to monitor the porpoise’s population, reproductive rates, and habitat. Its members hail from such august conservation bodies as the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the International Whaling Commission, the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, and Norway’s Institute of Marine Research.

All were optimistic then. “We thought we were going to see the vaquitas’ numbers increasing by 4 percent a year,” said Barbara Taylor, a marine biologist with the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in San Diego, California, and a member of the team. “Instead, they’ve had a catastrophic decline of 18.5 percent per year.”

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The decline is due to illegal fishing that is out of control. In the past three years, illegal gillnetting for the totoaba, a critically endangered fish that can grow to more than six feet long (1.8 meters) and 300 pounds (136 kilograms), has surged. Unfortunately, the Vaquita and the similarly sized totoaba live in the same parts of the gulf.

The totoaba’s swim bladder, highly prized as a traditional health food and medicine in China, can fetch thousands of dollars. Few fishers can resist the temptation.

Scientists estimate that about 435 miles (700 kilometers) of legal nets are in the water every day during the fishing season, from mid-September to mid-June. That number is not counting the illegal nets for the totoaba,” Taylor says.

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Because of the vaquita’s timid nature (a sighting at 300 feet [90 meters] is considered close), scientists are not able to make visual counts of the animals. They rely instead on an array of special acoustic devices, deployed every year before the fishing season begins (they too are easily tangled in the nets), to record the sounds of the animals as they forage in the murky waters they favor. From these sounds, the researchers are able to estimate the vaquitas’ numbers.

Because the animal’s population is so low, the team says there is only one solution: Ban all gillnetting in the gulf’s upper regions, including the waters surrounding the vaquitas’ refuge. The ban must be strictly applied, even to the legal shrimp and fin fish fishery, and enforced with more police patrols on sea and land.

“It’s a hard choice,” Taylor acknowledges. Such a ban will hurt all the fishers, including those who aren’t engaged in the illegal fishery. But, she said, if Mexico doesn’t do that, it “will lose the vaquita.”

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Mexico, China, and the United States governments need to work together to control—if not end—the trade in totoaba swim bladders. The dried bladders are often smuggled across the U.S. border before ending up in the Chinese marketplace.

There is a modicum of hope. Even at only 50- 97 animals. the species can still be saved. Most marine mammals, including other cetaceans, that have been taken down through hunting have come back, so it’s not too late. But if nothing is done, they can also go extinct rapidly, as happened with the baiji. They can be gone before you know it.”

The commission will meet again at the end of August to discuss what to do next to save the vaquita.

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Forest Turtles Confiscated

Confiscated Forest Turtles

Authorities in Palawan confiscated on June 18 a shipment of 4,200 critically endangered forest turtles that are believed to be destined for the Chinese black market with an estimated value of around US$400,000.

The endangered animals, comprised mostly of highly valued “Siebenrockiella leytensis”, also known as the Philippine pond turtle, were rescued in a warehouse owned by a Chinese trader living in Bataraza town near the southernmost tip of the province.

Alex Marcaida, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) information head, told Inquirer that the raiding team, composed of PCSD enforcers and members of the Provincial Law Enforcement Task Force, were preparing to file charges against a certain Peter Lei, said to be a Chinese national but a long-time resident in the area and owner of the warehouse.

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The turtles were turned over to a government-run rehabilitation facility, the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Centre, and Katala Foundation in preparation for their release in the wild, according to Marcaida. At least 90 turtles were already dead when they conducted the raid.

The wildlife shipment, according to one of the enforcement team members, was being prepared for shipment to China, where the turtles are in demand both as food and as pet. Marcaida said they believed the turtles were collected mainly from various parts of northern Palawan where the endangered species are believed to be abundant.

“The black market rate in China for these species is around $200 a kilo,” Marcaida said. Marcaida said they were preparing charges against the trader for violation of the Philippine Wildlife Act, Republic Act No. 9147

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China Bans Elephant Ivory

 

Malaysian customs officers show elephant tusks which were recently seized in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur

GOOD News in the fight for Wildlife Conservation!

According to Associate Press and U.S. News & World Report, ‪#‎China‬ has imposed a 1 year ban on ‪#‎elephant‬ ‪#‎ivory‬ imports, takes immediate effect today.

Read article: http://www.usnews.com/…/china-bans-ivory-imports-for-1-year…

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Ringleader of Rhino Wildlife Crimes Punished

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Zhifei Li, only thirty years old, the owner of an antique business in China, was sentenced today to 70 months in prison for heading an illegal wildlife smuggling conspiracy in which 30 rhinoceros horns and numerous objects made from rhino horn and elephant ivory worth more than $4.5 million were smuggled from the United States to China.

The sentence – one of the longest ever imposed in the United States for a wildlife smuggling offense – was announced by Paul J. Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey; Sam Hirsch, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice; Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

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Li, 30, of Shandong, China, the owner of Overseas Treasure Finding in Shandong, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas to a total of 11 counts: one count of conspiracy to smuggle and violate the Lacey Act; seven counts of smuggling; one count of illegal wildlife trafficking in violation of the Lacey Act; and two counts of making false wildlife documents. Judge Salas also imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

Li was arrested in Florida in January 2013 on federal charges brought under seal in New Jersey and shortly after arriving in the country. Before he was arrested, he purchased two endangered black rhinoceros horns from an undercover USFWS agent in a Miami Beach hotel room for $59,000 while attending an antique show. Li was arrested as part of “Operation Crash” – a nationwide effort led by the USFWS and the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute those involved in the black market trade of rhinoceros horns and other protected species.

In papers filed in Newark federal court, Li admitted that he was the “boss” of three antique dealers in the United States whom he paid to help obtain wildlife items and smuggle them to him via Hong Kong. One of those individuals was Qiang Wang, aka “Jeffrey Wang,” who was sentenced to 37 months in prison on Dec. 5, 2013, in the Southern District of New York. Li played a leadership and organizational role in the smuggling conspiracy by arranging for financing to pay for the wildlife, purchasing and negotiating prices, directing how to smuggle the items out of the United States, and getting the assistance of additional collaborators in Hong Kong to receive the goods and smuggle them to him in mainland China.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Salas ordered Li to serve two years of supervised release and to forfeit $3.5 million in proceeds of his criminal activity as well as several Asian artifacts. Various ivory objects seized by the USFWS as part of the investigation have also been surrendered.

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The result of Mr. Zhifei Li’s greed…

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