NORWAY OFFERS DEAL TO AFRICA: “You kill elephants, we’ll kill whales.”

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1997:

HARARE, Zimbabwe––Hosting the
10th triennial conference of the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species,
June 9-23, Zimbabwe intends to press the
home advantage, seeking to lift the 1989
CITES moratorium on international ivory sales.
With Namibia and Botswana, and with South
African endorsement in principle, Zimbabwe
hopes to move the southern African elephant
population from CITES Appendix I, the list of
endangered species barred from trade, to
Appendix II, meaning a species warrants monitoring
but may be traded.
South Africa, as in 1994, wants to
resume selling white rhino horn––but if CITES
agrees to such sales in principle, will settle for
a temporary “zero quota,” giving demand a
chance to rise in anticipation, even as the political
flak settles.

Norway and Japan hope to downlist
minke whales from Appendix I. Japan also
wants to downlist North Pacific western
Bryde’s whales and Eastern Pacific grey
whales. The U.S. reclassified grey whales from
“endangered” to “threatened” under the
Endangered Species Act in 1995, and is supporting
an application by the Makah tribe of
western Washington to hunt grey whales under
an aboriginal subsistence quota. Japan is
encouraging British Columbian tribes to exercise
similar “traditional” rights, not used in 70
years or more, in hopes of opening a legal
loophole for Japanese coastal whalers, and of
increasing public acceptance of whaling.
Norwegian whaling commissioner
Kaare Bryne, eager to resume legal whale meat
exports to Japan, toured several African nations
on the eve of the CITES meeting, while
Norway reaffirmed a development deal that will
send 360 million rand to South Africa over the
next five years.
In between, the Norwegian whaling
fleet sailed May 2 with a unilaterally declared
quota of 582 whales, 198 more than were actually
killed last year, when the quota was 425.
Technically this puts Norway in violation of the
international whaling moratorium introduced by
the International Whaling Commission in 1986,
which Norway pledged to honor in 1987, but
neither the Clinton administration nor any other
government has responded with trade sanctions.
“We will let you kill elephants if you
will let us kill whales. That is, in effect, the
deal Norway has proposed to some African
countries,” the Cape Town Star reported on
May 16. “The Norwegians object to the
description of this as a ‘trade-off.’”
The CITES secretariat reportedly
favors all the proposed downlistings, on
grounds that African elephants, white rhinos,
minke whales, grey whales, and Bryde’s
whales are all too numerous to qualify for
Appendix I. However, African elephants and

white rhinos are either imperiled or extirpated
over much of their recently occupied range,
and legal traffic in the parts of any elephants,
rhinos, or whales could easily cover poaching
of similar but more imminently imperiled
species. These considerations can also be
cause to keep a species on Appendix I.
Elephants & apartheid
The Zimbabwean campaign to
downlist elephants is orchestrated by the
African Resources Trust, set up by the
Zimbabwean government. The central ART
project is the Communal Areas Management
Plan For Indigenous Resource Exploitation,
CAMPFIRE for short, a development program
which receives 90% of its income from trophy
hunting. A parallel organization was recently
formed in Mozambique.
ART and CAMPFIRE laid down a
propaganda barrage in the months before
CITES met, including planted news stories
attributing suffering from disease among
Zimbabwean children to the loss of $29 million
in potential receipts from the sale of the
29 tons of elephant ivory the Zimbabwean
government claims to have in storage. Not
mentioned so far as ANIMAL PEOPLE
could determine was massive misappropriation
of foreign aid to CAMPFIRE, revealed in July
1996, when the Harare Daily Mail r e p o r t e d
the suspension of two senior CAMPFIRE officials
and police investigation of a third, for
“flouting of tender procedures, inflating
invoices, using council funds for personal
business, and allegedly receiving kickbacks
for granting illegal hunting rights.”
The U.S. government paradoxically
supports both CAMPFIRE, giving it $29 million
over the past 10 years through the Agency
for International Development, and anti-elephant
poaching efforts in other African
nations. The House of Representatives on
April 23 by voice vote approved reauthorizing
the African Elephant Conservation Act, HR
39, to furnish $5 million a year to anti-elephant
poaching work for the next five years.
HR 39 is now before the Senate. Support of
CAMPFIRE is not under legislative review.
While Zimbabwe argues that illegal
ivory trafficking can be controlled, TRAFFIC,
the trade-monitoring arm of the World
Wildlife Fund, reported on April 28 that 21
tons of contraband ivory have been seized
since 1989, en route to China, Hong Kong,
Japan, Macau, Singapore, South Korea,
Taiwan, and Thailand. TRAFFIC said Asianrun
ivory processing businesses are active in
12 African nations, including Kenya, Zaire,
and South Africa. Friends of Animals earlier
revealed apparent direct Zimbabwean involvement
in the illegal trade.
Zimbabwe has suggested that it
might hold just one big ivory auction a year,
for Japanese buyers only. However, TRAFFIC-Japan
spokesperson IIisako Kiyono told
Cape Town Star reporter Melanie-Ann Feris,
“It is impossible to distinguish between legal
and illegal ivory in Japan’s retail market. Due
to the voluntary nature of parts of the system,
certification seals for ivory offer no guarantees.
If illegal worked ivory can make it past
customs, it can be sold undetected. Police and
customers alike cannot tell the difference.”
African Elephant Foundation director
Perez Olindo called reopening the ivory
trade potentially “the biggest conservation
blunder of the century,” likely to put “the
African elephant in danger of final extinction.”
“We resent their ignorant interference,”
returned African Resources Trust
spokesperson Victoria Hilton, “which can be
likened to previous talk about apartheid by
people who knew nothing about it.”
Under apartheid, the former South
African regime encouraged long civil wars in
Mozambique, Namibia, and Angola to destabilize
African-led border states. Clandestine
South African military operations were
financed from 1975 until at least 1988 by
swapping arms to rebels for elephant ivory,
which was then sold as of legal South African
origin. Much of the Mozambiquan elephant
herd fled south into Kruger National Park––
where their presence was welcomed as an
addition to South African wealth. Similarly,
parts of the Zambian herd fled into Zimbabwe.
In each instance, the British-based Environmental
Investigation Agency has long asserted,
the elephant movements were encouraged by
South African and Zimbabwean helicopters.
As concern about elephant poaching
grew, South Africa protected Kruger, including
the immigrant herd, with an electric fence
of lethal voltage. This kept poachers out and
the elephants in. The herd was then culled at
regular intervals and ivory stockpiled. At the
1994 CITES triennial, South Africa joined
Zimbabwe in an unsuccessful bid to resume
ivory trading. Since then, the transition of
power that brought Nelson Mandela to the
head of the South African government has
brought changes as well in the attitude of the
National Parks Board. The Parks Board has
over the past two years accepted $2.5 million
from the International Fund for Animal
Welfare, with which to buy land for elephants
where they will never be hunted, and $1 million
worth of help in developing elephant birth
control, from the Humane Society of the U.S.
Early returns from the HSUS experiments,
however, are not encouraging. Giving
female elephants extra estrogen, the technique
used in human birth control pills, only heightened
elephant sexuality, Kruger veterinarian
Douw Grobler reported in April. Increased
conflict resulted among males, and two
females uncharacteristically abandoned their
babies, presumed dead. The hormonal
research was halted. Work on a more sophisticated
immunocontraceptive method continues.
If Kruger now has too many elephants,
EIA chair Allen Thornton, Bill Clark
of Friends of Animals, and others argue, the
management need only dismantle the electric
fence to let the Mozambiquan herd go home.”
“After 30 years of civil war,”
returns South African National Parks Board
operations director Rams Rammutla, “the
entire border is riddled with land mines which
would blow up any jumbo trying to cross.”
While conservation groups favor
reserving the border region for wildlife,
Rammutla suggests local pressure favors
ranching, as at the Marromeu game reserve in
central Mozambique, where unrestrained logging,
poaching, and cattle grazing during the
war years destroyed the forest and dropped the
wild buffalo herd from 45,000 to just 4,000.
“The community must decide,”
Rammutla told Associated Press in early May,
“if they want cattle farming or an international
park on their doorstep. If fence removal is
implemented without their wishes, they will
wipe out the elephants within months.”
It is possible the elephants will eventually
dismantle the fence themselves, having
recently learned how to breach the doublestrand
electric fence dividing South Africa
from Zimbabwe. There, Cape Town Star
defense correspondent Norman Chandler
reported on May 8, “one of the larger members
of the herd has discovered that wood acts
as a good preventative from shocks. The elephant
places tree bark or wood over the wire
and holds it down while the herd crosses over.
The exercise is repeated on the way back.”
Illegal hunting is up again in Kruger,
anti-poaching chief Kenn Maggs told the
African Eye News Service in late April, after
having been cut from more than 100 elephant
and rhino killings a year circa 1986 to just
five confirmed in 1995.
“Mozambiquans have moved across
our border, and they get back to the poachers
with information about what’s in the park,”
Maggs said. “A lot of people living along the
border haven’t been able to get into subsistence
farming and so enter the park with a
firearm and shoot indiscriminately,” he added,
acknowledging the recent loss of four rhinos
and and elephant at Kruger and the Loskap
Reserve. He said some poachers even shot and
ate dogs, causing Mozambiquan head game
warden Sansao Bonito to deny that any
Mozambiquans are that poor or hungry.
Thirty Interpol officers and eight
members of the South African Police Service
Endangered Species Protection Unit met in
late May to review video of poaching in
Kruger, aired May 6 in England by The Cook
R e p o r t, a popular British TV program.
Hidden cameras caught Spanish touts offering
hunters the chance to shoot gorillas, jaguars,
and black rhinos; a KwaZulu Natal game
farmer offering Malaysian tigers; a boy taking
16 shots to dispatch a wounded lion; and a
German hunter blasting an animal from his
vehicle. In the most shocking sequence, hunting
promoters Sandy and Tracey McDonald,
working with staff of the Mokolo Game
Reserve, also in South Africa, explain to
Cook investigators how they dig holes under
the Kruger fence to lure lions into Mokolo,
then dart the lions with tranquilizer to help the
hunters’ aim. The crew watches as Sandy
McDonald lures a lioness from her cubs.
Another hunter kills her with multiple shots as
the cubs look on. McDonald then directs the
Cook crew to a tranqulized lion. The crew
refuses to shoot, reveals their mission, and
making their getaway, fends off both
McDonald and the Mokolo personnel.
South African environment minister
Pallo Jordan was reportedly shown the video
six months before it was aired, but did nothing
about it, claiming it was a provincial matter.
The 1994 South African proposal to
reopen the ivory trade was defeated through
the opposition of 14 of the smallest and poorest
African nations, whose anti-poaching
efforts are aided mostly by Friends of
Animals. Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia,
Malawi, and Ghana were organizing similar
opposition to this year’s Zimbabwean proposal
as ANIMAL PEOPLE went to press.
At the same time, Kenya announced
May 11, confirming a March 24 trial balloon,
that it will resume the sale of hunting licenses,
after banning meat hunting since 1977 and trophy
hunting since 1979. Kenya Wildlife
Service director David Western said no more
than 50-60 non-endangered species such as
zebras, gazelles, buffaloes, and impalas
would be shot per year. Western was named
to replace former KWS director Richard
Leakey in 1994, after Leakey clashed with
intimates of Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi
who sought to operate hunting concessions.
The rhino situation is comparable.
South Africa asserts a need to “manage” rhinos
and the ability to prevent most poaching.
Zimbabwe claims a black rhino population
now growing at 10% per year, after 2,000 rhinos
were poached down to under 300 a decade
ago––but black rhinos are now extinct in the
Zambezi Valley, following the translocation
of the last survivor from Mana Pools National
Park to the Matusadonha Intensive Protection
Zone. In Zaire, meanwhile, Kes Hillman
Smith was earlier this year obliged to dismantle
her anti-poaching force at Garamba
National Park, as the Zairean civil war intensified
poaching pressure. Officially protecting
30 northern white rhinos, the only giraffe herd
in Zaire, 11,000 elephants, and 25,000 buffalo,
Hillman-Smith’s team last saw a live rhino
in January. Vehicles, radio gear, and fuel
supplies were all lost to poachers by April.
Sending two spotter aricraft to Kenya to keep
poachers from getting them, Hillman-Smith
and her husband Fraser fled with their two
children in April.
At the outset of the now fallen
Mobuto Sese Soto regime, in 1965, Garamba
had about 1,300 rhinos and Zaire, as a whole,
had 88,000 elephants. The deposed dictator
Mobuto was a longtime member of the 1001
Club, a support group for the World Wildlife
Fund, yet reputedly allowed supporters to
poach 60% of the elephants in just five years,
taking a generous cut of the proceeds.
WWF spokesperson Steven Broad
told media on May 7 in Gland, Switzerland,
that across Africa, under 10,000 rhinos of all
subspecies remain, down from 70,000 in
1970. The horns of more than 22,000 rhinos,
Broad said, have been exported through
Yemen. “Some important steps have been
taken by the Yemen government,” he continued,
“but our latest investigations show that
significant smuggling continues and simply
not enough is being done to bring it to a halt.”
Augmenting zoo efforts to keep a
genetically diverse captive rhino population,
the Wildlife Breeding Research Centre at
Pelindaba, South Africa, has begun saving
genetic material from recently slain rhinos.
“We’ve asked big game hunters to help us collect
samples,” staffer Yolan Friendmann told
Trish Beaver of the Cape Town Star.
Jaguars, bears, tigers
Venezuela on May 26 reportedly
withdrew an application for approval of a plan
to open trophy hunting of jaguars, under the
pretext of funding conservation. Venezuelan
environment minister Rafael Martinez said
when the plan was announced that it would be
pursued before the next CITES triennial
whether approved or not.
China meanwhile hopes to gain permission
to sell ranched bear bile and tiger parts
abroad. China now has more than 7,000 bears
at 481 bile farms, closely caged, whose galls
are tapped by semi-permanently installed
hoses. Their plight much resembles that of the
mares at the Canadian and American farms
which furnish the urine used to make the hormonal
supplement Premarin––except that the
mares spend summers, at least, outdoors.
The bears are in their misery for life.
The number of farm-raised tigers in
China is unknown, but as tigers breed quickly
in captivity, the number could exceed the
global wild population of no more than 7,000.
Wild tigers range from Siberia to Afghanistan,
but most of those left are in India.
About 90% of the bear gall now on
the world market is consumed in South Korea,
whose nouveau riche could provide China
with a lucrative source of foreign exchange.
Finland has moved to uplist Eurasian
brown bears, cousins to the grizzly, from
Appendix II to Appendix I, to cut off legal
traffic in brown bear trophies and thereby
reduce poaching pressure. The motion may be
opposed, however, by the U.S.: the U.S.
hunting lobby fears that grizzlies might also be
protected as a lookalike species.

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