Iconic African game to be focus at world wildlife conference

Nicci Wright, a wildlife rehabilitation expert and executive director of the African Pangolin Working Group in South Africa, holds a pangolin at a Wildlife Veterinary Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa on Oct. 18, 2020. Iconic African wildlife such as elephants, big cats, rosewood trees, pangolins and marine turtles will be central to discussions of the World Wildlife Conference slated for Panama later in 2022. Credit: AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File

Iconic African wildlife such as elephants, big cats and rosewood trees will be central to discussions of the World Wildlife Conference slated for Panama later this year.

The standing committee meeting of the UN wildlife body, called the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which met all of last week in Lyon, France, slated these animals and trees for the main agenda of discussion during the Panama wildlife conference, scheduled for November.

The wildlife body is the highest decision-making organ on global wildlife trade. It is expected to make decisions on the resolutions set in Lyon on flagship wildlife including pangolins, West African vultures, parrots orchids, seahorses, marine turtles, Malagasy ebonies, sharks and rays.

“African nations are providing a strong example to the world of how states can collaboratively take action against illegal international trade in wildlife,” said Ivonne Higuero, the secretary general of the UN wildlife agency. “In Central and West Africa, there is a new political commitment and engagement to combat the of wild animals and plants.”

Higuero added that African countries had led by example in instituting the African Carnivore Initiative, which aims to conserve lions, leopards, cheetahs and the African wild dog .

Delivery men load Chinese-style furniture made from African rosewood outside a furniture shop in Beijing, China on Oct. 23, 2012. Iconic African wildlife such as elephants, big cats, rosewood trees, pangolins and marine turtles will be central to discussions of the World Wildlife Conference slated for Panama later in 2022. Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File

The powerful UN wildlife agency makes three distinctions for listing of wildlife according to the degree of protection needed. It also spells out commercial rules covering over 38,000 species of plants and animals, requiring member states to penalize any violation of the procedures that it sets. Each October since 2017, member states have been required to submit data on all seizures of wildlife made in the previous year. Nearly 6,000 species have been seized between 1999-2018, ranging from mammals, reptiles, corals, birds, and fish according to the UN crime office records.

The World Wildlife Seizures Database, which is a global repository of reported wildlife confiscations compiled by the UN office on drugs and crime, is the main tool used to review worldwide illegal commercial trends. Between 1999 and 2018, there were over 180,000 seizures, covering 6,000 species spread across 149 countries represents the network of illegal wildlife trade, according to the database.

Poaching and trafficking records indicate that ivory trade saw a resurgence around 2007 and grew steadily until around 2011, before declining in 2016. The estimated number of elephants in African countries in 2006 was 556,973. This number has since decreased to the current 413,242.

An ivory statue, right, lies on top of pyres of ivory as they are set on fire in a dramatic statement against the trade in ivory and products from endangered species, in Nairobi National Park, Kenya on April 30, 2016. Iconic African wildlife such as elephants, big cats, rosewood trees, pangolins and marine turtles will be central to discussions of the World Wildlife Conference slated for Panama later in 2022. Credit: AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File

Trends of wildlife trophy seizures accumulated in the last four years reveal that there has been a shift in ivory shipments, with Lagos Port in Nigeria dominating exports and Vietnam leading as main elephant tusks importer. Previously, the Mombasa Port in Kenya held the primacy of illicit ivory shipments and China took the lead as the main importer.

UN records also indicate that the “largest flow of illicitly harvested rosewood in the past four years is coming out of Africa.” Global imports of tropical hardwood logs totaled 18 million cubic meters in 2018, valued at over US$ 3 billion. Some 82 % of the value of this import demand came from industries based in China, which currently leads the world in furniture manufacturing.

Up until 2013, one of the more prominent non-Asian sources for rosewood was Madagascar, where at least 48 species are known to occur with 47 of them being widespread on the Indian Ocean island nation. A recommendation to suspend trade in species of rosewood from Madagascar was made in 2016 and remains in place to this day.

  • Two-month-old orphaned baby elephant Ajabu is given a dust-bath in the red earth after being fed milk from a bottle by a keeper, as she is too young to do it herself, at an event to commemorate World Environment Day at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya on June 5, 2013. Iconic African wildlife such as elephants, big cats, rosewood trees, pangolins and marine turtles will be central to discussions of the World Wildlife Conference slated for Panama later in 2022. Credit: AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File
  • Fikiri Kiponda, left, and others from the Local Ocean Conservation group carry a green turtle that was unintentionally caught in a fisherman’s net, before releasing it back into the Watamu National Marine Park on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya on Sept. 22, 2021. Iconic African wildlife such as elephants, big cats, rosewood trees, pangolins and marine turtles will be central to discussions of the World Wildlife Conference slated for Panama later in 2022. Credit: AP Photo/Brian Inganga, File
  • An old male lion raises his head above the long grass in the early morning, in the savannah of the Maasai Mara, south-western Kenya on July 7, 2015. Iconic African wildlife such as elephants, big cats, rosewood trees, pangolins and marine turtles will be central to discussions of the World Wildlife Conference slated for Panama later in 2022. Credit: AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File

“The rosewood crisis has been devastating West African forests and the livelihoods of its people for almost a decade,” said Raphael Edou, the Africa program manager of the environmental group.

In 2018, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature classified redwood as “endangered.” China, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, the European Union, Japan and Malaysia remain the main destinations of trafficked rosewood, accounting for three-quarters of all logs seized globally.

Pangolins in Africa are increasingly being hunted for their meat and their scales. The bulk of pangolin exports come from Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo and Gabon. According to the wildlife database, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Congo-Brazzaville are hubs and logistics nodes of pangolins’ transshipment in Africa, with China as the largest importer. In 2016 due to overexploitation of pangolins, the wildlife body placed a global trade ban.

While the Lyon standing committee this last week highlighted the plight of Africa’s , decisions aimed at curbing illegal trade and the future of the continent’s iconic species will be decided by officials at the Panama conference.



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Hexbyte Glen Cove S.African rhino returns to wild after brutal attack

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Even after extensive surgery, Seha’s sinus cavities are still exposed, creating a risk of infection.

A 10-year-old rhino that had its horn brutally hacked off returned to the wild Monday, after 30 operations over six years to repair the gash in its face.

His named the bull Sehawukele, meaning “God have mercy on us”.

Called Seha for short, he was found by police stumbling near a fence in a reserve, so disfigured that he could barely hear or eat.

The police called in John Marais, a wildlife vet who runs a charity called Saving the Survivors.

The group rehabilitates rhinos that survive poaching attacks.

“He has actually healed exceptionally well,” said Marais. “And I think this is the next chapter where we are going to re-wild him in a 2,000-hectare camp where we have put two females of breeding age with him.”

Even after extensive surgery, Seha’s sinus cavities are still exposed, creating a risk of infection.

But conservationists have opted to return him to the wild nonetheless in the hope that he will mate and help grow the dwindling population.

“No rhino translocation is without risk,” said Andre Uys, who manages the game reserve where Seha now lives.

But Seha was safely darted and released Monday. His rescuers are keeping his exact location a secret in hopes of preventing future poaching attacks.

Rescuers named the bull Sehawukele, meaning ‘God have mercy on us’

Poachers killed at least 249 in South Africa during the first six months of 2021—83 more than in the first half of 2020.

Full-year numbers aren’t available yet, but 24 were killed in just two weeks of December.

The animals are slaughtered for their horns, which are smuggled into Asia where they are highly prized for traditional and medicinal purposes.



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Hexbyte Glen Cove S.African lions, pumas contracted COVID from zoo workers: study

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Big cats caged in zoos are at risk from catching COVID-19 from their keepers, a study said Tuesday.

Research led by scientists at the University of Pretoria found three lions and two pumas fell ill with coronavirus—and the clues point to infection by their handlers, some of whom were asymptomatic.

“Reverse zoonotic (animal-borne) transmission of COVID-19… posed a risk to kept in captivity,” the authors said.

The investigation was launched after three lions at an unnamed private zoo in Johannesburg fell ill last year with breathing difficulties, runny noses and a dry cough.

One of the three developed pneumonia while the other two recovered after experiencing milder symptoms.

As the signs were similar to coranovirus among humans, the animals were tested for COVID-19 and these came back positive.

To establish the source of the infection, 12 zoo workers who had had direct and indirect contact with the animals were then tested, five of whom tested positive.

“This data suggests that SARS-CoV-2 was circulating among staff during the time that the lions got sick, and suggests that those with direct contact with the animals were likely responsible for the reverse zoonotic transmission,” said Marietjie Venter, a professor of virology at the university.

Genome sequencing on viral samples taken from the humans and the found that the lions had become infected with the Delta variant of COVID-19, which was circulating in South Africa at the time.

A year earlier, two pumas that had exhibited signs of anorexia, diarrhoea and nasal discharge also tested positive for COVID.

They were treated and recovered after three weeks.

A PCR test of the pumas’ faeces at the time confirmed the presence of COVID virus.

When the scientists tried later to do genetic sequencing, there was insufficient viral material left to determine which variant was to blame.

The assumption however, is that the pumas also fell ill after being infected by humans.

The research appears in a peer-reviewed, open-access journal called Viruses.



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Hexbyte Glen Cove Case of African swine fever confirmed in northern taly

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A case of African swine fever has been detected in a wild boar in Italy, the region of Piedmont said Friday, in a potential blow to the country’s meat industry.

It is the first reported case on Italy’s mainland since the virus arrived in Western Europe in 2018.

Highly transmissible and fatal for pig populations, African swine fever (ASF) does not present a risk for human health, but risks serious repercussions for pork producers.

Italy, with about 8.9 million pigs, is the seventh biggest pork producer in the European Union, representing an 8 billion euro ($9.1 billion) industry, according to the agricultural association Confagricoltura.

Piedmont’s regional health department confirmed the case following tests on a wild boar which was found dead in Ovada in the northern region.

Italy’s national reference centre for swine fever “confirmed the suspicion of infection with African swine fever” said the department in a statement.

As per protocol, crisis units were being set up at the local, regional and national level, while meetings were being held with authorities in veterinary services, forest management and wildlife and hunting, it said.

“We are acting with the utmost timeliness, the immediate and coordinated implementation of control measures in wild suids (pigs) is essential in an attempt to confine and eradicate the disease as much as possible,” said Piedmont’s health deputy, Luigi Icardi.

‘Extremely damaging’

In Italy, African swine fever has been endemic on the island of Sardinia since first appearing in 1978.

Having existed in Africa for decades, the disease spread to China—the world’s largest pork producer—in 2018, causing millions of pigs to be slaughtered to prevent an epidemic.

In western Europe, the virus was reported in Belgium in 2018, prompting China to ban Belgian pork imports.

After Germany confirmed its first case in a dead wild boar in 2020, China, Japan and South Korea, alongside Brazil and Argentina, also suspended German pork imports.

Italy’s health ministry will notify the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) and the European Commission about the case, reported news agency ANSA.

In a December 3 situation report on the virus, the OIE said ASF has been reported in 32 countries in five different world regions since January 2020, affecting more than one million pigs and more than 28,000 wild boar.

“The events observed in the last six months confirm the global threat of ASF, which continues to spread with serious impacts on pig production systems, animal health and welfare, as well as the socio-economic impacts on livelihoods, national food security and international trade,” the report said.

After Germany’s first case, Confagricoltura said Italy had activated a EU-approved surveillance and prevention plan since early 2020.

On Friday, the Piedmont branch of Confagricoltura said Italy must do all it can to prevent the virus from spreading and called for redoubled efforts for a wild boar culling programme.



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Case of African swine fever confirmed in northe

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