bushmeat activist, wildlife photographer, author;
email: photo inquiries
email: karl directly
in USA: 301-854-0388
As CITES annual conf.
nears Karl expounds on
CITES double standards.
Karl's exposition of the
real Ivory price
movement in China.
incredible report on the
illicit online ape trade.
A MUST READ.
An open letter regarding
developments in Guinea
export of great apes.
karl's recent Report on
CITES, its permitting
system, with clear
evidence of its
failure to police
the trade in live animals
of endangered species
karl discusses how
in Chinese Zoo and
Safari Park facilities
karl interviewed by
Southeast Asia Globe
reveals his trade secrets;
staying out of trouble,
on illicit animal trade
CITES 2011 Guinea
karl comments on
Apparent drop in
rhino horn demand
karl wins another
Overwhelmed U.S. port
inspectors unable to keep up
with illegal wildlife trade.
Darryl Fears (in Wash Post)
exacerbate illegal primate
Media Report (in Chinese)
Southern China Weekly
the Conakry Connection
very detailed report on
great ape smuggling in Guinea
provides insight into the
worldwide animal trade.
Cites and the Shanghai 8
exporting illegal wild apes
claiming them captive bred
Cites and the Taiping4
more on the export
of illegal wild apes
claimed as captive bred
Karl's blogs for
National Geographic about
tiger Trade, china's chimp
smuggling, ivory tracking,
rhino poaching and more.
Tiger farming in
more on the China-
Cites and the illegal
trade in wildlife
bonobos to Armenia
GRASP correspondence on
illegal animal trade
allegations of a coverup at the
a fairy tale of ivory:
the ongoing tragedy of
for details see this
transcript with NBouke.
the Rhino & the Bling - the
inside mechanics of the
rhino horn trade.
karl's latest elephant
Millions spent on
conservation and where
are the results?
an interview with Karl
on the state of conservation,
Where Did All
the Tigers Go?
the detailed report on
The Cairo Connection:
the updated report on
The Cairo Connection:
Ape Trafficking in Egypt
Tiger, Lion bones
and rhino horn
another piece in Swara
Tiger cake & rhino horn
from Swara, a magazine of the
East African Wildlife Society
Into the Asian Underworld
in Africa Geograpic's
Rhino Watch (page 3)
karl speaks at Foreign
Correspondents' Club of
Thailand - International
Trade in Reptile Skins
rhino versus ape
the rhino horn story
at consumer end
the latest horrors of
conservation in the DRC
Our reptile skin trade
gallery is now online.
Files: 333 rhinos
killed by poachers in
Cites and the diplomatic
say it does not work
Karl wins another
notes on Orang
in Kalimantan - a sad story
CITES action minimal
reports on karl's
Karl's German site
karl nominated for
zoological society medal
'Canned hunting': the
lions bred for slaughter
Seven rhinos killed ...
Kenya's bloodiest week
Forestry Education info
Not on Animal Planet
2010 Bili-Uere Update
more on wildlife
trafficking from Boten -
bears, leopard, tiger cubs
elephants ... butchered
in the Central African
Republic ... "
HIV ignored in Natl
Geographic article on
The Protein Gap
A misleading article
Mass Gorilla Execution
Can we learn from it?
Hundreds of Elephants
killed in DRC Park
Hunting Report take
on Chimp escape
US Wildlife Agency
provides a bandaid
re: wildlife export
Open Letter to Don Causey, Publisher of the Hunting Report
Reading through some of the literature on the conservation benefits of
sport/trophy hunting one gets the impression that in Southern Africa a lot of
lessons have been learnt. Benefits to the local communities and tax income for
the state seem to justify the investment in hunting infrastructure and
controls. However a few years ago when I watched the Cook Report on canned
hunting in South Africa it become clear that even countries with good
governance - by African standards - have problems in controlling some of the
excesses of hunting. Interestingly this same documentary showed an undercover
investigation having a Spanish hunting outfit offering some potential clients,
gorilla hunts in South East Cameroon and ways to export the trophy. That brings
us to Central Africa and a region of the continent which, according to many
experts and Transparency International, has the biggest problem with corruption
and governance on the African continent.
Let's now take this issue a step further and look at the Forestry and Wildlife
Utilization tax code which the ministers of finance and environment signed on
April 20th ,2002. I received a copy of this document from a European Zoo which
in turn had been presented it by an animal dealer offering the species on the
list available for capture and export. When I tracked down the animal dealer it
turned out that he received the document from a CITES official in Kinshasa who
was also a relative of the minister. When I presented the document in Kinshasa
at the ministry to confirm its authenticity nobody knew about the existence of
these new decree, not even the permanent secretary in the ministry. It took
phone calls to Yokahama in Japan where the minister was attending an ITTO
conference and to the World Bank (which had been involved in the drafting off
this new tax code) to confirm that indeed the document was genuine.
Despite again asking a lot of knowledgeable players to confirm that indeed this
same tax code is in force it was again no absolute confirmation that it is.
However nobody I questioned has seen a new 'arrete interministeriel' since the
one of 2002.
Now after this long introduction here the reason why this, at least to me, is a
crucial issue in the context of the hunting debate. It offers all of the
totally protected species for capture and hunting.
The Mountain Gorilla is U$ 1000 to capture and U$ 500 to hunt, the bonobo and
chimpanzee are U$ 150 to catch and U$ 300 to hunt the two species of elephant
are U$ 500 to capture and U$ 1000 to hunt the Northern White rhino (the most
endangered large mammal in the world) is available for U$ 3000 to capture and
U$ 3000 to hunt, the okapi goes for U$ 1200 to capture and U$ 500 to hunt.
Interestingly enough the Bongo is not listed at all and seems the only totally
Various parties have tried to figure out the logic, not only when it comes to
what are officially classified as totally protected species for hunting and
capture but also the dollar amounts involved for hunting and capture (there is
additionally an official 'Holding Permit' on the same list. Nobody I know of
It should also be mentioned that at the time this laws were signed into force
the DRC was suspended from CITES but was readmitted since.
During a trip to Kinshasa earlier this year we were confronted by the fact that
hunting licenses were issued for various hunting reserves including an area in
the Northern Congo where we have been running a conservation project which had
been negotiated with the MLC rebel government. (The main reason we traveled to
Kinshasa was to point out
that in the rebel days there appeared to be a lot more political will coming
from the Central Authority and certainly they had a lot more control in the
outlaying areas then the present transition government.) We discussed this
development with the German advisor to the ministry and were told that the
Scientific authority had not been consulted in these allocations and that he
personally was very very concerned with the lack of data concerning any numbers
for the animals offered for hunting:
Some of the best estimates for some of the endemic Congo mega fauna seem to
indicate a very drastic decline since during the war years:
Eastern Lowland Gorillas down from 17 000 to 5000
Northern White Rhino from 34 to 10 or less
Elephants from 90 000 to 14 000
Bonobo in two research sites down by 75%
The number of zebra left is less then 20 and the same figure is estimated for
the Derby Eland.
Clearly this is a country where wildlife poaching is pretty much totally out of
control and the first step has to be to get some kind of control back over the
National Parks and other protected areas - including hunting reserves.
While I do believe that sport/trophy hunting can contribute to the above goal
and objective I consider the opening of hunting and the offering of any quotas
as irresponsible until such time as either the scientific authority or an
independent third party has done some census work to establish what populations
exist and to what extend sustainable hunting can be considered a conservation
In addition to these sentiments expressed by various experts in Kinshasa we had
actually done some census work in the Bili Uere area where we also have a
primate research project. This we were told had been allocated to a company
called. Congo Safari and Expedition which were expecting to start hunting this
dry season. Supposedly they had visited a small corner of their concession for
a few days and seen some bongo tracks and that was the basis for declaring Bili
Uere as the most suitable hunting area in the Congo. We had a problem with this
analysis and asked to see the corresponding agreement in question to establish
what income the state would derive from this arrangement and how the local
communities would benefit and what would be done in terms of anti poaching
activity (elephant poaching and has been for years totally out of control. The
Bili Uere area was the one with the highest elephant population density of the
DRC and based on our estimates there are now a few hundred left). We were
given a quick look at the agreement in question which showed that none of the
2002 surface allocation tax of U$ 15 was mentioned, neither was the daily
entry fee of U$ 35 for all members of a hunting party. There were some nice but
very vague terms regarding improving the local infrastructure and helping with
education and help facilities. No specific terms and conditions which could be
considered legally binding. We then saw in Isiro another such agreement which
was signed with another company in 2003 and was very similar to the one we had
seen in Kinshasa and also included duty free privileges on all imports
I then did receive a phone call from a Mr. George Angelides who is meant to be
the owner of the company in question. I pointed out that the agreement we had
seen in my opinion encouraged poor governance and corruption and it could not
possibly be in the interest of the DRC to hand out millions of hectares of
hunting concession. Mr. Angelides confirmed that he had a 5 year tax holiday
agreed on by the minister. (the negotiating and handing out of hunting
concessions is supposedly the responsibility of ICCN the parastatel which
manages all the protected areas).
The latest news release is that Congo Safari and Expeditions has secured some
3.1 million hectares of the Bili Uere concession without any kind of financial
commitment. (3.1 million hectare at an allocation fee of US 15 per hectare
would come to some U$ 45 million).
We are being told that the presence of a hunting party would stabilize things
in terms of elephant poaching. We have attempted this for the last three years
and have invested over U$ 500 000 to buy the coffee production of the region
which most likely amounted to about half the economic product. In the MLC days
we were provided with a platoon of soldiers which on two occasion confronted
poaching gangs confiscating elephant meat, AKs and Kalashnikovs, plus some
porters ended up with bullet wounds. As far as the intelligence as to who where
how and why, concerning the still ongoing elephant poaching, this is all in
place and if there was a government authority willing to act on it then all it
would need is some political will.
The area allocated to Congo Safari and Expeditions is also the very area where
in the last few years a huge influx of cattle people from Tchad has taken
place. Whenever we overfly the area we see ten thousands of cows being grazed
in what is a Wildlife Reserve and said Hunting area. Again this fact has been
reported to Kinshasa without any real reaction.
As such some hunting parties coming in for a few months and taking a few of the
more desirable species can clearly not be the answer to stabilize this area.
This needs a large scale concerted effort with adequate resources and a
commitment to be on the ground 12 months a year.
We doubt that even if this was the long term intention of Congo Safaris and
Expeditions that this would be possible since the main partner in this venture
seems to be the local chief which is at present a member of parliament in
Kinshasa. The missionaries which used to live in Asa in the past report of tons
and tons of elephant meat and ivory coming out on the this very road leading
through Asa. We have documented the same and there is still elephant meat and
ivory arriving on pretty much a weekly basis in Zemio which is the other side
of the border. Being somewhat familiar with the Azande culture it is not
possible that this level of trade could be going on without the traditional
chief being party to it.
This is where things stand today. The hunting community which seems keen to see
Congo opened up for their sport do not seem to believe in the basic level of
transparency and accountability which should go with operating in this part of
Africa. Several requests to be officially given a copy of the agreement in
question have gone unanswered.
I do not believe that this is the approach to opening up hunting in the DRC. I
believe it is not in the interest of the hunting community nor conservation.
Statements like ....................... contained in some of the hunting
status bulletins circulated would appear to qualify for an investigation under
the ........ which appear to be applicable to some of the owners of Congo
Safari and Expeditions and might just be applicable to any US and European
hunting party signing up to any of the packages this week on offer at stand....
at the Reno convention of the Safari Club International.
In terms of potential conservation benefits arising from sport/trophy hunting
the DRC laws seem to lag far behind the requirements of countries with a much
longer sport hunting tradition;
Poor quality governance is clearly the biggest problem to conservation in most
of Central Africa - as well as many other domains. If there is to be any hope
that things will change in future western donor and investor community clearly
has to lead with examples. To me the above achieves the opposite....
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