karl ammann
bushmeat activist, wildlife photographer, author;

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the early days correspondence project reports scientific articles karl's notes photographs dna evidence bili coffee project 2010 bili update
contact us:
email: photo inquiries
email: karl directly
in USA: 301-854-0388

present features:

As CITES annual conf.
nears Karl expounds on
CITES double standards.

Karl's exposition of the
real Ivory price
in China.

Christopher Hasslet's
incredible report on the
illicit online ape trade.

An open letter regarding
developments in Guinea

concerning the illegal
export of great apes.

karl's recent Report on
, its permitting
system, with clear
evidence of its
failure to police
the trade in live animals
of endangered species

karl discusses how
disappearing wildlife,
worldwild, reappears
in Chinese Zoo and
Safari Park facilities

karl interviewed by
Southeast Asia Globe
reveals his trade secrets;
staying out of trouble,
disillusion w/progress
on illicit animal trade

CITES 2011 Guinea
Mission Report

karl comments on
Apparent drop in
rhino horn demand

karl wins another
SAB environmental
media award

Commercial Exploitation
and Cites

karl ammannn

Overwhelmed U.S. port
inspectors unable to keep up
with illegal wildlife trade
Darryl Fears (in Wash Post)

African fraud, local market
exacerbate illegal primate

Global Times

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.
karl ammann and others

latest (9-14)Conakry
Connection update

karl ammann and others

latest (1-14)Conakry
Connection update

karl ammann and others

Cites and the Shanghai 8
exporting illegal wild apes
claiming them captive bred
karl ammann

Cites and the Taiping4
more on the export
of illegal wild apes
claimed as captive bred
karl ammann

Karl's blogs for
National Geographic
tiger Trade, china's chimp
smuggling, ivory tracking,
rhino poaching and more.

Tiger farming in
SE Asia

karl ammann

more on the China-
Gorilla story

karl ammann

Cites and the illegal
trade in wildlife

karl ammann

emails/letters/issues ignored
bonobos to Armenia

GRASP correspondence on
illegal animal trade

allegations of a coverup at the
CITES secretariat

karl ammann

a fairy tale of ivory:
the ongoing tragedy of
incompetence, slaughter,
and lawlessness.
karl ammann and others

for details see this
transcript with NBouke.
karl ammann and others

the Rhino & the Bling - the
inside mechanics of the
rhino horn trade.
karl ammann

karl's latest elephant
poaching video

Millions spent on ape
conservation and where
are the results?

karl ammann

an interview with Karl
on the state of conservation,
poaching, trafficking
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Where Did All
the Tigers Go?

karl ammann

the detailed report on
The Cairo Connection:
Ape Trafficking

karl ammann

the updated report on
The Cairo Connection:
Ape Trafficking in Egypt

karl ammann

Tiger, Lion bones
and rhino horn

another piece in Swara

karl ammann

Tiger cake & rhino horn
from Swara, a magazine of the
East African Wildlife Society

karl ammann

Into the Asian Underworld
in Africa Geograpic's
Rhino Watch
(page 3)
karl ammann

karl speaks at Foreign
Correspondents' Club of
Thailand - International
Trade in Reptile Skins

rhino versus ape

karl ammann

the rhino horn story
at consumer end
karl ammann

the latest horrors of
Poaching in
karl ammann

addendums to
elephants and elephant
conservation in the DRC

karl ammann

Our reptile skin trade
is now online.

Rhino Files: 333 rhinos
killed by poachers in
barbaric fashion

karl ammann
bernadette cook

Cites and the diplomatic
approach: these videos
say it does not work

karl ammann

Karl wins another
Genesis award

notes on Orang conservation
in Kalimantan - a sad story

errol pietersen

despite illegally held apes
CITES action minimal

karl ammann

asia geographic on
illegal wildlife trade

dale peterson
karl amman

africa geographic
reports on karl's
smuggling studies

karl ammann

Karl's German site

of interest

karl nominated for
zoological society medal

'Canned hunting': the
lions bred for slaughter

The Guardian

Seven rhinos killed ...
Kenya's bloodiest week

The Guardian

Forestry Education info
chase g

Not on Animal Planet
karl ammann

2010 Bili-Uere Update
karl ammann

more on wildlife
trafficking from Boten -
bears, leopard, tiger cubs

karl ammann

"horrific slaughter of
elephants ... butchered
in the Central African
Republic ... "

from BBC Newsnight

HIV ignored in Natl
Geographic article on
disease transmission

karl ammann

The Protein Gap
A misleading article

karl ammann

Mass Gorilla Execution
Can we learn from it?

karl ammann

Hundreds of Elephants
killed in DRC Park

from radio Okapi

Hunting Report take
on Chimp escape

karl ammann

US Wildlife Agency
provides a bandaid

karl ammann

open letter to CITES
re: wildlife export

karl ammann

important books

elephant reflections
dale peterson
karl ammann

eating apes
dale peterson
karl ammann

consuming nature
anthony rose
karl ammann

Rhino versus Ape Conservation

I have researched the story of the rhino horn trade in Vietnam and Laos for two years now, having made four different trips to the region. As part of this research, I regularly Google 'Rhino Poaching News' on the internet. Not a day seems to go by without two or three news items showing up, including weekly headline stories in some of the national papers that document that the killing of rhinos for their horns has become a serious conservation crisis. The fact is the level of awareness, mostly created via the traditional media but also the social networking sites is such that policy makers now take the issue seriously.

But what about some of the other charismatic flag ship species—such as our closest relatives, the African great apes (chimps, bonobos, and gorillas). When I Google 'Chimp Poaching News' the top item seems to be from a web page that is no longer active. The next item goes back to 2011 and then comes an item from 2008 and next 2007.

This complete lack of news about ape conservation is deeply disturbing. Someone is asleep at the wheel. Maybe a lot of people. The reality is that while the Rhino population, despite the poaching, is still on the increase in South Africa and even in East Africa, the African great ape populations are declining daily, and at a faster rate than ever before. (The only exception in this trend seems to be the mountain gorillas, where a lot money is being made by tourism. The image of countries like Rwanda and Uganda is directly linked to the conservation status of mountain gorillas, and the conservation community wants to be part of this success story. They are falling over themselves to be somehow associated with mountain gorilla conservation.

Early last year, I became aware of a very active and completely illegal trade in live baby chimps being traded from Guinea, West Africa, to China (and also, to a lesser extent, to private collectors in the Middle East). The latest information tells me that some 130 chimps and 10 gorillas were smuggled out of Guinea during the last three years. To some extend under the nose of ape conservation establishment players with projects in the country. That trade number is horrific, considering how many adults were most likely killed to generate the orphans for trade. The CITES export permits listed them as 'C', meaning captive born. In truth, not a single one was captive born. Most would have been smuggled over several international borders in the region before being shipped out under those falsified permits to China and some of the private collections in the Middle East.

When the CITES Secretariat finally investigated this out-of-control-trade, their public statement did mention that Guinea was not in compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, but it did not dare to mention China as an equal player when it comes in infringing on the treaty. In their confidential report, the Secretariat outlined some of the corrupt practices in Guinea that could not have gone unnoticed by the importing country. Double standards on that level as well.

Meanwhile, the most effective enforcement tool, besides suspending the offending countries (not an option CITES ordinarily considers), would be to repatriate those ape orphans back to Africa and thus keep the importer from being able to use them commercially. This has not happened. As usual, representatives of the CITES Secretariat hide behind the supposed lack of capacity in African sanctuaries.

However, a Kenya based chimpanzee sanctuary associated with PASA recently added new housing and enclosures and offered the CITES secretariat the space to push for real enforcement at the China end. Their offer has not even been acknowledged.

This continuing trade in highly endangered apes out of Africa - to rich people in China and the Middle East - is a major scandal. So why would nearly every reader of this magazine know about the rhinos poached in South Africa in the last year, while very few - possibly none - would be familiar with the Guinea case?

Is it because the chimps live mostly in Central and West Africa, which many players dismiss as a lost cause for conservation anyway? Is it because rhinos live on ranches owned by influential individuals who can get the story to the media? Is it because rhinos (at least white rhinos) are easy to photograph on any safari? Is it because they live in countries that have a wildlife tourism industry, which helps create some of the political will absent in places like Guinea, with no tourists to speak of. Is it because we only start getting alarmed when the number of a species are down to levels where every individual can be accounted for - or not as seems the now be the case.

Whatever the reason, or reasons, the ape conservation community could learn a lot from the rhino community, in terms of lobbying, campaigning and activism. While I have no problem getting my own rhino horn stories placed in various publications, the Guinea Ape trafficking story has not made it even to primate blog sites.

These double standards in reporting are more than matched by a double standard in the efforts to protect. Some people are now talking about deploying drones over sensitive rhino habitat. Helicopters are already being used, while the South African army has been deployed in Kruger national park. I have seen figures of up to 1200 US$ as the estimated monthly cost to protect one rhino on private land. Meanwhile, there are still areas in northern Congo where, according to my own estimates, there are still many thousands of chimps being hunted with increasing relentlessness. We know what the density of chimps is in this area. We know the size of the representative ecosystem. We know human density and the hunting pressure associated with it. We know they are being actively hunted as a food item.

This would be an obvious area to put down some conservation money; and yet to the best of my knowledge, not a cent is being spent on active conservation in this whole range. However in a latest twist a conservation NGO not familiar with the region has retained more scientists to yet do another survery. Why another survey? From my perspective, the reason seems to be that lots of would-be conservationists really consider themselves field scientists that are still looking to spend as much a time as possible in the bush and have their chosen life style financed by donor money. Plus of course surveying is the easy part and with more surveys on top of surveys there will never be a need to address the real issues which are a lot harder to get to grips with then cutting transects through the bush - which the poachers then happily use to do even more damage.

It is far easier to get a detailed scientific research proposal from academics looking to have some more fun than it is to find scientists who are willing to deal with the main conservation problem; humans and the increasing numbers of them. We need conservationists who are willing to sit down with village chiefs, corrupt government officials, and ill-disciplined army units, to put an emphasis on the enforcement of national laws. We need conservationists travelling with back packs full of condoms instead of GPSs. Willing to set up family planning units in even remote areas. That can be hard work and frustrating and it is not something candidates line up to do research in. Studying the behavior of the last members of a species is a lot sexier.

The fact is that when it comes to wildlife conservation the animals are not the problem. The humans are. Dealing with the problem would logically mean dealing with humans. Yes, dealing with humans can be a hard work and a real uphill struggle ... and most wildlife conservation 'experts' did not go into this business to deal with the frustration that comes with human interaction. In my opinion, what we need is a new type of conservationist; one who is interested in humans and human nature. Maybe that means psychologists or even psychiatrists or, as I have argued in the past, real 'Eco-missionaries' willing to live with the people and work with them on a daily basis - even on a Sunday.

Karl Ammann

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