Category Archives: East Africa

Kenya – Is Kenyatta trying to isolate William Ruto?

Star (Kenya)

Feb. 27, 2017, 12:00 am

Deputy President  William Ruto greets worshippers after a church service at AIC in Kericho. Ruto urged the church to preach peace, unity and harmony with the coming elections.Photo/REBECCA NDUKU/DPPS
Deputy President William Ruto greets worshippers after a church service at AIC in Kericho. Ruto urged the church to preach peace, unity and harmony with the coming elections.Photo/REBECCA NDUKU/DPPS

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pact with Kanu chairman Gideon Moi has been interpreted as a wider scheme to either slowly neutralise or even isolate Deputy President William Ruto.

Ruto’s grip on the Rift Valley and specifically the Kalenjin community has been placed in an increasingly precarious position as it emerges that Gideon is working with Bomet Governor and Chama Cha Mashinani leader Isaac Rutto.

Their aim is to take as much control of the region’s politics as they can, eating into Ruto’s turf.

On Thursday, Kanu announced that it will support Uhuru’s reelection but field its own candidates for other elective seats where it deems fit.

The deal is said to have been negotiated by President Kenyatta in person, sidestepping Ruto, who has long been seen as the de facto Kalenjin community leader.

The announcement by Kanu was made exactly a week after President Kenyatta paid a visit to retired President Daniel Moi at his Kabarnet Gardens residence, Nairobi.

Uhuru’s mother, Mama Ngina Kenyatta, on January 21 made a courtesy call on Moi at his Kabarak home in Nakuru.

Expert comment: Getting votes at the expense of lives is barbaric

Read: Kenyatta promises Gideon Moi Cabinet slots

The newfound union between Uhuru and Gideon has raised eyebrows in Ruto’s camp, with questions on the wider plan.

All indications are that Kanu will work with CCM to exert a grip on the Rift Valley to reduce the DP’s grip on the region.

Today, Gideon and Rutto head to Narok county, where they will attend a ceremony at the home of Narok West MP Patrick Ntutu in the Olopirik area.

Gideon and Rutto have long been fierce critics of the DP and all his works.

Other Rift Valley rebels expected in the meeting are West Pokot Senator John Lonyangapuo, the vocal Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ng’eno, his Kuresoi counterpart Zakayo Cheruiyot and Kanu Secretary General Nick Salat.

Gideon plans to capture more elective seats to influence policy at both the regional and national levels. At present Kanu has just 6 MPs and JP 164 (89 allied to Uhuru and 75 to Ruto).

The scheme will see Jubilee’s elected Mount Kenya members try to dilute Ruto’s influence at the party level.

Gideon aims to use numbers to portray Ruto as a weak DP, hence not in a position to perform strongly in the 2022 contest, a presidential transition race if Jubilee retains power on August 8 this year.

Ruto’s political say, including formation of the next Cabinet, will significantly decline in case his wing loses a significant number of MP seats in the Rift Valley to Kanu and CCM, come August 8.

Those in the know have hinted that the deal Uhuru cut with Gideon includes Jubilee not fielding candidates for certain elective seats against Kanu, especially in the Rift Valley. This, however, has not gone down well with those Ruto’s allies.

The DP’s wing of JP has already identified the persons it wants to run for virtually all key posts in the Rift Valley.

Kanu has indicated that it will field candidates in the North Rift areas such as Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, West Pokot, Uasin Gishu and Nandi, while CCM will field in the South Rift, which includes Nakuru, Bomet and Kericho.

The pact between Uhuru and Kanu has deeply dismayed some of Ruto’s allies. Ruto has publicly stated that he is Jubilee’s automatic Presidential candidate in 2022, if the ruling party holds together before and after the 2017 polls.

He hopes to have an even more substantial number of MPs as well as governors allied to him after the August elections, who will eventually act as part of his springboard to State House.

The DP also expects President Kenyatta and the Mt Kenya region to automatically back his 2022 bid.

Retired President Daniel Moi when he was visited by Mama Ngina Kenyatta at his Kabarak home recently. /File

Last June, the President publicly assured Ruto of his support in his 2022 bid for State House. The assurance followed assertions by some Jubilee politicians that the DP does not have their guaranteed support.

The announcement by the President did not please key politicians from the Mt Kenya region, who quietly complained that Uhuru was setting up the community.

A number of MPs from Central complained that the community, especially its numerous members in the Rift Valley, could be isolated and possibly subjected to violence as happened in 2008 if it did not support Ruto in 2022.

This has apparently led State House to consider a countervailing force in the Rift Valley to work with as early as ahead of the August election.

“It is better we go to the August election with them [the Kalenjin community] knowing that our support for Ruto’s 2022 bid is not automatic, instead of them believing we will support him and then something else happens,” an MP from Central told the Star.

The mounting complaints by the Mt Kenya leaders are seen as part of the reason why the President reached out to Kanu – as a wider plan to keep Ruto in check.

Speaking to the Star on Saturday, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso accused Kanu of attempting to sow discord within Jubilee by showing support for President Kenyatta’s reelection on a conditional basis.

Laboso said claims by Kanu that it supports Uhuru but not DP Ruto were likely to cause animosity among leaders and even the electorates in the community and across the country.

“Kanu should stop giving us unnecessary conditions, Jubilee is not Uhuru alone,” said the Sotik legislator.

Laboso said Kanu undermined the DP’s role in the ruling party, where Ruto brought together all the 11 parties to form the Jubilee Party.

“Uhuru cannot be the party leader alone without the deputy party leader, and so Gideon and his ilk should bear in mind they are coming in, but that Ruto is the only de facto leader of the Kalenjin community,” added Laboso.

Laboso warned Kanu to accept the fact that Ruto is the face of Jubilee in the Rift Valley and nobody can pretend to be working with JP and at the same time try to ignore the DP.

“Unless they are dreaming, it is not going to be possible to come to Jubilee with an agenda to isolate the Deputy President,” she concluded.

South Sudan – the hungry emerge from the swamps to get food aid

BBC

Three years of civil war in South Sudan have driven thousands of families into the marshes of the Nile to hide from the fighting. A famine has been declared some parts. The BBC’s Alastair Leithead has been to the rebel-held town Thonyor in Leer County, where people have been told to gather to get help.

They emerged from the marshlands of the Nile in their thousands, as word spread that help had come.

Forced by fighting to live on the isolated islands of the Sudd swamps, they have been surviving for months on wild plants.

Now they sat on the dry, cracked earth in long lines under a brutal sun – mostly women and children – waiting to register for the food aid which would be air-dropped in a few days time.

“We are only surviving by eating wild honey and water lilies from the river,” said Nyambind Chan Kuar as she sat with 16 of her children and grandchildren.

“The fighting has been disastrous – children have been killed, they are taking our things, our cattle, our goats, taking everything, even though we have nothing to do with this war.”

children cross water to register for aidReuters  Thousands have been hiding from the fighting in swampland

Each person is given a card that entitles them to 30 days of food rations when supplies arrive. Their finger is then stained with ink to avoid duplication.

“People are dying because of this hunger,” said Mary Nyayain. “That’s why we are here queuing for these tokens.”

The town of Thonyor in Leer County was chosen as the central point for distributing aid after long negotiations with both sides in the civil war.

It’s one of the four counties in Unity State suffering pockets of famine, which the latest hunger assessment says is affecting 100,000 people.

Leer is the birthplace of the former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar which is perhaps why it has been the centre of so much fighting.

waiting to be registered in Leer CountyReuters People in Unity State say they have been eating water lilies to survive

Thonyor is controlled by the rebels or the “IO” as they’re known – forces “In Opposition” – but the government troops are just 20 minutes up the road.

“The war has been so difficult for us,” said another woman waiting in line for a cholera vaccination.

“Especially for the old women who are not able to run to the river to survive in the islands. Our cows and goats were taken so that’s why we are only able to survive through the food agency.”

Under each tree is a different medical post – with health checks for the children.

The worst cases of malnutrition are treated straight away.

A woman waits to be registeredReuters   About 36,000 people are expected to be registered – but the UN says thousands more are cut off by rivers or fighting

“You may think this child is actually very healthy – he’s fat, he’s looking OK,” said James Bwirani from the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

“But this is just water accumulating in the body and he has not been consuming adequate food for some time.”

The child has a distended belly and his face and limbs are swollen.

“If left untreated for between a week to two weeks, this child is going to be dead,” Mr Bwirani said.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is coordinating this emergency response, expecting about 36,000 people to come in from the swamps for help.

MacharAP  Leer County is the birthplace of rebel leader Riek Machar, who has fled the country

But there are many thousands more who are too far away, cut off by rivers or in areas where the government and the rebels have not agreed to provide access.

“For many, many months humanitarian agencies have not been able to make it into this area. This is first time we’re doing so,” said George Fominyen from the WFP.

“Without safety, without assurance of security for the people that are in need and the aid workers, we’ll be having a catastrophic situation down the line.”

The UN describes this as “a man-made famine” – created by the civil war which has divided the army and the country largely along ethnic lines.

A political row between President Salva Kiir and Mr Machar led to killings in the capital and fighting which has spread across the country.

Armed man canoesReuters The UN says the “man-made” famine has been caused by the civil war

The war has displaced millions of people, many into neighbouring countries, and 40% of the population now depends on international aid.

Mr Machar fled South Sudan in July when a fragile peace deal collapsed.

He is currently in South Africa, unable to return but apparently still commanding his troops by phone.

Leer county commissioner Brig Gen Nhial Phan said there won’t be peace until Mr Machar is allowed back to take part in a proposed national dialogue.

He believes President Kiir wants to drive people out of his county.

KiirImage copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Leer County officials accuse President Kiir of orchestrating the bloodshed

“The government kills people – their militia is raiding, taking cows, killing and burning the church and the houses, forcing people into the islands,” he said.

There are scorch marks where the market used to be and the remains of a Medecins Sans Frontieres clinic, destroyed when the government forces took the town for two days last November.

By getting help in fast, aid agencies hope to pull this region back from famine and stop the famine from spreading – if they are allowed to access to the worst affected areas.

Africa’s Rhinos – us it better to trade horn to save rhinos

Global Geneva

http://www.global-geneva.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/RHINOS

The air buzzed with the sound of an electric saw. Next to me a 2,000kg white rhino slumped on the ground. When the saw fell silent, I was handed a heavy, greyish brown lump of horn. “That’s worth about $40,000 in Vietnam”, I was told. Poached rhino horn can now fetch as much as $65,000 per kg. By weight it is more valuable than gold or cocaine. The high price and massive demand in Vietnam and China have fuelled a poaching epidemic that has swept southern Africa. About 1,300-1,500 rhinos are killed each year for their horns – over 6,000 since 2009.
But I was not holding poached horn and the huge male white rhino next to me was not dead. I had just witnessed the painless dehorning of a rhino on the huge farm of South Africa’s leading private rhino owner, John Hume. The rhino had been darted to sedate it, held down by four strong men, and blindfolded to avoid stress. Then its two horns were cut to within a couple of inches of their base. It took just ten minutes from darting for the rhino to climb back slightly unsteadily to its feet and shamble off into the veldt.

John Hume has 1,446 rhinos on his 8,000ha ranch near Klerksdorp in South Africa. The latest addition was a male calf born there on 28 December 2016. This was the 1,000th rhino bred from animals owned by Hume over a period of 25 years. South Africa’s total population is around 20,600 but it has been hit hard by years of heavy poaching in Kruger National Park, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal and on private reserves and game farms.
Increased security, tougher sentencing of poachers and improved intelligence and the creation of high intensity protection zones in Kruger are working to reduce poaching there and to slightly cut the overall level of poaching in South Africa. In 2014, 1,215 rhinos were killed for their horns in South Africa. This was reduced to 1,175 in 2015 – about 65 per cent of those poached are killed in Kruger.
Kruger’s chief ranger, Nicholus Funda, told me when I met him at the Park that they hoped to keep the number killed in the park below 700, which should lower the national figure to around 1,000 (458 were killed in Kruger between January and late August). No firm figures have been released by the South African Department of the Environment for 2016, but Albi Modise, a spokesperson for the department said on 27 December that the final number would show a reduction on previous years. While the overall figure is likely to be slightly lower for the country as a whole, there are signs that the focus of poaching is shifting because of increased security in Kruger.
When I visited Hluhluwe-Imfolozi in September, the head of rhino security, Cedric Coetzee, told me that they were experiencing a worrying rise in poaching. Incursions by poachers had risen from two a week to two a day in the previous 18 months. On 27 December 2016 Musa Mntambo, a spokesperson for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, which runs the Park, said that 159 rhino had been killed in the province during the year compared with 97 in 2015. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi had borne the brunt of the increase.
Any minor advance in South Africa is being offset by increased rhino poaching. In Zimbabwe and Namibia, which also hold significant proportions of the 20,378 white rhino and 5,250 black rhino remaining in Africa, according to Save the Rhino and to the South African conservationist John Hanks. The numbers poached in Namibia have risen in recent years, reaching 80 in 2015 having been down at 25 the year before; 2016’s death toll has not been released. Zimbabwe lost 50 rhinos in 2015, double the previous year’s level.
Why is rhino horn so expensive and so much in demand? It has been utilised in Chinese traditional medicine for millennia and is also used to carve cups, libation vessels and other artefacts popular with China’s prosperous elite. But the booming market is in Vietnam among wealthy businessmen. They give horns as gifts to wealthy clients or prospective business partners, and serve it in wine at banquets. Many Vietnamese believe it is a cure for hangovers and cancer – though there is no evidence to support either claim. It is a luxury commodity that reeks of wealth and power. Demand has risen rapidly over the last ten years and shows no sign of abating.
International trade in rhino horn has been banned since 1977, when CITES (The Convention on Trade in Endangered Species) voted to ban all export-import trade in rhino horn to conserve dwindling wild rhino populations in Africa and Asia; South Africa, due to breeding successes, has been allowed by CITES to export live white rhino in certain cericumstances, such as restocking parks elsewhere.. This did not mean that domestic trade was banned in all countries but it did attempt to stop horn being exported from Africa – where rhino numbers were decimated in the 1970s and 1980s. But increasing prosperity in the major markets for horn in the Far East has caused a horrific rise in poaching. This is despite that fact that rhino horn is basically compacted hair (keratin) – with no medicinal properties and without even the aesthetic appeal of ivory.
Despite this, demand is high and the ban is not stopping poaching. High security in key national parks, shoot-to-kill policies and attempts to uncover the criminal syndicates that thrive on the high price of horn have only limited effect and appear to be shifting the focus of poaching rather than seriously reducing it. Most wildlife and conservation NGOs rigidly oppose any suggestion of a legal trade to meet demand and so reduce the appeal of poached ivory.
Speaking at a debate with private rhino breeder John Hume at the Royal Institution in London in August 2016, Will Travers of the Born Free Foundation spoke for many NGOs when he expressed total and absolute opposition to any legal trade. Hume countered with an argument in favour of trade in horn from dehorning rhinos and natural mortality, that would not involve harming rhinos.
As I witnessed on Hume’s ranch, dehorning is painless and does no harm to the animal. Rhinos can be dehorned every 18 months, producing about 0.5-1 kilo of rhino each time. Currently, such horn and horn from natural mortality is collected by private owners who dehorn and by national parks and kept it is under tight security. It cannot be sold or traded. South Africa, which has more rhinos than any other country but also the worst poaching problem, banned domestic sales in 2009. Hume is fighting a court case to overturn that. He wants the right to trade in rhino horn to bring in funds for rhino conservation, anti-poaching and also for community projects.
Proponents of trade in horn argue that dehorning rhinos protects them from poachers and could, if a legal, regulated trade was sanctioned by CITES, provide substantial funds for conservation of rhino and their habitats, more sophisticated anti-poaching techniques and funds for rural development to make rhinos an asset for rural populations (whose poverty is often a driver for recruiting local men as poachers). In September 2016, CITES voted down a request by Swaziland for a limited legal trade in natural mortality ivory from its small population of rhino, so the pro-trade lobby has a fight on its hands in trying to get CITES agreement for a trade in horn.
Both black rhino (CITES appendix 1 listing) and white rhino (appendix 2 listing) are listed by CITES in categories that do not permit trade in horn or other products (with the exception for live South African white rhino already noted). On 8 February, 2017, following earlier court and appeal court decisions lifting the moratorium on domestic trade in rhino horn, the South African Environment Minister published draft regulations for the domestic trade in legally acquired rhino horn, which would also allow the export for “personal” rather than commercial purposes of two rhino horns by persons holding the necessary South African permits and import permits from the country to which they would go. It remains to be seen if this will be fully adopted and how it will affect the poaching epidemic in the country and how CITES will react.
David Cook (formerly director of the Natal Parks Board, and Hluhluwe-Imfolozi senior ranger), believes poaching isn’t declining, it is just shifting location and developing new strategies. In the 1960s, Cook worked closely with renowned conservationist Ian Player to save the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi s white rhino, the last in the region. This operation was responsible for the survival of the white rhino in southern Africa and the enabled the restocking of southern African parks, conservancies and private game reserves. Cook told me that a regulated trade to meet demand legally at a fixed price below the current level and without risk of prosecution for retailers or buyers should be part of a cocktail of measures to further the conservation of rhinos.
While I understand the position of the conservation NGOs and their desire for an ultra-ethical stance on trade in wildlife products, there is an equally strong and ethically-based argument that regulated, non-lethal trade in horn could reduce poaching. It will never totally stop it but could reduce it to a level where rhino numbers increase and funds from legal sales produce a sustainable form of conservation that benefits rhinos and local communities through income from rhino horn. It is Benthamite utilitarianism against a Kantian categorical imperative. The argument by anti-trade that a legalised trade would encourage demand is a strong one, but only if one ignores that there is already considerable demand and rhino numbers are falling fast and consistently. Demand reduction is not working, so a legal trade won’t worsen the situation, it might just reduce poaching sufficiently so that numbers recover rather than keep falling. Trade in non-mortality rhino horn could reduce poaching, though I have no illusions it would stop it completely. Misplaced altruism will not save the rhino. Regulated sustainable-use strategies could.
Professor Keith Somerville teaches at the Centre for Journalism at the University of Kent, is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (University of London) and is the author of Ivory: Power and Poaching in Africa (Hurst and Co, November 2016) and Africa’s Long Road Since Independence (Penguin, January 2016).

South Sudan – Sudan’s Bashir says Egypt providing South Sudan’s Kiir with arms

Sudan Tribune


(KHARTOUM) – Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir has ruled out the direct involvement of the Egyptian arm in South Sudan’s conflict but said Cairo provided President Salva Kiir with weapons and ammunition.

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (Photo Reuters)

Speaking to reporters aboard the plane returning to Khartoum from Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, al-Bashir denied that Egypt had conducted any air attacks on the positions of the SPLM-In-Opposition in Kaka town of Upper Nile state, as it was claimed by the rebels on 3 February.

However “We have intelligence that they supported the South Sudanese government, and continue to support the government with arms and ammunition,” he disclosed in his answer to a question from a journalist.

“But I do not expect to fight in the South Sudan,” he further said.

Last January President Salva Kiir visited Cairo where he held talks with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Egyptian officials.

At the time, officials in Juba said the purpose of the visit was to thank Egypt for its diplomatic support to Juba government at the level of the United Nations Security Council.

Sudan as the rest of the IGAD countries including Uganda vowed to not support the warring parties in South Sudan’s festering conflict. They also agreed to keep the former Frist Vice-President Riek Machar out of the region.

Also, Washington called to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, pointing to UN reports about “strong risk of violence escalating along ethnic lines with a potential for genocide”.

(ST)

\Kenya – KANU will support Kenyatta re-election

Star (Kenya)

Feb. 23, 2017, 12:00 pm

Kanu secretary general Nick Salat with party leader Gideon Moi after their meeting at Lake Nakuru Lodge, February 23, 2017. /STEVE WAMBUGU
Kanu secretary general Nick Salat with party leader Gideon Moi after their meeting at Lake Nakuru Lodge, February 23, 2017. /STEVE WAMBUGU

Kanu will support President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election in the August 8 poll, secretary general Nick Salat has said.

Salat spoke after a National Executive Council meeting at Lake Nakuru Lodge on Thursday, with officials including party leader Gideon Moi.

“It has been agreed that Kanu will support Uhuru in the poll. This was after wide consultation,” he said.

He added that the party will field candidates for all the other posts that politicians will vie for in the election.

Salat, who had declared support for Nasa and attended its grand Bomas of Kenya rally, said the decision to back the President was reached after a vote.

He said he voted against it but that majority of the party’s members supported Uhuru.

Regarding Nasa’s first rally in DP William Ruto’s Eldoret backyard on Saturday, the secretary general said he was not sure he would attend.

Nominated Senator Zipporah Kittony, who also attended the meeting, said only two people voted against Jubilee.

After Salat attended the Bomas rally, Kittony was among politicians who denounced him, saying he acted as an individual and that Kanu was not part of the Opposition.

Gideon, who was phoned by Uhuru and advised against joining the National Super Alliance, also said they consulted widely.

On vying for president in 2022, the Baringo Senator said time will tell. He said he will defend his seat this year on a Kanu ticket.

Uhuru’s personal call to Gideon was the latest and strongest signal that he and Jubilee Party were uneasy about the alliance by Amani leader Musalia Mudavadi, ODM’s Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula.

The President, according to a source in the Moi family, urged the Senator to back his re-election and lead the former ruling party to work with Jubilee. Details of Moi’s response were not disclosed.

Read: Uhuru phones Gideon to stay away from Nasa

Also read: Gideon will win poll out of respect for Moi, Nasa cannot penetrate Rift Valley – Mandago

But Uhuru paid retired president Daniel Moi a visit last week at his Kabarnet Gardens residence in Nairobi.

The details of what transpired in the meeting were scanty but it is believed they may have discussed the country’s political future ahead of the poll.

In January, Mama Ngina Kenyatta, Uhuru’s mother, visited Moi at his Kabarak home in Nakuru.

Leaked photos of the meeting sparked debate on what the former First Lady was up to ahead of the general election.

Mama Ngina said she visited Moi to check up on a friend and that he asked to return.

More on this: Why Mama Ngina met Mzee Moi

Tanzania’s elephant crisis fuelled by corruption

Marjan Centre Blog

Posted on by

Tanzania’s elephants suffer a staggering decline as corruption-driven poaching bites

By Professor Keith Somerville, author of Ivory. Power and Poaching in Africa (Hurst, 2016)

Tanzania has one of the largest savannah elephant populations in Africa with an estimated 42,871 elephants, according to the Great Elephant Census report released in 2016, which is about 12% of the continent’s population.  This makes it all the more worrying for the future of elephants that since 2007, Tanzania’s elephant population has suffered a catastrophic decline of 60% in numbers – double the rate of decline of Africa as a whole.

Why such a staggering fall in numbers?  The answer is simple and is an indictment of  the country’s wildlife authorities, law enforcement system and government – corruption and poverty.

The killing of elephants, harvesting and smuggling of tusks is a complex but flexible network that operates with political protection and impunity from arrest for the king-pins of the criminal syndicates that work with international smuggling rings (that also trade in drugs, guns and people) to export poached ivory.  Added to this is the role of Chinese workers, diplomats and businessmen in exploiting the elephants and the opportunities for corruption to feed high demand for ivory in China and elsewhere in East Asia.

Underfunding of conservation, poor pay for wildlife department staff and ubiquitous corruption in the police, public bodies and among the political elite have created an environment in which the illegal ivory trade has thrived.  The criminal syndicates have bought political protection by bribing senior politicians and government officials, which has enabled them to commission poaching, supply guns and ammunition to poachers, make “safe” the smuggling of ivory within Tanzania and then work with corrupt port, customs and airport officials to smuggle the ivory out.

One recent Tanzanian Natural Resources and Tourism Minister, Khamis Kagasheki, tried to combat this naming by MPs from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party as among those helping poachers and accusing a former party secretary-general and Defence Minister, Abdulrahman Kinana of involvement in poaching and smuggling. Far from being applauded by the then president, Jakaya Kikwete, he was sacked as minister.

Kagasheki’s disclosures and investigative work by the Environmental Investigation Agency revealed a massive spider-web of corruption linking poachers, criminals, smugglers and Chinese gangs, with the latter having gradually taken over the export end of the operation pushing out the existing networks of indigenous smugglers, especially those in the large Tanzanian Asian and Afro-Shirazi business community in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar (for more details of the networks please see below).

The catastrophic decline in elephant numbers in Tanzania has seen numbers fall from about 109,000 in 2009 to just under 43,000 when the census took place there in 2015. Taking into account an annual birth rate of 5%, this means over 85,000 elephants have died – the majority of these were poached.  Natural mortality will have made up a couple of per cent of deaths a year, legal trophy hunting a little more and shooting of ‘problem’ elephants a relatively small number.

This shows that in the last ten years, scores of thousands of elephants have been poached for their tusks.  The majority have been killed in the Ruaha-Rungwa, Malagarasi-Muyovosi and Selous-Mikumi eco-systems, where two-thirds of the elephants have been killed. A very high rate of killing is also evident in northern Mozambique’s Niassa-Ruvuma area, bordering Tanzania and where Tanzanian gangs operate with little let or hindrance from the Mozambican security forces and Tanzanian border officials.

There were over 34,000 elephants in Ruaha–Rungwa region in 2009; however, this fell to 20,000 in 2013 due to poaching before plummeting further to just 8,000 in 2014. The famed Selous Game Reserve, billed as Africa’s largest game reserve, is actually a shadow of its former self; its once thriving population has fallen from 45,000 to15,00 in the same period and UNESCO had added the reserve to its ‘World Heritage in Danger’ list.

(For more details of the networks please see Keith Somerville, ‘Ivory: Power and Poaching in Africa’, London: Hurst, 2016; and Environmental Investigation Agency, ‘Vanishing Point: Criminality, Corruption and the devastation of Tanzania’s Elephants’).

Professor Keith Somerville is a Research Associate at the Marjan and a member of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology at the University of Kent. He is also author ‘Africa’s Long Road Since Independence. The Many Histories of a Continent’ (London, Penguin, 2017).

The second part of Professor Somerville’s examination of poaching in Tanzania will look at the historical background.

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South Sudan – EU pledges $82m in emergency famine aid

Sudan Tribuneseparation


February 22, 2017 (JUBA) – The European Commission has announced an emergency aid worth €82 million in the wake of the declaration of famine outbreak in South Sudan.

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European flags are seen outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels (Reuters Photo)

At least 100,000 people, aid agencies said, are facing starvation in parts of the country while 4.9 million of them need urgent humanitarian assistance.

“The humanitarian tragedy in South Sudan is entirely man made. Urgent action is needed to prevent more people from dying of hunger. I have seen for myself the impact of this crisis when visiting South Sudan and neighbouring countries such as Uganda, and I’m ready to return to the region,” the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides said in a statement.

“Crucially what matters is that all parties allow humanitarian organisations to have immediate and full access to do their job and deliver aid. Ultimately it is only by laying down arms that the country can be rebuilt and that the hopes that came with independence can be fulfilled,” it adds.

The new EU humanitarian aid package will be used for the most urgent needs in the country and help neighbouring countries cope with the massive influx of refugees.

To date, the European Commission has reportedly made more than €381 million available to respond to the worsening humanitarian crisis in South Sudan since fighting erupted in December 2013 in areas such as health and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene interventions, education as well as shelter and protection.

The EU is one of the biggest donors of humanitarian aid in South Sudan, having provided over 40% of all humanitarian financing to support life-saving programmes in 2016.

(ST)