Category Archives: East Africa

South Sudan – Lam Akol forms new movement

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – South Sudan’s former minister of agriculture minister, Lam Akol, has formed a new rebel faction after spending several weeks of consultations with different unarmed and armed opposition parties in the country.

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Lam Akol, chairman of South Sudan’s main opposition party (AFP/Samir Bol Photo)

Akol, according to a statement issued over the weekend and extended to Sudan Tribune has named the new rebel group as National Democratic Movement (NDM) and said that his aim is to overthrow by all means the government of South Sudan under the leadership of President Salva Kiir.

“The National Democratic Movement was born to wage the struggle, together with others in the field, against the totalitarian, corrupt and ethnocentric regime in Juba that is bent on dragging our country into the abyss,” the statement reads in part.

Akol, who previously chaired the Democratic Change Party (DCP) said he resigned and left the party last month because the members and the other leaders of the DCP believed in peaceful dialogue and non-violence as the only means to bring about change in South Sudan.

He described his new rebel faction as a front bringing together the social and democratic political forces as well as civil society activists, who want the political discourse in the country to be centred on the “transformation of the centuries-old conditions of extreme poverty, ignorance, illiteracy and cultural backwardness of the masses of our people.”

The movement, it explained, is founded on the principles and concept of national democratic revolution based on the core values of freedom, equality, justice and fraternity, and solidarity anchored in historical and philosophical perspectives. These values, it stressed, translate into fundamental rights and freedoms as provided for in the UN Conventions of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

The political statement of the NDM set out in details what the NDM stands for and how to rid the people of the totalitarian ethnocentric regime in Juba and replace it with a pro-people inclusive government.

“It must be clear from the outset, the NDM is not just for change of personalities in Juba to replace them with others of the same feathers; it is out for a radical change in the country that will bring about genuine state-building and nation-building,” it emphasized.

He also said his new faction will closely work with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) under the leadership of the former First Vice President, Riek Machar.

It is not clear from whether the prominent politician will get military forces for his new faction.

(ST)

How threatened are Africa’s elephants – BBC view

BBC

New report confirms grim outlook for elephants

Elephant (file image)
The illegal trade in ivory has seen elephant numbers plummet

Elephant populations in Africa have declined by around 111,000 over the past 10 years according to a new study.

The African Elephant Status report says that poaching is the main driver of the fall, the worst losses in 25 years.

However the authors say that long-term issues such as the loss of habitat also pose a significant threat.

The report has been presented at the Cites meeting which is considering new proposals on elephant protection.


War on elephants – Alastair Leithead, Africa correspondent

A dead elephant
The growing demand for ivory in Asian markets means the illegal trade continues to threaten the future of elephants in Africa
  • Every year in Africa between 30,000 and 40,000 elephants are poached for their ivory, and it’s thought there are only 400,000 left.
  • Even accounting for the newborns, this rate of killing calls into question whether these amazing creatures will still be around in a generation, especially as Africa’s ever-increasing population is reducing the space for them.
  • Organised crime runs the ivory industry.

Extract from The War on Elephants; article on how the very existence of Africa’s elephants is threatened by poachers

More from Alastair:

Why elephants are seeking refuge in Botswana

Shocking reduction in Africa’s elephant numbers


Wide range of sources

Figures published earlier this year in the Great Elephant Census indicated that African elephant populations had declined by around 30% over the past seven years.

This new study from conservation group IUCN incorporates this information but also uses data from elephant dung counts and individual observations amongst other sources.

The authors say the overall total for elephants in Africa is now around 415,000, although there may be an additional 117,000 to 135,000 in areas not systematically surveyed.

This represents a decline of some 111,000 from the report carried out in 2006.

Map
Image captionPercentage change estimates are per year for 2010-2014, so total losses are three or four times the percentages indicated on the graphic

Poaching is the main driver of the drop. East Africa, the region most affected by killings for ivory, has experienced around a 50% reduction in numbers.

However it is not the only cause of concern to the authors.

“We are particularly concerned about major infrastructure projects that are cutting up the elephant ranges, this is a particular problem for road development in central and east Africa,” said Dr Chris Thouless, one of the report’s authors.

“These are all major issues that will have to be dealt with once the poaching crisis is over.”

Community conservation

While report highlights the losses there are also some gains.

Elephant populations in South Africa, Namibia and Uganda have all increased. Elephant ranges have expanded in Kenya and Botswana, with community based conservation showing real success in Northern Kenya.

Map

While these are positives, the overall picture is one of dramatic decline, fuelled by criminal activity that would decimate these giant creatures, if continued.

“Larger quantities of illegal ivory are leaving Africa than ever before,” said Ginette Hemley from WWF.

“The transnational crime syndicates driving the slaughter must be dismantled, and consumer demand for ivory cannot persist if we hope to secure a safe future for elephants.”

The report comes as the Cites meeting here in Johannesburg is facing significant division on how to handle the poaching crisis.

Talks on extra protections for elephants will begin on Monday with a number of countries led by Kenya seeking extra protection.

Others, including Namibia and Zimbabwe, are seeking to liberalise the safeguards and open up a trade in ivory. Another proposal here, which might garner more support, is aimed at ending all domestic markets in ivory. The meeting continues until 5 October.

Follow Matt on Twitter @mattmcgrathbbc and on Facebook.

African elephants – attempted tightening of ivory trade rules at CITES could create trade loophole

Daily Maverick

  • CARLOS DREWS
  • AFRICA
Photo: A Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) worker carries a tusk of an elephant as they offload them from a container to a burning site at the KWS headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, 20 April 2016. Containers loaded with ivory tusks from various parts of the country such as Mombasa, Voi, Nanyuki and other places are being offloaded at the burning site ahead of the ivory burning event on 30 April 2016 where 105 tonnes of ivory is set to be burned. This would be the single biggest haul ever to be burned. EPA/DANIEL IRUNGU

Let’s be clear: there IS a ban on the commercial international trade in ivory. There are no legal loopholes. This might come as a surprise given the increasingly loud calls for governments to adopt a “complete ivory ban” at the world’s most important wildlife trade meeting – the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – which starts this week in South Africa. By CARLOS DREWS.But an international ban is in place. It is the cornerstone of global efforts to save elephants and must be strictly maintained. Measures to stop the poachers and traffickers and close down domestic ivory markets have to be strengthened. But there is no way to make the ban stronger on paper – it can only be enhanced through effective enforcement.

Some countries and conservation organisations dispute this. With around 20,000-30,000 elephants being poached across Africa each year, they are pushing hard for the large elephant populations in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to be upgraded to Appendix I of CITES in line with the rest of the continent’s elephants, arguing that this would provide them with the highest level of protection.

However, these elephant populations already benefit from this top level protection thanks to a special condition attached to their existing Appendix II listing. This prohibits these countries – which harbour over half the continent’s remaining elephants – from trading any ivory for commercial purposes. So, as the CITES Secretariat has pointed out, adding these elephants to Appendix I would have no practical effect.

Except for one critical caveat. It could inadvertently make the situation worse by opening a back door to the resumption of legal international ivory trade.

At the moment, the only way to reopen the trade is by a two-thirds majority vote of all 182 Parties at a CITES conference. Namibia and Zimbabwe are angling for this, having submitted proposals to allow them to trade ivory from their legal stocks. WWF does not support these proposals because this is not the time to contemplate even a limited resumption of the international ivory trade, and it is extremely unlikely that the world will back them.

However, there is another way that pro-trade countries could bypass the ban. Ironically, all this would require would be a change to the existing elephant listings; exactly what many anti-trade countries, conservationists and campaigners are calling for. Altering the current position in any way would automatically open up a 90-day window for countries to lodge reservations.

If this were to happen it is likely that some countries – potentially both African countries with ivory stockpiles and Asian countries with ivory consumers – could do so. This would exempt them from the current restrictions regarding elephants, so they could start trading ivory internationally again with no oversight from CITES at all. And remember, there is no possible reward to justify such a gamble.

But this is not the only reason WWF does not support the uplisting proposal. These four elephant populations do not – as the independent experts at the IUCN and TRAFFIC point out – meet the agreed scientific criteria for listing on Appendix I. They do not have a restricted range, nor are their populations small or undergoing a marked decline. Supporting a proposal that does not meet these criteria would undermine the integrity of the Convention, weakening the prospects of future protection for countless threatened species.

All sides of the ivory trade debate want to halt the slaughter of Africa’s elephants. The shocking decline in African elephant numbers detailed in the recent Great Elephant Census shows there is no time to lose: bold, urgent action is needed to tackle the poaching crisis.

Divisive debates at CoP17 over these three trade proposals will not help. WWF believes they will only serve to divert attention away from critical debates about measures, including strengthening the National Ivory Action Plan (NIAP) process, to deal with the fundamental issues behind the illegal ivory trade – corruption, inadequate laws and lack of enforcement along the illegal trade chain, along with rampant demand in Asia.

Initiated at the last conference, the NIAP process is absolutely central to global efforts to stop the poaching and the trafficking, and reduce demand for ivory. It required the 19 African and Asian countries most implicated in the illegal ivory trade to take concrete time-bound actions to address gaps in their legislation and enforcement or face sanctions. And it is now beginning to yield results.

But these gains are fragile. The conference must compel these countries to implement their ivory action plans rigorously. If not, they must be held accountable and face the threat of trade sanctions under CITES. Parties should also agree to tough decisions to discourage consumption and close down the world’s few remaining commercial domestic ivory markets.

If the world unites at this conference behind this robust approach, it will go a long way to tackling the demand fuelling the poaching crisis and the organised criminal networks driving it.

The international ivory trade is already banned. Let’s not mess with it and instead focus our combined efforts on what will make a concrete difference for elephants in the years ahead.DM

Dr Carlos Drews is acting WWF Wildlife Practice Leader

Photo: A Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) worker carries a tusk of an elephant as they offload them from a container to a burning site at the KWS headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, 20 April 2016. Containers loaded with ivory tusks from various parts of the country such as Mombasa, Voi, Nanyuki and other places are being offloaded at the burning site ahead of the ivory burning event on 30 April 2016 where 105 tonnes of ivory is set to be burned. This would be the single biggest haul ever to be burned. EPA/DANIEL IRUNGU

Why the ivory trade ban isn’t working – Murphee., Martin and Conrad

The Conversation

The ban on ivory sales has been an abject failure. A rethink is needed


The fate of elephants ultimately lies in the hands of humans and a continued ban will not solve the poaching problem. Shutterstock

The issue of trade in African elephant ivory will dominate the 2016 CITES Conference of the Parties meeting. Debate will revolve around maintaining or lifting the ban on trade, but with little chance of addressing the overarching human element. For example, what impact has the trade ban had on local communities? And what is the relationship between their livelihoods and elephant protection and poaching?

There has been vocal support for maintaining a ban on the trade in ivory. But the central arguments for a continuation of the ban fail to grasp the mismatch between a CITES trade ban and Africa’s de facto realities. Instead, overly simplistic views are aired that are blind to grass root complexities and nuances.

This narrow lens leads to the prescription of a “one size fits all” solution under which both communities, and elephants, ultimately suffer. Elephants are treated as a global commons. In fact their fate ultimately lies in the hands of humans which is why a continued ban, with increased enforcement accompanied by demand reduction, will not solve the poaching problem.

Indeed, regaining control of elephant ivory as a resource is the core problem around which the trade debate centres. It also concerns itself with allocation of power and control of resources among governments, communities and institutions.

Opponents of a legal trade in elephant ivory give the impression that there is a deep crisis: elephants are headed for extinction. Yet the status of elephants varies greatly across and within Africa. The greatest losses have occurred in central and west Africa, the continent’s two most politically unstable regions.

Contrast this with southern Africa, which has experienced a steady rise in elephant populations and is now home to two-thirds of Africa’s elephants. There is a problem, but it’s not continent-wide problem. The global population of the African elephant is not in immediate danger of extinction.

A legal ivory trade

A major flaw in the argument against those wanting to lift the ban is that legalising the sale of ivory may fail to reduce its price. But the pro-trade southern Africa countries are not seeking to drive prices downward. Why would they want to reduce the income from a product over which they have a competitive advantage?

Southern African countries’ aim is to realise the maximum income that the market will pay in a trading system based on regular sales. They want to gain control of the supply of ivory to a market that has been seized by illegal traders. Money from the legal sale of ivory would provide income to rural peoples who live with elephants – establishing the incentives for their conservation.

The ultimate goal of southern African countries is the transition from the present land-use system to a higher-valued one where rural people derive a better living from alternative options. This requires an enabling framework that does not include ivory trade bans or donor-dependent conservation. One example is Namibia’s Conservancy Programme, generally regarded as the most successful in southern Africa.


Money from the legal sale of ivory would provide income to rural peoples who live with elephants. Shutterstock

Southern Africa needs higher-valued land uses to survive an impending environmental crisis. The lives of millions of people are at risk through climate change. By demanding the inception of a legal ivory trade at CITES, southern African nations are seeking no more than that ivory sales assist in alleviating this crisis. Its sheer magnitude makes CITES’ preoccupation with listing species on Appendices irrelevant. It is a case of Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

Responsible global citizens should be doing everything in their power to facilitate a legal ivory trade that will mitigate human misery, realise the true potential of elephants and ultimately result in their long-term conservation. The likely annual proceeds from ivory for the anti-ban nations are of the order of US$1.5 billion.

This is calculated on the basis of around 300,000 elephants producing 500kg of ivory per 1,000 elephants at a value of US$10/kg. Existing rural community institutions are in place to ensure that funds are returned to local people.

Demand is in flux, prices sensitive

Another fallacious argument is that the market for ivory in Asia – particularly China – is insatiable due to growing affluence. This was purportedly ignited by a large “one-off” ivory sale conducted by CITES in 2008. This demand, the argument goes, has the potential to wipe out African elephant populations by 2020.

This is just drama. Demand is in flux and is sensitive to prices. And the role of affluence must be questioned since incomes in Asian consumer countries have been increasing since well before 2000. It’s not possible to reconcile the assertion that affluence is synonymous with insatiable demand.

For many, the spectre of laundering in sufficient quantity to pose a significant threat is reason enough not to pursue legal trade and, indeed, to shut down all trade – even in extinct, look-alike species. In excess of 2400 metric tons of raw ivory left Africa between 2002 – 2014 and, of this, China’s 5-6 tonnes/year is a minor amount. Illegal traders do not need a legal market to launder ivory: their established trade conduits continue to work, as always.

Abject failure

Everyone agrees that the illegal ivory trade continues despite the international trade ban. It has been an abject failure. CITES has had 27 years to evaluate the experiment and, far from being part of the solution to illegal elephant killing in Africa, the ban must be seen as part of the problem.

Some posit that a legal trade in ivory cannot work with the corruption in Africa. But they fail to consider that the ban has created fertile conditions for corruption. Indeed, officials and governments across the continent who declared the trade of ivory illegal have themselves been engaged in it. It made smuggling easy, according to popular writer V. S. Naipaul.

As he has done before, Naipaul touches a nerve. Africa today has no need for yet another spurious declaration. Rather, it needs support for the creation of a robust management and marketing system for one of its most valuable products.

Kirsten Conrad and Rowan Martin featured as co-authors on this article.

Kenya to lead Africa in another anti-ICC fight

Star (Kenya)

Sep. 22, 2016, 2:00 am

Attorney General Githu Muigai at the ICC on Wednesday /ICC
Attorney General Githu Muigai at the ICC on Wednesday /ICC

Kenya is set to mobilise Africa in a new fight with the ICC after judges at The Hague-based court referred the country to the Assembly of States Parties for non-cooperation.

The court referred Kenya to its peers at the ASP, claiming the government refused to cooperate when it sought President Uhuru Kenyatta’s bank records and phone logs.

Attorney General Githu Muigai yesterday indicated that Kenya would not accept the court’s verdict. But he said he does not expect the matter to arise at the November ASP.

“We have to fight the resolution at the ASP if it is brought there. That forum has no appetite for another round of fights with Africa,” the AG told the Star from The Hague.

The decision by the ICC may trigger renewed calls by Kenya for the African signatories to the Rome Statute to withdraw.

Already, a Bill seeking to repeal the International Crimes Act, which domesticates the Rome Statute, is before the National Assembly.

The Bill is expected to be passed after October 4, when MPs return from recess and should be passed before the ASP scheduled for November 16.

Even if the Bill becomes law, Kenya will still participate in the upcoming ASP as withdrawal is only effected after a year. In May, Kenya spelt out the reforms it wants at the ICC in exchange for shelving its threat to withdraw.

Kenya has been leading a group of African ministers drafting the amendments to be presented for adoption at the November ASP.

The country wants immunity from prosecution for sitting heads of state and senior government officials in office. It also wants the recognition of the primacy of African judicial systems and the African Union before a case is deferred to the ICC.

Kenya also wants the UN to have a say in the deferral of cases started through the prosecutor’s initiative. It is also pushing for the reduction of the powers of the ICC prosecutor.

Kenya wants the rules on offences related to the administration of justice amended to block the court from pursuing arrest warrants issued against three Kenyans over alleged interference with witnesses.

The court on Monday said the ASP would be best placed to address the lack of cooperation to provide an incentive for the Kenyan government to cooperate with the court.

“Noting that the case against Mr Kenyatta has been already terminated and considering the relevance of the materials sought, Trial Chamber considered a referral to the ASP appropriate for the purpose of fostering cooperation more broadly for the sake of any ongoing and/or future investigations and proceedings in the Kenyan situation,” the court said.

South Sudan – General Peter Gatdet denies talks with government

Sudan Tribune

(NAIROBI) – The commander of the armed forces of South Sudan United Movement has dismissed as “untrue” reports that he reached an agreement with President Salva Kiir’s government.

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Rebel General Peter Gatdet Yaka gestures as he speaks to South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar (not seen) in a rebel controlled territory in Jonglei February 1, 2014. (Photo Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

Gen. Peter Gatdet toldSudan Tribune from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi that had never made any contact with the Juba establishment as claimed.

“The claim by President Salva Kiir’s security advisor was not true. I Gen. Gatdet have never held talks with any officials and I have to dismiss it as misinformation and misinterpretation from Tut Kew Gatluak,” he said.

The general, formerly with ex-vice president Riek Machar-led rebels, said he cannot betray his people without identifying the root causes of 2013 massacre of Nuers and other South Sudanese civilians.

“I fought Salva Kiir and the groups with purpose and I decided to reject the IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development]-Plus peace agreement about re-unification of the SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] because of premeditated bloody confrontation between our communities that reflected the tribal divisions in South Sudan under the poor leadership,” he stressed.

The official, however said, he was willing to be part of a comprehensive agreement designed to unite all South Sudanese.

“If there would be peace for all opposition members, I must be convinced with the durable peace that will address the root cause of the fighting and the reason why 30,000 civilians were killed in Juba. We fought with the Juba government and three armed groups, likewise all the opposition groups,” he said.

For lasting peace to be achieved in South Sudan, he added, there was need for inclusiveness in representation within government, which would pave way for realization of a final peace agreement.

Since the beginning of the South Sudan conflict in 2013, Gatdet has been operating in Bor, Jonglei State from where he crossed to Malakal in Upper Nile state. In 2014, United States, through its State Department, imposed sanctions on the commander of President Kiir’s guards, Major General Marial Chanuong Yol together with Gatdet.

(ST)

If African agriculture could feed its chickens could it then feed hungry Africans?

The Conversation


A woman in northern Ethiopia feeds her chickens. Bill Gates has estimated that a farmer breeding five hens could generate up to $1,000 a year.Flickr/Jeannie O’Brien

Africa, which imports nearly 83% of the food it consumes, has a real chicken and egg problem. The continent is caught between pressure from imports in some countries and an inability to meet demand in others.

Africa’s chicken crisis is an expression of overall weaknesses in its agricultural system. If Africa cannot raise its grain production it cannot expect do well in increasing its chicken output.

It is a complex problem. Producing chickens requires low-cost feed such as corn. Yet producing grain to meet human needs remains one of the continent’s most pressing challenges. Africa’s urban populations, for example, are growing faster than the continent can produce grain. This has contributed to Africa’s shift from being a net food exporter to being a net food importer.

The inability to ramp up grain production has affected Africa’s ability to feed its people as well as its chicken. Its imports for grain as well as chicken have been rising as a result. Its import of poultry products is estimated at $3 billion a year.

Imports lead to oversupply

South Africa is the continent’s largest chicken producer. According to the South African Poultry Association, chicken imports from Brazil, the European Union and the US are destroying the domestic sector.

The South African Poultry Association’s chief executive officer, Kevin Lovell, has been quoted as saying that

South Africa has the capacity to grow its own chickens at a far cheaper rate compared to most countries in the world. However it is unable to do so due to imports.

South Africa has a trade agreement with the US which allows for tariff-free quotas of key agricultural products. One of these is chicken from the US. This is done in exchange for preferential trade under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

With increased imports following the trade agreement, additional imported chicken has been added to the South Africa. This has led to oversupply and price reduction. This may benefit consumers, but it undercuts incentives for local production.

In much of the rest of Africa the problem is different.

Inability to meet demand

Population growth, urbanisation and changing diets have over the last 20 years shifted African meat consumption away from beef to pork and poultry. According to some estimates, chicken now accounts for nearly half of the meat consumed in Africa.

The supply of poultry has not kept up with the demand, which is in turn pushing up prices. This may sound like good news for those able to invest in the sector. For example, Bill Gates has estimated that a farmer breeding five hens could generate up to $1,000 a year, which is above the $700 poverty line. As a result, he has pledged to donate 100,000 chickens to kick start poultry farming in sub-Saharan Africa.

The demand for chicken in countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania is projected to rise significantly over the next decade. Chicken prices in those countries are already prohibitive given the fact that large sections of the population live on less than $2 a day. Chicken prices range from $5 to $8 a kilo. The challenge now is finding ways to increase production while competing with imports.

Poultry production challenges

At face value the situation looks like an opportunity for entrepreneurs to align production with the rising demand. The challenge, however, is more deep-rooted. The factors (such as poor infrastructure, low investment in research, limited technical training and a lack of farm incentives) limiting poultry production are similar to those affecting the rest of the agricultural system. In fact, countries with more advanced agricultural sectors such as South Africa, Egypt and Morocco are the ones that lead the continent in poultry production.

The solution to Africa’s chicken crisis lies in upgrading agricultural systems overall. Here are the major limitations:

  • Low-cost, high-quality feed. Expanding feed production involves investing in grain production, especially corn and soya. Research to increase efficiency and expand the range of feed sources will go a long way in helping to upgrade overall system.
  • The lack of starter stock (chicks and broilers bred specifically for meat production). Improvements in this area will require better breeding and extension programs akin to those needed for crops. Nearly 84% of chicken in Kenya is based on local breeds that have low levels of efficiency in converting feed into meat.
  • Disease control. The most common threat to chickens is Newcastle disease. But the frightening spectrum of new infectious diseases calls for more investment in livestock diseases in general and chicken diseases in particular. Disease control is a problem for both crop and livestock producers.
  • Poor infrastructure (especially energy, transportation and water supply systems) is a major barrier to the expansion of chicken production, especially in rural areas. A lack of cold storage facilities forces farmers to keep feeding their chickens instead of slaughtering and refrigerating them. They generally transport live chickens to markets, which raises logistical costs and increases concerns over disease transmission.
  • The lack of credit for producers. Countries that provide credit for crop producers to purchase seed and farm input have the opportunity to extend their incentives to chicken production. Most African countries lack such systems and it is unlikely that they will introduce them for poultry farming if they do not have them for crop production.

So far Africa can hardly feed its people. But even worse, it cannot feed its chickens so that it can feed its people. The chicken crisis is yet another reason why Africa must focus on getting its agricultural act together. The crisis is a warning to African leaders: they need to wake up with the chickens and act in time.