Today, Robin des Bois, the Paris based NGO, released the 1st edition of “On the Trail” , a quarterly information and analysis bulletin on poaching and smuggling of endangered animals.
206 events of poaching, seizures, arrests and convictions which occurred in Africa, Australia, America, Europe and Asia are listed. This panoramic vision of cruelty and criminal acts on wildlife, between April 1 and June 30, 2013 makes one shiver and deliberate.
In three months the equivalent of 707 elephants, in tusks, were seized. Poaching of Mali elephants is increasing. Robin des Bois recently wrote to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, requesting that UN peacekeeping troops be given strict instructions to protect the subsisting elephant population.
In three months 3,600 pangolins, mammals which look like reptiles, were seized. They are sought after for their scales and meat. A beautiful specimen sells for $ 2,000 in China or in Vietnam. If Interpol’s ratio analysis is applied – 10% of animals seized correspond to 90% of undiscovered traffic – in three months, the number of pangolins illegally killed and sold on international markets, would add up to 36,000.
In three months, nearly 6,000 turtles and tortoises were seized and a young biologist, activist for the protection of leatherback turtles in Costa Rica, was shot.
The count of 380 rhinoceroses killed in South Africa, at the end of the month of May, raises fears that the threshold of 1,000 will be overshot by the end of the year.
“On the Trail” n°1 confirms the rise in international trade on the internet. It also confirms the existence, resilience and recidivism of family or community gangs such as the Rathkeale Rovers, the Kha gang in the United States and the Martinez family headed by Hector Martinez, a real estate developer in Mexico.
The profile of poachers and allies do not fit into preconceived notions. Some are well established in life and carry out the professions of teachers, professors and nurses. Female poachers of rhino horns are also active in Africa. The horn affair is a blood bath. Since 2008, 300 Mozambican poachers were killed by anti-poaching rangers in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
The prize for the worst case in this 1st edition of the quarterly bulletin has been jointly awarded. The award goes to the criminals who killed one of Ecuador’s last condors and uploaded the photo on Facebook, and to Palm Oil Planters in Indonesia who killed 20 orangutans, a great Ape which, in the near future, is at a very high risk of extinction.
Leopard skins and tiger skins are traded at around 10,000 euros, 33 tiger and leopard skins have been seized.
In the United States of America and Asia the price of a totoaba swim bladder, an endangered fish which lives in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, is sold between 5,000 and 20,000 euros. 1,027 totoaba swim bladders were seized in the USA and Mexico in the second quarter of 2013.
“On the Trail” highlights that a Roissy-Asia transit of elephant ivory and rhino horns is active. The recent case of the Chinese antique dealer intercepted in Shanghai coming from the French airport Roissy, carrying 14 ivory figures and 4 rhinoceros horns, clearly demonstrates that French authorities should increase security checks and work towards losing Parisian airport’s reputation of a corridor.
The good news is that the Philippines destroyed five tonnes of seized ivory. Robin des Bois requests that, under the supervision of a bailiff, France destroys all stocks of illegal ivory seized by customs and other organisations since the entry into force of CITES. This ivory stock is not subject to public inventory. The tusks are entrusted to the Museum of Natural History in Paris. They are not put under high security and are left to tempt gangs or embezzlement.
To finish, don’t have a cup of civet coffee. This new trend consists of using coffee cherries after their transit through the digestive tract of an Asian palm civet. Following the craze for civet coffee, oil palm civets are caught in the wild, trapped, kept in a cage and fed almost exclusively, coffee. As a result, Robin des Bois is hoping that the Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) be listed in Appendix II of the CITES Convention so that the international trade of this bitter coffee be regulated.
“On the Trail” n°1  (pdf 42 pages, 3.2 Mo)
Seahorses, corals, sea cucumbers,giant clams and fishes, pages 2 and 3