NY Antique Dealer Jailed for Rhino Horn & Ivory Products

This is indeed good news, but sadly still a drop in the ocean. A New York antiques dealer was sentenced on 5 December 2013 for conspiracy to smuggle Asian artefacts made from rhino horns and ivory.

The antiques dealer, Qiang Wang, was sentenced to three years and one month with a further three years supervised release by a United States federal court.

This followed his arrest  in February 2013 as a result of “Operation Crash”, an ongoing nationwide effort led by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Justice Department to detect, deter and prosecute those engaged in the illegal killing of rhinoceros and the unlawful trafficking of rhinoceros horns.

Wang worked with two Chinese nationals to source Asian artifacts made from rhino horn and elephant ivory from auction houses and galleries in the United States for the purpose of smuggling these items to China.

Wang sent these items using the U.S. Postal Service and express mail services. He made false customs declarations, and knowingly exported rhino horn and ivory without USFWS approval or valid CITES export permits.

In a statement released by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe:

This slaughter is fueled by illegal trade, including that exposed by Operation Crash.

We will continue to work relentlessly across the United States government and with our international partners to crack down on poaching and wildlife trafficking.

Article Source: Annamiticus

st lucia estuary zululand

iSimangaliso gets clean audit

The 2013 audit for iSimangaliso has been released, and the Auditor-General has given a thumbs up to a clean audit and performance review.

Covering a financial as well as performance review, the audit confirms iSimangaliso has achieved its objectives committed to in its business plan submitted to the Minister of Environmental Affairs and National Parliament.

Inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1999, the iSimangaliso of today is a far cry from its early beginnings in almost every respect.

The majority of land claims have been settled, eco-systems functioning has been largely restored and thousands of hectares of plantations removed, almost all previously existing species including the ‘Big 5’ have been reintroduced, extensive road and tourism facitlities developed and/or refurbished, and over 350 km of big game fencing erected.

This has been underpinned by significant job creation, skills transfer and above average tourism growth.

— iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority

This has been achieved through a careful balance between conservation and development, ensuring the Park’s core universal values of eco systems, biodiversity and natural beauty are honoured.

iSimangaliso has shown us that at a time when conservation budgets are at their lowest, and there are so many other priorities globally, parks can still prevail.

–Dr Ian Player, renowned conservationist

Article Source: iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority

Coral Reef earthtime.org

Reefs In recovery

Coral Reefs have the ability to regenerate should they ever be damaged by storms or any other naturally occurring event. However as the ocean changes as a result of things like warming and acidification it becomes more difficult for coral reefs to recover. Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg talks more about this issue in the latest Seaview Science video.

Protect Africa’s Oldest National Park

Virunga, Africa’s oldest national park needs your help. Today WWF has launched a global campaign to protect Virunga. We need to keep an oil company, Soco International PLC (Soco), out of the park and stop it from exploring for oil.

Add your name

We want to show Soco that the public won’t stand for any threats to the world’s most incredible treasures. You can help us by adding your name to show you draw the line at the exploitation of Virunga National Park.

Virunga, on the eastern edge of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is Africa’s oldest national park and is a World Heritage Site known for its unique biodiversity. It’s home to a greater variety of wildlife than any other park in Africa, including 216 species found in the region which are not found anywhere else on Earth. It is also the only protected area with 3 species of great ape – eastern chimpanzees, eastern lowland gorillas and mountain gorillas.

DRAW THE LINE – Add your name

We’ll use your name to tell business and government to draw the line on oil exploration in Virunga. Some places are just too precious to be exploited.

WWF Oil Exploitation

Seize Your Power With WWF

We believe our future can, and should, be powered by nature.

The energy systems in place across the planet within the next four years will define the world’s climate change path for generations.

Renewable EnergyAll countries have a right to develop, yet we need to invest money now in clean and renewable energy – to limit dangerous climate change, to reduce the risk to human health from fossil fuels, to fast-track access to energy, and to safeguard our collective future.

We call on financial institutions and governments worldwide to act immediately to invest more in sustainable energy powered by wind, water and the sun. They must phase out investments in coal, oil and gas and enable a just transition from the dirty and unsustainable energy of today.

The world needs investment in nature, and there are good reasons to do so now more than ever. We stand for a future in which people live in harmony with nature. Investing in fossil fuels threatens the natural world and the stability of communities and society. Investing in renewable energy will support a clean, sustainable future for all.

There must be no financial reward for environmental and human harm.

We choose to invest in solutions rather than problems:

Join Us. Seize your power.

wwf your power


Catlin Seaview Survey. Day2 False anemonefish

Mapping The World’s Coral Reefs

The world’s reefs are in a dramatic state of decline – we’ve lost over 40% of corals over the last 50 years due to pollution, destructive fishing and climate change.

According to the scientific community the decline is set to continue, it will affect 500 million people globally who rely on coral reefs for food, tourism income and coastal protection.

A passionate and specialised team of marine biologists, fixers, communication specialists, scuba divers, underwater robot operators, multi-media and technology experts have undertaken an ambitious project to monitor this change over time.

The Catlin Seaview Survey is in the process of creating a baseline record of the world’s coral reefs in high-resolution 360 deg panoramic vision. It is hoped that this material can help scientists, policy makers and the public to see first hand the issues reefs are facing, and to find solutions to best protect coral reefs.

The survey started in 2012 with 32 reefs along the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef and out to the remote Coral Sea being mapped. A total of 150km of reef were surveyed  recording 105 000 GPS located panoramic images.

Our aim is to carry out a rapid assessment of reefs around the world and create a scientific baseline record with which to monitor global change.

Article Source: The Catlin Seaview Survey

Thailand moves to Ban Ivory Trade

WWF Image

WWF Image – opening of CITES CoP16

At the opening of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Bangkok, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra pledged to start a legislative process to end ivory trade in Thailand.

This came after more than 1.5 million signatures were collected calling on Thailand to ban its trade in ivory, and is the first time the Thai government has made a public statement on the matter.

As a next step we will forward amending the national legislation with the goal of putting an end on ivory trade and to be in line with international norms. This will help protect all forms of elephants including Thailand’s wild and domestic elephants and those from Africa. – Prime Minster Shinawatra 

Thailand is the worlds largest unregulated trader in ivory products, and this stance will go a long way in reducing the slaughter of tens of thousands of elephant each year.

 The fight to stop wildlife crime and shut down Thailand’s ivory markets is not over. Prime Minister Shinawatra now needs to provide a timeline for this ban and ensure that it takes place as a matter of urgency, because the slaughter of elephants continues. –  Carlos Drews, head of WWF’s delegation to SITES

Article reworked from worldwildlife.org

Live Whale Songs From Hawaii

The gurgles, whistles, and squeaks of humpback whales singing off Hawaii’s island shores can now be heard live, courtesy of underwater microphones placed near Puako, Hawaii by the Jupiter Research Foundation. – Wired Science

It is thought that male humpbacks will sing for hours to attract their mates. Their day-long songs consist of “repeating low-frequency notes and melodies” that are audible many kilometers away. The females don’t sing but do communicate vocally.

image source - Wired Science

image source – Wired Science

Advantage Tours & Charters

St Lucia Tours t/a Advantage was established in 1991, holding a permit for boat based whale watching since 1998.

In this year they also launched their Hippo & Croc estuary boat cruises, having been granted an operating permit from KZN Wildlife. As an iSimangaliso Concessionaire in St Lucia ideally places Advantage within the greater iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

Whale Observer takes to the wavesHaving their own boat building company has enabled them to locally manufacture their boats to their own custom specs, creating much needed employment in the process.

According to Lesley Sawyer of the Whale Shop, St Lucia:

We offer Hippo & Croc Tours on the St Lucia Estuary, and these 2 hour tours which normally run 3 – 4 times daily, are the ultimate in relaxation, except when you perhaps get charged by a Hippo!!

Our vessel has high sides for your safety and that of your toddlers, and has been built with your comfort in mind.

There‘s a full cash bar on board, and there are both ladies and gents toilet facilities available. We are also wheelchair friendly!! There is ample room for the avid photographer to move around as the whim takes him or her, and there are ample opportunities for beautiful photos which make memories for you to take home.

--photo by Natalie

–photo by Natalie

The prolific bird life over the St Lucia shores is nothing short of stunning, with over 526 different species counted to date, ranging from the smallest Malachite Kingfisher of between 10 – 13cms, to the Goliath Heron with it’s wingspan of close to 2.3mts…the majesty of the Fish Eagle with his Soul stirring cry…truly the voice of Africa.

As our name suggests, there are Hippo’s and Crocs a-plenty, Waterbuck, Kudu, Duiker, Zebras., and should you want to know anything about our animals, birds, or just general info on our estuarine system, you can ask our friendly, and knowledgeable skippers/guides, and they will be only to happy to answer your questions.

Our Estuary Cruises run throughout the year, and to be part of one is like eating a Magnum Ice-cream…Pure Pleasure!!

--photo by Natalie

–photo by Natalie

Our Whale Watching season runs from mid-May to mid-December, and is the highlight of this time of the year!! Once again, our Whale watch vessels, as is our estuary cruiser, are surveyed annually by SAMSA, and your comfort and safety is our main priority!! Our vessels are custom built by Danie Bennett of Bennett Boat Builders and his dedicated boat building team.

Danie has been Whale watching since 1998 and is a Legal Permit Holder for boat-based Whale Watching in St Lucia and Durban!!

The playful, curious, acrobatic, yet gentle Humpback Whales visit our shores during the months of June through to the end of November to mate, and to have their babies in the warm waters of Indian Ocean. The Humpbacks can travel up to 25,000 kms in their annual migration and they grace our Zululand shores during the Winter/Spring months so that their babies can grow in strength to survive the cold waters of the Arctic oceans on their return trip.

First you have the anticipation as you travel on the Whale train down to the beach…then comes the clench of the adrenalin rush to your tummy as we launch through the surf, playing catch with the waves, third is the sigh of relief as you go into calmer water and start the search for the Humpbacks!!

There is nothing more awesome than being out on the ocean with these magnificent Mammals…seeing a birth…a mating…sharing in the unmitigated joy of a breach as they lift that huge body completely free of the water, diamond bright water droplets spraying everywhere…the tug at your heartstrings as you sense the bond between Mother and baby… having an eye to eye meeting with one of these beautiful beings as it swims next to the boat for a few moments is an incredible experience, it is life changing, and soul stirring!!

And in parting:

This is definitely a “must” on your bucket list!! —says Lesley