Archive for the ‘Illegal Wildlife Trade’ Category

THAI DAYS: If You Go Down to the Woods Today (Part two)…. It’s War!

September 27, 2013

Take Hugh Paxtons Blog’s word for it – Thailand’s tropical forests are beautiful. Dawn brings the liquid whoop of gibbons in the forest canopy hundreds of feet above the mist that pools around the gnarled dipterocarp roots– if a tall, cool glass of water could sing it would sound like a gibbon –, the heavy whoosh, whoosh of a giant hornbill’s wings, the startled cough of barking deer smelling dhole hunting dogs, the distant grumble of elephants, tens of thousands of bats leaving crag caves at twilight, after the first rains tens of millions of fireflies drifting and blinking through the velvet dark like tiny constellations…yes, beautiful.

But they can be hard work; a lot of steep, slippery muddy, slopes, snagging vines, streams to forge, leeches galore (and I do mean galore, and those suckers have no respect for leech proof socks), wild boar ticks, sudden torrential downpours, and ridge after ridge of limestone karst formations that stick out above the forest giant canopy like the back plates of long dead stegosaurs.

There are trails made by man or animals (forest pig, elephant, gaur, the giant Asian bison etc,) and I never leave them, unless I have a guide, for the simple reason that I’d get lost and would never be seen again. Despite deforestation and human incursion and population growth Thailand’s forests are still vast. The western forest complex, comprising 17 protected areas including Huai Kha Khaeng, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for example, covers 18,727 sq kms.

Beautiful, yes, tough going, yes…and currently a war zone.

On one side are the poachers drawn by rosewood (highly valued outside Thailand – but not in country where it is considered a sacred tree), tigers, elephants, bushmeat, animals valued in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or the international exotic pet trade , but most of all money.

Some poachers are simply poor, or greedy, opportunistic locals who use the forests for a free meal. But others are mixed up with a slew of illegal activities – drug manufacture and smuggling (particularly methamphetamines or heroin), people trafficking, and of course the killing or trapping of wild animals and birds, the rarer the better. Their backers and customers are powerful criminal syndicates operating out of Lao, Cambodia but principally Vietnam (an increasingly significant final destination for wildlife products due to a burgeoning, not to mention ostentatious, ignorant and affluent, nouveau riche class), and our old voraciously amoral friend, China.

On the other side are the staff and rangers of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP).

When it comes to weapons the good guys are woefully outgunned. Most of them are equipped with either shotguns or Heckler and Koch firearms that are over 30 years old. The poachers have AK-47 assault rifles and automatic carbines. State of the art stuff ideally suited to jungle warfare.

What puzzles me is their willingness to use these weapons so freely.

One of the principle problems facing effective wildlife crime enforcement is the judicial system. Wildlife offences are still perceived by the law as a “victim-less crime” and sentences are lenient, going on ludicrously non-deterrent .

If successfully prosecuted at all, the criminals can confidently expect to be back in their hunting grounds mere weeks or, at most, a couple of years later. And if you have the backing of a multi-million dollar crime syndicate on your side, a $US500 fine is risible.

But shoot they do. Hence the DNP’s declaration of war.

Since 2009, 47 forest rangers have been killed on duty and 48 others injured.

On Sept 12th came the final straw. Hmong hilltribe tiger hunters, part of a well known gang operating in the Huai Kha Khaeng World Heritage Site , shot and killed two rangers and wounded two more. One hilltribesman was killed in the firefight, two were captured, and two fled. They are believed to be hiding in the Bangkok area. If they have been injured, and I hope they were, it will make apprehending them easier – even in Bangkok, bullet trauma raises eyebrows in medical facilities.

But two more deaths, two more injuries – the DNP decided enough was enough. Negotiations were begun with the army to buy or borrow state of the art weaponry for rangers. All protected area managers were ordered to assemble every scrap of information they had on poaching gangs, proven, suspected, rumoured, anecdotal. This exercise to be conducted in close co-operation with local police. All weapons were ordered to be checked for readiness and/or obsolescence.

And this morning, pre-dawn, over 1,000 armed forest rangers deployed throughout the western forest complex on the largest patrol/man hunt ever conducted by the DNP. They are out there as I write.

Time for the poaching gangs and syndicates to reap the whirlwind.

In Part One of this Two Part Post I described meeting Thai park rangers and observing their anti-poaching training. Things have escalated.

It started with a contact between

Thai Days; more bad news if you are an elephant. They want your tits and balls and your trunk to help them win the lottery

June 17, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is sad to report that some people in Thailand, hoping to win the lottery, purchase elephant bits and pieces. Spectrum magazine ran the story so this blog can’t pretend to having done anything to expose this trade. Spectrum did it for me. The photos were really, and I mean REALLY ugly.

Slices of elephant trunk. To bring good kuck. The slivers of trunk are set in candle sticks!

Slices of elephant penis. To bring, well, yes, I think we know where that one’s going.

The female elephant’s nipples! For good luck!

I feel revolted by this sort of behaviour. It’s witchcraft! Voodoo!

Owning an elephant testicle will bring you as much good luck as the elephant that owned its testicle! Elephant nipples?  Oh dear!

I’m not going on. This whole wildlife parts and magic and sudden cures for herpes is snake oil. It is hurting the morons who buy these potions and fetishes, it is encouraging poaching.

Hugh (who finds the idea of chopping up elephant’s trunks repulsive – really repulsive)

Thai Days: Anybody lost 14 white lions? Get in touch and I’ll tell you where they were.

June 11, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has a number of animals in my house. But enough of mycats, my hedhehogs, my  daughter and her friends.

Let’s move on to a house in Klong Sam District.

This was over populated!

14 white lions. Where the heck did he he get 14 white lions? South Africa. And the lion  owner says he’s got the papers to prove it.

Four otter civets.

One loris.

23 meeerkats! (Yes RSA seems a likely point of origin).

Australians take note – “at least 1,000 sugar gliders”. At least 1,000!

12 peacocks.

13 turtles

six minks

four miniature pigs

17 marmosets

an undisclosed number of other birds

and a bunch of stuffed animals.

This lot were in his house? He must have a larger place than myself.

The police were tipped off by the guy’s neighbours who were fed up with lions roaring, peacocks cawing and “a smell of excrement.”

Sakda Noppasit, secretary to the natural resources and environment Minister, said the suspects registered a company for study purposes but that it was clear the their company has “nothing to do with research or study”.

The cost of importing a white lion? 200,000 Baht.

Come on South Africa! Crack down on the export end! Otherwise Asia will bleed you dry!








Field reports indicate slaughter of elephants, conservation staff evacuated

April 26, 2013

Photos: Forest elephants at Dzanga Sangha in Central African Republic. Credit: Cristin Samper/WCS


Field reports indicate slaughter of elephants, conservation staff evacuated

April 25, 2013 — WWF and WCS have received alarming reports from their field operations that elephants are being slaughtered in the violence-ridden Central African Republic (CAR), where new powers in place struggle to gain control over the situation. The conservation organizations are issuing today a joint call for immediate action.

Due to the violence and chaos in the area, the exact number of elephants slaughtered is not known, however initial reports indicate it may be extensive. WWF has confirmed information that forest elephants are being poached near the Dzanga-Sangha protected areas, a World Heritage Site. Elephant meat is reportedly being openly sold in local markets and available in nearby villages. The security situation is preventing park staff from searching the dense forest for elephant carcasses.

The two organizations, WWF and WCS that have worked in CAR since the 1980s, are calling on the Central African Republic and its neighbors to immediately increase security in the region to protect the area’s people and elephants. Governments are meeting next week at an extraordinary meeting to discuss ways to stop the poaching that has plagued the region. Up to 30,000 elephants are killed in Africa each year for their ivory tusks, which are in demand in Asia.

The following statements have been issued by WWF and WCS:

Jim Leape, WWF Director General said:

The elephant poaching crisis driven by insatiable ivory demand is so severe that no area is safe, not even the World Heritage Site Dzanga-Sangha where both WWF and WCS have now worked for the conservation of elephants for decades. Heroic rangers are standing firm in the face of immense danger, but they alone cannot safeguard the special species and places the world treasures. When meeting next week, Central African governments must urgently join forces against this criminal activity that is also threatening the stability and economic development of their countries. I encourage them in the strongest terms to take a stand against wildlife crime and together declare that poaching and illicit trafficking will not be tolerated.

Cristian Samper, WCS President and CEO said:

Together, WCS and WWF, are calling on the Central African Republic government to immediately increase security in the region to protect these elephants from poachers and is asking other regional governments to provide assistance to stop the killing. Our staffs have been forced to evacuate in the chaos. I recently visited CAR and saw first-hand that without a full-time conservation presence in the region, these elephants are in jeopardy from poachers. WCS and our partners will continue to work tirelessly to protect elephants across their range.

WWF has worked in Dzanga-Sangha for 30 years and supports protected area management, gorilla research, law enforcement and tourism development. WCS has been in the area for more than 20 years, in charge of monitoring and research of the elephants of Dzanga Bai, a forest clearing containing a mineral-rich watering hole. In addition, WCS works immediately across the border in the Republic of Congo to protect the same population of elephants there where the government is working to ensure their additional security on that side of the border.


The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit

WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. To learn more about WWFs wildlife trade campaign visit and follow us on Twitter @WWF_media.

Photographs are available here:

For further information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

WCS: Mary Dixon; mdixon 1-347-840-1242; Stephen Sautner: ssautner; 1-908-247-2585

WWF: Alona Rivord, arivord, +41 79 959 1963

Stephen Sautner

Director of Communications

Wildlife Conservation Society

Bronx Zoo

Bronx, NY 10460

p: 718-220-3682


Skype: scsautner

Twitter: @TheWCS

This message has been scanned for malware by Websense.

Some Chinese are stupid bastards: Chinese ship rams coral reef in the Philippines and is full of smuggled pangolins.

April 21, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog ia appalled by the latest Chinese eco crime. It beggars belief.

Scene: A world heritage site, coral abundant,  the Tubbataha reefs. 600 fish species, 360 coral species, eleven species of sharks, sea turtles, a hundred species of birds, thirteen species of whales and dolphins…it doesn’t get much better than Tubbataha.

For some reason ships keep crashing in. Greenpeace – the Rainbow Warrior ran aground due to faulty maps issued by the Philippines govt. They paid the fine, regretted the incident and sailed away to save whales elsewhere. The US minesweeper USS Guardian swept in earlier this year and the anti-US protestor department went into a predictable frenzy. The US did the decent thing, paid compensation and the USS Guardian sailed away to sweep mines elsewhere.

The latest vessel to run aground on Tubbataha is a Chinese fishing boat sailing without charts (and without any fish). The vessel, upon closer inspection turned out not to have just recklessly destroyed corals but to be carrying 1,200 kilos of dead, de-scaled pangolins. These inoffensive scaly South east Asian anteaters are endangered, trade is totally illegal and demand, particularly in China where they are considered by some to be medicinal, continues to boom.

This blog hopes Manila will throw the book at these coral wrecking smugglers. They are guilty as sin.

Guatemala: ARCAS wildlife release ecotours

April 11, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has participated in several wildlife releases in the forests in northern Guatemala and strongly recommends them. Just got this in from Colum.

From: Colum Muccio []
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 5:41 AM
Subject: ARCAS wildlife release ecotours

Greetings friends,

Attached I am sending you some information on a new, higher-end tour we are offering for a select few customers who want to participate directly in an animal release in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve. The tour costs $1,970 per person all included for a maximum group of four. These animal releases are real adventures; I have participated in several. Half of the fun is the monstor truck ride into some of the most remote and pristine rainforest sites you will ever see in Central America. Profits from these ecotours will be used to support ARCAS’s wildlife rescue and conservation activities in Peten. Let us know if you know of anyone interested.


Colum Muccio
Administrative Director
Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Association (ARCAS)
Address: Lote 6, Calle Hillary, Km 30 Carretera Interamericana, San Lucas Sacatepequez, Guatemala
International mail address: Section 717, PO Box 52-7270, Miami, FL 33152-7270
Tel: (cc502)7830-1374, -4273, 5704-2563 (cell) E-mail: Colum_Muccio Website:

Anuncio liberacion junio 2013.pdf

Kenya gets tough on Chinese ivory smuggler (or not)

March 28, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog applauds the decision of the Kenyan authorities. Really worth a round of applause for its tragedy/comedy/farce.

Tian Yi, a Chinese national, was apprehended in Nairobi while in transit on Sunday. His suitcase attracted attention because it bulged with slivers of bark.

Mr. Yi, described them as ingredients for Traditional Chinese Medicine. China, traditionally, has no traditional medicine source in Kenya, or anywhere else in Africa. For millennia the Chinese apothecaries had no idea Africa even existed.

Yi, while no doubt spurred by noble thoughts of curing his countrymen, women and children from various diseases and ailments and mental health problems and impotency, had mingled his healing remedies with…


Did Yi stuff his suitcase with:

A. Soiled underwear and smelly socks

B. Traditional Chinese Medicine bark, roots, with a view to selling these to bio-prospecting companies.

C. Copies of “anal slave” and “ whip me, whip me”

D. Just lots of bark.

E. A present for his wife bought hastily and without forethought from Nairobi duty free.

F. An HIV-AIDS positive test result due to Yi’s reckless fornication with the girls at Buffalo Bills.

G. Nothing. He just wanted to carry the suitcase.

H. Three silly hats and eighteen bananas.

I. Lots of little shampoo bottles snaffled from various hotels, small bars of soap and several bathrobes and towels, and a Gideon’s Bible found in a bedside drawer.

J. Lots of bark and 439 pieces of worked ivory painted brown to match the medicinal bark.

Hugh Paxton Blog Quiz Winners, as usual, won’t roll home with a prize. But don’t give up! It has been known to happen.

Answers follow.

‘A’ to’ I’. You may well be right. Apart from ‘G’.

Yi wasn’t in this for the suitcase.

‘H’’ looks unlikely, too.


Did you think ‘J’?


Mr Yi had painted all his bits of ivory brown to make them look like his traditional medicinal tree bark.

Hugh Paxton’s Blog Final Quiz:

Q: Was he arrested and thrown into jail?

1. Yes.

2. No.

3. Did he pay a crippling fine for his role in a trade that spurs and supports criminality and rebel takeovers of countries such as the CAR (it’s in the Congo region, Central African Republci – they’re having a civil war as usual).

4. Or was he fined a punitive fee of one US dollar per ivory piece.

Number four wins!

I find this scenario ridiculous. This man, this Mr Yi,  is a smuggler, he isn’t a tourist who picks up an ivory trinket in ignorance. He is commercially motivated, his bark ploy indicates that he is of sub-standard intelligence,  and he should be in a Kenyan jail being fed weevils and gang banged by Somali pirates for robbing them (the Kenyan people) of their natural resources.



Hidden in Plain Sight: China’s Clandestine Tiger Trade

March 25, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog draws your attention to the Environment Investigation Agency’s new documentary on tiger farming. Check the website

CITES 2013 brachte die Wende

March 18, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog reckons this will be of great interest to shark and ray enthusiasts who speak German. I am a little bit lost but I think I get the message. We should be happy? Yes, I think, we should all be happy!

Some sharks are safer. Although I’d have to add a quote from Hong Kong fin trader Mr. Yu (Yu means fish) “I’ll buy fins from other sharks.”

Cheers from Bangkok!

Hals und bein bruche

Ergebnis Cites 2013.pdf

Sharks and Manta Rays Receive Protection Under CITES

March 11, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is getting more and more of these shark press releases. It seems that a lot of people out there care! Always nice to see! I’ll post any that come with really nice images but otherwise I’ll retain my energy for different animals. I’m hearing bad things about slow loris to Japan where they are considered cute. To terrible effect the slow loris IS cute. It looks like a Furbie children’s toy. It is excruciatingly expensive, the trade is illegal and their bite is poisonous (only two mammals have a poison bite – the platypus and this loris). Dealers, traders, similar filth pull out their teeth without calming dugs prior to transport then stick them in their underpants.

How low can you go?

Anyway, here’s the shark stuff!


From: Kessler, Danielle []
Sent: Monday, March 11, 2013 6:20 PM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Sharks and Manta Rays Receive Protection Under CITES


Media Contact:

Bangkok, Thailand: Danielle Kessler

+66 (0) 81-750-4216


USA: Claire Cassel



Sharks and Manta Rays Receive Protection Under CITES

(Bangkok, Thailand—11 March 2013) Sharks and manta rays have received protection today under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES member nations, referred to as “Parties,” voted to increase protections for five species of sharks as well as two species of manta rays. Leading up to and during this meeting, the United States has worked with a coalition of countries committed to gaining support for these proposals—Brazil, Colombia, the European Union, Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador, Mexico, Comoros, and Egypt, among others.

“We are extremely pleased that CITES member nations have given greater protections to these commercially exploited marine species,” said Bryan Arroyo, head of the U.S. delegation to the treaty’s 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Bangkok. “Through the cooperation of the global community, we can begin addressing the threats posed by unsustainable global trade in shark fins and other parts and products of shark and ray species.”

A proposal submitted by Colombia, and co-sponsored by the United States and Brazil, to list oceanic whitetip sharks in Appendix II was adopted in a secret ballot vote with 92 in support, 42 opposed and 8 abstentions. The United States jointly submitted this proposal due to concerns that over-exploitation for the international fin trade is negatively impacting the population status of this shark species.

In addition to oceanic whitetip sharks, proposals to increase protection for three species of hammerhead sharks – scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead, and smooth hammerhead; porbeagle sharks; and manta rays were adopted by the Parties. The United States strongly supported these marine species proposals and commends the leadership of the countries responsible for their submission.

"Sharks and manta rays are extremely important to the ocean ecosystems," said Sam Rauch, of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "The global protection that CITES offers these incredible species will complement existing international shark protection measures by ensuring their trade is sustainable and does not threaten their survival. We are thrilled these important shark and ray proposals were adopted and applaud the leadership of the many countries that helped us get there."

Today’s decisions could be reconsidered later this week, when the Parties hold a decision-making session to finalize recommendations made throughout the week. “Populations of these species are in severe decline, primarily due to commercial exploitation. The science supports these listings,” said Arroyo. “We are confident that the CITES Parties will uphold these decisions.”

Sharks are over-harvested in many parts of the world, primarily for their fins. Most shark fins are exported to Asia, where they are a main ingredient in shark fin soup, which is considered a delicacy in many Asian countries. Due to their low productivity and high economic value, populations of these shark species have suffered severe declines. Porbeagle sharks also face pressures due to demand for their meat, while manta rays are over-harvested for their gill plates.

While some regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) have adopted measures to manage sharks, these regional measures alone cannot ensure the international trade of this species is globally sustainable. Not all range countries are members of RFMOs and many marine species that are traded internationally swim long distances, often crossing national boundaries. For these species, conservation can only be achieved by working collaboratively with other nations.

Today’s votes place the five shark species and all manta rays in Appendix II of CITES – an action that means increased protection, but still allows legal and sustainable trade. Listing commercially-exploited marine species, especially those taken on the high sea, in the CITES Appendices has been a highly polarized and much debated issue at recent Conferences of the Parties, in part because the provisions for marine species taken on the high seas were open to interpretation. Earlier in this meeting, the Parties passed a resolution clarifying CITES implementation for marine species taken on the high seas, termed “Introduction from the Sea.” The Introduction from the Sea provisions provide CITES Parties with a clear, comprehensive framework for implementation of listings of species taken on the high seas and CITES is well-positioned to assist in securing the future of our fishery resources.

CITES is an international agreement initiated in 1973 and is currently signed by 178 countries regulating global trade in imperiled wild animals and plants including their parts and products. A meeting of the Conference of the Parties is held every 2-3 years to review, discuss, and negotiate changes in the management and control of trade in the various wildlife species covered by the agreement.

Species protected by CITES are included in one of three appendices. Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction and provides the greatest level of protection, including restrictions on commercial trade. Appendix II includes species that, although currently not threatened with extinction, may become so without trade controls. Changes to Appendices I and II must be proposed at a CoP and agreed to by a two-thirds majority of the Parties present and voting. In contrast, listings to Appendix III can be requested by individual Parties at any time. Appendix III includes species protected by at least one country that needs assistance from other Parties to control trade.

For additional information about the many marine proposals discussed at CoP16, visit the U.S. CoP16 Marine Issues webpage at

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at or on Facebook at

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. Connect with our Facebook page at, follow our tweets at, watch our YouTube Channel at and download photos from our Flickr page at


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