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(Telegraph) -Zimbabwe police have launched an investigation into former first lady Grace Mugabe over allegations that she headed a poaching and smuggling syndicate which illegally exported tonnes of elephant tusks, gold, and diamonds from the country, the Telegraph can reveal.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, the president of Zimbabwe, sanctioned an "urgent" investigation into Mrs Mugabe's activities after "very strong" evidence was uncovered by Adrian Steirn (@adriansteirn), an Australian photo journalist, a senior official in the presidential administration said.
Mrs Mugabe wielded significant power in Zimbabwean politics until her husband Robert was ousted in a soft coup last November.
She was named as the alleged mastermind of the illegal operation by two suspected poachers who were later arrested in a police sting after trying to sell Mr Steirn tusks in February. She has not yet been charged.
Although the elephant population is considered healthy in the north-west of the country, losses have been heavy in other parts.
About 900 elephants were lost to poachers between 2013 and 2016, nearly 250 of them poisoned with cyanide or shot.
Mrs Mugabe's name was linked to large-scale wildlife trafficking following a four-month investigation by Mr Steirn, who posed as a customer for contraband ivory in order to infiltrate the smuggling and poaching networks preying on the country's national parks.
In an exclusive interview with the Telegraph, Mr Steirn said he decided to launch the investigation after hearing rumours about Mrs Mugabe's complicity in trade during several years reporting on wildlife crime in Africa.
"For years I've been documenting the frontline poachers who end up serving 20 years for shooting a giraffe. Meanwhile, she was taking billions of dollars out of the country," he said.
"If they charge and arrest her, and she goes to jail for wildlife crimes, that will change the dynamic of the entire perception of wildlife trafficking across Africa," he said.
A new study, published Thursday in Scientific Reports, reveals the makeup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—the world's largest collection of floating trash located between California and Hawaii.
Results showed that plastics made up 99.9 percent of the patch, with fishing nets accounting for at least 46 percent of the plastic.
“I knew there would be a lot of fishing gear, but 46 percent was unexpectedly high,” says Laurent Lebreton, the study’s lead author. "Initially, we thought fishing gear would be more in the 20 percent range. That is the accepted number [for marine debris] globally—20 percent from fishing sources and 80 percent from land.”
The death of Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, is a reminder that there is still so much more work to be done. But the future could look different for the black rhino and other subspecies, because of vital community-led conservation efforts happening in local communities around the world. – via Conservation International
From @savinggorillas: If we lose gorillas and other great apes, we lose the opportunity to study our closest connections to the past, to understand ourselves more fully, and to recognize the connection between all life on earth. Join the gorilla team today: gorillafund.org/donate
Via @vetpaw: This video comes with an extreme graphic warning!!! The world needs to see what is happening PLEASE DO NOT REPORT - we need as many people to understand what these animals go through every day. With the news of the death of Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino, it seems unconscionable that anyone would want to play an active role in contributing to the extinction of a species. Every 15 minutes an elephant is killed on the African continent and it's ivory traded, on the black market, directly funding terrorist organizations and organized crime syndicates. It took them four hours to end this elephant's life - now imagine the agony poachers put these animals through as they cut through their faces to remove the tusks with a chainsaw, most likely, while the animals are alive and conscious. We cannot just stand idley by while this happens. Vetpaw was founded to actively prevent this but we cannot do it alone. Please consider joining us in this fight by donating here https://www.gofundme.com/vetpawsaves or link is in our (@vetpaw) bio Video source SKYNews exposé
From @international_animal_rescue: Today is International Day of Forests and our hearts are heavy with the reality that this day holds.
. The Indonesian #rainforest is disappearing right before our very eyes with studies suggesting that more than 2.5 million acres are being lost every single year.
. As a result, the Bornean #orangutan is now Critically Endangered.
. These great #apes are being forced out of their forest homes and left with nowhere to go. Many starve to death or are killed when they stray into villages or onto farmland in search of food. We are the last and only hope for #orangutans in West #Borneo and our teams work 24/7 to try and bring as many to #safety as possible. The work is often exhausting, relentless and heart-breaking.
. But the shocking reality is that if we do not take action now, we risk losing the orangutan forever. In addition to emergency rescues and translocations, we are working hard to protect precious orangutan #habitat. Our extensive landscape #conservation project involves working to protect forest, encouraging sustainable farming, reforesting areas lost in fires and creating #tree corridors that allow orangutans to move freely and safely between protected areas. Our education and outreach programmes are helping us to inspire and encourage change in local communities. Please join us today by sharing this video and play your own vital part in protecting and preserving the future of this magnificent species.
Beauty and the Beast by Eva Haußner
'Eva was trying to get the perfect shot of this unbelievably colourful blue featherleg dragonfly in Bavaria, Germany, when suddenly a fly appeared. It clung to the dragonfly briefly before flying off, but luckily returned and gave her this unusual photo opportunity.’ (Natural History Museum)
(Mexico News Daily) - Only 12 vaquita marina porpoises remain in the Gulf of California, according to the director of the environmental organization Elephant Action League (EAL).
Andrea Crosta told the environmental website Mongabay that during his last trip to Mexico in February, his sources told him that “we are now talking about a dozen vaquitas left in the Sea of Cortés.”
“The scientists are using sonic buoys to count them, through echolocation, and numbers are now really low,” he explained.
If correct, the predicament the marine mammals face is even more dire that previously thought. Most other recent estimates place the vaquita population at around 30.
Crosta stressed that his information came from “multiple sources, not another organization.”
He also said that he and his team spent time on a vessel operated by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and crew members had “heard similar numbers.”
Vaquitas have been in steady decline in recent years mainly due to getting trapped in gillnets used in illegal totoaba fishing.
That species’ swim bladder is considered a delicacy in China and can reportedly fetch higher prices than cocaine.
According to a study by the non-governmental organization Environmental Investigation Agency, eight criminal groups with links to drug cartels and human trafficking organizations control the illegal fishing and trafficking of totoaba.
Sudan's death leaves the world with just two female northern white rhinos: his daughter, Najin, and granddaughter, Fatu. As we mourn the tragic loss, we must push forward to prevent this from happening to not just other subspecies of rhino, but all species that we are driving towards extinction. The urgency of the matter is ringing louder than ever before.
Our hearts go out to Sudan's caretakers at @olpejeta who spent years by his side. #only2left #sudanforever
Devastating news from @olpejeta: It is with great sadness that Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Dvůr Králové Zoo announce that Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, age 45, died at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on March 19th, 2018 (yesterday). Sudan was being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds. His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal. The veterinary team from the Dvůr Králové Zoo, Ol Pejeta and Kenya Wildlife Service made the decision to euthanize him.
Sudan will be remembered for his unusually memorable life. In the 1970s, he escaped extinction of his kind in the wild when he was moved to Dvůr Králové Zoo. Throughout his existence, he significantly contributed to survival of his species as he sired two females. Additionally, his genetic material was collected yesterday and provides a hope for future attempts at reproduction of northern white rhinos through advanced cellular technologies. During his final years, Sudan came back to Africa and stole the heart of many with his dignity and strength. “We on Ol Pejeta are all saddened by Sudan’s death. He was a great ambassador for his species and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally of the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unsustainable human activity. One day, his demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists world wide,” said Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta’s CEO.
Unfortunately, Sudan’s death leaves just two female northern white rhinos on the planet; his daughter Najin and her daughter Fatu, who remain at Ol Pejeta. The only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females. #restinpeace
If you needed another reason for us to break free from dirty fossil fuels, look no further than the harmful effects that seismic blasting can have on our ocean's wildlife.
Seismic airguns are used to find oil and gas reserves by emitting thousands of high-decibel explosive impulses at the sea floor. These loud blasts can deafen, injure, and even kill whales, dolphins, and other marine life.
“Based on the government’s own estimates, seismic blasting in the Atlantic could harm fish populations while injuring as many as 138,000 marine mammals like whales and dolphins, disturbing the vital activities of as many as 13.5 million more."