Three poachers out to kill rhinos eaten by pride of hungry lions

The scattered remains of three poachers sneaking into the Sibuya Game Reserve in Eastern Province, South Africa to slaughter rhinos were found on Tuesday  and assumed to have been eaten by a pride of hungry lions.

According to Newsweek, police made the grim discovery in the area of the lion camp. A head and bloodied body parts were recovered next to three pairs of empty shoes. A staff helicopter has been searching the area for more hunters, and it is not known if they are dead or alive.

“… They came heavily armed with hunting rifles and axes which we have recovered and enough food to last them for several days so we suspect they were after all of our rhino here,” stated the reserve’s owner Nick Fox. “They were clearly intent on killing rhinos and cutting off their horns. But the lions are our watchers and guardians and they picked the wrong pride and became a meal.”

The game reserve is one of the most popular vacation and wildlife viewing attractions in the Eastern Cape. The reserve is home to rhinos,  lions, elephants, buffalo and leopards. In 2016, the reserve was attacked by poachers who killed three rhinos and cut off their horns.

This time the animals won.

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Fish and Wildlife Services may take gray wolves off endangered list for hunters

The United States Fish and Wildlife Services spokesman issued a statement on Thursday stating the agency has begun reviewing the status of gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)

According to The Hill, Gavin Shire stated the following:

“Working closely with our federal, state, tribal and local partners, we will assess the currently listed gray wolf entities in the lower 48 states using the best available scientific information. If appropriate, the Service will publish a proposal to revise the wolf’s status in the Federal Register by the end of the calendar year. Any proposal will follow a robust, transparent and open public process that will provide opportunity for public comment.”

Farmers and ranchers nearly shot, trapped and poisoned gray wolves into extinction until the few remaining wolves and their future generations protected. In some parts of the country, wolves have made a healthy comeback, however environmental groups contend it is too early to take the wolves off the endangered list since wolf populations are still very scarce in other areas of the lower 48 states.

“Time and again the courts have told the service that wolves need further recovery before their protections can be removed,” said Collette Adkins, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “But the agency is dead set on appeasing special interests who want to kill these amazing animals.”

One year ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service applied to remove protections for grizzly bears. The first hunt for grizzly bears in 43 years is scheduled to take place in September with hunters being allowed to shoot as many as 22 grizzlies east of Yellowstone National Park. Idaho will allow one grizzly to be killed. Montana has decided to forego the hunting. Bears in Yellowstone National Park are still protected.

Grizzly bears are not used for their meat; instead they are trophy kills. Many tribal nations have opposed the hunt since they believe the animals are sacred. Several lawsuits have been filed, and there is still a chance the season could be postponed or canceled.

In 2017, a federal appeals court ruled against the Interior Department’s decision to strip the protections for the endangered gray wolves thus prohibiting hunters from tracking and killing them. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia stated that although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has the authority to group wolves into different regions, it does not have the authority to remove them from the endangered list without considering the impact on the entire species in their range.

Another bill to remove the wolves from the endangered list is pending in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Read more about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife sanctioning the baiting and killing of bears, bear cubs and baby wolves.

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Hunter killed by buffalo after killing another buffalo

The owner of a safari operation in South Africa was killed by a buffalo this week on the banks of the Levubu River. Claude Kleynhans, 54, died after a buffalo hit the hunter’s femoral artery – killing the man almost instantly.

According to the Review, Kleynhans had been the owner of Guwela Hunting Safaris, and his party had just shot and killed a buffalo as planned. The group had been clearing the area around the dead animal when another buffalo attacked and blindsided Kleynhans.

Kleynhans is survived by his wife and three children.

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Hunter shoots elephant in Zimbabwe fitted with radio collar

A huge bull elephant was shot dead by a Russian trophy hunter in Zimbabwe, even though the animal had been wearing a radio collar universally known as a research tag and considered unethical to shoot. The elephant, known as a “big tusker” because of the size of his tusks, was killed last month outside the Gonarezhou National Park.

According to the African Geographic,  the elephant had been collared for research purposes and known by the entire hunting party which included a government ranger and two trackers, however all of the men stated they had not noticed the device until after the animal was killed.

The Frankfurt Zoological Society, who collared this and other elephants for research purposes, issued a statement about the disturbing incident:

“There is no law that protects a collared animal from being hunted in Zimbabwe, but there is general acceptance that the ethical position is that a hunter will avoid shooting an animal with a collar. The data from this bull has been captured and will help us with our ongoing efforts to find solutions, together with our local and international partners, to conservation questions in a world where the challenges to find space for wildlife and their habitats are becoming ever more complicated.”

One year ago, National Geographic reported a 50-year-old African elephant named Satao II had been found dead while feeding in the eastern region of Tsavo Trust in Kenya. The elephant was believed to have been poisoned by an arrow for his immense tusks; Satao II tusks weighed 112 and 111 pounds each. The two poachers were arrested and never allowed to sell the tusks for the illegal ivory markets.

There are only 25 of the “big tuskers” believed to be alive in all of Africa, and it is thought these animals could go extinct in our lifetime. Female elephants prefer mating with the older males, meaning the “tuskers” are needed for the preservation of the species. The highly socialized animals respect the senior members of the herds – these are the very animals who teach the younger elephants their social and survival skills.

What else is trophy hunting about besides greed?

Read about more big game hunting horror.

(Photo of hunter shot elephant in Zimbabwe via FB La voix des animaux)

 

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Animal lovers outraged over hunter’s photos of slaughtered wolves – read more here.

 

 

 

 

Despite Trump calling big game hunting ‘horror’ council promotes killing

On Friday, a federal government council met for the first time to begin efforts to advise Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on how to improve public awareness concerning the benefits of big game hunting here and abroad; addressing the controversial hunting of African elephants, rhinos and lions.

According to AbcNews,  the council originating in November and now referred to as the  International Wildlife Conservation Council, purpose is to provide recommendations and public awareness when it comes to animal preservation and the economic benefits of wealthy big game hunters traveling abroad to snag a trophy animal. What the council didn’t mention, however is the majority of the 16 council members have a connection to trophy hunting or groups that advocate for hunting as a way to support conservation.

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently announced that it will now consider permits for elephant hunt trophies from African nations on a “case by case basis” – reversing President Trump’s earlier promises to maintain a ban on the practice. Each case, either to grant or deny permits to import sport hunted animals, will be on a “case-by-case-basis.” The department stated it will consider all information first prior to issuing permits relating to risk assessments of species vulnerability. The service also announced it will withdraw a number of ESA findings dating back to 1995 relating to African elephant trophies, bontebok and lions from African nations.

According to the database for government advisory committees, six of the member are active “U.S, hunters actively engaged in international and/or domestic hunting conservation.” Other members have affiliations with pro hunting organizations such as the Safari Club International described as having 50,000 members and advocating:

 “hunters dedicated to protecting the freedom to hunt. SCI has more than 50,000 members and 180 local chapters.”

Other committee members have a connection to firearm manufactures or the National Rifle Association. Advocacy groups call the council biased which does not include anyone with scientific expertise in the conservation of  animals. In addition, Zinke is an avid hunter and continues to expand hunting and fishing opportunities on United States public lands. The recommendations are expected to include:

“recommending removal of barriers to the importation of barriers into the U.S. of legally hunted wildlife, resuming the legal trade of those items where appropriate and streamlining import permits.”

President Trump has previously spoken out against hunting, after photos of his eldest sons, Don Jr. and Eric, posing with trophies, provoked criticism. When a photo of Don Jr. holding a severed elephant tail went viral over social media, Trump addressed the issue on Twitter in March 2012.

“I’m not a hunter and don’t approve of killing animals. I strongly disagree with my sons who are hunters, but they acted legally and did what lots of hunters do,” Trump wrote.

In a statement on Thursday, President Trump has evidently done a complete about face; with Zinke stating the president is 100% in agreement. According to the New York Daily News,  council member, Steven Chancellor, a longtime Republican fundraiser, killed 500 animals including lions, leopards, elephants and two rhinos. In 2016, Chancellor filed for a federal permit to bring home skin, skull, teeth and claws from another male lion he intended to hunt in Zimbabwe. Chancellor also hosted a fundraiser for then candidate Trump and Mike Pence – pulling up to Chancellor’s mansion stood a pair of gilded lions.

“A review by the Associated Press found that the board is stacked with trophy hunters, including some members with direct ties to President Trump’s family, despite federal laws requiring that advisory committees be ‘fairly balanced.'”

And when one thinks it can’t get any worse, another appointee to the council is Chris Hudson, a lawyer and past president of the Dallas chapter of the Safari Club. Hudson attracted international attention in 2014 after filing a lawsuit for his client Corey Knowlton,  whose winning bid in a club of $350,000, allowed him to shoot an endangered black rhinoceros in Namibia. In 1995, there were only 2,410 black rhinos left in the world. Thanks to conservation projects, 2015 statistics extimate across Africa their current population has increased to between 5,042 and 5,458 individuals. Knowlton sued Delta Air Lines over its refusal to ship the carcass back to the United States.

Council member, Keith Mark had been hunting with Donald Trump Jr., prior to being appointed.

 Dr. Walter Palmer of Minnesota shot and killed a male lion wearing a radio collar named Cecil. Advocates claim the lion was lured out of the sanctuary area by food, shot with an arrow and suffered for eight to ten hours before he was killed and relieved of his suffering.

Lawsuits from advocacy groups demanding documents relating to the creation of the council have been filed this week.

Read previous coverage here.

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Hunter charged with cruelty after dog found caught in coyote trap

During a disturbing discovery of a dog that “appeared to be emaciated, dehydrated, very weak and in excruciating pain,” a hunter was charged with animal cruelty after authorities found the dog caught in a coyote trap. Late last week Charlotte, North Carolina resident, Alex Kraig Cummins, 30, was charged as the owner of the trap and for violating the law and not checking the trap every 24-hours as required.

According to the Statesville& Landmark, investigators from Iredell County Animal Services, near Troutman, responded to a report of a large brown and black Akita and shepherd mix, found with its foot caught in a coyote trap on December 14, 2017. Officers stated the dog had been stuck in the trap for “several days.” The contraption severed the bones in three of the dog’s toes which remained attached to the dog by only a small piece of skin.

Further investigation by police found another trap in the woods close by which did not meet state regulations.

Cummins has been charged with misdemeanor cruelty to animals and was released on an unsecured $2,500 bond.  The dog has been under the care of a rescue group and is receiving medical attention.

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(Photo screenshot via WolferNation)

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Trump administration reversing promise to ban elephant hunt trophies into US

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that it will now consider permits for elephant hunt trophies from African nations on a “case by case basis” – reversing President Trump’s earlier promises to maintain a ban on the practice.

On Thursday, the FWS issued a memorandum stating it is withdrawing the 2017 Endangered Species Act (ESA) findings for trophies of elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia, “effective immediately.”

“The findings are no longer effective for making individual permit determinations for imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies.”

Each case, either to grant or deny permits to import sport hunted animals, will be on a “case-by-case-basis.” The department stated it will consider all information first prior to issuing permits relating to risk assessments of species vulnerability. The service also announced it will withdraw a number of ESA findings dating back to 1995 relating to African elephant trophies, bontebok and lions from African nations.

The decision to withdraw the FWS findings followed a court decision in December from an Obama era ruling  that banned the importing of elephant hunting trophies from Zimbabwe. The D.C. Circuit Court ruled the Obama administration did not follow the correct procedures banning elephant trophy hunting. Following that ruling, however President Trump had decided to turn the order around stating:

“I didn’t want elephants killed and stuffed and have the tusks brought back into this country, and people can talk all they want about preservation and all of the things that they’re saying where money goes towards, well, money was going in that case, going to a government which was probably taking the money.OK?”

Despite what President Trump said, apparently he has changed his mind. An “International Wildlife Conservation Council” has now been established “to advise the Secretary of the Interior on the benefits that international recreational hunting has on foreign wildlife and habitat conservation.”

Hunters had criticized Trump’s decision to delay ending the ban and placed the blame on “hysterical anti-hunters and news media outlets. According to The Hill, wealthy hunters from the Safari Club launched into overdrive contending how much they appreciated Zimbabwe’s elephant protection program paving the way for rich hunters to kill elephants. Americans, the largest population of hunters, pay up to $20,000 for each permit.

It is interesting to note, however that the Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke is an avid hunter and trophy collector. There has been no legitimate proof supporting the claims that killing elephants is good for the species. One has to really wonder how much these trophy hunters will make on the profit selling the ivory tusks of the elephants they kill? The Humane Society of the United States contends many problems still remain with Zimbabwe’s elephant management plan, including corruption, lack of government support and poaching.

“Let’s be clear: elephants are on the list of threatened species; the global community has rallied to stem the ivory trade; and now, the U.S. government is giving American trophy hunters the green light to kill them,” wroteWayne Pacelle, former organization’s president and CEO stated in November, 2017.

Poaching elephants in Zimbabwe has resulted in a decrease in the elephant population. This is also the country where Cecil the Lion was illegally tracked, pierced with an arrow, suffered and then killed by an American hunter.

(Photo by Daniel McBride)

Read previous coverage on this report.

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Hunter mistaken for coyote killed by man using AR-15

A North Carolina pastor was shot several times in the chest on Tuesday with an AR-15  by a man who mistakenly thought electronic coyote calls had been a real coyote trapped in a tree.

According to the Taylorsville Times, Michael Seth Marsh, 26,  was accidentally killed in a wooded area off Edd Burgess Road Extension in Taylorsville. as he was hunting coyotes with his 12-gauge shotgun, a rifle and an electronic coyote call.  The name of the  man who shot Marsh has not been  released, but records indicate he fired two shots into the wooded area after spotting brown and gray movements in the trees. He later called authorities when he realized he had shot a person and not a coyote. Marsh died shortly after arriving at the hospital. Officials said Marsh was wearing camouflage and an orange hat.

Alexander County Sheriff Chris Bowman stated the shooter had been unaware that Marsh had been in the woods hunting. An investigation continues. The case is currently under review with the District Attorney’s Office. Officers with N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission are assisting the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office in the investigation.

Marsh was the pastor at Russell Gap Baptist Church. He is survived by his wife and two young children.

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Kangaroo gets even with hunter breaking man’s jaw

A kangaroo who seems to have conspired with two of his marsupial pals earlier this week, struck out against hunters in the Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region. Joshua Hayden, 19, and his brother had been hunting in Kellerberrin on Tuesday evening when they spotted three kangaroos. Joshua stuck his body out of the window of their vehicle and took aim with his gun. In one shocking moment, a kangaroo turned the table.

According to AbcAustraliaNews, Hayden said one of the kangaroos disappeared and suddenly he was at the side of the car colliding with the vehicle breaking the front window.

“Then it bounced back onto me and headbutted me straight in the jaw,” Hayden recounted as the blow knocked him unconscious for half a minute. “I woke up and my brother was trying to tell me what happened. I said, ‘No you hit me’ and he said ‘No, the kangaroo did.'”

The men frequently hunt for kangaroos but none have ever fought back. Now the men say as soon as the animals see a car, they hop right up to it. One can only suppose the kangaroos have had enough of their species being hunted and have taken up “getting even.” Can you blame them? Animal behaviorists say kangaroos are  normally peaceful animals that rarely attack.

There have been no updates on the kangaroo’s condition.

Hayden has to wait several days for the swelling on his face to subside and then will have surgery to repair his broken jaw.

(Photo via Joshua Hayden)

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Lions devour suspected poacher who was hunting them

The tables were turned when a hunter, make that a suspected poacher, was devoured by a pride of lions that he was stalking in South Africa. According to the Daily Mail, the man could be heard screaming near the Ingwelala Private Nature Reserve, but the big cats quickly made their kill, and ate him, before help arrived.

Most of the man’s body was eaten by the lions…little was left behind, aside from the man’s head. Hunting rifles and ammunition, typical of what is used by big game hunters, were also discovered nearby. The man was not carrying any identification, but the police noted that the discovery of his head would help them determine who he was.

Poaching of the magnificent big cats is an ongoing problem in South Africa – in May 2017, 20 captive lions, held at a big cat sanctuary, were killed by poachers who cut off their paws, tails, heads and skin. There is a market for lion body parts because people believe that there is medicinal value from them.

The authorities are currently investigating the situation.

(Pixabay free images)

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