karl ammann
bushmeat activist, wildlife photographer, author;

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the early days correspondence project reports scientific articles karl's notes photographs dna evidence bili coffee project 2010 bili update
contact us:
email: photo inquiries
email: karl directly
in USA: 301-854-0388

present features:

As CITES annual conf.
nears Karl expounds on
CITES double standards.

Karl's exposition of the
real Ivory price
in China.

Christopher Hasslet's
incredible report on the
illicit online ape trade.

An open letter regarding
developments in Guinea

concerning the illegal
export of great apes.

karl's recent Report on
, its permitting
system, with clear
evidence of its
failure to police
the trade in live animals
of endangered species

karl discusses how
disappearing wildlife,
worldwild, reappears
in Chinese Zoo and
Safari Park facilities

karl interviewed by
Southeast Asia Globe
reveals his trade secrets;
staying out of trouble,
disillusion w/progress
on illicit animal trade

CITES 2011 Guinea
Mission Report

karl comments on
Apparent drop in
rhino horn demand

karl wins another
SAB environmental
media award

Commercial Exploitation
and Cites

karl ammannn

Overwhelmed U.S. port
inspectors unable to keep up
with illegal wildlife trade
Darryl Fears (in Wash Post)

African fraud, local market
exacerbate illegal primate

Global Times

Media Report (in Chinese)
Southern China Weekly

the Conakry Connection
very detailed report on
great ape smuggling in Guinea
provides insight into the
worldwide animal trade.
karl ammann and others

latest (9-14)Conakry
Connection update

karl ammann and others

latest (1-14)Conakry
Connection update

karl ammann and others

Cites and the Shanghai 8
exporting illegal wild apes
claiming them captive bred
karl ammann

Cites and the Taiping4
more on the export
of illegal wild apes
claimed as captive bred
karl ammann

Karl's blogs for
National Geographic
tiger Trade, china's chimp
smuggling, ivory tracking,
rhino poaching and more.

Tiger farming in
SE Asia

karl ammann

more on the China-
Gorilla story

karl ammann

Cites and the illegal
trade in wildlife

karl ammann

emails/letters/issues ignored
bonobos to Armenia

GRASP correspondence on
illegal animal trade

allegations of a coverup at the
CITES secretariat

karl ammann

a fairy tale of ivory:
the ongoing tragedy of
incompetence, slaughter,
and lawlessness.
karl ammann and others

for details see this
transcript with NBouke.
karl ammann and others

the Rhino & the Bling - the
inside mechanics of the
rhino horn trade.
karl ammann

karl's latest elephant
poaching video

Millions spent on ape
conservation and where
are the results?

karl ammann

an interview with Karl
on the state of conservation,
poaching, trafficking
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Where Did All
the Tigers Go?

karl ammann

the detailed report on
The Cairo Connection:
Ape Trafficking

karl ammann

the updated report on
The Cairo Connection:
Ape Trafficking in Egypt

karl ammann

Tiger, Lion bones
and rhino horn

another piece in Swara

karl ammann

Tiger cake & rhino horn
from Swara, a magazine of the
East African Wildlife Society

karl ammann

Into the Asian Underworld
in Africa Geograpic's
Rhino Watch
(page 3)
karl ammann

karl speaks at Foreign
Correspondents' Club of
Thailand - International
Trade in Reptile Skins

rhino versus ape

karl ammann

the rhino horn story
at consumer end
karl ammann

the latest horrors of
Poaching in
karl ammann

addendums to
elephants and elephant
conservation in the DRC

karl ammann

Our reptile skin trade
is now online.

Rhino Files: 333 rhinos
killed by poachers in
barbaric fashion

karl ammann
bernadette cook

Cites and the diplomatic
approach: these videos
say it does not work

karl ammann

Karl wins another
Genesis award

notes on Orang conservation
in Kalimantan - a sad story

errol pietersen

despite illegally held apes
CITES action minimal

karl ammann

asia geographic on
illegal wildlife trade

dale peterson
karl amman

africa geographic
reports on karl's
smuggling studies

karl ammann

Karl's German site

of interest

karl nominated for
zoological society medal

'Canned hunting': the
lions bred for slaughter

The Guardian

Seven rhinos killed ...
Kenya's bloodiest week

The Guardian

Forestry Education info
chase g

Not on Animal Planet
karl ammann

2010 Bili-Uere Update
karl ammann

more on wildlife
trafficking from Boten -
bears, leopard, tiger cubs

karl ammann

"horrific slaughter of
elephants ... butchered
in the Central African
Republic ... "

from BBC Newsnight

HIV ignored in Natl
Geographic article on
disease transmission

karl ammann

The Protein Gap
A misleading article

karl ammann

Mass Gorilla Execution
Can we learn from it?

karl ammann

Hundreds of Elephants
killed in DRC Park

from radio Okapi

Hunting Report take
on Chimp escape

karl ammann

US Wildlife Agency
provides a bandaid

karl ammann

open letter to CITES
re: wildlife export

karl ammann

important books

elephant reflections
dale peterson
karl ammann

eating apes
dale peterson
karl ammann

consuming nature
anthony rose
karl ammann

Conservation Status of the Bonobo in the 1 Million Hectare Siforzal/Danzaer Logging Concession in Central Congo


In 1995, while working on a bushmeat feature, I ended up in Kinshasa, in what was then Zaire. I requested an interview with a Mr. Ongaro, the GM of the SIFORZAL logging company - the biggest such outfit in the country. I was told that all relations with foreign media and conservation issues were dealt with by the Danzer head office in Reutlingen, Germany.

I wrote to Danzer asking to visit their concessions (3) on my next trip. I was told that a policy decision had been made not to invite any representatives of any foreign NGO, due to the 'unfair' publicity that logging had received in the Western media. I was further informed that SIFORZAL was working with local conservation NGOs instead. I asked to be provided with details of these NGO's, and any copies of reports that had been compiled. I also asked if I could designate a representative of such a local NGO to visit one of their concessions . I did not receive a response.

In mid-1996, I received a copy of a report prepared by two Belgian researchers studying bonobos in the Lomako area: It stated; "The situation of the bonobo seems very bad along the Yekokora River. People of the Ngombe tribe are entering the area from the North to hunt for bushmeat. These people are very efficient hunters, who hunt as many as possible and then move to another place when the forest is 'empty'. They sell the meat to workers of SIFORZAL, which is exploiting the forest on the right bank of the Yekokora river. Thanks to this company, transport of smoked bushmeat, which includes bonobos and live young bonobos, to Kinshasa, is easy."

In early 1997, I again asked to be invited to visit a concession during an upcoming visit to Zaire. I was informed by a Mr. Herzog, of Danzer Furnierwerke that the position had not changed and that I would not be welcome.

The Investigation

In mid-February 1998, I returned from another trip to Central Africa. During my visit to the DCR, some friends and I decided, at the request of Reinhard Behrend of Retted den Regenwald, to visit the SIFORZAL Mentole concession on the southern bank of the Congo River. The objective was to establish the conservation status of the bonobo in these parts, and the role logging plays in it.

Unfortunately, the results were less then encouraging, and in many ways highly contradictory to the statements made in the various pieces of correspondence received from Danzer and addressed to the World Society for the Protection of Animals and Retted den Regenwald on the topic of "Primate Hunting in Central Africa."

We spent two weeks travelling along large sections of the Lopori, Yekokora and Lotondo rivers. We interviewed dozens of villagers, village chiefs, former and present employees of SIFORZAL/DANZER (now SIFORCO), missionaries, logging company executives from a neighbouring concession, and many hunters. We cross-checked all information with different sources and recorded many of the interviews. The conclusion we reached is that SIFORZAL is in many ways directly or indirectly involved in the commercialization of the bushmeat trade and the illegal hunting of the bonobo and other protected species.

Below are the main points, which will be part of a more detailed report:

1. Most of the 12-gauge shotguns used in this area have been produced in the workshop/garage at this concession. Hunters order them from SIFORZAL workmen and delivery time is generally about two months. Our informants assumed that SIFORZAL tools and materials are used to produce these guns. (We photographed one, which had blown up in a hunter's face).

2. The SIFORZAL boats are used to supply practically all the cartridges used in the region. Independent traders travel on board with ammunition, but to a large extent the trade seems to be controlled by the boat captains and the Personnel manager, a Mr. Lobilo. (We were told that cartridges also occasionally arrive on the company aircraft). The cartridges are sold in shops at the SIFORZAL port, at the different market sites, and from the residence of the personnel manager. (When we arrived, the old stock had run out, due to the temporary closure of the MACC ammunition factory in Pointe Noire, Congo. The day we departed, 50 boxes with 2 500 cartridges arrived, which we estimated, with the hunters, would result in another 50-100 bonobos being shot out of the trees).

3. When cutting crews go out in the morning, up to six hunters travel on the vehicle. Generally, one or two company employees bring their own gun and cartridges. They are then excused from logging duty by the Team Chef and spend the day hunting, returning on the same vehicle in the afternoon, and sharing out part of their bounty. Besides these company employees, professional hunters are also taken on board, and they are deposited en route or at the road head, where they follow the same routine.

4. As for the prospecting crews: They spend up to two weeks on survey work, and they are supplied with one or two company employees as hunters, plus 50 cartridges.

5. In the past, most of the meat so procured was eaten by the 200+ employees. For about the last two years, most of it has been exported on SIFORZAL boats and floats to Kinshasa. It would appear that this coincides with the company lifting the ban on passengers travelling on these timber floats, and employees and their wives are now offered free passage. As a result, many wives of employees have become bushmeat traders, buying meat from hunters along the various rivers and at the bi-monthly market at Bompindo, and then transporting the meat to the capital. (We saw and filmed seven smoked bonobo carcasses, even though there was a serious shortage of cartridges.)

6. An 'invalid man' has, on at least two occasions, bought orphaned bonobo for NZ 800 000 at this same market, and transported them on the SIFORZAL boats to Kinshasa.

7. In many villages and at the market, we found heavy steel cables, as is used to tie the log floats together. They were for sale in what appear to be standard lengths of 1.5 metres. These are then unwound to make snares, and it was confirmed that all these cables come from - or are possibly stolen from - SIFORZAL.

In talking to hunters who have worked areas previously logged by SIFORZAL, such as Issanzani, Beongo, Mentole and Lomoko, it was confirmed that, when the base moves on, there is practically no game left, certainly no genetically viable populations of bonobo.

This brings me to DANZER's claim that they had agreed to cease logging in 'concessions' and hand over one of the old bases, so that WWF could turn the area in question into a bonobo sanctuary. Based on the above-outlined findings, I am very surprised that WWF would have accepted this offer, since there is little point in protecting bonobos that are no longer there. The way to go would be to hand over part of the concession that has never been logged, with assurances that it will not be touched: Like the proposed sanctuary area between the Lomako River and the Yekokora, which is part of the SIFORZAL concession that was supposedly returned to the government.

Against this background, we went to see forestry officials in Kinshasa, who provided us with documentation concerning the status of the present concession (including the above sanctuary portion), it appears to have been returned to the government based on an agreement signed by Mr. Hans Jorg Danzer on March 15, 1989, in which 821,573 hectares were 'retrocede a la Republique du Zaire'. This same area is marked on the corresponding, up-to-date map, as 'ARRETE'. However, SIFORZAL is logging in the middle of it. As for the Beongo area, which was supposedly given up, this is now part of a new concession: Convention No. 0057/CAB/MI CNT/94 du 05/07/94. No other documents were available, and it would be interesting to know on the basis of what convention SIFORZAL is at present logging at K 7.

I am not a forestry expert, and I was not able to assess to what extent the company complies with local forestry laws or any of the criteria stipulated by the FSC. But, if what goes on with the fauna is an indicator, than I would assume that SIFORZAL is a very long way from ever having its timber certified. Danzer also seems to be handing out an URSPRUNGSZEUGNIS, in which the former minister for the environment confirms that the SIFORZAL logging operations in every way comply with the law, that the most up-to-date techniques and machinery are used to extract timber, and that the off-take is sustainable. If this is indeed the case, why has SIFORZAL/Danzer not proceeded to getting 'properly' certified?

While I am not an expert on the social conditions of the workforce either, it became clear, in talking to the local population, that what is stated in various pieces of correspondence is very different from the story they tell:

DANZER states:


Upon our return to Kinshasa, we did twice meet with Mr. Kalinda Kimanuka, who heads a new conservation NGO: Organization pour la Protection L'Environment au Congo, which operates out of the SIFORZAL offices. He sounded very sincere in wanting to be independent and to take action to try to save the remaining bonobo populations. I suggested that an immediate response was necessary, and that maybe Danzer/SIFORZAL might now be prepared to invite myself, Mr Kamanuka and a representative of a local NGO (Les Amis des Animaux au Congo) for a visit to all three concession to explain to staff and executives why drastic changes will be necessary, and why foreign NGO's and the consumers of SIFORZAL timber will not accept the status quo. Our bringing the message to the workers, who now seem to consider access to bushmeat a fringe benefit, might make it easier for the SIFORZAL management to instigate these changes. Such an event could be documented by the media to illustrate that action is possible and is being taken.

I would, however, like to point out that such action would not in any way be part of a sustainable logging agreement, which would need to be based on many other aspects, as stipulated by the FSC.

I suggest that a meeting be arranged with decision-makers at Danzer in Germany as a matter of urgency. These findings and action proposals should be discussed and, at the same time, the company's official position should be presented to the conservation community and the media.

Karl Ammann, Nanyuki Kenya 7 Feb 1998

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