karl ammann
bushmeat activist, wildlife photographer, author;

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All Apes Great & Small Cheetah Consuming Nature Die Grossen Menschenaffen Eating Apes East African Wildlife Elephant Reflections Gorillas Great Ape Odyssey Great Apes & Humans Hunters & Hunted Little Bull Masai Mara Orangutan Odyssey
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

Elephant steak; the new ivory

I flew into Zemio in the Central African Republic (CAR) where I spent several days. The American missionary I travelled with had lived in the area for many years and was able to tell me about wildlife and poaching in the region. He explained that when he grew up, they regularly saw herds of elephants of up to 300 animals within a few minutes drive of Zemio. Today most of the school children living in the town have never seen an elephant in their lives.

We learnt of the heavy poaching - by armed gangs from Sudan - that is taking place across all of the CAR's South Eastern Region and decimating wildlife. We also heard that two French owned professional hunting camps had closed due to the lack of wildlife and how, with nothing left to hunt, some of the poachers had turned to looting and raping. At least two villages had been completely abandoned due to the insecurity associated with poaching.

My sources in the CAR explained that the UNHCR camp at Mboki (near the Sudan/DRC border), plays a major role in facilitating poaching and the bushmeat trade. Most of the refugees appear to be Azande youth who fled from forced military recruitment in Southern Sudan. When they arrive in the CAR they hide their weapons and head for this refugee camp. With little wildlife left in the CAR, many of these armed youths then embark on hunting excursions in Northern Congo.

Transport from the Eastern Region to Bangui is difficult and costly. The most reliable transporter appears to be the UNHCR which has an average of four 8 tonne lorries supplying the refugee camp every week. I was told that the UNHCR vehicles supplying the refugee camp further west could be smelled a long time before they could be seen as they head back for Bangui, the capital. The UNHCR lorries are allowed to transport local traders and the main commodity carried is elephant meat. I was told that as the journey can take a week, elephant meat is preferred since in smoked form it lasts longer than any other meat.

During subsequent days and a return visit, I interviewed traders and we filmed elephant meat in Zemio's main market. The traders confirmed that nowadays all elephant meat comes across the border from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as there are few elephants or other wildlife remaining in the CAR. The trade is well-organised with traders regularly visiting the areas where bushmeat is produced and making specific arrangements with hunters. The traders in Zemio estimated that 90 per cent of the meat is traded in this way and never goes onto the open marketplace.

On just one journey (from Zemio to Digba) we came across 4 separate bicycle convoys heading for the CAR and transporting hundreds of kilos of meat - mostly from elephant but also including a chimp and a forest hog in smoked pieces. We also found four young chimps in Zemio.

The market traders, the chimp owners and the transporters of bushmeat all confirmed, on camera, that the source of all the meat was the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They also stated that the transfer of the meat across the border - marked by the M'boumou river - did not present any problem whatsoever. Not even in Zemio is there any border control and pirogues cross on a daily basis.

In Digba the Azanda local chief confirmed that this trade had been taking place for about two years. He also told us that the Sudanese poachers were travelling up to 100 kilometres into the DRC: this seems to be about the maximum distance the bicycle traders are willing to transport their loads of some 100 kilos of meat. At the small port on the edge of Zemio we were stopped by police and military officials who charged us duty on various items we had bought in the CAR. The official duty list that I saw included amounts payable for sacks of bushmeat arriving from the opposite direction. Three separate authorities charge three different taxes on bushmeat entering from the DRC.

I later established that most of the meat transporters and traders try to avoid these taxes by crossing the border some 8 kilometres away and usually crossing at night. On the CAR side of the river the meat is stored in a granary belonging to a Mme. Navige. It seems that the traders and housewives of Zemio are all fully aware of this facility and are willing to travel the 8 kilometres to buy and sell meat. I persuaded one of the local traders to monitor and film some of the activities over the course of several nights. What he reported was the storage and sale of hundreds of kilos of elephant meat. Elephant meat comprised about 80 per cent of the meat taken across the border. The number of 5kg chunks of smoked meat was estimated to represent an average of 3-4 elephants being traded each day (only the flesh from the legs and trunk are smoked - the remainder is discarded).

As we continued into the DRC we met several of the bicycle caravans taking elephant meat from the north to the border. Each bicycle carries a 100kg pannier and we were told that forest elephants each yield about 4 bags of meat.

From my interviews with many hunters I concluded that as very few savannah elephants remained as a result of poaching, the hunters were now turning to the smaller but more numerous forest elephants.

I returned to the region two months later. I had been told that Chief Selesi of Badai had several elephant hunters working for him and my time in the forests and savannah confirmed that there were healthy wildlife populations including those of buffalo and elephant.

I travelled north towards Adama and at a mission school along the way I learnt that a Mr Commando, a keen elephant hunter, had sent for porters the previous day to carry smoked elephant meat and ivory. I found Mr Commando's home and his wife told me that her husband and the porters had not yet returned from the hunting grounds some 30km away. She told me that her husband specialised in hunting elephants and that he killed one every two weeks. The meat was taken on bicycles to Adamain in the DRC and then portered to Rafai about 30 kilometres away and on the CAR side of the river.

I returned towards Badai and learnt that an elephant hunter had returned from a trip the previous day. I found his hut and we began talking after I said that I wanted to buy some meat for staff at the camp. He told me that there was little meat remaining as his sons had left that morning for Zemio, each carrying 3 or 4 baskets of the meat. Eventually he offered me two chunks, each weighing about 5 kilograms and I was compelled to buy these but I hoped this would at least give me time to ask more questions. Unfortunately my presence attracted other villagers and the hunter became a little apprehensive. Although I was able to take photos of the meat and ivory, I felt that I had to offer him a position as my guide in order to gain more detailed information. Over the following 2 days he revealed that:

The hunter confirmed that this was the usual scenario - elephants are hunted for their meat and the ivory is a useful by-product. He explained that the commercial hunting of elephants had begun about three years ago as a result of the collapse of the coffee market in the region - locals had resorted to hunting and trading in meat as an alternative source of income.

I was told that the new demand from the CAR was a result of the decimation of the elephant populations on that side of the border. In one generation most of the large savannah elephants have been wiped out and the same fate now awaits the forest elephants. My guide explained that as soon as elephant hunting is no longer profitable the locals would turn to buffalo hunting instead.

This scenario is common across Africa - with a lack of regulation over hunting or the bushmeat trade, once one species has declined hunters simply turn to another species to replace it. I cross-checked the hunter's information and it became clear that his story is representative of what goes on along the length of the DRC-CAR border. It is also very clear that elephants are now a major commodity in the bushmeat trade.

Karl Ammann, Nanyuki Kenya

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