karl ammann
bushmeat activist, wildlife photographer, author;

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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

An Open Letter to the Conservation Community
Proposing to endorse the World Bank Plan to turn
the DRC into the biggest Timber Producer in Africa

Nanyuki, 18 October 2004

I read with great interest the attached proposal for a joint declaration concerning the reactivation of the forestry sector in the DRC by the main international conservation NG0's active there. It would appear this joint endorsement has been requested by World Bank officials for an upcoming donor conference dealing with the DRC's forests and biodiversity.

If I should ever be asked to define the term 'wishful thinking' I will pull out this joint statement. It implies that large scale industrial logging in the DRC will be a totally different ball game from what has taken place in most of West Africa beginning a few decades ago and what is taking place in Central Africa today. Unfortunately the proposal does not touch on the reasons where this new found confidence might be coming from. However, it is certainly not borne out by the past track record when it comes to achieving sustainability or transparency in the forestry sector in any part of Africa.

Lets look at some of the relevant facts;

  1. In most of West Africa high value industrial logging has come to an end. The primary rain forests of the region have been largely depleted of the prime commercial species - and the same goes for the wildlife. In many areas fragmented forest patches no longer make for viable ecosystems.

  2. The same scenario is now being played out in most of Central Africa. In some of the countries concerned efforts have been made to mitigate the impact of logging and help the authorities concerned to improve governance as it relates to the forestry sector. The results so far have been minimal and disappointing.

    By many accounts the situation in Cameroon is as out of control as it has ever been. The World Bank initiated reform process seems to have resulted in a few new challenges as far as finding ways to 'beat the system'. When it came to applying hard hitting donor conditionalities the bank and other donors regularly pulled back at crunch times.

    The situation in Gabon is not very different; There are estimates that 60% of the timber is still logged or shipped illegally. Based on some of the latest reports logging and oil exploration has restarted in some of the newly created national parks.

    Congo Brazzaville has set as its goal to quadruple timber output despite the fact that a World Bank/WWF report still lists discrepancies of several hundred percent when comparing official

    exports with declared imports to some Mediteranian countries.

  3. The DRC Congo is being governed by a transitional government which was cobbled together making -for the sake of peace - with all kinds of compromises needing to be made which in the end did not necessarily provide for an effective government structure.

    The reality is that central government - with many regions having been under rebel control for years, not having had to take orders from Kinshasa- seems to find it very difficult to establish any kind of administrative control anywhere outside the capital. There is no fiscal/tax or judiciary system in place which could be relied on to enforce any of the conditions the proposed endorsement letter envisages. Any amount of capacity building will most likely take decades to yield the necessary cultural changes which has to be considered a prerequisite for any real socio economic development taking place.

The above analysis is already borne out by the most recent developments concerning the reactivation of the forestry sector under the guidance of World Bank experts:

All the above ties in very nicely with the recently published report "The same old Story" (by Global Wittness) as well as the various UN reports on the exploitation of natural resources in the DRC. Making it clear that the writing of new legislation will only be the first step in dealing with some of these issues. However, it is by far the smallest and easiest step and it can not possibly be the basis for endorsing resource extraction at this stage, without the capacity having been built and adequate institutions being in place. The likely outcome will be depleted resources with the financial basis having eroded to eventually create the necessary local capacity and institutions.

Even some of the World Bank's own research seems to indicate that assisting with natural resource extraction in poorly governed third world countries has not yielded socio economic development but more conflicts and social problems (in the period of time China managed to lift 400 million out of poverty Nigeria added 9 million people living below the absolute poverty line).

A certain sector of the conservation community, for some time now, has decided to sign on to the minimialistic approach to forestry conservation: 'The forests will come down anyway all we can hope to do is to mitigate its impact a little'. While in the past there were still some attempts to try to stop or at least curtail the logging of the remaining primary rain forests (There is a paper out called "Logging Off" outlining means and ways to achieve the above). The old argument was "maybe if we can slow things down we might find some 'miracle cure' down the road." However this line of thinking seems to now have gone out the window as well.

The proposed endorsement of the World Bank plan, to turn the DRC into the biggest timber producer in Central Africa, based on the kind of financial and control projections which have remained total utopia everywhere else, to me, is the final piece of evidence in this context.

Being familiar with the counter arguments which are likely to be advanced let me try here and now to debunk the notion of 'sustainable logging' being the answer in Central Africa and the evidence being in place and that it can work. That is when and where the CIB/WCS deal will be brought into the equation and that is when we will be told that it is evidence that logging can work in the context of Central Africa and that it is in the interest of the countries concerned.

Lets once again look at this 'best case' scenario (the CIB/WCS deal) and then ask ourselves if this kind of 'Better then then the rest' is really good enough (not forgetting that on the back of this project, logging per se is being endorsed including that of 'The Good the Bad and the Ugly'.

So this then is the best practice/best case scenario the loggers/conservation NGO's have to advance for their endorsement of the the World Bank proposal to turn the DRC into the biggest logging concession in Africa. Clearly the question has to be asked 'Is the best good enough'? However that seems to be the question everybody is shying away from.

Would it not be prudent for the grouping of the NGO's in question to hold another meeting to look at alternatives to endorsing another potential disaster? Maybe this time with a copy of "Logging off" as the basis for the discussion. Maybe combined with the trust fund idea of essentially turning this last bit of undisturbed Congo Basin forest into some kind of a World Heritage Forest?

Not even considering any alternatives to the World Bank proposal could easily lead any cynical observer - like myself - to conclude that maybe this is not about protecting forests at all. This is about the potential of raising large amounts of money to deal with the mitigation and the clean up when things have gotten out of hand as they have everywhere else and as they are bound to with this scheme.

The track record of the conservation community in protecting the forests, the wildlife and the people of the forested areas of West and Central Africa can not be possible the basis for them/you to assume a decision making role in what should happen to the last tracts of undisturbed Congo River Basin, at least not without looking at other possibilities and options.

Thanks for having indulged me.

Yours sincerely
Karl Ammann

P.S. Since I have other things to do in life as well I have not bothered to reference this or come up with specific notes. However if anybody would like some more background information to any of the above points; I would be happy to dig through my files.

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