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Nigeria becomes Africa’s staging ground for the illegal pangolin trade with Asia : The Standard

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In a rubble-strewn storage lot in the sprawling Nigerian port city of Lagos, customs agents crack open a shipping container crammed with scales from pangolins, a shy mammal prized in Asia for its use in medicines.

The scales being stored with elephant tusks in the fetid container are part of a growing haul of pangolin cargos seized in Nigeria, a country that is now the main hub for gangs sending African pangolins to Asia, according to law enforcement officials, non-governmental organisations and wildlife experts.
They say porous borders, lax law enforcement, corruption and one of the continent’s biggest ports have helped criminal networks in Nigeria corner most of the African trade in pangolins, considered to be the world’s most trafficked mammal.
Ranging in size from a small rabbit to a large dog depending on the species, pangolins are the only mammals with scales. The nocturnal tree-climbers that feed on ants and termites are more closely related to bears than the anteaters they resemble.

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This year alone, Hong Kong and Singapore have intercepted three huge shipments of pangolin scales weighing a combined 33.9 tonnes and worth more than $100 million, based on estimates of their value in Singapore.
Each shipment was bigger than any that had come from Africa before this year – and they all came from Nigeria.
According to wildlife trade watchdog TRAFFIC, less than a quarter of major pangolin seizures from Africa came via Nigeria in 2016. By 2018, that had jumped to almost two-thirds and three-quarters of the total weight seized was linked to Nigeria.

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“Traffickers like Nigeria more than anywhere else … they prefer to go there because it makes it easier for them to export,” said Eric Kaba Tah, deputy director of wildlife law enforcement group The Last Great Ape Organization in Cameroon.
“The situation for pangolins is becoming more and more serious and even more dangerous,” said Tah, who has helped crack down on the trade in Cameroon, one of the other main pangolin trafficking routes to Asia.

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Other African countries known for pangolin trafficking such as Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda all say they have clamped down on the illicit trade as well – pushing pangolin traffickers towards Nigeria instead.
‘TOO MANY FRONTS’
Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy in some Asian markets and the pangolin’s hard keratin scales – the stuff of human fingernails and rhino horns – are dried, ground into powder, and used in medicines in China to treat ailments such as poor lactation, sores and rheumatism.
Demand for African pangolins in countries such as China and Vietnam has been growing as the number of Asian pangolins has dwindled over the years, to the point where two of the four Asian species are now on the critically endangered list.
The other two are endangered and all four African species of pangolin were classed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature when all commercial trade in pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, was banned in 2016.

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“At the rate at which pangolins are being traded and poached, it could take two decades for the mammal to be extinct,” said Ray Jansen, chairman of the African Pangolin Working Group in Pretoria.
Nigerian customs officials disagree with the idea their country has become a pangolin trading hub. Assistant Comptroller Mutalib Sule argues that pangolin trafficking through the West African country is on the decline.
“There is tight effort at the borders to ensure that such things do not come in again,” he said, adding that no country had been able to stamp out smuggling altogether.
According to customs officials in Nigeria, agents seized 927 kg of pangolin goods in 2016, 402 kg in 2017, and then seizures rocketed to 12.3 tonnes in 2018.
“Sometimes Nigeria is just a point of convergence,” said Sule.

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Oliver Stolpe, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) representative for Nigeria, said the problem was that pangolin trafficking was just one in a long list of criminal activities facing the authorities in the West African country.
“Nigeria is fighting crime on so many fronts,” Stolpe said. “It’s simply too many fronts.”
TIP OF THE ICEBERG
Experts say it’s hard to draw definitive conclusions from data about seizures. A surge in interceptions could just mean law enforcement agencies were doing their job better, rather than there being a major increase in trafficking.
But TRAFFIC’s Sone Nnoke said the sheer number of seizures of pangolin products that have come via Nigeria points to the country now being the main hub for the illegal trade.
“Because of porous borders it’s very easy to take those products to Nigeria,” said Nnoke.
Jansen at the African Pangolin Working Group said seizures very likely only represent about 10% of the actual trade in pangolin scales so the surge in intercepted cargos from Africa was a worrying trend.
According to TRAFFIC, which tracks seizures of more than half a tonne, 67.6 tonnes of pangolin scales from Africa have been seized throughout the world this year, already almost double the amount in 2018.
The Tikki Hywood Foundation, which rescues pangolins in Zimbabwe and Cameroon, estimates 1,666 of smaller white-bellied pangolins need to be killed for one tonne of scales. When it comes to the giant pangolin, that drops to 277 animals.
So the 67.6 tonnes of scales from Africa seized this year and tracked by TRAFFIC would have needed anywhere from 18,725 to 112,620 pangolins to be killed, depending on the species.
‘HUGE AMOUNTS’
The economic motivation for smugglers is strong. In Nigeria, a whole pangolin can sell for as little as $7. But once in China or Vietnam, the scales from one animal alone can fetch $250, according to UNODC.
Yet Nigeria is not just a staging ground where pangolin parts from around Africa are amassed before being shipped to Asia. The country has its own population of the furtive creatures, living mainly in the thick forests of the southwest.
Here, generations of families have hunted, traded and made medicine from “akika”, the Yoruba name for pangolins.
Many of the traders, particularly those dealing in animals hunted in the surrounding forests, said foreigners they believed to be Chinese were buying pangolins or their parts in ever greater quantities.
“They pay huge amounts of money,” said Agbetuya Babatope Samuel, a traditional healer and trader in the town of Akure in Ondo state. “When I get their money I laugh to the bank,” he said. “I wish it would continue for a long time.”
The high demand is taking its toll.
When the sun has set, Sule Ayinla stalks the dark, thick forests of Ondo Akoko in southwest Nigeria for pangolins, a torch fixed to his head. Hearing a rustle, he fires his long-barrelled gun at a tree, to no avail.
“We used to hunt pangolin here,” Ayinla said, lowering his weapon. Taught to hunt by his father, he said the trade was getting tougher and it was becoming rare to find pangolins hiding in the trees where they typically find cover.
“There used to be lots of animals in this forest but they are scarce now.”

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Inflation rises across East Africa

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DOROTHY NDALU

By DOROTHY NDALU
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Consumers in the region will have to dig deeper into their pockets as they head for the holiday season, thanks to a rise in the cost of living.

In Tanzania, inflation rose to 3.8 per cent in November, from 3.6 per cent in October data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows.

NBS attributed this to a rise in the prices of foodstuff including rice, cassava flour, meat, beans and vegetables, and non-food products.

The inflation rate for food consumed at home and away for November rose to 6.7 per cent from 6.0 per cent, while the consumer price index rose by 0.5 per cent.

In Kenya, inflation stood at 5.56 per cent in November, up from 4.95 per cent in October, due to a rise in the cost of some foodstuff, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics said. The consumer price index rose to 202.94 in November from 202.12 in October. The food and non-alcoholic drinks Index rose by 0.62 per cent due to a growth in prices of some foodstuffs outweighing the drop in others. Equally, housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels index rose by 0.29 per cent.

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In Uganda, the annual headline inflation for the year ending November 2019 rose by three per cent from 2.5 per cent in the year ended October 2019. The Uganda Bureau of Statistics attributed it to a rise in the annual core inflation to 2.9 per cent from 2.6 per cent over the same period. Equally, the annual energy, fuels and utilities inflation rose to 7.4 per cent from 5.1 per cent. UBoS attributed the rise in core inflation to a rise in goods inflation to 3.8 per cent from 3.4 per cent.

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Rwanda recorded a 6.9 per cent inflation in November, up from 4.4 per cent in October.

Latest data from the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda shows that food and non-alcoholic beverages rose by 16.2 per cent on an annual basis. Starting early this year food prices have been rising as Rwanda feels the effects of a decision to restrict trade and movement at the Burundian and Ugandan borders, which affected the flow of goods.

Additional reporting by Moses Gahigi

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Kind man offers to help single fathers with Christmas goodies for kids ▷ Kenya News

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– A man has offered to help single dads around Durban, South Africa this Christmas

– Sihle Mazibuko posted on his twitter handle asking fathers who were unable to buy their children gifts to DM him

– Sihle said his aim was to put a smile on these children’s face

A man has become an online sensation after he reached out to single fathers who couldn’t afford to buy Christmas gifts for their children and offered to pay for them himself.

Sihle Mazibuko had earlier posted on his tweeter handle calling out single dads who were low on cash but wanted to spoil their kids so as to put a smile on their faces.

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His tweet went viral with the majority of the users praising him for his kind act.

Twitter user Tsholo94 said:

“This is so sweet!”

JablileAzande said:

“Act of kindness, may God bless you”

DragonLady_SA said:

“You are so kind. God bless you”

KakazaNomfundo said:

“You will be blessed hundred fold for your good deeds!”

Laboentsa said:

“Good South Africa needs people like you”

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In Kenya, Nyali MP Mohammed Ali alias Moha Jicho Pevu kicked off the Christmas mood with gifts for police officers in his constituency.

The outspoken politician took to his social media where he shared photos gifting the officers with the animals as well as KSh 100,000 in appreciation for their dedication to service delivery.

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Do you have a groundbreaking story you would like us to publish? Please reach us through news@tuko.co.ke or WhatsApp: 0732482690. Contact Tuko.co.ke instantly.

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AfDB Commits €345 Million to Kenya and Tanzania

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Kenya and Tanzania will benefit from African Development Bank (AfDB) €345 million financing package for road construction support representing 78.5% of the total €399.7 million project cost.

Furthermore, AfDB says that the projects will touch over three million citizens in Tanzania and Kenya.

In Kenya, the bank supports Mombasa-Lunga Lunga/Horohoro road with the European Union (EU) contributing a grant of €30 million, 7.7% of the total project cost to GoK.

On the other hand, the funds will fund phase I of the Tanga-Pangani-Bagamoyo road in Tanzania.

This first phase involves the construction of 175 km of road sections:  the 121 km Mkanga-Pangani road section in Tanzania and the 54 km Mombasa-Kilifi road section in Kenya.

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Furthermore, the project will also link the ports of Dar es Salaam, Tanga and Mombasa, and stimulate the blue economy in coastal areas.

East African transport corridors network, connecting Kenya and Tanzania will benefit producers, manufacturers and traders, farmers and fishermen with improved access to local and regional markets.

Moreover, there are spillover benefits for landlocked countries Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan that depend on Mombasa as gateway to global markets.

The road crosses regions with high rates of youth unemployment. In light of this, the project includes a vocational training component for 500 unemployed youth (half of them women) to acquire marketable skill and improve their economic prospects.

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37 African Countries to Benefit from ADF’s $7.6 Billion Fund

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