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Environmental news – wildlife traffickers busted, funders of climate denial revealed

2012 March 8

By mongabay.com – Environmental law enforcement actions

During the month of February there were several significant wildlife trafficking developments. The Department of Justice took action against a rhino horn smuggling ring, arresting seven people in Los Angeles, Newark, and New York. In Indonesia, authorities successfully prosecuted — for the first time in Sumatra — an orangutan-trafficking case. It was only the third time a prison sentence had been handed down for such an offense in Indonesia, even though orangutans have been officially protected since 1924. Meanwhile notorious reptile smuggler Anson Wong was freed nearly three-and-a-half years early from prison sentence for attempting to illegally export nearly 100 snakes. Conservationists said the release, combined with lack of further investigation into Wong’s activities, cast doubt on Malaysia’s commitment to reducing its illegal wildlife trade. Malaysia is seen by wildlife experts as a wildlife trafficking hub.

Commerce

Greenomics, an Indonesian activist group, revealed that a subsidiary of agribusiness giant Cargill has paid a $1 million fine for clearing land for oil palm outside its concession. The group said Cargill’s move could serve as an important example for palm oil developers operating in Indonesia.

A report released by Forest Footprint Disclosure Project (FFD) showed that more companies than ever are reporting on the impact of their operations on global forests. The survey asks companies to report on their impact on forests based on their use of five commodities: soy, palm oil, timber and pulp, cattle, and biofuels.

Amazon Japan, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, pulled all whale meat products (and possibly dolphin meat) from its site after a new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Humane Society International highlighted the issue. Last December the organizations recorded 147 whale products on sale at Amazon Japan despite an international whaling moratorium since 1986.

Beleaguered paper giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) was sharply criticized in a pair of reports issued by WWF. The first took aim at two U.S. tissue brands that source fiber from APP, which has been long criticized by environmentalists and scientists for its forestry practices on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The second report revealed that APP’s certification claims don’t stand up to scrutiny. In a surprising break from its past PR strategy, APP expressed contrition and said it would work to do better.

Applicants for forest concessions in Indonesia will soon be required to prove there aren’t overlapping claims on their holdings. The move, which offers the potential to reduce land disputes between forest developers and local communities, could complicate investments in the forestry sector in Indonesia. Read more…

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