Rhino poacher sentenced to six years in Limpopo
A Mozambican man has been jailed for six years by the Makhado Regional Court for attempted rhino poaching, Limpopo police said on Tuesday.
Musa Simango, 19, was sentenced on Monday, Colonel Ronel Otto said.
He was found guilty of attempted rhino poaching, unlawful possession of ammunition, and trespassing.
The 19-year-old Mozambican national and two of his accomplices were cornered by a ranger in the Punda Maria area of the Kruger National Park in October. A shooting ensued. One man, Derrick Maluleke, 34, was killed. A third man escaped.
Rhino endangerment is a problem
Rhinos are majestic but well-armored beasts with thick skin and enormous protruding horns on their noses. Many people just see rhinos as large ferocious animals that roam the African plains and are considered among the most deadly animals in Africa.
So, why would anyone mess with a rhino — and what for? Well, in many Asian and Chinese cultures, it’s believed the horn of a rhino can cure many diseases, one of which is cancer. Due to these needs, many rhinos are being poached just for their horns. With rhino horns going for as much as $100,000 per about two pounds of horn, according to Sports Afield, it is said to be more valuable than gold, diamonds and illegal substances such as cocaine.
Poachers know this, and they continue to slaughter rhinos in pursuit of the extravagant amount of money available. A recent study found that poaching has more than doubled in recent years, and if this continues, rhinos could be extinct in the wild in about 20 years.
There have been many attempts to try to reduce the poaching of rhinos. In 1977, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora banned the trade of rhino horns.
Due to economic growth in many Chinese cultures, the demand for rhino horns has increased dramatically in the past five years. Many countries in Africa have increased security within their parks by hiring more rangers. A few years ago, some countries tried to help rhinos by cutting the animals’ horns off so poachers wouldn’t kill them.
This was unsuccessful for two reasons: One was that rhinos’ horns grow back, and the poachers would still kill them for just a little bit of the horn. Second was that after a poacher tracks a rhino for a day and sees one without the horn, the poacher will kill it for the simple fact that next time they poach, they won’t be tracking a hornless rhino.
There are still many ideas about how to stop poaching but not all are acceptable. The most effective way, as of today, is to increase security within rhino grazing areas, but with increased security comes the demand for more money. You can help save rhinos by donating a little money to rhino conservation programs. You’ll possibly save the rhino population for more generations to see.
Read more: http://www.alligator.org/opinion/columns/article_90379902-5b0c-11e3-843f-001a4bcf887a.html
South Africa's rhino fight takes to the air
29 November 2013
South African National Parks (SANParks) is to beef up its arsenal in the fight against rhino poaching with the deployment of a Gazelle military helicopter.
The Gazelle was donated by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation and African aerospace and defence group Paramount, and forms part of an on-going capacity building partnership announced a year ago. A Seeker MKII Surveillance aeroplane, also donated by the foundation, has been operating in the Kruger National Park since December 2012.
Speaking at the helicopter's unveiling at Letaba in Limpopo province on Thursday, SANParks CEO David Mabunda thanked the Ichikowitz Family Foundation for their involvement, which has included the provision of fuel, pilots, specialised training and operational capacity.
Ivor Ichikowitz, the chairman of the foundation and founder of the Paramount Group, said the Gazelle would give SANParks superior airpower in its fight against rhino poachers. The light attack helicopter has a maximum airspeed of 310 kilometres per hour and a range of 670 kilometres.
"A critical part of this helicopter's capabilities is its speed and the fact that the Gazelle has a night vision capable cockpit," Ichikowitz said, adding "Part of our contribution is to the training of the pilots to be able to fly at night, thereby fundamentally taking the war directly to the poachers."
Kruger rhino census
Mabunda, outlining the results of a census conducted a few months ago, said it was estimated that the Kruger National Park was home to between 8 400 and 9 600 white rhino.
SANParks scientists conducted the census using a 40% block count survey method. The census took three weeks to complete in September, making use of three helicopters with a total of 220 flight hours.
The bottom line, Mabunda said, was that despite escalating poaching, increased anti-poaching operations had ensured that there were relatively stable rhino numbers in the park since 2008.
"We are certain that without intense anti-poaching operations, Kruger's rhino population would have begun significantly declining by now."
Ichikowitz said that, with the Gazelle now part of SANParks' anti-poaching operations, "we hope that the fight for the rhino will reach a tipping point in 2014".
He added that his foundation was assisting SANParks with further training of its game rangers in advanced bush tracking techniques, and together with Paramount would be providing SANParks with tracker dogs and related training in 2014.
Read more: http://www.southafrica.info/news/rhinos-291113.htm#.Upiyu9rxvIU#ixzz2m37KSRTx
13 rhino poachers arrested in 2 weeks
Cape Town – Thirteen rhino poachers have been arrested in two weeks, bringing the total number of alleged poachers arrested since January to 285.
According to the Department of Environmental Affairs 267 poachers were arrested in 2012 highlighting an increase of 18 arrests with one month left in 2013.
“The reality is that without the input from various law enforcement agencies, the picture would have been much worse,” spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Affairs, Albi Modise, told News24.
Despite the concomitant increase in the number of rhinos poached for this year the department has lauded the combined effort of SANParks rangers, SANDF, and the police.
"Were it not for these men and women working at the coalface of rhino poaching in South Africa, many more of these iconic animals will have been poached this year," he said.
The number of rhino killed for their horns in South Africa since January has increased to 860. The majority of rhino (521) have been killed in the Kruger National Park (KNP).
The KNP borders Mozambique which is known to be fertile ground for illegal international crime syndicates.
The demand for illegal rhino horn from the Asian black market, where it is regarded as a status symbol, is believed to be the driver behind the rampant poaching.
According to earlier reports rhino poaching between 2008 and 2013 has cost the South African economy R1.1bn. Mostly due to loss of game land through risks of keeping rhino and expensive security measures.
South Africa is home to 25 000 rhino, around 80% of the world’s rhino population.
The rhino is dying – thanks to China and Vietnam. How can we end this evil trade?
Like most seven-year-olds, my daughter Lucy loves the big African animals. The waddling hippo, the stately giraffe, the gloriously prehistoric rhinoceros. So she was duly excited when I told her I was off to Zambia to see these creatures last month.
And see them I did. All except one.
The reason I didn’t see any rhino in Zambia is because there are no rhinos in Zambia (apart from a few reintroduced specimens kept in a box by German zoologists). There are, literally, none. Not one. Rhino count: zero.
Perhaps the absence of rhinos in Zambia is down to the fact that there weren’t many in the first place? Nope. In the 1970s Zambia had Africa’s third largest rhino population: 12,000. But through the 80s and 90s these were all shot for their precious horns. And this slaughter was and is done in the most disgusting ways: for brutal images see here and here (warning: very graphic images).
In about 2005 the poachers must have butchered the very last rhino in Zambia – like the man who cudgeled the last dodo on Mauritius. One wonders what went through their minds as they did it? Perhaps nothing, as they are villainous morons.
Sound like I’m angry? I am. It takes the enormous absence of a great animal to realise the enormity of its extinction. The annihilation of Zambian rhino was just a staging post: the obliteration of this remarkable animal is accelerating.
Rhinos have been poached to near-oblivion in most countries in the world, from Java to Kenya. Six days ago, one subspecies, the black western rhino, was declared extinct. The last great redoubt of the rhino is South Africa, where 22,000 are thought to survive: 80-90 per cent of the global population.
But the rhinos are not safe here, either.
Last month – this is not a typo, last month – 100 rhinos were poached in South Africa, making a total of at least 800 this year (double the rate of a few years back). Right now South Africa is losing four per cent of its rhino, annually, and things are accelerating. Much of the carnage is occurring in the best protected areas, like Kruger National Park.
Why is this happening? It would, I reckon, be easier for a certain kind of Lefty environmentalist, if they could blame Americans and Europeans. Some strive to do just that. But they are not involved in this evil game: it seems the main people to blame are east Asians, e.g. the Chinese and, in particular, the Vietnamese.
A minority of Chinese have got it into their tiny minds that rhino horn (essentially made of keratin, like fingernails) is a cure of all things, especially impotence. They are killing rhinos so they can get it up. The Chinese will pay $100,000 a horn to achieve this non existent effect.
Even more disturbingly, some nouveaux riche Vietnamese are using the horn as – wait for it – a hangover cure (which it isn’t). It is thought the awesome, status symbol price of powdered horn is actually part of the appeal – a form of bling. And these cretins are abetted by a tiny cadre of corrupt Africans, their heads turned by the mindblowing sums on offer: the rhino trade is worth a quarter of a billion quid a year.
To underline the evil, a large slice of the poaching profit is allegedly funneled – via militarized poaching syndicates in Mozambique – to terrorist groups like al Shabaab. Yes: the guys who killed the kids in Kenya’s Westgate shopping mall.
What can we do? If you’re as angry as me, your reaction is: shoot the poachers on sight. But they are already doing this, and it isn’t working. Some others are dehorning the animals, to make them less attractive, but the poachers kill the dehorned animals out of spite, anyway.
The only solution to the failed “rhino wars” is, probably, the most drastic of all: legalise the trade. Build vast rhino ranches. Shave some of the horns from domesticated rhino (this can be done painlessly: it grows back) and send it off to the idiots in Shanghai and Hanoi. This will bring down the price. Reduce the demand. Shunt the poachers and their helicopters out of business.
Meanwhile we must put intense pressure on East Asian governments, especially the Vietnamese, to arrest the traders and users of wild rhino horn. Punish them. Lock them up. Give them two years inside.
That should cure their hangovers.
And if we don’t do this? Before my seven-year-old daughter reaches adulthood, the only rhinos she will ever see will be in a zoo. And the plains of Africa will be emptied forever.
Rhino dies at Montgomery zoo
A Greater Indian rhinoceros has died at the Montgomery Zoo just a month after the death of her baby.
WSFA-TV reported that the female rhino named Jeta was 12 years old.
The cause of death isn't yet known, and zoo officials say tests from a necropsy could take more than a month to complete.
Jeta was most recently in the news after successfully giving birth through artificial insemination.
Jeta's baby, a rhino named Ethan, was considered a milestone in the zoological community. The 4-month-old baby appeared healthy, but it died in October of unknown causes.
The baby rhino was named after the south Alabama boy held hostage in an underground bunker earlier this year.
Rhino poaching figures increasing alarmingly
825 rhinos poached since the beginning of the year.
Poachers kill rhino in brazen attack
Isiolo - Poachers slaughtered a rhino in one of Kenya's best guarded wildlife parks, officials said on Tuesday, in a brazen attack highlighting the risks gunmen are taking during a surge of killings.
"Poachers infiltrated Lewa's borders during the full moon on 17 November and killed Meluaya", a 17-year-old black rhino suspected to have been heavily pregnant and with a two-year-old calf, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy said in a statement.
"Both horns were removed and the poachers got away with them."
Lewa's more than 60 rhino are monitored every day by special surveillance teams, part of a security force of 150 staff. They include armed rangers and dog handlers who patrol with bloodhounds around some 150km of electric fence surrounding the park.
Conservancy personnel also use aerial surveillance to monitor the animals and try to track poachers.
Lewa is privately owned but run as a non-profit dedicated wildlife area, and came to world attention when Britain's Prince William stayed there with Catherine before proposing marriage.
Poaching has risen sharply in Africa in recent years, with rhinos and elephants particularly hard hit.
Earlier this month, Kenya's Attorney General Githu Muigai said the country had lost 90 elephants and 35 rhinos to poachers so far this year.
Asian consumers who acquire smuggled rhino horn - which is made of keratin, the same material as human fingernails - believe that it has powerful healing properties.
Isiolo county deputy governor Mohamed Guleid condemned the killing and pledged to "do everything to protect our national heritage and pursue the killers".
Earlier this month Kenya started inserting microchips into rhino horns. Wildlife officials plan eventually to microchip all rhinos in the country, just over 1 000 animals altogether.
Inserting the chips entails shooting the rhino with a tranquiliser dart fired from a helicopter.
US offers reward for Laos elephant, rhino poachers
WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday offered a $1m reward to help smash a Laos-based poaching network which is slaughtering endangered elephants and rhinos for their precious horns and tusks.
The reward, the first of its kind by the US state department, targeted the Xaysavang network operating from Laos as far afield as South Africa, Mozambique, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and China.
"The involvement of sophisticated transnational criminal organisations in wildlife trafficking perpetuates corruption, threatens the rule of law and border security in fragile regions," Mr Kerry said in a statement.
He estimated that annual profits from wildlife trafficking reached as much as $8bn-$10bn, and were then pumped into other "illicit activities such as narcotics, arms, and human trafficking".
Another effect of poaching was that it "destabilises communities that depend on wildlife for biodiversity and eco-tourism", he said.
Offering the department’s first reward under the transnational organised crime rewards programme, Mr Kerry said the Xaysavang network "facilitates the killing of endangered elephants, rhinos and other species for products such as ivory".
He revealed that several major seizures of illegal wildlife products had been traced back to the network.
The lucrative Asian black market for rhino horn, used in traditional medicine, and ivory has driven a boom in poaching across Africa.
Police in the semi-autonomous Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar on Wednesday said they had seized a 12m container hiding several tonnes worth of ivory, according to estimates.
The seizure comes as authorities in Tanzania crack down on poaching amid a surge of killings of elephants and rhinos in the East African country.
The flight to freedom
Blindfolded and dangled upside down from a helicopter, rare black rhino is airlifted to safety from poachers
A rare black rhinoceros hangs upside down strapped by its ankles from a helicopter hundreds of feet in the air as part of a conservation drive to encourage more breeding.
While the sight might be unsettling to some, it is considered safer than transporting it on the ground because the animal spends less time under anesthetic.
This individual is the latest of about 140 black rhinos that have been translocated to new homes since the beginning of the WWF's Black Rhino Range Expansion Project.
The relocation, one of 10 which took place in the KwaZulu-Natal region of eastern South Africa, comes just days after the Western Black rhino, a subspecies of the black Rhino, was officially declared extinct after last being seen in 2006.
Project leader Dr Jacques Flamand said: 'We used to transport rhinos by lorry over very difficult tracks, or airlifted in a net. This new procedure has proved to be a safer bet.
'As a vet, this is my method of choice because it is quick and harmless to the rhinos, which is always our main concern in these operations.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2502994/Black-Rhino-Range-Expansion-Project-gets-black-rhino-airlifted-safety-poachers.html#ixzz2kcZycud1
The elephants' graveyard: Horrifying pictures show how more than 300 animals have been by poachers using cyanide
Ivory poachers wiped out hundreds of animals in Zimbabwe by poisoning watering holes with cyanide
More than 300 elephants died in agony after consuming contaminated water
Elephants need salt to survive and the hunters cynically knew they would be drawn to the poison
Ivory trade in which tusks can command £10,000 per pair driving more people into poaching
Zimbabwe’s environment minister has vowed to clampdown on illegal hunting
The withered corpse of an elephant cow lies next to the decomposing carcass of her calf in this horrifying image of what could be the worst massacre of wildlife in almost a quarter of a century.
Illegal hunters have killed more than 300 elephants, and numerous other safari animals, in Zimbabwe's largest national park by poisoning waterholes with cyanide.
The result of the indiscriminate killing has wiped out wildlife in great swathes of the once untouched wilderness of Hwange reserve which attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.
Conservationists have been particularly concerned by the ruthless use of cyanide by poachers to kill they prey.
The animals were struck down when ‘salt licks’ next to pools where they drink and bathe were contaminated with the deadly chemical.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2470219/Elephants-graveyard-300-animals-poisoned-poachers.html
Two white rhino poached in Zimbabwe
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s conservation efforts have been dealt another blow after poachers killed and hacked off the horns of two endangered white rhino in a park in the south of the country.
One of the rhinos was over 50-year’s-old and the pair were poached from the Matopos National Park, where an intensive rhino protection zone is in place.
The state National Parks and Wildlife Authority has dispatched a team of highly-skilled rangers from western Hwange and the southern city of Bulawayo to track the poachers.
The animals are believed to have been killed on Thursday.
The news will be a huge blow to conservationists and wildlife workers who are already dealing with the fallout from a huge elephant poaching scandal in Hwange National Park.
Fewer than 700 black and white rhino remain in Zimbabwe.
The authorities are hesitant to publicise the exact whereabouts or numbers of rhino for fear of attracting poachers.
Western Black rhino is officially extinct and the Northern White and the Javan rhinos will follow unless something is done, conservationists warn
A species of African rhino last seen in 2006 is now officially extinct, according to the world's largest conservation network.
The latest review of animals and plants by the International Union for Conservation of Nature found the Western Black rhino has been totally wiped out.
Conservationists have blamed poachers and lack of conservation while warning that other rhinos could follow.
According to the IUCN, Africa's Northern White rhino is 'teetering on the brink of extinction' while Asia's Javan rhino is 'making its last stand'
The subspecies of the Black rhino - which is classified as 'critically endangered' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species - was last seen in western Africa in 2006, CNN reported.
Simon Stuart, chairman of the IUCN species survival commission, said: 'In the case of the western black rhino and the northern white rhino the situation could have had very different results if the suggested conservation measures had been implemented.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2490777/Western-Black-rhino-officially-extinct-Northern-White-Javan-rhinos-follow-unless-conservationists-warn.html
British army joins fight against elephant and rhino poaching
The British army is, for the first time in many years, taking a key role against the escalating illegal wildlife trade killing rhinos and elephants in Africa.
A total of 25 paratroopers in Kenya are on rotation at the army's base in Nanyuki, 200km north of Nairobi, and will provide training to Kenyan rangers who are battling increasingly militarised poachers.
Kenyan parliamentarians are currently considering proposals to increase the penalty for poaching from the current maximum punishment of three years in prison to lifetime sentences. Kenya said last month it was going to microchip the horn of every single one of the country's thousand rhinos in a bid to combat the trade, which is largely driven by demand from south-east Asia.
The environment secretary, Owen Paterson, who is in Kenya this week, said of the partnership: "Illegal poaching is having a devastating effect on some of the world's most iconic species and we must work together to tackle it. By joining forces with those on the front line in Kenya, our armed services will be able to provide training and support to the courageous people who put their lives on the line every day to protect these animals."
Brigadier Duncan Francis, defence attache based in Nairobi, said: "This is an excellent example of the British army taking positive action on an issue that is close to many people's hearts. It is also the first time that we have carried out this kind of work. The 25 members of the parachute regiment involved in this training will be making an immense contribution to securing the future of some of the world's most endangered species."
The soldiers will not take part directly in operations against poachers, but provide training on how to patrol better, working more effectively as a team, and what to do if they encounter poachers. Members of the Kenyan Wildlife Service, Kenyan Forestry Service, and conservation organisation Mount Kenya Trust will receive the training in the coming weeks.
An NGO-organised conference in London next February will discuss how to improve law enforcement to tackle the illegal poaching of elephant, rhino and tiger parts.
Rhino horn dug up in Centurion garden in Johannesburg
Rhino horns worth R17.3 million, some buried in a garden – that’s what police stumbled upon during a sting operation in Centurion, near Pretoria.
They arrived at a secure complex where they first found a car with a hidden compartment used for horns, microchip scanners, a bandsaw and hi-tech scales.
Two horns were in the car.
The following day, an eagle-eyed policeman noticed that soil in the garden had been disturbed, and six rhino horns wrapped in clingfilm were unearthed.
One of the horns was so fresh, it was later found to have been hacked from a rhino just a few days earlier.
The details of Operation Whisper, which bust the rhino-poaching syndicate, were revealed in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
Colonel Gerhard Vermeulen of the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory told how he had arrived at the crime scene to find two rhino horns in a car.
They had been stashed in a hidden compartment, between the rear seat and the boot.
“If you had opened the boot you wouldn’t have been able to see it,” said Vermeulen.
In the dock was Vietnamese citizen Gulit Chu Duc, 23, who was arrested on May 31 last year at the Centurion complex.
He has pleaded guilty to two charges related to the transportation and possession of rhino horns.
His arrest was the culmination of Operation Whisper, during which undercover SAPS members had sold two rhino horns in KwaZulu-Natal and then followed the contraband to Gauteng.
In a statement, Chu Duc said he had picked up a parcel from a person in Bruma, Joburg, and placed the parcel in his car.
Vermeulen told the court that in the garage he also found a rhino horn in a bandsaw.
“It appeared to me that someone was in the process of cutting up the horn,” he said.
On the floor were two micro-chip scanners.
He believed the scanners were used to locate microchips left in the horns.
The following day when Vermeulen searched the garden, he found six more horns.
The horns were sent for DNA testing and compared to a genetic rhino database. They got a match on one of them.
The horn belonged to a male rhino poached in the Hluhluwe Umfolozi game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal on the same day as the Centurion bust.
The animal had been killed a few days earlier.
A fingerprint matching Chu Duc was found on some of the plastic wrapped around the horn, said Vermeulen.
Advocate Mannie Witz said his client was not part of a syndicate – “What he is, is the most dispensable person in the world.”
He claimed the vehicle Chu Duc was driving was registered to the Centurion complex’s landlord, who also owned a game farm in Klerksdorp, where legal rhino hunts were conducted.
Witz said there were legal permits to hunt rhinos.
Vermeulen said no permits were found relating to the eight seized horns.
“If these horns were legally hunted, why would they need to transport the horn in a secret compartment or hide them in the garden?” he asked.
Chu Duc’s sentencing hearing will continue on December 6.
Rhino poaching was no smash-and-grab kind of crime, but had a highly organised structure.
This is according to Colonel Gerhard Vermeulen of the SAPS’s Forensic Science Laboratory.
Speaking in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday, Vermeulen described how the price of rhino horns escalated as it moved up the crime syndicate. At the bottom level was the poacher – he said police had found that the poacher could make between R45 000 and R90 000 for each rhino.
Next level up was the local receiver in the area.
This was often the person who provided the firearm.
“It is difficult to determine what a level two will make, but in a recent case, we arrested a person who had several million rand in cash on him,” said Vermeulen.
“He told me this was one month’s earnings.”
Further up the chain was the national courier, who was often also the exporter, according to Vermeulen.
At this level, the horn’s value jumps to R500 000 a kilogram, he said.
Mozambicans take a stand against rhino poaching
Mozambicans living in South Africa are taking a stand against rhino poaching in the country.
A campaign to curb the slaying of rhinos has been launched in Mhinga village outside Malamulele in the north-eastern side of the Kruger National Park in Limpopo.
The campaign is being led by the Mozambican non-profit organisation - "Mvumbanu" - a Xitsonga/Shangaan word meaning togetherness.
Mvumbanu chairperson Admiro Maluleke says in many cases, rifles from the Mozambican civil war are used for poaching.
“When we discovered that people are killing these poor defenceless animals within our communities, this worried us a great deal. We thought it was a good for idea for us to educate our communities on preserving our wildlife not destroying it. We are going to be working with communities living on the border of South Africa and Mozambique and hopefully put a stop to the killing of rhinos.”
Texas hunters to auction permit to kill black rhino
Washington (AFP) - A Texas hunting club said Friday it aims to raise up to a million dollars for endangered black rhinoceroses by auctioning off a permit to kill one in Namibia.
"First and foremost, this is about saving the black rhino," said Ben Carter, executive director of the Dallas Safari Club, which is hosting the auction early next year.
Black rhinos are internationally considered an endangered species and the World Wildlife Fund says about 4,800 are alive in the African wild.
Carter said in a statement sent to AFP that the Namibian government "selected" his hunting club to auction a black rhino hunting permit for one of its national parks.
The permit is expected "to sell for at least $250,000, possibly up to $1 million. The Conservation Trust Fund for Namibia's Black Rhino will receive 100 percent of the sale price," said the statement.
Namibia has an annual quota to kill up to five black rhinos out of the southern African nation's herd population of 1,795 animals.
A single permit issued to a US hunter in 2009 to kill a black rhino fetched $175,000 for the Namibian Game Products Trust Fund which pays for conservation efforts, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Tim Van Norman, chief of the branch of permits at the FWS said the US government has not yet issued any permit to the Dallas Safari Club to return a rhino's carcass to the United States.
The individual hunter who is identified as the winner of the auction would first have to pass certain background checks and the animal chosen for the hunt would have to be approved as being beneficial to the conservation of the species for the US government to allow the trophy to come back inside US borders, he said.
Van Norman said Namibia has determined that older black rhino males that have already produced offspring and are in reproductive decline are the best targets for hunting.
"Black rhinos are very territorial so you will have an older male that is keeping younger males from reproducing," he explained.
"By removing these older males from the population, you get an increase in the production of calves. Younger males are able to impregnate the females that are in that area so you get more offspring than from some of these older males."
The DSC said the auction would take place at its annual convention January 9-12, 2014 in Dallas.
The winning hunter will have to hire a guide to lead the hunt and will be accompanied by Namibian wildlife officials.
Limited hunting is a conservation strategy that is supported by US wildlife officials, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species -- all of which list rhinos as endangered, according to the Dallas hunters' group.
The Humane Society of the United States described the news of the auction as "disturbing" and vowed to campaign against the issuance of a US permit to return the trophy.
"The world is seeing a concerted effort to preserve the very few black rhinos and other rhinos who are dodging poachers' bullets and habitat destruction," said Wayne Pacelle, president of the HSUS.
"The last thing they need are wealthy elites from foreign lands coming in to kill them for their heads."
He also questioned the ethics of wealthy, competitive trophy hunters who say they want to kill an animal in the name of conservation.
"Shooting a black rhino in the wild is about as difficult as shooting a parked car," he said.
"If these are multimillionaires and they want to help rhinos, they can give their money to help rhinos. They don't need to accompany their cash transfer with a high caliber bullet," he said.
Rhino owner claims law favours poachers
Multimillionaire John Hume believes the law is stacked against rhino owners, who, he says, sometimes have to risk their lives to protect their property.
Hume's son, Richard, appeared in the Malelane Magistrate's Court, in Mpumalanga, yesterday charged with attempted murder after shooting an alleged poacher on the Mauricedale game reserve, which the family owns, on September 24.
Hume, the biggest private rhino owner in South Africa, said that his son came across five men on the farm who had poached a warthog and a nyala on the reserve .
He shot at them and, though the circumstances of the shooting are still to be verified in court, one of the men - 28-year-old Sabelo Maphungla - was hit in the back of the head.
He was arrested along with two other men. The other two fled.
Said Hume: "I have a small army guarding my rhino and it is costing me a fortune every month.
But [the guards] are sh*t-scared of firing a shot at poachers because, if they were to hit them, they would also be charged with murder."
Mpumalanga police spokesman Brigadier Selvy Mohlala said the police viewed the matter as "serious" and "we believe he has a case to answer".
"The suspect was shot in the head and was rushed to hospital. He is still in hospital," said Mohlala.
Though most of Hume's rhinos have been moved to his farm in North West, there are still several on the Mpumalanga reserve on which the shooting took place.
Two weeks ago Hume lost a female rhino and her unborn female calf to poachers at his North West farm.
So far this year 746 rhino have been killed in this country, 63 in Mpumalanga.
Richard Hume's case was postponed to January 8 for further investigation.
The trial of the suspected poachers was postponed to November 6.
Rhino born in insemination experiment dies at Ala. zoo
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A baby Indian rhinoceros born in an experiment with artificial insemination has died unexpectedly at the Montgomery Zoo.
Zoo officials said the death of the 4-month-old rhinoceros named Ethan on Friday was "sudden and unexpected" and that the cause is unknown.
The 4-month-old rhino, Ethan, was named after Ethan Gilman, the Alabama boy rescued from a bunker after a six-day standoff in Midland City in February. Officials say the boy visited the zoo and bonded with the rhino's mother, who was pregnant at the time, WAKA-TV reported.
A necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of death, said Sarah McKemey, a public relations director for the zoo.
McKemey said nothing obvious was wrong with the rhinoceros prior to his death Friday.
Ethan made national news, with the "Today" show filming at the Montgomery Zoo for a story on the calf's milestone birth.
The Cincinnati Zoo had worked with the Montgomery Zoo to make the birth possible.
The sperm was collected from Himal, a male rhino at the Montgomery Zoo, to impregnate the female Jeta after the two proved too aggressive toward each other to mate.
Montgomery Zoo staff monitored the roughly 15-month pregnancy and reported afterward that the birth went well.
The Indian rhinoceros is an endangered species, and Ethan's birth was seen as a sign that artificial insemination could be a valuable tool to manage the remaining population, according to an article on the Cincinnati Zoo's website.
Monica Stoops, a reproductive physiologist with the Ohio facility, collected a rhino's sperm in 2004. It was stored at minus-320 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-195 Celsius) in Cincinnati for eight years before it was brought to Alabama, thawed, and used in the insemination procedure.
"This is the first known calf, of any rhino species in the U.S., to be produced by (artificial insemination) and be born and thrive in captivity," the Cincinnati Zoo said in a statement when Ethan was born. The zoo also noted that the Indian rhino is an endangered species and described the technique as "a repeatable and valuable tool to help manage the captive Indian rhino population."
Nepal arrests 14 over rhino poaching
At least fourteen alleged members of a gang of rhinoceros poachers have been arrested in Nepal, officials say.
Those arrested include Buddhi Bahadur Praja, the alleged leader of a cross-border smuggling ring.
Police accuse Mr Praja of killing more than 12 rhinos in Nepal in the past six years. There has been no immediate comment from any of those arrested.
Researchers say rhinos are killed so their horns can be used in traditional medicines, despite no proven benefits.
"It was a joint operation by the Nepalese army and the special police," Kamal Jung Kunwar, a senior official at Nepal's Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, told the BBC.
"Fourteen people have been arrested in this operation in the past three weeks. We have seized two guns and four bullets from the gang."
Mr Kunwar said it was the biggest arrest of poachers in a single operation in recent years.
"It was one of our informers who provided us vital clues about the location of these poachers," he added.
Nepal's protected forests were estimated by a census in 2011 to be home to more than 500 rhinos, most of them in Chitwan National Park, about 120km (75 miles) south-west of the capital Kathmandu.
Nepal faced a serious problem of rhino poaching about 10 years ago when the country was affected by civil war between government forces and Maoist rebels.
In 2002, about 37 rhinos were killed by poachers, triggering grave concern over the future of one-horned rhinos.
Their population dropped from an estimated 612 in 2000 to less than 375 in 2005.
But numbers have increased to more than 500 after a series of anti-poaching measures were taken by the authorities.
"This year so far only one rhino has been killed by poachers in Chitwan Park," Mr Kunwar said.
Officials say there are more than 1,000 Nepalese soldiers in the Chitwan national park involved in anti-poaching activities. They operate from more than 40 positions, some deep inside the forest.
Elusive Sumatran rhino caught on camera in Borneo
A Sumatran rhino, thought to be extinct in eastern Borneo, has been caught on camera in the rainforest.
Hidden cameras have captured images of the critically endangered Sumatran rhino on the Indonesian part of Borneo island, where it was thought to have long ago died out, according to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).
Sixteen camera traps -- remote-controlled cameras with motion sensors frequently used in ecological research -- filmed the rhino walking through the forest and wallowing in mud in Kutai Barat, East Kalimantan province.
The footage, filmed on June 23, June 30 and August 3, is believed to show different rhinos although the WWF said confirmation of this will require further study.
There were once Sumatran rhinos all over Borneo but their numbers have dwindled dramatically and they were thought to now exist only on the Malaysian part of the island.
But the research disclosed Wednesday, a joint effort between the WWF and authorities in Kutai Barat, shows that the animal is still present on the Indonesian side of Borneo.
Have a look at the video on the link below:
REASONS WHY THE CURRENT SITUATION WILL FAIL OUR RHINO AND CAUSE THEIR EXTINCTION.
1. Our national parks probably have less rhino than we hope. Almost certainly they do not find or do not report all the rhino that are poached. With predators and scavengers evidence is quickly dispersed. All the rhinos that crossed into Mozambique when the fence was lifted are long dead and none have been reported as poached.
So if rhino numbers in our National Parks are less and getting lesser the poachers will obviously find it harder to find rhinos in our National Parks and that will put more pressure on commercial farmers, making it more likely that they will give up. The same situation will apply to our commercial farmers if the security in our National Parks improves. So either with the security getting better or our numbers reducing in our national parks the heat and the expense for our commercial farmers is ominous.
2. If private, commercial game farmers calculate their costs (capital, holding, feeding and security) correctly, they have no chance of paying their running costs, even if they sell all their progeny. As the security costs continue to rise they will realise this and dispose of their rhino instead of breeding with them.
3. Our local communities can never get to breeding rhinos (for the same reasons as above).
4. Any strategy to reduce demand in rhino horn is never going to work in time, considering we only have 20 000 rhinos left in S.A. and we are probably going to lose 1 000 of them this year alone. By 2016, we will probably be losing 2 000 rhinos per year. Keeping in mind that it is primarily adult, breeding rhinos that are poached, we probably only have about 2-3 years to come up with a viable solution for our rhinos. We have no problem with people trying to reduce demand for horn; we simply feel that it will not happen soon enough to save our rhinos. Nevertheless, any reduction in demand is good for rhinos.
If we happened to be stupid enough to listen to the idiots who say we should burn our rhino horn, the price on the black market will immediately double and so will the orders to the poachers, who would become more determined and find further ingenious ways to kill our rhino.
To a lesser extent, we are pushing up the price on the black market by stopping old horn from long dead rhino leaving the West. We are also stopping large South African stock piles from getting to the East.
It is simple logic that the less rhino horn that gets to the East the more orders will go to the poachers. So our actions are helping the poachers and killing our rhino. Unfortunately this is often driven by people who are so irrational and narrowed-minded in their views that they don’t care if our rhino go extinct. There are some individuals in the world that are so keen on collecting money from the rhino crisis that they do not want to see this logic. They are therefore also helping poachers to kill our rhinos.
There is only one answer to give our rhinos at least a fighting chance.
Kenyan Makes 900-Km US Trek to Fight Elephant Poaching
Jim Nyamu is a man on a mission. With Kenyan flag in hand, he has spent the past month crossing the northeastern United States on foot, stopping along the way to tell people how a growing demand for elephant ivory, especially in Asia, has fueled an increase in poaching that could drive some elephant populations to extinction.
Why United States? Because Americans, Nyamu says, aren't aware of the severity of the problem.
"Many people ask me the same question: '[Why should we as Americans] be bothered by the poaching which is happening?' " he says shortly after completing his 900-kilometer trek from Boston to Washington. "And I still say back to them that America is still the second leading consumer of ivory.”
Since his arrival in the nation's capital, where his visit has been timed to coincide with Friday's International March for Elephants — an event that includes simultaneous marches in about 30 cities around the world — he's been discussing the elephants' plight.
A primary challenge he encounters, he says, is that people often admire products made from ivory without associating the items with the elephants' demise — that when poachers cut off the elephants' ivory tusks, the animals usually die.
The World Wildlife Fund says nearly 100 elephants are killed every day in Africa, illegally, by poachers.
According to Crawford Allan, WWF North American international wildlife trade monitoring program director, poaching has been particularly devastating for a subspecies known as the forest elephant.
“Over the past 10 years, they have lost about 50 percent of the elephants in the forests of Africa and, therefore, in the next 10 years, there is a potential that all forest elephants will be gone completely," he says. "That whole subspecies will be gone, leaving the savannah elephants only in the rest of eastern southern Africa.”
Allan says deterring poachers who are often driven by organized, transnational criminal syndicates, is a massive challenge for African nations, whose rangers are often underfunded, poorly trained and lack the equipment required to cover vast swaths of land in order to protect elephant populations.
“You are looking for the needle in the haystack, literally, a lot of the times," he says. "Elephants are very big animals, but actually in a huge landscape, they are very, very small to find and detect. And so, it is very, very hard to protect those animals.”
As for Jim Nyamu, his foot campaign to raise awareness about poaching will not end in Washington, as he has recently planned long walks on the West Coast of the United States and in China.
635 rhinos poached since January 2013
Rhino killings jump following South African announcement on rhino horn trade
On the eve of World Rhino Day a new study has shown that the number of rhino killed each week has surged since South Africa announced its plans to establish a legal market in rhino horn. The study by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) show that before the announcement an average of 15.36 rhinos were being killed weekly and since the announcement the average has increased to 18.6.
The EIA claim that from January 1 to March 13,2013, an average of 15.36 rhinos were poached each week in South Africa. On March 14, Minister Molewa revealed her support at the meeting of the member nations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Bangkok, Thailand, for a legal international rhino horn trade. CITES has long banned such a trade.
Since the Minister’s announcement, a weekly average of 18.6 rhinos were poached between March 14 and September 19, totalling 505 rhinos. Today the 2013 total has now reached 663 animals, just five short of South Africa’s 2012 record total of 668 poached rhinos. Kenya and India have also reported increased numbers of their rhinos poached this year.
EIA President Allan Thornton said: “South Africa is stimulating an ever-increasing and unsustainable demand for rhino horn in Vietnam, China and other countries that is fuelling the rhino poaching epidemic. South Africa’s policy signal to the global marketplace that rhino horn is a smart investment commodity is unleashing a tsunami of destruction on South Africa’s rhinos.”
The news comes following the publication of a report by TRAFFIC and the WWF that three time more people in Vietnam want to use rhino horn than currently do.
Mary Rice, Executive Director of EIA’s London office, explained “Rhinos are already being slaughtered at an unsustainable rate to feed the demand for an unsubstantiated ‘medicine’ in Vietnam,”
She continued, “Powerful commercial interests in South Africa are seeking to cash in on their stockpiled horn at the expense of the conservation and survival of South Africa’s rhinos. Legalising rhino horn trade will reward the criminal kingpins behind the poaching, pushing rhinos inside and outside of South Africa ever closer to extinction.”
South African businessman behind elephant poisonings
Zimbabwean police are bringing their investigations into the deaths of at least 64 elephants by cyanide poisoning in the Hwange National Park to an end. They have revealed that a South African businessman is behind the killings and that he has been active in cyanide poisoning since 2009.
Police named him only as Ishmael and that he used a Chivu farmer and ivory buyer Farai Chitsa to distribute stocks of cyanide to local people in Pelandaba and Pumula areas of Tsholotsho.
Interrogations of those held over the poisoning case has revealed information that will be either acted on or stored for later use.
Chitsa was arrested when his truck became stuck in sands while collecting tusks from poachers. Two brothers – Sipho and Misheck Mafu - have also been arrested and have provided police and wildlife investigators with wide-ranging information.
Read more: http://wildlifenews.co.uk/2013/south-african-businessman-behind-elephant-poisonings/
KwaZulu-Natal becomes first state to poison rhino horn
Some private rhino conservancies have injected their rhino’s with chemicals so that the horns are poisonous for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine and yesterday (10 September) South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) became the first state authority to announced that they have also started to poison their rhino.
While the chemical cocktail that the state is using is claimed not to cause intentional deaths of those consumers popping rhino horn pills and powders, state officials do admit that the horns are now extremely toxic and consumption will cause ‘serious’ sickness.
Wildlife officials say that those who consume rhino horn originating from their state can expect ‘vomiting, diarrhoea, nerve disorders and other dose-related health problems’.
Part of the chemical cocktail is a bright red dye to warn people that the horn is poisonous to consume. Another benefit of the red dye is that it has been specially formulated to be easy for airport scanners to pick up. Even if the rhino horn has been ground to a powder before being exported the x-ray scanners will be able to pick up the powder in luggage.
The first rhino have undergone the treatment and they are located in the worse locations for poaching in KZN. Tembe Elephant Park and Ndumo Game Reserve along the border with Mozambique were the first areas to be included in the project.
Ezemvelo chief executive Bandile Mkhize said ‘We cannot sit back and watch this species disappear on our watch‘.
The cost of poisoning Ezemvelo rhino horns is being sponsored by the Stellenbosch-based Peace Parks Foundation, which was set up under the patronage of Nelson Mandela and international conservation donors.
The news of the poisoning of rhino horn by state authorities has received mixed reviews. While hailed as a new powerful weapon to help protect rhinos by conservationists there are some who are concerned over the ethical and legal issues.
An environmental lawyer in Durban questioned whether the legality of intentionally causing harm to another person and either put forward the notion that injecting a poisonous cocktail in a rhino horn was like using chemical weapons in war.
Meshack Radebe, provincial MEC for Environmental Affairs in KZN was not fazed by these claims and said that the emphasis should be on deterring the poacher and the illegal trade in rhino horn.
RESPONSE TO CRITICISMS AGAINST LEGAL TRADE IN RHINO HORN
The following are some of the primary criticisms against a proposed legal trade in rhino horn. We raise them here and provide our responses to each of them.
1. The demand is too great. There are not enough rhinos/horn to support it
This is an extremely valid concern. From historical records and the ongoing eradication of rhinos in Africa and Asia, it appears that the demand certainly is large and here to stay.
We feel that it is therefore imperative to encourage the breeding and protection of rhinos or we will most certainly see them go extinct. Rhino horn is a renewable resource and this resource can be increased if incentives are in place to conserve rhinos.
We also feel that in the government’s discussions with consumer countries, this concern should be a priority and it should be emphasized that any potential trade in horn stocks will have a ceiling limit. All consumer countries should be made aware of this limit and should be encouraged to respect it. This limit will naturally increase as rhino numbers increase.
Furthermore, logic dictates that if the demand is currently unsustainable and we take no steps to turn it into a sustainable one, we will fail to save the rhinos of the world.
In essence, we should at least try to meet some of the demand instead of hiding away from it out of fear that we may not succeed.
2. It is unethical to promote a ‘bogus’ product.
We feel that it is unethical to continue to apply the same ineffective policies of the past to a dying species. We also feel that bigotry in the modern-day global village is unethical and antiquated and that we do not have any right to apply Western medicinal and scientific principles to misunderstood Eastern philosophical healing systems and traditions. Aside from not having the right to do so, we feel that any campaigns to attempt to do so will be largely ineffective amongst consumer countries where Western principles are often regarded as irrelevant at best and with contempt at worst.
The simple fact is that the demand and the market for horn exist and we cannot bank on educational campaigns and pleas to save our rhinos. These tactics have not worked for tigers, bears or elephants and they are therefore unlikely to work for rhinos.
3. A legal trade in horn will facilitate the illegal trade in horn by creating a channel for it.
The channel for illegal horn already exists and is thriving with no competition at all – the introduction of competition in the form of a legal trade may go a long way towards correcting the perverse price aspect that currently fuels the poaching onslaught.
We have a fantastic rhino horn DNA database called RhoDIS in South Africa which will help to identify horn and fragments of horn, ensuring that all legal horn can be identified.
4. Better law enforcement and a clamp-down on corruption are needed to save the rhino, not a legal trade.
Market studies have shown that market trends are similar to other contraband – drugs, weapons, etc. Organized crime syndicates handle the market and generally co-opt and/or threaten government officials and others to help them. Bans on these products are unenforceable as evidenced by thriving Black markets. Threats as great as death to offenders are not even punitive enough and syndicates continue to operate despite them.
This is not to say that these measures should not be strengthened but it is clear that they cannot be expected to solve the problem.
5. Legal sales didn’t work for ivory so it won’t work for rhino horn.
I attach a table that compares aspects of the ivory trade to that of a proposed rhino horn trade to emphasize why the two should not be compared.
6. The private sector just wants to make money from horn sales.
The private sector has historically been an exemplary custodian, breeder and protector of rhinos and other wildlife and it is self-funded. Individuals are entitled to make money from their businesses and if the end-result is conservation and protection of wild species and ecosystems, all the better. If all conservationists were millionaires, the natural world and threatened species would not be in the devastating situations they currently face.
It is naïve to believe that conservation takes place in a vacuum, particularly here in Africa.
A further point is that the private sector only holds 25% of S.A.’s rhino populations so the government stands to gain the bulk of the funds generated from rhino horn sales – funds that are undeniably much-needed in the war against poaching.
7. Captive-bred populations of rhinos are ‘worthless’ in conservation terms.
Three distinct points make this assumption false.
Firstly, every single White rhino in a captive population is a candidate for reintroduction to a more extensive and/or natural environment. This is due to their generally placid nature (in other words, they may become relatively tame in captive situations but no tamer than the rhinos you see in the Kruger National Park); their niche as grazers (they will not struggle to find food in a more natural environment) and the fact that their horns regrow in a relatively short time period.
There is some debate over the genetic integrity of a captive-bred rhino population but this aspect would be easy to monitor through genetic mapping systems and ancestry records of rhinos. Furthermore, White rhinos have already been through a genetic bottleneck and most of them already stem from a very small gene pool.
Secondly, rhinos that are able to provide horn to the market from captive-bred populations will ease poaching pressure on wilder populations of rhinos. This fact is evidenced by the crocodile, ostrich and other game industries throughout the world.
Finally, male rhinos will have increased economic value and will not only be utilised in the trophy hunting industry. National parks that sell surplus male animals will be able to do so knowing that their animals will probably have a continued long lifespan on a smaller reserve.
Prince William awards Kenyan and Zimbabwean conservationists
Tom Lalampaa has won a conservation award for his work in northern Kenya by the wildlife charity Tusk Trust.
He was one of five nominees and received his prize from Prince William at an awards ceremony in London.
Mr Lalampaa runs an organisation that helps remote and sometimes feuding communities co-exist with wildlife in a 200,000 sq km (4.9m-acre) area.
Zimbabwe's Clive Stockil was also honoured with a lifetime achievement award for his work with rhinos.
Mr Stockil "is one of Africa's great conservation pioneers, who long before many others recognised how critical it is to engage local communities in the conservation of their natural heritage," one of the Tusk Conservation Awards judges said.
The judges said Clive Stockil was "one of Africa's greatest conservation pioneers"
"Despite many setbacks, Clive Stockil has never waivered from his overall commitment to conservation."
His career spans 40 years and in 1992 he helped create Zimbabwe's biggest private reserve in the Save Valley in the the south-east of the country, which is now home to one of the biggest rhino populations in Africa.
The lifetime Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa comes with a £30,000 ($47,000) grant.
'Model community conversation'
Mr Lalampaa is chief operations manager for the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), and the judges said he is a "key player in efforts to protect Kenyan wildlife and improve the lives of his people".
Some 212,000 people - many of them nomadic pastoralists - live in territory overseen by the NRT, which it describes as a "breath-taking patchwork of broken valleys, forested mountains, vast plains and arid acacia shrub land".
But droughts, poor soil and few roads, schools and hospitals can make life difficult for its inhabitants.
There has been conflict amongst the 10 ethnic groups in the region over grazing and water for livestock - and cattle raiding, armed banditry and poaching are also issues Mr Lalampaa deals with.
The NRT is an umbrella organisation which was established in 2004 and serves 19 community conservancies, helping them raise funds and giving them training and advice.
"With Tom's help, NRT is now widely recognised as the leading model for community conservation in Kenya - and increasingly across Africa - and has a proven impact on peace, livelihoods and conservation," the Tusk Conservation Awards said.
Conservationist Alasdair Harris was also honoured at the gala evening at the Royal Society in London, receiving a Highly Commended prize for his work with communities along Madagascar's coast.
The research director of Blue Ventures Conservation, his initiatives protect marine biodiversity and safeguard traditional coastal livelihoods, the Tusk Trust said.
Mr Lalampaa received a £15,000 grant and Mr Harris £7,500 to help with their projects.
This is the first year of the Tusk Conservation Awards and the event was the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's first joint engagement since the birth of their son in July.
Prince William is a patron of the Tusk Trust, which supports 57 field projects in 18 African countries.
Gabon's President Ali Ben Bongo was among the key invited guests, the trust said.
Africa Cries and Eazi Study working together to create awareness through education
More elephant carcasses found in Hwange as govt vows poaching ‘crackdown’
More elephant carcasses have been found in the Hwange National Park following the poisoning of water wells by poachers, bringing the number of dead elephants to 69.
Three more poaching suspects were arrested this weekend in an ongoing investigation by police officers and National Parks authorities, launched after 41 elephants carcasses were discovered in the park late last month. The latest arrests bring to nine the number of poachers arrested since the launch of the anti-poaching operation.
Another 28 elephant carcasses were also recovered this weekend. The elephants died after members of a suspected poaching syndicate laced salt with the toxic chemical cyanide and distributed the salt in a drinking pool used by elephants in Hwange.
Government officials have since vowed to crackdown on poaching, following a Ministerial delegation visit to Hwange over the weekend. The new Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Saviour Kasukuwere was flown to the national park along with Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi and Information Minister Jonathan Moyo to assess the situation.
“We will protect elephants alongside all our animals. This is a war we will win,” said Kasukuwere.
Johnny Rodrigues, the Chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said that current poaching penalties are “very lenient.” He told SW Radio Africa stricter anti-poaching laws are necessary.
“The biggest problem is in the judicial system. The police and national parks don’t work together and when poachers do get arrested they get a slap on the hand and then soon they are back out there doing the same thing. The penalty for what is happening is actually very lenient,” Rodrigues said.
Kenya: KWS Moves 21 Rhinos to Borana Sanctuary
KWS has translocated 21 rhinos from Lake Nakuru National Park and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to the newly established Borana Rhino sanctuary in Laikipia.
Ten rhinos were moved from Lake Nakuru National Park while the other 11 were translocated from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The week-long exercise, which started in the third week of August, was funded by the World Wildlife Fund, Zurich Zoo and US F&W in collaboration with KWS.
The translocation is aimed at establishing a new rhino population. This is to keep the established populations in Lake Nakuru National Park and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy productive by maintaining their numbers below their ecological carrying capacity levels.
The WWF species manager Robert Ndetei pledged continued support to KWS in its quest to conserve the last great species. He said the international wildlife body has had a long standing relationship with KWS.
Ndetei said the bodies collaborated in establishing Lake Nakuru and Tsavo East rhino sanctuaries and the creation of Intensive Protection Zone in Tsavo West National Park.
The rhino conservation policy since 1989 has centred on the creation of intensively protected fenced sanctuaries.
Black rhinos have steadily increased within the sanctuaries necessitating removal to avoid negative density dependent effects. However, many established sanctuaries still remain overstocked hence new secure habitats are required.
The current startegy dubbed "Conservation and Management Strategy for the Black Rhino in Kenya 2012-16" sets targets on restocking former free ranging areas which can support large populations.
It also targets the creation of Intensive Protection Zones and secure sanctuaries to achieve its strategic objective of population expansion to reach a confirmed total of 750 black rhinos by end of 2016.
Ten good reasons to save rhinos
1. Rhinos are critically endangered
At the turn of the 19th century, there were approximately one million rhinos. In 1970, there were around 70,000. Today, there are fewer than 24,500 rhinos surviving in the wild.
Three of the five species of rhino are “Critically Endangered” as defined by the IUCN (World Conservation Union). A taxon is classified as critically endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of a range of pre-determined criteria. It is therefore considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. The southern subspecies of the white rhino is classified by the IUCN in the lesser category of being “Near Threatened”; and the Indian rhino is classified as "Vulnerable"even this is considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
In 2005, some of us are lucky enough to be able to travel to Africa and Asia to see them in the wild. In 2035, when our children and grandchildren have grown up, will they still be able to see wild rhinos?
2. Rhinos have been around for 50 million years
Rhinos have been an important part of a wide range of ecosystems for millions of years; we must not let them join the dodo in extinction.
3. Humans have caused the drastic decline in numbers
Poachers kill rhinos for the price they can get for the horns (used for traditional Chinese medicine and for ornamental dagger handles in Yemen); land encroachment, illegal logging and pollution are destroying their habitat; and political conflicts adversely affect conservation programmes.
4. Rhinos are an umbrella species
When protecting and managing a rhino population, rangers and scientists take in account all the other species interacting with rhinos and those sharing the same habitat. When rhinos are protected, many other species are too; not only mammals but also birds, reptiles, fish and insects as well as plants.
5. Rhinos are charismatic mega-herbivores!
By focusing on a well-known animal such as a rhino (or, to use the jargon, a charismatic mega-herbivore), we can raise more money and consequently support more conservation programmes benefiting animal and plant species sharing their habitat.
6. Rhinos attract visitors and tourists
Rhinos are the second-biggest living land mammals after the elephants. Together with lion, giraffe, chimpanzee and polar bear, the rhino is one of the most popular species with zoo visitors. In the wild, rhinos attract tourists who bring money to national parks and local communities. They are one of the “Big Five”, along with lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo.
7. In situ conservation programmes need our help
Protecting and managing a rhino population is a real challenge that costs energy and money. Rhino-range countries need our financial support, and benefit from shared expertise and exchange of ideas.
8. Money funds effective conservation programmes that save rhinos
We know that conservation efforts save species. The Southern white rhino would not exist today if it were not for the work of a few determined people, who brought together the 200 or so individuals surviving, for a managed breeding and re-introduction programme. Today, there are some 17,500 Southern white rhinos.
With more money, we can support more programmes, and not just save rhino populations, but increase numbers and develop populations. The Northern white rhino subspecies may just have become extinct, but it is not too late to save the rest.
9. Many people don’t know that rhinos are critically endangered
Not just that, but how many people know that rhinos also live in Asia? Or that two species have just one horn? Or that the horn is not used as an aphrodisiac? We have even heard some people say that they are carnivores!
If people do not know about these amazing animals and the problems they are facing, how can we expect them to want to do something to help save rhinos?
10. We all have an opportunity to get involved!
You can help us raise awareness of the plight of the rhino! The more we do all together, the more people will learn about rhinos and the more field projects we will be able to support. There are lots of fundraising ideas scattered in the 'Support us' section, as well as ways to donate directly to Save the Rhino. And there are rhino-themed games and puzzles in the 'Rhino info' section!
Southern white rhino now an endangered species
WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- The southern white rhinoceros has been added to the Endangered Species List, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced Tuesday.
That means all five rhino species, three native to Asia and two to Africa, now have the maximum protection possible under U.S. law. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the protections, including a total ban on importing products made from rhinoceros, will begin immediately.
In its official announcement, the department said the southern white has been successfully re-introduced into much of its historic range after being exterminated everywhere except South Africa. The department said one reason for the rule change is the species' close resemblance to the far more endangered northern white, which may be extinct in the wild.
"As both a transit point and consumer destination for illegal rhino horn products, the United States plays a vital role in curbing poaching and wildlife trafficking. Along with extending protection to the southern white rhino, we're evaluating additional regulatory and policy options in an effort to strengthen our ability to investigate and prosecute poachers and traffickers," said Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Powdered rhinoceros horn is a traditional remedy in Chinese medicine, and rhinoceros ivory has also been used for dagger handles in the Arabian peninsula.
In another move to protect a threatened species, the department announced Monday that more than 6 tons of elephant ivory now stored in a Denver-area warehouse will be ground up in October, The Denver Post reported. The ivory includes statues, jewelry and other trinkets fashioned from tusks as well as tusks.
At a White House conference, officials said they are considering other means of combating the slaughter of elephants for their tusks. These include a social media campaign in China, one of the primary markets for ivory, to reduce demand.
The National Wildlife Property Repository at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City is used to store all items coming from endangered species seized at U.S. ports, border crossings and airports. Officials say the repository holds so much ivory that just getting around has become difficult.
Plane donation helps to fight rhino poaching in Kruger Park
Cape Town - Rhino in the Kruger National Park will get additional protection with the donation of a light aeroplane to spot potential poaching activities.
The massive park makes it difficult for ground-based poaching prevention activities.
"The Kruger National Park covers an area of almost 19 633km² - that's roughly the size of Israel," said Bryn Pyne-James, senior general manager for SANParks fundraising.
"Protecting an area that large against poachers with ground-based vehicles alone is impossible, but with air support we have a chance," he added.
Rhino populations are coming under increasing threat and a large percentage have been poached in the national park.
According to the department of environmental affairs (DEA), 553 rhino have been poached in SA so far this year. Of these, 345, or 62%, have been poached in the Kruger Park.
Poaching is on course to nearly double the 668 total of 2012, which was also significantly higher than the 448 poached in 2011.
Rangers in the park had access to an aircraft, and it proved to be effective in deterring poachers.
"We initially used a four-cylinder Bantam light aircraft, which we traded up for a six-cylinder Bantam," said ranger Steven Whitfield. "It proved to be a very important anti-poaching tool."
However, that plane was destroyed in an accident in 2012 and this year, a chance meeting between Vox Telecom CEO Jacques du Toit and senior general manager of San Parks Fundraising, Bryn Pyne-James, resulted the telecoms company donating an aeroplane for use in anti-poaching operations.
"Conserving our natural environment is one of the core aims of our corporate social investment programme, and this was one of the most rewarding investments we could make," said Clayton Timcke head of Marketing at Vox Telecom.
Efforts against poachers are paying off, but more needs to be done on the demand side for horn before rhino populations begin to decline.
The DEA said that 148 poachers have been arrested in 2013, compared to 267 last year, and 232 in 2011, but the WWF said that the focus should be pointed to Asia while continuing to target local poachers.
"I absolutely agree Asia is the root of the problem - obviously in South Africa we must do as much as we can to protect the rhino, but that's not going to solve the problem. I think that's a key point," Dr Jo Shaw, Rhino Co-ordinator for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-SA) told News24.
The park is trying to raise funds to buy four additional aeroplanes to conduct anti-poaching activities.
KNP arrests 24 rhino poachers
Mbombela - Twenty-four suspected rhino poachers have been arrested in the Kruger National Park in the past two weeks, the water and environmental affairs department said on Thursday.
"The law enforcement agencies, and rangers in the Kruger National Park, are commended for their actions and commitment to the fight against rhino poaching," said Water and Environmental Affair Minister Edna Molewa.
The arrests brought to 191 the number of suspected rhino poachers arrested across the country since 1 January.
"Among the total number of rhino poached, 64 have been killed in Limpopo, 62 in KwaZulu-Natal, 62 in North West, and 42 in Mpumalanga," said Molewa.
She said 618 rhino had been poached since the beginning of the year, 381 of them in the Kruger National Park.
"The commitment to conservation requires the support of everyone in order to stem the tide of rhino poaching," Molewa said.
Rhino poaching - Alarming figures
2272 rhinos poached since 2008.
618 since the beginning of 2013.
Image source: http://mugieranch.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/the-tale-of-mugies-rhinos/
Statistics source: http://www.uniteagainstpoaching.co.za/
South Africa's rhino poaching toll passes 600 for the year
Poachers have killed more than 600 rhinos in South Africa so far this year, figures showed Thursday, with losses close to the total number of animals slaughtered in 2012.
South Africa is home to the world's biggest rhino population but killings have surged in recent years to reach 668 animals last year from just 13 reported incidents in 2007.
"The total number of rhino poached since the beginning of the year has increased to 618," said the department of environmental affairs.
More than half were killed in the giant Kruger National Park which borders Mozambique in the east.
The bloodbath is fuelled by black market demand in Asia where consumers falsely believe the horns, the same composition as fingernails, have powerful healing properties.
A total of 191 suspected poachers have been arrested this year, with 24 in the past two weeks.
India - First rhino calf born under ex-situ conservation programme
A rhino gave birth to a male calf in the Assam State Zoo here on Sunday night. This is the first calf born under the ex-situ conservation programme of the Asian rhino. Under the programme, the Assam State Zoo is the coordinating zoo and the Delhi and the Patna Zoos are the participating ones.
The programme aims at having at least 100 healthy rhinos bred in captivity.
The calf was born in an off-display enclosure, constructed with funds from the Central Zoo Authority. The mother, ‘Baghekhaity,’ was rescued from Kaziranga on August 10, 1991 at the age of one. The sire ‘Bishnu’ is zoo-born, aged 26.
Apart from the rhino, the Assam State Zoo has also been selected for ex-situ conservation programme of serow, golden langur, golden cat and grey peacock pheasant.
167 rhino poachers arrested in South Africa this year
Johannesburg - The number of rhino poachers arrested in South Africa this year has reached 167, the environmental affairs department said on Thursday.
"The increase in arrests comes as the total number of rhino poached in South Africa since January 2013 has increased to 587," the department said.
"The Kruger National Park remains hardest hit, having lost 362 rhino to poachers so far this year."
Of the total number of rhino poached, 60 were killed for their horns in both the North West and KwaZulu-Natal, 59 in Limpopo and 39 in Mpumalanga.
The department said government would intensify its efforts in the fight against rhino poaching with stronger international relations.
It had drawn up and negotiated a number of international memorandums of understanding and was in negotiations with countries like Mozambique.
Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa and Mozambique's Tourism Minister Carvalho Muaria agreed in June to a follow up a meeting between South Africa and Mozambican officials to discuss enforcement, environment, and tourism.
"The meeting is to be held in preparation for a further more comprehensive ministerial engagement with Mozambique," the department said.
"The parties will also be discussing comprehensive measures regarding common areas of action to be taken jointly by the countries, and possibly other parties involved in the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park."
This was aimed at combating poaching and the illegal trafficking of rhino horn, elephant tusks and other wildlife related products, with the meeting expected to culminate in an agreement between the two countries.
Poaching was also receiving more attention within the justice, crime prevention, defence and security council of the Southern African Development Community, facilitated by the SA National Defence Force.
Investec is contributing to raise awareness about rhino poaching in South Africa
" At the heart of Investec's values is our firm commitment to society and the environment. To demonstrate this commitment, Investec is responding to the plight of rhino poaching in South Africa by partnering with Dr William Fowlds through a conservation initiative, the Investec Rhino Lifeline.
Investec Rhino Lifeline aims to raise awareness of the rhino crisis and to respond through education, rescue and prevention initiatives. Investec Rhino Lifeline is a partnership with Dr Will Fowlds, a deeply passionate wildlife vet who has been exposed to the rhino crisis through his professional contact with rhino conservation projects and his first-hand experience in dealing with poached rhinos. "
'Surprise' Indian rhino born at Chester Zoontitled news
The birth of the first Indian rhino to be born at a Cheshire zoo was a "surprise", keepers have said.
The rhino, which has been named Komala, was born at Chester Zoo in July but has been kept from public for the first two months of her life.
Curator of mammals Tim Rowlands said keepers had had "a hunch" her mother Asha was pregnant, but were not sure.
He said it had been "rather marvellous to come in and find that Asha had a big bundle of joy [for us]".
The calf, whose Indian name means delicate, was "a proper little bruiser", he said.
Komala, who has almost doubled in size since her arrival on 7 July, weighed about 10 stone (65kg) at birth.
Mr Rowlands said her arrival had "raised a smile amongst the keepers", who have already welcomed three black rhinos in less than a year.
"Our rhino keeping team, and indeed the rhinos themselves, have had the most fantastic few months and clearly our Indian rhinos weren't about to be outdone.
"Although we had an inkling that Asha was pregnant, it was just that - an inkling and a hunch that comes with experienced keepers."
He added that Komala was both a "breeding first for us [and] a bonus for the population of Indian rhinos, which are yet another rhino species being put at risk as they are cruelly and brutally poached for their horn".
Eating Poison Is the Black Rhinos’ Secret to Desert Survival
In the dry season, certain animals have turned to the deadly milk bush for sustenance.
The desert has never been an easy place to make a living. There’s not usually much rain, and the vegetation is sparse and runty. Yet, when I was traveling not long ago in the arid landscape of Namibia, on the southwest coast of Africa, there was wildlife everywhere.
The animals seemed to have adapted to the desert in ways that flouted their very nature. One day, for instance, I watched as a giraffe spread out its front legs and canted its long neck down, not up, to browse on a stunted little thing known, unpromisingly, as the smelly shepherd’s tree.
Later, we stopped at one of the big clumps of milk bush that dot the landscape like haystacks in a Monet painting. The milk bush is actually a succulent, Euphorbia damarana, and it’s found only in this region.
Makumbi Swenyeho, a wildlife guide at Desert Rhino Camp, where I was staying, snapped open one of the pipe-like stems, which promptly bled a white latex liquid. It’s poisonous, he said, and effective enough that Bushmen hunters use it on the tips of their arrows. Contact with the skin can cause severe burning. According to local lore, 11 miners who had been brought into the area to work died just from eating food cooked over a fire built with milk bush branches.
But against all odds, black rhinos have adapted to make it one of their staple foods out here in the desert. They also like the haystack shape of the milk bush so much that they sometimes climb aboard and fall asleep. Locals refer to the flattened remains as a “rhino mattress.”
Gemsbok, big antelopes with a pair of three-foot-long unicorn horns on their foreheads, fled from us up the hillsides, looking like fanciful creatures out of a medieval bestiary. “They can go five or six days without water,” said Swenyeho. That’s remarkable not just because the daytime temperature in the Kunene region where I was visiting can rise to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, but also because a gemsbok can weigh up to about 500 pounds.
Now a new study in PLOS One reveals how the gemsbok do it. Like other antelope, they are primarily grazers, and get much of their water from grass. But the authors, from the University of Namibia and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, wondered what happens in droughts and dry seasons, when the grasses wither away.
The authors note that deserts are likely to spread as a result of climate change, leading to a loss of plant production, and perhaps also to species extinction.
“We therefore asked how antelope species respond to changes in food availability in semi-desert ecosystems,” the authors write. To find out they took tissue samples from gemsbok that had been killed by hunters, and profiled the isotopes left in the flesh by the foods the gemsbok had eaten.
The result: Gemsbok, like black rhinos, turn to the milk bush for sustenance in the dry season. Those pipe-like branches and the milky white liquid make up as much as 40 percent of their diet. No one knows how either species has adapted to handle the potent toxins in the milk bush. But the new study implies that, as the climate changes, other species hoping to avoid extinction may just have to figure out how to eat poison, too.
Rhino poachers shot and killed
JOHANNESBURG - Three rhino poachers were shot dead in the Kruger National Park on Saturday.
SANParks said rangers in the park made contact with a group of six suspected rhino poachers after tracking them for most of Saturday morning.
In the ensuing contact, three men were fatally wounded and three arrested.
One of the arrested men was wounded.
SANParks confirmed that two rifles, ammunition and equipment were recovered.
This comes after a week of successes in the war against rhino poaching.
In Mozambique, rangers had encountered three separate groups trying to poach rhino in the Kruger Park.
A suspect was also shot and killed at the Crocodile Bridge and two horns were recovered. More than 515 rhino have been killed in and around the country this year – the majority in the Kruger Park.
Pregnant rhino poached on doorstep of the Kenya Wildlife Service
Kenya Wildlife Service trumpet about new anti-poaching ‘crack unit' whilst rhino killed in its own back yard
August 2013. A pregnant white rhino has been killed by poachers in the Nairobi National Park. Whilst hundreds of rhino have been killed across eastern and especially southern Africa this year, this particular piece of butchery is all the more shocking as it happened within a few miles of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) HQ on the edge of the Nairobi National Park.
The KWS HQ sits on the edge of the park, and is bristling with staff and armed rangers (though as someone whose car was broken into whilst visiting KWS HQ perhaps this should be no surprise), and much of the park is fenced so it was thought to be a very secure place for the wildlife. However the demand for rhino horn in Asia has pushed the price so high that poachers are prepared to take more and more risks, and perhaps to pass on some of their illegal gains to others to turn a blind eye.
That is not to say that most people at the KWS are not dedicated to protecting the wildlife, and it must be remembered that two rangers have already lost their lives this year at the hands of poachers, and another was shot just last week at Lake Nakuru (Another centre for rhino rescue previously thought secure).
Elite Inter-Agency Anti-Poaching Unit
In an effort to step up the fight against the poaching scourge, the Kenyan Government has formed a special inter-agency crack-unit to combat poaching in the country. The anti-poaching unit named the Elite Inter-Agency Anti-Poaching Unit comprises of security officers from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the Administration Police (AP) and the General Service Unit (GSU).
The special unit, which shall be under the command of KWS, will undergo a joint training at the KWS Law Enforcement Academy (LEA) at Manyani before deployment to poaching hotspot areas of Narok, Tsavo and Isiolo.
The Government has committed to provide facilitation and equipment to support the Elite Inter-Agency Anti-Poaching Unit operations. The Government shall also deploy aerial surveillance support to enhance their capacity to deal with poaching incidents. The unit will be supported by the governments of Kenya, Unites States, China and the United Kingdom through their respective embassies in Nairobi.
A total of 190 elephants and 34 rhinos have been killed so far this year while KWS has lost two rangers in encounters with poachers. However, plans are underway to recruit an additional 1000 KWs rangers to overcome these challenges and effectively tackle poaching.
KWS has also adopted a multi-faceted approach to eliminate the poaching vice. The organization has actively engaged communities living next to wildlife sanctuaries through conservation education on the negative impacts of poaching. Consumers of illegal wildlife products, both local and international are being sensitized on their indirect contribution to poaching by buying such products. KWS also urges the Judiciary to mete out deterrent sentences to smugglers of wildlife products.
Rhino poacher jailed in Johannesburg
A man was sentenced in effect to 14 years in prison for poaching by the Nelspruit Regional Court on Thursday.
A Sapa correspondent reported that rangers arrested 21-year-old Leonard Mhlongo, from Mozambique, and his co-accused Kenneth Sibiya, in the Mjokwane section of the Kruger National Park (KNP) on 19 January.
They had killed and dehorned a black rhino cow and its calf.
Prosecutor Isbet Erwee told the court the two men were found in possession of three black rhino horns, two from the cow and one from its calf. She said a third suspect, who carried the rifle used in the killing, escaped when the two men were arrested.
The two faced charges of entering the KNP to commit a restricted activity without obtaining permission from management, and two charges of performing a restricted activity in a designated area.
"The other accused, Sibiya, skipped bail and has disappeared. Police are tracking his whereabouts," Erwee said. In a statement read out in court, Mhlongo, who worked in Mozambique and earned about R1 230 per month, said Sibiya fetched him from home and invited him to come work in South Africa.
"I did unlawfully cross and enter the border into the Kruger National Park with Sibiya. After we met up with another man inside the park, it was when I realised what they wanted us to do," he said.
"I had no authority to kill the two rhino and I request the court for a fine as I plan to raise R20 000 to pay,” he said.
In passing sentence, magistrate Edward Hall said that according to Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, if no solution was found to stop the killing of rhino, there would be none left in the country by 2026.
"It is a nationwide problem as we read in newspapers every day. The accused is from Mozambique and a second one skipped bail, which shows the attitude of poachers.
"To enter illegally in the KNP with a firearm is a planned criminal activity. The calf could have been saved and been there for generations to come, but it was killed together with its mother,” Hall said.
Hall said the number of rhino killed in the current year to August exceeded last year’s figure by 140.
He sentenced Mhlongo to four years in prison for entering the KNP illegally, 10 years for killing the rhino cow, and eight years for killing the calf. The eight years would run concurrently with the 10 years. Mhlongo was declared unfit to own a firearm.
Support President Obama's $10 Million Fight Against Wildlife Crime
Rhinos, elephants, and tigers are threatened by wildlife crime every day— ruthless individuals bribe officials and intimidate communities to acquire animal parts such as horns and tusks. Stand with President Obama and the WWF to strengthen wildlife enforcement in key African countries.
President Obama recently pledged $10 million toward ending illegal wildlife trafficking in Africa to prevent animal slaughter. The trade generates $7-10 billion per year, and as a result endangered animals have been hunted to near extinction— 300,000 elephants are killed every year. Moreover, criminal organizations and militant groups are responsible for murdering at least 1,000 park rangers over the last decade.
Kenya has announced a crackdown on illegal trading, but we need solidarity in our efforts. If these animals become extinct it'll be too late. Stand with WWF and end wildlife crime today!
Rhino born at Zoo Atlanta
A newborn eastern black rhinoceros can call Atlanta home.
Andazi, a 7-year-old rhino, gave birth to a male calf late Saturday evening, according to a press release from Zoo Atlanta. It is the first eastern black rhino to be born at Zoo Atlanta.
Deputy Director of Zoo Atlanta Dwight Lawson said the calf is in good health.
“The mom and calf are bonding and things appear to be going well,” Lawson said.
The calf does not have a name yet and a date for public viewing has not been determined, Lawson said.
Andazi and her 9-year-old mate, Utenzi, were recommended to breed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Rhino Species Survival Plan, according to the release. This is the first calf by Andazi and Utenzi and he will not share space with his parents. Black rhinos are solitary in the wild and only come together for breeding.
Lawson said the rhino population recently has taken a dramatic hit due to poaching. Being able to breed one is special, he said.
Andazi was confirmed pregnant in December 2012. Rhinos typically have one of the animal kingdom’s longer gestation periods ranging from 14 to 18 months, according to the news release.
Kenyan Government establishes special unit to tackle poaching
On 8 August 2013, the Kenyan Government announced that it has formed a special inter-agency unit to combat the increasing poaching in the country. The anti-poaching unit, known as the Elite Inter-Agency Anti-Poaching Unit comprises security officers from the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), the Administration Police (AP) and the General Service Unit (GSU).
The unit, which will be under the command of KWS, will undergo a joint training at the KWS Law Enforcement Academy, before being deploted to poaching hotspot areas of Narok, Tsavo and Isiolo.
Speaking about the unit, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary Prof Wakhungu said Urgent and decisive action now needs to be taken to eliminate the escalating poaching crisis which has now become both a national and economic issue
She went on to add that the Government has committed to provide facilitation and equipment to the unit and it will also deploy aerial surveillance support to increase the capacity to deal with poaching incidents.
The unit will be supported by the governments of Kenya, Unites States, China and the United Kingdom through their respective embassies in Nairobi.
Poached rhino Limpopo South Africa (C) Sarah NelsonWildlife poaching in Kenya is increasing at an alarming rate. The Kenyan Wildlife Service has announced that 34 rhinos and 190 elephants have been killed so far during 2013, while two rangers from the Kenyan Wildlife Service have recently lost their lives to poachers. In early August, there were also reports that a KWS ranger was shot and injured by suspected poachers during a gunfight in Lake Nakuru National Park.
On 9 August 2013, a female pregnant white rhino was killed and dehorned in Nairobi National Park, which is home to the Kenya Wildlife Services’ headquarters. The Park is heavily protected and located just 7km from Nairobi’s city centre. It is the first rhino poaching incident in the Park for six years, indicating the seriousness of the recent increase in poaching.
The Kenyan Wildlife Service hopes to recruit an additional 1000 rangers to overcome these challenges and effectively tackle poaching.
UPDATE - 540 rhinos dead by beginning of August 2013
With five months to go, South Africa’s rhino-poaching toll for 2013 had already shot well past the 500 mark. At a recent meeting in Johannesburg stakeholders have been taking stock of strategies to put a brake on the killing spree.
With 536 rhinos killed in the country by the end of July, it seemed highly likely that conservationists’ worst fear would come true. This is that the death toll for the year will surpass 2012?s shocking 668 and head for 1,000.
This would mean that humankind might for the second time in less than a century be threatening to wipe out this iconic animal that walked the planet for many millennia before us. The last time the rhino was headed for extinction was during the first half of the previous century. Then it was thanks only to the desperate efforts of a few park rangers that it got saved from mindless hunting.
At the rate it is going, say conservationists, the death rate will in three years’ time start exceeding births, and that would put South Africa’s white rhino population of about 20,000 in decline and pose an even more immediate threat to the endangered black rhino of which there are hardly more than 2,000 left in the country.
Yet, grim as the news was, the impression from the Johannesburg meeting was that good progress was being made with the development of a comprehensive strategy for tackling the scourge on many fronts. It was even tentatively suggested that the rate of killing could start being turned round within a year or so.
The initiative is being co-ordinated by central government’s Department of Environmental Affairs, whose deputy director general of biodiversity and conservation, Fundisile Mketeni, told the Johannesburg meeting: “We in government understand the rising anger at what is happening to our rhinos. But let us look at intervention holistically. We are in this thing together. Let us take hands.”
The audience was made up of police and military top brass, government officials, delegates from South African National Parks (SANParks) and provincial park agencies, private reserve and game ranch owners, environmentalists and a number of non-governmental organizations concerned with conservation.
The main theme was how to develop a cohesive strategy against the rhino poachers and their crime-syndicate bosses who recruit them from mainly poor communities and who smuggle the horn for the most part to Far Eastern destinations where it is taken in powder form under the age-old but sadly mistaken belief that it has curative and even stimulative qualities.
Discussions were centered on a report submitted to the Ministry of Environmental Affairs late last year by Mavuso Msimang, a former SANParks chief executive, who was appointed by government last year to gather views through public hearings and workshops on how best to tackle the problem of rhino poaching. His main conclusion, too, was that there was no “silver bullet” and that the only way of countering the menace was through a multi-pronged strategy.
Mketeni said he and his department agreed there was no single solution, whether it be more effective law enforcement, or reopening legal trade in rhino horn (which is being proposed as a way of undercutting the illegal trade and generating funds for rhino conservation). It had to be a comprehensive approach, he stressed.
From everything said, it is clear that law enforcement remains the main thrust of the operation. There has indeed been a steady improvement in the rate of arrests and convictions. This is put down in large part to better intelligence-gathering, more help from the public and more efficient detect-and-arrest operations by the National Wildlife Crime Reaction Unit set up last year to coordinate operations between the police’s organized crime unit, the environmental crime agencies of national and provincial park services, the prosecuting authorities, and the customs and excise and revenue services.
A DNA bank developed at the University of Pretoria’s Onderstepoort veterinary faculty has proved of growing help in linking suspects to the dead animals, securing convictions.
As helpful has been a better understanding on the part of judicial officers of the complexities and the seriousness of the crime. It has seen tougher sentences being meted out, the most notable being the 40 years in prison given last year to Thai citizen Chumlong Lemtongthai for using prostitutes to pose as hunters so that he could sell rhino horn acquired under the guise of being legally obtained trophies to fake-medicine peddlers in the Far East.
Environmentalists hope such sentences will start serving as a deterrent to would-be poachers. They are also working at getting the judiciary to impose jail sentences rather than fines, which the criminals mostly have no trouble paying from the handsome proceeds of their crime.
To back up the wide-ranging campaign, the government is setting up a national rhino fund to help cover its spiraling cost. The idea is to ensure that public funds and donations made by the private sector get used in a more controlled way.
The aim is to set up a register of all rhino-protection organizations. So many have sprung up on the back of public sentiment that there has been growing concern that some of the money collected through can-shaking at shop fronts and other means is ending up in people’s own pockets.
The permitting system for legal hunts is also being tightened. The power to issue such permits resorts with South Africa’s nine provinces. The different and lax applications of the regulations have been leading to much abuse, as in the Lemtongthai case.
To try to overcome this by centralizing the permitting system would set off a constitutional wrangle because of central government’s intrusion into provincial competencies. To get around the problem, a law has just been passed that provides for the creation of a national database that will include a register of all professional hunters and hunting operators. Permit abuses could result in them being scratched from the register and losing their operating licenses.
Much of the discussion at the Johannesburg meeting was dominated by the controversial and sometimes emotional issue of whether to reopen legal trade in rhino horn. The idea is that the horn should come from the existing government and private stockpiles obtained mainly from natural deaths, confiscated booty and dehorning. Some argued it would bring better understanding of the market and allow better control of it. Others wanted to know how one may discourage a habit by feeding it.
Keith Lockwood, an economist and econometric modeling specialist, sounded a cautionary note. He agreed that part of the strategy should be to reduce demand for rhino horn such as through public information and education campaigns in countries like China and Vietnam, with which South Africa has concluded memorandums of understanding. But neither this nor legal trade was without complexities, he warned.
With the increased wealth of people in those countries being the major reason for the upsurge in demand for rhino horn, it would be a mistake to believe the market could be shrunk by educating consumers about the fallacy of its medicinal qualities. Research showed that the market was actually growing. It showed that for every one person using rhino horn, there were five who would have liked to use it if they had the means to get it.
Lockwood said care would need to be taken about how stockpiles of horn got released through legal trade. The syndicate bosses behind the poaching and smuggling were business people. A sudden drop in price as a result of stockpiles getting released too quickly could make the syndicates kill more rhinos to make up for lost revenue. Or, if opportunities got closed to them in one country, they would turn their business to other countries. They would even turn to other animals if it became too difficult to supply rhino horn.
“We need to move away from simplistic, dogmatic and idealistic solutions. Trade needs to be part of a bigger strategy. We need to look at protecting our biodiversity as a whole,” he warned.
Of all aspects of the anti-poaching campaign though, it is going to be what happens in Kruger National Park, home to nearly half South Africa’s rhino population, that will determine its success or otherwise. It is in that 20,000-square-kilometer (7,722-square-mile) stretch of mostly savannah that the deadliest battle is being fought to keep the criminals at bay.
Of the 536 rhinos killed in South Africa during the first seven months of 2013, no fewer than 334 perished in the country’s flagship park. This despite a drastic tightening of security, involving the deployment of police and military units and the use of drones and helicopters to assist a growing corps of combat-trained rangers who do day and night patrols of the park’s worst affected areas.
There is now hope of turning the situation around.
The worst problem has been that of poachers coming across the park’s 375-kilometer (233-mile) border with Mozambique to carry out their raids. It is a vast territory to patrol and the dense vegetation offers them good cover. More and more often encounters with the park’s security forces have been turning into shootouts in which mostly poachers died, though a ranger, too, was seriously wounded in one such skirmish recently.
Most irritating to Major General Johan Jooste, a military veteran from southern Africa’s bush-war era who heads up the park’s combined security forces, has been the ability of the poachers to escape by fleeing back across the border. Some, he says, will actually wave mockingly at their pursuers once back on Mozambique soil.
They might not be able to do so much longer. The two governments and their security agencies seem finally prepared to co-operate in getting at the criminals. They have even been talking about reviving the principle of “hot pursuit”, which will allow the park’s security personnel to go after poachers even when they cross the border.
On its part, Mozambique is preparing to pass legislation to turn wildlife offenses from misdemeanors into full-blown felonies. The view has been that its lax laws have been heavily responsible for drawing the big international crime syndicates to rhino-poaching operations inside its borders and to using Maputo harbor and airport as smuggling exits.
Much will depend on how quickly and how well the two sides’ security forces get to co-operate. Big-time criminals and much money are involved, and corruption runs deep on both sides. And there is considerable mistrust, even antagonism, that needs to be overcome before they can together start putting the poachers and their bosses on the back foot
Posted by Leon Marshall of Environmental Journalist, News Watch South African Contributor on August 6, 2013
European rhino horn smuggling ring uncovered...
Czech authorities have seized 24 white rhino horns and charged 16 suspected members of an international ring smuggling the horns to Asia. Details of the seizure were released by the country's customs department.
Customs and police officials revealed that the horns were worth approximately $5 million and were destined for Asia where they would fetch high prices on the illegal black market.
Police and customs officials said the criminal syndicates had links to 'pseudo-hunting' in South Africa. The gang managed to get around legal loopholes by employing proxy hunters who can get permission to legally shoot one rhino in South Africa and take the horn as a trophy, strictly for non-commercial purposes.
Concerns of Czech proxy hunters were reported by CITES earlier this year (see news article February 2013 Is the Czech Republic a new player in the illegal rhino horn trade?) when authorities became aware of an increase in hunting permit applications from other countries not historically associated with rhino trophy hunting including The Czech Republic and Poland.
Talking of the proxy hunters, customs officer Ales Hruby said "they were paid by the gang to hunt rhinos in the South African Republic bring the rhino horns as hunters' trophies to the EU,"
The Czech authorities did not give the nationalities of the suspects.
The suspects face up to 8-years in prison if found guilty.
Sources: http://www.savetherhino.org/latest_news/news/754_czech_authorities_uncover_major_rhino_horn_smuggling_case; http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/23/us-czech-rhinos-idUSBRE96M0JX20130723
Rhino death toll exceeds 500 by July 2013
More than 500 South African rhinos have been killed this year, official figures showed on July 24th, amid strong demand for horns on the Asian black market.
"As of yesterday (Tuesday), a total of 515 rhino have been killed so far this year," said the environment ministry's deputy director general Fundisile Mketeni. The lucrative Asian black market for rhino horn has driven a boom in poaching in South Africa, which has the largest rhino population in the world. Many of the killings are thought to be perpetrated by poachers from global syndicates.
On Tuesday Czech authorities charged 16 people from a gang that sent registered hunters to South Africa who returned with horns that were to be sent on to Asian countries. Customs officers seized 24 rhino horns, worth an estimated 3.9 million euros ($5.1 million). Last year, 668 rhinos were killed in South Africa, a record high that could be surpassed if the poaching continues at today's pace.
The army's deployment in the hardest-hit area, the Kruger National Park, has done little to stem the killings.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/07/24/over-500-rhinos-poached-in-south-africa-this-year/#ixzz2anop4kvN
South Africa: Rhino Poaching Update
PRESS RELEASE JULY 18 2013 - South African Government
The total number of rhinos poached in South Africa since the beginning of the year has increased to 488 with 142 alleged poachers being arrested.
The Kruger National Park has borne the brunt of rhino poaching since the start of 2013. A total of 300 rhinos have been poached in the Park since January 1. A total of 53 rhinos have been poached in North West, 52 in Limpopo, 43 in KwaZulu-Natal, 35 in Mpumalanga, three in Gauteng and two in the Eastern Cape.
Of the 142 alleged poachers arrested, 62 have been caught in the Kruger National Park and 30 in KwaZulu-Natal. A total of 27 suspected poachers have been arrested in Limpopo, 11 in North West province, nine in Mpumalanga and three in Gauteng. Five people have been charged with being couriers.
South Africans are urged to report incidents of poaching and tip-offs to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211
Rhino deaths continue to climb
LATEST FIGURE - 467 Rhinos now dead. Six more than when this article was published Just four days ago:
New plan to flood the market with stockpiled rhino horn will knock the bottom out of the black market trade
South Africa, home to three quarters of the world’s rhinos, will apply to Cites – at the next meeting in South Africa in 2016 – to introduce regulated international trade in rhino horn. Environment Minister Edna Molewa made the announcement at a press conference on the 3rd July that South Africa will lobby for a one-off sale of their 18-ton stockpile of rhino horn to flood the market which will make prices plummet, slash demand and make the risks associated with poaching become untenable.
The situation is clearly desperate: all the money and commitment devoted to this cause, including a para-military operation in the Kruger National Park, is still not stemming the carnage. So far this year, at least 446 rhinos have been poached nationwide, and experts warn that the final toll for 2013 could reach 1 000.
Source : http://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/editorial-dilemma-of-the-horns-1.1542245
At least 446 rhinos killed so far this year
New figures from the DEA – 79 more South African rhinos were poached in June, at least 446 rhinos killed so far this year bringing the toll to 2100 since 2008. Experts warn that the final toll for 2013 could reach 1000.
Rhino killings to reach almost 1000 in 2013 at current rate
Latest figures issued by the DEA on 26 June 2013 show rhino deaths from poaching have reached 446 individuals since January. News reports now predict that, if this rate continues until December, poachers are likely to set a new record of almost 1000 rhino killings in South Africa in a single year.
Reflecting on Mandela - "The eyes have turned to my country"
Roland Vincent is glued to the news to stay informed of the health of Nelson Mandela ‘He is a great man who made history and it is not for nothing that the world is interested in him. As a South African, I have a deep respect for what he has done and for him’.
94 more Rhinos poached during April 2013
367 South African rhinos were poached from January until the end of May 2013. These figures issued by the DEA (http://www.stoprhinopoaching.com/statistics.aspx) bring the death toll to over 2000 since 2008 - approximately 10% of today’s remaining population of South African White and Black Rhino.
Rising illicit demand for rhino horn has pushed poaching of African rhinos to crisis levels. A new solution must be urgently found, please help Africa Cries to spread the word by watching and sharing our short films.
273 Rhinos Poached from January to 30 April 2013
273 rhinos were poached from January 2013 until the 30th of April. The amount has drastically increased and we are face with an alarming situation where we are doing our utmost to stop the slaughter of those poor animals. Join Africa Cries and together let us put an end to those cruelties.
Africa Cries Event Held at Blue Label Telecoms Johannesburg on the 17th April 2013.
Invitation to Blue Label Telecoms, Johannesburg.
Join film producer Roland Vincent, as he shows you the "Real Africa" in his heart-felt movies
Meet John Hume, the biggest Rhino owner in the world as he shares with us the problems and solutions for rhino.
We would like you to join us, as our guests at Blue Label Telecoms 75 Grayston Drive Morningside, Johannesburg on the 17th April 2013.
Time: 6.30 pm
Dress Code: Smart Casual
Tel.: 031 - 5640360
Master of Ceremonies: Terence Pillay
Invitation to The Ambassador Hotel, Sea Point
Join film producer Roland Vincent, as he shows you the "Real Africa" in his heart-felt movies
Meet John Hume, the biggest Rhino owner in the world as he shares with us the problems and solutions for rhino.
We would like you to join us, as our guests at The Ambassador Hotel Sea Point CT on the 25th April 2013.
Time: 6.30 pm
Dress Code: Smart Casual
Tel.: 031 - 5640360
Master of Ceremonies: Terence Pillay
Africa Cries Event in Durban- Endless Horizons
Africa Cries in partnership with Illovo Sugar & Blue Label Telecoms expose the desecration of African wildlife through indiscriminate poaching.
On the 20 March2012, Africa Cries unveils short films at the gala event hosted at the Endless Horizon's Hotel in Durban North, Durban, South Africa. Invited guest speaker, John Hume, the largest Rhino owner in South Africa
JOIN OUR CAUSE! Like us on Facebook and you might win your flight + 5 Night Stay in The Soroi Lodge - Serengeti.
Africa Cries - Interview at East Coast Radio in Durban
Roland Vincent, Director of Africa Cries Film Production was interviewed on East Coast Radio. We have to bring awareness to everyone about this dramatic situation.
203 rhinos were poached from January 2013 until the beginning of April. The amount has drastically increased and we are face with an alarming situation where we are doing our utmost to stop the slaughter of those poor animals. Join Africa Cries and together let us put an end to those cruelties.
JOIN OUR CAUSE! Like us on Facebook And you might win your flight + 5 Night Stay in The Soroi Lodge - Serengeti.
Last rhino standing
Poaching and greed stand in the way of a future for this doomed and iconic animal
VALUE is determined by the price people are willing to pay, and the sad reality is that rhino are worth more dead than alive.
Is this something we should just sit by and watch only to later reminisce about the days when rhino roamed? Will you be able to admit that you lived through their extinction and did nothing about it? This was discussed at a recent presentation for the launch of the Africa Cries - Making a Difference project at the Endless Horizons Hotel.
“The onus to protect our resources can no longer solely reside with the government, but lies with each of us, including private business,” said Illovo Sugar SA’s Darrell DE Wet, the sponsor of Africa Cries. Celebrity guests from around the country were left speechless after watching a short documentary on the savage butchery of the rhino population.
It is one thing to read the stats, quite another to witness a rhino with half its face hacked off, writhing in agony, trying to make sense of the trauma, stumbling around before dying a slow and painful death,” said De Wet.
“If we want our children to enjoy the privileges we have, we need to put up our hands and help with the plight of our wildlife. We can’t sit back and have our heritage taken away from us. We can no longer think someone else will assist.”
Guest speaker John Hume, the largest private rhino breeder in the world, gave a compelling talk on the statistics of poaching throughout the years and why it was necessary to legalize the trade of rhino horn. “We are losing the war, and it is almost too late.” Poaching, he explained, was lucrative, especially when the price of horn was unrealistically high.
“Poachers are killing a rhino for eight to ten kilograms of horn, whereas a live rhino will grow more than 60 kilograms of horn,” Hume said, painting a clear picture of why poaching has escalated, and how the law had killed any incentive to breed them. Hume needs four permits to dehorn a rhino, putting his entire operation at risk of leaks in the process and endangering his staff and rhino.
He then needs to find secure locations to store the worthless yet priceless horn.
The value of legalizing the horn trade outweighed the savage price
South Africa was paying for the ban on trade, he said.
“Rhino are worth more alive, if we legalize trade, and stop killing them for a horn that will grow back,” Hume said, despondent over failed attempts to save the rhino. He has dehorned 1 000 rhino over the years, and said it protected the males from themselves.
So why is it still easier to buy a hunting permit, or poach, than it is to breed and save this species from extinction? Visit www.rhinodotcom.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.africacries.com.
Illovo Sugar supports Africa Cries initiative
ILLOVO Sugar South Africa Limited hosted an informative fund-raising event in aid of Africa Cries Film Productions at the Endless Horizons Hotel, Durban last month.
Guests from various backgrounds and interests attended the event to support Africa Cries’ drive to raise awareness about South Africa’s rhino-poaching crisis.
Illovo hosted this event to demonstrate how business can be a part of a solution to the rhino’s plight. South African businesses must stand up and be counted if the country’s rich heritage is to be preserved.
“When the name South Africa is mentioned, images of our rich wildlife heritage come to the fore. But sadly this heritage is under threat," Illovo Sugar South Africa’s Darrell de Wet said.
"The onus to protect our resources can no longer solely reside with the government, but lies with each of us, including private business.”
Guests were treated to canapés and wine while watching the screening of film producer Roland Vincent’s wildlife production. John Hume, the owner of the most rhinos worldwide, gave an engaging talk on the problems and solutions that the rhino currently faces.
Pledge forms were available at the event to support Africa Cries Film Productions and in addition all proceeds from the event will go to Africa Cries.
De Wet said Illovo Sugar was committed to supporting the project through involving communities and promoting sustainable tourism.
203 Rhinos Poached from January to April 2013
203 rhinos were poached from January 2013 until the beginning of April. The amount has drastically increased and we are face with an alarming situation where we are doing our utmost to stop the slaughter of those poor animals. Join Africa Cries and together let us put an end to those cruelties.
Africa Cries First event!
We are proud to invite you to our first event.
Join Film Producer, Roland Vincent as he shows you the ''real Africa'' in his heart-felt movies.
Meet John Hume, The biggest Rhino owner in the world as he share with us the problems and solutions for the Rhino.
Discover more about our project, our upcoming movies and also our long term objective.
If you feel concerned, don't hesitate to contact us on email@example.com
Tanzania: Govt's Anti-Poaching Drive Gets Support
The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki, and the Deputy Secretary, US department of Interior, Mr David Hayes, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) here on Monday aimed at addressing the problem.
Ambassador Kagasheki said the MoU will further existing relations between the two countries in developing tourism and wildlife sector, to bring more economic benefits.
"The natural resources that the country is abundantly blessed with should benefit all Tanzanians, and this is part of steps to ensure that this is realized," he explained. The minister noted that the two governments are planning to hold a conference in Tanzania on poaching, to find ways to help rescue African elephants.
The US Deputy Secretary, Department of |Interior said Tanzania's tourism and wildlife sector has the potential to boost the nation economically. Mr Hayes, who was visibly impressed by the country's landscape, describing it as magnificent and wonderful, said the two governments have had a long partnership in the area.
"The MoU renews the commitment between the two governments," he explained. The chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resource and Environment, Mr James Lembeli, commended Ambassador Kagasheki for his good work at the ministry.
He said the MoU, signed between the two governments, will help bring to an end poaching in the country. Five WMAs were targeted including Ikona, Burunge, Enduimet, Mbomipa and Ipole, to begin cash for work programme to help develop needed infrastructure consisting of branding and marketing of WMAs, training of village scouts, hunting concession management training and development of a coordinated monitoring system.
Both USAID and US Department of Interior have provided assistance to WMAs in the country, through the cash for work programme. WMAs are community owned and managed conservation areas that work to conserve wildlife and their habitats at the same time bring benefits to local communities.
The US government has supported the establishment of WMAs in Tanzania since 1998, both in the form of policy and institutional development and implementation.
3 rhinos killed in North West
Central Africa: Head of UN-Backed Treaty
The head of a United Nations-backed treaty for the conservation of endangered species has welcomed a call from the Security Council for an investigation into the alleged involvement of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in the poaching of African elephants and smuggling of their ivory.
"The historic call made by the UN Security Council reinforces concerns about the links between illicit wildlife trafficking and regional security in Africa," said the Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), John E. Scanlon.
"The CITES Secretariat is ready to work with its partners to support efforts to investigate the involvement of rebel militias in wildlife crime," he added. CITES is the only global convention addressing international trade in wildlife.
In a presidential statement issued last week, the Security Council called "on the United Nations and African Union to jointly investigate the Lord's Resistance Army logistical networks and possible sources of illicit financing, including alleged involvement in elephant poaching and related illicit smuggling."
The LRA was formed in the 1980s in Uganda and for over 15 years its attacks were mainly directed against Ugandan civilians and security forces, which in 2002 dislodged the rebels. Since then, they exported their activities to Uganda's neighbours, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
The armed group is notorious for carrying out massacres in villages, mutilating its victims and abducting boys for use as child soldiers, while girls are often forced into sexual slavery.
According to a CITES news release, some States are currently experiencing a serious spike in the illegal killing of African elephants and rhinos and the related illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn.
Data compiled from the CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme suggests an ongoing increase in levels of illegal killing of elephants since 2006, with 2011 displaying the highest levels of poaching since MIKE records began in 2002. These findings are supported by information available from the Elephant Trade Information System, which confirms 2011 as the worst year on record for ivory seizures, with the period 2009-2011 including three of the top four years in which the largest quantities of ivory were seized.
In addition, the illegal killings of large number of elephants for their ivory are increasingly involving organised crime and in some cases well-armed militias.
For example, in Bouba N'Djida National Park, in northern Cameroon, up to 450 elephants were allegedly killed by groups from Chad and Sudan early this year. The poached ivory is believed to be exchanged against money, weapons and ammunition to support conflicts in neighbouring countries, according to CITES.
Another example of this type of poaching was the illegal killing of 22 elephants in the DRC's Garamba National Park in April this year - apparently shot from a helicopter with a high level of marksmanship and in a single raid.
With 176 Member States, CITES is one of the world's most powerful tools for biodiversity conservation, regulating international trade in close to 35,000 species of plants and animals, including their products and derivatives, ensuring their survival in the wild with benefits for the livelihoods of local people and the global environment.
In last week's presidential statement, the Security Council also strongly condemned the ongoing attacks and atrocities carried out by the LRA and urged that the United Nations regional strategy designed to tackle the threat be carried out as soon as possible.
The regional strategy, which was endorsed by the Council in June, focuses on five key strategic objectives to address the LRA threat. They include support for the full operationalization and implementation of the African Union regional cooperation initiative against the LRA; enhancing efforts to promote the protection of civilians; and expanding current disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration activities to cover all LRA-affected areas.
Rhinos, in Black and White
HUNTED ALMOST to extinction in the nineteenth century, the white rhino found refuge in the Imfolozi and Hluhluwe (pronounced shloo-shloo-wee) reserves, created at the turn of the twentieth century after their numbers dropped to around 100. By the time noted conservationist Ian Player was head warden of Imfolozi in the late 1950s, this cradle of rhino conservation held South Africa’s entire population of 650 animals. Determined to ensure the species’ survival, Player and his colleagues launched Operation Rhino in 1960, a translocation program that would move Imfolozi’s excess rhinos to other reserves in South Africa, to other African countries, and to zoos around the world, creating breeding programs that were unmatched in modern wildlife conservation. The fruits of this program are evident in South Africa’s significant white rhino population of more than 16,000, the very rhinos that are now under threat from poachers.
Millions of dollars are being pumped into save-the-rhino campaigns and anti-poaching activities both public and private, yet South African conservationists are anticipating a loss of 600 rhinos in 2012 (final counts were not available at press time), compared with 448 in 2011 and 330 in 2010. The main target is Kruger Park, which at 7,700 square miles is about the size of Israel and is estimated to have more than 10,000 rhinos—the largest population on earth. There were 252 Kruger rhinos poached in 2011, a 73 percent increase from 2010. Contributing to the spike is the fact that the park’s 500 rangers each patrol roughly 15 square miles (the International Union for the Conservation of Nature recommends at least one ranger per four square miles); furthermore, Kruger shares a 200-mile-long border with Mozambique, allowing poachers from that country to cross the border with relative ease. And though most rangers are reliable and honest, some have been lured into helping poachers in return for a slice of the high price for rhino horn: It sells on the Asian black market for almost $30,000 a pound, which makes it more expensive than gold. “This is a huge area to patrol, and you’re lucky if you find a set of footprints,” says Ken Maggs, head of the South Africa National Parks’ Environmental Crime Investigation unit. “The elements, the remoteness, and the vastness of the place are against you.”
Over my first seven days in the country, 18 rhinos are reported killed by poachers.
WILLIAM FOWLDS is a 41-year-old wildlife veterinarian whose family owns Amakhala, one of a group of privately operated Eastern Cape game reserves that have sprung up over the last two decades. They appeal to American and European tourists because they are malaria-free and stocked with wildlife brought in from other reserves. Amakhala received its first rhino in March 2003.
“The day the rhino arrived, the local children were given the day off from school. It was an amazing experience, and you could feel the change in the place just because of the presence of this animal. We took a giant leap forward that day from being a farm to becoming a wilderness.”
The rhino eventually gave birth to a male, which Fowlds named Geza and sold to a neighboring reserve. In February 2011, he received an emergency call from the staff at that reserve. They had found a rhino that had been darted by poachers with M99, a chemical compound 10,000 times more potent than morphine, and whose horns had been hacked off with axes. The rhino was still alive. Fowlds rushed to the reserve and recognized the rhino right away, despite its disfigured appearance. It was Geza.
“Seeing a living animal without a face was truly horrendous,” Fowlds recalls. “One leg was badly damaged, so he was stumbling around, faceless, with pieces of tissue hanging off his wounds. I darted him again, assessed his injuries, and decided to put him to sleep. That changed my life completely. I was transformed from someone who was quite hard and didn’t show his emotions easily into an emotional basket case, which I remain. We have to stop this hateful trade. But how long will it take to do this, and how much time do we have?”
NOT ALL of the rhino darting going on in South Africa’s private reserves is being done by poachers. In fact, some of it may well begin to turn the tide against them. Fowlds belongs to a small group of conservationists who are darting rhinos to take DNA samples that are then submitted to a central database at the Onderstepoort Veterinary Genetics Laboratory in Pretoria.
This program, known as RhODIS (Rhino DNA Index System), has been in operation for less than two years, and 3,500 animals are already in the database. Conservationists say that the potential of RhODIS as a crime-fighting weapon is enormous: DNA profiling can link those in possession of a horn to a particular crime, establish a connection between rhino blood found on perpetrators and a particular horn or carcass, and link end-users of horn with the dead animal. The program has already contributed to successful prosecutions for both possession and smuggling of horns. Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe are also beginning to submit DNA profiles to Onderstepoort. The $2,250-per-rhino price tag is steep, especially for cash-strapped conservancies, but Ken Maggs, the head of South Africa National Parks’ environmental crime investigation unit, says that RhODIS has been the single biggest breakthrough for criminal prosecutions.
Arrests of poachers and traffickers have increased from 165 in 2010 to 232 in 2011, with 170 already made by mid-2012. Sentences are also becoming more and more severe. For instance, a Vietnamese national who was convicted in 2009 of possessing four rhino horns received a $5,700 fine and a two-year suspended sentence. In early 2012, three Mozambicans who were caught poaching rhinos in Kruger Park were each sentenced to 25 years with no chance for appeal. At the center of the stiffer sentencing is magistrate Prince Manyathi, who has sent out a clear message that he will impose lengthy sentences on poachers and smugglers alike. In November, Manyathi sentenced a Thai man to 40 years in prison for leading a smuggling ring. Other magistrates are now following his lead.
TRADE IN RHINO HORN was outlawed more than 30 years ago by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), but white rhinos can still be bought and sold as livestock and even legally killed as trophies: Each year as many as 100 hunters—most of them American—pay upwards of $60,000 for permits that allow them to kill and export a South African rhino. Selling the horn, however, remains illegal. The growing demand for horn and the absence of any legitimate supply has driven the black market price of the average rhino horn as high as $400,000.
This grim economic reality has led to a groundswell in South Africa to persuade CITES to overturn its 35-year moratorium on the international trade in rhino horn. The ban is seen as a miserable failure by many, one that has merely driven the market underground, where it has made considerable profit for criminal organizations. Proponents of trade argue that the 20 to 40 tons of rhino horn in government strong rooms from natural deaths and confiscations, combined with a normal mortality of more than 650 animals a year, gives South Africa enough legal horn to satisfy demand, drive prices down, and force the black market and poachers out of business. A Central Selling Organization (CSO) would act as a broker, and most of the proceeds would go to the countries, parks, and individual farmers supplying the horn. South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs has already commissioned a feasibility study on international trade.
One of the leading proponents of the scheme is Michael Eustace, a former merchant banker and a founder of the African Parks Network, a nonprofit that partners with governments to help manage national parks. “The argument that demand from the East is insatiable doesn’t stand up,” Eustace says. “Legal trade will satisfy the market, leaving the criminals to trade at low prices and high risks.”
Those opposed to this plan contend that it could actually hasten the demise of the rhino. As evidence, they cite the spike in elephant poaching that came after CITES recently permitted the sale of ivory stockpiles after an outright ban on ivory sales for more than 20 years. “The legal sales of all those stored ivory caches have not stopped ivory poaching, nor brought down the price of ivory,” says leading South African conservationist Colin Bell. “The reality is that ivory poaching increased exponentially after the trade was legalized. I cannot imagine that selling the stockpiled horns from a few hundred or even thousands of rhino will be able to keep pace with potential Asian demand.” Bell says that the only way forward is to stop all rhino hunting immediately, to further increase fines for illegal possession, to radically step up anti-poaching efforts, and to “track down every one of the hunting permits issued to Vietnamese in recent years and find out what happened to those horns” (there is a widespread belief that many permits applied for by Vietnamese “hunters” were in fact procured by traffickers who then illegally sold the horn).
But even the emotionally charged Fowlds says that pragmatism appears to be the only solution. “Nothing we have tried is working, so there’s a sense of desperation. We have to try something else—and maybe that something else is the legal supply of horn.”
Ian Player, whose conservation work brought the white rhino back from the brink of extinction, also sees legal trade as a possible solution. “What needs to be stressed,” Player says, “is the huge difference between emotion and sentimentality. I am emotional about rhinos but not sentimental, and the problem is that most of the so-called pro-rhino organizations which have sprung up in recent years base their thinking on sentimentality. These are NGOs that have made their money through sentimentality, not through sound conservation beliefs.” There are now approximately 270 rhino conservation charities operating around the world—most of which appear to be decidedly anti-trade.
“If we don’t succeed in legalizing the horn trade through natural mortality,” Player says, “I think we could lose this battle.” Indeed, it was the success of Player’s Operation Rhino that led to the reintroduction of rhino hunting in 1970. And as he says, “Ironically, it is through the death of rhinos that there has been life. Hunting on private land with privately owned rhinos has helped plow a significant amount of money back into conservation and given these animals a market value.”
In South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal Province, home of Player’s great rhino conservation success, there is strong support in both the public and private sector for the introduction of trade in tandem with a program that makes local communities beneficiaries of profits made from wildlife, be it through tourism or the trading of assets such as rhino trophies. The Phinda conservancy, my last stop on this investigation, has a long tradition of community conservation work. It has a population of 160 white rhinos and 28 black rhinos and, despite its vulnerable location near the Mozambique border, has managed to buck the national trend by creating information networks in the community and a strong anti-poaching presence.
Consequently, both Phinda and the neighboring Imfolozi and Hluhluwe reserves reported an 18 percent drop in poaching between 2010 and 2011. Phinda’s Les Carlisle says that it is the “white glove and iron fist” conservation ethic they have practiced for 20 years which will save the rhino. “Everybody recognizes that if we win the hearts and minds of the community, it reduces the pressure on wildlife,” he says.
AT THE END of my first visit with Fowlds, he sat me down in front of his laptop and said he wanted to show me something that would be painful to watch. “If I thought the poaching of Geza was bad, I wasn’t prepared for what happened last March.” Again, he said, it began with a call from a nearby reserve. This time three rhinos had been poached using dart guns. One had died, but two had survived and, like Geza, were stumbling around the bush in terrible pain with their faces removed. Fowlds alerted a cameraman and headed out to help the stricken animals. Watching this wretched drama unfold on his laptop, Fowlds, who had seen this footage a hundred times, and I had tears running down our cheeks. He treated the male rhino, Themba (Xhosa for Hope), and the female, Thandi (Love), cleaning their wounds and stabilizing them. Themba lasted 24 days, but then rangers found him drowned in a shallow water hole. Thandi has miraculously survived.
I spent my last day in the bush with Fowlds. He wanted to show me Thandi, who is living in the Kariega reserve, where her horns were poached. Her condition has improved dramatically, and despite her disfigurement, she is prospering alongside another female white rhino and her calf.
We could not find Thandi and her companions in the open grassland, so we entered the thick bushveld on foot. This was risky behavior, because a spooked rhino charging out of dense vegetation could easily flatten fragile Homo sapiens. Fowlds laughed: “Just make sure you’re near a tree you can climb quickly if they come at us.”
In fact, Thandi and her traveling companions spent the afternoon carefully avoiding us. Normally, white rhinos can be found on the open grassland, grazing in the mild winter sunshine. But these three were keeping out of our way. It seemed appropriate behavior, given what we humans have visited on these magnificent creatures. Appropriate, too, that unarmed and on foot, it was man who was the most vulnerable creature in this wild habitat.
**SOS** 633 Rhinos Poached DEAD!
Tanzania: Local Firms to Boost Anti-Poaching Drive
TANZANIA is home to some of Africa's largest game reserves, but conservationists hold that many species are at risk of extinction due to poaching and this calls for swift measures by the state and non-state institutions to end the malpractice.
Stakeholders say low investments in the human resources and crucial facilities like helicopters for carrying frequent patrols and surveillance in the game sanctuaries are among factors that make poaching flourish.
Poachers are reportedly deploy sophisticated equipment and often outsmart anti-poaching operations. In South Africa, for example, where the poaching is rampant, it is alleged that poachers use helicopters to identify animals targeted for killing.
To support government efforts to curb poaching, ten hunting operators last week donated various equipment worth 42m/- to bolster the anti-poaching campaigns, the malpractice which is currently threatening wildlife existence in the country.
Speaking on behalf of the 10 hunting firms with hunting blocs at Rungwa Game Reserve, Kizigo/ Muhuwesi Game Reserve and Ecosystem, the Northern Hunting Enterprise (T) Limited Managing Director Mr Muhsin Abdallah said there was need to involve all stakeholders to curb the malpractice.
"Conducting patrols in the country's wildlife which is approximately 120,000 kms requires enough budget and incentives to game wardens, the fact that calls all state and non-state actors to team up and bring poaching to its end," he said.
The facilities donated include 15 tyres and three batteries for anti-poaching vehicles, 12 front and rear shock absorbers of Australian made vehicles, one injector pump, six injector nozzles, 10 tents, two satellite phones and 10,000 litres of diesel.
The companies which donated the facilities include Northern Hunting Enterprises (T), Palahala Safaris, Rungwa Game Safaris, Wembere Hunting Safaris, Robin Hurt Safaris, Bushman Safaris, Marera Safaris, African Buffalo Trackers, TAWICO and Wildfoot Prints.
To increase patrols in wildlife areas Mr Muhsin said his company and the other two have ordered three helicopters to facilitate the surveillance in Rungwa Game Reserve, Kizigo/Muhuwesi Game Reserve and Ecosystem.
"Conservation of wildlife resources has become an expensive undertaking due to the vastness of the area as well as increased demand for the trophies from some Asian countries," he said.According to a report released by the conservation group, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), last week, poor wildlife protection efforts by both African and Asian in response to skyrocketing poaching are putting the survivalof rhinoceroses, tigers and elephants at risk.
The report names Vietnam, Laos and Mozambique as the countries that do the least to combat poaching or trafficking of the endangered animals, whose body parts are highly valued in many Asian cultures for use in traditional medicine or as decorative items.
The report singled out Vietnam for failing to curtail the consumption and trade of rhinoceros horn, which it said had fuelled a poaching crisis in South Africa. According to international standards, the Manager of the Rungwa Game Reserve, the second after Selous Mr Julius Kibebe said each game warden is supposed to patrol an area of about 25 kms but due to insufficient resources they oversee an area of between 280 and 300 square kms.
In the meantime, the companies have made a special request to the government to increase the hunting period from five to around 20 years, which could be considerable for the firms to invest in key infrastructure projects like roads and bridges for easy access into the wildlife areas to curb poaching.
The Acting Director of Wildlife Division Mr Twaha Twaibu, representing the Director of Wildlife Division, called for co-operation from all the citizens to reveal the poachers to protect the country's wildlife resources, which provide unique attractions and one of the important sources of government revenues.
"The assistance from the hunting operators is an impact of the public-private partnerships (PPP) in the efforts to conserve the lucrative wildlife resources from rampant poaching," he said, adding that, "It is the first support of its kind from these firms since when hunting regulations enacted in 2010."
Mr Twaibu challenged other companies which secured hunting blocks in the period of 2013-18 to emulate their colleagues in support of the government efforts to protect wildlife for the present and future generations.
BY SEBASTIAN MRINDOKO, 18 DECEMBER 2012
South Africa: Sanparks Receives Reconnaissance Aircraft to Fight Rhino Poaching
Efforts to combat rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park were bolstered recently as the Ichikowitz Family Foundation and South African National Parks (SANParks) launched a new, state-of-the-art aerial surveillance solution to save South Africa's rhinos.
The unique specialist reconnaissance aircraft, The Seeker Seabird, incorporating highly sophisticated surveillance technology, was unveiled at Skukuza airport in the Kruger National Park (KNP). The unveiling was part of an announcement of a strategic cooperation between the Ichikowitz Family Foundation and SANParks which will see the Foundation providing SANParks with a number of solutions from the Paramount Group, an associated entity.
Speaking at the unveiling, Dr. David Mabunda, CEO of SANParks said: "We anticipate that by the end of this calendar year we will have lost about 650 rhinos throughout South Africa, 400 in the Kruger National Park. To date 598 rhinos have been lost to poaching, 364 in the KNP alone. South Africa is home to more than 80% of the world's rhinos, while the KNP is home to about 60% of South Africa's rhinos and accounts for 40% of the world's rhino population. While the combination of criminally slaughtered rhinos and natural mortalities has not reached a point of negative growth, we are seeing definite signs of a decrease in growth numbers.
Engaging with private sector
"The mindless slaughter of rhinos in the wild has called for a multi-pronged strategy. We are actively enlisting and broadening our engagement with the private sector to protect and conserve wildlife. The strategy is to reach out to a new set of stakeholders that would complement and fundamentally strengthen and provide the necessary intelligence to our existing efforts," Mabunda said.
"Our world-class electronic systems technology brings expert navigation and surveillance solutions to the fore to help in the search for suspected rhino poachers throughout the Kruger National Park," Ivor Ichikowitz, chairman of the Ichikowitz Family Foundation and executive chairman of Africa's largest privately held defence and aerospace company, Paramount Group said. "Advanced visual reconnaissance and surveillance will provide game reserve rangers with robust intelligence in their tireless mission to confront poachers.
"We will equip the Seeker Seabird with a FLIR Ball infra-red detector. This thermal imaging technology will deliver more enhanced and powerful observation capability to the Kruger National Park's rangers making it very difficult for poachers to hide. The plane demonstrates high degree of flexibility in terms of utilisation, use of operation and reliability. It is capable of flying at high altitude and at slow speeds with 270 degrees visibility. It can be forward positioned on short dirt strips and requires very limited logistical support," Ichikowitz added.
Attitudes are changing
"Attitudes about the importance of wildlife in South Africa are changing. The grim realities of environmental crimes committed against wildlife and rhino's in particular are being recognised with calls for tougher law enforcement and penalties. Initiatives like these are critical to motivate potential consumers to quell demand for wildlife-based products by appealing to their pro-environment instincts."
"SANParks is entrusted to protect our natural heritage. They are at the forefront of saving the rhino," said Ichikowitz. "Paramount Group is in the business of developing state of the art defence technology, technology which, through the Family Foundation, we intend placing in SANParks hands in the fight against poachers."
South Africa: Reward for Info Leading to Arrest of Poachers
Pretoria — The South African National Parks (SANParks) says it will offer a cash reward of R100 000 to anyone who can provide information that will lead to the arrest of poachers and a further R1 million for a successful conviction of a poaching syndicate mastermind.
This was announced by SANParks Chief Executive Officer, David Mabunda. on Wednesday.
"We are also happy to announce our partnership with South Africa's Crime Line, a ground-breaking initiative that allows members of the public to make anonymous SMS tip-offs on suspected crimes at any time of the day, courtesy of LeadSA, a Primedia and Independent Newspapers initiative," said Mabunda.
He also announced that SANParks had appointed a retired decorated army Major General to oversee the overall anti-poaching operations in the Kruger National Park, as part of its tactics to fight rhino poaching.
The introduction of retired Major General, Johan Jooste, 60, would conclude the foundation phase of a multi-pronged strategy against rhino poaching. "This strategy is to leverage on existing capacities and strategic alliances, while bringing the much needed thinking and innovation on existing gaps and loopholes."
Mabunda commended the KNP ranger who, three weeks ago, alerted SANParks officials and the police regarding an offer by suspected poachers to collude with them. He instead helped to stage a set-up that led to the successful arrest of the perpetrators.
"His honesty, commitment and diligence to the cause of protecting the rhino has not gone unnoticed, the organization will reward his good deed accordingly," Mabunda said.
South Africa has lost an unprecedented number of rhinos of which in the last five years most were killed in the Kruger National Park.
"This has resulted in warranted and unwarranted sanctions both internally and internationally on South Africa's strategy of managing the poaching of rhinos. It is therefore, our hope that the approach that we are taking at this moment, by engaging Major General Johan Jooste will in time bring the much needed invigoration in the fight against the decimation of our natural heritage."
Zimbabwe: Rangers Kill Poachers, Recover Weapons of War
National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers have killed two elephant poachers in the Dande Safari Area in Mbire north of Guruve and recovered weapons, among them mortar bombs.
Motor bombs are weapons of war and it is yet to be established why the poachers had such dangerous arms of war.
Items recovered include three mortar-bombs, one 3008 calibre hunting rifle, one 3008 spent cartridge, three live 3008 rounds of ammunition and six pairs of elephant tusks weighing 51,4 kg valued at US$12 850.
Parks public relations manager Ms Caroline Washaya Moyo on Monday said the two poachers killed were from Mashumbi Pools.
The other three poachers ran away.
"Our rangers had a contact with poachers which resulted in the death of two armed poachers from Mashumbi Pools in the Usanga Usanga hunting camp area of Dande Safari Area.
"Rangers observed a human spoor of five suspected poachers in the park and quickly made a follow up and it was during a contact that the two armed poachers were killed.
"The killed poachers are Andrew Mapfumo and Last Stephanie from Mazambara Village in Chief Chitsungo's area.
"In a bid to cover their tracks the poachers started a veldfire as they left the park," she said.
One of the deceased Andrew Mapfumo is a known poacher who has been involved in elephant poaching since 2005 and was convicted and served a custodial sentence at Guruve and Bindura prisons.
Meanwhile, another suspected Zambian poacher was shot and killed in Katombola, Hwange National Park last Saturday. Four others escaped through the Zambezi River. Parks rangers also recovered two rifles, 14 rounds of ammunition and food with Zambian labels.
"Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority continues to warn would be poachers that their efforts will be thwarted and the above cases should serve as a warning to those who are financing poachers that they are engaging in risky business," Ms Washaya-Moyo said.
**SOS**Record 618 Rhinos Poached for Horns in 2012
The number of rhinos killed for their horns in South Africa so far this year has shot up to 618. This is well past last year’s shock record of 448 and substantially more than the tally of 550 predicted at the beginning of 2012.
A total of 618 rhinos were killed illegally in South Africa in 2012, so far. With the black market price of rhino horn reportedly now in the region of $30,000 per pound ($65,000 per kg) -- more than gold -- trafficking has become a very big global business.
And still there is no sign of the onslaught letting up. This, despite tightened security and a range of strategies devised to counter the gruesome trend. Fears have even been expressed that the way it is going, the already endangered species could be extinct in a few decades’ time.
Worst hit by far has been Kruger National Park, South Africa’s flagship reserve that is home to about 12,000 rhinos. Its loss of 381 of the iconic animals so far this year is a serious worry.
Operations in the park have taken on the aspect of war, with poachers regularly getting killed in firefights with security staff. Tracker dogs fitted with GPS collars get delivered quickly by helicopter to the site of rhino killings to go after the poachers. Heavily armed reaction units follow by helicopter to take them on. Recently a small aircraft that is relatively quiet and can stay in the air for seven hours was donated to the park to carry out surveillance.
For their part, the poachers have become no less audacious. They have even started issuing death threats against park rangers. Operating mainly from Mozambique, which the park adjoins, they write messages in the sand near the border telling a specific ranger “we’re coming for you”, according to Kenn Maggs, head of the park’s criminal investigation unit.
The poachers are good bush operators, with most having military training and belonging to some kind of militia. “We have to adhere to the rule of the land. They don’t,” Maggs is quoted as saying.
Smaller provincial and private reserves have not been spared either. As has been happening around the country, poachers recently left behind the mutilated carcasses of another seven rhinos on a wildlife ranch not far from Johannesburg. Their horns were hacked out of their heads, the eyes of one gouged out and the ears and genitalia of others cut off.
That attack came in the face of a 40-year jail sentence handed down a few days earlier to Thai citizen Chumlong Lemtongthai for using prostitutes to pose as hunters so that he could sell rhino horn obtained as trophies in powder form in the Far East.
Investigations are continuing into how he was able so easily to obtain permits for trophy hunting. There has been growing concern at either the laxity or complicity of conservation officials in aiding the poachers and smugglers.
But environmentalists have been encouraged by the heavy sentences. They see it as proof that judicial officers are beginning to appreciate the seriousness of the situation. Earlier this year two Vietnamese citizens were given 18-year jail sentences for rhino-horn smuggling.
A rhino DNA bank being developed in a laboratory at the University of Pretoria’s faculty of veterinary science has been proving of growing help in linking suspects to the dead animals and so securing convictions.
Combined security operations are being carried out under the umbrella of the National Wildlife Crime Reaction Unit that was set up last year. It consists of the police’s organized crime unit, the environmental crime agencies of national and provincial park services, the prosecuting authorities, and the customs and excise and revenue services. It also involves the defence force, which provides technical assistance and has deployed soldier patrols in Kruger Park.
But from the relentless increase in killings, and from the international nature and scale of the smuggling networks, it is clear that it is going to require something very remarkable to turn round the situation. There is just too much money in it for the criminals to let up.
While China with its booming economy, new wealthy classes and people’s mistaken belief in the medicinal qualities of rhino horn used to be the main market, a study carried out by TRAFFIC, the international wildlife trade monitoring network, has shown just how alarmingly the use of rhino horn has grown in Vietnam.
At the report’s release in Johannesburg earlier this year, TRAFFIC spokesman Tom Milliken told how rhino horn has turned from medicinal use into a status symbol. It has become customary for the fast set to at parties to disappear into backrooms to partake of dosages of rhino horn in the belief that it prevents hangovers, instils feelings of wellbeing and even serves as an aphrodisiac. It has become a favourite gift among the elites.
It has been acknowledged that international diplomacy would need to be part of the turn-round strategy. In pursuance of this, South Africa’s Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, has now, after several delays, at last signed a memorandum of understanding with Vietnam’s Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Cao Duc Phat, on “co-operation in biodiversity, conservation and protection.”
Conservationists are now waiting to see how seriously the Vietnamese authorities take their part in combating the scourge, such as by lending their cooperation in criminal investigations and by engaging in public awareness and education campaigns.
Milliken said that for the bilateral initiative to be really effective, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma needed to talk to his Vietnamese counterpart. “It needs high power.”
There have been closer contacts with the government of Mozambique as well, but for the diplomatic offensive to be effective, South Africa’s neighbor will need to introduce tough anti-poaching legislation and drastically step up law-enforcement operations on its side of the border to stop the relentless incursions into Kruger National Park and other reserves.
Just what the anti-poaching operatives find themselves up against has been described to me by South African National Parks (SANParks) chief executive David Mabunda:
“SANParks needs partners to help lift the fight to higher levels that will meet today’s sophisticated poachers who are armed with satellite cell phones, iPads, automatic weapons and GPS. We also need to gain a deeper understanding of the value chain, part of which is international.
“All these pieces of the puzzle will take time to come together. There are no instant results. The reality is that we are fighting a complex and sophisticated war (against an enemy) capable of reinventing itself like the HIV virus, but once locked into our radar will be cut out like a cancer and replaced with a strong law enforcement regime that will be capable of anticipating threats at a distance.
“We did not see this one coming and it found us wanting because since 1985 we had stopped investing adequately in wildlife protection. There was no threat, and we are now waking up from self-designed slumberland. Budgets have not been growing to meet the challenge. We were happy to invest more in the tourism side of the business to compensate for the declining state subsidy but never imagined the ‘mighty’ South Africa – the gateway to Africa’s economic growth – one day experiencing massive poaching like the rest of Africa and Asia.
“I’m confident we have regrouped, reinforced and focused; it’s just a matter of time before we start seeing positive results.”
Much hope of getting the strings together to turn the tide against poaching is being pinned on a report by Mavuso Msimang, a former SANParks chief and director-general of the national Home Affairs department, appointed by Minister Molewa earlier this year to conduct public hearings on the problem and submit recommendations to her Environmental Affairs department. He handed his report to her a few weeks ago. Curiously she seems in no rush to make his recommendations public.
During an interview I had with Msimang, he shook his head ever so slightly when I mentioned the dismal new record of rhinos killed. He has a pensive manner, a propensity for listening intently to what others say and, it appears, an ability to quickly get to the crux of issues. Which could be why stakeholders from across the board came forward in unexpected numbers to share their ideas with him.
The scope of the onslaught, the sophistication of the weaponry and horn-smuggling systems used, the brutalities accompanying all this, and a growing sense of helplessness tend to stir deep emotions, much anger and even despair. But according to Msimang, the enthusiasm with which submissions were made and the quality of the debates were impressive. Even parties who normally do not sit easily together exchanged ideas in the most civilized manner. Flare-ups were few.
Acknowledging that it was the minister’s prerogative to make his report public, he said he was meanwhile only able to talk in broad terms about his impressions and conclusions about the best way forward.
It quickly became clear that the submissions and his recommendations covered the gamut of aspects related to rhino conservation. What Msimang was most insistent about was that there was no silver bullet. It had to be a total strategy involving a variety of approaches and initiatives.
The single most vital aspect, though, remained security. There have been considerable successes from combined security operations, but there need to be further improvements. And high up the priority list should be improved intelligence, which can only be achieved by winning over local communities and getting their help in stemming the relentless onslaught. Education, training and more employment in parks and in conservation and security for members of such communities, all had a role to play.
Another aspect Msimang considers of particular importance is range extension of the species. Neighbouring countries like Zambia, Malawi and Namibia could all be given a bigger role in helping preserve the species by translocating animals to sanctuaries there for new populations to grow. It would however be suicidal, he noted, to try this in countries and places where the animals’ safety could not be ensured.
Msimang chose to steer clear of what he proposed regarding the contentious issue of legalising trade in rhino horn as a way of pulling the carpet from under the criminals. He did say, however, that CITES (the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species) needed to take a far more active role in the preservation of rhinos. Its present regulations were unfair to rhino owners. It needed to be more consultative.
The species was an international icon, which made it an international responsibility to, through CITES, assist South Africa with its protection. But first and foremost, it was the obligation of South Africans.
“We have done a marvellous job in rescuing this species and keeping it alive. We must now demonstrate our ability to withstand the onslaught. We have a historical and international obligation to save it. It would be a dereliction of our duty as a nation to allow this wonderful animal to disappear. History and humankind requires us to protect it,” Msimang said.
Posted by Leon Marshall of Environmental Journalist
South Africa: Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Mr Obed Bapela, Investigates the Root Cause to Rhino Poaching
Game reserves in both the North West and Mpumalanga have recently been hit by the ongoing scourge of rhino poaching. South Africa has lost a total of 588 rhinos to poachers since the beginning of 2012, the Kruger National Park remains the hardest hit, having lost more than 320 rhinos. On the weekend of 17 to 18 November, seven rhino carcasses were found in Finfoot Lake Reserve in the Klipkopspruit Farm in the North West.
In an attempt to get to the root cause of the problem, the Deputy Minister in the Presidency will be visiting the Pilanesburg Game Reserve to investigate why this poaching continues to hurt the wildlife industry.
"It has come to our attention that the issuing of permits for rhino hunting might be an exacerbating factor to rhino poaching. The Presidency is stepping in to ascertain how the system could be improved to ensure that the rhino poaching scourge is lessened in the coming year" said Bapela.
The objective of this visit is to assess and monitor the process of issuing permits for rhino hunting and to get first-hand experience of the work done in combating rhino poaching. Deputy Minister will also make a turn at the Licence Office in Veritas, to monitor and understand the system of issuing the licenses, and will be meeting with owners of Game Reserves to hear their side of the story.
The media briefing and meeting is scheduled to take place as follows:
Venue: Sun City Main Hotel, North West
Kenya: Poachers Arrested for Killing Eight Elephants
Four suspected poachers have been arrested by KWS personnel in connection with the killing of eight elephants last week. Tsavo conservancy area Assistant Director Wilson Korir says the four were arrested after a shoot out between them and the poachers.He says the four are also believed to be behind the poaching activities in the area.
Kenya: Vets Say Bullet Killed Lewa Rhino
The four black rhinos killed at the Lewa Conservancy by poachers last week have been identified. Rhinotek, an 11-year-old female rhino, was found dead at midday on Monday.
Initial assessments did not give a clear indication of the cause of Rhinotek's death, but further examinations by vets found out that she had died from a bullet wound in the stomach.
Nyota, a well known 20-year-old female and Serian, a seven year-old male, were shot dead at approximately 1am on Tuesday. Jazz, a male rhino, was found dead late on Tuesday afternoon.
The loss of the four brings down the rhino population in Lewa to just 71. Three of the rhino horn sets were still intact and have been recovered, but the poachers made away with the rest.
"These incidents serve as a constant reminder of the harsh reality and rapidly escalating threat faced by rhinos. Lewa is now more than ever determined to counter these threats by increasing our security," said Mike Watson, the CEO of Lewa Conservancy. Kenya now has just about 600 rhinos left.
BY RAABIA HAWA, 6 DECEMBER 2012
Experts alarmed by dramatic increase in elephant killings
Tens of thousands of elephants were killed across Africa last year and populations are plummeting.
In 2007 there were roughly half a million elephants in Africa. This number has steadily grown after the trade in ivory was banned in 1989, until the last decade. Now there has been a dramatic increase in the mass killing of elephants.
In February over 300 elephants were killed at the Bouba N'Djida National Park in northern Cameroon. This number represents nearly half of the park's population.In response, the army launched an offensive against poachers who were freely operating in the park.
Similar killings have been occurring across eastern and western Africa. Tanzania is losing around 30 elephants a day, according to its government. And while the incidents of poaching in South Africa's neighbouring countries are increasing, it is not yet an issue here.
Julian Blanc, acting co-ordinator and data analyst at Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (Mike), said: "While poaching levels in southern Africa are not as high as in other parts of the continent, they are steadily increasing."
Mike is a child of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), and it has kept track of elephant poaching since the trade in ivory was banned.
Link between deaths and consumer demand
Blanc said that levels of poaching were increasing at all nine sites they monitor in southern Africa. In the past the region had been seen as secure. Last year these levels, on average, reached an unsustainable point, where the rate of poaching exceeds the natural population growth, he said. "If this trend continues, the situation could become as serious as elsewhere on the continent," he said.
But Kruger National Park and Etosha did not seem to be affected yet, he said. This could possibly be due to the wealth of these areas and better governance. "The Mike programme has found strong relationships between poaching levels and poverty, with higher levels at sites where people are comparatively poor," he said.
And like with the boom in rhino poaching, elephant deaths are directly linked to demand in consumer markets. "If demand continues to increase we could see elephant poaching spreading to these populations that are still considered secure," said Blanc.
Bryan Coll, media liaison at the United Nations Environment Programme, said he was surprised elephant poaching was not an issue in South Africa, given the devastation happening elsewhere. But he did say there was "a lot of concern about trends across the continent". And if the easily accessible populations in the north start to run out, it will be natural for poachers to turn to Southern Africa, where half the continent's elephants still reside, he said.
In its big re-zoning plan this year, Kruger Park made several allusions to the future problems with elephant poaching. The document repeatedly mentions "the threat of elephant poaching looming on the horizon".
'Most serious crisis'
And in looking at the surrounding countries and their growing problems with poaching, it also warned: "Elephant poaching is already occurring in some of our neighbouring countries and is threatening to spill into the park."
In its mid-year report, Cites said the rising levels of seized ivory were a good indicator of the increase in poaching. The levels of seized ivory from 2009 to last year were three of the five highest since trade was banned. This trade mostly left ports in Kenya and Tanzania, destined for China and Thailand, it said.
At the time Tom Milliken, leader of the Elephant and Rhino Programme at wildlife monitoring organisation Traffic, said: "Evidence is steadily mounting that shows that African elephants are facing their most serious crisis since international commercial trade in ivory was generally prohibited under Cites in 1989."
Louis Lemmer, spokesperson for the Honorary Rangers, said that elephant poaching had not yet become a problem in this area because of the availability of rhino horn. "As long as there is rhino horn still available, ivory poaching will probably remain on a low level," he said.
But given the rise of poaching elsewhere and the existing syndicates for rhino poaching in the region, it is a problem "which can easily start growing in our area too", he said.
Lemmer said it had been a huge problem in the 1980s and it took a concentrated effort and a very long time to eradicate it. "The one luck we have within the horrible rhino poaching situation is that measures being put in place to protect our rhino will also benefit elephant conservation."
Kenya: Rhinos Killed
Four black rhinos have been killed in the past week bringing the population of the endangered species to 71 in Kenya. The rhinos died of gunshot wounds inflicted by poachers at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Isiolo. The poachers managed to get away with one of the rhino's horns.
BY NELLY GITAU, 6 DECEMBER 2012
South Africa to use aircraft against rhino poacher
The plane will be equipped with surveillance equipment including thermal imaging to detect poachers.
It will patrol over the Kruger National Park, a vast reserve that borders Mozambique and home to two-thirds of South Africa's rhino population.
So far this year 588 rhinos have been killed in South Africa, in what is being called a "relentless onslaught".
That figure has risen from just 13 reported cases in 2007 as organised and well-armed crime syndicates target the animals.
South Africa is home to the world's largest rhino population - an estimated 18,000 white rhinos and 1,700 critically endangered black rhino.
The rhino horn is highly prized in traditional Asian medicine, even though there is no scientific proof of its effects. It sells for around $95,000 (£60,000) per kilo, almost twice the value of gold.
Continue reading the main story
Rhino poaching in South Africa
2007: 13 reported cases
2008: 83 reported cases
2009: 122 reported cases
2010: 333 reported cases
2011: 448 reported cases
2012: 588 reported cases - to 4 Dec
Source: Traffic, the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network
The director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Jason Bell, said: "The killing of rhinos for their horns does not exist in a vacuum, but is a complex problem where values of tradition and culture have been corrupted in the name of commercial exploitation."
"Be it elephants and ivory, tigers and tiger parts, rhinos and rhino horn, the endpoint is the same - profit. And that profit is being chased down in the most brutal fashion by organised crime syndicates."
So far this year, South Africa has already armed some of its park rangers and deployed dog patrols to try and stop the poachers.
The surveillance airplane for the Kruger National Park was donated by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, whose chairman Ivor Ichikowitz said: "You have to fight fire with fire."
"This thermal imaging technology will deliver more powerful observation capability to the Kruger National Park's rangers, making it difficult for poachers to hide."
Prince of Sweden
We are endorsed by the Prince of Sweden, who has kindly offered his support to our cause, We thank him for helping us fight for what we feel is unfair and unjust to the endangered animals of Africa.
Breeders sell their rhino herds
Jozini - Prominent KwaZulu-Natal game rancher and rhino-breeder Karel Landman is thinking of selling all his rhino because of the national poaching crisis, rising security costs and the belief that rhino-farming is no longer financially attractive.
In a letter to fellow rhino owners, Landman said he had planned to breed a herd of more than 150 white rhino at his 7 000-hectare Pongola Game Reserve, near Jozini Dam.
Instead, he had sold an undisclosed number of rhino and moved the remaining animals (less than 20) onto a smaller 1 000ha section for security reasons.
“Presently I am considering selling all my rhino, something I did not even contemplate as an option before.
“The cost of security, as well as the risk of losing millions overnight due to illegal hunting, result in rhino farming not being an attractive option anymore.
“I am surprised to learn of how many people in our area alone have sold all their rhino.”
Landman says in his letter to the RhinoDotCom campaign that keeping rhino was no longer financially viable.
RhinoDotCom campaigns for the legalisation of rhino horn as a solution to the current rhino poaching onslaught, which has led to the poaching of almost 600 rhino this year alone.
It is lobbying the government to set up a central selling organisation which would hold regular rhino horn auctions, with the proceeds split between the government and private rhino owners, according to the ratio of how much each sector owned.
“We keep rhino because we are conservation-minded people,” said Landman, “but at the same time the reality is we need to make money out of such an investment to survive in the business of conservation.
“The present permit requirements, red tape and lengthy time frames make it extremely difficult to hunt or to move rhino, influencing price and demand. I could not sell one rhino hunt this season, although I have too many males which need to be removed from the reserve.”
Confidence in the future of private rhino ownership had become problematic, despite the lobbying and leadership role of other private rhino owners, such as Pelham Jones and John Hume.
Hume is the single-largest private rhino owner in the world and is believed to have more than 800 rhino, mainly at his Mauricedale Game Ranch in the Mpumalanga Lowveld.
“Will common sense prevail to allow controlled trade in rhino horn, which is the only long-term solution to the survival of our rhino?” Landman observed.
“Maybe the answer is not to get out, but to fight for our right to decide for ourselves on how to manage the rhino we own.” - The Mercury
December 3 2012 at 09:27am
By Tony Carnie
A black rhino named Phila has survived two poaching attempts in which she was shot a total of nine times, stands in a boma whilst being guarded round the clock by two police reservists. File photo: Jennifer Bruce
South Africa: Nambiti Private Game Reserve's Rhinos Dehorned
Criminal acts call for tough measures and that's the reason Nambiti Private Game Reserve's rhino population has been dehorned; the process having been completed on 22 November 2012.
"The whole exercise went off very well and I am extremely happy with the teamwork and professionalism we witnessed," said Clarke Smith, chairman of the KwaZulu-Natal game reserve. "It's distressing to have to tranquilise such magnificent creatures, but it is necessary and for their own good. I feel a lot more comfortable now that the entire rhino population had been dehorned."
This option, to beat the abhorrent and criminal act of poaching, was the result of much thought and debate. "We see dehorning as one of the strategies to address poaching and applaud any efforts to retain population integrity," said Francois du Toit, CEO of African Conservation Trust.
Pressure from external communities
"Our core focus is on addressing issues of pressure, particularly from external communities surrounding the reserves. To that end we hope to be able to work with Nambiti to develop community conservation agriculture as a means of building a natural resource-based economy, which will reduce pressure on pure tourism as a means of income for these communities."
According to veterinary surgeon Dr. Silke Pfitzer, dehorning a rhino does not hurt the animal provided the procedure is done correctly. Rhino horn, she said, was similar to finger nails and dehorning was like cutting a finger nail. Rhino horn grows back at the rate of about two inches every year which means this procedure has to be repeated.
"While it is sad to see these animals without their long horns, with tight security and guards, dehorning definitely helps deter poachers," she said, and explained that the monetary return on a little horn stump did not justify the risk. "Hopefully the poaching threat will be eradicated and then we can allow Nambiti's rhinos to grow their horns again," she concluded. A young female, a young adult bull, and a mature female underwent the process.
as the amount of animals being killed has risen so much that white and black rhino species are in risk of become severely endangered, even faster than predicted.
Uganda: UPDF Accused of Executing Poachers
Soldiers deployed in Murchison Falls national park have been accused of carrying out extra-judicial killings of suspected poachers.
The soldiers are reported to have killed at least 25 people from Nguedo and Buliisa sub-counties in Buliisa district between March and September this year. All the victims are suspected poachers, and their families say they can't trace their bodies. The UPDF offers back-up for game rangers in the park.
Nguedio sub-county chairman, James Jopato said he has identified 20 people missing in his sub-county. "I have been getting complaints from the community over their dear ones allegedly shot dead by forces operating in Murchison Falls national park," Jopato said.
The chairman added that some survivors have claimed UPDF soldiers shot their colleagues. Consequently, relatives of the victims have been pleading with the army authorities to return the bodies for burial. Recently, Jopato organised a meeting with a number of security officials in the park, including Major Lino Dramadri, the commander of the UPDF forces in the park. However, Dramadri denied knowledge of the killings.
Buliisa MP Steven Mukitale Birahwa says he is alarmed by the situation and has reported to the ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities as well as Parliament's committee on tourism. "We cannot go silent as taxpayers continue to disappear," said Birahwa.
The legislator condemned such killings, saying that legal action should be taken against poachers. "If one is suspected to be a poacher, he should be arrested, tried and sentenced according to the law but not shot dead," Birahwa says.
When contacted for a comment, the Army and Defence spokesman, Col Felix Kulayigye, neither denied nor accepted the army's role in the alleged killings, insisting that soldiers in the park are only responsible for animals and tourists.
"I cannot account for poachers. If they were tourists, I could be questioned. First of all, why do they go there, are they animals? My only advice to the wananchi is, never to go poaching," said Col Kulayigye.
**SOS** 588 Rhinos Poached in SA
Pretoria — The latest rhino poaching statistics indicate that a total of 588 rhinos have been lost to poaching since the beginning of this year, with the total number of arrests at 246.
The Department of Environmental Affairs says the Kruger National Park has lost 362 rhinos to poaching.
The North West, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces continue to be a target for poachers, collectively accounting for the loss of 186 rhinos.
According to the department, 333 were poached in 2010 and this increased to 588 this year.
Of the 246 arrested individuals, 217 were at the level of poacher, 18 were couriers and 11 receivers.
Authorities urged members of the public to report incidents of rhino poaching or any tip-offs that could lead to arrests and prevention of illegal killings to 0800 205 005.
South Africa: Go After Rhino Poaching Kingpins
North West Premier Thandi Modise is confident that police are closing the net around the syndicate responsible for rhino poaching and are getting closer to the kingpins. This follows the arrest of two more people in Rustenburg on Friday morning bringing to 8 suspects arrested in connection with poaching of eight rhinos in Klipkopspruit farm over the past weekend.
"Though the network of the syndicate of cruelty and brutality against the rhino as a symbol of our ecology and rich heritage is crumbling, we would be satisfied with nothing less than the arrest of the kingpins behind the evil trade in rhino horns. We commend the Hawks' Rhino task team for its determination to clamp down on the scourge of rhino poaching and members of the community for the tip-off that led to this major breakthrough," Premier Modise.
Three suspects linked to the weekend incident were tracked down and arrested on Thursday night in central Pretoria, Katlehong and Alberton in Gauteng while 3 of the suspects one of whom is a game ranger were arrested in Lethabing township on Monday.
The Premier reiterated her earlier call to police to intensify the onslaught against syndicates involved in rhino poaching to face the full the full wrath and might of the law.
Modise had earlier this week said that the provincial government is considering requesting the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to assist it to overcome the scourge of rhino poaching.
She had also said that there is a need to clamp down on issuing of illegal hunting permits as part of intensifying law enforcement and crime intelligence to overcome the scourge of rhino poaching.
North West Premier Thandi Modise is confident that police are closing the net around the syndicate responsible for rhino poaching and are getting closer to the kingpins. This follows the arrest of two more people in Rustenburg on Friday morning bringing to 8 suspects arrested in connection with poaching of eight rhinos in Klipkopspruit farm over the past weekend.
23 NOVEMBER 2012
South African Government
The Value of Rhino Horn?
The End user price of Rhino horn is at present standing at $12.00 per grms equating to $120,000.00 per Kg. this amount will only escalate as the Rhino number dwindle. This is tragic for a product that has no medicinal properties whatsoever.
Washington — Even though medical science has proven that rhino horn does not cure cancer!
Washington — Even though medical science has proven that rhino horn does not cure cancer, there are plenty of people with money who believe it does and are willing to pay up to $30,000pkg to get it. The result: An increase in the slaughter of this endangered animal and an increasingly sophisticated breed of poacher.
Demand for rhino horns, elephant tusks and other wildlife parts has gone up in the last 20 years partly because more people have more money to spend, according to Robert Hormats, under secretary for economic growth, energy and the environment at the U.S. Department of State.
"If you have more money and you're the poacher, you can buy off more people, you can afford weapons," he said recently at the Washington Foreign Press Center.
Illegal wildlife trade is on the order of $7 billion to $8 billion per year, he said, which is comparable to the money criminals can get in drugs, arms or human trafficking.
And it's not just the animals that are being killed; some 100 wildlife rangers are killed each year in their efforts to protect a precious natural resource, he said.
Public education is crucial to ending this alarming trend, and to that end the United States is working with nongovernmental organizations as well as governments to increase public awareness via social media and other means. Hormats noted as an example his work with Harold Varmus, a Nobel Prize winner for his work in cancer research and the head of the National Cancer Institute at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Varmus did a blog post debunking the myth of rhino horn as a cancer cure that was picked up by some 300 publications.
Many people don't realize, Hormats said, that "you just can't take the rhino horn and grind it up. The rhino is killed to get the horn. ... Animals are killed to provide either ornaments for people, rugs for people, false medicines."
While it is hard to get an accurate number, Hormats said: "At the low end, there are at least 25,000 elephants killed every year illegally, and around 500 rhinos killed every year illegally. "
The United States is supporting programs worldwide to train wildlife judicial experts, border guards, police and court systems in what is needed to protect wildlife, Hormats said.
"No one country can solve this problem. It requires collaboration among a number of countries, and therefore, we want to make sure that it's not aimed at any one country," Hormats said. "So it's not us pointing fingers at other countries; it's demonstrating that we're working with other countries, and that everyone can do a better job and should do a better job in this area."
BY JANE MORSE, 20 NOVEMBER 2012
Army steps in to end rhino massacre
November 21 2012 at 07:53am
Durban - The army has been sent to the Swaziland and Mozambique borders to stop rhino poachers from moving between those countries and South Africa, Ezemvelo KZN chief executive Bandile Mkhize said on Tuesday.
He was addressing the province’s conservation portfolio committee on the rhino poaching crisis at a meeting in Durban.
So far, 570 rhinos have been poached in South Africa this year and, of those, 58 were in KZN.
At the weekend, eight rhinos died when poachers hit a reserve in North West. The Hawks arrested three men – one a park ranger – at their homes in Lethabo township near Brits on Tuesday.
The attack prompted North West Premier Thandi Modise to ask that the army step in as conservation bodies had neither the resources nor the skill to stop the massacre and extinction of one of South Africa’s Big Five.
This call has reverberated across South Africa as conservationists and wildlife authorities despair of stopping the killings.
Mkhize said on Tuesday that Ezemvelo was also involved in discussions with the army on the technological side of the rhino war.
KZN MEC Meshack Radebe, the political head of conservation, told Tuesday’s meeting that the fight to stop poaching was about the country’s heritage.
“We need to mobilise and sensitise all stakeholders, amakhosi, headmen, councillors and the rural communities about this war and the threat to our heritage. It is clear, given the move involved here, that poachers are prepared to kill and die for these horns,” said Radebe.
IFP MPL Inkosi Ngamizizwe Madlala said: “I am concerned that the killing of eight rhinos in North West will encourage these thugs here in KwaZulu-Natal to be more daring in their criminal deeds. We need to work hard to put an end to this scourge.”
The plan tabled by Ezemvelo will see the formation of a highly specialised task force for reaction and deployment in poaching hotspots. This strategy would be implemented through “good intelligence” rather than reactive measures, said Mkhize.
Part of the plan was for the agency to secure adequate funding and manpower to refocus its resources towards ensuring staff were trained.
“We have reintroduced a helicopter patrol at Hluhluwe/iMfolozi Park with a plan for expansion into other protected areas. A highly qualified information network for covert operations has been appointed and, through structured investigation between Ezemvelo and organised-crime units, we have managed to arrest two syndicates in Zululand,” said Mkhize.
Six new Land Cruisers had been ordered for rhino reserves and the agency had also compiled a security staff list which has been submitted to police intelligence for vetting.
The plan would focus on assessing risk and threats to 13 rhino reserves and five black rhino expansion project sites in the province.
A total of R28.1 million had been set aside for the anti-rhino poaching campaigns, but Ezemvelo was also involved in other fund-raising measures for this programme.
DA MPL Radley Keys said a move to “stem the tide of demand” of horns should be launched by engaging countries like China where the traditional-medicine market was driving demand. - The Mercury
Tanzania Minister Calls for Tougher Poaching Laws
THERE was a shocking revelation in the National Assembly at the weekend that poachers kill 30 elephants in national parks in a single day. This is unbelievable and yet it is happening!
An MP told the House that 800 tuskers are decimated each month. Going by this figure, the total number of elephants killed each year rounds off at 10,000. Now, who is to blame for literally allowing notorious criminals to commit such mayhem?
In fact, poachers have over the years been roaming in our national parks almost at will, killing game and stealing government trophies. Fortunately, anti-poaching efforts by the state organs responsible have resulted into the impounding of trophies worth 212.9m/- in Liwale District.
The seizure was made by a Special Joint Task Force formed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. The operation seized 80 firearms, 685 rounds of ammunition and 298 shell castings. The team attributed the success to support from members of the public. A total of 101 suspects were apprehended and arraigned in courts of law.
Poachers can only be controlled through better coordination, incisive use of better equipment and other stringent measures. Such measures include enlisting the services of Tanzania Wildlife Service (TWS), whose establishment is envisaged.
TWS is expected to become effective early next financial year. The government has already set aside 500m/- for ground work towards the launching of the unit. This will be another leap in the right direction. The outfit will be an autonomous state-owned establishment whose detail will be to protect and coordinate sustainable use of the wildlife resources.
TWS will help address a number of challenges including acquisition of working tools like inspection helicopters, communication facilities and other requisite equipment. There will also be a deployment of a crack squad of better-trained game wardens.
The government is also in the process of reviewing the 2005 Wildlife Conservation Act, a move that will include introduction of provisions that will call for stiffer penalties, longer prison terms and higher fines for anyone involved in poaching. Some academicians propose vigorous enforcement of wildlife protection laws in addition to fulfillment of a global agreement on the penalties that should be imposed on poachers and traders in illegal ivory and other government trophies.
Tanzania Daily News .
Prince of Sweden
We are endorsed by the Prince of Sweden, who has kindly offered his support to our cause, We thank him for helping us fight for what we feel is unfair and unjust to the endangered animals of Africa.
*SOS** 559 rhino killed to date for 2012
it doesn't take a lot of time to make a difference.... see what you can do to stop this massacre.
Rustenburg - A North West farmer is “shattered beyond belief” after seven of his rhinos were shot, hacked with machetes and dehorned.
The discovery, the latest in the spate of rhino poaching in South Africa, was made at a game farm on the Klipkopspruit Farm near Rustenburg on Friday.
The farm owner, Mark Lappeman, said his son had stumbled across what looked like an orphaned calf running around without its mother.
A helicopter was hired and, while scouring the bushes on Saturday, discovered three dead rhinos.
Four more dead rhinos, Lappeman said, were discovered about 100m away. They had all been dehorned. Among the killed rhinos, he added, was a five-month-old calf found lying next to its mother.
Lappeman said some of the dead rhinos had their eyes gouged out, others had their ears cut off, while a female had its genitalia cut off.
“I got these rhinos from the Natal Parks Board and have had some of them for 20 years. Now, they have been wiped out in a day,” said Lappeman, also describing the killings as “a massacre”.
“They used guns and machetes. These guys were so callous and knew what they were doing and wanted. I am absolutely shattered. So devastated.”
Lappeman said the orphaned calf was darted and moved to a place of safety for rehabilitation.
Police spokesman Captain Paul Ramaloko said the dead rhinos were not badly decomposed when they were found.
“They were still fresh carcasses,” he said, adding that no arrests had been made.
By late on Sunday, the police, including priority crimes, the Hawks, the forensic division and the dog units, were still at the farm putting together vital evidence.
A slain rhino found on Klipkopspruit farm outside Rustenburg, North West. Photo: Handout/Supplied
Lappeman said officials from the North West Park Board and the Asset Protection Unit had also visited the farm.
Two weeks ago, a North West farm owner said he was contemplating selling the rest of his animals after six rhinos were shot and dehorned. The rhinos were part of 11 that were shot by poachers.
Braam van Greunig, the owner of Hartzhoogte game lodge at Amalia, near Schweizer-Reneke, said he could not deal with poachers and feared for the rhinos’ safety, and for that of his family.
More than 550 rhinos have been killed this year – far surpassing last year’s toll of over 440 and 333 in 2010.
Early this month, Thai national Chumlong Lemtongthai was sentenced to 40 years in jail after he pleaded guilty to paying prostitutes to pose as hunters so that he could harvest rhino horns, which were sold on Asia’s traditional medicine market. The group is thought to have netted 26 rhino horns.
Last month, Environmental Affairs Department deputy director-general Fundisile Mketeni told Parliament that 224 arrests had been made in connection with rhino poaching. He said the Kruger National Park remained the worst-affected area, with 320 rhinos killed this year.
Parliament heard about funding constraints and vacancies in key positions having an adverse effect on the fight against poaching.
November 19 2012
By LEBOGANG SEALE
UP AND COMING DOCUMENTARIES PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY ROLAND VINCENT.
About the bonding between a human baby girl and a Rhino calf through an emotional lifetime.
"GONE FOREVER" FROM RHINO TO CONSUMER
Portrayal of the extreme measures of evil behind the poaching of Rhinos. This film will emphasize the importance of “The Ark” project as a sustainable solution.
The daily life inside the heard of Elephants with their matriarch Anastasia.
"THE DEEP CONGO"
A closer look at the tragic murders of gorillas for their hands and feet for human consumption - highlighting the necessity of our vision to conserve Africa’s wildlife.
RHINO COW, CALF KILLED IN KRUGER PARK
Johannesburg – The carcasses of a rhino cow and her calf were found without their horns in the Kruger National Park on Tuesday morning.
Kruger Park spokesperson William Mabasa said people in a safari vehicle found them.
“Rangers and police were called to the scene and they confirmed that the cow and the calf were indeed killed by poachers.
The investigation into the incident is continuing, and we are looking for the poachers.”
Earlier this month SA National Parks chief executive David Mabunda said 52 rhino had been poached in South Africa so far this year.
The hardest-hit areas continued to be the Kruger National Park and Limpopo province, with 26 and 13 rhinos poached there respectively, he said.
The two latest killings brought this number to 54.
Last Wednesday conservationist Ian Player said South Africa’s rhino population had already reached a crucial tipping point, and was close to extinction due to the surge in poaching since 2008.
“The red warning flags are up and anything could happen,” he said.
RHINOS ILLEGALLY KILLED IN SOUTH AFRICA
In January and February 2012, at least 80 rhinos were slaughtered in South Africa for their horns. If this rate continues, 660 - 930 rhinos are estimated to be killed by criminal syndicates by year end.