The battle to save the Sumatran Rhino

For the smallest and most unique species of rhino, it is a race against time to try to re-populate the Sumatran rhino species. Indonesia and Malaysia are the only areas they are still thought to exist.

In Indonesia there are fewer than 80 left and in Malaysia, the situation is even more urgent, with only three Sumatrans remaining.

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One of the three remaining Sumatran rhinos in Malaysia. Photo: Borneo Rhino Alliance

The International Rhino Foundation (IRF) supports two critical efforts in Indonesia; 1) they maintain 12 Rhino Protection Units to protect against poaching and
2)support the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS), a 250 acre area where a handful of rhinos are given the utmost of care in an intensely managed research and breeding program.

The SRS has been home to rhinos who were born from successful breeding efforts at the Cincinnati Zoo, including the latest resident, Harapan. (see previous post: The Journey of Hope)

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Harapan w/ the Director of the IRF October, 2016

Yet in Malaysia, all Sumatrans are thought to be extinct in the wild. So efforts are solely focused on the only 3 rhinos left; the male, Tam, and females Puntung and Iman.

The Borneo Rhino Alliance manages the three, and shoulders one of the greatest responsibilites-creating more rhinos. As the situation is so dire, the hope lies in advanced reproductive technology.

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Baby Sumatran @ Way Kambas National Park, photo: metrowebukmetro                           

Teaming up with experts from around the world, attempts are underway to create the world’s first test tube Sumatran rhino embryo and implant it into a viable surrogate.

This may be the only chance for the species, but it’s a costly endeavor. As of June 2016, the group has run out of funds, and won’t be able to continue much longer. To remain operational for the next two years, they need  USD$900’000.

To help, please donate at Saving the Sumatran Rhino. Help keep hope alive.

 

 

 

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Ring of Fire: life or death for most rare rhinos

Where does the rarest of all rhinos live?

…Ujung Kulon National Park, in the western tip of Indonesia.  It is also one of the most densely populated areas on Earth AND one of most volcanically active as well.

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Java’s volcanoes have left their mark on the Javan rhinoceros’ fate in many ways.

They gave the island its immense fertility, rich enough to feed the fast-growing population; that is until man began to poach them.  Man drove the rhino to the corners of Java ‑ out of its natural habitat, toward higher grounds and isolated peninsulas, as far as possible from civilization without actually dropping into the Indian Ocean.

Then in 1883, there was a massive volcanic eruption. Afterwards, as the land began to recover, Javan rhinos — under heavy threat elsewhere on the island — re-colonized. Humans never returned in large numbers, so to this day Ujung Kulon remains a safe haven for the rhino.

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Krakatou volcano

Yet where it was once a lifeline for Javans, an eruption now ,could prove catastrophic. There are only approximately 60 of them left.

“It’s never a good idea to keep all eggs in the one basket”, Susie Ellis, executive director of the International Rhino Foundation (IRF)confirmed.

“Everyone is convinced of the need for a second site, so we can translocate a subset of the current population.” This way, numbers can be raised, the gene pool extended and the future of the Javan rhino secured. Especially since Ujung Kulon has its limits.

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Javan rhino caught on camera trap, photo: Indonesia tourism.com

from Mongabay: The Javan rhino: protected and threatened by a volcano

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Protecting rhinos with 4-legged rangers

We are pleased to announce with YOUR generosity, we have been able to fully fund the training of Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre’s APU canine unit!

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Trainer, Corlet; photo: HESC

A word to all of you from our friends at HESC:

Words cannot sufficiently express our gratitude towards Fight for Rhinos for being one of our most ardent and loyal supporters.

Fight for Rhinos generously committed to assisting with the successful care and training of our anti-poaching canines at HESC – both for the protection of our rhinos and the rangers.

Over the past few months, Fight for Rhinos has managed to successfully raise an amazing ZAR80 000 (5500 usd) which they’ve donated to HESC’s Wildlife Conservation Trust.

We are so thrilled by their effort and generosity. A BIG thank you to Fight for Rhinos and each and every person who contributed towards the campaign.

You can continue protecting rhinos by sponsoring our canine units at HESC and Ol Pejeta Conservancy with a monthly OR one time donation. Every dollar is a help toward keeping them safe.

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Zee and Bullet with handler, Simon. photo: HESC

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The Future Rewards those who press on…

 We don’t put a lot of weight into labels, i.e. republican, democrat, etc; but into actions. What will an elected official DO to help or hinder our animals, our environment?
The actions of our current President included an almost total ban on ivory trade in the US, forming an US Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, and incorporating wildlife trafficking laws into the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership)enabling more enforceable laws on countries who heavily trade.
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President Obama issued the executive order to combat wildlife trafficking in 2013. photo: CITES

In fact under Obama, the US has  protected more endangered species due to recovery efforts than any other Administration in history.
 The new President elect’s agenda doesn’t seem to include much promise in the way of conservation efforts and the environment.
He has stated he would cut the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), saying the environment will be fine; and has surrounded himself with “a team advisers and financial supporters tied in with trophy hunting, puppy mills, factory farming, horse slaughter, and other abusive industries” (according to the Humane Society Legislative Fund President Michael Markarian)
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 We sincerely hope that Mr. Trump’s actions are not as harsh and negligent as his words; and that the US pledge to fight wildlife trafficking continues in the way of legislature, attitude and ambition.
But while we hope, we also continue to fight.
 The victories of the last few years have not only lifted our hopes and ambitions, but have given them a backbone. We can’t forget how much has been started. That momentum will continue to drive us forward, to fight for every inch, every yard of progress in the coming months and years.
Our mission remains the same, our momentary disappointment is giving way to determination. As President Obama once said ” The future rewards those who press on…” We have been and will continue to fight to secure a future for rhinos and wildlife.
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Photo: Chris Fischer

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Exclusive Rhino Ornaments

We’re pleased to offer our exclusive ornaments this year-made specifically for Fight for Rhinos; Black Rhino Mom & Baby

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Made of sustainable maple
Approximate dimensions: 4″ x 2 1/2″ x 3/16″
Text: Peace, Love & Rhinos
Fight for Rhinos

via Paypal: Only $13.50 usd plus shipping (ships to USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, France, Spain, Netherlands)
As always 100% of profits benefit our rhino conservation projects

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Rhino for President?

Throughout history people have been so fed up with their political choices, they have sometimes opted to vote for an animal instead.

In 1959 , as a protest, the voters of Sao Paulo, Brazil voted for Cacareco, the rhino at the Sao Paulo zoo.  With over 500 candidates running for the seat on the City Council, the five-year old black rhino won by a landslide.

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Cacareco, source: Gina Famania

Her campaign for the election was traced back to a group of students who were fed up with living conditions, food shortages and overall political corruption. Although her win was thrown out and a new election took place, she made history.

“Vote Cacareco” became a slogan to signify political protests, and she became the inspiration for the Rhinoceros Party of Canada.

 

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So little can mean so much

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Ol Pejeta rangers with anti poaching dogs.

A monthly gift can make all the difference for our canine APUs.

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A one time gift of $25 purchases kong balls and rope (positive reinforcement toys)

A one time gift of $50 purchases dog shoes (for bush terrain training)

Simply go to the DONATE button and select the MONTHLY option.

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HESC canine APU

We currently work with Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center and Ol Pejeta APUs. With black and white rhinos, both wild and rehabilitating, canines are a critical part of success at keeping poachers at bay.

We are happy to provide end of year statements for your tax deductions.

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CITES Recap: the good, the bad and the ugly

The CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) 2008-2020 vision states
*they will be contributing to the conservation of wildlife as an integral part of the global ecosystem on which all life depends,
*as well as promoting transparency and wider involvement of civil society in the development of conservation policies and practices

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Are they following their vision?

Well, here’s a recap. The animals who reaped ‘benefits’ from increased protection are:

*Pangolins (trade was completely banned, and the most highly trafficked animals in the world were given highest protection status)

*African Gray Parrots (trade was completely outlawed)

*Sharks and Rays (Thirteen species of rays and Thresher and Silky sharks were given highest protection status)

In addition, proposals to grant legal trade in ivory and/or horn in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland were denied.

But the disheartening news was the denial of CITES to grant the highest level of protection to:

*Elephants 

*Rhinos 

*Lions 

An added issue for lions is the trade in captive bred lion parts remains legal. This perpetuates the Asian demand, and serves as an added incentive for South Africa to continue breeding farms. (Currently there are approximately 7,000 lions kept on 200 breeding farms throughout South Africa.)

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© Data from UNEP-WCMC

In theory wild lion parts are not legally traded. Yet, there is no way to tell the difference between a wild lion bone and a captive lion bone. If money is to be made, bones will likely be obtained. Like a fenced in yard with surrounded by only  three sides, protection for Africa’s lion is incomplete, and proves worrisome to an even  faster decline.

In the end, the negligence to protect one species casts a shadow over the decision to protect others. It also casts doubt on the credibility and intentions of our CITES delegates.

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President Zuma at CITES. South Africa has been accused of “selling out” both elephants in lions in their votes against added protection. Photos by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth

 

There is no necessity in trading lion parts, wild or captive. To perpetuate a market and feed a false cultural perception is not only ethically questionable, but also sends a mixed message in the overall trade of wildlife products. Why is one species an acceptable “commodity” over another? And if a species becomes “captive bred”, is the door open for that species to be traded as well?

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Currently there are approximately 7,000 lions kept on 200 breeding farms throughout South Africa photo: One Green Planet

For Appendices ratings, just how low do the numbers have to get for us to act? The Northern White Rhinos are a perfect example of the error in waiting too long. There are 3 left. They were never afforded protection in time. Why isn’t their predicament enough; does history teach us nothing?

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Only three Northern White Rhinos remain, all living in Kenya at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. photo: Brent Stirton/Nat Geo

(It is important to note that upgrading lions to the Appendix I status would ONLY have affected wild lions, and would not have afforded protection to their captive cousins.)

 

 

 

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Relentless

This must be one of the most brutal fortnights yet in the history of the rhino poaching war, in our province. At least 14 deaths were discovered in various protected areas in as many days. (I can’t go into detail at this time but it’s getting even more savage, as if that’s possible.)
Yesterday honestly rates as one of the lowest points in my life as a wildlife vet, pretty much an emotional breaking point – but it’s not the first time; it’s something that is happening far too often. I don’t think it is possible to explain to somebody who hasn’t experienced this nightmare, what even one death scene does to you. It’s traumatic and haunting, and cannot ever be erased from your mind. I’ve attended over 400!!

-From wildlife vet Dave Cooper

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Planting crosses for fallen rhinos in South Africa. So far, there are an estimated 731 of them this year.

The slaughter is real, the poachers are relentless. In this incident, Dr. Cooper attended a death scene of not just one more rhino, but four!

We need to be just as relentless in our efforts to curb the poaching and protect our rhinos. If you’ve ever thought about helping, there is no better time than now. Please DONATE to support APUs in Kenya and South Africa.

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photo: Max Waugh

 

 

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Small birds with their Big friends

Some lovely photos from our friend Jo:

 

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