Terrorists and the Rhino

With terrorism overshadowing our daily lives on a global level , it’s easy for the poaching epidemic to take a backseat on the list of top concerns. Yet, there is an undeniable link between the two.

For groups like Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda, *up to 40% of the organizational funding for weapons, training, basic supplies and operational costs; come from ivory.

terrorists

Getty Images

These groups are often the “middle men” along the chain of trade. Paying poachers less than $100 usd to do the dirty work, they gain approximately $2000/kilo in the sale of the ivory. Rhino horn is also a valued commodity for the terrorists, at a whopping $65000/kilo on the black market. An easy cash flow with little risk.

Stopping the actual poachers is meaningless, if others along the chain are not sought out. And in this case, stopping the middle men means ending the bloodshed for more than just rhinos and elephants.

victims of terrorism cartoon

*Investigation by  Nir Kalron (Founder & CEO of Maisha Consulting) and Andrea Crosta (Executive Director & Co-Founder of the Elephant Action League)

 

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A “Bullet” for future poachers

The anti-poaching units work long hard hours in harsh conditions. They are tough, skilled, dependable and absolutely imperative to the survival of our remaining rhinos. And some of them aren’t even human.

Welcome Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centres newest recruit: Bullet.

Bullet

Bullet is an 8 week old Malinois. He will already begin his training within the week! Anti-poaching dogs are HIGHLY effective in the war on poaching, but can cost up to $10,000 for one animal!

We have so far raised approximately $400 toward Chloe’s training, and are looking to further help Bullet and other members of the canine APU team at HESC.

Your help is needed and appreciated! DONATE via Paypal and please help spread the word! With your help, someday soon Bullet will be able to easily sniff out ammunition and gun powder just like Chloe!

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Update on Chloe

Thank you to everyone who’s donated or purchased a tee. So far we have raised $270 toward Chloe’s anti-poaching class!

She has started her training, but still needs $852 to cover the total ($1152.00) Here’s a glimpse of her hard work-this is Chloe identifying rhino horn:

Please consider donating through our Paypal link.

 

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Endangered Animals: the new “collectible” in China

Rhinos horns have been coveted as a use in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2000 years.

Over the last few years, rhino horn powder has trended as a status symbol in Vietnam. It is used as a “party drug” for the elite.

rhino horn powder afp getty

Woman grind horn into powder. photo: AFP/Getty

Now, rhino horn, along with pangolin scales, tiger bones, and ivory are being kept as collectibles.

China’s social elite is stockpiling the products in anticipation of their extinction. They  prefer wild “products” over farm-raised,as they see more worth in them. Wild animals are thought to be more potent as well.

tiger bone wine

Tiger wine, made from their bones, is being kept or “aged” with hopes of increased value if they become extinct. photo: unknown

Endangered species have become the new collectible. According to John R Platt,  as more collectors have entered the market, killing endangered species has grown increasingly profitable. Ivory wholesale prices, for example, have shot up from $564 per kilogram in 2006 to at least $2,100 today.

Just one rhino horn nets about $100,000. Helmeted Hornbill beak can fetch over $6,000 per kg, and a tiger skin rug is worth $124,000.

helmeted hornbill by species on the brink

Helmeted hornbills, from Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, are so rare, numbers are not quantified. Their beaks worth more than ivory. photo: Asian Species Action Partnership

Investing in the death of our world’s wildlife is a greedy, unforgivable endeavor. The faster the rich wipe out our animals, the poorer we all become.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What I’ve learned from saving Rhinos

The world of rhino conservation is all consuming, sometimes torturous, and reward is fleeting. Yet it’s a calling, like any I suppose, that cannot be ignored. Others have heeded the call, some living in the trenches even more overwhelmed with the life and death scenarios on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.

Like many “animal lovers” fed up with the atrocities our fellow humans have committed toward other species, I never considered myself a “people person”. I believed the Baraka n merhinos in essence were in need of help and saving from people.

“Shoot the poachers”, “Save the rhinos”

Yet at some point over the years, something surprising has happened. I realized, like most things, it’s not that simple. What began as a one-tracked repetitive concern of rhinos has transformed into…well, a greater worry, compassion and understanding of humanity.

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LB from RPA, Dr. Fowlds, & Simon from Helping Rhinos in South Africa

I’ve come to understand two greater truths:
1. Rhinos are only the beginning. While they are dying, other species are too. And IF they’re gone for good, it only opens the door to poaching and trafficking of other species. It will not stop with them because it’s not a rhino problem, it’s a human problem.

2. In order to save the rhinos, we MUST work together. WE, as in, people. Rangers need our support, would-be-poachers need stable incomes for their families, and communities need incentive to support themselves and each other. And in order to “set the table” for this to happen WE, as in organizations and governments need to work together to support these efforts. More jobs, greater education=more rhinos and wildlife in general.

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Dr. Rogers & team @HESC

Through support from donors like many of you, and working with other organizations I’ve realized there ARE people who care, and that rhinos need people. Perhaps the most humbling lesson has been a personal one, I need people.

If we, are successful, THEY are successful and in the end we all win.

chilling-rhinos

Photo: Rhino Alliance

 

 

 

 

 

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T-shirt Time!

We need to raise $1,152 to support Chloe’s canine ranger class at Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre.

With the purchase of a tee, you can help do that and SHOW your support by being a valuable part of our Rhino Security Team!

T-shirts are 100% cotton, available in 4 colors from S to XL, at a cost of just $19.99 usd.

FFR Chloe Tee

Not purchasing a tee? Please consider a straight donation through our Paypal button on the top left of the page. Your support means a lot.

Chloe

Chloe

 

 

Categories: Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A tragedy larger than Harambe

harambe zinci zoo

Harambe, Cincinnati Zoo

A silverback gorilla, a toddler, and a decision to be made. The untimely demise of Harambe is stirring debate across the country.

Forced to act quickly, the zoo’s response team was in an unenviable position. Animal behavior is unpredictable, they’re wild. But so are people.

In 1996 at the Brookfield Zoo a toddler fell into the gorilla exhibit, in 1999 a man was found dead with a killer whale at Sea World, in 2009 a woman jumped into the polar bear enclosure at the Berlin Zoo, in 2012 a toddler fell into an African Wild Dog enclosure; the list goes on.

It makes you wonder, should enclosures be made to keep animals in? Or to keep people out?

Since 1990, animals died during escapes or attacks 42 times in U.S. zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, 15 zoo incidents resulted in the loss of human life, and 110 resulted in injury according to Born Free, USA.

gugu panda

Gugu the Panda @Beijing Zoo

People entering enclosures range from “accidental” like the toddler in the Brookfield Zoo and the current case with Harambe, to suicidal, and downright deranged. The Beijing Zoo has had multiple occasions of people entering  Gugu the Panda’s exhibit to “hug” him. He’s bitten them every time, but it hasn’t seemed to stop the incidents.

So what is the point in zoos? Do they contribute to conservation? Spark appreciation? Or are they outdated and unnecessary?

When bringing my son to the zoo, we would meander from one exhibit to another, observing the animals; discussing each one, explaining their habits, their likes and quirks. We bonded over our love for animals. He learned appreciation, respect, and the connections all of us as living beings have in the world.

In the age of cell phones, selfies, and convenience, are zoos an insignificant place where the awe and wonder of animals are taken for granted? Is conservation just a trend on twitter? What is more endangered, the animals or our empathy and connection with our world?

phily zoo 1874

The oldest zoo in America is the Philadelphia zoo, opened in 1874. The first animal was a raven.

 

 

 

 

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Meet Chloe

The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre is a South African wildlife sanctuary devoted to rehabilitating endangered and vulnerable animals, most notably the cheetah and rhino.

In recent weeks, they have taken in several orphaned rhinos, and it is critical their security and anti-poaching efforts are maximized, for the safety of the animals and staff.

Baby N Muddy Olivia hesc

Fight for Rhinos is working with the HESC on canine training for their APU. We urgently need your support to send Chloe through her anti-poaching training to keep these little ones safe during their rehabilitation.

Chloe is a 2 year old Belgian Malinois. What makes Chloe so special is that she has been selected for anti-poaching training at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre!
Often poachings are only discovered after a rhino is killed. The key to a successful anti-poaching unit is the ability to be pro-active and minimize the loss of rhinos in the first place.

A well trained dog is an integral part of that plan. As a Belgian Malinois, Chloe is gifted with the intelligence and ability to smell and detect the faintest of scents. In fact, many of the APUs in Kruger National Park utilize the same breed.

ranger and dog search vehicle

Ranger and dog in vehicle search at Kruger. photo:SanParks

 According to Albe, the head of the APU who will be handling her, “Chloe can help us to detect contraband in vehicles , houses  and areas around houses or also at crime scenes. She will be used during road blocks with the police and we will check all vehicles entering our reserve. This pro-active work will deter poachers from coming into our area in the first place. If they dare to enter our reserve, the dog will be able to detect the hidden firearms and ammunition before the poachers will be able to kill the rhinos.”

          DONATE FOR CHLOE

Training will take place for ten weeks, a week of which will be spent on the reserve she will be protecting. With this training, she will be accredited and registered. This is important, as only evidence found by an accredited dog can be used in a court for criminal prosecution.
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Rhino conservation is going to the dogs

Nairobi stray trained in apu by jeremy goss

This Nariobi stray was trained and utilized in a Kenyan APU. Photo: Jeremy Goss

With the ability to hear at a distance 4x greater and at a higher pitch,
the amazing ability to feel or sense energy,
and with a sense of smell 1,000 to 10,000,000 times more sensitive than a human
dogs are the perfect anti-poaching weapon.

Like the superman of an anti-poaching team, they can work long hours through harsh conditions, picking up the trail of a poacher without hesitation. They can search a car in 3-4 minutes, while it can take an hour to search with humans alone. And they are relentless to reach their goal.

Utilized everywhere from  Kruger National Park, the Congo, Kenya, and Zambia; they are trained to track poachers, to locate ivory and horn, and even to repel from helicopters.

dog propeling from copter by paramount group

K9 Conservation Training practicing repelling with ranger and his canine companion. Photo: Paramount Group

The most frequently used breeds are Bloodhounds, Weimaraner , Malinois, and Antaloian Shepherds. Dog selection is based partially on specific working conditions and most importantly on personality and demeanor.

According to Megan Parker, from Working Dogs Conservation in Montana, “bad” dogs don’t make great pets, but their personalities are perfect for conservation work.

The perfect example of this comes from a “bad” dog named Ruger. Found in an animal shelter and highly “unadoptable”, he has successfully been trained in anti-poaching work. The first anti-poaching canine in Zambia, Ruger has put away 150 poachers to date. And all this work for what? A reward of a game of tug-o-war with his favorite chew toy.

shelter dog helps rangers

Ruger with the Delta Team in Zambia. Photo:unknown.

With all the perks of working with dogs, perhaps Damien Bell, director of Big Life Tanzania, sums it up best.

“Apart from their incredible tracking abilities, dogs are wonderful to work with because they don’t have any political agenda—they can’t be compromised. “

 

 

 

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Hunting Outfitters Involved in Poaching

From Down the Rabbit Hole by Oxpeckers 2013:

Rogue South African trophy hunters are directly involved in ‘a mad scramble’ to poach rhinos and get their horns out of the Kruger National Park, according to reliable intelligence sources. The horns are sold illegally, which is facilitated by layers of corruption among customs officials and Mozambique’s politicians. By Fiona Macleod & Estacio Valoi

Documents in the possession of Oxpeckers show the errant trophy hunters are supplying Mozambican poachers with ammunition and helping them to sell the horns illegally. They manage to avoid apprehension by bribing local officials and courting influence with Mozambican politicians.

Oxpeckers 1

The southern border of the Kruger National Park. Rangers arrested eight poaching suspects along the Crocodile river in August 2015

 

The hunters run safari outfits along the south-eastern border of the Kruger, and they gain access to the park through gaps in the fence between the two countries. They cannot be named owing to the seriousness of the trafficking allegations against them.

They operate in the vicinity of Corumana dam and the former Magud headquarters of Mozambique’s Renamo movement. Corumana dam is a popular destination among birders and fishers, and is being expanded to supply water to Maputo about 30km away.

“During the day Corumana is serene, but at night you hear the traffic of boats with engines plying their illegal trade. There is a mad scramble to get as many rhino horns out of the Kruger Park as possible,” said a fisherman who visited the area recently.

Independent intelligence sources have been monitoring the hunting operators since 2011. They say they have passed their information on to anti-poaching authorities in South Africa, but have received no feedback on whether it has been followed up.

Confidential documents reveal that the kingpin is a safari outfitter with a hunting concession close to Corumana dam. He regularly hunts wildlife without permits, according to intelligence, and smuggles animal trophies and rhino horns in a hidden compartment of his vehicle.

The documents implicate him directly in the poaching of rhinos in southern Kruger and the smuggling of their horns to Maputo and South Africa. He is also accused of bribing the local police chief to drop charges against poachers working with him.

Other hunters fingered in the investigation since 2011 include a safari outfit previously caught luring lions out of the Kruger for “canned” hunts, and another outfit previously implicated in ivory smuggling in Namibia. The network has formed strategic alliances with politicians and prominent business in Mozambique for protection, according to the intelligence.

 

 

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