Posts Tagged With: Asia

World Elephant Day

ele 3d

Let’s remember the elephants today! The social, intelligent beautiful giants are threatened by us through poaching and habitat destruction.  One elephant is killed every 15 minutes!  Say No to Ivory!

And a special thank you to all who dedicate themselves to helping the elephant. You are appreciated!

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Prince William: Poaching Gets Attention from the Royals

Prince William has been throwing his royal weight behind endangered species. He’s pleading with the public to put an end to illegal trade. He has warned that his generation will be the first to regard elephants, rhinos and tigers as “historical creatures in the same category as the dodo”.

Taking part in The End WIldlife Crime Conference, which consisted of conservationists and politicians, he emphasized to the group the seriousness of international illegal trade. They discussed ways to tackle smuggling, and worked to generate ideas to be discussed at a future meeting this autumn.  The autumn meeting will be attended by heads of state from across the world.

Grant Miller, of the UK Border Force, said that in the past year more than 675 items had been seized, including a Rolls Royce with alligator skin upholstery, 1.6 tonnes of tortoise jelly, books bound in elephant hide, phials of bear bile used in traditional medicines, a bottle of whiskey containing a whole snake and numerous rhino horns concealed in china dolls  and a live Geoffroy’s Cat.

Prince WIlliam is the royal patron of the wildlife charity, The Tusk Trust. He , just as his father, seems invested in the future of the world’s wildlife. Will his influence be able to help save the rhinos, tigers and elephants to share with his son?

prince william with rhino

Prince William feeds a five-year-old black rhino called Zawadi during a visit to Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kentearlier He has called people involved in the illegal trade of rhino horn ‘extremely ignorant, selfish and utterly wrong.

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Urgent: Crushing Blow to the Rhino!


Plan to trade rhino horns on JSE


Manager for the Department of Enviromental Affairs Mavuso Msimang speaks at the launch of the latest report. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Durban – The government has baulked at the massive cost of dehorning up to 10 000 rhinos to slow down the rate of poaching – but is looking into a separate plan to trade rhino horn on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

It has also emerged that South Africa may apply for special permission to hold two rhino horn auctions within the next year, instead of waiting another three years for the next meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).

Earlier this week, the Department of Environmental Affairs released the recommendations of the Rhino Issues Management (RIM) report which calls for the immediate dehorning of thousands of rhino in national parks.

Written by former SA National Parks chief executive Mavuso Msimang, the report argues that dehorning large numbers of rhino would demonstrate South Africa’s international commitment to preserving the species from possible extinction due to the increase in rhino poaching over the past five years.

Msimang noted that de-horning would be “extremely costly” and would have to be repeated every two to three years, as horns regrew at the rate of about 5cm every year.

“To dehorn 10 000 rhino at a rate of eight rhino per day will take approximately 1 000 days (almost three years) and cost in the region of R84 million,” says the report, noting that it costs about R8 000 to dehorn each rhino, to take DNA samples and insert microchips into the horn.

Despite record poaching levels, South Africa still has about 19 000 white rhino and 2 000 black rhino (which together account for nearly 75 percent of the global rhino population or 83 percent of the African rhino population).

The report acknowledges that male and female rhino use their horns for defence, while black rhino sometimes use their front horns to pull down branches to browse – but suggests that some of the potential problems could be avoided if all males in the same area were dehorned simultaneously.

However, the government made it clear this week that de-horning was a non-starter for now – except in smaller reserves.

Citing the results of a specialist study, senior Department of Environmental Affairs official Thea Carroll said de-horning was seen as a viable option for only small rhino populations because of the major and repeated expenses of dehorning large numbers of rhino in expansive areas such as Kruger National Park or Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.

In a separate recommendation, Msimang urged the government to consider opening a rhino trading bourse possibly linked to the JSE.

The bourse could be run by a board of directors or a trust drawn from the public/private sector and civil society, generating income to offset the costs of keeping and protecting rhinos.

In her response, Carroll did not rule out this suggestion completely and said the feasibility would have to be investigated in collaboration with the Treasury and other relevant organisations.

Nevertheless, it seems highly unlikely that investors could be persuaded to trade horns until Cites makes a ruling on South Africa’s controversial proposal to end the 36-year-old world ban on international rhino product trading.

South Africa is expected to submit a formal proposal to the next Cites meeting, which will be held in South Africa in 2016.

But Msimang’s report, based on a series of workshops and meetings held last year, noted that South Africa might not have to wait so long to submit its trading proposal.

He said that although such proposals were normally considered at Cites meetings held every three years, there was a special provision under article 27 of the Cites rules which allowed for interim applications to be made in-between these triennial meetings.

The Rhino Issues Management report also recommends that the government lifts the moratorium on domestic rhino horn sales because it has had the unintended consequence of pushing up poaching levels by starving the illegal black market of horns. – The Mercury

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Raja: Hostage to the Palm Oil Industry

baby raja

Straining against his chains, bellowing helplessly for his mother, baby Raja is held captive. He is alone, scared and hungry. The villagers in this Sumatran village are holding him for ransom. His crime: he and his family were searching for food in a deforested area, trespassing on the crops.


In what is becoming an all too familiar scenario, demands are soaring for palm oil, more forests are being decimated for palm plantations, and the animals’ food and homes are destroyed leaving them displaced and desperate.

Raja’s family, along with other homeless elephants were foraging for food, trying to survive. He was captured and brought into the village, held for weeks in an attempt to bargain with the government for compensation for their lost crops.

One man went so far as to jump on the baby’s back in an attempt to”ride” him, saying the elephant should be trained to do tricks to “earn” his money back.

Various groups tried to get veterinary care to the baby, and fought for his release but sadly Raja died. The stress and inadequate diet were too much for the little elephant.

In the end, it’s not just a matter of saving the elephants (and the Tigers, Rhino and Orangutans in the forests of Asia), but also of saving the people. Deforestation has disastrous effects on the soil, the climate and ultimately the villages.


Palm oil is used in 50% of consumer products, but is NOT a necessary ingredient.  Your ice-cream, margarine, shampoo, lipstick,  and some breakfast cereals all contain palm oil. Please read labels and avoid palm products. For more information on palm oil or other names it goes by please go to : Say No to Palm Oil  or the previous post There’s Orangutan Blood in my Kitchen.

Categories: Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Making History for Elephants

Since the beginning of mankind, animals have had to make way for people. We come in, build, take over, and run them off their land.  But for the first time in known history, people are moving for animals.

indiaIn Assam India, an entire village is relocating to make room for the Asian Elephants. The Ran Terang village is situated in the direct corridor connecting the Nambor-Doigrung Wildlife sanctuary to the Kaziranga National Park. This “highway” is the lifeline for approximately 2,000 threatened pachyderms. By moving the village, there will be no human  interference allowing the elephants to move freely, as well as making way for other threatened species such as the tigers.

Convincing the village to move has not been easy, but the people will also benefit. In addition to not worrying about the elephants destroying their paddy crops now, the 19 families are being set up with water and electricity in their new homes. The new area will be turned into a model ethnic Karbi village, with the potential to be turned into a tourist destination.

“The Karbi people will create history in the field of environmental conservation by karbi village relocatesthis unique gesture. We have to learn to live with the animals and I’m proud that the Karbis are showing the way to the world,” says Recho Harsing Ronghang, the 40th king of the Karbi Anglong.

The constant demand for land to set up rubber and tea plantations has resulted in deforestation, and in turn  habitat fragmentation in the area. This coupled with growing human population is hurting the threatened species in the area.

Considering that one-fifth of the Asian elephant population resides here in Assam, this is a crucial move.asian elephant herd

The Wildlife Trust of India is behind the move. WTI’s Dilip Deori said “the village was totally supportive in the project and are helping us in every way possible.”  There are eight other corridors in Assam that could benefit from relocation as well, a huge undertaking, yet as the Karbi people have shown, completely possible.

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Buyer Beware

Illegal Ivory Trade-China, Vietnam, and Thailand certainly play the biggest role in the demise of the elephant. With over 32,000 elephants slaughtered within the last year, poaching and illegal trade have reached epic proportions.

But the US is second to China in the dealings of illegal ivory.

The US is seemingly aggressive when it comes to seizing illegal ivory entering the country. In 2012  $2 million of ivory was seized in Manhattan; the guilty parties were asian jewelry shop owners.

But the black market trade is fueled by cyberspace. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) states that online trading is definitely an issue in the US. One way sellers and buyers use to conceal their product is by using code words; ox bone, white gold, unburnable bone, or cold to the touch.

I checked into the four most prominent sites here in the US-Google, Amazon, Ebay and Amazingly, it took only a few minutes for me to find ivory jewelry and trinkets on Google, Amazon and Ebay. I found nothing on

The US law states that ivory from the African Elephant cannot be internationally sold or bought. But  it IS legal to own, sell or buy within the US. No permits or registration is required. Pertaining to the Asian Elephant-all trade is illegal across the board.

The thought being that the ivory  already present is older “pre-ban” ivory dating before 1989. However, there seems to be no shortage of  items found on-line.

Google said in an emailed response to The Associated Press that “ads for products obtained from endangered or threatened species are not allowed on Google. As soon as we detect ads that violate our advertising policies, we remove them. But there are so many ads that come out every day, you have to be vigilant. You have to keep checking.”

Illicit ivory sold in the US is typically used to make gun and knife handles, billiard balls, piano keys and combs. There is also a market for small items such as trinkets and jewelry.

ele love

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To Trade or Not To Trade: THAT is the Question

Poaching is the ultimate crisis threatening the rhino and elephant. But when it comes to finding a solution to the problem, there are more questions than answers. The great debate is whether or not to legalize the trade of the horns and tusks.

slaughtered rhino

In Favor of Legalization

*Proponents believe legalizing would essentially take the control of  trade away from the criminals by flooding the market, it would reduce the incentives for poachers.

*It would give a tangible monetary value to the life of the rhino, thus increasing the incentive to keep them alive and cared for.

*The horn is a renewable resource-it Does grow back

*There would be no need for culling or trophy hunting, as every life would have value.

*Nothing else is working, so it’s worth a try.


Against Legalization

*The argument against is that since the current ban isn’t being well policed, legal trade wouldn’t be either. Corruption and laundering of the illegal horn will continue. Illegal trade will Always undercut legal trade as poaching is cheaper than the costs of National Parks.

*CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) would demand proof of where the horn was obtained, and many of the current stockpiles contain horns of unknown origin, thus making them unsellable. Therefore the stockpile is not as abundant as people may think.

*There are only approximately 28,000 rhinos on the planet, yet the potential Asian market  of 1.5 billion users creates an issue of not enough supply to keep up with the demand.  Although the horn is renewable, it takes approximately 3 years for it to regrow, not quick enough to satiate the Asian desire for it.

*Lastly, it’s counterproductive to educate the public that the rhino horn as medicine is a myth, while agreeing to sell it.

So what’s the solution? People on both sides agree it’s a rocky road, not knowing what effect it could have. In the meanwhile, rhino farmers continue to collect their rhinos’ horns and governments sit on stockpiles of confiscated horns, anticipating the day when profit can be made.

Interesting that the rhino is so “fortunate” to be able to give us all this opportunity for debate.  The sharks whose fins are being sliced off cannot regrow them, the tigers whose body parts are taken, and the seals who are clubbed to death don’t have a chance. Let us hope we can come to a decision before it’s too late.

While the debate wears on, I for one am searching for more information, for solid numbers, more definite answers. Where is the balance between appeasing the people and saving the rhino? Can we save each other?

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All About the Horn

Rhinoceros horns are made from keratin, similar to cockatoo bills and
horses’ hooves. Like our fingernails-they DO grow back. It’s been observed that once removed, they regrow completely in 3 years.

There are five types of rhino; the Sumatran, Black Rhino, White Rhino,
Javan, and Indian. The Sumatran, Black and White Rhinos each have two
horns, while the Javan and Indian have one. Depending on the rhino,
horns vary anywhere from 10 inches (for the smaller species) to
55 inches (for the larger ones).

The main use rhinos have for the horn(s) is posturing. They will scare off
encroaching animals or other rhinos. If intimidation doesn’t work, they
use the horns to charge and fight. Other times they may use them to dig in
the soil for grass or edible roots, or water in dry riverbeds. Females use
them to guide and steer their calves.

The luster of a rhino horn increases with age so people (primarily in China and Yemen) crave them, for ornamental purposes. They make dagger handles, ceremonial cups, buttons, belt buckles and paper weights from them.

The horns are also ground into powder and used in traditional medicines in
Malaysia, South Korea, India and China. It is thought to treat fever,
rheumatim, gout, snakebites, and even headaches. (Too bad they don’t just
try Ibuprofen!)

There is NO scientific evidence to support the belief of horns having
healing properties.


Black Rhino Pair

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