Posts Tagged With: community

For some, poaching is a “second job”

In a 2015 study of admitted poachers in the largest park in Tanzania, 4 out of 5 admitted to poaching for food or income. But not all of them poached due to extreme poverty (in need of food and shelter) .  For many it was a means of supplemental  income. In fact only 8% used poaching as their only source of income. by Conservation and Society

                                                                                                                   Out of 171 poachers, 60 had some form of employment.

The poachers with other means of income were using poaching as a means to advance their families out of day to day living.

“While our poachers and their households had adequate food and shelter, most lacked abilities to send children to school, or advance themselves in any meaningful way,” said Eli Knapp, lead author of the study.

 

This changes the popular assumption that people only poach out of absolute need.

For more on the study by Conservation and Society, see: Probing Rural Poachers in Africa: why do they poach?

Ruaha National Park, largest park in Tanzania, photo: Lonely Planet

 

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It Takes a Village

Fight for Rhinos

How far would you go to help your neighborhood? What would you do to protect it? In the US we have “neighborhood watches” for that very purpose. In northern Kenya, they have a watch group- a grass-roots squad of rangers  formed to protect the elephants and rhino from poachers.apu

Essentially a conservation militia, these volunteer villagers are fed up and taking matters into their own hands. The ordinary citizens are arming themselves and taking to the bush to fight back. Not necessarily out of a “Have you hugged an elephant today?” attitude, but to protect the money the elephant (and rhino) bring to their villages.

The safari/tourist industry is a successful and integral money-maker for Kenyans. An economic staple, tourists bring in more than a billion dollars a year. Much of that money is contractually bound to go directly to impoverished local communities, which use it for everything from…

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The Key to stop Rhino Poaching

In a recent article, a frustrated prosecutor in South Africa made a comparison that rhino poaching cases are treated similarly to shoplifting cases.

Prosecutor Ansie Venter has been working poaching cases in the heart of rhino country for six years. With a high conviction rate, things should be looking up. But instead Venter says “I think it’s still getting busier by the day, but our hands are virtually tied”.

Last December there were 38 poaching cases in the court in just one day in Skukuza!

poached mom rhino with baby near

Rhino poached , her baby orphaned-a familiar scene in South African parks.

South Africa IS the epicenter of the rhino poaching war, but does not have specific legislation designed to address rhino poaching. To say laws need to be strengthened and government needs to become more focused is an understatement. But when the DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) refuses to even release poaching stats, due to being “too busy”, the incompetence leaves little hope of change from the current party.

In addition to stiffer sentences, Terri Stander, the shadow Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, believes this:

Terri Stander

Terri Stander

“I believe there are three key areas (to stop poaching):

1. Intelligence needs to be strengthened to disrupt organised crime syndicates
2. There needs to be a concerted focus on demand reduction campaigns in consumer countries
3. Communities surrounding National Parks need service delivery to create an environment for job creation, but also education/awareness campaigns that renew the lost value of being responsible for SA wildlife.”
A multi-faceted, huge mountain to tackle, but not impossible. There is much at stake with winning this war. As Stander puts it  “I see rhino as the face of all wildlife crime – if we can get it right with the rhino – we can get it right with everything else.”
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The Ladies of the Black Mambas APU

Olifants National Park

Black Mambas are deployed in 5 areas throughout the 50,000 hectares of Olifants, which is part of the Greater Kruger National Park.

Fight for Rhinos and Helping Rhinos proudly support the Black Mambas anti-poaching unit; a primarily female APU established in 2013 to protect the Olifants West Game Reserve.

The objective of the Black Mambas is not only the protection of rhinos through boots on the ground but also through being a role model in their communities. These women work to the concept of the “Broken Window” philosophy and strive to make their area of influence the “most undesirable, most difficult and least profitable place to poach”.

Recently we asked two of the rangers, Shipwe and Collett, about their jobs…

Shipiwe

Shipwe

Collett

Collett

FFR: Why did you join the Black Mambas?

Collett: Seeing rhinos being killed each and everyday, it helped my heart to make a decision that enough is enough with the killing. I joined the Mambas to stop the killing.

Shipwe: I joined to help make a difference in saving and protecting our rhinos.

FFR: What is the toughest part of being a Black Mamba?

Collett: Seeing a dead rhino carcass in front of me makes my heart bleed and it disturbs me a lot.

Shipwe: Knowing that we are dealing with dangerous people. I mean poachers you don’t know where you’ll find them out there in the field, but we know how to handle it.

FFR: What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?

Collett: Doing road blocks, searching cars that are going out of the reserves for unpermitted things.

Shipwe: Sweeping

Black mambas marching

The Black Mambas main objective main objective is to search and destroy poacher’s camps, wire-snares and bush-meat kitchens every day.

FFR: Do you feel you’re treated differently than men in APUs?

Collett: No, they treat me as an APU, not as a man or a woman.

Shipwe:  No, I feel treated very well. It seems we are the first females to be in this field.

FFR: What have you learned since joining the Mambas that you didn’t know before?

Collett: How to do a bush walk.

Shipwe: I have learned how to interact with animals of all kinds because I work with them almost everyday.

FFR: What can your community do to best support you?

Collett: Stop coming from the reserve and poaching, because these people are coming from our communities.

Shipwe:  By organizing meetings so that I can go and teach them, young and old people, about saving our nature and reserves.

Stop killing rhinos black mambas

FFR: You are an inspiration to your community, as well as to girls who may not have thought of being in a APU before. What would you say to girls or women who are thinking of doing the same job?

Collett:  To do this job is not simple, so they need to be in love with animals and have a mind-set of wanting to protect our rhinos more than to think about money or other stuff.

Shipwe:  I can say to them they need to have a big heart to do it, because it requires all your energy, your ability to think and the courage to do it.

The Black Mambas have identified and destroyed over 12 poachers’ camps and 3 bush meat kitchens within the “buffer-zone” as well as reduced snaring and poisoning activities by 76% within their area of operation since their deployment in 2013.

To continue to support their endeavors, consider donating to Fight for Rhinos in the US, or Helping Rhinos in the UK.

 

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Using Art to help stop poaching of rhinos

How can this….

This Little Piggy went Wine Tasting by Will Bullas

This Little Piggy went Wine Tasting by Will Bullas

Stop this…?

rhino mom poached with baby near

Within the last 24 hours in South Africa

It’s fun, it’s beautiful and it makes a great talking piece for your living room. But this art, like all the pieces in our auction has a much more important goal: to raise funds to stop the slaughter of the iconic, majestic rhinos.

The above image just happened within the last 24 hours in South Africa. This all too common occurrence happens 4 times a day, everyday. The current rhino population CANNOT sustain this level of decimation.

At Fight for Rhinos, we work closely with our UK-based partners Helping Rhinos in carefully choosing a combination of projects that give our rhinos the best chance at a future. Currently this includes

  • assisting in the survival of orphans
  • keeping rangers active in the field
  • supporting and educating local communities on the importance of wildlife preservation.

Your purchase and/or donations are the only way we can keep this going.

Every SHARE, LIKE, RT…spreads awareness.
Every dollar donated, every piece sold…it DOES make a difference.

Please join us in this unique opportunity and help us help rhinos!  ART FOR RHINOS

 

 

 

Categories: Making a Difference, Poetry & Art, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Update on South Africa’s “Strategic Rhino Management Plan”

Five months ago Edna Molewa, South Africa’s Minister of Environmental Affairs, announced the “Strategic Rhino Management Plan”. It comprised elements of better intelligence and law enforcement involvement, strengthened anti-poaching efforts, and translocating rhinos into safer zones.

After the worst year of poaching in history, Molewa reported on the progress of the strategy in a media briefing today.

Here are the highlights:

Translocation Update: The program is ongoing and continues to be a success. In the last quarter of 2014, 56 rhinos had been moved out of poaching hotspots and translocated from certain areas within the Kruger National Park (KNP) to an Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ) as well as well as to other more secure areas .

In addition, approximately 100 rhinos have been translocated to neighboring States during 2014, through both private partnerships and government initiatives.

rhino relocation cornel can heerden

Rhino relocation  (Cornel Van Heerden)

Rhino Sales Update: Twenty bids were received during the SANParks tender process for the purchase of white rhino from the Kruger National Park.

Proceeds from the sale of rhino will be allocated to a ring-fenced fund that will be ploughed into conservation projects, including rhino conservation.

Security and habitat suitability assessments are to be carried out following site inspections at the properties owned by the leading bidders.

Proactive anti-poaching initiatives: During 2014 there was increased collaboration between provincial, national and international law-enforcement agencies, as well as the criminal justice system and prosecution service.

Protection Zones, including the Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ) have been set up and are fully functional.

An Intelligence Working Group on Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWG), coordinated by the National Intelligence Coordination Committee (NICOC) has been established and has started work.

forensics at rhino poaching courtesy of kruger

Forensics plays a large part in prosecution of rhino poachers. (Sibongile Khumalo)

 

Forensics: Space for the SAPS Environmental Forensic Laboratory has been identified.

Funding has been transferred to the University of Pretoria Veterinary Genetics Lab to increase capacity to process rhino DNA routine samples and to cover the costs of DNA kits

Forensic trailers have been procured and are in the process of being fitted with equipment and branded.

Arrests, investigations and prosecutions: The number of alleged poachers, couriers and syndicate members arrested has risen from 343 in 2013 to 386 in 2014.

A conviction rate of 61 per cent was secured: a figure we as the DEA remains confident will be improved. At the end of October 2014, with six months to go, the conviction rate stood at 50 per cent.

In addition there was mention of additional “training programs” at the airports and with magistrates, as well as community involvement initiatives.

molewa file picture

Molewa 2014

 

According to Molewa: “We as the Department of Environmental Affairs remain confident that the integrated strategic management of rhinoceros plan is bearing fruit.

However, in the light of increased poaching numbers, it is clear that existing interventions need to be strengthened.

As we count the cost not only in terms of financial costs, but also loss of human life and risks to national security; it is important to re-emphasise that South Africa and other countries impacted by these activities, cannot win this fight alone.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Bringing the Anti-Poaching Message Home

Shadow Minister of Environmental Affairs Terri Stander with rhino  ambassadors.

Shadow Minister of Environmental Affairs Terri Stander with rhino ambassadors.

In 2013 the South African Wildlife College developed the Rhino Ambassadors program.

The brainchild of Dr Bandile Mkhize, Chief Executive Officer of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the program was initiated to raise a groundswell against the poaching of rhinos in communities surrounding KwaZulu-Natal.

From humble beginnings of training ten community leaders, those leaders then went on to select the first group of youth as trainees. Since then the program has trained an additional 300 ambassadors.

The idea of course has merit, as it brings education and awareness to the communities, income potential to the chosen participants, and additional eyes and ears on the ground to keep poachers at bay.

Sbusiso Mtshali, 2013

Sbusiso Mtshali, 2013

According to Sbusiso Mtshail, an amabassador in the program in 2013,

“In our jobs as rhino ambassadors we are often faced with ignorance and poor people; people who don’t know much about why we have to have indigenous trees, why we must not urinate into rivers and why our wildlife is so precious.

“You see, as a group, we believe people have lost touch with the beauty and abundance (his word) of nature. And one of our ambassadors – his name is Themba – said this is where the problem lies.

“He said if man came from nature how can man live without it? If you keep poaching rhinos and game are we not killing ourselves?

“We must teach our people about creating a balance..” (from Bandile Mkhize)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shades of Gray

rhino auction protest

Protesters at the Dallas Safari Club January 12th.

The Dallas Safari Club has auctioned off the life of a black rhino for $350,000.

In light of this recent atrocity, trophy hunting has come to the forefront of the social consciousness. The elitist hobby of killing for the thrill  has been going on since the 19th century, with nearly 18,000 participants a year.

Today, with the black rhino population in serious decline, each life is crucial to the species. It is a wonder that anyone could place higher value on their death, than their life. Endangered species are labeled as such to provide them extra levels of protection. Hunting them to “save” them flies in the face of logic.

Yet, some argue that hunting helps conservation. What do they mean by that?

Countries condone trophy hunting for a couple of reasons:
1. to make money – the money brought in from the hunting fee goes toward community conservation
2. to help control wildlife populations – keeping wildlife at reasonable numbers for the health of the species
3. to rid areas of “problem” animals –  i.e. elephants or cape buffalo that destroy crops

elephant huntedThe hunters pay fees, differing amounts depending on the size of the game.  Allegedly, these fees and the resulting meat are given to the communities.

With human/wildlife conflict a growing concern, many countries permit trophy hunting where only older males or repeated crop or cattle raiders are targeted. This provides a win-win for the village: the pest animal is removed and they receive monetary support.

Is it working? How much money is the community receiving? And how do they spend the money?

According to David Hulme, author and conservationist, its working well in terms of conservation.  Zimbabwe is having high conservation success, primarily because of the hunting community.

“Here in Zimbabwe hunters have been on the frontline of the poaching wars. They were at the forefront of massive rhino evacuation exercises, moving them from the Zambezi valley to safer areas. Pretty much the only rhino left in Zimbabwe are in the large conservancies, owned and operated by hunters.
Hunters here in Zim  also organized and carried out the first ever live adult elephant translocation exercise, moving whole herds from drought stricken Gonarezhou national park to the conservancies.”

The Save Conservancy in Zimbabwe, an area Hulme is quite familiar with, is one such example.

The conservancy used to be denuded cattle land and is now the largest privately owned conservation area in the world, at 1 million acres. In 1990 there were a handful of lions there, now there are hundreds, 20 odd rhino, now there are 130, 20 odd elephants now there are 1500, no buffalo now there are thousands.. “said Hulme.

big five james jean

Big Five by: James Jean

And what about the community? The Zimbabwe government is currently backing a project that allows trophy hunting of elephants, warthogs, giraffes, buffaloes and impalas. The project is well established, with the hunting fees being used to build a school and a clinic. This added income is especially helpful to the people during the dry season, when crops and livestock are not viable.

It’s hard to argue with the wildlife growth or community benefit. It’s been working in Zimbabwe for years. Yet what seems to be helpful in one area is a disaster in another.

South Africa remains the largest trophy hunting industry on the continent.  Frustratingly, they are one of only two countries to allow the legal hunting of rhinos. Of course with the rhino being endangered and this being home to the remaining 90% of them, this is a nightmare.

rhino awareness graffiti by Faktor

Rhino awareness graffiti in S.A. by: Faktor

Encouraging  legal hunting, while trying to crack down on illegal hunting (poaching) seems difficult, if not impossible. Rich foreigners with cash in hand stepping into impoverished communities make it all too easy for corruption to flourish.  In the end, it comes down to money. The communities need it, the hunters have it, and the animals are the product to be bought and sold.

________________________________________________

Thank you David Hulme for reminding me the world is more than black and white.
R.I.P.

david hulme 3

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

It Takes a Village

How far would you go to help your neighborhood? What would you do to protect it? In the US we have “neighborhood watches” for that very purpose. In northern Kenya, they have a watch group- a grass-roots squad of rangers  formed to protect the elephants and rhino from poachers.apu

Essentially a conservation militia, these volunteer villagers are fed up and taking matters into their own hands. The ordinary citizens are arming themselves and taking to the bush to fight back. Not necessarily out of a “Have you hugged an elephant today?” attitude, but to protect the money the elephant (and rhino) bring to their villages.

The safari/tourist industry is a successful and integral money-maker for Kenyans. An economic staple, tourists bring in more than a billion dollars a year. Much of that money is contractually bound to go directly to impoverished local communities, which use it for everything from pumping water to college scholarships.safari

The safari industry also provides 500,000 jobs for the community; everything from cooks to safari guides to accountants. Contrary to the general belief the safari jobs can pay quite well.

In addition to the poachers “robbing” the community of its wildlife, villagers are also turning against them because the illegal wildlife trade fuels crime, corruption, instability in the community. Here in northern Kenya, poachers are diversifying into stealing livestock, printing counterfeit money and sometimes holding up tourists. Some are even buying assault rifles used in ethnic conflicts.

Is this key to future conservation efforts? Nothing else seems to be working. Everything from high tech drones and military deployment to removing or poisoning horns and tusks is being tried; yet poaching rates are still soaring. Perhaps with the local people appreciating and protecting their wildlife, the elephant and rhino still stand a chance.

no poaching

Categories: Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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