Posts Tagged With: Elephants

Waiting Game

ranger in tall grass

photo: unknown

Broken laces,

Thin soled boots

Uniforms worn as second skin.

Rifle at ready

Watching, waiting, listening

Time ticks

As silence invites to be broken.

Night’s campfires can’t warm,

Day’s heat smothers like a thick blanket

Minds wander, sleep beckons

Time ticks

Yesterday a success

for death found neither

ranger nor rhino and

life resumes.

Will tomorrow bring the same?

The hours will tell

Time ticks

as shift draws toward a close.

Back home families wait

and wonder.

 

By Tisha Wardlow

 

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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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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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Burn baby burn

I spoke to Chinese visitors who were astounded to see these mountains of ivory. After explaining where the tusks come from and the burn they agreed to pose with a tusk. It’s raw form is not beautiful or shiny; it is smelly, dirty and has hack marks on it. I explained why. At first she had no words. she just stared at the stacks. Then she called her friend and said, “I will tell Chinese people not to buy ivory”.

This was the experience of Paula Kahumbu, conservationist and CEO of Wildlife Direct, discussing Kenya’s upcoming ivory burn.

10000 dead elephants keny burn

The largest burn in history: 106 tonnes of ivory, 10,000 dead elephants (or to put in in perspective a 30 mile train of elephants trunk to tail) will be destroyed April 30th in Kenya

More than a “display”, the burn will transpire after a much larger event, the Giant’s Club Summit. African leaders, corporate leaders, members of the UN, USFWS (US Fish and Wildlife Service), and conservationists are among some of the approximate 200 invitees.

This event demonstrates not only the commitment of the Kenyan government to protecting its wildlife, but also gives hope and encouragement to neighboring countries, and the world.

Kahumbu believes Kenya has “turned the corner” in its ongoing struggle with poaching. Elephant poaching has decreased by a whopping 80%, and rhino poaching by 90% in the country. Although the battle is far from over, conservationists are finally beginning to even the playing field.

THIS

Elephant herd in Amboseli. photo: FFR

 

 

 

 

 

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

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 Indiscriminate Wildlife Killer

Poaching, an ongoing global threat to wildlife, usually brings to mind bad guys with guns and machetes intent on stealing rhino horns and elephant tusks.

snare 1

Generally nature doesn’t make circles, this is a good rule of thumb in detecting snares in the bush.

But another poaching method, silent, yet just as deadly are snares. Relatively easy to come by telephone or cable wire is used to trap whatever comes into its path.

While some animals caught in snares will end up in the cooking pot, as many as an estimated 90% will be left to rot in the bush  -Nick Tucker: Horror of Snares, Africa Geographic.

The majority suffer a painful, lingering death.

baby ele in poach snare dswt

This baby elephant was found with a snare around its leg, cutting to the bone. Thankfully rescued in time by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, this little one was lucky. photo: DSWT

Rangers spend precious time and energy on snare detection and removal on a daily basis. While they may remove a number of snares from a given area, it is not uncommon they will find new snares in the same area the very next day. It is an ongoing battle to locate the snares before they do damage.

One poacher can set as many as twenty snares a day.

snare removal team

The Kibale National Park in Uganda employs an entire team to snare detection and removal 26 days a month. The team finds hundreds of snares a year. photo: Kibale Chimpanzee Project.

The damage is more expansive than typical elephant and rhino poaching, as it indiscriminately kills zebras, giraffes, lions, antelope, bushbuck, etc. It is problematic all across the dark continent as well as other parts of the world.

According to Nikela, no one really knows how many animals and birds are trapped and killed by snares for bushmeat and illegal trading.  We do know it ranks in the thousands, if not millions each year.

snares by ranger maxwell, photo nikela

This ranger and his team found 60 new snares in one month of patrolling their area, and 17 snares with trapped wildlife. photo Nikela

warthog wire art painted dog conservation fund

Some groups have turned recycled snare wires into an opportunity for awareness and funding for conservation through creating jewelry and art. This warthog was made via Art Center for the Painted Dog Conservation.

 

 

 

 

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How to Track a Poacher 101

southern africa wildlife college

photo: Southern Africa Wildlife College

Rangers are taught “basic training” in a short 6-8 week period of time. During this general training they learn

  • animal identification and behavior
  • bird identification
  • plant and grass identification
  • how to recognize and manage soil erosion
  • general patrol techniques
  • bush craft
  • bush survivalTracker training 4
  • first aid

This is a lot to take in during a short amount of time. Once employed, they study and learn on-the-job with senior rangers. During their time with a reserve, there is constant in-house training to enhance or maintain their skills. Additional outside training is welcomed, but can be more costly.

Rangers have some familiarity in animal tracking, but humans are  another kind of animal. Poachers are an ever-present danger. Due to the increase and intensity of poaching, it is absolutely essential for rangers to learn how to track them within their area.

Tracker training 2

Tracker training by Colin Patrick Training.

Human (or poacher) tracking teaches them

  •  Early detection of the presence of suspicious activities / presence of suspects.

  •  The systematic following of a suspects trail that can lead to the:

    •  Location of traps, snares, camps, entry and exit point, and poaching hot spots.

    •  Apprehension of the suspects whether it be trespassers or poachers

    • Gathering of invaluable intelligence on movement and operation patterns, level of skill, modus operandi,  and current weaknesses within the implemented operational plan, which will feed into the counter poaching model,

    • Gathering of evidence linking suspects to scenes of crime.

With poachers having the advantage of the element of surprise, working in groups, and often better armed, learning how to detect them is crucial both to the safety of the rangers and wildlife.

Ranger holding baby rhino foot

photo: unknown

FightforRhinos received a plea from a ranger in a smaller APU in southern Kruger to help them learn human tracking. We have found an outside, reputable training program to send them to. But we can’t do it without your help. To support our efforts, please go to Go-Fund-Me or make a donation through Paypal  on the Donate button at fightforrhinos.com
3 white rhinos by penny wilson

In order to keep them safe, we must support THEIR protectors, the rangers. photo: Penny Wilson

 

 

 

 

Categories: Ranger Heroes, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

China’s one-year ban on ivory-what does it mean?

DSCF8777

photo: Tisha Wardlow/Fight for Rhinos

China’s State Forestry Administration said in a statement posted on its website that it would “temporarily prohibit” trophy imports until Oct. 15, 2016 and “suspend the acceptance of relevant administrative permits”.

Chinese media quoted the “relevant SFA official” as saying the temporary suspension was designed to give authorities time to evaluate its effectiveness, and possibly take further, more effective measures in future.

Are they feeling the pressure from the rest of the world? Are they serious about trying to make a difference? What good does a year do?

Pardon the skepticism, but let’s look at China’s track record.

“In 2002, China was the principal driver of the illegal trade and made very few seizures,” said Tom Milliken, director of eastern and southern African operations for Traffic, which monitors the trade and advises Cites.

In 2008 South Africa initiated a one-off sale of stored ivory. This brief sale, though legal, renewed interest and increased demand within the Chinese culture. Ivory prices skyrocketed, but the “legal supply” was exhausted. Immediately following this sale, according to CITES, “record levels of ivory were seized and sustained throughout the period 2009 to 2011.”

In January of 2014 and May of 2015 China destroyed ivory in a public crush. Yet China officially sanctions 36 ivory-carving workshops. Every year they assign a quota of 5 to 6 tons of “legal” ivory to the carving industry.

Counterproductive to say the least.

In fact according to the Environmental Investigation Agency, when you talk to the ivory dealers they say that amount of allocation only lasts one month. And so the other 11 months is illegal ivory. In an undercover investigation, the carvers admit “at least 90% of the ivory in China is illegal.”

ivory carving brent stirton

One of 36 ivory carving factories in China. photo: Brent Stirton

To think there will be no compromise to said “prohibition” within the year or that the government won’t deem the ban suddenly unnecessary is unrealistic.

But if there is a silver lining it is this: the very fact the  government feels compelled to alter a centuries old tradition by this display means they are feeling the world pressure. There is hope.

 

 

 

 

 

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Why March for Elephants and Rhinos?

This weekend marks the second annual Global March for Elephants and Rhinos. In cities across the world, people will be gathering, uniting to raise their voices against the poaching and destruction of two of our most iconic species.

But what’s the point?

In key consumer cities and areas of transit of ivory and horn, there will be MOUs (Memorandum of Understanding) obtained and delivered to the embassies; like  South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, Vietnam, and China.

In other cities like San Francisco and New York, groups are writing petitions to be delivered to local and state agencies on the on same day.

And at the very least, creating education and awareness for local communities and schools is vital to the future of not only these two species, but our wildlife in general.

FFR rhino ele

In a nutshell the Global March seeks to:

  • ask for political will and leadership to end wildlife trade
  • have governments adopt stronger legislation for wildlife traffickers
  • ask governments to put a complete ban on trade of wildlife parts
  • shut down all ivory and horn industries

Whether in person or behind your computer, you can a part of the change. Please see the Global March page for a city near you.

global march logo

 

 

 

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

Reading, Writing and Anti-Poaching

According to studies, children’s academic performance in science, math, English and social sciences increase when they have experience with nature and the outdoors—not to mention their sense of ownership and responsibility to their surroundings.(Wildlife Federation)

kenyan school childrenSo it only makes sense to include conservation as part of their education. Afterall, who better to entrust our future generations of rhinos and elephants to than the children?

There are organizations throughout Africa who give the opportunity of conservation education to children. But Kenya has taken it a step further,  getting with the times by introducing anti-poaching and conservation curriculum to secondary schools in the Masai Mara and Serengeti areas.

We decided to introduce lessons on wildlife conservation to these schools to sensitise communities that neighbour the Mara and Serengeti parks on the need to end poaching. The students will visit villages to educate locals on the dangers posed by the menace,”
 said Nick Murero, the Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem Coordinator.

In the areas of Kenya and Tanzania, tourism is a multi-billion dollar business, essential to the livlihood and economies of both countries. It only makes sense to teach the value of wildlife to the children; in theory, it will spread to the local villages, planting the seed of hope for future generations.

             What You Can Do For Your Children

We can all teach our children the importance of protecting our planet. It is our global responsibility.

*Encourage appreciation of nature and wildlife through taking hikes and camping
*Read books to and with your children
*Subscribe to conservation/wildlife magazines and websites
*Teach respect through involvement (i.e recycling, adopting or fostering shelter animals, writing letters to congressmen)

Many conservation/anti-poaching groups offer materials to children to help educate and raise awareness to the plight of our dwindling wildlife.  See the following for resources:

International Anti-poaching Foundation
Save the Rhino
Children for Africa
National Geographic Kids
WWF green books

“WE HAVE NOT INHERITED THE EARTH FROM OUR FATHERS, WE HAVE BORROWED IT FROM OUR CHILDREN”

boy with maalim baby rhino

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