Posts Tagged With: Endangered species

Exclusive Rhino Ornaments

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

2016-ornament-f

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

2016-ornament-c

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

World Rhino Day 2016

When is World Rhino Day?

September 22nd

What’s the point of World Rhino Day?

Recognizing and appreciating rhinos, particularly through raising awareness to the imminent danger they face. The poaching crisis and illegal wildlife trade very possibly could mean the end of their species.

What can you do to help ensure a future for rhinos?

*Spread the word that rhinos are in danger! Poaching is a serious issue that is pushing rhinos toward extinction. Use #WorldRhinoDay to talk about the poaching crisis.
*Support rhino conservation through donations.

Share the following:

rhino-facts

5-species

same-material

everyday-we-lose

sudan

Categories: Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

The History of Rhino Poaching

To think an animal’s body part is worth its weight in gold is mind-blowing to say the least. So how did this lucrative practice begin? Who decided a rhinoceros horn is the key to solving all ailments?

17th century rhino horn cups

17th century Chinese cups carved from rhino horn

In Greek mythology, rhino horns were said to possess the ability to purify water. The Persians from the 5th century BC used carved vessels from horn to detect poisoned liquids. This belief stuck and existed well into the 18th and 19th centuries among European royalty.

Between  100 BC and 200 AD during the Ming and Ching dynasties, the Chinese thought the same. They used the horn in carvings of plates, bowls and cups. The cups being especially prized to detect alkaloid poisoning, something that was treacherously common at the time.

dagger

Traditional Yemen dagger

Reports of Yemens’ use of the horn dates back to the 8th century. Although their fondness of horn is preferred in decorative use as opposed to medicinal. It is fashioned into ceremonial dagger handles known as jambiyas . This is a status symbol for young men. It epitomizes manhood. The quality of the horn was important because it possesses a translucent quality, that only improves with age.

The use of the horn for medicinal purposes was recorded as early as 1597, in the Chinese “Pen Ts’ao Kang Mu”.  In it there are mentions such as “the best horn is from a freshly killed male” and “pregnant women should not take horn as it will kill the foetus”. It also lists the many uses of horn ranging from stopping nightmares and curing possessions to curing headaches and dissolving phlegm.

rhino horn medicine

Chinese “medicine” made from horn

In earlier time it was not just the horn, but also blood, and urine used for medicine. This was a commonality of the Chinese, Burmese, Thai, and Nepalis.

In the early 1980s, it was even used as an aphrodisiac by the people of India. This myth probably stems from the fact that breeding pairs stay together for two to three days, and sometimes even weeks. Mating takes place several times a day and lasts for an hour or more at a time.

rhinos mating 2The earliest reports of horn trade (in addition to tortoise shell and ivory) were reported as leaving ancient East Africa for Arabia in 50 AD.

Throughout the history of trade, various countries have been involved: Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Yemen, China, Hong Kong, Sumatra, Singapore, Thailand, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa are the most prominent. Various efforts have been made in these countries to legalize and/or ban the trade as well.

What is the most interesting point in the history of the horn trade is that during times horn could be legally traded, illegal trade still flourished.

Thirty species of rhino once roamed the planet. Now  thousands of years later, there remain just five. Human greed, consumption and ignorance have cost the rhino. They are teetering on the brink of extinction. Will history teach us nothing?

rhino cave painting

Chauvet cave, France- rhino cave painting dating back 30,000 BP (before present time recordings).

Information obtained from TRAFFIC and Richard Ellis: Poaching for Traditional Chinese Medicine

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Aspirin, Keratin or Herbs: Better than Horn

In attempts to reduce demand for rhino horn, researchers and conservationists have tried various methods of replacement; the thought being similar substitutions would give our rhinos a break.

In the early 1990s, conservationists encouraged use of Saiga antelope horn as an alternative. At the time their numbers were in the millions, overpopulating some areas. But the plan backfired, and sadly the animals declined to fewer than 30,000 due to rampant poaching. Ultimately the antelope wound up on the same endangered species list as the rhino.

Saiga antelope by: Darwin Initiative

Saiga antelope by: Darwin Initiative

The horns of Buffalo, Yak and other bovine have also been used as options to rhino, both knowing and unknowingly. (As the number of rhino plummet, more counterfeit product are flooding the market.)

In the search for a more ethical replacement, there have been powders and elixirs  advertised as “rhino horn alternatives”most of which essentially contain keratin (the main ingredient in rhino horn).

One recent group has a product they’ve touted as “biologically identical material” made of New Zealand sheep wool. Claiming health benefits from the concoction, the Vietnamese-Americans hope was to curb poaching and benefit rangers from the sale of their product. Rhinoceros Horn alternative

In a 2007 study listed by CITES, several herbs were tested on the same ailments rhino horn is used to treat. The following tables show there was a positive effect of the herbs on the listed ailments.

Table 12: Distinct traditional attributes of rhino horn identified by TCM doctors, Bell and  Simmonds (2007)

Table 12: Distinct traditional attributes of rhino horn identified by TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) doctors, Bell and
Simmonds (2007)

Potential substitute herbs  from TCM literature with similar properties

Potential substitute herbs from TCM literature with similar properties

Options with both Eastern medicine (use of herbs) and Western medicine (as simple as aspirin) exist. With such viable proven remedies, there simply is no “medicinal” need for rhino horn.  Through educational campaigns, TCM users are being shown these alternatives are better than the decimation of a species. Their choices will directly effect the outcome of our fight for rhinos.

One of the signs in the education campaign in China.

One of the signs in the education campaign in China.

 

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

China’s Expanding Middle Class Fuels Poaching

Vendors hawk animal wares, including a bull's head for decoration, in a market stall in Mong La. In this shop and others, customers can buy porcupine quills, tiger claws and penises, horns from deer and mountain goats, and other items from wild and often endangered species for use in traditional Chinese medicine.

Vendors hawk animal wares, including a bull’s head for decoration, in a market stall in Mong La. In this shop and others, customers can buy porcupine quills, tiger claws and penises, horns from deer and mountain goats, and other items from wild and often endangered species for use in traditional Chinese medicine.

Shortened article taken from: Hereward Holland, Photos by Minzayar
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

MONG LA, Myanmar—In this gaudy mecca of eroticism and greed on the eastern border with China, the cuisine isn’t for the squeamish: Many items on the menu, including the drinks, are derived from poached endangered animals.

At one riverside bistro a tiger skeleton marinates in a dark alcoholic tonic in a 12-foot aquarium, its vacant eye sockets gazing down on patrons. The elixir is believed by its many aficionados to be a potent aphrodisiac that imparts the animal’s muscular vitality.

“The tiger wine is good for both men and women,” says a Chinese businessman who has lived in Mong La for a decade, grinning maniacally and flexing his arms like a bodybuilder. “It makes a man strong in the bedroom.”

The wine, like its grape-based relative, must steep, preferably for at least a year. Then, discerning sex tourists can quaff it for 1,000 yuan ($163 U.S.) per bottle.

“Most people just take one or two glasses,” says a giggling waitress.

The drink is just one of many enticements that lure hundreds of Chinese across the border every day to Myanmar’s city of sin. As a taxi driver ferried us through the darkening jungle toward the neon-lit valley in the country also known as Burma, he summed up the destination’s decadent attractions:

“There’s not much in Mong La. Just prostitutes, gambling, and rare animals.”

Mong La is a smaller, seedier, anarchic version of Las Vegas—a collection of casinos and their associated vices in an unlikely, out-of-the-way place, though one where the rare animals are not for show, but for consumption. From humble market stalls to high-end boutiques, the town is a macabre menagerie where Chinese tourists can scoop up a bargain. A framed tiger tail goes for 30,000 yuan ($4,890), a tiger skin for 100,000 yuan ($16,300), and a prized rhino horn for 280,000 yuan ($45,640).

In the kitchen of a popular wildlife restaurant, meat hangs on hooks. Outside, snakes, turtles, pangolins, and other animals live in cages until they are turned into entrees that some Chinese gourmands consider delicacies.

In the kitchen of a popular wildlife restaurant, meat hangs on hooks. Outside, snakes, turtles, pangolins, and other animals live in cages until they are turned into entrees that some Chinese gourmands consider delicacies.

The city is the capital of Special Region No. 4, a largely lawless, 1,911-square-mile realm in a remote area. This territory is typical of Myanmar’s porous borderlands: a blind spot beyond government writ or regulation where local authorities apply national laws with caprice. In this crack between the paving slabs of statehood has sprouted the largest rare animal market in Southeast Asia—a poacher’s paradise.

“The rate of poaching in Southeast Asia is unbelievable. It’s being vacuumed out,” says Chris Shepherd, Southeast Asia regional director of TRAFFIC, a group that monitors the global trade in plants and wild animals.

During the past couple of decades, China’s extraordinary economic expansion has created a vast cohort of nouveau riche, eager to spend cash on totems of wealth and prestige.

A shop displays tiger bone wine, sold in ornate bottles, and a tiger pelt hung on a wall. To make the liquor, thought to distill the vitality of wild tigers, skeletons are marinated in tanks filled with alcoholic tonic. In Mong La, Chinese men imbibe it as an aphrodisiac and then head to the many bordellos.

A shop displays tiger bone wine, sold in ornate bottles, and a tiger pelt hung on a wall. To make the liquor, thought to distill the vitality of wild tigers, skeletons are marinated in tanks filled with alcoholic tonic. In Mong La, Chinese men imbibe it as an aphrodisiac and then head to the many bordellos.

China’s Middle Class Drives Demand

Today China’s middle class (those earning $10-$100 per day) number some 150 million, a little less than half the population of the United States. During the next decade that figure could more than triple, ratcheting up demand for Mong La’s unrestrained hedonism, bourgeois trophies, and traditional Chinese medicine.

Up to one-third of the global trafficking of wild tiger parts may pass through Myanmar, estimates Thomas Gray, the World Wildlife Fund’s manager of the Greater Mekong Species Programme.

“Poaching and wildlife trafficking of large mammals in Asia have increased exponentially over the last two or three decades, but also in Africa in the last ten years,” he says. “The driving force is the increased number of middle-class or affluent people involved in conspicuous consumption in Asia, particularly in China.”

Left: Dried elephant skin, tiger penises and paws (which might be fake or from rare animals raised on farms), and pangolin scales are sold in a Mong La market. Right: Peppers and tomatoes are displayed next to animal parts.

Left: Dried elephant skin, tiger penises and paws (which might be fake or from rare animals raised on farms), and pangolin scales are sold in a Mong La market. Right: Peppers and tomatoes are displayed next to animal parts.

It’s a similar story with the array of other endangered animals hawked in Mong La’s open-air apothecary: bear bile and claws, elephant hide and ivory, leopard and jungle cat pelts, as well as live pangolins, turtles, and monkeys.

In Mong La’s main market, a woman sells four-inch squares of dried elephant hide. She explains that they are ground into a paste and applied to wounds to help them heal. As she talks, a giant, blue-eyed husky saunters past, sniffs her goods, and then tries to befriend a monkey chained to a post.

“I sell all my products to Chinese tourists,” says the woman, who asks not to be identified. Like most of those interviewed in Mong La, she fears retribution for speaking openly from people involved in the illicit trade or local officials.

Continuing her sales pitch, she proffers what she claims are tiger claws, for talismans, and dried tiger penises, for extra sexual vim.

Menus across town feature turtles, lizards, and pangolins, the most heavily trafficked mammal in the world, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Several pangolins sit in cages outside one restaurant, like anteaters in chain mail, awaiting the pot. The meat of this small armored creature is considered a delicacy; its scales are used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ills, including poor circulation.

In recent years an international trade in pangolins has sprung up from African countries to Asian markets, driven by China’s new affluence.

Animal Trafficking Replaces Opium Smuggling

It’s difficult to establish firm origins for the animals sold in Mong La. Of a dozen vendors queried by National Geographic, all said their tiger products came from Myanmar, although it is unclear whether they first had been smuggled in from another country.

Most locals, though, point to the surrounding jungle of Myanmar’s Shan State as the source. “In the past the business was drugs and heroin, but now it’s animals, mostly from southern Shan State,” says Abraham Than, an 88-year-old retired bishop, neatly condensing two decades of the history of the area known as Special Region No. 4.

Over a glass of local wine, Than talks about how Mong La’s fortunes have changed since he arrived in 1969.

“There were no buildings; it was a jungle village,” he says.

To reach Mong La, Chinese visitors drive through a dramatic landscape. The neon-lit city is a garish sight in the remote, largely lawless jungle of eastern Myanmar. Since 1989, the city has been controlled by a former rebel army and has become a mecca for gambling, prostitution, and the wildlife trade.

To reach Mong La, Chinese visitors drive through a dramatic landscape. The neon-lit city is a garish sight in the remote, largely lawless jungle of eastern Myanmar. Since 1989, the city has been controlled by a former rebel army and has become a mecca for gambling, prostitution, and the wildlife trade.

At the time, Shan State was overrun by rebel groups, far too many for Than to recall. In 1989, the army, which ran the country, reached a cease-fire agreement with the militants, including the National Democratic Alliance Army in Mong La. The NDAA, with about 3,000 troops, has controlled the region ever since, even as Myanmar has taken significant steps toward democracy.

Than built a Catholic church on a hillock overlooking the town in 1996, hoping to spread the Lord’s word in a new era of peace, but the word mostly fell on deaf ears. “I say to myself, ‘I have made a mistake coming here.’ I wanted to come here to be a monk in the quiet, but it’s so messy,” he chuckles.

In the 1990s the NDAA became heavily involved in the drug trade in the area, which is in the heart of the Golden Triangle. Along with Laos and Thailand, Myanmar once produced most of the world’s opium. It is now second behind Afghanistan.

Feeling the heat from the U.S. State Department, Myanmar’s ruling junta pressured the NDAA’s leader, Lin Ming Xian, to quit narco-trafficking, and by 1997 he proclaimed his fiefdom opium-free, but his reputation stuck.

One U.S. diplomat wrote in a leaked 2005 embassy cable that Mong La “is patrolled not by the Burmese army or police force but by a James Bondian private police force funded by regional leader and drug trafficker Lin Ming Xian.”

Mong La quickly turned to substitute vices: gambling, the sex trade, and rare animals culled from the jungle.

“It’s not regulated. Special Region No. 4 has been basically allowed to do what they like as long as it isn’t opium. There’s a real Wild West element to the place,” says Richard Horsey, a Yangon-based political analyst.

.

As night falls, traffic slides through the center of Mong La, which is bisected by a caramel-colored river. The town, in an area that is mostly jungle, has grown as China's middle class has expanded and sought out its illicit pleasures.

As night falls, traffic slides through the center of Mong La, which is bisected by a caramel-colored river. The town, in an area that is mostly jungle, has grown as China’s middle class has expanded and sought out its illicit pleasures.

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Grandfather of Rhino Conservation

Dr Player and long-time friend and colleague Magqubu Ntombela

Dr Player and long-time friend and colleague Magqubu Ntombela

The “grandfather of conservation” Dr. Ian Player has passed away at the age of 87.

Among his contributions, Dr. Player is known for his success in bringing the white rhino back from the brink of extinction.

Operation Rhino

In 1895 when the Umfolozi Reserve was begun, it was the last refuge for white rhinos. They had been wiped out by hunting everywhere else in South Africa. Dr. Player led the crusade to save the species by re-locating rhino to other unpopulated areas (much as Kruger is attempting to do now).

Initial method of rhino transport included darting the rhino and following on horseback until it stopped, then jumping down from the horse to quickly manhandle it into a crate for transport. There was a “considerable death toll”, as it took trial and error to devise the best cocktail of tranquilizer and the best method of capture and transport.

In The White Rhino SagaDr. Player refers to it as “a series of derring-do with a fair roll call of human and animal casualties.” But eventually the technology worked and the relocation of the rhinos began.

Dr Ian Player Operation Rhino

Dr Player taking measurements during a relocation. via Dr Ian Player archives

By the end of 1962, 18 white rhinos had been successfully captured and shipped off to game reserves across Kwazu Natal. Then other “orders” for them started to come in from Kruger and Rhodesia, as well as various zoos. By 1965 the IUCN declared the white rhinos “saved”.

Player then went on “sales calls” so to speak, offering to sell up to 20 rhino at  a time to safaris, zoos and conservation parks.

By the end of 1970 a total of 400 rhinos had been captured and released into their former habitats, and 150 had been sold to zoos. There were 2000 in Umfolozi and Hluhluwe Reserves.

Operation Rhino 2?

In a 2012 interview done by Rachel Lang, she asked Dr. Player: Could an Operation Rhino 2 be carried out today?

Dr. Player said “It’s a different world now. The most important thing we have to do is to save the rhinos that still exist, and that can only be done in two ways. There have to be more rangers in the field, and they must be supplied with good intelligence because it’s like fighting a war. You can’t win a war unless you’ve got troops and you’re getting information. And that leads to the second element we need. There have been a number of meetings, ‘rhino summits’ if you like, but we need top businessmen to be there too so that we can debate the best way forward.”

Dr. Player paved the way of present day re-locations, and set the precedent for re-population efforts. He saved the rhinos once. And as he said  “History should be our teacher and that’s the same with the environment.”  Following in his footsteps, we can do it again.

a new generation of conservationists dr player

 

(*Operation Rhino info from: Against Extinction: a story of conservation by William Adams)

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rhinos moved to ‘Intense Protection Zones’

With over a month left in 2014,  this year already tops last year’s bloody toll of rhino poaching. It’s difficult not to feel a sense of panic at such an astounding rate of slaughter.

rhino poaching stats nov 2014

When confronted with the possibility of rhino extinction, the South Africa DEA’s (Department of Environmental Affairs) response is “Not on my watch”. But what are they doing to prevent it?

With all the questions, doubt and mayhem surrounding the current state of affairs, the plan that remains unchanged is the translocation of rhinos out of Kruger National Park. Two thirds of the rhino poached have been in Kruger. The idea is to move them away from poaching hotspots and create rhino strongholds, where there is intense protection.

The goal is “to basically ensure that you’ve got a foundation of animals that are secure and that you can use as a source population to take elsewhere” according to Markus Hofmeyr, head of veterinary services at Kruger Park.

They are not wasting anytime. 45 rhinos have been moved within the last month. Some have been moved to a highly protected area within Kruger, while others have been settled into other parks and reserves. The initiative will continue with more being moved into 2015.

Rangers assist with translocation AP

Rangers guide a sedated rhino to a truck for move to safe haven. photo:AP

Ironically the war for the ancient, 50 million year old rhinos is being fought with the most modern-day technology. The “intensive protection zones” are manned by rangers and outfitted with high-technology surveillance, including aircraft, drones and microchip monitoring. Although exact details are being withheld for obvious reasons, land and air mobility will be greatly upgraded.

RPA and Gen Jooste

General Jooste (seated in middle) listens as Scott “LB” Williams of RPA (standing left) discusses how technology is changing the game in the poaching war. photo: Justin Leto

The funding will come largely from the historic R255 million donation made by the Howard G Buffett Foundation last March. (see previous post: Dare to Hope)

When asked if the intensive protection zone would make it impossible for poachers to get the rhinos once it is complete, Kruger’s commanding officer in the rhino war, General Jooste commented they would probably “never get them out again”.

In the meantime, it is essential the war be fought outside the park, stepping up law enforcement and working to stop the demand.

 

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Next Generation of Rhino

Gertje the baby rhino was found crying inconsolably next to his dead mother when rescuers found him. The photos of him bonding with his caretaker have made it around the internet, inspiring both sympathy and outrage.

Little G, as he became known, even had his own webcam to bring people in to his boma as he slept (or restlessly paced and fidgeted) through the night. We’ve watched him grow and even befriend a lamb.

gertje with caretaker

Little G being consoled by his caretaker.

He is one of many baby rhinos being raised without their moms, as poaching continues to take its toll. In fact, it seems possible more rhinos are raised by humans than rhinos nowadays. The escalation of babies has led to a demand of orphanages. Currently there are a handful of them in South Africa, designated with the difficult task of rehabilitating them.

stress lines

Evidence of trauma visible with the stress lines on the rhino’s toes.

With staggering costs of milk, medical equipment, supplies and security, it is a huge undertaking. But perhaps the greatest cost is emotional, as it takes a great amount of time and compassion to comfort and care for these wounded souls.

As adults are lost, the future of our young rhinos is in the balance; how will they fare after release? The issues at hand are 1)the stress they have undergone, and will continue to carry with them; 2)the way in which they are reared by humans, as too much human contact will only serve the poachers lurking in the bush and 3)the location and safety of their release.

We have already left an irreparable amount of damage on their species (all five of them). Therefore it’s paramount we do everything perfectly with the orphans as they may be our last chance.

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ranger Heroes: Johnny Bravo

Rangers are the frontline in rhino protection. They are the reason we have any rhinos left! Unfortunately the only rangers who seem to make the headlines are the few who betray our rhinos, and get lured into the greed and corruption that we hear way too much about.

It’s time to give the good guys their dues! Fight for Rhinos is spotlighting the individual heroes who are making a difference.Ranger Johny again

Name: Johny Bravo

Age: 28

Location: Employed in a private conservancy in Kenya

 

What has been your most rewarding OR most difficult moment as a ranger?

JB: The time I was almost killed by a buffalo, and the countless times I’ve escaped death from poachers.

Where would you like to travel someday?

JB: The USA

What is your favorite meal?

JB: Chapati and stew

What makes you laugh?

JB: My son

What do you wish you had to fight poachers?

JB:  Soo many things needed to STOP poaching;  1- employment to fight with idlers, 2-try our best to stop ivory markets, and even corruption.

What do your family/friends/significant other think of your profession? And do they worry?

JB  My family and friends, think that I should change my work, because its too risky for my life…but I have no other options, I must work.

So if you COULD change jobs, would you? What would you do?

JB: I would like to, but  only if its concerning wildlife. I would like to teach the community on how to live with wildlife.

Johny stitched after buffalo

Bravo’s 4 hour stitching after the buffalo run-in.

 

Categories: Ranger Heroes, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.