Posts Tagged With: Endangered species

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?


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.


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Looking to the Future on World Rhino Day

World Rhino Day mom and babe

With 790 rhino poached this year, 2014 is on its way toward topping last year’s death toll. With the shadow of corruption within the national parks and government looming large over the fate of rhinos, it is difficult to feel optimistic about their future.

Yet, there are bright spots to illuminate the darkness.

World Youth Rhino Summit

Over 100 future conservationists (15-17 years of age), are convening at the first World Youth Rhino Summit  focused on the rhino poaching crisis. The demand for horn, and loss of rhinos affects countries across the world, not just in South Africa. The aim of the summit is to plant the seed of conservation in future rhino ambassadors throughout the globe.

world youth rhino summit 2

Over 140 delegates come together in the iMfolozi Game Reserve to address the poaching crisis and discuss resolutions.

Rhinos Without Borders

The initiative started with a successful translocation of 6 rhinos from South Africa to Botswana. Since then, Rhinos Without Borders is looking to move 100 rhinos to safer areas. With the future of the rhinos at stake, this move serves to increase the geographical spread of the rhino population throughout southern Africa, as well as introducing a new gene pool into Botswana. Translocation will be pivotal in the preservation of the species.

rhinos without borders

Previous translocation from Rhinos Without Borders and & Beyond.


Our beautiful, resilient, soon-to-be mom will remain the ambassador for her kind. She is and always will be an inspiration to keep us all going! We’re all waiting with bated breath for her to give birth sometime this December.


WATCH: Latest video of Dr. Fowlds visit with Thandi

And as always, Fight for Rhinos and Helping Rhinos will continue putting our all into the best options we can find in assuring the future of these magnificent creatures. Currently, that includes  *Reserve Protection Agency       *Game Reserves United       *Ol Pejeta Conservancy                      *Project Rhino Track      *Stop the Demand Campaign

We CAN turn this around, but we need you! Please donate if you can.












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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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Heartbreak as Another Baby Rhino is Found by Tourists

Remember the baby rhino found by tourists in Kruger a few weeks back?

It’s deja-vu , another orphaned baby was found wandering on the road in Kruger this last week.

He was an eight-week-old white rhino stumbled upon by passersby.

“Badly dehydrated, covered in wounds and clearly in desperate search of shade, the calf approached my car. She called out into emptiness, looked on for a moment and then rested her chin on my door. Slumping onto her hindquarters and then onto her belly she caught a few moments of peaceful rest in our shadow.”-Liam Burrough

baby rhino Liam 2

via Liam Burrough

Another driver who stumbled upon the scene  claimed the little one was dehydrated, cut up and crying for her mom. According to Adam Baugh the rhino came up and rubbed up against the car, before laying next to it to seek shade.

They tried to comfort the orphan, giving her water and talking to her until Kruger staff arrived to assist.

Baby rhino in lebambo mountains se corner of kruger near moz

via: Adam Baugh

Is this the kind of tourism South Africa is going to be known for? Crying baby rhinos desperately searching for their mom, wandering aimlessly for hours, maybe days in the bush, hopefully stumbling upon the right people for help?

So heartbreaking to think that these innocent souls sought out help from the very species responsible for their mothers’ destruction.

As Liam said, “It is our responsibility as humans to protect these animals. Change begins with you, so get off of your ass and do something! Write angry letters, donate as much money as you can to fund guns, dogs, equipment and salaries for the hands we so badly need to stop these gentle giants from disappearing.”

US residents: Write an email to the White House and share your concern. Please don’t use profanity or racial slurs, but USE your anger and heartache to demand change! It doesn’t have to be lengthy or wordy. We need to take a stand, with each email, it strengthens our voice. The South African government needs pressure from other countries to make this a priority and get serious.

South Africa:





If you have problems with any of these email addresses, or know of better links, please let us know.






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

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a ..Rhino?!

Rhino airlift

Airlift via Black Rhino Rescue Project, photo:Michael Raimondo

Now that South Africa has established its going to move hundreds of rhinos to new locations, logistically HOW will they do it?

Translocating  one-ton animals is tricky. But the most dramatic, and arguably the safest method to date is by air.

Photographer Emma Gatland joined the team from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife for a rhino capture and relocation project in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa.

“There aren’t many people who get to witness a rhino lift,” she says. “It’s a new procedure, which is gentle on the rhino as it shortens the time the animal is kept drugged. The rhinos are airlifted using an old Vietnam Huey, which in itself is an adventure. They are lifted roughly 500 – 1000 meters into the air suspended by their ankles.”

Airlift 2

The rhino is sedated.

Airlift 4

Then secured..

AIrlift 5

And moved!

Of course any location, whether by truck or plane, is risky due to the anesthesia and general stress but airlifting is the best method for rhinos thus far.

According to Jacques Flamand, of WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Project ,

“Previously rhinos were either transported by lorry over very difficult tracks, or airlifted in a net.This new procedure is gentler on the darted rhino because it shortens the time it has to be kept asleep with drugs, the respiration is not as compromised as it can be in a net and it avoids the need for travel in a crate over terrible tracks.”

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Altering the Horn to Save the Rhino

The life and death of today’s rhino revolves around its horn. Being hunted to the brink of extinction for their horns, conservationists and scientists are trying to find ways to use the horn to save them.

Rhino Horn Facts:
1. It is made of compressed keratin, much like horse hooves, cockatoo bills, fingernails, etc.
2. Rhino horns grow throughout their lifetime, at a rate of 1-3 inches per year
3. Baby rhinos are born without horns.
4. There is no scientific evidence to support rhino horn being effective in curing medical ailments.


An obvious and tried solution to the poaching crisis has been to de-horn rhinos. The thought being if there is no horn, there is no reason to harm the rhino.

This has produced mixed results. While some reserves have seen success, for others rhino were still poached AFTER the de-horning.

rhino dehorn by brent stirton

De-horning procedure on a South African reserve. via Brent Stirton

The process is risky to the animal. It is an invasive procedure, and as with any situation involving immobilization and anaesthetic, there is always a risk of complication. The process removes 90-93% of the horn, and needs to be repeated every 12-24 months.

It is also quite costly. Per Save the Rhino, current published estimates for de-horning range from $620 USD (Kruger National Park) per animal to $1,000 (private land).

Sadly with such a phenomenal price tag on the horn, that 7-10% still makes them a target for poachers. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not  (in the darkness, they may not realize the rhino is de-horned until they have killed it).

So when considering this as an option, the risks need to be weighed. Is the rhino in a high-target poaching area? Is there enough security and monitoring to back up the procedure?

Horn Injections

The more recent method, developed by the Rhino Rescue project has been to make the horn less desirable by injecting it with a toxin.

Ectoparasiticides are used in conjunction with a dye. The ectoparasiticides are safe for animals, but not consumable to humans. If ingested, they cause digestive issues.  Once poached, it is this pinkish dye that conveys to users it is a tainted horn.

warning sign

Around the perimeter of rhino areas, would-be-poachers are warned of the dye-injected horns.

Although still requiring an anaesthetic, it is less invasive and only needs to be updated every 3-4 years. In addition it is fairly cost-effective when compared to other alternatives.

Initially it seemed an effective deterrent.

However In May of 2014, there were claims disputing it’s effects. The report by South Africa wildlife experts implied the dye “failed to deeply penetrate the high-density fibre of the horn.” This controversial report angered many who wondered at the wisdom in publicizing the findings.


In 2013, the WWF donated microchips to the Kenya Wildlife Service. The chips were planted in every rhino in the country.

The system works by implanting one microchip in the horn and another in the body. This, along with their rhino DNA database, helps to keep track of the animals. If a horn is found anywhere in the world, it can be traced back to the area of the poaching.

According to KWS, “This will serve to strengthen rhino monitoring, protect the animals on site and also support anti-trafficking mechanisms, nationally and regionally.”



















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

“Think Big, Start Small, Act Now”

Alyssas rhino drawing

Drawing by Alyssa

..That is the sign hanging over General Jooste’s desk in his office in SANParks. Watching a  rhino take its final breaths, after having it’s back broken and it’s horn hacked off by poachers, prompted Jooste to begin his current position overseeing anti-poaching efforts in Kruger.

The bloody struggle, demands and frustration he, and everyone on the ground must bear witness to daily is unimaginable. Yet, he stands firm. He continues to do what he can, fulfilling his part in the war.

So what can we do? Most of us aren’t decorated military generals, or park rangers. But paying heed to his motto – we can ALL do something.

Mike & Sam

Mike & Sam

Mike and Sam, a UK couple were married in May of 2014. Both having grown up in South Africa, their love of the bush, and heartbreak over the escalation in rhino poaching, they asked that in lieu of wedding gifts, people contribute money to be donated to rhino conservation. From there, they’ve started to ask other couples to continue doing the same. Thus, Wedding Gifts for Rhinos was born.

Alyssa is a 7-year-old girl who was brought to tears when she heard of our rhinos being killed. With the help of mom and dad, she sells chocolates, printed with a picture she drew of a rhino. Since then, she has branched out, selling knitted rhinos, stickers, etc. The money she gets is being saved toward her end goal of buying a sniffer dog for anti-poaching efforts at SANParks. She has already raised over R15000 in 2 months.

Alyssa with knitted rhinos

Alyssa with the adults who help make her knitted rhinos.



Sam is a certified guide in Southern Africa whose love of rhinos inspired him to do the 500km Rhino Awareness Walk. Moved by his grandfather’s words “none of us inherited our wildlife from our grandparents, but it is loaned to us by our children”, he is doing what he can – walking to raise funds and awareness in his community toward wildlife poaching.

In 2012, Tracy, the owner of an arts and crafts store in South Africa, was moved to do something after she saw the poaching of Thandi and Themba. She began selling “rhino tears”, necklaces she designed to raise funds to fight poaching. Her original goal of selling 20, has gone beyond 700 necklaces worldwide.



Selling lemonade, losing weight, growing a beard…people old and young, no different from you and I have found ways to do what they can to help our rhinos.

Don’t feel helpless! Join us and do something today! Sign petitions, donate, volunteer, join the global march for elephants and rhinos in your city, sell artwork…use your talent, your time…do what you can.

Think Big..Start Small..Act NOW!





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

An Epic Move for Rhinos

crash in kruger © Scotch Macaskill

Crash in Kruger via Scotch Macaskill. A crash is a group of rhino-increasingly rare with the escalation of poaching.

After much speculation as to whether or not it would happen, the South African government has made it official. They have approved moving 500 rhino out of Kruger National Park.

Of the rhino to be moved, 260 will be sold to private buyers and another 250 taken to a safe location.

edna molewa

Edna Molewa, SA Minister of Environmental Affairs

Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs, confirmed the possibility the rhino will be sent to Botswana and Zambia, where there will be “intense protection zones”.

According to Molewa, “this move, along with creating rhino strongholds could allow a total rhino population size of South Africa continue to grow.”

Botswana not only has better political and economic stability and a smaller population than South Africa, but they recently banned commercial trophy hunting and in 2013 adopted the controversial shoot-to-kill policy in place for poachers.

In Zambia, the rhino population had been decimated from previous poaching. But groups like African Wildlife Foundation and Save the Rhino are working on bringing rhino populations back to varying Parks. Possession of rhino horn or a conviction of poaching can receive a sentence of 20 years in Zambia. The Tourism and Arts Deputy Minister , Lawrence Evans said poachers and other people engaged in illegal wildlife trade would be dealt with severely.

Prev rhino move from SA to Bots mike cowton

Previous rhino translocation from SA to Botswana. Photo: Mike Cowton

Although logistically moving such a large number of 2 ton animals seems difficult to say the least, they’ve done it before. Between 1997 and 2013 there were 1500 relocated from Kruger. According to Molewa that move “has contributed significantly” to the rhino population.

rhino move via green renais epa

Helicopters have been donated to assist in the move. Photo: Green Renaissance/epa

Disclosure of exact location could endanger the rhinos, yet it would be all too easy to maintain small groups of rhino throughout varying reserves, just enough to avoid questioning; in the meantime, selling the majority.

Even more troubling-Who are the private buyers? Trophy hunters? China? Vietnam?

With the steeping shadow of suspicion looming over them, can South Africa really afford not to be upfront?

According to a report released to the SANParks board, rhino poaching has seen an average escalation of 70% a year. At the time of this posting, 660 have been slaughtered in the current year.

For more on South Africa’s rhino poaching plan: Edna Molewa’s Strategic Management of Rhinos






Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

World Ranger Day 2014

rhino with ranger

Photo: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Where would our rhinos, elephants, tigers, gorillas, and other animals be without rangers?

KWS rangers line up

Photo: KWS


Putting their lives on the line each and every day…it’s not glamorous or prestigious, it’s tough.

Sometimes it’s downright deadly.


But without these brave men and women, extinction would be a reality. Poaching would run rampant, chaos would ensue.

ranger with gorilla

Photo: Paul Moore/AFP


Through darkness, heat, rain, and cold, these souls persevere.

Treading carefully through danger, they protect what we all cherish.


So today, on World Ranger Day, we salute them.

I want to be a ranger

Photo: unknown

We acknowledge their efforts and dedication; we also remember the fallen, whose families made the greatest sacrifice.

Each day we pray for your safety and from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you!

Show your appreciation by participating in our campaign:


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

Baby Rhino on Webcam!

Best video EVER! Watch Gertjie the baby rhino LIVE in his boma as he naps, eats, gets silly and just melts your heart…in addition there are other animal cams to peruse.

Baby Gertjie LIVE wecam

baby gertjie


Categories: Good News, Rhino Ramblings, Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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