Posts Tagged With: Horn

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.

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Elephant herd in Amboseli. photo: FFR

 

 

 

 

 

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China and Africa’s dirty little secret

In 2011, TIME magazine reported China had plans to establish a breeding colony of black and white rhinos, with the sole intention of harvesting their horn.

Their investigation found that a Chinese arms company – the Hawk Group –  had imported 60 rhino from South Africa to a park called Africa View in the Hainan Province of China. (This was a year AFTER China assured CITES they had no intention of farming rhinos.)

rhino farm aljazeera

         Rhino farm in China, photo-Al Jazeera

Previously, in 2009, a TRAFFIC report showed that South Africa and Zimbabwe had exported 141 live Rhinoceros to China over the previous nine years.

The “park” Africa View was touted as an African safari themed park. However, when a reporter visited in 2008 he found “No animals were in evidence, save 60 or so rhinos living in rows of concrete pens.”(which he photographed)

china rhino farm location

    The Sanya rhino farm location. photo: the Hub

The Sanya City Center is one of the prime farm locations. This area is also known to farm sea horses, bears, tigers, and deer.

rhino long horn by wwf

There is actually a patent pending for a rhino horn scraping device to utilize on the “farms”. photo: WWF

But they are not alone, as the Hangzhou Wild Animal World in eastern China,  has stated they have branched into pharmaceuticals and are involved in the manufacturing of traditional medicines. (the Hub)

It is this-the farming of keratin, essentially the same as “farming” humans for their fingernails, which truly makes a logical, educated person shake their heads and wonder what the world has come to.

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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Mixed Messages are killing our elephants and rhinos

To crush or hoard?

That is the dilemma for African countries with ivory stockpiles. It’s a polarizing debate. Destruction eliminates any and all possibility at corruption, it will not find its way back on the market and it sends a clear message ivory NOT attached to the animal has no value.

But the other side believes saving and selling the ivory allows the money to be rolled back over into conservation efforts for the animals, and the communities.

The problem is that elephants and rhinos exist throughout the African continent, making the “product” available in multiple countries, and each country has its own stance on stockpiling. So while Mozambique destroys ivory, directly across the border in Zimbabwe the country stores it, awaiting an opportunity to sell. This creates mixed messages and a lack of unity.

horns and tusks by reuters

Seized horns and tusks on display in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters

Selling Ivory Funds Communities

Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa have a stock and sell take on ivory.

Namibia  Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta has said destroying the ivory and horn goes against government policy. Instead the stock is auctioned off to other interested countries.

“We will get a lot of money and the proceeds will go to state coffers to alleviate poverty. Also, we feel it is not an effective deterrent in fighting poaching,” said Shifeta.

While Botswana states it is “out of the question” to sell rhino horn, they’ve just announced they will seek permission to sell their ivory stockpile after the 10 years moratorium with CITES has expired in 2018.

Good news for the rhinos, considering the fact that Botswana is key to future rhino populations with the current translocations taking place from Kruger National Park.  Not so great for elephants.

Overall,  an interesting proposition considering the country’s strong stance on anti-poaching, and the large stake in their wildlife. 90% of tourists in Botswana come for the wildlife.

bots tourism

The wildlife tourism industry is estimated to continue to grow throughout the coming years, making it an invaluable component to the economy. Graph: World Travel & Tourism Council

 

 Destroy Ivory, Stop Poaching

Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi and Ethiopia have all held public burns/crushes to destroy their stockpiles of horn and ivory.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) spokesman Paul Udoto says the illegal ivory has no economic value to them, saying that “the selling is what has brought us to the state of poaching that we are in.”

kenya ivory burn bbc

Kenya burned 15 tonnes of ivory in March. President Kenyatta has vowed the entire stockpile will be burned this year. AFP photo

One-off Sales

So the hoard and sell leads to occasional one-off sales of a set amount for a limited time.

It is the belief of some that by CITES issuing these sales of horn or ivory, it fans the flames and results in a poaching spike, sending elephant and rhino populations into a tailspin. Afterall how can we  allow LEGAL one-off sales of a product AND simultaneously strive at reducing demand for the same product? Confusing to say the least.

The experts who work with elephants are in agreement.

cynthia moss 1It is very discouraging having to fight the battle to save elephants once again. The 1989 ban helped elephants to recover in most parts of Africa. Now even in Amboseli we’re losing elephants to ivory poachers for the first time in many years. The sale of any ivory–legal or not–is creating demand. No one needs ivory. It is a beautiful substance, but the only ones who need it are elephants.

– Cynthia Moss, Amboseli Elephant Research Project

ian redmond 2As long as ivory is valued as a commodity, every tusker is at risk from poachers, and only where anti-poaching efforts are sufficient will elephants survive. Anti-poaching costs money and lives. Banning the ivory trade has been the single-most effective and economical way to slow the loss of elephants across their whole range – not just where they can be protected by anti-poaching units. 

Ian Redmond, OBE Wildlife biologist and Ambassador for the UNEP Convention on Migratory Species

So who do we listen to? The experts who work with these creatures, seeing their lives and deaths and the daily effects of poaching? Or political officials with a mixed bag of agendas?

If we must view elephants, rhinos or other animal in economic terms, then we must factor in tourism. Without wildlife, there is no tourism. Period.

To read more about the fight to ban ivory and save elephants: Born Free Foundation 

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Elephant herd on a dusty day in Amboseli National Park, Kenya. Photo: Tisha Wardlow

 

 

 

 

 

 

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China is proof why Legal Trade in Rhino horn will fail

white rhino with baby by martin harvey

White Rhinos photo:Martin Harvey

Rhino poaching has already risen by 18%, and it’s only halfway through the year. Yet the South African DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) continues their push of legal trade, unabated.

Aside from the usual and obvious arguments with legal trade, there are three definitive reasons why legal trade would fail:

CITES

CITES ( Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) representatives, including China’s have recommended against it. In fact, Wan Ziming, the head of China’s representing party at CITES, told Oxpeckers he was concerned that “the legitimate horn supply would be insufficient to meet the demand.”

Without the backing from CITES trade could not happen. “With almost every country having banned rhino horn, I have no idea of any country that would be willing to import rhino horn stockpile from South Africa,”said Ziming.

PAST ONE-OFF SALES

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 addition to confusing consumers, the IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) conducted a survey that clearly showed that illegal ivory can be laundered freely through the legal market. In fact illegal trade activity often took place in legal facilities.

If China cannot (or will not) govern the legal trade, there is no point.

TIGERS 

Twenty years ago China banned the sale and use of tiger bone. Yet tiger farms have cropped up all over the country for the sole purpose of killing and utilizing the animal parts. Instead of stepping up enforcement, China caved to public pressure and wildlife authorities issued licenses for “wineries” and “taxidermists”, stimulating the demand.

It costs as little as US $15 to kill a wild tiger compared to US $7,000 to farm an animal to maturity. This profit margin offers substantial incentives for poaching tigers in the wild. Since it is impossible to distinguish between farm-raised tigers and their wild counterparts from their bones and other parts, farming tigers for trade creates enormous difficulties for law enforcement, and provides opportunities to “launder” products made from wild tigers.**

The same is true for ivory and horn. It is virtually impossible to distinguish the difference between “legal” or “old” ivory and “illegal” or “poached” ivory.

Perhaps it’s time for South Africa government to stop counting cash from sales that won’t come to fruition, and go with Plan B: get serious about poaching through laws and political will.

horn trade cartoon

(**from the UN Chronicle)

 

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The REAL benefit of rhino horn

 

rhino closeness christof schoeman

White Rhino Mom & baby. Photo: Christof Schoeman

Navigation: Rhinos use their horns to help guide their babies. Similar to a human mom using her arms to hold her baby back form an unsafe situation, or to help nudge the baby in the right direction.

white rhino digging

White Rhino digging. Photo: unknown

Shovels: Horns are great tools for digging. When grass is sparse, rhinos dig to find edible roots and grass. To quench their thirst when riverbeds are dry, they dig deep in search for water.

black rhino fight 1 m and f

Black rhino male and female fighting. Photo: Sharon Heald/Arkive.

Swords: Rhinos utilize horns for posturing. They lower their horns and charge to send the message to unwelcome rhinos to stay away. If this isn’t enough, they will lock horns and fight, often causing injury, sometimes even resulting in death.

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Another Terrorist Attack funded by poaching

Violence begets violence.

FACT: Elephants are poached by terrorist groups in order to obtain ivory to fund their terrorist operations.

A swarm of gunmen stormed a Kenya university before dawn Thursday, opening fire and taking hostages.

At least 70 people were killed at Garissa University College, the Kenyan Interior Ministry said.More than 500 students remain unaccounted for at the campus that had about 815 students, according to the Kenya National Disaster Operation Center.

The Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militant group claimed responsibility for the assault.

Kenyan defence force

The Kenyan Defence Force outside the university in Kenya. (the NewDaily)

 This is NOT a rare happening. The kidnapping of Nigerian girls , the Westgate Mall attack in Kenya …these attacks are funded by elephant poaching. Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda…they make up to 40% of their organizational funding for weapons, training, and basic supplies; through ivory.

The demand for ivory and horn stems from the Asian market; using both ivory and horn for medicinal purposes, in carvings, artwork, jewelry, and as a status symbol. The devastating effect on both elephant and rhino populations is making the product more difficult to come by. High demand, low supply equal ludicrously high product value. And THIS is the attraction for the terrorist groups.

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.

Shouldn’t the buyers of ivory and horn be held responsible for the deaths of innocent victims? At the very least they are accessories to the crime.

 It’s time to stop looking at poaching as simply an “animal rights” issue or an “African problem”. With terrorist attacks plaguing the US, Europe and African countries alike, this is a global concern demanding immediate action from every country. It’s time to get serious.

terrorism

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Ivory Bans Gaining Traction in US

96 elephants a day

3 rhinos a day

At the current rate, without intervention, extinction would be imminent in the near future.

The insatiable appetite for ivory and horn extends beyond the borders of China and Vietnam. The US is the second largest market for ivory. But since President Obama’s Executive Order to stop wildlife trafficking, the preservation of elephants and rhinos is finally gaining momentum. The US is taking positive and proactive steps to preserve wildlife and combat global trafficking.

mom and babe ele

Both New York (previously the first largest state for ivory imports) and New Jersey have bans on ivory imports. Now the following states are introducing bans as well:

  • Hawaii (third largest state for ivory imports)
  • Oklahoma
  • California (second largest state for ivory imports)
  • Massachusetts
  • Florida
  • Washington

The federal rules include banning all commercial imports of African elephant ivory regardless of age. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process of finalizing additional rules that could ban interstate trade of ivory, with some exception for antiques, and limit the number of tusks and ivory that may be brought into the U.S. by sports hunters.

Although these steps will provide better protection for the lives of elephants and rhinos, not everyone is over the moon with these motions. Antique dealers and the NRA (National Rifle Association) are concerned.  According to an NRA spokesperson, Catherine Mortensen “Consequently, many priceless personal effects will be rendered valueless.”

Black rhin mom and babe

 

 

 

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