Posts Tagged With: India

Successes in the Poaching War?


Graph 1 Kenya

Kenya has been successfully slowing the rate of poaching over the last 2 years. Government is motivated and serious; in 2013 enacting the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, helping to strengthen the judicial system.

Although there is still work to be done, the overall numbers are promising. Elephant poaching is down 80%, and rhino poaching down 90%.

South Africa

Graph 3 South Africa

South Africa’s poaching rate has seen a slight decrease in reported numbers for the first time since 2008; yet remains dangerously high. Home to 80% of the world’s remaining rhinos, Kruger National Park sees the most poachings. Yet incidents outside the Park are on the rise, with poachers attacking smaller, more vulnerable private owners.

White rhinos @Kruger National Park

White rhinos @Kruger National Park


Graph 2 India

In 2015, there were 17 reported poaching in Kaziranga National Park; the largest of  four wildlife parks and sanctuaries in Assam, India; home to 90% of the remaining Greater one-horned rhinos.

Poaching seems to fluctuate here. One of the main triggers of higher poaching directly correlates with encroachers around the Kaziranga National Park. The more widespread the number, the higher the poachings.

Graph 4 Nepal

                                The red is poaching deaths, the green is natural mortality.

2015 marked the third year of Zero poaching in Nepal (2011 and 2013 were the other two)

With 10 national parks, 3 wildlife reserves and 6 conservation areas, Nepal is setting the standard for conservation efforts worldwide. The government is committed to conserving it’s wildlife. With emphasis on community involvement, Nepal has entrusted about one third of it’s forests to the people. With local “policing” of the land and animals, not only has poaching stopped, there has been a reduction of poverty as well.

The absence of poaching has led to a 21% increase in the species of the greater one-horned rhinos.

greater one horn and baby assam forest

Greater one-horn (or Indian) rhinos @Kaziranga National Park

Graphs from: Poachingfacts


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Good News for Greater one-horned rhinos

Much of the focus on rhino conservation and the poaching war centers on Africa. But the issue is just as critical in India, home of the Greater one-horned (also called the Indian) rhino.

Facing the same threats as their African cousins, currently their population hovers around 3,000.

rhino mom and baby manas by wwf india 2015

Mom and baby in Manas. photo: WWF India

Although their future remains in the balance, there is good news. Since 2012 there have been 13 new successful births in Assam. With a gestation period of 26 months, this is exceptional news.

This is a result of  intensive efforts through the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020) program in which wild rhinos were translocated back into the area. The program’s aim has been to increase the population and range of the greater-one horned rhinos in the area.


Translocations are complex and these involved the government, local communities and several partners in conservation. photo: International Rhino Foundation








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Nepal Rhinos at the epicenter

The tragedy following Nepal’s earthquake has devastated the country. Home to about 500 greater one-horned rhinos, what effect has this had on conservation efforts of their population?

The World Wildlife Foundation has about 100 people working on conservation efforts across the country. According to WWF,

 “Amid the heart-breaking human tragedy of this earthquake, my colleagues in Nepal have done their best to continue their work, and have recently shared a bit of welcome conservation news – that rhino populations in the country are increasing. They will have much work to do over the following months – rebuilding their homes and communities. But this achievement gives me great hope for the recovery that will come.”

The rhino population has increased by a fifth. This news comes after announcing the country has achieved 365 days of NO POACHING of rhinos for the third time in five years. This is no small feat considering rhinos in South Africa are being hit hard with what will be another record year of poaching.

Anil Manandhar, country representative of WWF Nepal, which supported the count, said: “These are trying times for Nepal and its people. Stories such as this indeed shine a much-needed ray of hope.

greater one horned in chitwan by vivek raj maurya

Greater one-horned in Chitwan National Park, home to the second largest rhino population in the world.  Photo: Vivek Raj Maurya





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Tiger attacks on rhinos

Recently in northeast India, an injured baby rhino was found in a backyard. Badly injured and unable to move, the 3 month old was the victim of a tiger attack. After initial medical treatment, the IFAW Wildlife Rescue Centre in India stepped in for further care and rehabilitation.

baby rhino tiger attack IFAW

The forest department was called in to assist the baby rhino. IFAW

baby rhino tiger attack 3

He is reportedly responding well to treatment.  IFAW

This is not an unusual encounter. Cheetahs and Sambhars (a type of deer) are the preferred prey of tigers. Yet young and vulnerable rhino calves have been occasionally targeted.

In Assam’s Kaziranga National Park, which shelters the biggest population of rhinos, about 15 to 20 rhino cubs are killed by tigers each year.

Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park

Nepal’s Chitwan Park and the Dudwhua National Park have also reported similar incidences.

What is most out of the ordinary are attacks on adult rhinos. It is “somewhat against the normal hunting pattern” according to Ganesh Bhar, the deputy director of DDR. Within the past few years there have been a handful of attacks, and resulting deaths to rhinos.

It is unclear why tigers would attack an adult rhino. Territory disputes?  Reduction of prey in the area? Increased tiger population resulting in more competition for prey?


Tiger feasting on poached rhino in Kaziranga National Park. Is poaching responsible for tiger’s appetite for adult rhinos? Photo: Cam trap KNP

But what is clear is there is now a conflict of conservation, as both the Indian Rhino and Bengal Tiger are endangered. In the battle to secure a future for both species, it is quite disturbing and proves to be a complex issue to keep them safe from man and from each other.








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Are Elephants More Compassionate than People?

With 1.2 billion people in India, space is at a premium. A growing population, means less land for animals, quite the conundrum since this is also home to the largest land mammal on Earth.

As elephants follow routes they’ve traveled for decades, villages crop up in their paths forcing elephants and people closer together, often resulting in a deadly battle for survival. Under pressure from higher population densities, interruption of their normal routes, and lack of fodder, elephant populations are increasingly turning to crop raiding for sustenance. They can easily destroy a farmer’s livelihood in a matter of hours.

With their homes and earnings on the line, villagers will go to any means necessary to keep their families safe. Villagers fight back with electrocution, shooting, poisoning and hakka patas  (a mixture of explosive matter, lead and iron made into a ball, which is inserted into a cucumber or a pumpkin).

elephant and baby hakka pata

A baby stands by his mother, who died from a hakka pata.

Human/elephant conflict is an epidemic in India.  In fact, up to 20% of elephant deaths in India stem directly from crop defense.

But people are not the only ones who are frustrated and concerned with protecting their families. Elephants are fighting back. They’ve been known to destroy not only the crops, but homes, schools and parts of villages.

In one such recent attack in West Bangal, an elephant crashed through the wall of a home. The family, who was eating dinner, ran to the area of the attack to find an elephant standing over their baby, with pieces of the wall lying about. The elephant began moving away until the baby began crying. The elephant returned to the baby and using its trunk, gently removed the debris from around the baby. He then moved off, back into the forest.

elephant attacks house 1

Elephant attacks home.

Amazingly, this is not an isolated incident. Six months previously an elephant herd carefully removed a little girl from harm’s way before smashing several houses.

So while both man and beast are vying for space, and warring for survival in an ever-shrinking world, it seems at the heart of it, the elephant is the better species. With a gentle nature and knowing spirit, even the “beast” senses the innocence of a child.


When elephants consume hakka patas, the food explodes in their mouths causing pain, an inability to eat or drink, and ultimately a slow and painful death. Adult elephants are usually intelligent and experienced enough to identify the deadly meal as a trick, but juvenile and baby elephants often fall victim to the traps. It is a cruel way to go.

Please read, sign and share the following petition to tell Sri-Lanka to stop the inhumane practice of hakka patas:

Sri-Lanka: Stop the use of Hakka patas used to kill elephants

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No Vacancy?

Kruger National Park, South Africa: A tourist couple were following a bull elephant, attempting to get pictures. At one point, he turned and charged the car, turning it over into the bushes. The woman was seriously injured, and had to be transported to a nearby hospital.

car from elephant attack

Car attacked by elephant in Kruger.

The bull was in musth, which is a time in which their testosterone is extremely high, they are sexually active and quite aggressive. It is obvious by their swollen temporal glands which emit a fluid that runs down their cheeks.

The couple have survived, the elephant was not so lucky. Officials at the park had decided to put him down, due to his aggression.

There has been outrage expressed by some on behalf of the elephant. Afterall, the elephant was doing what elephants do. It is up to people to educate themselves on animal behavior, and it is a known risk they take by entering the park. Surely, this could have been avoided.

Unfortunately this is only one of multiple incidences, not just in South Africa, but globally. With 7 billion people on the planet, and dwindling habitats for animals, everyone is running dangerously short on elbow room.


Kenya fights these battles as well. The country loses 100 lions a year due to human conflict. Most of this is in retaliation of villagers for their goats or cattle being killed. This epidemic, coupled with disease,  could well lead to no lions in the country within just 20 years. This dismal disappearance is seen throughout the dark continent, with lions gone from 80% of their original African range.

Elephants are players in the conflict here as well. Crop farming, charcoal burning and human settlements have attributed to just some of the casualties on both sides. 35 people are killed from elephants each year, yet at least 100  elephants are killed daily.

beehives near elephants

Kenyan farmers are using beehives as a natural elephant deterrent, which has proven 97% effective in thwarting attacks.

There are individual stories from people for whom the elephants create havoc on their crops, on their daily lives. David Kimita, a 45-year-old farmer and father of four, blames elephants for the breakdown of his marriage. Every time he plants crops, elephants raid his farm, leaving him with nothing for his family.

“My wife depended on me for food, so when there was none, she decided to go – four years ago,” he said

In 1994, Kenya began a Problem Animal Management Unit (PAMU) due to the challenge. The unit is composed of an elite ranger response team and responds to  interaction hotspots in the country. Villagers who lose crops or livestock are paid compensation. Without this intervention, too many animals would be lost in retaliation (more than already are).

Javan leopard in W Java killed after it invaded a house (CIFOR)

A rare Javan Leopard was killed after she invaded a house
photo courtesy of CIFOR

Bangalore, India:

Since April of 2013, there have been 30 human deaths due to human/animal conflict.  23 of the attacks were from elephants , with the rest from tigers, leopards, wild boars and bears.

With an increasing number of people within the area and less forests,  more occurrence of human/animal contact is inevitable. In India alone, hundreds of people die from elephant attacks annually, and  an estimated 10-12,000 people a year are killed by venomous snakes.  Forest officials expect this number to climb even higher in 2014.

It’s not just people who are harmed. All over India  elephant/train accidents are becoming all too common, as the tracks intersect common elephant corridors (see: Growing Pains and Speeding Trains)  Decreased habitat and illegal trade contribute to approximately four leopards killed every week. Tigers are also under the gun, literally. At least 39 tigers were poached in 2013, the highest in seven years.

So what’s to be done?

Clearly lions and leopards do not know the difference between livestock and wild animals-prey is prey. Elephants have been taking the same routes in grazing and everyday activity for decades, without anyone giving them notice that villages and train tracks are now being built in their paths.

By 2024 with the human population expected to hit the 8 billion mark, this is an issue that is not going away.

Humans are the more “intelligent”,  reasoning creatures (supposedly). If we are to prevent extinction of animals, and preserve flora and fauna, it is imperative to act now. Unity between communities and conservation organizations, as well as land and resource management are key. For just as we are the destroyers, we need to be the saviors.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
Mahatma Gandhi

no vacany

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Be Wary Animal Lovers

Tourism is helping save wildlife. That’s what we’re told. If this is true, where you spend your next holiday could be the most important decision you make, the world is counting on you.

Cuddling baby lions sound endearing? As cute and cuddly as they seem , you might as well shoot them. This is the first part of the circle of “life” for lions in canned hunts. The cubs are used to entice you there, and ultimately to use your money to help fund the whole operation You feed them, hold and coddle them, sometimes even bottle feed. But ask yourself “Where’s mom?”  (For more on canned hunts, see: Shooting Fish in a Barrel)

lion cubs in cageElephant rides? Not unless you enjoy knowing they are beaten, starved and tortured in order to “train” them to comply. What about the sweet baby elephants rolling on the beach, splashing in the waves? Surely they are enjoying themselves. Sadly no. Once again ask “Where’s mom?” They are torn from their families and enslaved in the name of entertainment. (For more, see: The Dark Side of Thailand Tourism)

elephant trainingA photograph next to a tame tiger in a buddhist temple? Buddhist monks must be peaceful and enlightened. Here tourists unknowingly play into the larger exploitive scheme of the illegal tiger trade. Slight of hand, babies coming and going, tigers seeming drugged, lethargic and often in need of medical help-all part of the famous “Tiger Temple”. Ask yourself “What tiger in the world would willingly let you pet him, let alone get anywhere near him?”  (See: The Tiger Temple…)

chained tiger 2A family trip to Sea World…if you haven’t seen Blackfish, please watch. Psychosis, food depravity, stolen from their families is just a part of the torture the Orcas are subjected to.

Bottom line: please educate yourself on where you’re going. If something doesn’t seem natural for an animal, it’s probably not! Don’t give your hard earned money to people who torture or enslave them.

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Growing Pains and Speeding Trains

 A passenger train struck a herd of elephants this week, killing 7 and injuring 10. The accident took place at dusk  in the Chapramari wildlife sanctuary, near West Bengal where approximately 40 elephants were crossing.

The train operator was speeding, even though operators have been “repeatedly urged” to reduce their speed through this part of the tracks because of the number of elephants in the area.

India villager pays respects to elephant

An Indian villager pays respects to an elephant from a previous train death.

Unfortunately this is not a random occurrence. At least 50 elephants have been killed by trains in West Bengal since 2004.

Human encroachment in elephant territories is a huge problem in India. The habitats are becoming fragmented, the elephant corridors are being stripped away.

What is an elephant corridor?
Corridors are strips of land, pathways,  that allow the elephants to move freely elephant corridors in indiafrom one area to another. Like shortcuts, they keep them connected so they are not cut off from one another or from grazing areas because of roads, logging or developments.

In India there are currently 88 elephant corridors, which are a necessity to the survival of the Asian Elephant. These corridors are difficult to maintain due to human growth and development.

The World Land Trust and the Wildlife Trust of India have been working to keep these corridors open for the elephants, even going so far as to move an entire village (see previous post: Making History for Elephants).

It is a continuing drama, as elephants strive to live and people push to grow. Human development comes with a cost. Unfortunately it is the elephants who are paying the price.

The recent  joint railway project connecting Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, will begin construction this month.  It will undoubtedly reduce the cargo trucks on the roads, easing traffic in addition to expediting shipments.

Kenya is also planning railway construction which will connect Kenya to South Sudan.

But in the light of the elephant/train crisis in India, there is a sense of foreboding. In the face of human/animal conflict, the animals always lose.

Please read, sign and share: Stop India’s Speeding Trains From Killing Elephants

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Kiran is BORN!


With the Birth of an Indian Rhino, Zoo Basel Tries a New Approach –

(following article and pics courtesy of Zoo Basel)

At Zoo Basel in Switzerland, an Indian Rhinoceros gave birth during the night on October 5. The calf, a boy, was given the name Kiran, a Hindi word for ‘sunrise’. Kiran is nursing well and bonding well with his mother, 31-year-old Ellora. On his first day, Kiran weighed 150 pounds (68 kg) and stood just over two feet (66 cm) tall.


Kiran’s 3-year-old sister, Henna, was also present for the birth. This was the first time in a European zoo that a Rhinoceros birth has taken place in the presence of an older sibling, as it occurs in nature. Usually, older siblings are moved to a different location when a Rhino is giving birth in captivity, to help ensure the safety of the newborn. Henna was a bit uneasy with the unfamiliar new arrangement, but it didn’t take too long for her to adapt. The three now spend most of their time together in the Rhino barn, although Kiran has started to take his first steps outside.


Also out-of-the-ordinary, Ellora also had the freedom to chose where she wanted to give within her habitat. The experienced mom made a good decision, chosing the private shelter of the barn. Kiran is Ellora’s eighth calf, and the 34th baby Rhinoceros born at Basel Zoo since 1956 birth of Rudra, the first Rhino ever to be born in a zoo. Since 1990, Basel Zoo has coordinated the European Endangered Species Program for Rhinos, an international effort to coordinate the breeding of healthy Rhinos in zoos.

The Indian Rhino, also called the Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, lives in the riverine grasslands and forests of India and Nepal.  According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, the Indian Rhino is a vulnerable species. Though strictly protected, Zoo Basel notes that poaching has increased in recent years. The zoo supports the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 project in Assam, India, a site dedicated to the conservation of the species.


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Prince William: Poaching Gets Attention from the Royals

Prince William has been throwing his royal weight behind endangered species. He’s pleading with the public to put an end to illegal trade. He has warned that his generation will be the first to regard elephants, rhinos and tigers as “historical creatures in the same category as the dodo”.

Taking part in The End WIldlife Crime Conference, which consisted of conservationists and politicians, he emphasized to the group the seriousness of international illegal trade. They discussed ways to tackle smuggling, and worked to generate ideas to be discussed at a future meeting this autumn.  The autumn meeting will be attended by heads of state from across the world.

Grant Miller, of the UK Border Force, said that in the past year more than 675 items had been seized, including a Rolls Royce with alligator skin upholstery, 1.6 tonnes of tortoise jelly, books bound in elephant hide, phials of bear bile used in traditional medicines, a bottle of whiskey containing a whole snake and numerous rhino horns concealed in china dolls  and a live Geoffroy’s Cat.

Prince WIlliam is the royal patron of the wildlife charity, The Tusk Trust. He , just as his father, seems invested in the future of the world’s wildlife. Will his influence be able to help save the rhinos, tigers and elephants to share with his son?

prince william with rhino

Prince William feeds a five-year-old black rhino called Zawadi during a visit to Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kentearlier He has called people involved in the illegal trade of rhino horn ‘extremely ignorant, selfish and utterly wrong.

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