Posts Tagged With: justice

Justice for Rhinos-PLEASE do your part!

With the recent tragedy at Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage, the staff are doing their best to heal and pick up the pieces. There has been an outpouring of donations and support. Now we must be sure that justice is served. Please sign the following petition.

Justice for Thula Thula Rhino Calves

a-tw-thula-bright

Even the outright horror of this recent attack hasn’t effected the South African governments intent to allow trade.

Although CITES is against it, evidence does not support it, and their so-called “legal” trade will only serve to fuel and mask the already illegal trade, Edna Molewa and the government are planning on going forward. Please sign this petition from the International Humane Society and voice your concern. This MUST not go forward!

Urge South Africa NOT to Trade in Rhino Horn

Keywords: stock, rhinoceros, wildlife, southern white rhino confirmed wild by iStockphoto 10/2013

Together, we must persevere in our pursuit of justice. Together, we must be the voice for the voiceless.

 

Categories: Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Hope was never poached

Thandi was poached. Hope was poached. #72 was poached. Right?

Not according to the South Africa government.

Recently Saving the Survivors lost #72, a bull who was shot several times and died as a result of his injuries.

#72

#72

His autopsy showed the bullets from his poaching ordeal ricocheted inside his body. His vertebra was damaged, and fragments of shattered bone were found throughout his body, creating more internal injuries…. he had an abscess below his vertebra, and only had 75% lung capacity as his lungs were punctured.

As a result there was internal bleeding. Organ and tissue degeneration were evident, signs that his system was in the process of shutting down. The painkillers we administered during his treatments made it possible for him to walk, and offered him some relief. It’s evident that no amount of input from the medical team would have changed the eventual tragic outcome.

Yet #72 is NOT a poaching statistic.

Hope didn’t die, but they took her horn; yet she is NOT a poaching statistic either.

hope closeup

Hope-she lives, so she is not considered poached.

To put it simply – if a rhino is killed in a poaching incident but they do not take the horns – it will not be listed as a poaching statistic.

Any baby (calf) that is killed during a poaching of his mother (cow) does not form part of the statistics.

The government refuses to publish the exact numbers of poachings, claiming it takes too much time from their busy schedules. In addition, obviously their very definition of poaching is questionable.

Poaching: to illegally hunt or catch (game or fish) on land that is not one’s own, or in contravention of official protection. This is the literal definition the government utilizes. Yet surely in these desperate times it does not apply or accurately reflect the crisis at hand.

The figures that you get are terribly skewed. That is why it is critical for every rhino, no matter the expense, to be saved. We are losing them faster than you think. What are your thoughts on this?

Posting: Saving the Survivors

Photos: Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center

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

Poaching Kingpin in America

Notorious rhino poaching ringleader Dawie Groenewald along with his brother Janneman Groenewald have been indicted in the U.S. on multiple charges surrounding rhino poaching.

Charges

The men have been charged with “conspiracy to sell illegal rhinoceros hunts in South Africa in order to defraud American hunters, money laundering and secretly trafficking in rhino horns”.

Dawie, with his wife in Musina court. Photo: Brendan Croft

Dawie, with his wife in Musina court. Photo: Brendan Croft

Dawie used his safari company, Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris to conduct the hunts.

According to the 18-count indictment, from 2005 to 2010, the Groenewald brothers travelled throughout the United States to attend hunting conventions and gun shows where they sold outfitting services and accommodations to American hunters to be conducted at their ranch in Mussina, South Africa. During the time Janneman lived in Alabama, where Out of Africa maintained bank accounts, and is accused of money laundering and structuring deposits to avoid federal reporting requirements. -US Department of Justice

The Groenewalds essentially sold the rhinos without permits, under the guise they were “problem rhinos” and were very “dangerous and aggressive”. Although the trophies could not be imported back into the US, the hunters were allowed to pose with the bodies and were told the hunt could count toward their hunting “status” in record books.

After the photos were taken, Dawie would then cut off the horns with a chainsaw and sell them on the black market, earning profit from both the hunt and the horn sale.

The Lacey Act

It is a U.S. conservation law that prohibits trade in illegal wildlife. This law is far-reaching, one of the broadest and most comprehensive forces in the federal arsenal to combat wildlife crime. It is under this law, where a vast amount of charges come against the Groenewalds.

rhino on dawie game farm photo taurai maduna ewn

Rhino on Groenewald’s farm, where he claims he was “forced to shoot them because that is the only way the trophies can be sold and exported. You have to kill the animal to sell its horns.”

South Africa

The “Groenewald Gang”, including Dawie and 9 others were arrested in 2010 on a variety of similar charges to that of the US. Dawie himself, remains free, has 1500 charges against him, and has killed more than 15 rhinos. The case has been repeatedly postponed, with the current date being set for August of 2015.

The South African authorities have given “substantial cooperation” to the US investigation. As far as the extradition request, SA states “such assistance will be provided”. It is unclear when this will happen.

American hunters involvement

The hunters who paid between $3,500 and $15,000 for the illegal rhino hunts, are not being brought up on charges. They were cooperative with authorities on their involvement with the safari outfitter, and essentially were misled. They believed there were appropriate hunting permits in place, and that the rhinos were “problematic” animals.

Director of US Fish and Wildlife Services, Daniel Ashe Photo: AP/Brynn Anderson

Director of US Fish and Wildlife Services, Daniel Ashe Photo: AP/Brynn Anderson

“Frankly these hunters should have known better. All hunters should consider this a warning that when they are involved in an overseas hunt for any species, they should make sure that the hunt that they are considering is offered by a reputable guide service operating in a country certified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as managing its wildlife responsibly and sustainably,” said Dan Ashe, director of US Fish and Wildlife Services

So is this the end of the Groenewald gang? And perhaps more importantly, will this send a strong message to trophy hunting groups like Safari Club International?

“We are literally fighting for the survival of a species today.  In that fight, we will do all we can to prosecute those who traffic in rhino horns and sell rhino hunts to Americans in violation of foreign law,” said Sam Hirsch, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “This case should send a warning shot to outfitters and hunters that the sale of illegal hunts in the U.S. will be vigorously prosecuted regardless of where the hunt takes place.”

american flag rhino

American trophy hunters displaying patriotic pride in slaughtering Africa’s endangered wildlife.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Fed Up with the Justice System for Rhinos?

There’s a lot going on with poachers the last couple of weeks. As usual the justice system could use some “encouragement” to do their jobs effectively. It is crucial we join together in signing the following petitions. And for those naysayers who think petitions aren’t enough-go ahead and sit on your hands and let it pass you by. For the rest of you-take every opportunity to make your voices heard and save our rhino!

Remember the words of Dr. William Fowlds, ‘Make a commitment to do one thing every day for rhinos, even if it is just a tweet or a post – if not a day then a week’.

Time is of the essence-On Sept 29, Monday-Hugo Ras and his co-conspirators are counting on getting bail. They are confident they will beat the system as they have done before. These people are responsible for multiple rhino deaths.

DENY BAIL TO HUGO RAS AND CO-CONSPIRATORS

Three SANParks employees were arrested for their involvement in rhino poaching. The ONLY thing lower than a poacher-someone entrusted with rhino protection who betrays them!

DENY BAIL TO SANPARKS EMPLOYEES

When the elusive poaching kingpin Chemlong Lemtongthai was finally apprehended and sentenced with 40 years, it set the precedent by sending a strong message of intolerance to poachers. Yet then it was reduced to 30 years. And now, an additional reduction was given of just 13 years! This is a slap in the face to rhinos and conservationists everywhere!

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF SOUTH AFRICA-INVESTIGATE THE JUDGE RESPONSIBLE FOR REDUCING KINGPIN POACHER’S SENTENCE

Please sign, share and let’s put these evil people where they belong-IN JAIL-away from rhinos, away from people.

jail not bail

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

URGENT: Please Help Bring Rhino Poachers to Justice

Kingpin poaching leader Hugo Ras, and his nine co-accused  have been charged with no less than 318 charges regarding their involvement in rhino poaching and related crimes. These people are REPEAT OFFENDERS; they are believed to be responsible for the brutal slaughter and mutilation of 24 rhino, including a pregnant cow and a small calf, in state and privately owned reserves around the country between June 2008 and June 2012.

Hugo Ras

Hugo Ras, serial rhino killer

They were arrested Friday by South African’s Priority Investigation Unit, the Hawks. A spokesperson for the group, Paul Ramaloko called the syndicate’s operations the “serial killing” of rhino.

Via Allison Thompson from OSCAP (Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching), here is a list of the accused:

ras and coconspirators

Ras and his co-conspirators in court.

1. Hugo Ras (Ringleader)
2. Trudie Ras (wife of Hugo)
3. Mandla Magaguka (poacher)
4. Willie Oosthuizen (Organized Crime)
5. Joseph Wilkinson (Attorney)
6. Jacobus Steyn aka Bonnie Steyn (Pilot)
7. Abraham Johannes Smit (Trudi Ras’s brother)
8. Christopher Scheepers aka Mathys (Free State guy)
9. Anton Ras (brother of Hugo)
10. Willem van Jaarsveld (still trying to work out who and what he is).

All the accused are currently in custody as the case was postponed, at the request of the state. BUT we urgently need YOUR help! The accused have the means to flee the country should they be granted bail. Please see the following petition to ask the court to deny Ras and his gang bail. IT WILL ONLY BE AVAILABLE FOR A SHORT TIME. PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE IMMEDIATELY.

DENY BAIL to alleged POACHING KINGPIN HUGO RAS and his co-conspirators 

For more on Ras and his crimes, see Julian Rademaker’s excerpt from Killing for Profit: http://killingforprofit.com/2014/09/22/rhino-syndicate-ringleader-arrested/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Good News, Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mass Murderers At Large

groenewald with trophies

This is the face of an alleged poaching kingpin.

Dawie Groenewald:

  • fired police officer
  • car smuggler
  • money launderer
  • rhino poacher
  • banned from the US for illegally selling leopard skin
  • banned from hunting in Zimbabwe

This piece of work was arrested in 2010, along with eleven conspirators including his wife, two veterinarians, and professional hunters; in one of the largest poaching ring busts in South Africa.

The group is believed to have killed hundreds of rhinos for horn trade, selling at least 384 horns over a 4 year period. In a 700 page indictment, the state’s case includes over 1800 charges of racketeering, illegal hunting, rhino poaching and fraud against Groenewald. The prosecution also has a lengthy list of 200 witnesses set to testify against him.

groenewald home 2

Police seized $6 million of assets, including a helicopter and luxury cars, only to return them in 2013 as it was deemed an unlawful seizure.

Groenewald owns a big game ranch in South Africa as well as Out Of Africa Safaris.  In 2010 a mass graveyard of hornless rhinos was found on his property. (After de-horning them,  he slaughtered them in order to “eliminate any upkeep costs associated with live rhinos.”)

In Julian Rademeyer’s book Killing for Profit, Groenewald stated

‘It’s a good business,’. ‘I feel so fucking angry about the system that I want to shoot as many rhinos as I can get,’ . ‘And that’s not right.’

He blames the ‘system’ for the killing. ‘I don’t enjoy killing rhinos … but I’m killing them because of the system. We are forced to shoot them because that is the only way the trophies can be sold and exported. You have to kill the animal to sell its horns.’

After several postponements, the court date of 21 Jul, was yet another delay. The new trial date is set for August of 2015.

With the blood of hundreds of rhinos on their hands, the “Groenewald Gang” as they have been referred to, remains out on bail.

Rhino advocates from OSCAP outside of court.

Rhino advocates from OSCAP outside of court.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

WTH is going on in Kruger?

Kruger National Park: Ground Zero

Out of the rhino poached this year, 550 of them have been killed in Kruger National Park.

In the last five years, a total of 1457 were reported killed in KNP.

83% of the worlds remaining rhinos exist in South Africa,  making Kruger the epicenter for illegal poaching.

“The game is different here at Kruger National Park because the poachers that come from other countries, particularly Mozambique, are armed with AK47s, grenades and axes. They don’t play, these poachers mean business” says Colonel Bolelo, ,who is heading anti-poaching operations at SansPark (who operates Kruger National Park).

autopsy rhino in kruger

Autopsy of a poached rhino at Kruger.

What’s Being Done

In March of 2013, South African National Defence Force (SANDF) deployed 265 soldiers into the Park and around the borders after a plea for help from the South African National Parks (SanParks). The soldiers are there to train, support and backup the rangers.

A new high-tech Gazelle helicopter has been donated to the fight. With high-speed, night vision capabilities, it should make pursuit of poachers easier and quicker.

Previously high-tech, low-speed recon planes were deployed to help track poachers in the region. The Seeker, as it was called, was donated by Paramount, the same group who donated as the Gazelle.

So with the manpower combined with technology, why is poaching still so prevalent?

kruger troops

Soldiers in KNP.

The Crux of the Problem

Size: at 7580 sq mi, there is hardly enough manpower to monitor the vastness of the Park.

Location: Being bordered by areas of high unemployment and poverty (Zimbabwe, Limpopo and Mozambique), the rhino in the Park are like diamonds in a mine waiting to be taken.

Most problematic is Mozambique, which is the origin of the majority of poachers entering Kruger, confirmed last month by former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano. Speaking at the launch of a wildlife preservation foundation in Maputo, he said 70% of rhino killing in South Africa could be attributed to Mozambicans. This is borne out by South African arrest figures in connection with cases of suspected rhino poaching which show that 68% are from Mozambique.

Prosecution: While the forces are working hard to apprehend the poachers, justice is rarely served. According to Colonel Bolelo “Within two months we had over 56 arrests but the dockets got lost. Once the dockets have gone missing the case is over and the suspects are released.” With this level of corruption, poachers are rarely sentenced, and IF they are, the low-level fines and  minimal jail time are not a deterrent.

jail not bail

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In the midst of this war, there are rumors of  drones being dysfunctional, soldiers not being deployed at the borders, helicopters not in operation due to funding, and of course the usual suspected corruption.

With that being said, the rhino poaching rate continues to soar, currently reported at 920. Yet, South Africa claims to be able to cut its rhino poaching by 20% next year, according to General Johan Jooste, who heads the Kruger National Park anti-poaching task team.

What will make the difference?

In January, Bolelo will find out  if hot pursuit will be allowed for his troops. While currently rangers and military are not allowed to cross the border into Mozambique (as their laws are different and far more tolerant to poaching) the hot pursuit option will mean approval to track suspected poachers across the international border without fear of reprisal.

Following talks between South Africa and Mozambique,  it is hopeful there will be increased cooperation between the countries which could lead to more arrests and ultimately more convictions.

In addition, cash rewards for information are being offered to the public to the tune of R100 000 for a successful arrest of a suspected poacher, as well as a whopping R1,000,000 for a successful conviction of a poaching syndicate mastermind.

Finally, the Paramount group is promising more donations in the form of ranger training, canine units for tracking, and more technology.

“The war against poaching is not yet won, but we can reduce the figures… it’s an ongoing process,” said  Jooste. “This fight against poaching is not about an individual and success depends on the collective collaboration and commitment from the men and women tasked with the responsibility of conserving our heritage.”

kruger sign

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

Tipping the Scales to End Poaching

Black rhinoceros and Africa elephant, AfricaMark Twain once said,  ” The LACK of money is the root of all evil.”

I guess that’s why poaching is a multi-million dollar business. In countries such as Kenya, with a 40% unemployment rate,  it is a fertile place to find a man willing to risk it all.

And who is looking for a man willing to forfeit his freedom, or even his life?

When we discuss “poachers”, we need to clarify; it is not just one man, or group of men. It is the local man trying to feed his family, but it is also the man at the next level up paying off the local and collecting the “prize”, it is the kingpin at the top putting out the order for the ivory or horn. Poaching is a multi-level business, similar to the drug trade, affecting people at varying levels of economic status.

The lack of money is the root of all evil.
Read more at http://www.notable-quotes.com/m/money_quotes.html#3tMTj0UXCq68YloK.99

In 2o11, poachers earned $30 million USD from 165 tons of ivory (which was a total of 15,400 elephant deaths). These numbers were in East Africa alone.

Why are there so many people willing and eager to slaughter these animals?

The Profit
The price of ivory on the black market is approximately $900 USD per lb. An average sized blood moneyelephant tusk weighs approximately 25 lbs. So suppose for one elephant death, the poacher is holding a valuable haul of $22,500 USD.

An even greater treasure, a single rhino horn fetches            $300,000 USD.

The Risk

In April of 2013, a Chinese man was caught with 439 pieces of ivory. His punishment? A $300 USD fine (that’s less than $1 a piece). As many poachers are multiple offenders, assuming this man got away with it at least once before, he’s already ahead, and only has to face a minor inconvenience.

Some are even luckier. There are 2000 poaching arrests a year, but only 10% are actually taken to court. The burden of proof lies within the courts, and unless caught “red-handed”, the perpetrators usually walk away.

Bottom line: profit outweighs risk.

The Answer

Kenyan Wildlife Direct Director Dr Paula Kahumbu states many magistrates and prosecutors do not know the importance of wildlife, hence the light sentence against perpetrators. They are only being given 10 years/$470 USD fine (maximum). But the reality is they are allowed off  after the fine is paid. Thus, the poacher is free to poach again.

Lawyer-Money-Scales-JusticeKenyan Wildlife Services has appealed to Parliament to pass the Wildlife Bill ,which has stiffer penalties including jailing poachers without the option of fines, a seemingly more logical deterrent. It would also slow down the incidents of repeat offenders.

“The Bill has been lying there and it is high time our legislators passed it if we have to protect our endangered species,” said KWS officer Robert Njue.

Kenya is not the only country facing the issue of leniency toward poaching. Uganda, Gabon, and Tanzania are also guilty of minimal, insignificant sentences.

Please read, sign and share! President of Kenya: Please declare poaching a National Disaster

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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