Posts Tagged With: Kenya

Making Rhinos Count in a World of Indifference

Rampant corruption, low employment and high poverty are the unfortunate circumstances surrounding South Africa, the primary home of Earth’s last rhinos. Add to that a high Asian demand for their horns, and it equates to the perfect storm for their demise.

South Africa has lost approximately 1600 black and white rhinos in 2015 (unconfirmed by the government at this point). With poaching spreading like a plague, the death toll has risen dramatically each year, with this year topping all previous ones.

DEA poach statsIn a world where an animal’s horn is worth more than cocaine or gold, the solution to their survival is not an easy one. The answer is a multi-faceted effort of anti-poaching strategies to combat the “here and now”, legal change to make the consequence more dire than the greed, and education and awareness to secure the future.

For our group here in the United States, we support those “on the ground” making a difference in these areas. As an entity, it takes raising not just dollars, but consciousness to do that. We are the facilitators of change, quietly meandering through social media making the desperate plea for the plight of the rhino, and the effects on the communities surrounding them. Trying to educate a population of people lost in reality television and “selfies” is a daunting obstacle all unto itself. Yet, once we do break through – low and behold people DO care!

But how much will awareness help?

Through our blog we told the story of the “Last Male Standing”, focusing on the desperate and solemn life of Sudan, one of the three very last Northern White Rhinos on the Earth. It was circulated by the Dodo, then CNN and the Washington Post; resulting in much-needed donations to Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya; the home of the Northern Whites, as well as the largest black rhino sanctuary in east Africa.

As a result, we were also able to successfully raise funding for them for a rhino audit of ALL rhinos on the conservancy, as well as providing half a dozen GPS devices.

Northern whites in sunset tony karumba AFP

Northern White Rhinos at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Photo: Tony Karumba

Since then, there have been funds raised to pour into research to perpetuate the last of their genes. Looking ahead, some Southern White Rhinos were sent from South Africa to California where scientists hope to successfully implant Northern White Rhinos embryos into their Southern counterparts.

Another case where “awareness” played an integral role is that of Cecil the lion. The wave of concern and outrage over the lion’s shady demise prompted the world to take notice, in fact it was the top most searched topic on the internet in all of 2015.

The public outcry created pressure on politicians and corporations that was impossible to ignore. The results?

  • France has banned lion trophy imports and Britain will do so in 2017   
  • 40 airlines have taken a stand to stop the transport of animal trophies.
  • In November, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Global Anti-Poaching Act to enhance and support protection to combat wildlife trafficking.
  • Five months after his death, the U.S. has finally listed lions on the Endangered Species list, protecting them and making it more difficult to bring lion trophies back to the country.
cecil 2010

                                Cecil in 2010

The ripple effect is still being felt. There have been petitions to shipping giants FedEx and UPS to stop the transport of wildlife trophies. The hometown of the hunter who killed Cecil, even run ads on the sides of their buses in memory of the lion.

Conservation groups saw a welcomed increase in donations to their projects for endangered big cats. Even groups like ours saw a surge of interest and activity, which reflects not just concern in the trophy hunting controversy or big cats, but in wildlife preservation in general.

How far will it go, how long will Cecil’s memory last? Are people still following the story and life of Sudan? And when is reality too much “doom and gloom” for the world to handle?

We exist in a time when evidence points toward the “sixth mass extinction” on Earth. With 50% of all our wildlife wiped out in the last forty years, and currently 150-200 species of plants and animals going extinct EVERY day, we are facing the largest decimation of species since the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago. So it seems impossible to ever feel like we’re doing enough, let alone too much.


 

 

In September of 2015, our organization, Fight for Rhinos, made the rounds from Hoedspruit in the northeastern part of South Africa to Kruger National Park in the east, and down to the south on the Eastern Cape. Throughout our time spent with field guides, trackers, veterinary staff, reserve managers, anti-poaching units, and ecologists we left no stone unturned in our quest for answers from those with firsthand experience of the poaching crisis; always searching for that “holy grail” solution.

SA trip map

Our recent journey through South Africa.

We interviewed and spoke casually with taxi drivers, airport employees, and housekeeping staff to gain better understanding on the feelings and attitude of poaching within their country.

The conclusion? They’re burnt out. With a giant ad in the Johannesburg airport, anti-poaching signs on fences, and almost daily mentions of poaching incidents in the news; people are becoming desensitized to it all.

In the midst of a corrupt government, racial and social tensions, and with an unemployment rate at a staggering 26%; the country seems to be tapped out of sympathy for its dwindling pachyderms.

DSCF9149

Mom and baby white rhinos grazing in Kruger National Park. photo: Fight for Rhinos

So being a conservationist, trying to save a species from the brink of extinction in 2016, suddenly one is faced with more than just biology and ecology as the stumbling blocks. Politics, poverty, economics and apathy are daunting obstacles in this race against time.

Can we save South Africa from their “conservation fatigue”? Does what the rest of us do in our own corners of the world have effect on them? Applying public pressure can and does effect change. It strengthens laws and perhaps most importantly, changes attitudes. Only time will tell if it’s all fast enough to have the necessary impact on our planet’s wildlife.

Either way, we’re left with no choice but to try. After all, who among us is willing to live with that regret if we don’t?

This article was posted in the recent online magazine Live Encounters

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

Rhino Wrap-up 2015

We can’t emphasis enough how important YOU are to the success of Fight for Rhinos. Thanks to all of you, this is the difference we were able to make in 2015..

*The dehorning of Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center poaching survivors; Dingle Dell and Lion’s Den at a total cost of $1250.00.  This was essential in not only keeping them safe while they’re at the center, but also in preparation for their eventual return to the wild.

DSCF8213

Lion’s Den & Dingle Dell photo: Fight for Rhinos

*A total contribution of $3080.00 to Ol Pejeta Conservancy for

  • Rhino audit (to carry out an independent verification of all individual rhinos on OPC ($2000 usd)
  • Monitoring equipment – 6 GPS devices @ $ 180ea
black rhinos ol pejeta

Black rhinos at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya. photo: OPC

 

*Three months of funding to cover expenses of the Black Mambas APU, including food, supplies and miscellaneous expenses (at a total of $2345.00 usd)

black mambas training

Black Mambas training. photo: Protrack

We’re already working hard on our next campaign, funding a critical human tracking course for an APU located in southern Kruger National Park, to prevent them from losing further rhinos.

help rangers illustration by sophia

THANK YOU for helping us to help them!

Please continue to follow our progress, and as always ANY amount you are able to contribute is extremely helpful and appreciated. Together we ARE making a difference!

 

 

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

Remember Rhinos this holiday season!

Three ways to help!

  1. Purchase a greater one-horn rhino ornament

Greater one-horn ornament

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Purchase a piece of art-on sale for the holidays!

after the mudwallow closeup

 

 

 

 

 

3. When you shop Amazon, mention Fight for Rhinos, and they will contribute to our conservation projects. No added cost or work from you!

AmazonSmileBanner

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALL proceeds from your donations go directly toward our rhino conservation projects; currently including Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Black Mambas APU, and our ongoing campaign to help APUs with a variety of needs to combat poaching.

help-me

 

 

 

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

Only 3 rhinos left?!

Here’s a little clarity with the  “last white rhinos”…

There are five species of rhinos:

  • Javan
  • Sumatran
  • Greater one-horn (or Indian)
  • Black
  • White

Within the white rhinos species, there are two subspecies: the Northern whites and the Southern whites.

Southern white rhinos at the San Diego Zoo

There are no more than 20,000 SOUTHERN white rhinos left in Africa. However, poaching has taken a quicker toll on the NORTHERN whites. With the recent passing of Nola, the northern white rhino at the San Diego Zoo, there are now only 3 Northern white rhinos left on the planet.

The remaining three are under constant guard at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

four northerns 2

Northern white rhino under guard at OPC

LAST DITCH EFFORT FOR THE SPECIES

A few weeks ago, 6 southern white rhinos were flown from Africa to San Diego, California as part of an attempt to re-populate the northern white rhinos.

The plan involves implanting an embryo of a northern white rhino into a southern white. Researchers estimate it could take 10-15 years for the project to bear a successful birth.

We proudly support Ol Pejeta Conservancy and their protection of not just the remaining Northern white rhinos, but as part of one of the most successful black rhino sanctuaries in east Africa.

Please consider purchasing an ornament, a piece of art, making a donation or remember us when using Amazon smile. 100% of profits benefit Ol Pejeta, the Black Mambas, or one of our individual conservation campaigns.

 

 

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

Look what you’re protecting!

Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya is the largest black rhino sanctuary in east Africa, and home to the last three Northern White Rhinos in the world. Their efforts in conservation for both species are critical to the future of rhinos.

Thanks to you, Fight for Rhinos has just been able to aid  Ol Pejeta Conservancy’s rhino needs once again.

Your donations  ($3080) have helped the teams ability to monitor and protect the rhinos within the conservancy by providing:

  • Rhino audit (to carry out an independent verification of individual rhinos on OPC) – USD 2000
  • Monitoring equipment – 6 GPS devices @ $ 180ea

Enjoy the following video of one of OPC,s longtime residents; Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhinos on the planet.

Categories: Good News, Making a Difference | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 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

Reading, Writing and Anti-Poaching

According to studies, children’s academic performance in science, math, English and social sciences increase when they have experience with nature and the outdoors—not to mention their sense of ownership and responsibility to their surroundings.(Wildlife Federation)

kenyan school childrenSo it only makes sense to include conservation as part of their education. Afterall, who better to entrust our future generations of rhinos and elephants to than the children?

There are organizations throughout Africa who give the opportunity of conservation education to children. But Kenya has taken it a step further,  getting with the times by introducing anti-poaching and conservation curriculum to secondary schools in the Masai Mara and Serengeti areas.

We decided to introduce lessons on wildlife conservation to these schools to sensitise communities that neighbour the Mara and Serengeti parks on the need to end poaching. The students will visit villages to educate locals on the dangers posed by the menace,”
 said Nick Murero, the Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem Coordinator.

In the areas of Kenya and Tanzania, tourism is a multi-billion dollar business, essential to the livlihood and economies of both countries. It only makes sense to teach the value of wildlife to the children; in theory, it will spread to the local villages, planting the seed of hope for future generations.

             What You Can Do For Your Children

We can all teach our children the importance of protecting our planet. It is our global responsibility.

*Encourage appreciation of nature and wildlife through taking hikes and camping
*Read books to and with your children
*Subscribe to conservation/wildlife magazines and websites
*Teach respect through involvement (i.e recycling, adopting or fostering shelter animals, writing letters to congressmen)

Many conservation/anti-poaching groups offer materials to children to help educate and raise awareness to the plight of our dwindling wildlife.  See the following for resources:

International Anti-poaching Foundation
Save the Rhino
Children for Africa
National Geographic Kids
WWF green books

“WE HAVE NOT INHERITED THE EARTH FROM OUR FATHERS, WE HAVE BORROWED IT FROM OUR CHILDREN”

boy with maalim baby rhino

Categories: Good News, Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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 

DSCF3137

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

The Rape and Pillage of Africa’s Wildlife

The Chinese are welcomed into parts of Africa with increasing regularity to “work” and “aid” Africans with economic gains. With the intent of modernizing infrastructures (roads and railways), or to mine minerals or to offer government incentives, they have become integrated into at least 24 countries across the dark continent over the last five years.

chinese investment in africa 2010

A delicate and controversial marriage to say the least, as they seemingly covet Africa’s jobs, land and minerals.

One thing that cannot be denied is the boldness with which they have exploited Africa’s wildlife. According to Born Free USA,  “Chinese illicit ivory traffickers in particular have been arrested across nearly every single African range state, and operate at nearly every point along the ivory supply chain.”

Tanzania – In a report from the Environmental Investigation Agency, interviews with poachers claim they have sold ivory to members of the Chinese Embassy. It also links a surge in the Tanzanian ivory market during an official visit from a Chinese naval task force and even claims that members of President Xi Jinping’s entourage smuggled ivory out of Tanzania on the presidential plane during his visit in March 2013.

 Republic of Congo – Asian migrant laborers are involved in the logging industry here (70-75% of which is illegal), and are in direct contact with elephants and other area wildlife. It has been suspected their presence has been responsible for increased poaching.

congolese worker watched by chinese foreman

Congolese worker being watched by Chinese foreman. photo: Saturday’s Daily Telegraph

Mathieu Eckel, head of the APU in Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Congo has been watching activity of the Chinese construction camps in the area. He said “We’ve had many stories that involve local poachers and Chinese, but to get the Chinese you have to find them with the ivory”.

In previous attempts where workers in the area had been caught red-handed, corruption or incompetence of Congolese Prosecution has led to no charges being filed. (CNN Report)

Gabon – After seeing elephant skins hanging outside a construction camp, rangers raided the camp and seized carved chopsticks, horns sheared from a Bongo antelope, the scales of a pangolin, a quantity of unworked ivory, and breakfast: several servings of roasted elephant trunk.

Lee White, the head of Gabon National Parks said, “The suspicion is they were hiding the finished pieces (of ivory) in timber containers which were being shipped to China.”

Zimbabwe – Perhaps one of the most controversial and heartbreaking moves comes from the government allowing China to come into the National Park and remove elephants for their zoos, many of them have been infants ripped from their mothers. Zimbabwe’s defense- the sale of the elephants is needed to raise funds for conservation efforts. 

Zimbabwe elephant herd

A herd of African elephants drinking at a muddy waterhole in Hwange national Park in Zimbabwe. Photograph: Zdenek Maly/Alamy

Rhinos of course have also been a target. John Pameri, head of security and chief ranger at the Lewa Conservancy in Kenya believes the recent influx of Chinese construction workers into Kenya has helped to renew awareness among locals and crime networks that rhino horns can be sold for thousands of pounds on the black market.

“Our local intelligence suggests some of the poachers come from Somalia, but the demand is from the Chinese workers,” Pameri stated.

lewa rhino

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is one of the two main rhino sanctuaries in East Africa. Luckily in 2014, with high security, they managed to evade any poaching incidents. photo: Lewa Conservancy

The Kenya Wildlife Service has also noted a correlation between the influx of Chinese labour and poaching, and has blamed the crisis on the increasing number of Chinese nationals living in Kenya. (There are currently between 3000-10000 Chinese living in Kenya).

Other victims found at these construction sites include giraffes, pythons, leopards and even local dogs being poached and consumed by the workers. In Zimbabwe authorities found 40 rare tortoises at a worker’s home, most of which were merely skeletal remains left after consumption.

But the culprits are not just in the construction sector, Chinese merchants often sell cheap trinkets and clothing in small shops throughout Africa, but the real money is in their back door business of wildlife trade. One such area revealed in an investigation by Hongxiang Huang and Oxpeckers exposed Katima, Namibia as a central hub of trading between trans-border African smugglers and Chinese shop keepers and traders.

Many of these shop owners are linked to the ivory trade in the guise of buying and selling of ivory souvenirs and artifacts for export and sale to tourists, which is perceived to be legal.

South Africa is seeing the largest flux of Chinese migrants. Wildlife trafficking syndicates here continue to brazenly sell rhino horn and ivory at the Chinese markets in SA’s own capital cities, even in the face of global attempts to crack down on the illicit trade in endangered species.

The Chinese have a poor track record when it comes to wildlife conservation, but African countries must accept responsibility for protecting their own wildlife. The price of losing the land and animals is too great to pay for any economic gain.

elephant coming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Ranger Heroes: Gideon

Rangers are on the front line every day protecting our wildlife. Dedication is an understatement, as they pour 100% of their time and effort into guarding rhinos, ensuring safety for tourists and helping to keep daily life at Ol Pejeta running smoothly.

Gideon OPC

Gideon at Ol Pejeta

 

Name: Gideon

Age: 26 years old

Location: Ol Pejeta Conservancy

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

It is a hard time when the moon is full.

How much do you work?

I work 84 hours a week. I have 6 days off a month.

Where would you like to travel someday?

Canada.

rangers at opc training 1

Rangers at OPC undergo regular training to keep them up to date on techniques of security and wildlife monitoring. Photo: OPC

What is your favorite meal?

Rice.

What do you wish you had to fight poachers?

More arms, good vehicles and to boost security.

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

They appreciate what I do, but they worry too.

 

Gideon with gun

Gideon – always ready, always watching.

 

OPC rhino by safaribookings

OPC is integral to the survival of rhinos, they are the largest black rhino sanctuary in east Africa.

 

 

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

Blog at WordPress.com.