Posts Tagged With: lion

A tragedy larger than Harambe

harambe zinci zoo

Harambe, Cincinnati Zoo

A silverback gorilla, a toddler, and a decision to be made. The untimely demise of Harambe is stirring debate across the country.

Forced to act quickly, the zoo’s response team was in an unenviable position. Animal behavior is unpredictable, they’re wild. But so are people.

In 1996 at the Brookfield Zoo a toddler fell into the gorilla exhibit, in 1999 a man was found dead with a killer whale at Sea World, in 2009 a woman jumped into the polar bear enclosure at the Berlin Zoo, in 2012 a toddler fell into an African Wild Dog enclosure; the list goes on.

It makes you wonder, should enclosures be made to keep animals in? Or to keep people out?

Since 1990, animals died during escapes or attacks 42 times in U.S. zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, 15 zoo incidents resulted in the loss of human life, and 110 resulted in injury according to Born Free, USA.

gugu panda

Gugu the Panda @Beijing Zoo

People entering enclosures range from “accidental” like the toddler in the Brookfield Zoo and the current case with Harambe, to suicidal, and downright deranged. The Beijing Zoo has had multiple occasions of people entering  Gugu the Panda’s exhibit to “hug” him. He’s bitten them every time, but it hasn’t seemed to stop the incidents.

So what is the point in zoos? Do they contribute to conservation? Spark appreciation? Or are they outdated and unnecessary?

When bringing my son to the zoo, we would meander from one exhibit to another, observing the animals; discussing each one, explaining their habits, their likes and quirks. We bonded over our love for animals. He learned appreciation, respect, and the connections all of us as living beings have in the world.

In the age of cell phones, selfies, and convenience, are zoos an insignificant place where the awe and wonder of animals are taken for granted? Is conservation just a trend on twitter? What is more endangered, the animals or our empathy and connection with our world?

phily zoo 1874

The oldest zoo in America is the Philadelphia zoo, opened in 1874. The first animal was a raven.

 

 

 

 

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

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

There is a little lion in all of us

cat lion gif

For all who see the beauty in lions, elephants, rhinos, giraffes…there is a little wild magic in our hearts…we are brothers and sisters; our hearts will always beat to an African drum. -TW

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

Cecil’s Final Roar

The killing of Cecil the Lion demonstrated the reality of “Big Five” trophy hunting, and struck a chord with the world’s conscious.

The fact is that trophy hunting is not only legal, but encouraged in countries as a means of making money. As the adage goes “Money Talks”.

With public criticism and disdain for the hunts,  money is undoubtedly the bottom line with the recent decisions of seven major airlines, who declared they will no longer transport animal parts on their flights.  No airline wants to be seen as complicit in the practice.

This is an example of how public opinion and pressure can fuel change. YOUR voice, YOUR choices do have an impact.

This is a major victory, and we commend the following airlines for taking a stand:

thank you airlines

Photo: Lobby for Lions

Categories: Good News, Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

World Ranger Day – THANK YOU

world ranger day

The depth of our gratitude is endless, as these people put it all on the line, affording the rest of us more time to rack our brains to come up with a solution. We are indebted to them all for their perseverance and very existence, as without them we would never fully possess our sanity, let alone be able to sleep. To know they are there, on guard, watching, listening; it is a comfort like no other.

Thank you for your hearts, your strength. KNOW we stand beside you during the patrols, in the silence of the night, in the heat of the forest, during times of fear, fatigue, and despair. You are each an inspiration, a hero.

Thank you for everything you do. You are a blessing to the animals. May God keep you safe. -Gerri

Thank you to all the wonderful Rangers that perform such a dedicated job to help save the rhinos from poachers! -Jo Wiest

Thank you rangers! -Lisa Chien Hunkler

The entire Fabrily Team would like to extend our gratitude to the brave Rangers who risk their lives daily to protect our planet’s precious wildlife. Thanks to your efforts rhinos, elephants, lions and many more species are being saved from extinction. Please continue this important work and know that you’ve got our appreciation and support!  ~ Fabrily Team, UK

I visited South Africa in August 2014 and it changed me forever.  I was incredibly moved by the amazing creatures who live in the protected areas.  I became overwhelmed by the amount of nature we have lost on this planet.  And it saddened me greatly.  It still does. I don’t know how to thank you adequately for working to protect what’s left.  I know you put your lives on the line every day to protect animals from harm.  Please know that although I’ve never met you, I think of you all often, and I wish you well. I live in the state of Kentucky, in the USA.  From my small town I’m working to raise money for night vision equipment for rangers.  My group, the Try Anything Rhino Project, has already purchased one piece of equipment that has arrived in South Africa in the last week or two.  I’m now working to raise funds to buy more. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for what you do.  You are all heroes.  I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know!! -Marla Knight-Dutille

 Please give our heartfelt thanks to all he Ranger Heroes out there! Wildlife Guardians, protectors of our precious wildlife, the world is forever in your debt. You truly are Guardian Angels for Wildlife -Thank you so much from Rebecca Bush & Family, UK
rangers 1
Thank you from the depths of my heart. The Indian rhino tattoo on my ankle is a reminder of these magnificent creatures who deserve the right to be free from humans. -Arden Zalman
Where do we begin? Because of YOU these lives carry on… THANK YOU for your dedication!!!! -Carla Viljoen
Thank You Rangers for your dedication and love of Animals. -Norma Crichton
We will never meet or talk, but you are in my mind and heart.  You have my admiration, respect, and gratitude.
I do what I can in the ways that I can, but YOU are the everyday living presence that does the work that will save so much in our world.Thank you, thank you.  I send good thoughts for your safety, health, strength, and peace. Catherine;Santa Rosa, California, USA
A huge thank you for all that you do to protect the vulnerable and magnificent creatures that share this world with us. You are true heroes-Sara Wickenden
Thank you Rangers for your brave efforts to protect wildlife.-Jean du Ross
We need companionate like you to protect these beautiful creatures.  May God Bless and protect you and the animals you care for. Thank you for your dedication and service-Dan Seme
You are the true protectors of our future.you might not know this but your efforts and true love you have for our animals are what keeps the planet alive.thank you from the bottom of my heart.you are true heros -Brendon Hoy
ranger with gorilla
Hello all your wildlife rangers, we want to say a big “THANK YOU” to you all for helping animals! You all are our HEROES!!! –Susanna Sikorski and Jens Strohkirch from Germany

TO ALL OF YOU WHO DO THIS HARD WORK- THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!! I read about as much as I can about your efforts, which are saving so many animals lives—at the same time, you have to deal with criminals who don’t care about anything but greed—so I just say a huge THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR EFFORTS TO HELP KEEP ALLTHE MAGNIFICENT CREATURES ALIVE—I PERSONALLY AM EXTREMELY GRATEFUL FOR ALL YOUR EFFORTS—Louise Smith

Rangers, I have the privilege of witnessing daily on WildEarth’s wildsafarilive.com, the love and care guides & rangers have for your wildlife.  I am blessed that I am able to witness ellies, lions, leopards, etc. thanks to the hard work and dedication you all put into your daily lives.  If it wasn’t for you, WE would have nothing to see and admire.  🙂 Keep up  the great work so WE can continue to be in awe.  WE are rooting for you, and praying for your safety and success.  Words cannot express enough, but I can say THANK YOU!Blessings, Vicky Sanders, New Mexico USA

To all the Rangers in the World, You’re true guardians of the Earth and the vital eco-systems we need to desperately protect. I’m heart broken for the tragedy in your work but we must all fight for your triumphs. -Thank you, Paula

KWS rangers line up

 

It is not money, goodwill or millions of people who care so much about wildlife, that actually saves it. That all helps, tremendously; but it is the rangers who actually save our animals. I have never had so much respect for anyone. Thank you! -Jenna Grant

Thank you for all that you do to protect our most precious and endangered wildlife. Thank you for doing your best to keep them safe and sound. You are the extraordinary and elite. I wish you many blessings and thanks. -Love Always, Susan
Thank you so much for all your hard work and dedication to help saving these animals. We all owe you so much.  -Anita
My heart breaks so much each time I read a horrendous poaching story. But it heals each time I hear of the wonderful work you do. Humanity must respect all animals, who give so much to us. Respect their habitat, their spirit and their being. We are all in this together. Thank you a million times over! -Janis Byrne
Thanks for your effort, love and hearts in action towards Rhino protection. Hope for the best outcome in their and your lives in harmony and soon! Love to you all. Many thanks all the way from Argentina. 🙂 -Marita  ❤ 😉
I’d like to thank you for all that you do. You are in my heart, and I am certain in the hearts of every adult and child who has ever reflected on the importance of the preservation of the Earth that we all share and belong to. The feeling of struggle is progressively relieved with every animal that is protected. This helps us all, even economically. We love you! -Santos of California
Zambia female officer
You are protectors of those animals who need you. You are their voice. Without you, they would be gone. I can’t thank you enough for the service you do. Bless you. Please have hope and love in your hearts. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! -Kari Tucker
You’re great at what you’re doing! Keep doing it because we need these animals! They’re important to a lot of people and what you guys are doing is an amazing thing! -Hannah
To my heroes – Thank you for all that you do every day to stop poachers and care for the animals that survive this horrific crime.  What you do for these majestic animals is so amazing.  I can only hope to someday see these animals with my own eyes in their own habitat and it will be because of your efforts.  And if I don’t ever get to see them, knowing that they are still alive because of your efforts is all I really need.  Thank you for saving these beautiful animals. Best-Abbie

Thank you for all you do to protect these beautiful creatures. Full of admiration for your bravery and dedication x Best wishes-Amy G

Beyond thanking you, I am unsure what else to say. You are protecting the inalienable rights, life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, of the wildlife. They lack a voice our society to request the protections which we enjoy and take for granted. Please continue your fine work and let the rest of us know how to better assist you.
Thank you. Sincerely, Ken
ranger with rhino near hand
I want you to know that if I was able I would be there to help. You are an inspiration in this cruel world. What you are doing is truly remarkable and I hope that you continue to save and protect these magnificent creatures. We are losing our beautiful animals on this planet at such a rapid rate it is horrific. Unfortunately mankind carries on. Thank you for all that you do. Keep up the fight. Thank you. –Sandra Mason, Mono, Ontario

On World Ranger Day  my  message of thanks goes to all those men and women who are prepared to lay their lives for the protection of their country’s wildlife heritage. This is often done enduring hardships and difficult conditions , for disproportionately low salaries. Their dedication is often overshadowed by other figures (‘the experts’) who provide technical and scientific knowledge for Nature conservation. Governments , in any country, should make it a priority to provide better conditions for these men and women, the game rangers: not only for the purpose of incentivizing an increasingly important profession, but also to express a nation’s gratitude for their sacrifice. Rangers are aware of the high risks they face , especially where poaching is conducted with extreme determination and violence,  and their choice of enforcing the law makes their work even more commendable. Thank you, for you are today’s heroes for tomorrow’s enjoyment of Nature by our children! –Silvana Olivo, France

Thank you wonderful folks, I appreciate all that you are doing! Bless you, may your lord be with you always! Thank you again! –Carol D

Thank you for your courage and commitment to protect the most endangered animals on the planet. It takes a special kind of person to be a wildlife ranger! –Yasmine Saad

Thank you so much for all that you do to protect our wildlife. Our national and state parks, and the plants and animals within them, are a treasure that you work so hard to preserve and protect—that does not go unnoticed or unappreciated! Your service means the world :)-Sophia D

Thanks so much for all you do to protect our planet! This World Ranger Day, and every day, let us never forget those who have given their lives to protect our wildlife and environment from poachers, polluters, and others intent on causing harm. Your bravery and sacrifices will not be forgotten! –Jeremy Taylor, Ravena, NY USA

So many of you sent support and appreciation for our rangers. We will be sending these messages to our friends at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Black Mambas APU, Game Reserves United (GRU) & RPU Program in Indonesia.

To further support our efforts with them, please purchase our limited edition summer tee: FIGHT FOR THE RHINOS YOU LOVE tees

 

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

The Blind Man and The Hunter

A WEST AFRICAN TALE
illustrations by Nina Frankel & Noah Woods

Once there was a blind man who lived with his sister in a hut near the forest.

Now this blind man was very clever. Even though his eyes saw nothing, he seemed to know more about the world than people whose eyes were sharp. He would sit outside his hut and talk to passersby. If there were things they wanted to know, he would tell them, and his answers were always the right ones.

People would shake their heads with amazement: “Blind man, how is it that you are so wise?” And the man would smile and say ,”Because I see with my ears.”blind man

Well, the blind man’s sister fell in love with a hunter, and they were married. When the wedding feast was finished, the hunter came to live with his new wife. But the hunter had no time at all for her brother, the blind man. “What use”, he would say, “is a man with no eyes?”

Every day the hunter would go into the forest with his traps and spears. And every evening when the hunter returned to the village, the blind man would say, “Please, tomorrow let me come with you, hunting in the forest.”

But the hunter would shake his head: “What use is a man with no eyes?”

One evening, the hunter was in a good mood. He had returned home with a fat gazelle. His wife had cooked the meat, and when they’d finished eating, the hunter turned to the blind man and said, “Very well, tomorrow you will come hunting.”

So the next morning they set off into the forest, the hunter with his traps and spears leading the blind man by the hand. Suddenly, the blind man stopped: “Shhhh, there is a lion!”

The hunter looked about; he could see nothing.

“There is a lion,” said the blind man “but it’s alright; he’s fast asleep. He won’t hurt us.”

They went along the path and there, sure enough, was a great lion fast asleep under a tree. The hunter asked, “How did you know about the lion?”

“Because I see with my ears.”

They continued deep into the forest until they came to a clearing. The hunter set one of his traps and showed the blind man how to set another one. Then the hunter said “We’ll come back tomorrow and see what we’ve caught.”

The next morning they walked into the forest to where the traps had been set. The hunter saw straight away that there was a bird caught in each trap. And he saw that the bird caught in his trap was a little gray one, and the bird in the blind man’s trap was a beauty with feathers of green, crimson and gold.

“We’ve each caught a bird,” he said. “I’ll fetch them out of the traps.”

And what did he do? He gave the blind man the little gray bird, and he kept the beautiful bird for himself. Then they set off for home.

birds

As they walked, the hunter said, “If you’re so clever and see with your ears, then answer me this: Why is there so much anger and hatred in this world?”

And the blind man answered, “Because the world is full of so many people like you-who take what is not theirs.”

And the hunter was filled with shame. He took the little bird from the blind man’s hand and gave him the beautiful one instead. “I’m sorry,” he said.

As they walked, the hunter said, “If you’re so clever, then answer me this: Why is there so much love and kindness in this world?”

And the blind man answered, “Because the world is full of so many people like you-who learn by their mistakes.”

From that day on, if the hunter heard anyone ask, “Blind man, why is it that you are so wise?” he would put his arm around the blind man’s shoulders and say: “Because he sees with his ears…and hears with his heart.”

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

Shooting Fish in a Barrel

So proud of himself!

So proud of himself!

Nothing says “home” quite like a dead rhino head mounted on the wall, or a lovely bear hide under your feet. You too can redecorate to your liking. For $2,000 you can shoot a zebra, or for $20,000 a lion. Cost isn’t an issue? Well then for $40,000 how about an elephant?

The trophy hunting industry is alive and well in Africa. But with today’s modern hunters, if price is not an issue, neither is convenience. That’s where “canned hunts” or “captive hunts” come in. Shooters pay enormous fees for the guaranteed kill of an animal, some of them endangered species.

Although canned hunts are advertised as rugged, outdoor adventures, in reality they are conducted in an atmosphere of comfort and convenience. The area is usually a fenced enclosure from which there is no escape, ranging from a few square yards to several hundred acres, depending on how “strenuous” you want your hunt to be.

The animals are either bred by the private land owner just for this purpose or are purchased as “retired” zoo or circus animals. They are all accustomed to people.  Whether someone drives up in a jeep to feed them or shoot them, they know no different and have no fear of humans. At times a rhino or elephant have had to be woken up in order to be shot!

A family vacation for most involves baseball games, museums, amusement parks, or camping. But apparantly the for the elite it means shooting endangered animals.

A family vacation for most involves baseball games, museums, amusement parks, or camping. But apparently the for the elite it means shooting endangered animals.

The essentials are always the same regardless of the cost of the trip: an animal who is either fenced in, lured to feeding stations, or habituate to humans, and odds so heavily in the hunter’s favor that there is little risk of leaving without a trophy. Most canned hunts even have taxidermists on site or on call to mount the trophy (a.k.a the animal whose fate was sealed the moment you called for a reservation.)

The United States is the largest importer of exotic and endangered animals from Africa. The trophy hunting industry from Africa alone brings in $91 billion annually based on a study by the Professional Hunters Association of S.A.

This man didn't even have to leave the jeep to shoot this unforuntate lion.

This man didn’t even have to leave the jeep to shoot this unforuntate lion.

As if it weren’t bad enough, the U.S has its own hand in the business. The Humane Society of the United States estimates there are over a thousand captive hunts in America, operating in at least 28 states, most commonly in Texas. There are however no federal laws governing canned hunts in America nor does the Animal Welfare Act regulate game preserves or canned hunts. The Endangered Species Act actually ALLOWS the hunting of endangered animals with the appropriate permit!

Canned hunts are brutal and one-sided. They are a mockery to hunters who abide by the “fair chase” regulations and ideals; and they are a shameful “luxury” our endangered species cannot afford.

troph hunt lions

This is a ranch where lions are bred to be killed.


Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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