Posts Tagged With: lions

Ranger headquarters in shambles

Rangers go out on patrol for days at a time, in the wet, the heat, the cold to battle the unknown. But before they head out, they gather in the lecture/mess tent; to learn, to prepare, to eat, to share fellowship.

This is the scenario for our friends at NKWE, a wildlife security group training and employing rangers for nature reserves around Limpopo, and assisting SAPS in poaching investigations.

Recently their headquarters tent was torn in half by a storm, leaving them without a dry, shaded area for their gathering, a crucial part of their daily operation.

 

In addition to being the headquarters for their rangers, they also utilize the tent to assist the local community preparing food during community events; an important part of building relationships and trust with the locals.

NKWE provided dinner for the local community after a funeral.

NKWE prides itself on high standards of training, with a 12 month program in place in order for rangers to reach competency. The costs for such a lengthy and in-depth training is immense, with costs of R100,000 per recruit.

Recruits during a lecture.

For this reason, they need our help.

The tent is $971 to replace. Your donations would be immensely helpful. Please go to PayPal on our page and donate what you can.

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

What are 8 billion tourists worth?

Money talks. It’s the basis for corruption and the decimation of wildlife. BUT it’s also paramount to protecting our animals and their wilderness.

YOUR tourism dollars and YOUR choice on spending them can make a difference.

eco-tourism-cartoon

In 2015 PLOS Biology did a global study to try to calculate the value of ecotourism. They estimated that protected nature areas attract 8 billion visits per year. (That’s more than 1 visit per person on earth.)

Researchers then calculated how much 8 billion visits are worth and came up with $600 billion per year.

In Africa alone, it is estimated by 2030 some countries will see 134 million tourists. –United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

Tourism stabilizes communities by providing jobs, protects the wildlife by making them the focus of these jobs, and of course provides an opportunity of a lifetime to the tourist.

hyena-ffr

 

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CITES Recap: the good, the bad and the ugly

The CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) 2008-2020 vision states
*they will be contributing to the conservation of wildlife as an integral part of the global ecosystem on which all life depends,
*as well as promoting transparency and wider involvement of civil society in the development of conservation policies and practices

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Are they following their vision?

Well, here’s a recap. The animals who reaped ‘benefits’ from increased protection are:

*Pangolins (trade was completely banned, and the most highly trafficked animals in the world were given highest protection status)

*African Gray Parrots (trade was completely outlawed)

*Sharks and Rays (Thirteen species of rays and Thresher and Silky sharks were given highest protection status)

In addition, proposals to grant legal trade in ivory and/or horn in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland were denied.

But the disheartening news was the denial of CITES to grant the highest level of protection to:

*Elephants 

*Rhinos 

*Lions 

An added issue for lions is the trade in captive bred lion parts remains legal. This perpetuates the Asian demand, and serves as an added incentive for South Africa to continue breeding farms. (Currently there are approximately 7,000 lions kept on 200 breeding farms throughout South Africa.)

seizures-of-lion-parts

© Data from UNEP-WCMC

In theory wild lion parts are not legally traded. Yet, there is no way to tell the difference between a wild lion bone and a captive lion bone. If money is to be made, bones will likely be obtained. Like a fenced in yard with surrounded by only  three sides, protection for Africa’s lion is incomplete, and proves worrisome to an even  faster decline.

In the end, the negligence to protect one species casts a shadow over the decision to protect others. It also casts doubt on the credibility and intentions of our CITES delegates.

zuma-opening-cites-2016

President Zuma at CITES. South Africa has been accused of “selling out” both elephants in lions in their votes against added protection. Photos by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth

 

There is no necessity in trading lion parts, wild or captive. To perpetuate a market and feed a false cultural perception is not only ethically questionable, but also sends a mixed message in the overall trade of wildlife products. Why is one species an acceptable “commodity” over another? And if a species becomes “captive bred”, is the door open for that species to be traded as well?

lion-farm-by-one-green-planet

Currently there are approximately 7,000 lions kept on 200 breeding farms throughout South Africa photo: One Green Planet

For Appendices ratings, just how low do the numbers have to get for us to act? The Northern White Rhinos are a perfect example of the error in waiting too long. There are 3 left. They were never afforded protection in time. Why isn’t their predicament enough; does history teach us nothing?

northern-white-by-brent-stirton-nat-geo

Only three Northern White Rhinos remain, all living in Kenya at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. photo: Brent Stirton/Nat Geo

(It is important to note that upgrading lions to the Appendix I status would ONLY have affected wild lions, and would not have afforded protection to their captive cousins.)

 

 

 

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Nairobi wildlife under threat

Sitting in a hot car, unmoving; breathing in diesel fumes, waiting for the police to wave your car through….and waiting, and waiting. What should be a simple 10 minute trip across the city turns into an hour plus nightmare.  Chicago traffic is a delight in comparison to Nairobi traffic.

nairobi traffic

Nairobi is among the worst in the world when it comes to traffic issues.

Currently traffic comes through the heart of the city; from locals to freight vehicles coming from the port of Mombasa traveling into Kenya, as well as into neighboring Uganda and South Sudan.

It’s easy to see Nairobi desperately needs updated infrastructure and change. In fact, in 2014, Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero said that the city’s traffic costs the country an estimated $570,000 a day in lost productivity.

But what does this mean to wildlife? In particular the Nairobi National Park, situated just 4 miles (7 km) outside of the country’s capital,  an electric fence is the only boundary separating city from wildlife.

banner-nairobi-national-park by all time safaris

Nairobi National Park Photo: Alltimesafaris.com

The country’s first wildlife park was established in 1946 when traffic was non-existent, the city population only at approximately 170,000. Today’s population is almost 4 million.

The country’s largest, most rapidly expanding city needs room to grow, but must simultaneously preserve the delicate balance of its wildlife.

Nairobi National Park

The park is currently partially surrounded by roads and fences, but has an open area to the south allowing for wildlife corridors.

Proposed railway no text

The proposed plans for the railway inside the Park. The preferred government route is the light blue line, virtually splitting the park in half.

The fear is eventually the park will become broken up, and/or surrounded by infrastructure and human encroachment, essentially turning the park into more of a zoo.

Directing necessary developments around the park, and preserving wildlife corridors is vital to the future of Kenya’s rhinos, elephants, lions and others. Please take a moment to encourage Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta to preserve the integrity of the Nairobi National Park. VOTE now!

Vote to save Park

 

 

 

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The Indiscriminate Wildlife Killer

Poaching, an ongoing global threat to wildlife, usually brings to mind bad guys with guns and machetes intent on stealing rhino horns and elephant tusks.

snare 1

Generally nature doesn’t make circles, this is a good rule of thumb in detecting snares in the bush.

But another poaching method, silent, yet just as deadly are snares. Relatively easy to come by telephone or cable wire is used to trap whatever comes into its path.

While some animals caught in snares will end up in the cooking pot, as many as an estimated 90% will be left to rot in the bush  -Nick Tucker: Horror of Snares, Africa Geographic.

The majority suffer a painful, lingering death.

baby ele in poach snare dswt

This baby elephant was found with a snare around its leg, cutting to the bone. Thankfully rescued in time by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, this little one was lucky. photo: DSWT

Rangers spend precious time and energy on snare detection and removal on a daily basis. While they may remove a number of snares from a given area, it is not uncommon they will find new snares in the same area the very next day. It is an ongoing battle to locate the snares before they do damage.

One poacher can set as many as twenty snares a day.

snare removal team

The Kibale National Park in Uganda employs an entire team to snare detection and removal 26 days a month. The team finds hundreds of snares a year. photo: Kibale Chimpanzee Project.

The damage is more expansive than typical elephant and rhino poaching, as it indiscriminately kills zebras, giraffes, lions, antelope, bushbuck, etc. It is problematic all across the dark continent as well as other parts of the world.

According to Nikela, no one really knows how many animals and birds are trapped and killed by snares for bushmeat and illegal trading.  We do know it ranks in the thousands, if not millions each year.

snares by ranger maxwell, photo nikela

This ranger and his team found 60 new snares in one month of patrolling their area, and 17 snares with trapped wildlife. photo Nikela

warthog wire art painted dog conservation fund

Some groups have turned recycled snare wires into an opportunity for awareness and funding for conservation through creating jewelry and art. This warthog was made via Art Center for the Painted Dog Conservation.

 

 

 

 

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Poaching not the only Threat Looming in the Bush

As if poaching and habitat encroachment weren’t enough, South African wildlife also face the threat of Tuberculosis. First diagnosed in African Buffalo, it then spread to  baboons, lions and bushpig. More recently it has also effected  leopards, *cheetahs, *wild dogs, honey badgers, mongooses, warthogs, kudu, nyala, bushbuck and *rhinos. (*endangered)

Buffalos rest in the shade at the Lake Nakuru national park in Kenya's Rift Valley, 160km (99 miles) west of the capital Nairobi, December 18, 2009. World leaders worked through the early hours to try and beat a Friday deadline for a deal on cutting emissions and helping poor countries cope with the costly impact of global warming. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya (KENYA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY ANIMALS) - RTXRZAL

*Buffalos are a reservoir or maintenance host for TB. photo: Thomas Mukoya/REUTERS

All mammals are susceptible, and it spreads quickly throughout the ecosystems.

It directly impacts animal productivity and health, but the long-term consequences to their survival are yet unknown and in particular the direct effects on survival of endangered species is worrisome. Lions in particular have suffered a 35-75% decline from TB in current lion populations over the last two decades. (Professor Michele A Miller, Stennenbosch University)

Wildlife are not the only victims of TB. The disease originated in cattle; which in turn are used for human consumption. In 2013, it was the leading cause of human death in South Africa.  (World Health Organization)

TB rates in SA

The lack of diagnostic tools for most species and the absence of an effective vaccine make it currently impossible to contain and control.  With the ever-increasing number of domestic livestock and their expanding contact with wildlife, the disease is perpetuated.  It is merely a matter of time to see what effects it will have on both humans and Africa’s ecosytems.

cattle south africa

With a thriving beef market in South Africa, the issues of wild and domestic animal interface will not diminish anytime soon. photo: South Devon Cattlebreeders Society

 

 

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Thank a Ranger

July 31st is World Ranger Day, one of our favorite days, as we give respect and appreciation to all the men and women for protecting our wildlife.

These people ARE the frontline in the poaching war. Without them, rhinos, elephants, lions, gorillas, pangolins would surely have been wiped out by now.

We cannot emphasis enough the importance of wildlife rangers.

In honor of this day, we would like your help in showing gratitude. Please send us a note of thanks to share with them for all they do. We’ll be taking comments up until the 31st. fightforrhinos@gmail.com

We will share your messages on July 31st, World Ranger Day.

rangers behind

 

 

Categories: Making a Difference, Ranger Heroes, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The ever-evolving role of Wildlife Rangers

Game Ranger: Someone who is responsible for the management of a game reserve.  They work with ecologists, game reserve and wildlife managers; manage and monitor animal populations, maintain roads and fencing, and serve as field guides.

Rangers tracking wildlife for guests in Londolozi. photo: Eric Leininger

Rangers tracking wildlife for guests in Londolozi. photo: Eric Leininger

That in a nutshell was the job of a ranger. But today’s wildlife guides have had to evolve, not just gauge and monitor animals, but defend them with their lives.

Anti-poaching training and strategies have become the primary focus. Rangers evolved, were forced to become militarized.  Working 24/7 to secure poaching hot-spots, do regular patrols to find and remove snares, gather intelligence, and set up ambushes to catch would-be poachers; all the while, keenly aware their lives are under threat.

Rangers alert and on patrol in Virunga National Park, a park with a high incidence of gunfire and poaching activity. photo: Soldier Systems

Rangers alert and on patrol in Virunga National Park, arguably the most dangerous park due to poaching and interest in oil. photo: Soldier Systems

In 2013, Transfrontier Africa broke new ground by initiating the first all women anti-poaching teams. By engaging the community and employing local women to help protect Balule Nature Reserve, it helped empower the community and change the face of game rangers. Far from the traditional ranger, but thus far, the program has been highly successful in keeping down poaching.

black mambas training

Black Mambas in training exercises at Balule. photo: Protrack APU

Rangers are tough as nails and defend rhinos with their lives. So what wouldn’t they do to fight poaching?

In 2014, a former model and photographer took a unique approach to raising funds for rhino conservation. A dozen park rangers took things a step further and bared all in a naked calendar shoot. Innovative, slightly humorous, but courageous. And still quite serious. As said by one of the participants, Sibu Nziwe, “I have chosen to work for nature and give up the competition for jobs in the cities. I have sacrificed my social life with family and friends in the city for a greater cause.”

naked ranger 1

Rangers bared all in a 2015 calendar, raising awareness and funds toward their jobs and the crisis of poaching. photo: Josie Borain

What’s next? Whatever it may be, rest assured they will get it done. Dedicated, courageous, adapting-these men and women sacrifice themselves in ways most of us can’t imagine. There is nothing they can’t or won’t do. They are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and heroes. They are rangers.

 

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Trophy Games

What do lions, elephants and rhinos have in common? If things continue as they are, they will all be extinct in about 10 years.

Lion pride in the Masai Mara. photo: unknown

Lion pride in the Masai Mara. photo: unknown

One of the things we can do to help is to go on safari. The money raised from tourism is poured into conservation in the area. But one tourist took it a step further. After his trip to Kenya, he was inspired to make a documentary.

During a trip to the Maasai Mara last year, Andrew Brown learned how important wildlife and the tourism industry is to Kenya’s economical success.  No stranger to the world of film, when he returned to the States, he reached out to fellow film makers with the brainchild for “Trophy Games”.

mara ele

Elephants in Masai Mara photo: Ariadne van Zandbergen

 

The unique documentary will cover poaching and the wildlife trade from the perspective of  rangers and the community. We will get to see the rangers as fathers, neighbors, sons..and how they live in the midst of the poaching crisis.

The title “Trophy Games” comes from two different conversations Brown had. The first was with a Maasai man who said he didn’t think poaching was all that bad because people have made hunting a game for years. Killing animals was a way that you showed your community that you could provide and protect.

The other conversation was during a phone call Brown had with a conservation worker in Asia. She explained the Asian demand for ivory and rhino horn as if they were cherished trophies; symbols of wealth & accomplishment. Furthermore, she referred to the global policies surrounding ivory bans as just a collection of ‘trophy games’ that many government officials like to play as if it was nothing serious.

rhino in mara ALAMY

Rhino in the Mara. Photo: Alamy

Brown looks at this documentary as spotlight for the Kenyan people to get to know some of their country’s finest men.

It will be a tool that conservation awareness organizations in Kenya can take into rural communities and offer free public screenings, a tool to start a dialogue & bring awareness.

trophy games graphic

Proceeds will be given to Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Big Life Foundation so that they can employ more wildlife rangers in the future.

BUT first this film needs to be completed! Please visit Trophy Games at Kickstarter. There is limited time to make this vision a reality. Without your help, this film won’t be made!

 

 

 

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Ebola: the wildlife connection

Ebola: stemming from the depths of West Africa, spanning the oceans, now creeping into America. What does Ebola have to do with wildlife? Everything.

chimps infected with ebola

In the last 20-30 yrs, Ebola has killed tens of thousands of apes, like the chimp seen here.

*75% of recently emerging infectious diseases affecting humans are diseases of animal origin

It is contracted through contact with infected wildlife; i.e. through handling of or ingesting of infected animals. Chimpanzees and bats are the animals most often cited as carriers, but they are not the only animals.

The disease has taken hold of human populations largely because of our exploitation of wildlife. The illegal trafficking of wildlife out of Africa is a dangerous trend, threatening wildlife populations, and posing health risks to humans as well.

slow lorises rescued in la airport-smuggled in underwear

Hidden in a man’s underwear, these slow lorises were confiscated in Los Angeles Airport, destined to be sold as pets.  Photo: LA U.S. Attorneys Office/U.S. Department of Justice

Chimps, slow lorises, monkeys, parrots and sloths are highly sought after in the illegal pet trade. It is a $15 billion business in the US alone. As a result smugglers will try anything to sneak them across the borders. (For more on the illegal pet trade, see: When Dogs and Cats Aren’t Enough)

This trade results in considerable potential contact between infected animals and people, including traffickers, collectors, drivers, airport cargo handlers, airline passengers and the wider public in destination countries. It would only take one sick chimpanzee trafficked through a major airline hub to spawn a new Ebola outbreak. (Tennyson Williams/New Scientist)

But even more pressing perhaps is the persistent use of bushmeat. The poaching and consumption of “game meat” such as apes, porcupines, elephants, antelope, hippos, etc, can have dire consequences, not just to the wildlife populations, but to human health.

bushmeat over grills

Bushmeat is a delicacy not just in parts of Africa, but worldwide.

Ebola is only one of the diseases transmitted through infected meat. Researchers have found the first case of HIV originated from the consumption of infected apes. In addition; smallpox, chicken pox, tuberculosis, measles, rubella, rabies and yellow fever have also been contracted this way.

smuggled bushmeat

Bushmeat is not just an African problem. Between 2009 and 2013, US customs confiscated 69,000 items of bushmeat. Photo: US Fish & Wildlife Service

Humans’ insatiable appetite for meat, their all-consuming ego in owning or hunting animals, and their  general disregard for wildlife has taken its toll. Now we’re paying the deadly price.

For more info on the bushmeat crisis see: On the menu: Bushmeat

 

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