Posts Tagged With: rhino girl

Man’s (and now Rhino’s) Best Friend

Bloodhound and ranger in Virunga Nat. Park.

Bloodhound and ranger in Virunga Nat. Park.

With poaching so prevalent, too much space and too little manpower, a different approach is being utilized to stop poachers. Dogs.

In the Congo, an elite canine anti-poaching unit is employed to track down elephant poachers. Specially trained bloodhounds, who require a 2 year training program, have already aided rangers in chasing poachers down. In Virunga National Park, the first instance out they pursued the suspects for 7km.

In South Africa, the Rhino Orphanage is training dogs to help keep track of and protect the baby rhinos; rhino security if you will.  (see: Duma: The Rhino Dog)

In Gabon, dogs are being utilized in the airport to detect illegal wildlife. The program has been quite successful, with the canines finding shark fin and bushmeat in addition to ivory.

Gabon's tracking team works for a tennis ball.

Gabon’s tracking team works for a tennis ball.

Green Dogs Conservation and Congohounds  are two non-profit groups situated in South Africa, specializing in training dogs for anti-poaching and other conservation purposes. Trained similar to police dogs, they are given basic training and aptitude testing, matching the right dog to the right situation.

As Green Dogs points out, 60% of the brain of a dog is devoted to smell. They can detect scents we aren’t even aware of. Congohounds states, bloodhounds can detect a single smell out of 5 million!

Search and rescue dogs have long been trained to find people, landmines, drugs, and even cancer. With their phenomenal sense of smell and high energy, it’s a perfect fit to train them to track and detain poachers.

Duma and Ntombi getting acquainted.

Duma and Ntombi getting acquainted.

 

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Rhinos Lost

crying bl and wh rhinoNovember, 2013

Poaching continues. 825 rhino lost.

Please get involved! Sign petitions. Get the word out-make it a water cooler topic at work. Participate in a fundraiser or make a donation.

Please sign the following petitions:

FIND AND PROSECUTE THE CRIMINALS DRIVING THE TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES

STOP RHINO HORN TRADING: SLAP A TRAVEL BAN ON COUNTRIES THAT SUPPORT IT

STOP THE KILLING OF RHINOS AS A WAY TO SAVE RHINOS

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Baraka: from Disaster to Ambassador

While in Kenya, I visited the Ol’ Pejeta Conservancy, home to the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa. It is the dwelling place of not only 100 black rhinos, but home to the only 4 surviving Northern White Rhinos left on Earth. (see: And Then There Were Four )

To welcome me, I visited with Baraka, the black rhino ambassador to Ol’ Pejeta.

DSCF2411

Baraka’s name is swahili for “blessings”. He has been with OPC since 1994. What makes him so special is his disability; Baraka was involved in a dispute with a fellow rhino which left him blind in one eye. Later, the poor guy developed a cataract in his other eye and is now completely blind.

Although he has been separated from other rhinos for his safety, he is well cared for and a highly anticipated stop for anyone visiting the facility. His gentle presence allows visitors a rare opportunity to be up close to a creature in peril of disappearing.

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Who’s to Blame?

hornless rhino 2Vietnam

With direct correlation to their economic growth, Vietnam is responsible for much of the demand of rhino horn these days. Unfortunately in addition to the traditional Chinese medicine, horn is a status symbol and shows how affluent one is.

China

Not to be let off the hook, China is a guilty party as well. With horn being touted as a cure to everything from headaches to cancer, it’s still highly desired for supposed medicinal properties.

South Africa

In the midst of all the demand, is the country with the world’s supply-South Africa. In an interesting article “Poaching, Is There an End in Sight?”, wildlife activist Colin Bell believes SA is driving the demand for ivory and rhino horn. He suggests there should be hunting bans on all wildlife, especially rhinos.

What do you think?

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There “used to be” Rhinos

Just back from Kenya. What an amazing experience-getting to see, hear and live the culture I’ve heard so much about! I’ve learned new things, made new friends, and of course was “over the moon” seeing all the magnificent wildlife I love so much.

My prized memory was at Ol Pejeta; seeing a black rhino in the distance. After a bit, he came galloping out of the bush at us. He stood there for minute or so as if sizing us up, then turned and ran back. It was incredible.

DSCF2388There were a few rhino in the Lake Nakuru area as well. But, having been to Samburu, Amboseli, and Masaai Mara, the one disturbing theme was “There used to be rhinos here.” There are now none in Samburu or Amboseli, and rare spottings in the Mara.

With poaching stats at almost 800 for this year alone, it’s no wonder they’re so hard to find. Being there in person, and searching so eagerly for them, it really brought it home-they are living on borrowed time.

There’s no time to debate or discuss trade, no time to hope CITES comes around and enacts sanctions on the guilty countries responsible for demanding the slaughter of a species. Certainly no time for rhino activists to argue and squabble amongst themselves.

Action is needed. Poisoning the horn to prevent poaching should be widespread (see: Rhino Rescue Project ) “Shoot to kill” needs to be the universal policy. More community incentives need to be in place to encourage the people to care for their own wildlife; like the Lowveld Rhino Trust has done (see: Zimbabwe Leads the Way)

Less talk, more action; the clock is ticking!

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2013 Poaching Stats

796

And the slaughter continues…

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Rhino Girl On Safari!

I’m in Kenya! Looking forward to sharing my adventures with you and hopefully lots of photos.

on safari

In the meantime, here’s a bit about the where I’ll be…

Samburu National Reserve,

Samburu Reserve

Located on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River, the Samburu Reserve was one of the places in which Elsa the famous lioness was raised by Joy and George Adamson. It is also home to Kamunyak, the lioness famous for adopting oryx calves.
In addition it is home to all three big cats, elephants, hippo and buffalo, among others.

lake naivasha

Lake Naivasha

Part of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake west of Nairobi. The name means “rough water”, due to the storms that can suddenly arise in the area. It is at the highest elevation in the Valley.
There are a variety of wildlife here, including 400 species of birds and a large population of hippo.

masai mara game reserve 2

Masai Mara game reserve

Covering 1500 sq km, the Masai Mara is primarily open grassland, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kenya. There are 95 species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles, and a variety of birds. Of course, the “Big Five” (elephant, rhino, leopard, buffalo and lion) are among them all.
The Great Migration is a monumental wildlife event to behold on the Mara from July through October.

black rhinos ol pejeta

Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Ol Pejeta-the place I’m especially excited about-is East Africa’s largest black rhino sanctuary. This is also the home of the only four surviving northern white rhinos on the planet! These people do amazing work in the conservation of wildlife and outreach to the community.
In addition, it is home to a population of chimpanzees.

amboseli national park

Amboseli National Park

Spreading over both Kenya and Tanzania, the Amboseli National Park is well-known for elephant viewing. Mt. Kiliminjaro and the “Big 5” can be seen here as well.

More to come…when I’m back!

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When Cats and Dogs Aren’t Enough

 

This is Little Mo. She was just a few months old when poachers killed her mother and stole her from the wild. These ruthless wildlife traffickers wanted Born Free Foundationto sell the cheetah cub as a ‘pet’ in Somaliland, East Africa.

Mo is one of millions of countless big cats, and other endangered animals who are part of the exotic pet trade.

US Exotic Pets

The illegal trade is a $15 billion dollar business in the United States alone, with breeders and dealers selling animals over the Internet or in trade magazines. It is estimated that approximately 20,000 exotics live in “backyards” all across the US.

While some exotic pets have been bred in captivity, many are plucked directly from their natural habitats. The stress of being violently removed from their homes causes some animals to die before they ever reach a private residence.

pet tiger

Amazingly, the Endangered Species Act does not prohibit domestic trade in captive-bred wildlife. A grave oversight, considering that although tigers are endangered, more tigers reside in private residences in Texas, than in all the wild.

People purchasing these animals believe them to be cute and manageable until of course they grow, their wild instincts still intact, and become uncontrollable.  In 2013, there have been 1,969 incidents (anything from quarantine violations to deaths of animals and/or people) in the US alone.

Middle Eastern Trend

Of course this is not just problematic in the US. Big cat pets in the Gulf region is a growing trend. It is seen as a status symbol. Yemen is becoming the hub for this lucrative trade in the Arabian world. Although the numbers are not available, it is believed this is the reason for the dent in the wild cheetah populations in Somalia.

man riding lion

Several clips have surfaced on the Internet showing the absurdity and ignorance of owning these big cats; i.e. a  riding a lion and a group of men with a leashed cheetah.

Worldwide Smuggling

Authorities around the world suspect they’re intercepting under 10% of all wildlife smuggling, with many saying it’s actually only 1%.

african greys rescused

3 of 108 African Grays released into the wild after a failed smuggling attempt in Bulgaria.

The vast size of most wilderness areas and the limited number of enforcement officers virtually guarantee poachers and smugglers free access. The only way to get a definite conviction is to catch them in the act.

otters

11 otters found alive in unclaimed baggage in Bangkok.

Although smuggling of endangered species is an international violation of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), the penalties are stipulated by individual countries and vary greatly. CITES protection does not apply to exotic animals who are born in captivity.

Root of the Problem

As with rhino and elephant poaching, the root of the issue is to stop the demand. So it is with exotic pet ownership.

*Do not purchase endangered species.

*Do not patronize circuses and roadside zoos who use or showcase exotic animals.

Please read and sign the petition to : Ban exotic pet ownership in the US

Born Free FoundationWhat happened to Mo the cheetah?

She was rescued by the Born Free Foundation. She’s living the good life, with a spacious area and her medical and nutritional needs cared for.

After slowly introducing her to other cheetahs, she is happily living as part of a new family unit.

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Zimbabwe Leads the Way

Zimbabwe- has a poverty rate at 63%, faces economic crisis and questionable human rights violations. Yet this unsettled country may hold the key to rhino conservation.

This is thanks to the Lowveld Rhino Trust. The LRT is centrally involved in the protection of 90% of the country’s black rhinos in private reserves. With most of Zimbabwe facing the same loss of rhino as other  African countries, LRT is solely responsible for a 10% increase in the black rhino population.

Since 2009, they have worked tenaciously against poaching, attempting to slowly rebuild the rhino population. No easy feat, as they are in the midst of their country’s political and economic  turmoil and unrest.

raoul du toit director of lowveld

Raoul du Toit, director at Lowveld Rhino Trust

So how do they do it?

Like other efforts across the African continent, they relocate rhinos from unsafe areas to  higher protection zones. They fight the same fight, stepping up anti-poaching units, maintaining security and tending to individual rhinos.

Yet the key to their success may lie in their localized efforts. They provide support to the local schools, the amount of their efforts and contribution directly hinging on the rhino growth population. If the rhino populations are thriving, schools receive extra funds from the LRT. If poaching is taking its toll, the funds are removed and applied to extra anti-poaching units.

The idea is to provide incentive to the people to save their rhino, in turn this applies pressure on the poachers from their own communities. As diligent as anti-poaching units are, they cannot be everywhere all the time, so this gives them additional “eyes” and “ears” on the ground.

Win for the rhinos, win for the people.

“We have made many enemies in both the public and private sectors by our efforts to wrestle rhinos away from those who attempt to keep them in ever declining populations, but we have seen annual population growth rates of around 10% as result of our efforts at demographic consolidation in adequately extensive and more secure areas of good habitat, which means that the rhinos can save themselves as the evolutionarily successful species that they are,” says du Toit.
Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2013/1002-hance-wcn-lrt.html#9T7FtfwUrR3mcZ4v.99
“We try to maintain a situation in which rhinos can save themselves through effective breeding. By concentrating our efforts on the areas that have ecological and economic potential for large, viable rhino populations rather than frantically ‘fire-fighting’ to maintain fragmented populations, we can build and maintain the larger populations to the level that poaching losses (which can never be totally avoided under current funding constraints) are more than compensated for by births,” du Toit says.
Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2013/1002-hance-wcn-lrt.html#9T7FtfwUrR3mcZ4v.99
the LRT, which is centrally involved in the protection of around 90 percent of the country’s rhinos in private reserves along with conservancy members
Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2013/1002-hance-wcn-lrt.html#9T7FtfwUrR3mcZ4v.99
which is centrally involved in the protection of around 90 percent of the country’s rhinos in private reserves along with conservancy members, has proven tenacious and innovative in its battle to safeguard the nation’s rhinos from the poaching epidemic.
Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2013/1002-hance-wcn-lrt.html#9T7FtfwUrR3mcZ4v.99
which is centrally involved in the protection of around 90 percent of the country’s rhinos in private reserves along with conservancy members, has proven tenacious and innovative in its battle to safeguard the nation’s rhinos from the poaching epidemic.
Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2013/1002-hance-wcn-lrt.html#9T7FtfwUrR3mcZ4v.99
Categories: Good News, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Lights, Camera, Action: for Wildlife

Like movies? Care about world conservation? Then New York is the place to be Oct. 16th through Oct. 20th.

The New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival attracts over 4,000 attendees from the conservation, education, wildlife film and travel industries; including representatives from NATURE, National Geographic, PBS, Smithsonian Channel as well as wildlife filmmakers, distributors, producers and newcomers to the industry.

The festival provides a chance for discussion and negotiation for business opportunities for experts and wildlife activists alike.  It also gives ample opportunity for the audience to interact with leading figures in the wildlife community.

There is a variety of film covering everything from otters to elephants. Check out the following rhino and anti-poaching  film trailers:

Spotter Come Home  (about a runaway rhino being brought back home to Lewa WIldlife Conservancy)

Boots on the Ground trailer  (about the Protrack anti-poaching rangers in the bush risking their lives to protect our rhino)

Rhinoceroses The Curse of the Magic Horn (about three different rhinos, and the threats they face)

rhino with ranger

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