Posts Tagged With: Sumatra

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

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Happy Fathers Day Andalas

Andalas is not just any rhino dad. What makes him special is the fact he was the first Sumatran rhino born in captivity in 112 years! At 6 years of age he was moved to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) in south Sumatra.

Andalas

Andalas photo: Asian Rhino Project

His transition from zoo to jungle presented some challenges. He didn’t know how to wallow in mud holes, wasn’t used to browsing for his own food, or having such a variety of it. It took time for his caregivers to teach him these vital skills.

He was also initially scared of other rhinos and ran when they came near. Not quite a lady’s man, he was overly aggressive to the females. After guidance and socialization skills from the staff, he was gradually introduced to two female rhinos.

He chose Ratu. In 2012 he and Ratu became parents to Andatu, the first rhino ever born at SRS.

It is hopeful he will be able to duplicate that success with other females.

Baby Andatu in 2012

Baby Andatu in 2012. photo:International Rhino Foundation

 

 

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Equal Opportunity Genocide

Thai poaching  ring-leader Chumlong Lemtongthai

Thai poaching leader-Chumlong Lemtongth

Dawie Groenewald, Sariette Groenewald

Dawie & Sariette Groenewald, convicted rhino poachers from South Africa.

rhino with US flag

American trophy hunters.

Kenyan poachers

Kenyan poachers set to appear in Nairobi court.

Russian trophy hunter

Russian trophy hunter Rashid Sardarov.

Our rhinos are dying. In Kenya and Sumatra, in Zimbabwe and Assam…killed by poachers, by trophy hunters…from Thailand, South Africa, America, Kenya, Russia, and yes…China.

It is a fact that China and Vietnam are the driving force, the demand for our rhinos’ horn. The frustration of this can become overwhelming at times, I admittedly find myself thinking…”China again?!”.  But it’s easy to confuse China for the Chinese, a.k.a. the forest for the trees. Not All Chinese use rhino horn any more than All Americans are trophy hunters.

Racism and bias are intolerable. There is no time or space for this in the fight to save our rhinos. We must set aside our differences, ignore our borders, and unite to save them. For just as many people globally who seek to destroy them, there are just as many of us across the planet who fight to protect them.

Remember-we’re in this together.

 

 

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Sumatrans: The Forgotten Rhino

Sumatran rhinos are the smallest of the living rhinos, and probably the most unique in appearance. They are covered in hair and most closely resemble their extinct ancestors woolly rhinos.

sumatran range history and current

Borneo and Sumatra are home to the last Sumatrans.

They are the most vocal, and quite agile. Living in jungle conditions, they climb mountains and riverbanks surprisingly easily.

There are less than 150 Sumatrans left in the wild. In captivity there are only 9; and of them,  just two captive females have reproduced in the last 15 years. Doesn’t make for a bright outlook does it?

Sumatrans live in fragmented areas due to deforestation and an ever shrinking habitat. They also face the same peril as their African cousins-poaching.

The plight to save the remaining endangered Sumatran rhinos has grown more urgent following the death of Gelugob. She resided in Lok Kawi Wildlife Park in Sabah, Northern Malaysia, and passed away of old age on January 11th.

Gelugob

Gelugob

For 19 years, experts had studied her breeding habits with hopes of her giving birth. She was unable to produce eggs and did not respond to hormone treatments.

Across the world, in Ohio the Cincinnati Zoo is making efforts to save the species  as well. Infamous for a previously successful breeding program with Emi (see previous post: Emi: the World-Famous Sumatran), they are now hoping for success again by breeding resident Sumatran Suci with her brother Harapan.

With intense efforts worldwide, the remaining Sumatrans are being studied, bred and monitored in hopes of keeping the species alive.

Ratu and Andalas son-

Andatu, born in June of 2013 at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia.

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Raja: Hostage to the Palm Oil Industry

baby raja

Straining against his chains, bellowing helplessly for his mother, baby Raja is held captive. He is alone, scared and hungry. The villagers in this Sumatran village are holding him for ransom. His crime: he and his family were searching for food in a deforested area, trespassing on the crops.

deforest

In what is becoming an all too familiar scenario, demands are soaring for palm oil, more forests are being decimated for palm plantations, and the animals’ food and homes are destroyed leaving them displaced and desperate.

Raja’s family, along with other homeless elephants were foraging for food, trying to survive. He was captured and brought into the village, held for weeks in an attempt to bargain with the government for compensation for their lost crops.

One man went so far as to jump on the baby’s back in an attempt to”ride” him, saying the elephant should be trained to do tricks to “earn” his money back.

Various groups tried to get veterinary care to the baby, and fought for his release but sadly Raja died. The stress and inadequate diet were too much for the little elephant.

In the end, it’s not just a matter of saving the elephants (and the Tigers, Rhino and Orangutans in the forests of Asia), but also of saving the people. Deforestation has disastrous effects on the soil, the climate and ultimately the villages.

PLEASE BE AWARE AND RESPONSIBLE!

Palm oil is used in 50% of consumer products, but is NOT a necessary ingredient.  Your ice-cream, margarine, shampoo, lipstick,  and some breakfast cereals all contain palm oil. Please read labels and avoid palm products. For more information on palm oil or other names it goes by please go to : Say No to Palm Oil  or the previous post There’s Orangutan Blood in my Kitchen.

Categories: Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Happy Birthday Andatu

The Sumatran Rhino is critically endangered, with only 130-190 individuals surviving. Their final stronghold exists in three Sumatran National Parks, with help from the International Rhino Foundation.

The birth of a new Sumatran Rhino is a very big deal. It provides hope, and confidence in the survival of the species. One year ago, a calf named Andatu did just that. Shortly after midnight on June 23, he was welcomed into the world at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) in Indonesia.

andatu and mom

The story of Andatu starts with his grandmother Emi (see previous post https://fightforrhinos.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/emi-the-world-famous-sumatran/).  Emi was the beginning of the intensive conservation efforts made at the Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio. In 2001, she gave birth to Andalas, the father of Andatu . This was the first birth of a Sumatran in a zoo in 112 years!

In 2007 Andalas was shipped to the SRS in Indonesia where he was introduced to three potential mates. He chose Ratu, and the rest is history. Although one rhino won’t bring back the species, it’s a start. It shows that international collaboration, science, and diligence pay off.

Video of Andatu’s mud bath at a few days old:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2L-3Mv_jj

andatu

Categories: Rhino Ramblings, Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Emi the World-Famous Sumatran

Emi n son

Emi and Andalas

Emi the Sumatran rhino was the heart of the world’s only successful captive breeding program for the critically endangered species.

Living at the Cincinnati Zoo, she gave birth to a history-making three calves:
*Andalas (male) in 2001 *Suci (female) in 2004 *Harapan (male) in 2007

Andalas was released to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) in Way Kambas National Park, south Sumatra. He successfully bred with another rhino (Ratu) and in 2012 they had a baby, making Emi a grandma!  The baby, Andatu was the first successful birth in captivity on the island of Sumatra.

Emi’s daughter Suci remains at the Cincinnati Zoo and Harapan is living at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Unfortunately in 2009, Emi passed away in her sleep at the age of 21 (the typical lifespan of a Sumatran rhino is 35 – 40 years.)  Known as a docile and amiable animal, she was one of the most beloved animals of the zoo. This amazing rhino unknowingly played a crucial role in saving her species and teaching conservationists how to help.

On a personal note, Emi is the reason I fell in love with rhinos. She’s an inspiration.

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings, Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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