Posts Tagged With: technology

The battle to save the Sumatran Rhino

For the smallest and most unique species of rhino, it is a race against time to try to re-populate the Sumatran rhino species. Indonesia and Malaysia are the only areas they are still thought to exist.

In Indonesia there are fewer than 80 left and in Malaysia, the situation is even more urgent, with only three Sumatrans remaining.

borneo-rhino-via-borneorhinoalliance

One of the three remaining Sumatran rhinos in Malaysia. Photo: Borneo Rhino Alliance

The International Rhino Foundation (IRF) supports two critical efforts in Indonesia; 1) they maintain 12 Rhino Protection Units to protect against poaching and
2)support the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS), a 250 acre area where a handful of rhinos are given the utmost of care in an intensely managed research and breeding program.

The SRS has been home to rhinos who were born from successful breeding efforts at the Cincinnati Zoo, including the latest resident, Harapan. (see previous post: The Journey of Hope)

harapan-with-irf-director-oct-2016

Harapan w/ the Director of the IRF October, 2016

Yet in Malaysia, all Sumatrans are thought to be extinct in the wild. So efforts are solely focused on the only 3 rhinos left; the male, Tam, and females Puntung and Iman.

The Borneo Rhino Alliance manages the three, and shoulders one of the greatest responsibilites-creating more rhinos. As the situation is so dire, the hope lies in advanced reproductive technology.

baby-sumatran

Baby Sumatran @ Way Kambas National Park, photo: metrowebukmetro                           

Teaming up with experts from around the world, attempts are underway to create the world’s first test tube Sumatran rhino embryo and implant it into a viable surrogate.

This may be the only chance for the species, but it’s a costly endeavor. As of June 2016, the group has run out of funds, and won’t be able to continue much longer. To remain operational for the next two years, they need  USD$900’000.

To help, please donate at Saving the Sumatran Rhino. Help keep hope alive.

 

 

 

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Engineering a Second Chance for Rhinos

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Poaching has made it a priority to save every rhino possible.This means even the most violently injured poaching victims receive the utmost in care; with veterinary staff leaving no stone unturned in their journey to heal and rehabilitate them.

In the July of 2013 the miracle survivor, Thandi underwent a groundbreaking plastic surgery to help repair her gaping wound left from poaching. Four years later, she is mostly recovered, but still experiences her wound opening from time to time.

thandi after

Thandi

Never anticipating a rhino could miraculously survive such an attack, it happened yet again with a cow named Hope. This time, this rhino literally lost more than half of her face.

Hope early poaching

Hope, in the beginning. photo: Saving the Survivors

With such a daunting task ahead of them, the veterinary staff constantly strive to find solutions to her recovery. Here is the latest report on Hope from Saving the Survivors:

 The wound healing is not progressing as fast as we would like. As you are all aware we have given her a break from the long anaesthetics to give her system time to recover.

Because the healing rate has slowed, we have been in contact with a biotechnology company to explore the various possibilities with regards her healing. To keep it simple (not too sciencey) we are looking at using collagen sheets inserted into the living tissue of the wound to create a wound matrix onto which cells can grow so we can start closing the cavity.

It will most probably be very costly but it is worth every cent if it means we can give this iconic young lady quality of life and long happy healthy future – we owe that to her.

We are still looking at our best options for this very special rhino girl. What we can say with some certainty is that she is mostly pain-free. We hope to have more news for you in the next couple of weeks.

Hope now feb 2016

Hope today

The process of treating these endangered giants has grown from simple bandaging to research, testing and pushing the limits of human creativity. Whether successfully achieving the delicate process of skin grafting or engineering the perfect rhino-proof shield; it is a testament to our determination in saving the species.

 

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

Rhinos moved to ‘Intense Protection Zones’

With over a month left in 2014,  this year already tops last year’s bloody toll of rhino poaching. It’s difficult not to feel a sense of panic at such an astounding rate of slaughter.

rhino poaching stats nov 2014

When confronted with the possibility of rhino extinction, the South Africa DEA’s (Department of Environmental Affairs) response is “Not on my watch”. But what are they doing to prevent it?

With all the questions, doubt and mayhem surrounding the current state of affairs, the plan that remains unchanged is the translocation of rhinos out of Kruger National Park. Two thirds of the rhino poached have been in Kruger. The idea is to move them away from poaching hotspots and create rhino strongholds, where there is intense protection.

The goal is “to basically ensure that you’ve got a foundation of animals that are secure and that you can use as a source population to take elsewhere” according to Markus Hofmeyr, head of veterinary services at Kruger Park.

They are not wasting anytime. 45 rhinos have been moved within the last month. Some have been moved to a highly protected area within Kruger, while others have been settled into other parks and reserves. The initiative will continue with more being moved into 2015.

Rangers assist with translocation AP

Rangers guide a sedated rhino to a truck for move to safe haven. photo:AP

Ironically the war for the ancient, 50 million year old rhinos is being fought with the most modern-day technology. The “intensive protection zones” are manned by rangers and outfitted with high-technology surveillance, including aircraft, drones and microchip monitoring. Although exact details are being withheld for obvious reasons, land and air mobility will be greatly upgraded.

RPA and Gen Jooste

General Jooste (seated in middle) listens as Scott “LB” Williams of RPA (standing left) discusses how technology is changing the game in the poaching war. photo: Justin Leto

The funding will come largely from the historic R255 million donation made by the Howard G Buffett Foundation last March. (see previous post: Dare to Hope)

When asked if the intensive protection zone would make it impossible for poachers to get the rhinos once it is complete, Kruger’s commanding officer in the rhino war, General Jooste commented they would probably “never get them out again”.

In the meantime, it is essential the war be fought outside the park, stepping up law enforcement and working to stop the demand.

 

 

 

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WTH is going on in Kruger?

Kruger National Park: Ground Zero

Out of the rhino poached this year, 550 of them have been killed in Kruger National Park.

In the last five years, a total of 1457 were reported killed in KNP.

83% of the worlds remaining rhinos exist in South Africa,  making Kruger the epicenter for illegal poaching.

“The game is different here at Kruger National Park because the poachers that come from other countries, particularly Mozambique, are armed with AK47s, grenades and axes. They don’t play, these poachers mean business” says Colonel Bolelo, ,who is heading anti-poaching operations at SansPark (who operates Kruger National Park).

autopsy rhino in kruger

Autopsy of a poached rhino at Kruger.

What’s Being Done

In March of 2013, South African National Defence Force (SANDF) deployed 265 soldiers into the Park and around the borders after a plea for help from the South African National Parks (SanParks). The soldiers are there to train, support and backup the rangers.

A new high-tech Gazelle helicopter has been donated to the fight. With high-speed, night vision capabilities, it should make pursuit of poachers easier and quicker.

Previously high-tech, low-speed recon planes were deployed to help track poachers in the region. The Seeker, as it was called, was donated by Paramount, the same group who donated as the Gazelle.

So with the manpower combined with technology, why is poaching still so prevalent?

kruger troops

Soldiers in KNP.

The Crux of the Problem

Size: at 7580 sq mi, there is hardly enough manpower to monitor the vastness of the Park.

Location: Being bordered by areas of high unemployment and poverty (Zimbabwe, Limpopo and Mozambique), the rhino in the Park are like diamonds in a mine waiting to be taken.

Most problematic is Mozambique, which is the origin of the majority of poachers entering Kruger, confirmed last month by former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano. Speaking at the launch of a wildlife preservation foundation in Maputo, he said 70% of rhino killing in South Africa could be attributed to Mozambicans. This is borne out by South African arrest figures in connection with cases of suspected rhino poaching which show that 68% are from Mozambique.

Prosecution: While the forces are working hard to apprehend the poachers, justice is rarely served. According to Colonel Bolelo “Within two months we had over 56 arrests but the dockets got lost. Once the dockets have gone missing the case is over and the suspects are released.” With this level of corruption, poachers are rarely sentenced, and IF they are, the low-level fines and  minimal jail time are not a deterrent.

jail not bail

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In the midst of this war, there are rumors of  drones being dysfunctional, soldiers not being deployed at the borders, helicopters not in operation due to funding, and of course the usual suspected corruption.

With that being said, the rhino poaching rate continues to soar, currently reported at 920. Yet, South Africa claims to be able to cut its rhino poaching by 20% next year, according to General Johan Jooste, who heads the Kruger National Park anti-poaching task team.

What will make the difference?

In January, Bolelo will find out  if hot pursuit will be allowed for his troops. While currently rangers and military are not allowed to cross the border into Mozambique (as their laws are different and far more tolerant to poaching) the hot pursuit option will mean approval to track suspected poachers across the international border without fear of reprisal.

Following talks between South Africa and Mozambique,  it is hopeful there will be increased cooperation between the countries which could lead to more arrests and ultimately more convictions.

In addition, cash rewards for information are being offered to the public to the tune of R100 000 for a successful arrest of a suspected poacher, as well as a whopping R1,000,000 for a successful conviction of a poaching syndicate mastermind.

Finally, the Paramount group is promising more donations in the form of ranger training, canine units for tracking, and more technology.

“The war against poaching is not yet won, but we can reduce the figures… it’s an ongoing process,” said  Jooste. “This fight against poaching is not about an individual and success depends on the collective collaboration and commitment from the men and women tasked with the responsibility of conserving our heritage.”

kruger sign

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

Darkest Before the Dawn

It is all too easy to get lost in frustration and despair in the war for rhinos. Each life means so much, and each death weighs heavy in the heart, BUT each victory is just as significant.

My gift to all of you this holiday season: HOPE.

mama and little one rhinoThere is reason to believe we can bring the rhino back from the threat of extinction. We can stabilize the population, control the poaching.

#1-Thanks to programs that transform poachers to rangers like what  AfricanParks  has done in the Congo,  minds are changing. (see: Second Chances: Success in the Congo)

#2-Community incentives that give people a reason to be invested in their own wildlife and rewarded for that investment, like in Zimbabwe (see: Zimbabwe Leads the Way)

#3-Zoos have a new role in conservation, through in-depth scientific analysis (of rhino dung) they have learned more successful methods of breeding rhinos including use of artificial insemination. (see: Rhino Dung Research)

#4-There is a plethora of technology being integrated into the war on poaching (drones, microchips, poison injections into the horn,etc.)

#5-Awareness is spreading! The elephant poaching billboard in times square was a huge endeavor (see: The Elephant in Times Square). Ad campaigns in China and Vietnam, and education in Africa are helping. There has also been increased celebrity involvement (Leonardo Dicaprio, Prince William, Yao Ming,  Jackie Chan,etc. )

#6-The US is increasing involvement in wildlife trafficking with President Obama taking a stand, pledging funds to anti-poaching efforts in Africa and creating the anti-poaching Task Force.

#7-There is now military involvement in Kenya from the British paratroopers, helping to train rangers. (see: British Paratroopers Train..)

#8-South Africa has stepped up military involvement in the parks. (see: War on Poachers Intensifies)

#9-All of the people on the ground who work tirelessly from the rangers at the parks working to protect the rhino,  to the the Rhino Orphanage and other groups who rehabilitate the orphans after a poaching,  to the veterinary staff and the behind the scenes organizations who work to fund all of it.

WHITE RHINOS
With numbers as low as 50 left in the wild in the early 1900s, the southern white rhino has now increased to over 20,000 and has become the most populous of all the rhino species.

BLACK RHINOS
Large-scale poaching of the now critically endangered black rhino resulted in a dramatic 96% decline from 65,000 individuals in 1970 to just 2,300 in 1993. Thanks to the persistent efforts of conservation programs across Africa black rhino numbers have risen since the early 1990s to a current population of 5,055.

We CAN do this.

Dr William Fowlds, DVM in South Africa is seeing a difference.

The international momentum against wildlife trafficking is starting to rattle some sabers. I can’t say the same for our corrupt systems and poor political competence. However, there is a groundswell of positives even in SA and we have to simply keep going. If we put ourselves on the line, we will turn this tragedy around.”

So please don’t give up! Fight for them!
You can join the fight and help greatly by donating to Fight for Rhinos.

RhinoLargeDONATE  $20 usd in someone’s name for the holidays and we will send them a certificate congratulating them for their contribution to the survival of the rhinos.

Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.  ~Lin Yutang

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

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