Posts Tagged With: TRAFFIC

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:

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




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

Rhino Horn Cures Asians, But What Cures Ignorance

horn not medicine 1

We’ve seen advertisements and pleas targeting Asian communities to stop using rhino horn.   Famed Chinese NBA player, Yao Ming and Chinese stuntman and actor, Jackie Chan have used their star power to bring awareness to the plight of the rhino in China.

WWF and TRAFFIC are sponsoring adverts being displayed through many different communication channels, including newspapers, television, and social media platforms like Facebook. They have placements in hundreds of offices and residential buildings, airports, corporate offices and universities throughout Vietnam.

But how well is it working? Is anyone out there paying attention?


Journalist Craig Simons who lived in Beijing for eight years wrote about his time there in “The Devouring Dragon”.  Simons says “N.G.O.s (non-government organizations)  have had a limited ability to influence the decisions of average Chinese consumers. Advertisements have been successful but their benefits are offset by millions of Chinese just now becoming rich enough to buy exotic ingredients and medicines.”

He claims the campaigns may ultimately prove more important by putting pressure on the government. “A government ban is more efficient than trying to get 1.3 billion people to change deep-rooted beliefs and traditions, but both are key in the long term.”

jackie with rhino

Jackie Chan with rhino


According to Do Quang Tung, the Vietnam director of CITES  (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), “Demand for rhino horn in Vietnam has already declined thanks to government’s efforts in raising public awareness and preventing smuggling operations.”

South Africa and Vietnam governments  have signed  a memorandum of understanding on increasing cooperation to prevent smuggling of horns throughout the countries, but a representative from the Vietnam Customs General Department said “Vietnam faces challenges in preventing rhino horn smuggling because of the differences in the laws of the two countries.”

obvious rhino

Cures & Status

Using rhino horn for medicinal “cures” has been going on in China since the 16th century AD. An obvious cultural difference that’s hard to understand when you consider how far western medicine has come. (In the 16th century in Europe, patients who had contracted the bubonic plague were told to perform penance and anesthetic was made from a concoction of lettuce juice and vinegar.)

Yet the place of traditional Chinese medicine has a stronghold on much of the population. So how can truth (via education) overcome tradition?

Perhaps more of an uphill battle is rhino horn being viewed as a symbol of social status. Just as with furs, it’s becoming a mark of affluence in the Vietnamese community.

So how do you combat ego?

Since the beliefs in the power of the horn are based on untruths, and Asian horn-users seem to readily believe the tales as fact, perhaps the answer is to tell equally potent lies. Maybe the truth isn’t what will set the rhino free..

My fellow blogger Fred Clark knows this-
Mayo Study: Rhino-horn extract killed Michael Jackson

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

Kill the Trade or Kill the Rhino

white rhino ffr*93% of the existing rhinos reside in South Africa and naturally this is where the greatest poaching problem exists.

*On average 3 rhino die every day in South Africa from poaching.

According to the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa, poaching has cost the country a financial loss of $22 million USD just last year alone. So what is South Africa doing to combat this?

There are “stiffer” penalties in place now for confirmed rhino poachers. In S. Africa, kill a rhino and get 10 years jail time and/or a $110,000 USD fine. That is IF you get caught, and even then only IF there is substantial evidence. Considering a single rhino horn can fetch $300,000 on the Asian market, the fine seems worth the risk to a would-be poacher.

In addition SanParks (South African National Parks) is offering rewards of $10,000 USD for information which could lead to the arrest of a poacher rhino adand $100,000 if it’s information that could bust a syndicate. SanParks also introduced a reward system for informants. For reliable and steady information, meat, rations, or prepaid cell phone vouchers are given as reward. But this hasn’t seemed to help curb poaching.

De-horning hasn’t been as effective as it once may have been, offenders are hunting down the animals for even the small nub that is left. Apparently ANY horn is better than none.

The South African National Defence Force has deployed 265 soldiers to Kruger National Park. The Army is backing poacher 2up the overwhelmed park rangers in the war on poaching. According to the SA Department of Defence, this IS working. Within 3 months after their arrival, poaching incidents have dropped from 40 in March to just 2 in June.

But although there were 56 arrests in 2 months, the dockets were conveniently “lost” and the suspects were released. This only points at corruption within the justice system.

poaching arrests vs convictions

*Red: Poachers caught *Yellow: Arrests made *Green: Convictions

So the country is looking at the desperate measure of legalizing the trade of rhino horn in a one-off sale of the country’s stockpile In order to do this, approval is needed by CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Floral and Fauna) to lift the 30 year ban on rhino horn trade. CITES (which is like the UN for international wildlife) needs to reach a consensus through majority vote, which will take place at the next meeting in 2016.

Reminiscent of pre-election propaganda, the battle to win public opinion is beginning. Both the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs and the private rhino farmers are convinced this is the best option. Their argument is that by flooding the market with horn (which coincidentally the private owners have been storing up for years in preparation for a hopeful gold mine), it will bring down the demand.

This is at best, a flawed notion at conservation, at worst, a dangerous scheme to make the almighty dollar.


Remember the elephants:  In 1989 a similar decision was made by CITES to lift the ban on ivory trade. Did the elephants benefit? There was a marked rise in the level of poaching soon after. In the 1980s the African elephant population was 600,000. Today there are approximately 400,000. Poaching elephants for their tusks, particularly in China, is rampant and there’s no end in sight. Recently there was even a government accredited ivory trader in China convicted in part of an illegal ivory smuggling ring!

Mathematics: Let’s look at the numbers. There are approximately 1.3 billion people in China, 87 million people in Vietnam,  69 million in Thailand, and 6.2 million in Laos. Even if we assume only a sixteenth of the population uses horn,  that’s 92 million people. Yet there are only approximately 24,000 rhino left in ALL of Africa.   The thought for is that the horn is a renewable resource; it does grow back, but at a rate of 1-3 inches per year. Hardly sustainable. So a one time sale will only wet the appetite of an already insatiable Asian market.

Common sense: Trade in horn is currently part of a lucrative illegal trade connected with international criminal syndicates, so by legalizing it,  what message does it send? And does anyone really think that this will make the illegal trade magically stop? And even by doing it “only once”, it shows a willingness to sacrifice the rhino and weakness from the South African government.

Ethics: Removing the horn from the rhino is unnecessary and ineffective. The horn does NOT have medicinal value. Therefore by making this legitimate, it sends the false notion that it indeed should be a valued commodity, and that it’s acceptable to wantonly strip animals of their parts.

no to trade


Security & Prevention: The implementation of troops into Kruger National Park is making a difference. This should continue. For the areas in the country where it is not feasible to employ manpower at all given times, the controversial, yet seemingly effective method of infusing the horn with poisonous dye is an option. (See Rhino Rescue Project for more info.)

Ban Hunting: It is absurd that hunting of these animals is even allowed. It is only by permit, but considering the country can’t control poaching/hunting in the illegal form, it shouldn’t be an option until it can be better controlled.

Lay down the law: Even when the anti-poaching units fulfill their jobs, justice needs to be served. The reward for the horn needs to be met with an equally hefty punishment when caught. A slap on the wrist undermines the APUs and does absolutely nothing to deter them from doing it again. When poachers walk out of court smiling, something is very wrong.

Government: Have the WILL to enforce this. It is essential for the government, including the President to see the urgency of the rhino crisis, and truly want to make it a priority. Oversee the justice system, weed out the corrupt parties. South Africa needs to recognize their reputation, economy and crime level are seriously jeopardized. Send a clear and concise message this will not be tolerated.

International Cooperation: Maybe the most frustrating  part of the horn trade is the easily available market on cyberspace.  One of the most prevalent methods of international trafficking is through the internet.  Although cyberspace easily facilitates illegal activities, it also makes for opportunities and avenues for monitoring and responding to trade activities. This requires a different kind of policing. TRAFFIC (the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network) needs to continuously work closely with the responsible parties in the justice system.

sa flagSouth Africa has its hands full. The efforts of drones, tactics, toughening penalties and employing military are commendable. But whether CITES overturns the trade ban or not,  it is imperative for the government to get serious and weed out the corruption. Without follow-through, nothing will work and ultimately our rhino will become extinct. Don’t let bureaucracy and corruption stifle conservation South Africa.

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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