Posts Tagged With: war

Shooting the Rhino Wars

The following is video from Sky News, who has been given access to behind the scenes work in Kruger National Park. The first 3 minutes show the grim reality of a poaching. After, there is more light-hearted footage of the “babies”.

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Where we stand

rhino graphi HR aug 2015

South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs has officially announced the latest poaching stats. The accuracy is debatable, considering their definition of poaching.

Rhinos killed whose horns were left intact are not part of the stats. Rhinos who survived, such as Hope and iThemba, are not part of the stats, and pregnant cows who were killed-the babies are not included in the stats.

Regardless, at this point the numbers are slightly down, and offer a glimmer of hope.

Much of this “success”, can be summed up best by Sam Ferreira, an ecologist at SANParks, “Poacher activities increased, but number of rhinos killed per day has not. That’s the difference rangers make.”
They ARE the lifeline for our rhinos.

For our part in the poaching war, this remains-we will persevere and continue to look for and support the best combined efforts to fight for the future of rhinos. We will be off to South Africa shortly to meet with our other members of the Rhino Alliance, as well as others to take inventory on current projects and explore possibilities for future ones.

We cannot stress how deeply we appreciate your continued support in our endeavors. Without the generosity and heart of individuals like you, we cannot do what we do!

Stay tuned for updates when we return!

rhino and oxpecker close up michael moss

Photo: Michael Moss

 

Fight_for_Rhinos_2_3                                                                     Endelea Kupigana! (keep fighting)

 

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Rhinos, Rangers and Respect

As you watch the Superbowl from your living rooms, our rangers are out in the bush, patrolling, vigilantly protecting our rhinos and elephants.

Rain, sun, under the veil of darkness- each snap of twig, each movement in the shadow; at any moment awaiting to hear the shot of a gun…or the feel of one.

“It’s a relentless onslaught,” says Johan Jooste, special projects commander with South African National Parks (SANParks). “This place gives new meaning to 24/7.”

Soldiers in the poaching war, always in danger, every hour they spend on guard is intense. Relying on one another to back them up, praying the others in their unit are just as committed and not on the payout from poaching syndicates.

One day uneventful, another loading a rhino carcass onto a truck. Many of these men and women, taking each death to heart, feeling guilt and defeat.

“Worldwide, about two rangers are killed every week,” says Sean Willmore, president of the  International Ranger Federation and founder of the Thin Green Line Foundation, “But that’s only partial data,” he adds. “It could be double that amount.”

Unappreciated, underpaid, inadequately armed, facing long tedious days only to go to bed and sleep with one eye open, and get up to do it all again. Please help us show appreciation and respect. It goes a LONG way!

Which ranger inspires you? Make a donation in his name and we’ll send them a note of thanks  in your words and let them know there is someone out there supporting their efforts and fighting on THEIR team!

Click on each ranger’s name to re-read their stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Not Just Rhinos

VICTIMS OF RHINO POACHING AREN’T JUST RHINOS  (By Chris Scinta)

~Poaching perspective from Lawrence Munro, a ranger with the regional wildlife agency in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province~

bib head dark rhino

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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

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