Archives For Rhinoceros

STROOP – Journey into the Rhino Horn War, is getting a lot of attention all the way around the world at the moment and its clear to see why!

The film tells the shocking and touching story of the ongoing poaching of the rhinos and the trade in its coveted horn. Four years in the making, this labour of love saw de Bod and director Susan Scott sell their houses, leave their jobs and move in with their mothers in order to document what is happening in the fight to save the rhino from extinction.

The locally made documentary film, has just been awarded the 2018 Green Tenacity Award by the judges of the Eighth Annual San Francisco Green Film Festival, coming ahead of the film’s world premiere at the festival which will run from Thursday September 6 through to Friday, September 14. STROOP was one of 26 final films selected out of 350 submissions and one of five to win awards – a huge credit for producer, Bonné de Bod.

It was supposed to be a 6-month project but soon turned in to a dangerous and intense expedition for which the passionate duo often found themselves in immense danger. In an exclusive first, de Bod and Scott filmed special ranger units inside the world-famous Kruger National Park and at the home of the white rhino, the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park and travelled undercover to the dangerous back rooms of wildlife traffickers and dealers in China and Vietnam.

The result is a hard-hitting – and ultimately moving – documentary that challenges and shocks viewers.

Says Bonné “We are over the moon at receiving this prestigious award and it makes all our hard work and dedication to this film that much more worthwhile. Hopefully, it also means that the recognition will create additional awareness and encourage even more people to see the film when it releases.”

According to the festival’s criteria, the Green Tenacity Award is given to filmmakers “who show great tenacity in exploring crucial environmental issues in their work.”

Made solely with crowdfunding and grants – the film shows why this hunted and targeted species deserves to live in dignity, free from exploitation by illegal traders, poachers, money men and corrupt governments.

STROOP – Journey into the Rhino Horn War will premiere in South Africa in February 2019 after its film festival run overseas.

Source: sandtonchronicle.co.za, 22 August 2018.

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Rhino poaching statistics (Department of Environmental Affairs)

Rhino poaching statistics (Department of Environmental Affairs)

The Department of Environmental Affairs today, 24 July 2013 released the Rhino Issue Management (RIM) Report which emanated from the national consultation process to facilitate a common understanding of the key issues related to the protection and conservation of South Africa’s rhino population. The release of the RIM report comes as the number of rhino poached in South Africa increased to 514. To access the report, Click Here!

The Kruger National Park continues to bear the brunt of poaching with 321 rhino poached since 1 January 2013, while 54 have been killed for their horns in Limpopo, 53 in North West and 43 in KwaZulu-Natal. A total of 143 alleged poachers have been arrested this year.

The final report submitted to the Minister and Department of Environmental Affairs in January 2013 has greatly assisted the department in reviewing and updating its rhino response strategy outlined in the National Strategy for the Safety and Security of the Rhinoceros Population of South Africa (NSSSRPSA).

The RIM report incorporates current thinking on sustainable rhino conservation by acknowledged rhino specialists, ecologists and a range of other experts. It encapsulates viewpoints from Non-Government Organisations (NGO’s) both specialised and community based, civil society, and from traders, professional hunters, resource economists and ordinary citizens with a deep concern for the ethical and humane treatment of animals.

The consultation process resulted in clear agreement that the country’s rhinos should be conserved for the good of all humanity, and that every effort should be made to protect the threatened species from the sustained poaching onslaught by international syndicates earning huge profits from the sale of rhino horn.

The RIM report does, however, state that there is support to include commercial international trade in rhino horn as an integral part of South Africa’s comprehensive response strategy to address the continued illegal killing of rhinos. Source: Department of Environmental Affairs (South Africa) 

Rhino horns seized from smugglers by the Czech Customs Authority

Rhino horns seized from smugglers by the Czech Customs Authority

Czech customs agents seized 24 rhinoceros horns Tuesday and charged 16 people with bringing the prized material illegally from South Africa to sell it in Asia.

“Our investigation showed that the transport is organized by an international ring of smugglers who have used fake export permissions seemingly complying with (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) to import the rhinoceros horns from the Republic of South Africa to the European Union,” said Jiri Bartak, spokesman for the Czech customs department.

The arrests follow an investigation by Czech and EU customs authorities begun in 2011. The gang was alleged to have planned re-exporting the horns as trophies, according to their fake documentation. Rhino horns are popular in parts of Asia where many believe they can cure various illnesses or work as an aphrodisiac.

South Africa is home to the world’s largest rhino population, estimated at about 20 000, though the large upsurge in poaching is threatening their existence. Rhino poaching is expected to reach record levels this year, according to South African officials.

Czech authorities estimate the value of the seized rhino horns at up to 100 million koruna ($5 million), Mr. Bartak said. The authorities said the ring employed people impersonating hunters to gain permission to ship horns acquired from African poachers to Europe and elsewhere. Czech customs didn’t release details of where the charged individuals came from or give their names. If convicted they face up to eight years in prison. Source: leos.rousek@wsj.com

black-rhino-2Rampant poaching in Africa is a cause of major concern to wildlife organizations. Many rhinos are killed every year mainly for Asian markets. In Vietnam, rhino horn is believed to be miraculous, able to heal cancer.

A total of 158 rhino have been poached since the beginning of the year, according to the South African Department of Environmental Affairs. Over 630 rhino were killed by poachers in South Africa during 2012.

If the killing of rhinos continues to increase, African wild rhinos could disappear within a few years. The best protected rhinos live in Kenya. Four of them, known as northern white rhinos, are the last of their kind. Each one of them has four bodyguards to guarantee its survival. But most of the other 25,000 rhinos in Africa do not enjoy such protection. The trade in rhino horn is illegal. However it is flourishing, most of the horn coming from South Africa, where most rhinos live. Hunters are willing to pay up to 20,000 euros ($26,000) to shoot a rhino and take the trophy home.

Rhino poaching on the rise

Rhino poaching has increased tenfold in the last five years, according to the nature and animal protection organization World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The conference singled out Vietnam as the main importing country and Mozambique as a major transit country for rhino trafficking. This is the first time that countries were named at CITES.

Vietnamese believe that rhino horn powder can cure cancer

The two countries now have a few months’ time to address the problem constructively. Mozambique is poor but CITES’ regulations are also valid there. To learn how to fight against poachers effectively, the country may seek advice from environmental and conservation organizations. In the case of Vietnam, lack of political will seems to be the major problem. Even Vietnamese embassy staff were involved in the illegal horn trade. Vietnam is now under pressure. By January 2014, Vietnam as well as Mozambique have to prove that they are able to fight against horn trafficking from southern Africa, or else sanctions will be imposed.

Superstition hikes the price

In addition to stricter controls, the WWF and other animal welfare organizations are implementing awareness campaigns. In Vietnam there is a belief that the powder from the horn of the rhinoceros can help against fever, prevent a hangover or even cure cancer. These claims however, are dismissed by scientists. The horn consists of the same material as fingernails and hair. Nevertheless, Vietnamese are willing to pay more than 40,000 euros per kilogram, more than the price of gold.

Thousands of wild rhinos have been killed and their horns trafficked to Asia

South African biologist Duan Biggs says awareness campaigns and banning illegal trade control will not help to solve the problem. Shortly before the CITES conference, Biggs, together with three other scientists, wrote in the journal “Science”, calling for the legalization of the horn trade. “We have a buffer of a very healthy population of rhinos to work with,” Biggs said. He is convinced legalization is the right course to take. If that doesn’t work, it can always be stopped again. “If we wait longer and the current situation continues, we will lose the opportunity to try an alternative strategy.”

Legal breeding instead of illegal slaughter

Since horn grows like fingernails, rhinos should be bred specifically for the horn trade. The horn could be cut off when the animal is under anaesthetic. That way the animal doesn’t suffer pain. This is done to a quarter of the animals living in South African private game reserves, where dead animals’ horns are not allowed to be sold. If these horns are legally harvested and put on the market, prices and poaching would decrease, argues Biggs.

The WWF and many other organizations vehemently opposed the legalization theory. A boom in demand and even worse poaching could result if horns are on the market in large quantities and at cheaper prices. “A change from the elite-trend to mass-trend will be like lighting a fire that will be difficult to extinguish”, said a WWF spokesperson.

The dynamics of illegal rhino poaching paint a vivid reality. Is this really any different of narcotics and money-laundering, human-trafficking and counterfeiting? I think not. In many instances its the same ‘operators’ at play preying on weak human instinct and a complete lack of morals!  On the other hand I suppose, based on the reasoning of scientist Biggs, one could say legalising narcotics and prostitution would be the ‘right thing to do’ since we have a “buffer of healthy unemployed woman and youth” ???

Author and investigative journalist Julian Rademeyer has recently launched his book “Killing for Profit’ A terrifying true story of greed, corruption, depravity and ruthless criminal enterprise.

On the black markets of Southeast Asia, rhino horn is worth more than gold, cocaine and heroin. This is the story of a more than two-year-long investigation into a dangerous criminal underworld where merciless syndicates will stop at nothing to attain their prize. It is a tale of greed, folly and corruption, and of an increasingly desperate battle to save  rhinos – which have existed for more than 50 million years – from extinction.

Killing for Profit is a meticulous, devastating and revelatory account of one of the world’s most secretive trades. It exposes poachers, scoundrels, gangsters, conmen, mercenaries, killers, gun-runners,  diplomats, government officials and kingpins behind the slaughter. And it follows the bloody trail from the frontlines of the rhino wars in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to the medicine markets of Vietnam and the lair of a wildlife-trafficking kingpin on the banks of the Mekong River in Laos …

For more information visit – http://killingforprofit.com/the-book/

To purchase the book online visit – Kalahari.com

A record number of African rhinos were illegally killed in South Africa this year, driven by the use of their horns in Chinese medicine and a spreading belief in Southeast Asia, unfounded in science, that they may cure cancer. The street value of rhinoceros horns has soared to about $65 000 a kilogramme, making it more expensive than gold.

South Africa, home to more than 20 000 rhinos, or about 90% of all the rhinos in Africa, lost 455 rhinos to poachers, as of Tuesday, to eclipse the 448 killed in all of 2011, the environment ministry said in a statement. Around 15 animals a year were lost a decade ago, showing the impact of rising demand from Asia.

The number of rhinoceroses dying unnatural deaths in South Africa, either through illegal poaching or legal hunts, has now reached a level likely to lead to population decline, according to a study by Richard Emslie, an expert in the field. Poaching increased dramatically from about 2007 as a growing affluent class in China, Vietnam and Thailand began spending more on rhino horn for traditional medicine, where it was once used for ailments such as devil possession.

About half of poaching takes place in Kruger National Park, the country’s flagship park covering an area about the size of Israel, where soldiers and surveillance aircraft have been deployed in recent months to slow the carnage. The park has been the focal point of an arms race as gangs of poachers sponsored by international crime syndicates have used high-powered weaponry, night vision goggles and helicopters to hunt the animals, investigators said. Source: Polity.org.za

Besides media reports and the many ramblings of law enforcement and environmental officials in the cause of protecting our fauna and flora, I received the following free e-book titled “Poached!” from a colleague. It details a story told by a veterinarian of a white rhino, callously mutilated by poachers and left alive with his horns and part of his face hacked off with pangas, and the good doctor’s quest to save the victim. Graphic pictures and an embedded video bring home to all the complete brutality of mankind. The book is published by Nikela – Helping People ~ Saving Wildlife and recommends widespread reading and distribution.

According to the latest data from South Africa’s department of environmental affairs (20 June 2012), the total number of rhinos poached  since the beginning of this year now stands at 251 with the number of arrests at 170.

The North-West, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces continue to be targeted by poachers, collectively accounting for 86 of the total rhinos poached this year. The Kruger National Park, alone, has lost a total of 149 rhinos since the beginning of this year.  At this rate the carnage will almost certainly exceed the 448 slain last year.

Thus far, a total of 170 arrests have been made of which 147 of the arrested were poachers, 10 receivers or couriers, six couriers or buyers and seven exporters.

Elephant and rhino poaching is surging, conservationists say, an illegal part of Asia’s scramble for African resources, driven by the growing purchasing power of newly affluent Asians.

A film made by UNTV and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) can be seen on YouTube on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3m7FOXOLbY. Rhino horn has long been used in traditional medicines in China and Vietnam and the film quotes a doctor at Hanoi’s biggest hospital who sings its praises. According to the film, rhino horns have also been stolen from museums and private collections in more than 15 countries. Source: DoEA

South Africa is considering whether to approach the international community with a proposal to trade in rhino horn, Environment Minister Edna Molewa told MPs on Wednesday. Opening debate in the National Assembly on her department’s budget, she said this included engaging “major role players, including international and regional partners [and] potential consumer states”.

Molewa’s remarks come 10 months ahead of the 16th congress of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), set to take place in Bangkok, Thailand, in March next year. According to reports, South Africa is sitting on an estimated 20-ton stockpile of rhino horn; some of it in private hands, some stored by conservation authorities. The price of the horn, should the Cites moratorium on trade be lifted, has been estimated at more than R500,000 a kilogram.

Molewa has declined to say how much rhino horn is held by government-managed parks and reserves.”Due to security risks, the department cannot publicly announce the amount of stocks being held by these agencies”. On Wednesday, she said her department was involved in an “extensive” preparatory process ahead of the Cites congress.

“This will include discussions on whether or not to approach the international community with a proposal to trade in rhino horn.” On the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa, Molewa said 199 rhino had been killed so far this year. “We are very, very deeply concerned,” she told the House. Earlier, briefing journalists at Parliament, Molewa said South Africa would not table a document at the next Cites meeting calling for the rhino horn trade moratorium to be lifted.

“No, not this time around. We are still considering all options, as well as probabilities towards that direction. We have not decided yet. Let it be clear. “We are still doing some very serious work in analysing whether we need to move in that direction or not.”

Among the things that needed to be done before trade could be resumed was “to ensure we get to know who the partners are on the other side”.Policies had to be in place “that do not allow any shenanigans to operate in the system,” Molewa said. “There are just too many things to do before we can place the discussion before the conference of parties. We are not yet there.”

Hmmmm! Would seem that the temptation for monetary profit is so compelling – R500,000/kg. Given the frequent outbursts at incidence of poaching and the horror pictures which normally accompany such reports how about burning the rhino horn reserves? That will send a clear message on government’s concern and intent.There exists a similar parallel where the importation of second-hand motor vehicles are banned in South Africa, but condoned because certain neighbouring countries want them. The old adage – ‘laws are meant to be broken’ comes to mind.  Source: SAPA

Rhino horn bust, Hong Kong CustomsOn 14 November 2011 Hong Kong Customs seized 33 rhino horns (weighing 86.54 kg), 758 ivory chopsticks (13.22 kg) and 127 ivory bracelets (9.2 kg) with a value of about 17.4 million Hong Kong dollars (over 1.6 million euro). Acting on risk assessment, a container on board a vessel arriving from Cape Town in South Africa and declared as containing “scrap plastic” was selected for inspection by Customs officers. Under x-ray examination, officers discovered the contraband concealed inside a package of plastic scrap placed at the rear end of the container.

This is one of the biggest seizures of rhino horns reported by Customs. Over the past two years, rhino horns have been seized by Customs in Belgium, China, Ireland, Kenya, Portugal, the Netherlands, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Early November statistics from the South Africa National Parks authority show that 341 rhinos have been lost to poaching so far in 2011, compared to a record total of 333 last year. Most rhino horns are smuggled to Asia in particular China and Vietnam, where the unfounded rumour persists that rhino horn can cure cancer! This record seizure follows another made by Hong Kong Customs on 29 August 2011, when 794 pieces of African ivory tusks (1,898 kg) found inside a container were seized. Source: WCO.

A single bust like this invokes a number of things. Firstly an outrage amongst the general populace of the cruelty and greed concerned with the crime, and secondly, elation amongst law enforcement officers in making the bust. A bust such as this reinforces confidence in the initial commitment to procure inspection technology.