South African move to legalize domestic trade ‘could stimulate poaching’.
Rhino horn will go on sale legally in South Africa in late August, after a court lifted a domestic trade ban in April. Many expect much of the horn to find its way to East Asia, even though South Africa remains committed to a worldwide ban on international trading.
The ruling, by South Africa’s Constitutional Court, has sparked concerns that legalizing the domestic trade will provide trafficking loopholes for horns destined for markets such as China, Laos and Hong Kong, the three main destinations for horns smuggled out of South Africa. Indeed, on Aug. 12, Hong Kong Customs sezied 2.6kg of “suspected rhino horn,” with an estimated market value of 67,000 dollars, from an airline passenger arriving from Johannesburg.
The first legal auction will take place online on Aug. 21-24, with a second scheduled for Sept. 19, after official permits are granted to John Hume, the country’s largest private rhino breeder.
Conservationists opposed to the legalization of the domestic trade attacked the court’s decision to lift an eight-year ban, fearing it would encourage poachers, fuel demand for Asian medical potions using horn, and enrich private breeders such as Hume.
The world’s rhino population has reached a critical low point. There are fewer than 50,000 left in the wild, according to estimates by Save The Rhino, a charity.
Save The Rhino said there is no South African demand for horn, and warned that the planned auctions could attract bidders intending to smuggle horns to Asia. The demand for rhino horn stems mainly from traditional Chinese medicine. Horn, made up of the protein keratin, is believed to cure conditions ranging from headaches to cancer, despite a lack of scientific evidence.
Because of its increasing rarity, rhino horn is also considered a symbol of status and wealth in some parts of East Asia, and is sometimes used to close business deals. These practices have had a devastating effect on the South African rhino, which is threatened with extinction.
Hume owns the world’s biggest private rhino-breeding farm, with more than 1,000 rhinos roaming 8,000 hectares of land — an area almost the size of Manhattan.
Rhino horn regrows at a rate of about 6cm to 12cm a year, and Hume has amassed more than 6 tons, which is kept in secret storage facilities in South Africa.
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Researchers brought them to the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research specifically to help save their close cousin, the northern white rhino.
Only three of those animals are left alive, and none are capable of breeding.
“They’re animals that have been here for millions of years. And we’re on the verge of seeing them disappear. After all of that longevity, we’re the reason they are starting to disappear,” Metzler said.
Poaching snuffed out the wild population of northern white rhinos and age is taking its toll on the survivors in captivity.
“We’re learning about training. We’re learning about techniques for the reproductive work that we need to do with them. We’re learning things to improve their health and well-being through the veterinarian team,” Metzler said.
Rhinos have already transformed since their arrival
An off-exhibit area in the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center gives the six females room to roam and trainers up-close access. Keeper Marco Zeno took full advantage of the area encouraging the largest rhino, Amani, to come close.
“Give me your nose,” Zeno said.
The animal lumbers over to the trainer, enticed by the friendly words and a bucket of food treats.
“It’s remarkable that these animals that were essentially wild when they came in and after just about three months, we’re hand feeding and being really calm around people and have no reason to be afraid,” Zeno said.
Amani is the first of the six females to be inseminated artificially. If it works, researchers are taking a major step toward saving the northern white rhino species.
On this day, Zeno urged Amani to stand still while another keeper simulated a shot. This basic behavior gets the animals ready for the real thing.
Ultrasound gives researchers an unprecedented view
Livia stands in the close-quarter chute of an examination area. A steady diet of snacks from keeper Jill Van Kempen keep the animal calm while researchers gather critical information.
The doctor manipulates the ultrasound wand on the outside of the belly. This wand is encased in plastic piping and it goes inside the animal.
“We have two sets of females based on priorities. She (Livia) is once a week. And this is just to get baseline data. And then our other set of females get looked at, at least twice a week,” Pennington said.
The idea is to regularly check in on the animal’s reproductive organs.
“We look at the ovaries. And we look at the structures on the ovaries. And the structures we’re looking for are the follicles, which is the structure that holds the egg.”
Durrant is, in essence, writing the book on the rhino’s reproductive cycle because this research does not happen anywhere else in the world.
There is hope that what researchers learn will allow for an unprecedented successful artificial insemination with sperm from a southern white rhino.
As the researchers strain to get the information they need, Livia calmly munches on treats. There is no sedation.
20 minutes after the exam started, the procedure is over and the animal heads back to its barn.
The Drakensberg Boys Choir ended their six-week tour of Japan with a stellar performance at Kurashiki Civic Hall.
The choir addressed a global issue while performing their song, ‘The Poachers are Coming’, to support the fight against wild animal poaching everywhere on earth.
The excerpt from their 2017 folklore set ‘Siphume Afrika’ (‘We come from Africa’), is a celebration of our diverse South African wildlife, as well as a plea to end the senseless killing of rhinos for their horns.
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The Rhinos Without Borders project has ensured a bright future for an additional 12 white rhino, which were recently airlifted to their safe new home in Botswana. They were removed from a high risk area in South Africa, where rhino are being poached at the rate of one every eight hours.
The latest achievement was another milestone towards the project’s goal of bringing 100 rhinos across the subcontinent, from high risk areas in South Africa to highly protected safe havens in Botswana. The rhinos were deposited on a dirt airstrip in an undisclosed location by a Botswana Defence Force C130 airplane and under heavy military guard. The animals were then ferried to their ultimate destination suspended upside down beneath a helicopter. This dramatic method is regarded as the safest and easiest way of getting the heavyweight animals to their brand new home in remote and otherwise inaccessible parts of Botswana.
Rhino are currently being poached at the rate of one every eight hours.
His Excellency Lieutenant-General SKI Khama, the President of Botswana, as well as TK Khama, the Honourable Minister of Tourism, both participated in the release. The minister expressed his conviction that the unique partnership, which combines government involvement with private companies such as andBeyond and Great Plains as well as private donors, proves that tourism can make a significant difference in the conservation of Africa.
“The number of rhino lost to poachers in South Africa is now higher than the rate at which the species can breed and there is an urgent need to create a new breeding population of rhino in a different geographic region.
The Rhinos Without Borders team have already earmarked an additional batch of rhino for translocation. To find out more or to contribute towards future rhino translocations, visit www.rhinoswithoutborders.com.
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AN AVID teenage fossil hunter has discovered a tooth from a rare prehistoric rhinoceros which lived 38 to 35 million years ago.
Theo Vickers, 18, presented it to Dinosaur Isle Museum at Sandown to care for and put on display.
Theo, who has just finished his A-levels and is off to study marine biology and oceanography at university in September, found the tooth of the rhino-like Ronzotherium washed up in sand on a beach in the Bouldnor formation clays on the coast between Yarmouth and Hamstead.
He was looking for fossil teeth, bones or turtle shells when he discovered the molar from the Ronzotherium.
“I knew straight away it was a species of rhinoceros, and after researching it further online I contacted Dinosaur Isle Museum to bring it to their attention, as finds of primitive rhinos like Ronzotherium are really rare from the Bouldnor formation,” Theo said.
“I was incredibly lucky to find it as only a few mammal species are found there regularly, let alone a species as rare as this.
“I was more than happy to donate it to the museum, to add to our knowledge about the diversity of animals that lived here during that time in the Island’s past.
“It’s strange to think that such an iconic animal that people would usually associate with the African savannah, was actually evolving here, on the Isle of Wight, 35 million years ago.”
After selling Lem-Nade earlier this year to make sure baby rhinos got their milk for the day, Isaac, our youth ambassador said: “Be creative, You can do any activity you want. It takes $5 a day to feed a rhino. $5 is so little, anyone can do it”.
We were delighted to find out that 13 year old Azaria Ragbar, from The Crash Team in South Africa, has decided that she will make sure that each month one lucky rhino will be getting its milk for the day. Azaria is making a personal contribution from her pocket money. $5 is all it takes. Let’s all follow the lead of these inspiring youths!
Hunter Mitchell started a Rhino Awareness Campaign that has been embraced across the globe, he has been named one of the Top 200 South Africans of 2017!
Hunter Mitchell is only 10 years old and has already become one of the Top 200 South Africans to follow. Hunter started working with orphaned Rhinos when he heard about a baby that had been abandoned by it’s mother. Moved by this he decided to start raising funds to help care for the baby Rhino.
Since then he has been educating the world about Rhino and the importance in saving them. More recently he was awake before the crack of dawn on a school day to have a Skype session with a class in Japan. He taught the children all about Rhinos. The class prepared presentations on the subject and raised R5,000.00 towards Hunter’s selected beneficiary, the Saving Private Rhino initiative.
“Just last week I was up at 5am chatting to a class in Japan, telling them special stories about my first-hand experience of how precious these animals are and that it is okay to say no to rhino horn.”
“I hope these talks end up as dinner-table discussions and that youth will start policing adults about the rhino horn trade, just like they would about running a red light or wearing a seatbelt!”
Hunter is the ambassador for Saving Private Rhino and works at South Africa’s first Rhino Orphanage when ever he can.
“I have always loved the amazing wildlife all over the planet, especially in Africa. In South Africa we are so privileged to be home to some of the world’s most incredible animals. It is sadly no secret that our rhino are in serious trouble.”
Back packs sponsored by SANPArks Honorary Rangers were given to a team of Ranger dog handlers after they completed another week of assessments. Assessment occurs 3x/year. The dogs are reassessed with regard to their health, obedience, and discipline.