Victims of a Bloody Poaching War

Rhino 911 received a call for help on Sunday 12 March 2017 from Steve Dell at Pilanesberg Nature Reserve to locate an orphaned calf whose mother was poached last night in one of other North West Parks.

Nico Jacobs & Gerhardus Scheepers flew the Bell 407 and searched for more than an hour and a half, finally locating the 8 week old baby girl rhino. She was hacked by a panga and has several open wounds on her back. Gerhardus immediately began administering veterinary care and the baby was airlifted to safety.
She has been named Jaime, “j’aime” means “I Love” in French, in honour of all the people working to save the rhinos, in solidarity to the Thoiry Zoo in France and to all the people affected by rhino poaching.

Baby Rhino Rescue - Victims of a Bloody Poaching War

Baby Rhino Rescue - Victims of a Bloody Poaching War

Baby Rhino Rescue - Victims of a Bloody Poaching War

Baby Rhino Rescue - Victims of a Bloody Poaching War


JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Meet Arrow and his handler, Henry Holtshyzen. Harnessed together, they take off across the vast wildlife preserve. Arrow seems unperturbed, even as they hurl themselves out of the helicopter, falling more than 6,000 feet to earth — and landing in the middle of the poaching wars.

Baby Rhino Rescue - Are These Skydiving Dogs Poachers' Worst Enemies?
Henry Holtshyzen and Arrow jump out of an airplane to take on poachers.

“Getting the dog to the frontlines as fast as possible is always a challenge and parachuting and rappelling is one of the ways of getting dog boots on the ground where they are needed,” Holtshyzen says.  These elite dogs are trained to immediately sniff out the poacher, rushing to attack, pinning the poacher to the ground until more help arrives. This may be a training exercise, but the dog’s bites are real — and special bite-proof suits are needed.

Baby Rhino Rescue - Are These Skydiving Dogs Poachers' Worst Enemies?
Henry Holtshyzen is a handler for Arrow, a dog trained to sniff out poachers and pin the poacher to the ground until more help arrives.

The dogs are up against up against highly-trained, heavily-armed poachers who run a multimillion-dollar industry trading in elephant and rhino horn. In the past seven years, a third of Africa’s elephants have been wiped out.

Nearly 100 of these sky diving dogs have been placed in game reserves across Africa. In one region, they caught more than 100 poachers in 18 months. Holtshyzen told us one dog, Killer, nabbed more poachers than rangers equipped with the latest high tech weapons.

Baby Rhino Rescue - Are These Skydiving Dogs Poachers' Worst Enemies?
Henry Holtshyzen and Arrow are dropping 6,000 feet to earth to catch poachers.

“That is the most effective tool against poaching ever used and it’s low technology, it’s low cost compared to other technologies. And it works,” Holtshyzen says.

Man’s best friend may turn out to be a poacher’s worst enemy.

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The fighting woolly rhinos at Chauvet Cave. Charcoal from these drawings has yielded radiocarbon dates of 31,000-32,000 years BP #IceAgeArt

The Chauvet Cave (also known as the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave) is a Palaeolithic cave situated near Vallon-Pont-d’Arc in the Ardèche region of southern France that houses impeccably preserved, exquisite examples of prehistoric art. Now reliably dated to between c. 33,000 and c. 30,000 years ago, the numerous and diverse animals that dot the interior walls of the cave – both painted and engraved – show such high artistic quality that they were initially thought to have been closer in age to the similarly stunning, but much younger art in caves such as the Lascaux Cave. Its age and artistry have made us reconsider the story of art as well as the capabilities of these humans. The cave has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status.

Baby Rhino Rescue - Incredible cave rhino art posted by Hughes Ruth Rhinos for the Future

– Anti-wildlife trafficking operation results in global arrests and seizures
LYON, France – A global operation tackling the illegal trade in wildlife and timber has resulted in the identification of nearly 900 suspects and 1,300 seizures of illicit products worth an estimated USD 5.1 million.

Baby Rhino Rescue - Massive Wildlife Trafficking Global Arrests
The results, announced ahead of World Wildlife Day (3 March), mark INTERPOL’s ongoing commitment to supporting its 190 member countries in combating all types of environmental crime.
Codenamed Thunderbird, the operation involved police, customs, border agencies, environment, wildlife and forestry officials from 43 countries and territories, and resulted in a range of seizures including;
• ­ 60 tonnes of wood and timber
• ­ 4,770 birds
• ­ 1,240 reptiles including at least 560 turtles and tortoises
• ­ 100 wild cats
• ­ 2.75 tonnes of pangolin scales
• ­ 2.54 tonnes of raw and processed ivory
• ­ 25 tonnes of various animal parts, including meat, horns and feathers
• ­ 37,130 derivatives and processed products such as medicines/ornaments/carvings

Baby Rhino Rescue - Massive Wildlife Trafficking Global ArrestsBaby Rhino Rescue - Massive Wildlife Trafficking Global ArrestsBaby Rhino Rescue - Massive Wildlife Trafficking Global Arrests
Among the more than 14.3 tonnes of marine wildlife seized were 180 dead seahorses which had been concealed in snack boxes discovered by US authorities, with additional seahorse seizures also made in Mozambique.
In Hong Kong, China, officers seized 1.3 tonnes of red sandalwood hidden in a container shipped from Malaysia.
Intelligence was gathered and shared ahead of the operation to assist in identifying specific targets and areas for action. These included wildlife and forest crime hotspots and bottlenecks where checkpoints could be established, in addition to operations at airports and national borders.
Cars, trucks, boats and cargo transporters suspected of moving illicit products were also targeted with searches carried out by officers, specialist sniffer dogs and x-ray scanners.
Scrap yards, taxidermy shops, garages, pet fairs, warehouses and health clinics were also targeted during the operation, resulting in seizures, arrests and general information gathering. Websites and social media offering wildlife products were also the focus of investigations.
The three-week (30 January – 19 February) operation has so far resulted in 370 investigations which have already led to 89 individuals being jailed with terms ranging from several days to seven years.
“Wildlife trafficking has surged in recent years, generating billions in illicit profits. Simply put, criminals are helping themselves to the environment’s precious resources without a care for the cost to our planet,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.

Baby Rhino Rescue - Massive Wildlife Trafficking Global Arrests
“The success of this operation is a demonstration of what can be achieved by transnational law enforcement collaboration, and the resolve of countries to tackle environmental crime. INTERPOL also remains committed to tackling wildlife and forest crime across the globe, to protect today’s resources for tomorrow’s generations,” concluded the INTERPOL chief.
“The WCO commends the continuous initiatives of the Customs community and their law enforcement counterparts to secure the integrity of the global supply chain against the illegal movements of wildlife and timber products. Operation Thunderbird bears proof of the effectiveness of international cooperation and all role-players are encouraged to continue with their relentless efforts in this regard,” said the Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Dr Kunio Mikuriya.
Led by INTERPOL, in close cooperation with ICCWC partners – the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), WCO, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Bank – the INTERPOL Wildlife Crime Working Group, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the UK Border Force and Environment Canada, Operation Thunderbird was organized at meetings held alongside the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP17).
“Illicit wildlife trafficking must be tackled on the frontline and the officers who serve to protect wildlife need our full support. This well focussed operation brought together officers who are working in countries and regional enforcement bodies to tackle wildlife crime and we welcome the excellent results and thank all involved for their efforts. It clearly shows what can be achieved through coordinated efforts to tackle illicit wildlife trafficking,” said John E. Scanlon, CITES Secretary General.

Baby Rhino Rescue - Massive Wildlife Trafficking Global Arrests
The intelligence and data collected from the operation will be compiled, analysed and used as guidance in future national, regional and international enforcement efforts.
A joint INTERPOL – UN Environment report published in June 2016, estimated the value of all forms of environmental crime – including the illegal trade in wildlife, corporate crime in the forestry sector, the illegal exploitation and sale of gold and other minerals, illegal fisheries, the trafficking of hazardous waste and carbon credit fraud – as between USD 91-258 billion. However, these figures are expected to increase with current estimates showing environmental crime growing at a rate of five to seven per cent annually.

Study of transnational flows of rhino horn give #rhinos 7 years before they go extinct in the wild

Kruger National Park and other public and private game reserves have become battlefields where state security forces and game wardens fight for the rhinos’ survival. Despite their efforts, conservative estimates give rhinos another seven years before they go extinct in the wild. Annette Hübschle is carrying out research into why the protection of rhinos is failing.

My local roots – I grew up in Namibia – and professional networks that I groomed over a decade while working as a researcher on organized crime issues for a South African research institute proved extremely valuable for the purposes of data collection. During twelve months of fieldwork in southern Africa and Southeast Asia, I conducted more than 420 ethnographic interviews and focus groups. Among those interviewed were poachers and their bosses – so– called kingpins, most of whom come from Mozambique – convicted rhino poachers in South African jails, rogue wildlife professionals, rhino farmers, prosecutors and game wardens, community members living in Mozambican villages bordering Kruger National Park, representatives of conservation NGOs, and activists, traders, smugglers and Asian consumers. The large sample size and the use of other qualitative data such as police charge sheets and court files enabled data triangulation and verification. This is particularly important when studying illegal markets.

A Rhino Survivor of a Poaching

And this is what apoached rhino survivor looks like. This is what he looks like after a great deal of veterinary work to save him. Amazingly determined and strong !

“This strong little rhino is doing well after he removed his elephant “bandage” last weekend. The large wound on his face is looking amazingly good, mainly due to the great wound dressings from Covidien. Although the wound is still large, it is busy healing and not infected anymore. We are just waiting for the rain to settle before we clean and dress his wound again”.

STS – Creating Hope from Hurt – An ERP Initiative

Where do Rhinos Live?

White rhinos mainly live in South Africa but they have also been reintroduced to Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. Southern white rhinos have been introduced to Kenya, Zambia, and Cote d’Ivoire. The black rhino is concentrated in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. There are a few between Cameroon and Kenya.

Rhinos have become victims of organized crime.

In the wild, the adult black or white rhino has no predators except for humans. Rhinos are hunted and killed for their horns. The major demand for rhino horn is in Asia, where it is used in ornamental carvings and traditional medicine. Rhino horn is touted as a cure for hangovers, cancer, and impotence.  Their horns are not true horns; they are actually made of keratin—the same material that makes up our hair and nails.  It cures nothing.

Habitat loss is also a major threat to rhinos.

As human populations rise and cities grow, logging, agriculture, roads, and settlements destroy rhino habitats.13


  • Provide Sanctuary– support building of strongholds
  • Engage the Public– Spread awareness
  • Recruit wildlife Scouts—AWF recruits and trains wildlife scouts who protect rhinos from poachers
  • Work with the Legal System—a comprehensive plan is needed to save the rhino
  • Rhinos need YOU to help
  • Donate
  • Volunteer
  • Spread the word


Rhino Thembi is two years and one month old today, and she received the best birthday gift ever – a baby brother! Our rhino-super-mom Thandi gave birth to her second calf on 24 January 2017. Thandi survived after both her horns were hacked off in a brutal poaching attack in 2012.

Rhinos Separate From Mothers After Three Years

Rhino Thembi will stay with her mother Thandi and her little brother for a little longer and will gradually start to separate from them over the next year. Male calves tend to separate from their mothers at around two years old, while their female counterparts take a little longer. We expect that Thembi will separate from Thandi by the age of three. She will then find a territory of her own. Before she moves off, Thembi will have to feel confident that she can look after herself and defend her territory if necessary.

Rhinos Reach Sexual Maturity After Five Years

Rhino Thembi will reach her sexual maturity at around five years old and, if all goes according to plan, we will hopefully celebrate her first calf with her when she is seven or eight years old. Dr. William Fowlds said that he has seen female rhino produce their first calf as young as six years old, although it is uncommon. An exciting thought!

An international team of researchers compared genes of all living and extinct black rhinos. Over the last 200 years, 70% of the rhinos’ genetic diversity disappeared because of loss of habitat and hunting. Fewer than 5,000 remain.
Researchers were shocked by the magnitude of the oss of the black rhinos’ genetic diversity.

According to Professor Mike Bruford of Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences, with climate change, disease and land use change all concurring, “biodiversity is going to need all the natural resilience it has to overcome the current extinction crisis.” First, you need enough individuals to survive. In the longer term, genetic diversity will become increasingly important explains Bruford.

Five black rhino gene pools remain. But genetically unique populations in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Mozambique, Malawi, Angola and more, no longer exist. In the 1970s, black rhinos numbering around 70,000, were a common sight throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Widespread poaching in the 1980s sparked a population collapse. Losing genetic diversity makes it more difficult for a species to adapt to new conditions.
Genetics Professor DeWoody of Purdue University believes genetic diversity to be the ultimate measure of biodiversity and the key to long term conservation.

Baby Rhino Rescue - New Plan to Save Endangered Species

Image copyright – MIKE BRUFORD

A new approach is needed to help save the black rhinoceros from extinction, a study involving Cardiff University scientists has found.

Researchers found 70% of the rhino’s genetic diversity had been wiped out over the past 200 years due to hunting and loss of habitat. This means the small number left would be vulnerable to the same diseases.

Prof Mike Bruford said moving bulls to new parks to boost diversity could help combat this “unfolding catastrophe”. From a population in the 1970s of almost 70,000, there are now about 5,000 black rhinos in the wild – the World Wildlife Fund lists the animal as critically endangered.

The animal now only survives in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. Working with colleagues from universities in South Africa, Kenya, Copenhagen and Chester, Cardiff’s team compared the genes of living and dead rhinos by visiting museums and herds in the wild. They found that 44 of 64 genetic lineages no longer exist, which poses a threat to the future of the animal.

Baby Rhino Rescue - New Plan to Save Endangered Species

Image copyright – GETTY IMAGES

Prof Bruford, from Cardiff University’s School of Bio-sciences, said: “The magnitude of this loss in genetic diversity really did surprise us – we did not expect it to be so profound. If you don’t have genetic diversity, you can’t evolve. “The new genetic data we have collected will allow us to identify populations of priority for conservation, giving us a better chance of preventing the species from total extinction.

“You could bring a new bull in or swap bulls between parks – you know they’re not related so you’re bringing fresh genes into the park.” Other suggestions to help conserve the black rhino includes moving animals together to make it cheaper to protect the dwindling population. The research ‘Extinctions, genetic erosion and conservation options for the black rhinoceros’ has been published in Scientific Reports.