With a very sad heart, it pains us to announce that our poached male Butch’s female companion of many years had also been poached, almost exactly a year after Butch was poached in March 2011. The picture below on the left is the last picture taken of her two weeks ago.
The female and her five year old calf were last seen on Wednesday 21 March 2012, after which we could not find either of them on Thursday or Friday.
Then on Saturday we could only find the tracks of the young calf, but no sign of the mother. And on Sunday we could only find the calf on his own. This put everyone on high alert as they never graze apart from each other.
We launched an intensive search on foot with all available manpower and it took three days of walking from sunrise to sunset, but we had no indication that she had been poached, there was no vultures circling or foul smells or any sign of someone entering the property.
On Thursday morning at 09:00 the search party stumbled upon her butchered carcass. With further investigation by the attending veterinarian and members of the Hawks, it was concluded in the autopsy that she had been shot with a large caliber rifle either while she was grazing or sleeping. Both her horns were removed. DNA samples were taken, and the investigation continues. — at Ubizane Wildlife Reserve.
The rhino killing toll in SA has shot up dramatically to at least 150 deaths over the past three months – almost double the figure since the last government statistics were released just over a month ago.
This means that rhinos are being killed at the rate of almost two every day and if the shooting spree remains at this level, at least 600 of these endangered animals will be dead by year-end...
Environment Minister Edna Molewa cancelled a press conference on the rhino poaching crisis in Midrand yesterday, but issued a statement later in the afternoon expressing “shock” over the latest statistics.
Molewa also appeared to back-track on recent pledges to beef up rhino security in the Kruger National Park by repairing the boundary fence which separates the park from Mozambique.
In her statement yesterday, Molewa said a survey by the Defence and Public Works departments had concluded that “the fence will be too expensive and difficult to maintain”. She did not put a figure on the estimated repair and maintenance costs...
To reduce abuse of the permit system, Vietnamese officials would be asked to verify the names, addresses and passports of Vietnamese nationals applying for permits.
Prospective hunters would also be “advised… to ensure that the applicant understands the trophy must be retained for personal use (no commercial trade allowed)”.
She did not explain what would happen if Vietnamese “hunters” were later found to have sold their trophy horns to criminal syndicates to be crushed into powder for traditional medicine potions...
An unsettling article in the Times Live reports that the five Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) partners -- Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Angola -- have "agreed to the sale of rhino horn powder in clinics and...
The KAZA-TFCA website notes that the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area was “officially launched” on March 15the, 2012, at an event in Katima Mulilo, Namibia.
The KAZA Ministers in their strategic policy direction have selected tourism as the major driver of sustainable economic development for the TFCA.
The alleged plan to “sell rhino horn powder” was not mentioned.
If indeed there is no truth to this scheme, here’s to hoping the KAZA partners put a quick end to the speculation.
The three men found in possession of a rhino horn at Durban’s Battery Beach, made a brief appearance in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
Rajen Moodley, 44, of Phoenix, Sithembiso Luthuli, 34, of Richards Bay, and Samkeliso Sibiya, 47, of Ulundi, were charged with dealing in rhino horn and being in possession of specially protected species valued at R3 million. The matter was adjourned to April 26 for a bail application.
Animal activist Brian Sandberg, who was at court, said they would put pressure on the judicial system to keep anyone involved in the circulation of rhino horn, behind bars. He said they would stage a protest at the bail application.
Some views of Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA), the Private Rhino Owners Association (PROA), the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), the Wilderness Foundation and conservationist Braam Malherbe, compiled by Retha Fourie.
South Africa holds about 93% of the African population of near threatened southern white rhino, Ceratotherium simum simum, and critically endangered black rhino, Diceros bicornis. The black rhino is slowly recovering from a 90% decline in the 1970s, but rhino poaching in South Africa has escalated rapidly since 2008 and has also spread from historically targeted protected areas to privately owned population...
Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Angola are heading for a collision with rhino conservationists after it emerged that their governments had agreed to the sale of rhino horn powder in clinics and pharmacies...
If rhino horn powder was to be made available in clinics and pharmacies, Rodrigues said, it would escalate poaching, because the poachers would race to beat the middle man with lower prices...
A question that often arises in captive breeding programmes is why is it so ineffective for the white rhino. But it’s not just low reproduction rates that affective zoo and breeding centre based white rhino, they often suffer from diseases not seen in the wild.
South Africa says it is working with other countries to combat the rise in rhino poaching...
South African authorities continue to see an alarming rise in rhino poaching. So far, 150 rhinos have been poached in the first three months of this year compared to 83 in all of 2008.
A spokesman for the country’s Department of Environmental Affairs, Albi Modise, said, in order to tackle the problem, the government is working with neighboring Mozambique, as well as officials in Vietnam and China, where the rhino horns often end up after being poached in South Africa...
“There has been an increase in the poaching activities in the Kruger National Park along the border with Mozambique,” he said. “We feel strongly that we’ve closed the gap from the side of Mozambique and closed the gap of South Africa.”
According to Modise, South Africa has already stepped up its punishment of poachers.
“A recent example is when three Mozambican nationals were sentenced to 20 years. It’s a way that heavy sentences can serve as a deterrent and the government will not allow plundering of national resources to continue,” he said.
STATEMENT BY THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS ON THE ONGOING RHINO POACHING AND UPDATE ON INTERVENTIONS AIMED AT ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM
The number of rhinos killed illegally in South Africa for this year now stands at the shocking number of 150. The Kruger National Park has suffered the greatest losses with the poaching toll having reached 87.
The South African government continues to prioritise the illegal killing of rhinos. Our united approach has already seen 90 suspected poachers arrested this year.
In January, we indicated that the Department of Environmental Affairs will pursue a halt to the issuance of hunting permits to hunters coming from countries that do not have appropriate legislation to monitor whether the trophy is used for the purpose as reflected on the permits. In tandem with that decision and as part of our wider engagement with other countries, the Department of Environmental Affairs is in engagement with the Vietnamese Department of Agriculture and Rural Development on collaborations aimed at addressing the issue of hunting permits and measures to stop possible abuse of the system.
We have also asked the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development if they could conduct inspections and verify that the white rhinoceros trophies exported from South Africa to Vietnam are still in the possession of the hunters. This follows an investigation by the National Wildlife Crime Reaction Unit (NWCRU).
The hunting permits are issued by the provincial authorities. The applications are submitted to the national department during the application process to scrutinise whether the applicant has hunted in the specific year. Such scrutiny may also involve verification or engagement with the relevant CITES Management Authority in the hunter’s country of usual residence. In essence the process goes as far as the importing country verifying if the address provided by the applicant (hunter) is legitimate; the relevant authority in the importing country contacting the applicant to advise on CITES regulations and ensure that the applicant understands that the trophy must be retained for personal use (no commercial trade allowed); and verifying the validity of passports / visas by the relevant authorities. This information is provided to provincial authorities who then consider the information, in addition to all other legal requirements, including provincial and national legislation and make a decision based on the available information.
In addition, Minister Molewa has met with the Mozambican Tourism Minister, Fernando Sumbana Jnr. The urgent meeting was aimed at finding viable solutions to the scourge of rhino poaching that has seen the Kruger National Park (KNP) losing 252 rhino in 2011. Minister Sumbana emphasized the commitment of Mozambique to conservation by stating that the Mozambican government has prioritized law enforcement efforts that go beyond the narrow focus of rhino poaching.
Mozambique is currently pondering legislation that will elevate the offence of wildlife poaching to a criminal offence carrying heavier sentencing rather than the current offence of damage to property. He added that Mozambique’s natural resources are being plundered by organized Mafia. Further to the proposed legislation a new elite highly trained National Anti-poaching Unit has been formed and the first recruits will be graduating shortly and deployed in priority poaching areas.
Minister Sumbana further said that Mozambique is desirous of ensuring effective and efficient management of its parks. The Mozambican government has passed a decree creating a flexible state-owned agency similar to that of SANParks. This will assist with management effectiveness and allow greater flexibility in sourcing funding than is currently the case.
Minister Molewa has also met with her Public Works and Defence counterparts in Kruger and considered the fence in the western boundary. In the end it was concluded that the fence will be too expensive and difficult to maintain. Instead we are now looking at a buffer zone between Kruger and the private reserves/farms in Mozambique - same as on the western boundary where we have the private reserves (Sabi Sands). The same was discussed with the Mozambique authorities and our respective teams are busy with planning already.
With regards to the 150 additional rangers to be deployed at Kruger, the first group of the 150 new rangers have completed their competency test, all security checks as well as medical assessments. The first group which comprises of 75 new recruits are currently undergoing a 6 week intense paramilitary training course in the Kruger National Park.
With regards to the seizure of the rhino horn shipment in Hong Kong last November, the Department has since gone to Hong Kong and met with the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department. The meeting has agreed that a South African delegation would visit Hong Kong to take DNA samples of the seized goods so as to identify the source of these products and cooperate on the criminal prosecution of this case. South Africa has a mutual legal assistance agreement with Hong Kong which will be invoked to resolve the current situation.
The Department recently undertook a mission to the Peoples Republic of China to further engage on the draft protocol on rhino management which will be incorporated into the current MOU. Significant progress has been made in this regard and we are confident that it will finalised shortly.
Minister Molewa will this week engage her provincial counterparts on 30 March 2012 at MINMEC to approve for publication the amendments to the norms and standards for marking rhino horn and hunting white rhino for trophy hunting that we have drafted.
The department has made significant progress on the deployment of officers at designated ports of entry and exit. In this regard we are working closely with Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD), Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), Home Affairs and Public works. The personnel at OR Tambo International Airport will be transferred to the National Department.
On the issue of the rhino horn stockpile in the possession of conservation agencies in South Africa, an inventory has been completed but due to security risks the Department cannot publicly announce the amount of stocks being held by these agencies.
There has been a lot of interest on the issue of South Africa approaching CITES with a proposal to trade in rhino horn internationally. At this point, we are not in a position to pronounce on the matter as the internal preparatory processes are not yet finalized. Before South Africa can approach CITES there are certain issues that need to be addressed.
For media queries, please contact
Albi Modise on 083 490 2871
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS ON 29 MARCH 2012
The three men who were allegedly found in possession of a rhino horn 10 days ago will apply for bail in April.
Rajen Moodley of Phoenix, Sthembiso Luthuli of Richards Bay, and Samkeliso Sibiya of Ulundi, appeared briefly in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
Senior state advocate Yuri Gangai, who will be prosecuting the case, said the State was opposed to bail being granted.
The men are charged with dealing and being in possession of a rhino horn.
They were arrested in a sting operation by police at Battery Beach, on the Durban beachfront.
According to the charge sheet, the horn is worth about R3 million.
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge said at the time of the arrests the men had been caught after the police had heard they were trying to sell a rhino horn for R1.5m. Police officers then posed as prospective buyers and met the men at the beachfront. Once the horn was handed over, the men were arrested by officers from the National Intervention Unit.
A handful of protesters, opposed to rhino poaching, gathered outside the court on Tuesday.
They said they would return for the bail application.
The case was adjourned to April 26 and the men were remanded to the Durban Central police cells. - The Mercury
The rhino is being hunted into extinction -- driven by growing horn demand in Asia. But EU pressure on China and Vietnam can force international action to save the rhinos -- sign the petition and forward to everyone!
WildlifeMargrit: You've signed many a petition and supported several causes for the rhino. However, this is a big one as it gets the international community involved in a major way.
Our friend Christin has worked hard to get this going. Please consider signing and sharing.
A Thai man has been arrested at a Johannesburg casino in connection with a rhino poaching syndicate accused of hiring prostitutes to smuggle rhino horns, a spokesman said Tuesday.
"He is the fourth suspect in the alleged criminal syndicate," said Adrian Lackay, spokesman for the South African Revenue Service.
The suspect's name cannot be revealed until he appears in court on Wednesday, but he is believed to have played a role in a scam run by Thai national Chumlong Lemtongthai, who was charged last year with poaching rhinos on bogus trophy hunts.
"At the moment, charges are still being formulated" with prosecutors, Lackay said.
The latest suspect was arrested Tuesday at the Emperor's Palace casino near Johannesburg's main airport, with 21,000 rand ($2,770, 2,080 euros) found on him.
A third Thai national and a South African farmer have already been charged in connection with the case.
The revenue authority says Chumlong, who is awaiting trial in Johannesburg, would obtain trophy hunting permits and then buy the rhino horns from the hunters to ship overseas.
Local media report that Chumlong would pay friends, strippers and prostitutes to pose as hunters and export the horns under trophy permits, a limited number of which are issued each year.
The animals' distinctive horns are hacked off to be smuggled to the lucrative Asian black market, where the fingernail-like substance is falsely believed to have powerful healing properties.
A small band of committed rhino-rights warriors will travel from Durban and Pennington (south) & Ballito Bay (north) on Thursday to try to represent South African voices at this bail application hearing. -
The farmer believed to be behind a poaching syndicate in Northern KwaZulu- Natal, is a dangerous criminal who told a police agent he wanted to shoot someone in the head to see what it looked like.
So said Warrant Officer Jean-Pierre van Zyl-Roux, testifying in the Magudu Magistrate’s Court in a bail application. He said alleged syndicate leader Evert Potgieter, 34, also had links to corrupt cops.
He asked the court not to grant bail to Potgieter and three of his four alleged accomplices.
The five are facing charges of conspiracy to hunt 10 rhino and attempting to hunt rhino. Potgieter and his co-accused Riaan Vermaak, 32, a Newcastle farmer, face additional charges of possessing unlicensed firearms and ammunition and stolen property...
It is with a huge sense of grief that we regret to inform you of the passing of Themba this Sunday morning. In his compromised state he failed to removed himself from a waterhole he had been drinking at. In spite of efforts to assist him he passed away just after 9am. The whole Kariega team is devastated by this loss after such a dedicated effort to save his life. Our heart felt appreciation to all those that have extended their support over the past 3 weeks. We will miss him dearly and re-commit ourselves to keeping his legacy alive in an effort to spare all rhino from suffering the same fate.
SNIFFER dogs appear set to become the rhinos’ best friend and a major contributor to the fight against poaching and illegal trade in wildlife products.
Hot on the heels of the introduction of Jack, a Belgian Shepherd, being trained by Stop Rhino Poaching as part of a project to use sniffer dogs in game reserves, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) this week welcomed a “new staff member”, wildlife sniffer dog Rico from Germany, who will be placed on duty at O.R. Tambo International Airport’s car and baggage sections.
The two-year-old Belgian Malinois — a breed which is said to have an extraordinary sense of smell and a high work drive — will soon be introduced to his handler.
Though already trained to search for and detect scents, he will now undergo training specifically to sniff out rhino horn, ivory, abalone and other wildlife products. As he matures, new scents of other threatened species affected by illegal trade and smuggling would be added to his olfactory repertoire, the trust said. Rico is funded by the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust and will be deployed as part of a partnership between the EWT and African Consultants for Transport Security.
EWT said the rhino poaching crisis had demonstrated that there is no single solution to addressing illegal wildlife trade, estimated to be the third largest illegal industry worldwide after drugs and human trafficking.