Horn of Contention: Pro trade thinking comes in for severe criticism

Those that oppose the legalization of trade in rhino horn as the panacea for the continents rhino poaching crisis have long cautioned against the use of simplistic economic modelling as a basis to justify this stance. And now in the first of what is likely to be many more convincing critiques, a report that raises considerable doubt over the approaches used by pro-trade economists and consultants has just been published. Compiled by Economists at Large (EcoLarge) and released by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Horn of Contention: A review of literature on the economics of trade in rhino horn (www.ifaw.org)sounds a clear and persuasive warning against pro-trade policies…

Minister calls for shoot to kill policy in Botswana

The Deputy Speaker of the Botswana Parliament, Pono Moatlhodi, has called for the immediate introduction of a shoot to kill policy to tackle poachers targeting rhino and elephants in the country. His call for a new tougher stance against the poachers comes just days after Mozambique declared that the Limpopo National Park lost its last 15 rhino to the poachers. With the rising demand for rhino horn and elephant ivory from China and Vietnam there is the real fear that the loss of rhino from the Limpopo National Park could just be the first in a line of national parks that will lose their populations. Moatlhodi said that introducing the…

Is rhino poaching about to hit the UK?

Two of the world’s leading breeding centres for the black rhino run by the Aspinall Foundation in the UK have been given specific warnings this weekend that their breeding centres at Port Lympne and Howletts Wild Animal Parks in Kent are being targeted by rhino poachers. The parks are now appealing for volunteers to help the centres maintain security at the rhino enclosures and they are asking visitors to the parks to report any suspicious activity immediately to park staff. The Aspinall Foundation is the most successful breeder of black rhino in the world. In the last seven years, the Foundation’s unique animal husbandry has seen the successful births of 33 black rhino, in captivity. The Aspinall Foundation’s…

Two rhino killed a day after the Kaziranga rhino census

It was celebrations all round on Monday as the first figures released from the Kaziranga National Park rhino census showed that the population grew by 39 in a year. Sadly that celebration was short lived as poachers killed 2 rhino in the park on Tuesday- just a day after the census and brings to 19 the number of rhino killed so far this year. The rhino census in Kaziranga normally takes place every two years but an additional census was promised by park officials this year after a spike in rhino poaching at the start of the year. The count revealed that the number of one-horned rhino, or Indian rhino, had increased from 2290 to…

Kaziranga National Park begins promised rhino survey

The promised new census of one-horned rhino – or Indian rhino – at Kaziranga National Park has gotten underway. The census began yesterday and is expected to be completed by tomorrow.  The new census was promised last month by the Assam state authorities after a sudden spike in rhino poaching at the park. Sadly the census began a couple of days after the latest victim of poachers was discovered. The number of rhino lost to poachers this year now stands at 15. While the number may be low when compared to the latest losses being seen with the African rhino the impacts are just as great because of the low numbers…

South Africa rhino poaching breaks 100 barrier

Rhino poaching in South Africa has broken the 100 barrier for the year with the latest figures released today by the Department of Environmental Affairs. So far in 2013 102 rhino have been killed by poachers for their horns. In the last week alone 4 rhino were lost in the Kruger National Park and another 2 at a private reserve close to Polokwane in Limpopo Province. The number of poachers arrested since the start of the year stands at 40 with 6 being arrested in the last 48 hours. The Kruger National Park continues to bear the brunt of the killings with 70 rhino now being killed this year. In…

Polar bears, elephants and rhinos fail to get backing from CITES officials

The Convention in Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) Secretariat have released their recommendations to the Convention of Parties (CoP) who will be meeting next month in Bangkok. They have rejected proposals submitted by countries to change the protection for polar bears, elephants and rhinos. The three big mammal species are probably the most high-profile species to be discussed at the upcoming CoP16 meeting but the proposals put forward to boost their protection have failed to impress officials at CITES who are recommending that the proposals are rejected. The polar bear had been proposed by the United States to be moved from Appendix II to Appendix I in order to receive high…

Breaking: Military operations underway in Kaziranga National Park

News has started to come through of military operations in Kaziranga National Park which began this morning at 02.00am local time. The operations against poachers in the park involves forest guards, police and a India Reserve Battalion (IRBN). The search for poachers is concentrated on the Burpahar range of the World Heritage Site.  The security forces are currently fanning out across the  Kukurakota area. Further details are expected to be released later.    

4 indian rhino killed in a week as poaching surges in Kaziranga

The one-horned rhino or Indian rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) is a vulnerable species and an estimate of population in 2009 put their numbers at about 3,000 left in the wild. The Kaziranga National Park in India was estimated to have just over 2,000 of those with the remaining spread thinly over the rest of India and Nepal. Sadly there has been a surge in rhino poaching in Kaziranga with 7 killed so far this year of which 4 were killed in the last week. The latest poaching incident was the loss of a male rhino at Sundari Camp in Burapaha which happened earlier today (Saturday 6.00am local time). The poachers failed to…

Thai customs intercepts rhino horn courier

Customs officials at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand,  intercepted a courier yesterday (Sunday) as the Vietnamese national was waiting for a connecting flight. The man had 6 pieces of rhino horn in his baggage weighing just over 10kg and valued at over USD600,000. The  56 year old man had flown in from Ethiopia and was waiting for his connecting flight to Hanoi. Early investigations seem to indicate that the rhino horn came from Mozambique. The man was arrested and charged with bringing in protected wild animal parts and prohibited goods into the country without permission. If convicted he could face 4 years in prison and a USD1,300 fine.  

Rhinos to pay the cost of diplomatic brinksmanship

Vietnam’s failure to make time for the signing of the memorandum of understanding on poaching with South Africa looks to be the latest round in a series of tit-for-tat diplomacy on the rhino. It is the latest in a series of action undertaken by both sides as conservationists strive to conserve one of South Africa’s great beasts. Stopping the ongoing growth in poaching is essential if the species is to continue to grow in number and return to the populations of 100 years ago or so. With current rates of growth in poaching the tipping point – when the numbers of rhino poached each year exceeds the number of new births – is…

Vietnams no show for rhino protection agreement

One of the highlights of this weeks meeting in Hyderabad, India, of the gathering of environment ministers for the UN Convention on Biological Diversity should have been the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between South Africa and Vietnam on tackling rhino poaching. The problem is the Vietnamese minister is nowhere to be seen. With the meeting due to close tomorrow it is now generally accepted that the MOU will not be signed. The proposed MOU between the two countries have been highly publicised and applauded. Without Vietnam’s active involvement in tackling the poaching crisis any hope of reducing the total number of rhinos being killed will be greatly reduced.…

Game conservancy association blasts South Africa government for rhino inaction

The South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association has blasted the South African government for missing the 4th October deadline for putting the issue of rhino horn trading on the agenda for the 2013 meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).  By dragging its heels and missing the deadline the south African government is failing to protect one of its greatest national resources. The South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SAHGCA) support the views of the Private Rhino Owners Association of South Africa (PROASA) that a resumption in legal trade of rhino horn could result in the reduction of poaching and…

Militants blamed for the attacks on Indias rhinos.

Following the attacks on 4 one-horned rhinos last week which left 3 dead and one other struggling for survival after having it’s horn hacked away while still alive, the Assam Home Secretary G.D. Tripathi has announced an army operation against the militant group  Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger (KPLT) believed to be behind the attacks. While the attacks are currently being investigated by the national CBI, state officials have said their own investigations point to local extremists being responsible. A post-mortem of one of the rhinos have revealed that it was shot by an AK47. The rhino examined was killed in  the Jagadamba Tea Estate close to the Karbi Anglong hills as it tried to escape the flood waters.…

Indian students call for shoot on sight policy to tackle rhino poaching

Following on from the recent poaching activities against the rare one-horned rhino in Kaziranga National Park Assam, northeast India, the powerful All Assam Students Union (AASU) has called on the state government to issue shoot on sight orders to it park rangers. They also voted yesterday (Friday) to demand that the state sends in the army and para-military to defend the rhinos and to start to clear out illegal foreigners – mainly Bangladeshis – who are operating in the park. The Students Union also produced documents to show that the figures about the number of rhino poached in the state has been falsified by the state government and the numbers of rhino killed…

A bloody 2 months for South African rhinos

The latest statistics from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs has shown that the last 2 months has been a bloody time for the rhino. 100 rhinos have been killed in South Africa in under 2 months. It’s now almost inevitable that the number of rhino killed in 2012 will be greater than 2011 which itself was one of the worst on record. The latest statistics were released yesterday by the department after responsibility for collecting the details passed from the South African National Parks. The release stated that ‘The latest rhino poaching statistics indicate that a total of 381 rhinos have been killed since the beginning of this year.…

Rhino poaching soars as South Africa ponders legalising trade

Figures release by the South African government has shown that rhino poaching has soared in the first 6 months of 2012.  281 rhino has so far been killed by poachers with the Kruger National Park bearing the greatest losses at 164. The Department of Environmental Affairs released the figures earlier today and it’s led  to projections of the years total reaching as high as 600. Last year South Africa saw 448 rhinos lost to poachers. The figures are a big jump on those in the years leading up to 2008 when annual losses to poachers were as low as 15. The latest figures are a big concern to conservationists in South…

After 16 months it’s a boy!

After a near 16 month pregnancy one  of the most endangered species in the world has seen a new bouncing baby boy born. The new baby Sumatran rhino is only the fifth one ever to have been born in captivity in the last 123 years. The rhino calf and its mother, Ratu, are doing well at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Way Kambas National Park. “Ratu gave birth a male baby at 12:45 a.m. on Saturday. Both the mother and the baby are all very well,” conservationist Widodo Ramono, who works at a sanctuary on the southern tip of Sumatra island, told AFP. It is thought that there are only 200…

2012 is the International Year of the Rhino

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia has declared that 2012 is the International Year of the Rhino in order to raise awareness of the threats facing the species. The campaign was launched on 5th June following a request by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature  (IUCN) and other wildlife organisations. President Yudhoyono was the ideal choice to launch the campaign as 2 species of endangered rhinos live in the country.  Launching the International Year of the Rhino on World Environment Day President Yudhoyono stated, “The International Rhino Year is meant to provide momentum and access for increasing international cooperation in the conservation of rhinos in our country.“ The President announced that the high level task force established in the country…

Boost for Javan Rhinos as juveniles caught on film

With an estimated 50 individuals left in the wild the Javan rhino is probably the most endangered large mammal on the planet. The Javan Rhino Conservation Working Group (CWG) who are responsible for a 5 year management plan of the rhino in the Ujung Kulon National Park have just released camera trap footage of rhinos including juveniles. The CWG is a group of experts bought together to oversee a five year management plan to boost Javan rhino numbers from the current 50 to 75. The video footage was released to celebrate the completion of the first year of the plan. [pullquote]This collaboration is an excellent example of public private partnership in practice. We…