Tag Archives: rhino

Nepal Celebrates Over 2 Years of Zero Rhinos Poached

While poaching is reaching record highs in Africa, the same can’t be said for Nepal. It has been more than two years since a rhino was last poached in Nepal on May 2, 2014.

This is the first time Nepal has two consecutive years without poaching. And it’s a major factor in the rise of the greater one-horned rhino population to 645 animals, the highest recorded number in the country thus far.

Chief-Planning Division and Spokesperson of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation Krishna P. Acharya says:

“This exceptional success is based on a combination of high-level political will, and the active involvement of the park authorities, Nepal Army, Nepal Police, conservation partners and local communities.”

Nepal’s success has been achieved by a coordinated national response, involving new approaches and improved protection efforts in national parks and surrounding areas. Nepal is already looking to maintain this success and hopes to launch “Mission 2nd May 2017” to celebrate 3 consecutive years of zero poaching.

Country Representative of WWF Nepal Anil Manandhar says:

“The zero poaching success has allowed Nepal to launch other projects to conserve its rhinos, including the recent translocation of five rhinos from Chitwan National Park to Bardia National Park. Nepal has shown that countries can stop poaching and we are confident that its integrated conservation machinery will ensure that the rhino population continues to grow.”

Featured image by Ted / CC BY-SA 2.0

South Africa Votes to Make Domestic Rhino Horn Trade Legal Once Again

Last year, a record 1,215 rhinos were killed in South Africa. This year’s poaching rate was ever so slightly lower, at 1,175 rhinos.

Those numbers are drastic increases from 2008, when less than 100 were killed, before the ban on the domestic rhino horn trade was enacted. And a few months ago, South Africa voted to lift that ban. But then the Minister of Environmental Affairs appealed the decision, putting the operation on hold.

The decision to lift the ban was made by South Africa’s High Court at the end of November, in an effort to decrease demand for rhino horns and save the rhinos from extinction. WWF Wildlife Trade Policy Analyst Dr. Colman O Criodain thinks differently:

“It is hard to see any positive conservation benefits from this court ruling, particularly at a time when rhino poaching figures are at record levels. There is no domestic demand for rhino horn in South Africa, so it is inconceivable that anyone would buy it – unless they intend to sell it abroad illegally or they are speculating that international trade will be legalized.”

Photo by flowcomm / CC BY 2.0
Photo by flowcomm / CC BY 2.0

While lifting the domestic trade ban would allow people to buy horns in South Africa, their purchase would still be prohibited in international trade under the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Rhino Programme Manager for WWF South Africa Dr. Jo Shaw stated:

“This ruling is a blow to the government, which imposed the moratorium in 2009 in response to a sharp rise in rhino poaching and concerns that the national trade was facilitating the illegal international trade in rhino horn…Lifting the domestic moratorium can only encourage poaching and illegal activity, especially as it is likely to be misconstrued as a lifting of the current international trade ban. Efforts should rather be focused good regulation of existing private rhino horn stockpiles and increased capacity at ports of entry and exit to detect illegal wildlife products.””

Just a few weeks later, on December 8, the Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa appealed the court’s decision, as South Africa is home to 80% of the global population of rhinos. But the South African High Court dismissed the government’s application to appeal, forcing Molewa to appeal the High Court’s decision to the Supreme Court of Appeals. The government of South Africa has not yet made it clear whether it will request at next year’s 17th CITES Conference in Johannesburg that the international trade in rhino horn resume.

Photo by Rod Waddington / CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo by Rod Waddington / CC BY-SA 2.0

Sadly, other regions in Africa are experiencing increases in rhino poaching, despite this year’s slight drop in South Africa’s numbers. At least 130 rhinos were poached in Zimbabwe and Namibia in 2015, which is nearly 200% more than 2014: 50 were poached in Zimbabwe, more than double the previous year, and 80 rhinos were poached in Namibia, up from 25 in 2014 and just 4 in 2013. These two countries, along with South Africa, account for almost 95% of remaining African rhinos.

WWF Director, Global Species Programme Carlos Drews said:

“After seven years of increases, a decline in the rate of rhino poaching in South Africa is encouraging and the result of the government’s leadership and the tireless efforts of so many committed people. However, the rate remains unacceptably high – and soaring poaching levels in Namibia and Zimbabwe are cause for serious concern”.

Featured image by Jason Wharam / CC BY-ND 2.0

Nepal’s Rhinos on the Rise Thanks to Anti-Poaching Measures

The endangered one-horned rhinos of Nepal were down to 375 in 2005, but today they number a triumphant 675.

The rise in Rhino population occurred thanks to anti-poaching measures over the past decade. In fact, there has been no rhino poaching at all in three of the last five years, making Nepal a global role model on how to handle poachers.

Official at World Wildlife Fund Diwakar Chapagain says:

“At a time when the world is facing difficulties to protect and conserve the wildlife including rhinos, Nepal has seen an extraordinary improvement in wildlife conservation. It is definitely a rare successful conservation story in the world, where park officials and the Nepalese army have managed to succeed in anti-poaching activities.”

Photo by Ted / CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo by Ted / CC BY-SA 2.0

Still, killing greater one-horned rhinos for their horns is a terrible problem. The rhino is on the red list of the IUCN, as countries in Africa continue to have trouble stopping poachers.

Warden of the Chitwan National Park, where most of the rhinos reside, Kamal Jung Kunwar says:

“Wild animals such as tigers, rhinos, elephants and leopards have been regularly killed by poachers for their body parts and skin, which fetch thousands of dollars on the black market.”

In 2002, 37 rhinos were killed by poachers, triggering deep concern about the one-horned rhino’s future in Nepal. Since then, Nepal has taken several measures to halt the poaching of these endangered animals, including harsher penalties, police and military involvement and a well-run judicial system to deal with the offense. Kunwar explains:

“The Nepal army plays a key role in anti-poaching, normally one battalion of army [soldiers] is deployed in Chitwan National Park. That’s 1,100 men and more are added according to need. There has been 24/7 patrolling going that has resulted into this success.”

Featured image by by Diganta Talukdar / CC BY 2.0

It’s Been 25 Years But Black Rhinos are Back in Tribal Africa

Thanks to relocation efforts by conservationists and the local community, black rhinos are back in Kenya.

In the 1960s, black rhinos once numbered 70,000 but now, there are only between 4,000 to 5,000 left in the world. Ince a common sight in Kenya, the black rhino population was decimated by poachers who killed the last of them 25 years ago.

Now, a small population is being reestablished in Kenya from existing herds in Lewa, Nakuru, and Nairobi National Parks. 20 rhinos have been shipped to and released into the new Sera Community Conservancy in the territory of the Samburu people in northern Kenya, with the hope that the animals will reproduce and spread out throughout the land.

The rhinos’ new home is owned and operated by local Samburu people and the park’s community rangers will watch over the animals to ward off poachers. They will receive support from the project’s other partners, which include the governmental organization Kenya Wildlife Service and the nonprofits Northern Rangelands Trust and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.

Northern Rangelands Trust writes:

“This will be the first time in East Africa a local community will be responsible for the protection and management of the highly threatened black rhino, signaling a mind shift in Kenya’s conservation efforts.”

Photo by Kate / CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo by Kate / CC BY-SA 2.0

Featured image by Gerry Zambonini / CC BY-SA 2.0

3 Steps Vital to Saving the Sumatran Rhino, Recently Declared Extinct in Malaysia

The Sumatran rhino population has been gone from tens of thousands two centuries ago to 100 or less today.

Also known as the “hairy rhino” for its unique brown fur coat, the Sumatran rhino is the smallest and rarest species of rhino. Most recently, the species was declared extinct in Malaysia in late August.

The researchers who conducted the population study found that poaching, habitat loss and underfunded anti-poaching efforts were the main culprits of the animal’s extinction in the region. The scientists were from University of Copenhagen’s Center for Macroecology and partners of the study included WWF, the International Rhino Foundation and IUCN.

Only two Sumatran rhino females were sighted in Malaysia in 2011 and 2014, but both were taken to be bred in captivity in the hopes of raising the species’ numbers. But sadly, the captive breeding program has proven mostly ineffective as the 45 rhinos captured since 1984 have resulted in only four babies.

Photo by International Rhino Foundation / CC BY 2.0
Photo by International Rhino Foundation / CC BY 2.0

The population study’s lead author Rasmus Gren Havmøller says:

“It is vital for the survival of the species that all remaining Sumatran rhinos are viewed as a metapopulation, meaning that all are managed in a single program across national and international borders in order to maximize overall birth rate. This includes the individuals currently held in captivity.”

Indonesia and its surrounding areas are now the only wild home of the Sumatran rhino. In a different research study by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, three steps that could help save the animal from extinction were established.

The scientists began by identifying five critical areas of forest in in Borneo that must be protected and then formulated the three steps around these areas:

    • Establishing strong environmental and anti-poaching protections in these forests;
    • Stopping plans to build roads that would disturb these forests;
    • Condensing the rhino population, currently scattered across about 11,583 square miles land, into smaller regions

If there is any hope for the species to survive, these three crucial steps must be implemented

Featured image by Willem v Strien / CC BY 2.0

Rangers Are Protecting the Last Remaining Male Northern White Rhino in the World

There are currently seven remaining Northern White Rhinos in the world. The species has been hunted to the brink of extinction by poachers, hoping to make money by selling the animal’s horns.

After losing the only other two males in 2014, there now exists just one living male Northern White Rhino. The animal, named Sudan, currently lives at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, 200 kilometers north of Nairobi in Kenya. Sudan moved to the conservancy from the Czech Republic Dvur Kralove Zoo on December 20th, 2009, along with three female Northern White Rhinos, Najin, Fatu and Suni.

Ranger and caretaker Mohammed Doyo feeds Najin (center), a 25-year-old female northern white rhinoceros, and her companion.
Ranger and caretaker Mohammed Doyo feeds Najin (center), a 25-year-old female northern white rhinoceros, and her companion.

But the rhinos do not live at Ol Pejeta Conservancy alone. They are accompanied by a team of experienced rangers who monitor the 90,000 acres of conservation land, guarding the rhinos against dangerous poachers.

To protect these giants, the rangers work with local law enforcement agencies and use GPS trackers, radio houses, surveillance aircrafts and dogs trained to detect humans and security breaches.

Two rangers patrol the conservancy on foot and point out a human footprint.
Two rangers patrol the conservancy on foot and point out a human footprint.

A computer screen showing GPS-tracked anti-poaching patrol units is monitored by a radio operator in the radio room at Ol Pejeta.
A computer screen showing GPS-tracked anti-poaching patrol units is monitored by a radio operator in the radio room at Ol Pejeta.

The rhino horn black market is extremely lucrative. One horn can bring in more than $75,000 per kilogram or 2.2 pounds, which is the reason poachers have nearly wiped out the entire species.

These four rhinos were moved to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy to provide the most favorable breeding conditions, in the hopes of bringing the species back from the edge of extinction. It’s believed that the climate, diet and security of the conservancy gives them the best chance for repopulation.

Conservationists and scientists are also considering artificial insemination or cross-breeding the females with similar rhino sub-species and then breeding the next generation back into pure Northern White Rhinos.

Last remaining male Northern White Rhino named Sudan feeding at Ol Pejeta.
Last remaining male Northern White Rhino named Sudan feeding at Ol Pejeta.

Ranger and caretaker Mohammed Doyo with female rhino Najin.
Ranger and caretaker Mohammed Doyo with female rhino Najin.

Rangers preparing to patrol at Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
Rangers preparing to patrol at Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

Rangers go into a radio room while patrolling Ol Pejeta Conservancy.Rangers go into a radio room while patrolling Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

Ranger and caretaker Mohammed Doyo gesturing to a southern white rhino.
Ranger and caretaker Mohammed Doyo gesturing to a southern white rhino.

A giraffe walks in the distance at Ol Pejeta Conservancy as a ranger patrols on foot.
A giraffe walks in the distance at Ol Pejeta Conservancy as a ranger patrols on foot.

Image credits: Dai Kurokawa/European Press Agency