Animal activists stage protest in Beijing against China’s barbaric annual dog meat festival which sees tens of thousands of canines beaten to death and cooked

Comments Off on Animal activists stage protest in Beijing against China’s barbaric annual dog meat festival which sees tens of thousands of canines beaten to death and cooked

By TRACY YOU FOR MAILONLINE |

“Nobody will die if dog & cat are taken off the menu!!!”

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT 

  • Around 30 animal campaigners carried out the protest today in bid to stop Yulin dog meat festival in China
  • The controversial festival sees as many as 10,000 animals butchered and eaten on summer solstice  
  • A petition signed by over 11 million people has been submitted to the authority, animal charity claimed
  • During the event, activists called Yulin in rural Guangxi Province a ‘scumbag’ and ‘a total embarrassment’ to China
    351d5a6300000578-0-image-a-66_1465547648765

A group of animal activists staged a protest today in Beijing in a bid to stop a Chinese dog-eating festival set to occur later this month.

This must stop: A group of around 30 animal activists staged a protest today in Beijing in a bid to stop the Yulin dog meat festival

The demonstration, initiated by three animal protection groups, submitted a petition allegedly signed by over 11 million people, calling on the Chinese authorities to end the Yulin dog meat festival.

The annual festival, which takes place in south China’s Guangxi Province, sees tens of thousands of animals beaten to death, cooked and sold on the market to celebrate summer solstice.

Around 30 activists carried out the protest outside of the Yulin government office as the petition was presented to the authority by three animal charities: Humane Society International, VShine and Beijing Mothers Against Animal Cruelty.

Pictures from today’s event show animal campaigners, many of whom brought their own pet dogs, holding signs saying ‘Scumbag of China’ in English and ‘Shame on Yulin’ in Simplified Chinese.

Wendy Higgins, the Director of International Media at Humane Society International, said over 11 million signatures had been collected worldwide through the internet to demand the festival to stop.

The petition also included signatures gathered by four other international animal welfare organisations. They are RaiseURPaw in Canada as well as the Duo Duo Project, Care2 and Avaaz from the United States.

The petition has been accepted by officials from the Yulin government in Beijing, according to Ms Higgins.

Peter Li, the China Policy Expert at Humane Society International, attended the protest in Beijing today.

Mr Li told MailOnline:

‘There was a huge presence of police, but our hand-in went very peacefully. It was a great feeling to join with our Chinese partner group activists in Beijing today, there was a tremendous sense of determination to get our voices heard to the global media, and to let the world know that many people across China want the brutal Yulin dog meat festival shut down.

He added: ‘We gave a show of strength and defiance against the dog thieves and the blatant animal cruelty, to say loudly – you will not steal our best friends! 

‘I hope that the authorities listen, they really should do as the strength of public upset about Yulin and the trade here in China is really growing.

‘Next stop for me is Yulin, where I have been a number of times before, for the grim task of visiting the slaughterhouses before the festival starts.’

329f258d00000578-0-image-a-62_1465547648595Sickening feast: Residents in Yulin tucked in their dinner made with dog meat during last year’s festival. Many of the animals, which were caged and beaten before being slaughtered, are thought to be stolen pets!

Xu Yufeng, founder of Beijing Mothers Against Animal Cruelty who were also present at the protest, said: ‘Yulin is a total embarrassment to China. 

‘Its failure to stop mass dog slaughter and mass dog consumption shows that the local authorities are not doing their job to protect the people, especially young children.

‘We urge the Yulin authorities to stand on the right side of history and to end the “festival” in the interests of public security, food safety, social morality and China’s reputation.’ 

Another member of the protesters, Pan Danyang from China-based small animal protection group VShine, said:

‘This is the third year of our participation in the nation-wide campaign against the Yulin dog meat festival. ‘Since we have over the last few years helped accommodate dogs rescued from the dog meat trade, we know Yulin’s dog meat market relies on dogs from suspicious sources. ‘I hope that Yulin authorities will take actions to stop the dog trucks from going into their city so that the mass slaughter on the summer solstice day won’t happen.’

rtx1jiyx-e1465401438998

Visitors play with rescued dogs at a shelter ran by Yang Xiaoyun in Tianjin, China, July 8, 2015. Yang said she spent 300,000 RMB (48,248 USD) to purchase 500 dogs to rescue them from dog meat dealers at Yulin’s annual dog meat festival last month. She keeps more than 1,000 dogs in her shelters, mostly abandoned or she purchased from dog meat traders. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

 

To learn more & signn other petitions, please visit the following, just a handful of sites that contain very informative material:-

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3634923/Animal-activists-stage-protest-Beijing-against-China-s-barbaric-annual-dog-meat-festival-sees-tens-thousands-canines-beaten-death-cooked.html

 

Advertisements

Thai Monk Caught Feeing Temple With Tiger Skins

Comments Off on Thai Monk Caught Feeing Temple With Tiger Skins

Thai wildlife officers load a tiger on to a truck outside the temple in Kanchanaburi province. Photograph: Dario Pignatelli/Getty

Wildlife authorities in Thailand have found adult tiger skins and fangs during a raid on the “tiger temple” tourist attraction and intercepted a monk who was trying to leave in a car that was carrying skins. Separately, officials said they would press charges against the Buddhist temple after 40 tiger cubs were found in a freezer on Wednesday.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) moved in this week to relocate 137 tigers to government-run sanctuaries after repeated allegations of animal trafficking. The temple claims the tigers will be worse off.

“Today we found tigers skins and amulets in a car which was trying to leave a temple,” said Adisorn Noochdumrong, the deputy director of the DNP. He said a search of several monks’ quarters yielded further body parts, bringing Thursday’s haul to two full-body tiger skins, about 10 fangs and dozens of pieces of tiger fur.

Volunteers, staff and monks at Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua temple complex have long denied trafficking allegations. But international animal rights groups including WWF and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals applauded the raid. Police Col Bandith Meungsukhum told AFP the dead cubs would have been one or two days old. He said their DNA would be tested to see if they were related to tigers at the temple.

The temple claims it decided in 2010 to stop cremating the cubs and preserve them to “keep as proof against the allegations of selling cubs”.

Thailand is a central route for the illegal wildlife trade through south-east Asia, including for ivory, rhino horn and live animals. Tiger parts, including bones and penises, are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species banned the trade in tiger parts and products in 2007. The raid is the culmination of a battle that has been going on for years between the government and the temple. Thailand has an estimated 1,200-1,300 captive tigers.

News Link & Video:-https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/02/thai-monk-caught-temple-tiger-skins-fangs

Video: China Ivory Crackdown Welcomed

Comments Off on Video: China Ivory Crackdown Welcomed

CHINA has destroyed more than six tonnes of illegal ivory, in a move welcomed as an important signal the country backs action to stop elephant poaching.

China has destroyed six tonnes of illegal ivory in a move to stop elephant poaching. Source: AAP

The ivory, which is sought-after in China for making ornaments, was seized from the illegal trade and has been crushed into powder by the Chinese government.

Conservationists say China is the world’s largest consumer of trafficked ivory, most of which comes from elephants killed in Africa, and the move sends a signal of the government’s commitment to tackling the problem.

Destruction of the ivory, from more than 600 dead elephants, comes just weeks after eight Chinese citizens were convicted and sentenced to between three and 15 years imprisonment for smuggling some 3.2 tonnes of ivory.

“The destruction of seized ivory makes an important public statement that, in conjunction with other government-led efforts to reduce demand, has the potential to have a significant impact on the illegal market for ivory,” said Tom Milliken, from Wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic.

Image comment: China will destroy ivory stockpile on January 6, 2014 Image credits: The Telegraph

“China’s actions, more than those of any other country, have the potential to reverse the rising trends of elephant poaching and illegal ivory trafficking.”

China has a legal ivory market based on stocks that pre-date a global ban on ivory trade imposed in 1989, and on stocks which were part of a legal “one-off” sale from four African countries in 2008, but the seized ivory cannot be be used for commercial purposes under international rules.

Gabon, the Philippines and the United States have all recently destroyed stockpiles of ivory 

Video & News Link:-http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/world/china-ivory-crackdown-welcomed/story-fnjbnxol-1226796201437

Forest Officials Try To Downplay Tiger Poaching Issue

Comments Off on Forest Officials Try To Downplay Tiger Poaching Issue

NAGPUR: The first official statement on tiger poaching issued by the forest department on July 19, exactly 43 days after two organized poachers Mamru and Chika were arrested, seems to an exercise in washing hands off the poaching problem rather than trying to tackle it head on.

The statement by chief conservator of forests (CCF) for Nagpur Circle SH Patil, which was approved by additional principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) SS Mishra, comes in the wake TOI’s (Times Of India) expose of call detail report of tiger skin trader from Haryana Sarju Bagdi on July 20. Sarju procured tiger skins right under the nose of forest officials.

Tiger poaching in India

Tiger poaching in India

It was TOI which had first exposed the poaching case on June 10, but the department never came clear on the issue. First, it was about sale of five tiger skin, which included one from Tumsar and another from Melghat, bought by Sarju from Aamdi Fata near Ramtek. Even the mystery behind five tiger skins has not been solved yet.

Subsequent interrogation of poachers revealed that Sarju had procured six more tiger skins from Bhandarbodi near Ramtek in the first week of April. The total tiger skins Sarju bought from various gangs was 11.

Patil has clarified that arrested poachers never admitted about the latter six skins in their confession. Instead of probing the serious issue in toto, the forest officials are trying to downplay it.

Investigating officials from Melghat and Nagpur told TOI that the fact of six tiger skins procured in April first week was revealed by poachers when they were quizzed in Melghat on June 9, but the statement was not recorded for reasons best known to forest officials.

The six skins included one tiger each from Katangi in MP and another from Melghat. Four were suspected to be from other places, perhaps from PAs near Nagpur, and hence officials buried the fact.

However, another fact, which the department is hiding, is that is that when Mamru and Chika were arrested by police and forest officials on June 6 night, Chika was in police custody while Mamru was in forest custody at Seminary Hills. “It might quite be possible that Mamru must have told many facts to the officials, also about the six skins here,” feel officials. But why were statements at Seminary Hills not recorded?

Confession statement of Mamru, a copy of which is with TOI, taken on June 17, itself exposes forest department’s failure to nail the poachers and their lack of intelligence. Mamru has admitted that his gang stayed in Bhandarbodi. The CDR of Sarju also reveals he went there on April 3. He had also stayed in Mahadula during that period.

What were they doing in Bhandarbodi? Why did Sarju visit there? Why did forest officials take Chika and Mamru to Bhandarbodi for probe? These are some of the questions that remain unanswered.

Patil has said that Mamru and Chika were nabbed based on the CDR of poachers involved in Dhakna (Melghat) tiger poaching case on March 4. Actually, police nabbed the culprits on June 6. If officials were working on CDR since March 4, what did they do for three months? Why could not they nab Sarju when he was here from March 30 till April 6 and then again after May 26?

Another glaring fact is that Mamru admitted his gang killed Ghatang (Melghat) tiger in second week of May. If forest officials were working on CDR since March, why did they fail to nab the culprits for over 70 days?

The poachers revealed names of 16 gang members involved in tiger poaching here but none of them has been arrested yet. Two poachers Yarlen and Barsul were handed over by the MP officials and others were arrested by Melghat officials.

Instead of criticizing the media, if forest department is really serious about poaching, why the matter is not being handed over to the CBI? Even forest minister Patangrao Kadam has asked the officials to go ahead with CBI probe. Not to mention that notorious tiger poacher Sansarchand is set to be released.

News Link:http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/Forest-officials-try-to-downplay-tiger-poaching-issue/articleshow/21290373.cms?intenttarget=no

Related articles & Petitions & Information

South Africa Considers Rhino Farming, Horn-Trading on Bourse (1)

Comments Off on South Africa Considers Rhino Farming, Horn-Trading on Bourse (1)

South Africa, which hosts about 90 percent of the world’s rhinoceros population, should consider lifting a domestic ban on trade in the animals’ horns, authorizing commercial farming and trading the horn on the Johannesburg bourse, a Department of Environmental Affairs report showed.

The steps were proposed as part of an effort to halt poaching that is threatening eventual extinction for the animals. At least 514 out of a national population, that stood at 20,711 in 2010, have been poached this year, the department said in the report, which was released by e-mail today. Most of rest of the global population is spread across sub-Saharan Africa with the next biggest concentration being in Namibia.

“Some viewed the lifting of the ban on trade in rhino horn as the panacea that would end poaching and save the rhino from otherwise inevitable extinction,” the department said, referring to consultation on the measures. “This view was supported by market theorists who argued that in a market where rhino horn could be traded freely, market forces would automatically drive horn prices down, obviating the need for syndicates to face risks associated with poaching.”

A similar argument has been mounted about elephant ivory with Southern African nations including South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana advocating legal trade in the product while Kenya and other countries oppose it.

South Africa should “consider opening a rhino horn trading bourse possibly linked to the JSE,” the department said, referring to Africa’s biggest stock and bond exchange.

Horn Stockpiles

The surge in poaching comes even after the government deployed the army in the Kruger National Park, its biggest protected wildlife area, and has stepped up arrests of poachers. They target South Africa for the horns, which sell for more than gold by weight in Asia where they are believed to cure cancer and boost sexual prowess.

The government department also recommends asking for permission for auctions this year of rhino-horn stockpiles to help pay for anti-poaching initiatives, and to upgrade South Africa’s border with Mozambique along Kruger National Park.

Wildlife Trafficking

Czech Republic authorities seized 24 white-rhino horns and arrested 16 people yesterday in connection with wildlife trafficking, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare. The gang posed as hunters and then applied for export-import trophies that allowed them to export the horns as personal mementos, the group said in a statement today.

“Illegal trade alone is nudging rhinos to extinction,” Kelvin Alie, director of IFAW’s Wildlife Crime and Consumer Aware Programme, said in the statement. “Only international cooperation between law enforcement authorities will end illegal wildlife trafficking.”

Most rhinos, which weigh as much as 4.5 metric tons, are killed in the Kruger National Park, an area nearly as big as Israel that borders Mozambique, with a porous border that is easily crossed by poachers wielding assault rifles. Mozambique is the world’s 20th poorest nation, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“We remain unconvinced that legal international trade in rhino horn is a feasible approach for rhino conservation,” Jo Shaw, WWF South Africa Rhino Programme Coordinator, said in an e-mailed statement. “Uncertainty about how legal trade may in turn influence demand adds to the challenging complexity of the proposition.”

News Link:http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-07-24/south-africa-considers-rhino-farming-horn-trading-on-bourse-1

Related Link Stop Rhino Poaching:-http://www.stoprhinopoaching.com/

Three Pardhis From Katni Held In Nagpur For Tiger Poaching

Comments Off on Three Pardhis From Katni Held In Nagpur For Tiger Poaching

BHOPAL: A section of Pardhis from Madhya Pradesh have yet proved to be the biggest threat to wild life; particularly the big cat population in India. Very recently they are reported to have smuggled half a dozen tiger hides to an international syndicate from their base in Katni district. And all this while wild life officials, busy pitching for lions from Gir in Gujarat to the state, appeared blissfully ignorant.

The poaching racket headquartered at Katni was busted on Sunday with the arrest of three Pardhis by a crime branch team of Maharashtra police from Nagpur. The arrests were made from a village in Nagpur on specific inputs from an organisation working for wildlife.

The accused Chika alias Krishna, Badlu alias Mangru and Shiri – all residents of Katni’s Sagoni village -have confessed to selling five tiger hides so far to a Haryana-based trader. The deal was worth Rs 20 lakh for three tiger hides, said sources.

Poachers Snare

Poachers Snare

One of the tiger, they said, was poached from Mandla district. However, no tiger hides have been confiscated so far.

Now, the forest officials in four statesMaharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh – are on the lookout for 30 more Pardhis, from two villages (Sagoni and Billhari) in Katni district. Pardhi families from Katni disappeared from these two villages a day before the trio were arrested, said sources adding that the information got leaked.

Most of the accused on run are close relatives of the 37 Pardhis arrested from Katni for poaching lions from Gir national park in Gujarat in 2007. Teams have been dispatched to different locations tracking cell phones.

According to forest officials, the Maharashtra police had placed several Pardhis of Katni on surveillance besides intercepting their calls while the deal was being made. The arrest was made only after the skins were sold.

The 30-member gang got Rs 35,000 each from the first deal, said sources. They kept on changing their locations from one place to the other while striking the deal. Reportedly, the police could confiscate a few bones from them, which has been sent for forensic examination for identification of the species.

News Link:-http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/Three-Pardhis-from-Katni-held-in-Nagpur-for-tiger-poaching/articleshow/20548682.cms?intenttarget=no

Rhino: No Horn Of Plenty

Comments Off on Rhino: No Horn Of Plenty

“This is a long post, but if you are interested in Rhino, this is a must read & well worth the time needed to read it!!”

More rhinos will be killed in the next two years than will be born, so those charged with saving the endangered animal are considering radical and previously unimaginable solutions.

Twenty-four-hour watch: An anti-poaching team guards a de-horned northern white rhinoceros in Kenya in 2011. Photo: Brent Stirton

The battle to save the African rhinoceros has all the ingredients for a Hollywood thriller. There are armed baddies with good guys in hot pursuit. There is a hint of glamour. And the drama is played out against a backdrop of a beautiful, bloodstained landscape.

It is a story that begins, perhaps improbably, in Vietnam soon after the turn of the 21st century. A Vietnamese official of some influence, so the story goes, lets it be known that he, or perhaps it is his wife (for the sake of the story it matters little), has been cured of cancer. The miracle cure? Rhino horn powder.

With disconcerting speed, the story shifts to southern Africa, where a series of gunshots ring out across the African plains. This is followed by the hacking sound of machetes – it takes little time to dehorn a rhino because its horn consists not of bone but of keratin fibres with the density of tightly compressed hair or fingernails.

The getaway begins, armed rangers give chase. Once the horn leaves the flimsy protection of the national park or game reserve, where its former owner lies bleeding to death, it may never be found.

White Rhinoceros with a calf at Lake Nakuru national Park in Kenya. Photo: Martin Harvey/WWF

Its new owners never brought to justice. Sometimes they are caught. Sometimes they get away. Either way, another rhino is dead in a war that the bad guys seem to be winning.

The story shifts again, back to Vietnam where even the prime minister is rumoured to have survived a life-threatening illness after ingesting rhino horn. More than a cure for the country’s rich and powerful, however, rhino horn has by now crossed into the mainstream. Young Vietnamese mothers have taken to keeping at hand a supply of rhino horn to treat high fevers and other childhood ailments.

It is also the drug of choice for minor complaints associated more with the affluent lifestyle to which increasing numbers of Vietnamese have access; rhino horn has become a cure-all pick-me-up, a tonic, an elixir for hangovers.

With this new popularity has come the essential paraphernalia common to lifestyle drugs the world over, including bowls with specially designed serrated edges for grinding rhino horn into powder. In a short space of time, rhino horn has become the latest must-have accessory for the nouveau riche.

The sudden spike in Vietnamese demand, the miraculous fame of a saved official or his wife, and rhino horn’s emergence as a symbol of status all came at a time when legal stockpiles of rhino horn were at an all-time low. Demand and supply. This is the irrefutable law of economics.

Or, as one expert in the illegal trade in rhino horn put it: ”It was a perfect storm of deadly consumption.”

The rhinoceros is one of the oldest creatures on earth, one of just two survivors – the other is the elephant – of the megaherbivores that once counted dinosaurs among their number. Scientists believe rhinos have changed little in 40 million years.

The rhino’s unmistakable echo of the prehistoric and the mystery that surrounds such ancient creatures – this is the animal that Marco Polo mistook for a unicorn, describing it as having the feet of an elephant, the head of a wild boar and hair like a buffalo – have always been its nemesis.

As early as the first century AD, Greek traders travelled to the east, where the rhino horn powder they carried was prized as an aphrodisiac. But the rhino survived and, by the beginning of the 20th century, rhino numbers ran into the hundreds of thousands.

They were certainly plentiful in 1915 when the Roosevelts travelled to Africa to hunt. Kermit, the son, observed a rhinoceros ”standing there in the middle of the African plain, deep in prehistoric thought”, to which Theodore the father is quoted as replying: ”Indeed, the rhinoceros does seem like a survival from the elder world that has vanished.”

The Roosevelts then proceeded to shoot them.

Rhinos are epic creatures, gunmetal grey and the second-largest land animal on earth. Up to five metres long and weighing as much as 2700 kilograms, the white rhino, the largest of all rhino species, can live up to 50 years if left to grow old in the wild. In an example of advanced evolutionary adaptability, the black rhino will happily choose from about 220 plant species, eating more than 70 kilograms of plants a day.

These impressive numbers, combined with some of the rhino’s more limiting characteristics – it has very poor eyesight – have added to the myth that surrounds it.

”A slight movement may bring on a rhino charge,” reported nature writer Peter Matthiessen in the 1960s. ”Its poor vision cannot make out what’s moving and its nerves cannot tolerate suspense.”

Thus it was that the rhinoceros became a permanent member of the ”big five”, the roll-call of the most dangerous animals in Africa as defined by professional hunters.

But respect has always been tinged with derision. ”I do not see how the rhinoceros can be permanently preserved,” Theodore Roosevelt is reported as wondering, ”save in very out-of-the-way places or in regular game reserves … the beast’s stupidity, curiosity and truculence make up a combination of qualities which inevitably tend to ensure its destruction.”

In the 1960s, one eminent scientist described the rhinoceros as ”a very pathetic prehistoric creature, quite unable to adapt itself to modern times. It is our duty to save and preserve this short-tempered, prehistorically stupid but nevertheless so immensely lovable creature.”

Such disparaging remarks aside, they were, of course, right to be worried.

We have been here before when it comes to saving the rhino. In 1960, an estimated 100,000 black rhinos roamed across Africa, absent only from tropical rainforests and the Sahara. By 1981, 15,000 remained. In 1995, there were just 2410 left on the continent. In 2006, the western black rhino was declared extinct.

In Kenya, the numbers of black rhino fell from 20,000 at the beginning of the 1970s to 300 within a decade. This catastrophic fall in rhino numbers was the consequence of a poaching slaughter that consumed the country’s wildlife as lucrative ivory and rhino horn was consumed to meet the growing demand in Asia; rhino horn also made its way to the Arabian Peninsula, where it was used to fashion the handles of traditional Yemeni daggers.

It was in Kenya’s south, in the Tsavo National Park, that the war against rhinos reached its nadir – the park’s rhino population fell from 9000 in 1969 to less than 100 in 1980.

Since then, rhino numbers have rebounded thanks to a combination of legal protection – the trade in rhino horn was declared illegal under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1975 – and beefed-up security.

When I visited the Tsavo West Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary three decades after the massacre, I was met by guards in full military fatigues and armed with machineguns. ”These rhinos in here,” one guard told me, ”they receive more protection than many African presidents.”

Kenya’s population of black rhinos grew to about 600, with the continent-wide figure thought to be 10 times that number. Efforts to save the white rhino proved even more successful, with more than 20,000 in South Africa alone. A corner had been turned, it seemed, and the battle to save the rhino was counted among the great conservation success stories of our time.

And then Vietnam acquired a taste for rhino horn.

In 2007, 13 rhinos were killed in South Africa. In the years that followed, the rate of killing grew steadily. From 2007 to 2009, one quarter of Zimbabwe’s 800 rhinos were killed, and Botswana’s rhino population has fallen to just 38. In South Africa, home to 90 per cent of the world’s white rhinos, armed guards patrol the parks.

Even so, 448 rhinos were killed in 2011. The following year, the number rose to 668. In the first 65 days of 2013, poachers killed 146 rhinos. At current rates the figure for this year will be close to 830.

As a result, rhino populations could soon reach a tipping point that may prove difficult to reverse. The rhino death rate will exceed its birth rate within two years on current trends, according to Dr Mike Knight, chairman of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s African Rhino Specialist Group. ”We would then be eating into rhino capital.”

Chief scientist of South Africa’s National Parks Hector Magome agrees: ”If poaching continues, the rhino population will decline significantly by 2016.”

The importance of saving Africa’s black and white rhinos is given added weight by the negligible numbers for the world’s other three surviving rhino species – the almost 3000 Indian rhinos live in highly fragmented populations, while just 220 Sumatran and fewer than 45 Javan rhinos survive. Vietnam’s last population of Javan rhinos was declared extinct in October 2011.

It is proving far easier to quantify the threats faced by Africa’s rhinos than it is to arrest the decline for one simple reason: what worked in the past no longer holds.

The recent upsurge in poaching has taken place in spite of the CITES regime of international legal protection. Security is also tighter than it has ever been.

In South Africa’s Kruger National Park, home to almost half the world’s white rhinos, 650 rangers patrol an area the size of Israel or Wales. This falls well short of the one-ranger-per-10-square-kilometres ratio recommended by international experts, and more than 100 rhinos have already been killed in Kruger this year.

Thus, those charged with saving the rhino are considering radical and hitherto unimaginable solutions. One such approach gaining traction is the controversial plan to legalise the trade in rhino horn, dehorn thousands of rhinos and flood the market with newly legal horns.

Were this to happen, supporters of the proposal say, the price of rhino horn – which reached $65,000 a kilogram in 2012 – would fall, and the incentive for poaching would diminish.

Dehorning has long been opposed by conservationists – rhinos use their horns to defend themselves and while feeding. But the failure of all other methods has convinced some that the time has come to contemplate the unthinkable.

”The current situation is failing,” Dr Duan Biggs, of the University of Queensland and one of the leading advocates for legalising the trade in horns, said recently. ”The longer we wait to put in place a legal trade, the more rhinos we lose.”

Dr Biggs and others point to the legalisation of the trade in crocodile products as an example of how such a plan could work.

Critics counter that any legalisation of the trade in rhino horns is unenforceable. They also argue that lax or ineffective legal controls in Vietnam – where trading in rhino horn is already illegal – and elsewhere ensure that it will be impossible to separate legally obtained rhino horns from those supplied by poachers.

”We don’t think it would stop the poaching crisis,” says Dr Colman O’Criodain, of the World Wildlife Fund. ”We think the legal trade could make it worse.’

The debate about saving rhinos is riddled with apparent contradictions: that we must consider disfiguring rhinos if we are to save them; that rhino numbers have not been this high in half a century but the risk of their extinction has never been greater.

And so it is that the story of the rhinoceros has reached a crossroads. It is a story that pits, on one side, a creature that has adapted to everything millions of years of evolution have thrown at it, against, on the other, the humans that will either drive the species to extinction or take the difficult decisions necessary to save it.

News Link-http://www.theage.com.au/world/no-horn-of-plenty-20130514-2jknt.html#ixzz2TKNlQary

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: