Over 500 rhinos poached in South Africa this year : Czech Customs Seize Rhino Horns, 16 Charged

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JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng: More than 500 South African rhinos have been killed this year, official figures showed Wednesday, amid strong demand for horns on the Asian black market.

As of yesterday (Tuesday), a total of 515 rhino have been killed so far  this year,” said the environment ministry’s deputy director general Fundisile  Mketeni.

The lucrative Asian black market for rhino horn has driven a boom in  poaching in South Africa, which has the largest rhino population in the world. Many of the killings are thought to be perpetrated by poachers from global  syndicates.

On Tuesday Czech authorities charged 16 people from a gang that sent registered hunters to South Africa who returned with horns that were to be sent  on to Asian countries.

Customs officers seized 24 rhino horns, worth an estimated 3.9 million euros ($5.1 million).

Last year, 668 rhinos were killed in South Africa, a record high that could be surpassed if the poaching continues at today’s pace.

The army’s deployment in the hardest-hit area, the Kruger National Park, has done little to stem the killings. — AFP

News LinkOver 500 rhinos poached in South Africa this year – Latest – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/latest/over-500-rhinos-poached-in-south-africa-this-year-1.325633#ixzz2Zy7SUzk3

Customs Administration of the Czech Republic
Rhino horns seized from smugglers by the Czech customs

Czech Customs Seize Rhino Horns, 16 People Charged

PRAGUECzech customs seized 24 rhinoceros horns Tuesday and charged 16 people with bringing the prized material illegally from South Africa to sell it in Asia.

“Our investigation showed that the transport is organized by an international ring of smugglers who have used fake export permissions seemingly complying with (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) to import the rhinoceros horns from the Republic of South Africa to the European Union,” said Jiri Bartak, spokesman for the Czech customs department.

The arrests follow an investigation by Czech and EU customs authorities begun in 2011.

The gang was alleged to have planned re-exporting the horns as trophies, according to their fake documentation.

Rhino horns are popular in parts of Asia where many believe they can cure various illnesses or work as an aphrodisiac.

Czech authorities estimate the value of the seized rhino horns at up to 100 million koruna ($5 million), Mr. Bartak said.

The authorities said the ring employed people impersonating hunters to gain permission to ship horns acquired from African poachers to Europe and elsewhere.

Czech customs didn’t release details of where the charged individuals came from or give their names. If convicted they face up to eight years in prison.

News Link:-http://blogs.wsj.com/emergingeurope/2013/07/23/czech-customs-seize-rhino-horns-16-people-charged/

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Pink Poison, the Surprising New Trend That’s Saving Rhinos

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“This is a great idea, I hope those that use the horn of any dead rhino suffer appalling reactions & suffer greatly; its’ nothing less than they deserve. If there stupid enough to use rhino horn instead of chewing their own fingernails, I have no sympathy. But, I’m not that happy either, that this pink potion has already killed test subjects; especially a rhino at an event to promote the cocktail. If inadequate studies have been performed to test this cocktail, should it go on, how many more rhino will die through testing; will several dying, justify saving the lives of those that are left? Or is there an easier option to save the rhino?”

“I’m for anything that stops the rhino poachers, dealers & resellers; but not at the cost of losing the  lives of an already declining species. If only there was a way to stop poaching, without putting the rhino’s life at risk; to simply catch & use anaesthetics are high risk factors that could end in death, irrelevant of what is going to be implanted into the horn!”

“So think how much it costs in terms of drugs, anesthetics, vets, helicopters, spotters, darts, dart guns, man power etc. to implant something into the horn of one rhino? A rhino, who could die from the anaesthetic or stress of capture: but the process is being done to hopefully stop it being killed by poachers!. Then think of those that go out & poach said species…Why do they do it? Well I’m pretty sure it’s not because they hate the rhino species, they do it for money only, perhaps it’s easy money, which is the attraction; especially when your family are constantly hungry etc.”

” So perhaps the simplest, least cost-effective idea, is being totally overlooked!! Consider the cost of all the above, to one rangers wages & it’s obvious which is the cheaper & most cost-effective way of saving the rhino; more manpower on the ground…but why just rangers already trained up!”!

“What about the poachers? they risk their lives for such a small percentage in wages; so why not turn it around? They only poach for money, so perhaps they could be convinced to fight for the other side, i.e. protecting the rhino & being paid to do so; instead of being paid to kill the rhino! They are already savvy in the knowledge of rhino tracking etc. because they have worked out how & when is the easiest time to kill without being caught. Of course those in charge would have to be diligent, as newly employed protectors of rhino, could easily still work for the poaching kings, on an undercover basis! Inside knowledge could just as easily kill rhino; if done the right way. One just has to think of a way of making poachers protect; instead of kill!

“Perhaps if the government implemented an incentive, to suggest that all rhino poachers who come forward of their own free will, will not be charged for past regressions (otherwise they won’t come; even though I would be so tempted to slap them in chains!) but will be taken on & trained as a special task force, to be paid to save the rhino rather than kill. At the end of the day, it all comes down to money! Rhino potions can not be sold in shops, without those that poach the rhino horn! To stop poaching, one has to think of those at the bottom of the pile, those that do the poaching; because without them, there will be no rhino horn. So give them an incentive to stop, a uniform, a regular weekly income, less risk of being killed by rangers etc. & there might just be a better chance to stop this trade…there is no harm in trying, right??”

Rhino experts discuss a bright approach to keeping poachers away. Please note the following picture has been digitally altered!

This photo has been digitally altered and is not an actual photo of a rhino at Sabi Sand. (Photo: Heinrich van den Berg/Getty)

This photo has been digitally altered and is not an actual photo of a rhino at Sabi Sand. (Photo: Heinrich van den Berg/Getty)

With over 200 rhinos already dead this year at the hands of poachers in South Africa and no signs of the slaughter slowing, some innovative rhinoceros lovers are stepping up their game.

Wildlife workers at Sabi Sand, a private game reserve at the southernmost tip of Kruger National Park, have injected a special cocktail into 100 rhino horns, turning them pink in an effort to deter illegal horn hunters.

In addition to discoloring the horn, the pink dye can also be detected by airport scanners, even when the horn is ground into a powder to make the high-priced traditional “medicines” that help fuel the killing of rhinos. The hope is to make transport of the illegal product that much riskier.

And that’s not all. There’s poison in the pink

The indelible pink dye is mixed with parasiticides, usually used to control ticks. Though it’s not meant to kill unscrupulous poachers and consumers who ingest the powder, it does have some pretty nasty side effects, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Ironically, these are some of the symptoms which rhino horn is incorrectly believed to alleviate. (Rhino horns contain nothing more than the same keratin found in fingernails.)

This comes at a time when the demand for traditional “medicines” is growing, says Tom Milliken, Rhino Program coordinator with Traffic, a leading wildlife trade-monitoring network. He says, “There is a whole new market that advertises rhino horn as a successful cancer treatment. It’s being marketed in hospitals to the families of the critically ill. In addition, it has also become a trendy hangover remedy.”

Dr. Susie Ellis, Executive Director of the International Rhino Foundation, has concerns about the ethical implications of intentionally poisoning something that may well be ingested, but hopes the project will draw attention to the dire situation.

“If this strategy discourages even one person from buying horn, I think it’s marvelous,” she says.

Milliken also understands the urgency to save every rhino possible, but isn’t sold on this technique. “I’m not sure I fully buy the notion that this dye cocktail has been adequately tested and certified to be non-harmful to rhinos,” he says. “The process of anesthetizing living rhinos to inject the cocktail is time consuming and entails risks; we know of rhinos in the private sector that have died in the process, including one at an event to specifically showcase this particular dye technique.

News Link:-http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/04/10/pink-poison-rhino-horn-stop-ivory-trade?cmpid=tpanimals-eml-2013-4-12-pinkhorn

South Africa To Use Aircraft Against Rhino Poachers

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South Africa is to deploy a reconnaissance airplane to combat a massive rise in rhino poaching.

The plane will be equipped with surveillance equipment including thermal imaging to detect poachers.

It will patrol over the Kruger National Park, a vast reserve that borders Mozambique and home to two-thirds of South Africa’s rhino population.

So far this year 588 rhinos have been killed in South Africa, in what is being called a “relentless onslaught”.

That figure has risen from just 13 reported cases in 2007 as organised and well-armed crime syndicates target the animals.

South Africa is home to the world’s largest rhino population – an estimated 18,000 white rhinos and 1,700 critically endangered black rhino.

The rhino horn is highly prized in traditional Asian medicine, even though there is no scientific proof of its effects. It sells for around $95,000 (£60,000) per kilo, almost twice the value of gold.

Rhino poaching in South Africarhino (1)

  • 2007: 13 reported cases
  • 2008: 83 reported cases
  • 2009: 122 reported cases
  • 2010: 333 reported cases
  • 2011: 448 reported cases
  • 2012: 588 reported cases – to 4 Dec

Source: Traffic, the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network

The director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Jason Bell, said: “The killing of rhinos for their horns does not exist in a vacuum, but is a complex problem where values of tradition and culture have been corrupted in the name of commercial exploitation.”

“Be it elephants and ivory, tigers and tiger parts, rhinos and rhino horn, the endpoint is the same – profit. And that profit is being chased down in the most brutal fashion by organised crime syndicates.”

So far this year, South Africa has already armed some of its park rangers and deployed dog patrols to try and stop the poachers.

The surveillance airplane for the Kruger National Park was donated by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, whose chairman Ivor Ichikowitz said: “You have to fight fire with fire.

“This thermal imaging technology will deliver more powerful observation capability to the Kruger National Park’s rangers, making it difficult for poachers to hide.”

News Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-20592820

Rhino Poacher Jailed For 40 Years In South Africa

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“Below are links to video & a more detailed look into this illegal racket. I was going to post it, had it all set up, then I saw this lighter version! But it’s worth reading, sounds to me like others got off Scott free; make me wonder if this guy hasn’t taken the rap for a few others!!”

A Thai man who organised illegal rhino poaching trips has been given the country’s strongest illegal wildlife sentence to date.

Thai national Chumlong Lemtongthai is sentenced at Kempton Park magistrates court, South Africa. Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

A Thai national has been sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to charges of exporting rhino horns from South Africa, in the country’s strongest illegal wildlife sentence to date.

Chumlong Lemtongthai admitted to playing a large part in a scheme that used white rhino trophy hunts in South Africa as a cover for smuggling horns to black markets in Asia. He employed Asian nationals to pose as hunters and take part in organised hunts on game farms in the North West province.

Charges against three South Africans and two others Asian nationals, the co-accused, were however dropped without explanation.

Lemtongthai told Johnannesburg’s Kempton Park magistrates court: “I humbly apologise to the court and to the people of South Africa for my role in this matter. I appreciate that the emotions of all animal lovers in South Africa are running very high and that I was part of the problem.”

Jo Shaw, rhino co-ordinator for WWF-SA, said: “These higher-level arrests and convictions are critical to disrupting the illegal trade chains used to move rhino horns into illicit markets in Asia.”

Areas of Asiain particular Vietnam, have increased their demand for white rhino horn powder in recent years. Wrongly believed to enhance sexual performance, cure hangovers and even cancer, a growing wealthy class in Asian society have begun to pay more than ever for rhino horns. The result has been a rapid rise in rhino horn poaching in South Africa, culminating in a record rise in 2012, with more than 450 rhinos killed in the country this year already.

Around half of the poaching occurs in the Kruger national park, in the country’s north-west.

News Link:-http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/nov/09/rhino-poacher-40-years-south-africa

Chumlong Lemtongthai is the most senior figure in a smuggling ring ever convicted in South Africa

More Indepth view of trial:-http://mg.co.za/article/2012-11-08-rhino-butchers-caught-on-film

Video of above rhino hunt:-http://www.mg.co.za/multimedia/2012-11-08-inside-a-legal-hunt

9 Dehorned Rhinos Found Alive

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Johannesburg – Fourteen rhino have been found dehorned in two provinces since Thursday, police said on Sunday. Three of them had been killed.

Eleven of the rhino were found at the Hartzhoogte game lodge in Amalia near Schweizer-Reneke in the North West, Captain Paul Ramaloko saidin a statement.

(AFP)

The game farmer found the first carcass on Thursday after he followed a trail of blood. Following the discovery, the farmer searched his farm and found 10 de-horned rhino, nine of them still alive.

The two dead rhino are believed to have been killed almost a month ago.

The nine surviving rhino were taken to a place of safety. The estimated loss to the game farmer was about R5 million.

In the Eastern Cape three rhino were found dehorned at a game farm near Kenton-on-Sea.

“A driver was taking tourists on a game drive when he noticed three rhino in distress,” Ramaloko said.

The driver called the police and a veterinarian.

“When they arrived at the scene, the police noticed that one of the three rhino was dead. Two rhino were in a critical condition,” Ramaloko said.

The rhinos had been darted before their horns were removed.

The two wounded rhino were being treated. Police were investigating.

 News Link:-http://www.news24.com/Green/9-dehorned-rhinos-found-alive-20121104

 

Poachers kill 100 rhino in two months

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Johannesburg – Poachers killed 100 rhino in less than two months, a surge in killings that took the tally for the year to 381, authorities said on Wednesday.

More than half of the animals were killed in the Kruger National Park with the rate of the slaughter likely to mean that the year’s final tally will pass last year’s carnage of 448 animals poached.

The department of environmental affairs said: “The latest rhino poaching statistics indicate that a total of 381 rhino have been killed since the beginning of this year.

With roughly 20 000 rhino, South Africa is home to nearly 80% of the world population.

But there has been a devastating increase in poaching in recent years as black market demand for rhino horn has grown with numbers leaping from 13 in 2007 to 333 in 2010.

Heightened security measures have failed to stop the criminal syndicates that officials say are responsible for the killing.

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.

On the black market, the horns are worth their weight in gold.

Soldiers and specialist investigators have been deployed to national parks to battle the poachers.

Despite the rise in the numbers of killings since July, the number of arrests has slightly gone up to 199 from 176 suspects held two months ago.

News Link:-http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Poachers-kill-100-rhinos-in-two-months-20120912

 

South Africa reports 281 rhinos killed this year

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) – South Africa says 281 of the country’s endangered rhinoceros have been killed by poachers in the first six months of the year.

 

The Environment Department said Tuesday that the huge Kruger National Park adjacent to neighbors Mozambique and Zimbabwe was the worst hit, losing 164 rhinos.

The figures in the midyear review indicate that poaching is still on the rise in South Africa, where 448 rhinos were killed last year, up from 333 in 2010.

The department said 176 people have been arrested since January, 153 of them alleged poachers, with the others being couriers, buyers or exporters.

South Africa is home to some 20,000 rhinos, more than any other country.

Demand for powdered rhino horn has soared in Asia where it is used in traditional medicines and is believed to relieve cancer symptoms.

News Link:-http://www.kfvs12.com/story/19043697/south-africa-reports-281-rhinos-killed-this-year

 

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