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Rhino Poachers In South Africa Set Terrible New Record...

Poachers in South Africa reached a milestone in 2013 when they killed more than 1,000 rhinos for their horns. The harrowing benchmark is a new record for poaching in the African nation. It represents more than a 50 percent increase from the year before, Reuters reports. South Africa is home to the majority of the world’s rhino population, so mass killings of this volume is a dire warning for conservationists, the outlet notes. The black rhino is considered “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), while the white rhino is classified as “near threatened.” Both subspecies live in South Africa. The drastic rise in rhino deaths has been tied to skyrocketing demand in Asia for the creatures’ horns. Prized for its status as well as its alleged medicinal value, ground up rhino horn is sold as a cure for everything from cancer to diabetes at prices up to $100,000 per kilogram. Vietnam has proved to have a particularly insatiable demand for the powder, which was reportedly linked to the recovery of a cancer-stricken official, Smithsonian magazine notes. In an effort to stop poachers, South Africa has turned its park service rangers into soldiers and has even deployed members of the armed forces to the hard-hit rhino habitat of Kruger National Park, the Telegraph reports. Although more than 300 suspected poachers were arrested last year, the criminal operations use sophisticated tactics and resources to elude law...

Eleven poachers killed in Kruger

Johannesburg – Eleven rhino poachers have been killed in the Kruger National Park (KNP) since the beginning of the year, SA National Parks (SANParks) said on Tuesday. Seven of them were killed on Friday and Saturday, SANParks spokesman Reynold Thakhuli said in a statement. Four hunting rifles, ammunition, poaching equipment and a pair of horns were seized. The poachers were killed by park rangers and members of the SA National Defence Force, in an attempt to curb rhino poaching in the park, Thakhuli said. “They (poachers) operate in groups of four to six and are aggressive and engage and shoot at the rangers on sight, creating a daily life-threatening situation.” Thakhuli said two other poachers were arrested and eight firearms were seized in January. “Up to 15 heavily armed groups operate in the KNP at any given time, especially during the full moon period,” he said. Forty rhino have been killed in the KNP in the past year. “This has brought more resolve from the Rangers’ Corps to double their efforts to keep the species alive,” he said. Ranger commander Maj-Gen Johan Jooste said he was optimistic about the park’s long term poaching prevention strategy. He said that poaching incidents in the park had decreased from 72.6 percent in 2012 to 42.6 percent in 2013, and that 123 people were arrested in connection with poaching activities in 2013. “It is now up to the prosecuting teams, investigators and the (SA Police Service) to conclude what we have started,” Jooste said. Sapa     A file photo of a black rhinoceros and her calf walk in Tanzania’s Serengeti park....

Conservation group backs killing rare rhino for cash...

Can it ever be right to auction a licence to shoot a seriously endangered animal like the black rhino? The Dallas Safari Club, a hunters’ group based in Texas, did just that last weekend, despite protests from animal rights activists. New Scientist has learned that the club had backing from world’s largest association of conservation scientists, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The IUCN says the killing could increase rhino reproduction in the herd. Late last year, two specialist IUCN groups wrote letters endorsing the licence to shoot an old male black rhino in Namibia. With numbers 90 per cent lower than three generations ago, the IUCN classifies the black rhino (Diceros bicornis) as “critically endangered”. One sub-species, the western black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipipes) was officially declared extinct in 2011. So why allow the killing of another? One reason is to raise money to save other rhinos. Rosie Cooney of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, who chairs IUCN’s sustainable use and livelihoods specialist group, wrote that “trophy hunting… is an effective means to raise much-needed money for rhino conservation”. The $350,000 the anonymous bidder paid for the shooting licence will go into a rhino account run by the government’s Namibian Game Products Trust Fund, which channels income from wildlife use, including tourism and hunting licences, into anti-poaching patrols. Dangerous male More controversially, the IUCN also claims that the death of this particular rhino could actually boost the growth of the wider population, including metapopulations, geographically separated groups of animals within the same species that still have the opportunity to interact. The winner of the Dallas auction is licensed to kill a specific old male that is no longer fertile and has been expelled by its fellows from Etosha National Park. “While it appears counter-intuitive, the removal of the odd surplus male… can actually enhance overall metapopulation growth rates and further genetic conservation,” wrote Mike Knight of South African National Parks, who chairs IUCN’s rhino specialist group. Knight says such rogue animals get in fights and kill others, including breeding females and calves. Moreover, “female reproductive performance significantly improves as the ratio of adult males to adult females declines, resulting in faster growing populations”. Removing a bull that used to dominate breeding in the herd will also reduce the risk of inbreeding. Not all conservationists agree. Susie Ellis, director of the International Rhino Foundation in Strasburg, Virginia, says the disruptive effect of old males is overstated. “This auction takes attention away from the real issue – that nearly a thousand rhinos were poached last year alone in South Africa.” Conservation by trophy Wild black rhinos all live...

Fury as rhino-hunting permit sold

  Reuters | 13 January, 2014 00:02 A permit to hunt a black rhino in Namibia was auctioned for $350000 in Dallas, in the US, at the weekend.File photo Image by: Vassil/ Wikipedia. A permit to hunt a black rhino in Namibia was auctioned for $350000 in Dallas, in the US, at the weekend. The proceeds of the sale will be used to protect the endangered animals, despite protests from animal rights groups that saw the sale as immoral pseudo-conservation. The licence allows for the killing of a single, post-breeding bull, with Namibian wildlife officials on hand for the hunt to make sure an “appropriate” animal is selected. The Dallas Safari Club had been expecting the permit to bring $250000 to $1-million at the auction. The hunt will provide the Namibian government with hard cash in the expensive battle to thwart poachers, it said. “Biologists in Namibia were hoping that a US auction would produce a record amount for rhino conservation, and that’s exactly what happened,” said club executive director Ben Carter. “These bulls no longer contribute to the growth of the population and are in a lot of ways detrimental to the growth of the population because black rhino are very aggressive and territorial.” More than 75000 people signed an online petition at www.causes.com to stop the sale . There are about 25000 rhino in Africa – 20000 white and 5000 black – with most in South Africa. Namibia, with 1750 rhino, is one of the leading habitats . Both countries allow for a few, carefully regulated hunts under internationally approved guidelines each year. Rhino protection has grown more expensive because of a surge in poaching by crime syndicates to feed demand in places such as Vietnam, where horn is used as a traditional medicine and sold at prices higher than those of gold. Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the US, said the group objected to trophy hunting and believed it was immoral to raise cash for conservation by selling permits to kill endangered species. Last year 950 rhino were killed by poachers in South Africa. In Namibia, only 10 animals have been killed since 2006, according to Tom Milliken, leader of the elephant and rhino programme for the international wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC. http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2014/01/13/fury-as-rhino-hunting-permit-sold...

Rhino killed in Mkhuze

  First 2014 rhino poaching death . ANDREW CORNEW | 9 January 2014 12:23 THE new year has barely started and already the first rhino killing has taken place in Zululand. An adult white rhino was found dead at uMkhuze Game Reserve on Tuesday after being shot and de-horned, reported Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Communications Officer Musa Mntambo. ‘The rhino was executed about three days prior to the body being discovered,’ Mntambo said. Members of the SAPS Organised Crime Unit are investigating. The poaching of rhinos for their horns has reached unprecedented levels. While 10 years ago, a mere 25 rhinos were poached, the number poached in 2013 reached an unbelievable 946 in South Africa with 85 taking place in KZN. Mntambo did, however, confirmed 63 arrests were made in KZN last year with a total of 330...

Worsening Rhino war Strains Countries’ Relations


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The growing incursion of rhino poachers from Mozambique into South Africa’s flagship Kruger National Park is beginning to strain relations between the two countries. South African security operatives trying to stem the relentless killing of the enigmatic animals speak of it as a “border war”. They are getting increasingly fed-up with Mozambique’s security agencies for not doing more to clamp down on the poachers and the rhino-horn smugglers on their side of the boundary. Major General Johan Jooste, a veteran soldier from southern Africa’s bush-war era who was appointed late last year to head up the military, police and game-ranger units fighting the poachers in the park, reverts to the military terms of “insurgency” and “counter-insurgency” to describe the situation. He says the rhino poaching is one of the worst crises in the more than a century of the park’s existence. 
South African National Parks (SANParks) chief executive David Mabunda has called it a “war situation”, with the   boundary between Kruger and Mozambique proving to be “the weakest line of defence against incursions”. With between 8,000 and 10,000 white rhinos and about a thousand black rhinos, Kruger National Park is home to the majority of South Africa’s estimated 18,000 white and 2,000 black rhino populations. At the rate that the animals are getting killed it is feared that both types, but in particular the more critically endangered black species, could be headed for extinction in a few decades’ time.
 Already 180 rhinos have been killed in the park since the beginning of the year, against a national total of 249. It is now feared the figure for 2013 could end up even exceeding last year’s horrendous toll of 668, of which Kruger Park accounted for 425. Poachers Killed in Fire Fights with Rangers According to SANParks, 30 of the 36 suspected poachers apprehended in Kruger Park so far this year turned out to be Mozambicans. Eleven of the 36 were killed in fire-fights with the security forces and the rest were arrested. The rising casualty rate bears out the extent to which it is starting to resemble a war situation. Jooste insists the basic purpose remains to arrest suspects, in line with the normal rules of law enforcement. But the poachers generally seem to have military training. They come heavily armed and are quite willing to engage in fire-fights. Unlike the park’s security personnel, they are not bound by any rules of engagement. And that, Jooste says, makes it an unequal and dangerous situation for the rangers. Further stacking the odds against the anti-poaching units is the vastness of the 20,000-square-kilometer (7,700-square-mile)...

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