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South African rhino poaching deaths nears 1,000

  South Africa  has lost nearly 1,000 rhinos this year in a poaching surge to feed the black-market demand for their horns, according to the environment ministry. “The total number of rhino poached in South Africa since January 2013 has increased to 946,” the ministry said in a statement. Asian demand for rhino horn – prized as a status symbol and wrongly thought to possess medicinal properties – has fueled an ever more intense onslaught on the animals. In 2007 only 13 rhinoceros were reported hunted illegally in South Africa, but since then the numbers have increased exponentially every year. The toll stood at 668 in 2012, making 2013 the deadliest year on record for rhinos. South Africa has lost nearly 1,000 rhinos this year in a poaching surge to feed the black-market demand for their horns, according to the environment ministry. “The total number of rhino poached in South Africa since January 2013 has increased to 946,” the ministry said in a statement. Asian demand for rhino horn – prized as a status symbol and wrongly thought to possess medicinal properties – has fuelled an ever more intense onslaught on the animals. In 2007 only 13 rhinoceros were reported hunted illegally in South Africa, but since then the numbers have increased exponentially every year.   The toll stood at 668 in 2012, making 2013 the deadliest year on record for rhinos Photo: ALAMY...

Rhino poacher sentenced to 6 years

JOHANNESBURG – South African National Parks (SANParks) says it hopes the sentencing of a rhino poacher to six years behind bars in Limpopo will send a strong message to other rhino killers. Musa Simango and two of his accomplices were cornered by a ranger in the Kruger National Park in October. One of the suspects was killed in a shootout while another managed to escape. On Tuesday, the 19-year-old Mozambican national was found guilty of attempted rhino poaching, unlawful possession of ammunition and trespassing. SANParks’ Ike Phaahla said, “Six years is a long time for anyone who hasn’t been in jail before, the judge might have been a little lenient in this instance, but we are happy that at least there’s a conviction.” Meanwhile, two suspected rhino poachers are on the run following a shootout with rangers in the park on Saturday, while a third was shot dead. On Thursday, two three-day-old rhino carcasses were found at the park. An autopsy on the carcasses later revealed one of the rhino died from a bullet wound to the ribs     Eyewitness News...

Rhino poaching survivor pregnant

A rhino which survived an attack by poachers in the Eastern Cape has fallen pregnant, the Kariega Game Reserve, outside Port Elizabeth, said on Monday. The pregnancy of the rhino, named Thandi, came as people remembered former President Mandela, a man of hope, said the reserve’s general manager Alan Weyer. “As a nation and as individuals, we will forever be inspired by his strength and courage in the fight for what is right,” he said. Weyer said the pregnancy was a small step towards winning the fight against poaching, but that the reserve remembered Mandela’s words when he said: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” The rhino survived an attack in which two bulls died at the reserve on March 2 last year. Poachers ttranquilized all three rhino with darts, and hacked off their horns, leaving them to bleed to death. One of the bulls died in the course of the night, but the other two were found alive and treated by wildlife veterinarian Dr William Fowlds. “Their strength and courage prompted our rangers to name the surviving bull Themba and the cow Thandi — the isiXhosa words meaning hope and love respectively,” Fowlds said. The bull later died. The cow’s wounds reopened this year in a suspected attack by a rhino bull, and it had to be operated on. “Her story has touched the lives of so many people across the globe and her courage is reflected in our love for her and the species that she represents. The prospects of a successful pregnancy and birth represent the hope of survival,” said Fowlds. “In a crisis which threatens us with despair, that hope, as insignificant as it may seem for some, is what we cling to for dear life,” he said. After the poaching attack, a new bull was purchased for breeding on the reserve. “We were very pleased when the new bull and Thandi were spotted mating by some of the rangers, and have had our fingers crossed for the best possible outcome. News of Thandi’s pregnancy was incredible and a real miracle if the tests are correct,” said Kariega co-owner Graeme Rushmere. He said a calf would be a real reward for the cow’s courage and everyone’s efforts to save her. “We hope that she is able to lead a normal and peaceful rhino life after her horrific ordeal. She has been an amazing ambassador for rhino and for the many dedicated people fighting the war to end rhino poaching. We are simply delighted,” said Rushmere.     Poachers tranquillised all three rhino with darts,...

Plans to curb rhino poaching yielding positive results...

Efforts aimed at curbing rhino poaching have started yielding positive results. Water and Environmental Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa, has told a workshop in the Kruger National Park that the return to South Africa of a consignment of 33 rhino horns and a large number of elephant ivory products worth an estimated R24 million from Hong Kong was a major breakthrough. “We are also going to sign some of the remaining agreements with Mozambique, Vietnam, Thailand and several other countries that have been identified. Indeed we are confident that with those countries where there have already been signatures attached like the Hong Kong as part of China, there are already some success stories that we can point at, just about a week ago we got a consignment back in South Africa worth R24 million which was confiscated by Hong Kong administration,” says Molewa.     Minister Edna Molewa says a week ago, we got a consignment back in South Africa worth R24 million which was confiscated by Hong Kong administration.(SABC)    ...

Fact File : White Rhinoceros: Ceratotherium simum

      Subspecies: – Northern white rhino, C. s. cottoni (endangered) – Southern white rhino, C. s. simum Characteristics Weight and Height males: wt 448-4972 lb (2040-2260 kg), ht 68-73 in (171-186 cm) females: wt 3520 lb (1600 kg), ht 66-71 in (165-178 cm) Horns Front horn is typically the largest (24 in [60 cm]); the rear horn is much shorter than front horn and is a triangular shape. Females’ horns are generally longer than males’. Color slate gray to yellow-brown General Locations The white rhino was quite abundant in the Northern Savanna, west of the White Nile and Southern Savanna, south of Zambezi. Due to its calm nature, the white rhino became easy prey to human hunters. The southern white rhino was almost extinct. Habitat The white rhino prefers a habitat which includes grassland with water, trees, and mud wallows. The rhino is the largest pure grazer in Africa and is quite unique because of the way that its mouth is constructed for feeding. The white rhino’s wide mouth and strong lips enable it to graze broad areas of dense green grass. The rhino is able to go 2 to 4 days without water year-round, but will drink twice a day when near water. The white rhino is both a diurnal and nocturnal animal. The rhino spends about 12 hours a day feeding, 8 hours resting, and the rest of the day socializing, drinking, wallowing and walking. Social Systems The white rhino is considered the most sociable member of the rhino family. Rhinos tend to stay closer together than most other browsers that consider open habitats home. In some areas, an average of 12.5 rhinos were seen per square mile (5/sq. km) which is 3 times the density of the black rhino. Males are quite territorial and are considered solitary beings while females tend to associate with groups. An average home range is 198-642 acres (80-260 ha) and can contain 6 or 7 territories. This means that there is only enough space for 2/3 of the adult males to have their own territory. On average, rhinos herd in groups with 6 members which have proven to be quite stable. Reproduction The birth peak for white rhinos is during the rainy season. Most females mature by the age of 7 and males by 10 or 12 years. The gestation period for the white rhino is 15 to 16...

Google Spent $5 Million on Drones to Spy on Rhino Poachers...

  Thanks to Google, a fleet of drones will soar over Africa and Asia. Instead of targeting insurgents, however, they’ll be spying on poachers, and sending the data back to international conservation groups. The search giant has donated $5 million to the World Wildlife Federation, which has pioneered a drone program bent on protecting endangered species in Nepal. We recently investigated the newest and most prominent anti-poaching technology, and surveillance drones were arguably the most effective of the lot. (For more on the rise of non-combat drones, see our most recent documentary, Drone On) Since the WWF began using unmanned aerial vehicles in Nepal two years ago, only two endangered rhinos have been lost. Before the drones swooped in, one was killed every month on average.     The drones have sent back data that has led to poachers’ capture, and now additionally serve as a deterrent to further ainmal slaughter in the region—organized crime rings are reluctant to operate with the drones soaring overhead. Also, we’re using the word  ‘drones’ pretty liberally here; these are really just trumped-up, sophisticated remote controlled airplanes. They launch by hand, can travel only 20 miles, and can stay airborne for about an hour. Mother Jones reports on the impact the infusion of cash will have on the operation: The Google funding will enable WWF to expand its drone program in Asia and Africa to protect rhinos, which are hunted for their horns; elephants, which are pursued for their tusks, and tigers, which are killed for everything from their eyes to their reproductive organs. The grant will also be used to advance wildlife tagging technology, specialized sensors, and ranger monitoring software. It will be money well-spent. Poaching is out of control, and conservationists are going to need the best tech available to go up against the increasingly wealthy and well-equipped crime syndicates responsible for the lion’s share of it. Again, there’s plenty more on those anti-poaching effortshere....

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