African rhino Archives - Rhino Review

Manny, Akagera’s black rhino dies (Rwanda)

By Conservation, Relocation No Comments
Hudson Kuteesa, The New Times | April 22, 2020

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One of the five black rhinos brought to Akagera National Park last year from Europe has died.

The five rhinos: three females and 2 males were brought to Akagera National Park in June last year from the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, and Denmark.

The dead rhino, Manny, was the elder of the two males in the group.

Original photo as published by The New Times. One of the five rhinos translocated to Rwanda from European zoos at Akagera National Park last year.

Manny, along with the other two: Jasmine and Jasiri were born in Safari Park Dvur Kralove, Czech Republic.

According to information from the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), the rhino died on the 10th of February, and preliminary reports suggest a tract disorder, although the final cause of death has not been determined yet.

“We can confirm that the rhino was not poached. The evidence suggests a digestive tract disorder, but a final cause of death has not yet been concluded. We are awaiting further laboratory results to provide additional clarity, but with major restrictions in place globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is unlikely that we will receive these results soon,” read the statement from EAZA.

According to EAZA, the rhino was being closely monitored on a daily basis by a specialist tracking team and was being provided supplementary feed to support its continued adjustment.

“After detecting a sudden deterioration in his health and feeding behaviour, park management immediately consulted with veterinarians, but he, unfortunately, succumbed before a veterinary intervention could be made.”

EAZA said that the four remaining animals have continued to be monitored intensively and are reported in good health.

Estimates show that there are over 5000 black rhinos left and the latest translocation is seen as a major step towards their conservation and growth.

However, although translocations are an essential tool to boost species populations in the wild, it also naturally involves a degree of risk as animals adapt to novel conditions in their new environments.

To ensure the wellbeing of the rhinos relocated to Rwanda, EAZA says every precaution was taken throughout the translocation process and followed thorough planning by highly experienced veterinary, translocation and park management teams, in line with International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) guidelines.

Role players force rhino poaching into decline (South Africa)

By Antipoaching, Conservation No Comments
The Hazyview Herald | February 12, 2020

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The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries recently released a report on rhino poaching in the country for 2019. Minister Barbara Creecy said wildlife trafficking constitutes a highly sophisticated form of serious transnational organised crime that threatens national security.

“The aim is to establish an integrated strategic framework for an intelligence-led, well-resourced, multidisciplinary and consolidated law enforcement approach to focus and direct law enforcement’s ability supported by the whole of government and society.”

She paid tribute to rangers who battle poaching in the conservation areas on a daily basis.

In 2018, 769 rhinos were killed for their horns in South Africa. During 2019, rhino poaching declined, with 594 rhinos poached nationally during the year.

This decline can be attributed to a combination of measures implemented in line with government’s strategy, including improved capabilities to react to poaching incidents, linked to better situational awareness and deployment of technology; improved information collection and sharing among law enforcement authorities; better regional and national cooperation and more meaningful involvement of the private sector, NGOs and donors.

“A decline in poaching for five consecutive years is a reflection of the diligent work of the men and women who put their lives on the line daily to combat rhino poaching, often coming into direct contact with ruthless poachers,” Creecy said.

Some 2014 incursions and poacher activities were recorded in the Kruger National Park (KNP) in 2019. A total of 327 rhino were lost as a result of poaching.

The department reported that 31 elephants were poached in South Africa in 2019. Of them, 30 animals were in the KNP and one in Mapungubwe National Park.

This is a decrease in the number of elephants poached in 2018, when 71 were killed for their tusks. During 2019, some successes have also been recorded through the number of arrests and convictions linked to rhino poaching and the illicit trade in rhino horn, that reflects the joint and integrated work of law enforcement entities, including the Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit of SAPS, the Hawks,

SANParks, provincial park authorities and environmental management inspectors (Green Scorpions) and Customs as well as the National Prosecuting Authority.

Photo by Hazyview Herald

High-profile cases that remain on the court roll in the Lowveld include:

• State vs Jospeh Nyalungu and nine others in Nelspruit Regional Court. Provisional date for trial is May 25.
• State vs Rodney Landela in Skukuza Regional Court. Trial date set for
February 19.
• State vs Petrus Sydney Mabuza, Nozwelo Mahumane, Moshe Thobela and Romez Khoza. Trial date set in the High Court of Mpumalanga in Mbombela for July 27 and August 14.
• State vs Petrus Sydney Mabuza and Joseph Nyalunga. Trial date set in the High Court of Mpumalanga sitting in Mbombela on May 25 to June 19.

Since the last report on the rhino poaching situation and efforts being made to address the crime, rhino horn samples have been received for analysis from Vietnam to determine if the horns confiscated are linked to crimes in South Africa.

The Hawks have also received very good cooperation from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan in their efforts to combat wildlife trafficking.

While acutely aware that criminal elements will continue to take advantage of the socioeconomic pressures and drive demand for illegal wildlife products, the department said it was working with a number of communities, NGOs and donors, and identified various community developmental programmes, including awareness programmes.

Members of the public can report any suspicious activities around wildlife to the environmental crime hotline on 080-020-5005 or the SAPS number 10111.

‘I helped notch rhinos in South Africa to protect them from being brutally poached’

By Antipoaching, Conservation No Comments
Melissa Mason, Pedestrian | October 21, 2019

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In South Africa, rhinos are in grave danger. They’re the most at-risk animal when it comes to poaching, and the results are devastating.

The statistics are horrendous. While there has been a decline in rhino poaching since 2015, according to Save the Rhino 2018 saw 892 African Rhinos poached in Africa. With 80% of the African Rhino population of Africa based in South Africa, the issue is very much at the forefront of conservation efforts in the country. 769 of that 892? Poached within South Africa.

The African Rhino is so at risk because its horn is used in traditional Chinese medicinal practices. Because of its difficulty to obtain, it’s considered a sign of wealth and prosperity to be in possession of rhino horn, which hikes the prices up and makes poaching a very appealing option for trade.

I visited South Africa with South Africa Tourism in September, as part of a trip showing media the effect of poaching and the conservation efforts of different companies in the regions affected. One of these is Kapama Private Game Reserve, a massive 13,000 hectare sanctuary with three camps and a commitment to protecting its wildlife.

One way they do this is by rhino notching. Some reserves will de-horn their rhinos in an effort to protect the animal – many poachers will just slice the horn and face off a rhino to get what they need, leaving the animal to suffer a horrible death. De-horned rhinos are generally safer in the wild as they don’t have the precious horn to make them appealing to poachers. But Kapama were interested in keeping their rhinos as close to their natural state as possible, so they practice rhino notching – a process that involves a few steps to keep track of the rhinos, and also to make their safety a priority.

First, we waited in a safari vehicle while a tiny helicopter flew above the rhino pack that had a rhino that hadn’t been notched yet within it. Notched rhinos are recognised visually – a small part of their ear is cut out for identification purposes. Our tracker found a rhino without a notch – often these are grown babies or simple rhinos that had been AWOL in the 13,000 hectares of bush.

Original photo as published by Pedestrian.

In the helicopter was Dr Peter Rogers, the on-site veterinarian who used a tranquillising dart from the helicopter to get the rhino partially down, then his team approached on-ground to assess whether the rhino needed extra tranquillising. It’s a very delicate process – they want the rhino to be alert, but not a danger to the humans working on it.

They then inject the rhino with anaesthetic around the horn, and also near its ear. We ran in to assist – we were immediately needed because the rhino had fallen on its side, and Dr Rogers wanted us to push her so her weight was distributed on all of her legs, just in case she got pins and needles and was scared when the tranquilliser wore off.

It’s bloody hard to push a rhino, let me tell you. All of these people and we couldn’t get her upright.

In the end we simply can’t move her, and because there’s a strict time limit on how long you can work on the rhino once they’re tranquillised, Dr Rogers decides we need to get going and hope she either doesn’t get pins and needles, or is okay if she wakes up with the weird sensation in her left legs.

First, I’m recruited to add some lubricant to the rhino’s eyes. They put a comfortable mask over the eyes so the rhino isn’t accosted with people’s faces during the whole process. As Dr Rogers explained, they do whatever they can to keep the animal calm in the process, because it is traumatic – albeit necessary.

It was an amazing experience being so close to such a large, wild animal.

That’s me in the khaki hat. Don’t ask why I bought a khaki hat (I was trying to be all Safari Girl, ok). The woman guiding me was Janelle, Dr Rogers’ assistant and essentially his right hand – she was a boss bitch and a half, totally calm under pressure and smoothly working through most of the core work. Anyway, I was literally looking into her eyeball and trying to keep my hand from shaking as I squeezed protective gel in. I was putting too little and Janelle was like “it’s a rhino. She’s a big animal. Do the whole tube.”

After the rhino’s eyes are lubricated and the anaesthesia is at work, the notch is made – the process is quick and methodical, if a bit gross. The chunk is sliced out of the rhino’s ear, and blood spurts everywhere. But pressure via metal clamps is swiftly applied, and a paste added to the wound as an antiseptic and healing agent. It’s over very quickly, and the animal doesn’t react.

The chunk of ear is put in a plastic container for research purposes. Then, a microchip is inserted at the base of the ear, as well as inside the horn. This is part of the tracking process – now, the animal can be tracked in the park, but also if (god forbid) it’s poached, the horn itself can be tracked. This is so that in the worst case, there’s a chance the horn can be traced and the poachers caught.

It looks horrendous – the horn is drilled into so the microchip can be inserted, and then a small stick placed in the hole and glued in to keep the microchip in place. But rhino horns aren’t like, say, our fingers. They’re more like fingernail – they don’t have feeling in the horn, and as long as you’re not working on the base of it, the animal won’t feel anything.

It’s all over within ten minutes – it’s wild how fast Dr Rogers, Janelle and the team work, and how smoothly they deal with unforeseen events like the rhino falling incorrectly, or nervous assistants like myself and the other journalists.

Dr Rogers asks everyone to quickly head back to the vehicles – once they take the blindfold off the rhino, it’s naturally a dangerous animal, especially because it’s likely to be disoriented. Our rhino (we called her Aussie, lol) is fine, though. She gets up, seems a bit slow, but walks straight. Dr Rogers monitors her for a while as the tranquilliser wears off, just to protect her from potential predators in her weakened state. Once she seems relatively back to normal, we take off.

It’s rare you can get that close to a wild animal, let alone have an opportunity to do something good for the conservation efforts of an endangered species. But something that really moved me was that a large, profitable reserve was working to protect rhinos and also allow them to live naturally with their horns.

Obviously it benefits Kapama Private Game Reserve, too – they want their rhinos alive for safari reasons. But in general, Kapama proved a commitment to seeing South Africa’s animal species protected and living naturally. They have their own trained anti-poaching unit working to protect animals within the reserve, and pride themselves on ensuring the reserve’s wildlife isn’t disturbed – for example, they don’t go off-road on safari save for a few tracking exceptions, human interaction is limited – there’s no standing in vehicles or making noises to get animal’s attention. They also don’t protect their animals from the natural order of nature – lions and panthers will kill when needed, and so on.

If you’re interested in being involved in rhino notching, you can contact Kapama Private Game Reserve here – it’s not listed on site and is expensive. Alternatively, you can check out their other conservation offerings here.