poaching Archives - Rhino Review

All-Female Ranger Unit Protecting Kenya’s Wildlife

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Voa News | March 07, 2020

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KAJIADO, KENYA – Kenya’s Amboseli National Park is home to herds of elephants that have been the target of poachers trafficking in the illicit trade in ivory. Now a program that has brought women on board in the fight against poaching is gaining traction.

At the start of another day at the Olgulului-Ololarashi Group Ranch, 23-year-old park ranger Purity Amleset, the leader of this all female ranger unit, sets out the day’s plan with her team, ensuring that each member has her orders correct.

Today’s task: locating an elephant and her newborn calf.

Original photo as published by VOA News: Members of Team Lioness are seen in traditional garb on a day off from work. (Photo: Patrick Papatiti, Commander of the Olgulului Community Wildlife Rangers)

Team Lioness

Dubbed “Team Lioness,” the ranger unit is made up of eight women whose core duties involve protecting wildlife within the 1,230 square kilometer stretch of parkland that surrounds Amboseli National Park.

They are chosen for their academic achievements, physical stamina, integrity and discipline.

Amleset says joining an all-female ranger unit has been beneficial to the traditionally patriarchal Maasai community.

She says her community held the view that women and girls were the weaker sex and that girls could only do menial jobs and housework, which included only raising a family. However over the course of time, the female rangers have been showing and telling them the importance of being a ranger just like the menfolk.

Gateway for poachers

The Olgulului-Ololarashi Group Ranch’s proximity to the Amboseli park makes it a likely gateway for poachers who may seek entry into the national park to hunt illegally.

Patrick Papatiti, the commander of the Olgululului Community Wildlife Rangers has about 76 rangers under his charge. He says integrating women has not been easy.

“We have the same mentality even within the male ranger unit, the same mentality that ladies cannot do it. But surprisingly we have the best young women who can run, who can move faster than these guys, who can go long(er) distances than these guys,” he sad. “So from that, working together helped us to clear the norm that these are the same ladies the same girls that you see in the village.”

Despite the challenges, in the end James Isiche — the regional director for East Africa from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) — says starting an all-female ranger unit was a risk worth taking.

“Communities in Kenya are male-dominated, but this particular one is extremely male-dominated,” he said. “So getting young ladies to engage in what is seen as a man’s job is a huge success and what we (are) seeing is that it’s encouraging other girls to step up and say that ‘when I finish school I also want to join the female lionesses.’”

Two suspected rhino poachers shot dead in KwaZulu-Natal game park (South Africa)

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Kaveel Singh, News 24 | March 15, 2020

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Two suspected rhino poachers have been killed in a shootout at the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, KwaZulu-Natal Environmental Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said on Sunday.

Original photo as published by News24: Alleged rhino poachers captured with new technology being used at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal. (Supplied, KZN EDTE)

She said that “courageous field staff, who work in dangerous conditions”, encountered three armed suspected rhino poachers on the night of 6 March.

Dube-Ncube added that 28 rhinos had already been killed at the park this year.

“Two of the suspects were fatally wounded and died at the scene, while one suspect managed to escape. One heavy calibre hunting rifle, as well as knives, commonly used to remove rhino horns, were recovered at the scene by the South African Police Service.”

Dube-Ncube said one of the men who was killed was a well-known high-level rhino poacher. He had been charged with the illegal possession of rhino horns in 2017.

She said he was suspected of coordinating groups of Mpumalanga poachers to target Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park.

Technology Comes to the Rescue

Dube-Ncube lauded the use of drone technology to combat poachers. She said it was part of a long-term strategy aimed at protecting the rhino population.

“We have decided to invest in Smart Park connectivity and the integration of systems to ensure early detection and rapid response. One of the key instruments being used is the installation of infrared trap cameras linked directly to the Parks Operational Centre.”

She said the cameras used artificial intelligence (AI) to identify people and sent an immediate alert to an operations centre which activated reaction units.

“On the night of 6 March an infrared camera detected three armed poaching suspects, and automatically alerted the operations centre, providing number of persons, grid reference and direction of the incursion.”

They were then located in the area and “challenged”, Dube-Ncube said.

“The reaction unit members who came under immediate threat defended themselves, which resulted in the two suspects being mortally wounded.”

She added that figures had shown that money earned in the illicit animal trade was more than $10bn.

“Such illegal activities have resulted in the loss of biodiversity and destruction of the ecosystem. Despite these alarming figures, we wish to commend communities that are working with us to fight rhino poaching.”


Rhino census to be conducted from March 23 (Nepal)

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My Republica | March 16, 2020

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CHITWAN: A rhinoceros census is to be conducted from coming March 23. The Chitwan National Park (CNP) has made necessary preparations for that connection after the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) sent a letter to that effect.

A pre-census training would be organised in Sauraha of Chitwan on March 20 and 21, CNP assistant conservation officer Prakash Upreti said. He said about 100 people including the employees of CNP, the elephant breeding centre and the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) would attend the training.

According to him, the rhino census will also be held in Parsa, Bardiya and Shuklaphanta national parks. It is said mid-March to mid-April is the appropriate time for the rhino count. Elephants would be used for the census.

Rhino census was conducted before this in 1994, 2000, 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2015. As per the latest census, the highest number of rhinos was recorded in CNP. Six hundred and five rhinos were counted in CNP. A total of 645 rhinos were counted across the country including CNP.

Rhinos were translocated from CNP to Bardiya and Shuklaphanta in 2016 and 2017 and it is estimated that the rhino population might have increased due to this as well. The number of rhinos killed due to poaching is negligible after the 2015 census. However, the number of rhinos dying due to natural causes has been increasing.


Soldier, poacher killed in rhino hotspot shootout (Botswana)

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Mmegi Online | March 11, 2020

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Botswana Defence Force (BDF) soldier and a poacher have died during a poaching incident that happened early this morning at Chiefs Island in heart of the Okavango Delta, the army has confirmed.

BDF media statement said there was shootout at around 3am at Chiefs Island between a BDF patrol team and poachers that resulted in the loss of two lives.

Original photo as published by Mmegi Online: Soldier, poacher killed.

“The Botswana Defence Force focusing on anti-poaching operations, sadly informs the public about an incident that occurred this morning (Wednesday) at around 0300 hrs at Chiefs Island in the Ngami Area whereby there was an exchange of fire between a BDF patrol team and poachers, which resulted in the death of a BDF member and one poacher,” said the statement.

“This incident clearly indicates that poachers continue to declare war on members of the Botswana Defence Force as they have adopted new tactics and operating methods that escalated poaching activities particularly at Chiefs Islands,” said the BDF.

The army further said, “Despite the positive achievements recorded over the years, poaching activities have certainly not stopped as poachers continue to target rhinos, elephants and other endangered species in our national parks.”

The incident brings to 11, the number of poachers killed while targeting members of the BDF since 2019.

The name of the deceased has been withheld until the next of kin have been informed.


Man shot dead during poaching incident at Limpopo game farm (South Africa)

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Review | March 12, 2020

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LIMPOPO: A suspected poacher has been shot dead during a poaching incident on a game farm in Dorset outside Lephalale on Tuesday, 10 March, says the police.

The man was reportedly shot and killed after he tried to shoot at the security officers on the said farm.

Police Spokesperson, Brig Motlafela Mojapleo reports: “It is alleged gunshots were heard at around 03:00 and when security officers went to investigate they encountered three unknown male suspects, one reportedly armed with a rifle. When the officers attempted to arrest the group the armed suspect apparently tried to shoot them and was then shot and killed in the process. The remaining two suspects disappeared into the nearby bushes.”

Original photo as published by Review Online. Photos: Limpopo Police

On the scene police found two dehorned rhino carcasses and an axe. Three rhino horns had already been cut off. Further investigations led to the discovery of a rifle with three rounds of ammunition.

A case of murder, of rhino poaching and the possession of unlawful firearms and ammunition is being investigated.

The police have also launched a manhunt for the remaining two suspects and requested anyone with information that can lead to their arrest to contact WO JJ van Heerden at 082 414 2337.

Alternatively they can contact the 24-hour Crime stop number at 0860010111 or the nearest police station.

Police investigations still continue.


Aaranyak urges Assam CM to set up modern KNP police station, hospital (India)

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Northeast Today | March 13, 2020

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Northeast India’s premier biodiversity research and natural environment conservation organisation, Aaranyak has made a request before Assam Chief Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal to set up a full-fledged modern police station and a state-of-the art hospital in Kaziranga National Park (KNP) and World Heritage Site in view of the global importance of the wildlife protection area and its fringes.

In a memorandum, signed by the CEO, Dr Bibhab Talukdar and submitted to the Chief Minister, the nature conservation organisation has made a fervent appeal for upgrading the present Kohora Police Outpost in the KNP under Golaghat District Police to a full-fledged Kaziranga National Park Police Station with a befitting building design that reflects the grandeur and essence of Kaziranga National Park and World Heritage Site, the abode of one-horned Indian rhinoceros that attracts wildlife buff, nature lovers and researchers from across the globe.

Original photo as published by Northeast Today.

The memorandum submitted by Aaranyak says, “Kaziranga National Park in Assam is globally known for its successful conservation efforts of greater one horned rhino. The small town in Kaziranga, which Kohora, is having a Police Outpost which falls under the Golaghat District Police. Kohora is being regarded as the gateway to Kaziranga National Park and thousands of tourists both Indian and foreign stay in lodges in and around Kohora area.”

In view of heavy footfall of tourists as well as concern for keeping constant vigil against poachers in the KNP, the CM has been requested to upgrade Kohora Police Out Post to a full-fledged Kaziranga National Park Police Station which should be designed in a befitting manner.

The CM has been requested to set up a helpline counter for tourists in the proposed Kaziranga National Park Police Station in order to further enhance the image of Assam Police and for that matter the image of Assam.

Aaranyak has further urged Assam Government to also upgrade the present Kohora Hospital to a modern hospital with facilities for the best treatment keeping in mind that frontline forest staff in KNP often get injured due to attacks by wild animals. Injured forest personnel hardly get proper treatment at the present health centre in Kohora due to non-availability of adequate facilities that endangers the life of the injured who have to be evacuated in critical condition to hospitals in Golaghat or Jorhat located at a distance.


Poaching trial to resume in May (South Africa)

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Sue Maclennan, Grocott’s Mail | March 13, 2020

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The trial of six men facing rhino-poaching charges continued in the Grahamstown High Court this week. East London residents Francis Chitiyo, Trymore Chauke, Misheck Chauke, Simba Masinge and Nhamo Muyambo, and Abraham Moyane were arrested in July 2018 during Operation Full Moon – the Eastern Cape Rhino Task Team’s code name for its anti-poaching operations.

All six have since been in custody. They are accused on four counts. The first two fall under the riotous assemblies act – statutory conspiracy to commit a restricted activity involving rhinoceros, and conspiracy to steal rhino horn. The second two counts are under the Firearms Control Act.

Original photo as published by Grocott’s Mail: Members of the Lalibela reserve anti-poaching unit poose for a photo outside the High Court in Makhanda (Grahamstown) ahead of the sentencing of the Ndlovu rhino-poaching gang on 3 April 2019. Photo: Sue Maclennan

The men were arrested 10km outside Makhanda, following a search operation. A dismantled hunting rifle, wrapped in black plastic bags, was found stashed in the tailgate of one of two vehicles they were travelling in. Knives, backpacks containing overalls and shoes, 10 cellphones and yellow-handled axes, along with receipts for the axes, were found in the men’s possession.

Over several days, chief witness Captain Mornay Viljoen gave detailed evidence based on the cellphone records in support of the State’s case that seeks to link the men to rhino-poaching incidents in Cradock, Kabega Park in Port Elizabeth and Alicedale. Viljoen is head of the Jeffreys Bay based Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit.

This week, defence for the men questioned Viljoen’s grounds for the arrest, and stated that two of the suspects were on their way to work in the Port Elizabeth area. The defence also averred that Muyambo had been at home in Zimbabwe during the period in question. The State questioned alleged discrepancies between the stamps in his passport and data from Home Affairs.

Through his lawyer Advocate Charles Stamper, Muyambo also maintained that he had bought a phone from a second-hand shop with a sim card inside it.

An axe bought at a shop in East London by the accused just two days after his arrival, his lawyer was instructed, was for his father back in Zimbabwe. It was much cheaper to buy an axe in South Africa.

Viwe Mqeke of Mqeke Attorneys represents the first two accused and Stamper Accused 4-6.

Senior State Prosecutor Buks Coetzee Thursday concluded his cross-examination of Chitiyo about his cellphone records and his whereabouts during the periods in question.

The trial will resume on 11 May and is set down to conclude by 29 May.


Anti-poaching units shine at Etosha (Namibia)

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Ellanie Smit, The Namibian Sun | March 11, 2020

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Significant successes, including the arrest of 63 suspects for wildlife-related crimes, have been recorded by anti-poaching units in the Etosha National Park since February last year.

This was revealed during a visit to Etosha by police inspector-general Sebastian Ndeitunga, environment minister Pohamba Shifeta and defence minister Penda Ya Ndakolo last Friday.

The delegation flew in with a police helicopter to familiarise themselves with the situation on the ground and engage members of the units.

This is according to a statement issued by the police.

The anti-poaching units comprise of officials from the environment ministry, Namibian Defence Force (NDF) and the police.

The current commander of phase 18 of the joint operation, Chief Inspector David Sheehamandje, informed the delegation that during phase 16, which lasted from 16 February 2019 to 13 August 2019, significant successes were recorded.

A total of 18 old and fresh rhino carcasses were discovered in the park, while three individuals were arrested and five rifles were confiscated during the period.

During phase 17, which lasted from 13 August 2019 to 21 February 2020, a total of 16 rhino carcasses were discovered, 55 suspects were arrested, 14 rifles were confiscated and five pairs of rhino horns were recovered.

Since the commencement of phase 18 on 21 February, the operation teams have arrested five suspects and confiscated one rifle.

Both ministers and Ndeitunga applauded the anti-poaching units for their excellent work and successes, as well as their dedication, despite limited resources and other challenges they face.

They also emphasised the importance of protecting wildlife at all times to prevent potential poachers, middlemen and syndicate members from causing further damage to protected wildlife species.


Finance millionaire aims to track ‘extinct’ rhino in war-torn Africa (UK)

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Alex Scapens, Cheshire Live | March 10, 2020

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A millionaire is swapping a luxury lifestyle for war-torn Africa to track down a rhino species on the verge of extinction.

Paul Naden, 50, from Macclesfield, made his money in the financial industry and for the last decade has helped endangered species charity Saving the Survivors. This week he will embark on an ambitious expedition – travelling to South Sudan to try and find the northern white rhino.

The species was declared ‘functionally extinct’ in 2018 but it is hoped the region harbours a previously unknown population. If this is the case it will need finding, monitoring and protecting.

Original photo as published by Cheshire Live: Paul Nadin will travel through the wilds of South Sudan to look for endangered rhinos.

Paul explained: “In 2018 the last male northern was declared functionally extinct. The world was left with only two old females, unable to reproduce but there is possibly a second chance to save this species. “Rumours and whisperings from South Sudan of sightings of the animal in the wild and reports of rhino tracks have re-ignited the hope for the future of the northern white rhino.

“There has been no survey or study of South Sudan’s wildlife in over a decade and no comprehensive search has ever taken place until now.

“This is one final and comprehensive search for any remaining northern white rhino in the wild. I am incredibly excited to be involved and if we succeed, it gives us fresh hope of saving it.”

Paul, who joined Macclesfield-based HFS Loans in 1989 and was managing director 10 years later, is part-funding the expedition. He will be followed by BBC camera crews who are making a one-hour documentary entitled The Last Unicorn. His team will also include a vet and security expert as the region has seen conflict and civil war for the past 20 years.

Doug Hope, a BBC executive producer, said: “It is a long shot, there is no denying that, but there are rumours of them out there, and in a place that is so remote, so unexplored.

“Yet, from what our sources are telling us, it remains prime rhino habitat, so surely there is still a chance.

“Until this search is carried out we can’t close the book on the northern white rhino.”

Previously Paul has been on a trek across the Serengeti to raise money for an anti-poaching campaign.


K9 unit thwarts suspected oryx poachers (Namibia)

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Arlana Shikongo, The Namibian | March 10, 2020

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Police reservists at Karibib intercepted a group of poachers, who had killed two oryx at Farm Albrechtshohe, but were only able to apprehend one of the four suspects.

The incident was reported in both the weekly wildlife crime statistics report – which is jointly prepared by the ministry of environment’s intelligence and investigation unit and the Namibian Police’s protected resources division – and the weekend serious incident report issued by the police.

In the incident report, the police head of public relations, deputy commissioner Kauna Shikwambi, said the four suspects entered the farm with dogs and spears at 03h00 and killed two oryx.

Original photo as published by The Namibian: The two dogs that were shot by members of the Otjiwarongo Neighbourhood watch organisation dispayed as well as the Oryx carcass, a spear and knives suspected to have been used in the illegal hunting activity on Farm Bernadette in the Otjozondjupa Region on Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by: Mulisa Simiyasa) NAMPA

She said the suspects were intercepted by police reservists and the K9 anti-poaching security members from Karibib while they were busy loading the carcasses onto a motor vehicle.

“Three of the suspects managed to escape but one of them, the owner of the vehicle, drove off from the scene but was later arrested and his vehicle was impounded,” she said.

Shikwambi stated the two oryx carcasses that were recovered are valued at N$20,000.

The wildlife crime statistics report indicated that in this past week, the police arrested and charged six suspects and registered four new cases.

Two Namibian suspects were arrested on Friday in Windhoek on elephant poaching/trafficking charges when they were found in possession of two pieces of elephant tusk.

Furthermore, two suspects were arrested on rhino poaching/trafficking charges, including cases of conspiracy to poach rhinos.

A Namibian was arrested at Okahao in the Omusati region last Wednesday for conspiracy to hunt protected game, specifically the rhino.

In a separate incident, an Angolan national was arrested at Omungwelume in the Ohangwena region for possessing rhino horns.

The charges laid against him also indicate that he might have entered the country illegally, as he did not possess a passport with an entry stamp into the country. Furthermore, he did not have documentation from an immigration official permitting his entry into Namibia.

In this arrest, the police seized a vehicle from the suspect.

The police also seized four live tortoises from a suspect at Omahenene in the Omusati region on Saturday.