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Prince Harry loses Mail on Sunday complaint over sedated wildlife photos

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Caroline Davies, The Guardian | January 30, 2020

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The Duke of Sussex has lost a complaint against the Mail on Sunday over a claim by the newspaper that dramatic wildlife pictures he took in Africa did not highlight the fact the animals were sedated and tethered.

Prince Harry complained to press standards regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) that the newspaper had breached a clause of the editors’ code of practice relating to accuracy over its article about photographs he took of a rhino, elephant and a lion.

The photos were posted to the Sussexes’ Instagram account to highlight Earth Day.

Original photo as published by The Guardian: One of Prince Harry’s photos shown on his Instagram account to highlight Earth Day. Photograph: The Duke of Sussex

The newspaper article, published in April last year, was headlined: “Drugged and tethered … what Harry didn’t tell you about those awe-inspiring wildlife pictures.” It said: “Anyone glancing at them quickly could be left with the impression that capturing images of these mighty creatures at such close quarters would have required a thrilling – possibly life-endangering – pursuit across the bush.”

According to the article, Harry failed to mention in his post the fact that all three of the animals had been tranquilized, and the elephant had also been tethered, as they were being relocated. A rope around the hind legs of the elephant was not visible because of the way the picture was cropped, the article said.

Harry complained to Ipso, saying the article implied he had intentionally misled the public “to give the impression that he was a superior wildlife photographer who had captured the images in dangerous circumstances”, according to the ruling.

Harry denied misleading the public over the photographs.

“He said that the images had been uploaded to his Instagram account in support of Earth Day to raise awareness, rather than as evidence of the complainant’s talents as a photographer,” the ruling states. The caption made clear the animals were being relocated, so it was not necessary to explicitly state the animals had been sedated or tethered, the duke had argued.

The rope around the elephant’s hind legs was not visible due to “Instagram’s format” rather than being deliberately edited out, he said. He argued that a full uncropped version of the picture had already been published on the royal family’s website in 2016. A description and video of the tranquillising and tethering process was also on the website of the conservation organisation he was working with in Malawi, and his Instagram post had linked back to the website, he said.

The Ipso ruling said it was not clear from the images the animals had been tranquilized and tethered, and the photograph of the elephant could have been edited differently. Nor did Harry’s Instagram post make it clear the images had been previously published, unedited, in 2016.

The Ipso committee did not consider that it was “significantly misleading” to report Harry’s post “did not quite tell the full story”. The Mail on Sunday had included in its article a denial on behalf of the duke that the tether on the elephant had been deliberately edited out, it said.

The prince’s complaint was not upheld.

 

Botswana dehorns its wild rhinos to save them from poachers’ slaughter

By Antipoaching, Relocation No Comments
Jane Flanagan, The Times | January 31, 2020

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Once Africa’s safest haven for wildlife, is to dehorn its entire population of wild rhinoceroses in a desperate bid to spare them from slaughter by poachers.

The radical plan has been settled on by wildlife officials who fear that the species will soon be locally extinct for the third time in the country’s history if poaching trends continue. The contentious scheme was made public, apparently in error, in a radio interview by Philda Kereng, the environment minister.

Giving advance notice about dehorning can panic poachers to try to reach the rhinos first, so rangers and vets are now scrambling to track, sedate and dehorn the most vulnerable animals in killing hotspots.

Original photo as published by The Times: At least 30 of Botswana’s dwindling rhino numbers have been slaughtered in the past year — after being relocated to the country to keep them safe from slaughter in South Africa. BARCROFT MEDIA

Map Ives, Botswana’s leading rhino expert, is helping to implement the government’s emergency plan. “I agree with the strategy, but not wholeheartedly,” he told The Times. “The onslaught is severe and we are up against very organised, dangerous professional operatives with all the resources and weapons they need.”

His organisation, Rhino Conservation Botswana, has Prince Harry as its patron, and he himself played a part in re-introducing rhino to the southern African state two decades ago.

Between 2007 and 2017 only six rhinos were killed for their horns but in the past year the government has confirmed that about 30 black and white rhinos have been lost from a population of approximately 300 — and some conservationists claim that the actual death toll is far higher. The country’s critically endangered black rhino population is now thought to be unsustainable.

“For those emotionally involved in this project, the last year has been horrific,” Mr Ives said.

Rhino horns sell for £55,000 a kilogram on the black market in Asia, where they are used as status symbols and in medicinal remedies.

Removing them to save the animals is an expensive and complex undertaking, and is not a permanent solution. The operation is done by chainsaw, leaving a small stump that grows back to a sizeable horn within three or four years, putting the rhinos at risk once more. There are also fears that to make up for lost income poaching gangs might return to targeting elephants.

Those who back the strategy say it will buy the authorities time to improve their intelligence on the poaching syndicates, which have decimated rhino numbers in neighbouring countries. South Africa has lost more than 7,000 rhinos in the past decade.

Ironically, most of those killed in Botswana had been sent there from the Kruger Park for “safekeeping” in the Okavango Delta, a Unesco world heritage site now in danger of losing its reputation as Africa’s “last Eden”.

At the same time as they are dehorned rhinos will be fitted with tracking devices. The project is expected to cost £1,000 per animal.

Being without a horn is no guarantee of safety: poachers often kill the rhino anyway so that they do not have to track it again. Most slaughter has taken place in the Okavango Delta in the northwest of the country. The delta is the hub of Botswana’s luxury tourism industry and rhinos were reintroduced to it in recent years after being poached out of the area.

A stay at the exclusive Mombo Camp on Chief’s Island, where several rhino carcasses have been found, their faces gouged out for their horns, can cost up to £3,000 a night.

Erik Verreynne, a leading wildlife vet, said that Botswana’s rhinos were treated “according to the needs of the tourism industry and not the needs of rhino conservation”. Rather than being left in remote areas close to international borders, like the delta, the rhinos should be relocated to safe, semi-wild sanctuaries “where we can concentrate our defences optimally”.

He added: “They deserve to be protected, and keeping them in high-risk areas for the sake of tourism is against all sound principles. Viewing semi-wild rhino in Botswana is better than viewing no rhino at all.”

 

Prince Harry to pump R118m into Zimbabwe rhino conservation

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Lenin Ndebele, Business Live | November 5, 2019

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British royal Prince Harry wants to invest $8m (about R118m) in the next five years as part of a joint venture between his African Parks NGO and Zimbabwe government’s national parks (ZimParks) to revive the country’s flagship rhino haven.

The 1,407km2 Matusadona National Park — also known as Kariba National Park — is in the northwest of Zimbabwe on the southern shores of Lake Kariba. It used to house about 35% of Zimbabwe’s black rhino population.

However, years of abandon and syndicate-led poaching destroyed the park, which was created in 1958 when conservationist Rupert Fothergill orchestrated “Operation Noah” and moved animals away from the newly constructed Kariba Dam.

Today, animals struggle to get by. There is diminished interest from tourists, with park chalets and other infrastructure for human habitations destroyed.

It appears the interest of Prince Harry, who was officially named African Parks’ president in December 2017, comes just in time. “We are extremely delighted,” said ZimParks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo.

The joint venture between African Parks and ZimParks gives the new investor a shareholding of 49% with the Zimbabwe government, through ZimParks, retaining 51%. Profits will be shared on a quarterly basis.

“It’s a business-structured deal that should see us working together for the next 20 years. Day-to-day running of the park will be an inclusive affair on a rotational basis,” said Farawo.

Considering the damage to infrastructure at the park, the next five years will be mostly dedicated to reconstruction using money brought in by the investor. “They have their own way of sourcing funds and in our contract within the next five years they should have ploughed in $8m,” he said.

Farawo said that the highlight of the agreement is the re-introduction the black rhinoceros, which has been completely wiped out from the park by poaching. The few rhinos that survived at the height of the onslaught were shipped to other secure areas.

Writing in the UK’s Daily Telegraph a few weeks ago, after his visit to Africa, Prince Harry said, “Matusadona is a very special place for Zimbabwe and has a lot of potential for tourism and socio-economic development.”

The deal was signed by African Parks CEO Peter Fearnhead and ZimParks director-general Fulton Mangwanya on Friday, November 1. At the signing, Fearnhead emphasised that his organisation works in 10 African countries and manages more than 10-million animals in 16 parks — and that working in Zimbabwe would be routine.

ZimParks officials said Prince Harry’s profile and wide international goodwill is a major boost for the park at a time when Zimbabwe’s international reputation is in tatters.

Said a senior ZimParks employee, “At a government and diplomatic level things are bad. Our leaders are bickering over sanctions and other things; but at our level, we have a British royal family member working with us. That’s a seal of approval and, as such, tourists have no reason to worry about what politicians say.”

Prince Harry’s conservation charity African Parks takes on neglected Zimbabwean national park

By Antipoaching, Conservation, Land conservation, Translocation No Comments
Victoria Ward & Peta Thornycroft, The Telegraph | November 3, 2019

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The Duke of Sussex’s African Parks has taken over the management of one of Zimbabwe’s most neglected national parks that has fallen victim to rampant poaching. It aims to reform the 1,000 square mile Matusadonha National Park’s elephant and black rhino populations and transform it into a leading safari destination.

The Duke spent almost three weeks working with African Parks in Malawi in 2016 as the organisation embarked on one of the biggest elephant translocation projects in conservation history. He returned to the Liwonde National Park Headquarters in September for an update on its progress.

Writing in this newspaper during his recent tour of southern Africa, he revealed that the experience three years earlier had taken his understanding and respect for conservation to a “whole new level”.

Original photo as published by The Telegraph: Prince Harry at the Chobe National Park, Botswana, in September. (CREDIT: DOMINIK LIPINSKI/POOL VIA AP)

In 2017, he became president of African Parks, a sign of his personal commitment to the region. Peter Fearnhead, its chief executive, was a guest at his wedding to Meghan Markle.

Matusadonha National Park, in northern Zimbabwe, is flanked by the giant Lake Kariba and has two rivers running through it.

Frances Read, from African Parks, said it was one of the country’s flagship and most valuable areas, with the potential to become a leading safari destination.

But it is fraught with challenges and in desperate need of funding and proper management, which it will undertake in partnership with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. Poachers have all but wiped out its black rhino population whilst elephant numbers have been severely depleted.

Ms Read said the first job will be to secure its borders to allow wildlife populations to recover and rebound naturally before implementing effective management structures and law enforcement strategies.

“We will then be working with the local community so they start to see that this is for them and that this is an asset,” she said. “Matusadonha is a very special place for Zimbabwe and has a lot of potential for tourism and socio-economic development.”

The 20-year contract awarded to African Parks – its first foray into the country – is considered all the more remarkable by conservationists who had thought it highly unlikely that the government of Zimbabwe would ever allow a foreign organisation to take control of its wildlife resources.

Blondie Leatham, one of Zimbabwe’s best known conservationists and safari operators, said: “This is one of the most exciting things that has happened for wildlife in Zimbabwe for a very long time.”

The Duke recently described the continent as his “second home” and has made no secret of the special place it holds in is heart, having first travelled there in the immediate aftermath of the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997.

During his recent tour of southern Africa with the Duchess of Sussex and their son, Archie, he revealed their “life work will be predominantly focused on Africa, on conservation.”

Whilst in Malawi in 2016, the Duke expressed great concern for conservation parks, saying: “I do worry. I think everyone should worry. We need to look after them, because otherwise our children will not have a chance to see what we have seen. This is God’s test: If we can’t save some animals in a wilderness area, what else can’t we do?”

African Parks is a non-profit NGO working with governments and local communities. Its latest agreement with Zimbabwe, signed on Friday, takes the number of parks it manages to 16 in 10 countries covering almost 11 million hectares.

Revealed: ‘Ivory trafficker’ is arrested over slaughter of endangered black rhinos at the Malawi wildlife sanctuary Prince Harry will visit on Monday – after police uncovered haul of horns, hippo teeth and crocodile skins

By Antipoaching, Conservation, Illegal trade, Malawi, namibia No Comments
James Fielding, The Daily Mail Online | September 30, 2019

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A man accused of ivory trafficking faces jail over slaughter rhinos at a Malawian wildlife sanctuary where Prince Harry will visit on Monday.

Yunhua Lin was arrested after a dramatic police swoop seized a haul of rhino horns, hippo teeth and crocodile skins.

The horns come from the endangered black rhinos butchered at the Liwonde National Park where the Duke of Sussex worked on one of the world’s biggest conservation projects.

Harry spent three weeks at the 212-square mile park, in the south of the country, as part of a project to re-introduce 500 elephants in 2016.

He is due to visit Liwonde again on Monday as part of a 10-day Royal tour of Africa, his first overseas engagement with Meghan and their five-month-old son Archie.

Michelle Harper, of the African Conservation Foundation told MailOnline: ‘Harry will be horrified to learn that rhinos from the park where he spent three happy weeks have been slaughtered for their horns.

Original photo by Robin Moore

‘The Duke worked closely with authorities in the park three years ago when he helped move 500 elephants and so has a great affinity with all of the park’s animals.

‘However he’ll be pleased that authorities in Malawi appear to be winning the fight not just against the poachers but also the traffickers responsible for ultimately driving the demand for ivory and the killing on the ground.’

Crime boss Lin, 46, described by the Malawi Government as a ‘notorious ivory kingpin’, was targeted in coordinated police raids across six properties in May. He initially escaped and went on the run for three months before eventually being tracked down in Liwonde and arrested in August.

Lin, known as Lee ‘Fingers’ because he is missing three digits on his left hand, is currently in jail on remand and is expected to appear in court on October 8. He is charged with illegal possession of listed species and dealing in Government trophies contrary to the National Parks and Wildlife Act.

His gang also face charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Among those arrested during the police raids in May were Lin’s wife Qin Hua Zhang, 42, and son-in-law Li Hao Yaun, 28.

At the time both were on bail for separate trafficking offences that they were finally convicted of this week.

Zhang and Yaun were arrested with two Malawians in December 2017 at a farm in the Malawian capital of Lilongwe.

They were found with ten pieces of ivory – weighing 21 kilograms – alongside illicit drugs, and crocodile skins.

The gang were convicted of illegal possession of, and dealing in, a listed species at the magistrates court in Lilongwe on Tuesday. They could be jailed for 30 years.

Mary Rice, Executive Director from the Environment Investigations Agency said, ‘I am delighted to see the Government of Malawi making such progress in its fight against organised wildlife crime.

‘Malawi was recently identified as Southern Africa’s principle transit and distribution hub for wildlife traffickers, and subsequent successes such as this are attracting positive interest and praise from the international community.

‘We shall be watching the progress of these cases with great interest.’

Young rhino conservationist honored by royals (South Africa)

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Capetown Etc. | September 30, 2019

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Twelve-year-old rhino conservationist Hunter Mitchell has been awarded the prestigious Commonwealth Point of Light Award for outstanding individual volunteers from Her Majesty the Queen.

Mitchell received the award from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and wife Meghan, at a reception held at the British High Commission in Cape Town this week. The young conservationist won the award for his contributions to saving rhinos, which he has been doing since he was eight years old.

Original photo as published by: Cape Town Etc.

“Cape Town has so much to celebrate, but I think what the two of us have been really, really impressed by, are those young people, and the young people that are here this evening,” said Prince Harry at the reception.

After receiving the award, Mitchell presented the Duke and Duchess with a gift: a rhino plushy for Archie.

Despite his age, Mitchell has done much work in the field of rhino conservation. In 2015, he began raising funds for an abandoned baby rhino at Aquila Private Game Reserve, and managed to collect R75 000. He has since been named an ambassador for the reserve.

The reserve took to social media to congratulate the young conservationist.

Prince Harry and Meghan to visit world’s largest rhino sanctuary in SA

By Conservation, Rescue and rehab No Comments
Clinton Moodley, MSN Entertainment | September 21, 2019

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The royals will travel to South Africa next week, and if their schedule permits, they will visit Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary.

Prince Harry, who is an ambassador for the organisation, is passionate about saving the rhino.

Known as the largest rhino orphanage and sanctuary in the world, Care for Wild forms part of the 28,000 hectare Barberton Nature Reserve, the newest Unesco World Heritage Site in South Africa.

The organisation, founded by Petronel Nieuwoudt in 2001 in the Limpopo province, aims to provide care and rehabilitation to white and black rhinos. The centre was moved to Barberton in Mpumalanga in 2011 where she and Mark Cherry established the Care For Wild programme.

Dean Cherry of Nhongo Safaris, a company that hosts rhino experiences at the sanctuary, said Harry is set to visit the sanctuary with Meghan and their baby Archie during their visit.

“Prince Harry and his family will be visiting the sanctuary. He is very passionate about the cause, and we cannot wait to share the gripping rhino stories with the royal family,” he said.

Cherry did not reveal the exact date the royal family will visit and there was no mention of the visit on their official schedule released earlier this month.

Harry last visit to the sanctuary was in 2017.

Travellers have the opportunity to learn more about the sanctuary through a day experience hosted by Nhongo Safaris.

But, do not expect to touch these rhinos. Cherry said that there is no petting or physical interaction with the animal.

“The organisation believes in the rescue, rehabilitate and release premise. Many of these rhinos have been through significant trauma. Some youngsters, seen as threats by poachers, are beaten by pangas and other harmful objects that leave them injured.

“Due to the trauma, we try to ensure little human interaction. We feed them through the boma wall. We want these rhinos to heal from their trauma and to start a new life after their release without any fear.

“The rhinos are monitored, and the anti-poaching unit does regular patrols on horseback and specialised vehicles. Some rhinos decide to stay together in small groups while others form a herd,” he said.

Cherry said the experience was purely educational. Nhongo Safaris has built an 8 sleeper lodge where guests spend the night. Included in the itinerary is rhino safaris, where a guide will explain the different types of rhino and their current plight, and an early morning patrol with the anti-poaching unit.