rhino death Archives - Rhino Review

The death of ‘Serondela’ marks conservation catastrophe (Botswana)

By Antipoaching, Conservation, Gaming, Illegal trade No Comments
Dave Baaitse, The Weekend Post | March 9, 2020

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The recent rise in mass slaughter of rhinos and constant brutal killing of rhinos for their horns at Chief’s Island in the Okavango Delta led to the death of one of Botswana’s iconic and cherished white rhino affectionately named Serondela.

Over the years, Serondela has become a symbol of Botswana’s success in rhino conservation and brought joy to those that knew his story. According to impeccable sources, Serondela’s story has lived on and inspired many people.

In later days when the numbers of rhino poaching had stabilised, he was relocated back to the delta until he met his demise recently, marking an end to a great conservation story. In an interview with one of the local newspapers, former Commander of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Major General Gaolatlhe Galebotswe was quoted saying anti-poaching operations are intelligence led. “With a committed intelligence outfit we will be able to find the culprits in a short time,” he said.

Original photo as published by Weekend Post: Named Serondela, the white iconic rhino bull was one of the four surviving white rhinos in Botswana at a time when white rhinos were poached to near extinction.

Galebotswe said the problem stems not from a lack of weapons for the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, but from an intelligence service that serves individual interests. The latest incidents show an escalation of the poaching rate, with approximately two rhinos killed every week.

Impeccable sources submit that the recent increase might be instigated by the fact that poaching syndicates are agile, and will shift to different areas as security and intelligence operations ramp up in the regions that have already seen intense poaching.

It is also reported that gangs will use new tactics continuously to avoid getting caught, always looking for the next location and trying to find ‘softer targets’. Last week Botswana Defence Force (BDF) refuted reports that the recent scenario is an inside job by its members particularly the Special Forces Unit popularly known as Commandos.

Reports suggest that the BDF Special Forces Unit is currently working under ‘protest’ a move that is highly linked to the fact that they were not beneficiaries of the 2019 BDF salary adjustments dubbed ‘Ntlole’.

This move is highly linked to the recent unprecedented rate of rhino poaching in the history of the country. Colonel Tebo Dikole, Director, Protocol and Public Affairs declined to discuss BDF operational matters such as, “the members of the special Forces and Infantry Units currently deployed in the anti-poaching operations at Chief’s Island”. “BDF in the execution of its mission of defending Botswana’s Territorial Integrity, Sovereignty and National Interests is not driven by profit or remuneration. All BDF members, including Special Forces’ performance hinges on one of our core value of ‘Duty’ which succinctly states that, ‘Duty is accomplishing all assigned tasks to the fullest of our ability,’ Col Dikole said.

Save the Rhino Africa indicated that Botswana has historically held a tough stance on poaching, often reported as an ‘unwritten shoot to kill policy’. However, strong words have not always been backed up by effective law enforcement.

In May 2018, the Government of Botswana disarmed its anti-poaching units, a story fuelled by internal politics. And there are wider issues around prosecutions further up the chain. According to the Save the Rhino report, in July 2018, Dumisani Moyo, a high-level wildlife trafficker, was released on bail despite repeated arrests for rhino poaching and being on Interpol’s Red List of most-wanted wildlife criminals.

This was not the first time Moyo had escaped prosecution: since 2008, he has apparently bribed his way out of a number of court cases, according to the report. Botswana is home to 500 rhinos, according to international conservation charity, Save the Rhino.

They are a protected species in Botswana and fall outside the government’s recent decision to end a five-year ban on trophy-hunting licences, which is largely targeted at the burgeoning elephant population.

Two rhinos die in a week in Chitwan National Park (Nepal)

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Khabarhub | January 13, 2020

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CHITWAN: At least two rare one-horned rhinoceros have died within a week in Chitwan National Park (CPN), raising concerns about the sharp increase in deaths of rhinos.

A female rhino of estimated 20 years old was found dead in a swamp on January 11. The death was believed to be a natural one, and the rhino was pulled out by an excavator, according to the officials at CNP.

The park had recorded the first rhino death of this year on January 5, when a baby rhino of an estimated five to six years old was found dead in a mustard field in Nawalparasi district. The baby rhino was believed to have died due to an electric shock but a further investigation is required.

Original photo as published by Khabarhub. (Representative image)

According to the officials, many rhinos die following a battle with other animals regarding territories, while some die due to diseases and infections.

The authorized record puts deaths into two categories – natural or unknown, and poaching. All deaths including territorial clash, diseases and infections, drowning, injuries, old age, and other non-poaching reasons are defined as natural.

The increased number of rhino deaths due to natural reasons in the last few years has raised concerns among the authorities and conservation partners.

The one-horned rhino is the largest rhino of the species.

Nepal homes 645 endangered rhinos in its different national parks as per the census of 2015, which includes 605 in Chitwan, 29 in Bardia National Park, eight in Shuklaphanta National Park, and three in Parsa National Park.

Nepal will be conducting another rhino census later this year.


Nepal’s Chitwan National Park records 2020’s 1st rhino death

By Conservation, News No Comments
Outlook India | January 6, 2020

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KATHMANDU: A young and rare one-horned rhinoceros has died in the buffer zone of Chitwan National Park (CNP) in Nepal, authorities have confirmed.

The baby rhino estimated to be five-years-old died in a mustard field in Nawalparasi district on Sunday morning in the territory of CNP, the country”s largest rhino habitat located some 160 km from the capital Kathmandu, reports Xinhua news agency.

“We are yet to identify the real cause of its death,” Gopal Ghimire, spokesperson for CNP, told Xinhua, adding the verification of the cause of the death would take some time.

This was the first recorded rhino death in 2020.

Nepal is home to 645 endangered rhinos as per the 2015 census. However, rhino deaths due to natural causes were on the rise.

According to officials, many rhinos succumb to injuries following a battle with other animals regarding territories, while some die due to diseases and infections.

A total of 46 one-horned rhinos died in the fiscal year 2018–19 in and around the CNP, recording the worst year for the endangered species in the country.

According to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, out of the 645 rhinos in Nepal, over 600 are in CNP.

The Himalayan country will conduct a new rhino census this year.


Second rhino death due to infighting in Dudhwa this year (State of Uttar Pradesh, India)

By Conservation No Comments
Kanwardeep Singh, The Times of India | December 31, 2019

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SHAHJAHANPUR: The carcass of a 6-year-old male Indian single-horned rhinoceros was recovered from South Sonaripur range of Dudhwa National Park on Tuesday morning.

According to forest officials, there were multiple injuries on its body, probably caused by another male rhinoceros. This is the second rhino death in Dudhwa.

A panel of five veterinarians, including Dr Utkarsh Shukla from Lucknow Zoo, conducted the autopsy and confirmed that the rhino died due to infighting.

They ruled out poaching as its horn was intact.

Forest department officials who inspected the carcass said they saw foot marks of an adult rhino nearby. In February, a 15-year-old rhino was killed by a relatively younger bull in the national park due to infighting. The Indian single-horned rhino is listed as ‘vulnerable’ in the IUCN Red List. Today, its population has dwindled to about 2,700 across India and Nepal.

Indian rhino is also included in schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

With the death of the rhino, Dudhwa now has 38 left in two enclosures – 34 in Kakraha compartment of Sonaripur range and four in Belraya range of DTR. Of these, 29 are cows and just five bulls are left. Besides, there are four calves in Sonaripur.

Field director Sanjay Pathak told TOI, “We used to call the deceased rhino the fourth son of Narayani and it was possibly killed by an adult rhino. We are yet to identify the pachyderm that killed it. It may be injured and in need of treatment.”

Rhinos were translocated from Assam to Dudhwa in 1984 and kept in a 27-sq km enclosure in Kakraha in Sonaripur range. In 2018, Dudhwa successfully launched it second rhino rehabilitation programme by shifting three females and one male rhino from Sonaripur to a 20-km enclosure in DTR’s Belraya range.

Most of the rhinos in Dudhwa are offsprings of Bankey, its oldest rhino who died at the age of 50 of natural causes in December 2016. A year later, three-year-old Sehdev was killed by three tigers. Earlier this year, 15-year-old Bhimsen died during infighting.