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Johannesburg – Lifting the existing ban on trade in rhino horn is a hot topic in South Africa and the rest of the world. 

- Hanti Schrader

Many say it is an exercise in futility because even if the ban were to be lifted, it would take at least 10 years to finalize administrative arrangements, and by then it could be too late to save the rhino.

Lobbyists for or against trade made presentations before the Rhino Horn Trade Committee of Inquiry (RHTC) on March 25 and 26. The current regulations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) forbids trade, Lowvelder reported.

Anti-trade activist and conservationist Ian Michler told Lowvelder: “A change in the regulations must be motivated by showing that poaching will be significantly reduced, and the long-term survival chances of rhino will be increased. This should be done in the same way that a judge cannot convict on circumstantial evidence.”

In his presentation to RHTC, the biggest farmer of rhino in the world, John Hume, also a member of the Private Rhino Owners Association (PROA) and pro-trading, said it had been in the first place wrong to stop the legal supply of horn and that it was a hysterical step taken by CITES in 1977 and 2008.

“The demand is not going to go away, but what we have done was to give poachers a foot in the door in the first place.”

Hume added that most of the communities close to the Kruger National Park (KNP), the Limpopo or Mozambican Transfrontier Park have always successfully farmed with cattle, and so it would be easy to convince them to farm with rhino, as the money they could make would make a big difference to their financial status.

Other pro-traders suggested treating poachers and poaching as a level 5 crime with a minimum sentence of 15 years and to label legal rhino horn as such so that users could differentiate between poached and legally harvested horns. Anti-traders suggested that legalising trade in horns could increase the market for the product.

Last year, more than 1 200 rhino were poached in South Africa alone. In Africa an estimated 28 500 rhino are still standing, of which 21 000 are from South Africa.

Caxton News Service

How corruption is undermining every aspect of conservation

Bob Smith, University of Kent

African elephants are in serious danger. The magnificent creatures are found in 37 countries – and most of these populations are threatened by poaching. The problem is that protecting elephants isn’t cheap and conservationists struggle to fund their work.

In Africa, budgets are tight and governments have bigger priorities such as funding health and education. At an international level public sympathy for elephants rarely translates into cash, so donor funding is normally short-term and unpredictable.

This is why many African governments stockpiled ivory that was confiscated from poachers or came from elephants that died of natural causes before selling their ivory legally and using the money to pay for conservation work. This last happened in 2008 but several African countries are stockpiling more of their ivory for the future. Many countries outside Africa – prominent among them China – have markets for antique and legally stockpiled ivory.

So the sale of ivory can provide a reliable source of funding for elephant conservation. But outside Africa this trade is often passionately opposed. This partly comes from lack of awareness – many people think all ivory comes from poaching, whereas some comes from elephant deaths and herd conservation and management. Many people are also uneasy about the idea of making money from wildlife and are particularly uncomfortable when it involves animals as majestic as elephants.

This is one reason why in the last year several countries have destroyed their ivory stockpiles in the hope it will discourage trade and reduce poaching. In contrast, countries such as Botswana and South Africa, which have large and growing elephant populations, continue to store theirs.

Corruption in conservation

A more specific issue has come to light, however. We now have good evidence that the trade is being undermined by corruption. Poached ivory is being laundered as legal ivory and park staff, customs officials and politicians have been implicated. Some conservationists argue this corruption can’t be tackled and have called for a complete trade ban.

The fact that people are exposing these examples of corruption is a great step forward. This is because conservationists are generally wary of publicising the problem. However, together with colleagues, I recently argued that we should not single out the ivory trade. Corruption could be undermining every aspect of elephant conservation and we have no evidence that this trade is more affected.

Successful elephant conservation is based on funding park management, enforcing laws and sharing benefits with local people. All of these can be undermined by bribery, cronyism and embezzlement.

This is illustrated by a 2010 study that looked at how well African national parks protected their wildlife. It showed that all animals are in decline in the more corrupt countries, including lower-profile species such as antelopes and zebras. This suggests elephant numbers would be dropping anyway in these countries, independent of international wildlife trade policy.

Fortunately, evidence from business and anti-poverty projects does show that corruption can be tackled. An important first step is breaking up the problem into specific issues, such as embezzlement of national park budgets or bribery of police to turn a blind eye to poaching. This makes the task less daunting, changing the idea that corruption is a huge, unsolvable problem. Many of these problems can then be reduced by adopting good business practice. These include commonsense actions such as checking project bank accounts and sacking rule-breakers.

Another approach is to focus on where conservation groups have the most influence. Police and customs officials put most of their efforts into stopping crimes against people, not animals. So it makes sense for conservationists to try and stop elephants being poached in the first place.

Increasing success on the ground ensures healthy elephant populations and local people’s support for their conservation. It also tackles the problem of ivory laundering at source.

Tackling the problem

All of this suggests we can tackle corruption in elephant conservation but need to change how conservationists deal with the problem. A good start would be following the example of anti-poverty groups, such as CAFOD, Tearfund and Christian Aid. They recognised that corporate bribery was stopping them achieving their goals and took action. This is why they played an active role in publicising the problem and supporting new anti-corruption initiatives, such as the recent UK Bribery Act.

Just as importantly, the international community needs to consider corruption when developing elephant conservation strategies. At the moment, it takes a crisis before new policies and projects are developed. These initiatives then focus on countries with the biggest poaching problems and assume more money and stricter laws will help.

But such policies actually play into the hands of corrupt officials. It is much easier to steal money in a crisis and stricter laws just create more opportunities for bribery. Burning ivory reduces the supply and could increase prices on the black market. So unless corruption is tackled, investing in elephant poaching hot-spots will be a short-term solution at best.

Instead, we need projects to understand and tackle corruption. We should learn from countries with successful elephant conservation policies and give them a greater voice in international debates. Finally, we should discuss corruption more openly and use our head as well as our heart when trying to save Africa’s elephants.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Critically Endangered Black Rhino are very special creatures, and the Namibian Black Rhino (which include desert-adapted black rhino) are in a league all of their own.

 

Adapted to a more specialized kind of diet than that of a white rhino, black rhino have a prehensile (pointed) upper lip which enables then to strip juicy bark off young trees, and get a firm grip on soft shrubbery or tufts of grass that they like. They are smaller than White Rhino, and have a slightly different arc and dip to their back.

Black Rhino are more solitary creatures, but the older males can be extremely aggressive in defending their territory, sometimes killing other rhino in territorial disputes; which in turn ensures the survival of strongest and the best gene-pool to be carried over to the young.

It is this trait of aggression that had been exploited by the Dallas Safari Club in their January 2014 auction of the trophy hunting permit for a black rhino in Namibia. The rhino on auction had been nicknamed ‘Ronnie’ by Animal Advocates worldwide, despite the fact that no single rhino had been identified to be killed. The issuing of PAC (Problem Animal Control) Permits in Namibia has been surrounded by controversy, when it surfaced that certain Hunting Outfitters were pre-selling these permits months in advance. A problem animal is supposed to be put down within 48 hours of completion of the investigation into such complaints (by the Namibian MET – Ministry of Environment and Tourism). With more than a year having passed since the auction, it is therefore just not possible for ‘Ronnie the Rhino’ to be placed in the category of a rogue bull as the Dallas Safari Club and the auction winner Corey Knowlton have been claiming all along.

The hold-up in the meantime, had been the non-ruling of the USF&WS (United States Fish and Wildlife Service) and their trophy import permit application that had been submitted by Knowlton. In short Knowlton and the Dallas Safari Club held the Namibian Government to ransom for the winning bid of $350k; forcing their support in manipulating the USF&WS to issue the import permit. In other words, if Knowlton could not take home his trophy rhino, he would not pay the bid amount.

This is a clear indication that this fiasco is not about conservation, but all about ego. If it was not, this hunt would have been completed last year already, since Knowlton was so desperate to ‘intimately experience a black rhino’.

As part of the import permit review process, there was a period of time allowed for the input of public comment for consideration. The USF&WS was not prepared for the avalanche of around 135 000 petition signatures and 15 000 emails all opposing the issuing of the permit. But, it was all window dressing.

In a shocking turn of events, Knowlton’s import permit was approved by the USF&WS on Thursday. In a statement by the USF&WS they mentioned that they have based their decision on scientific information only. They mention the pro-trophy hunting WWF and CBNRM programs as being in support of the permit allocation. This begs the question as to why they requested public input in the first place - if they completely ignored it.

In the meantime, an investigation into the poaching of rhino in Namibia had been completed by a well-known investigative journalist, and this partially exposed shocking numbers of rhino lost in Namibia (up to a quarter of the total Namibian Black Rhino Population poached in 2013 & 2014), as well as the involvement of various hunting outfitters in highly questionable practices with regards to trophy hunting in Namibia. Unfortunately, this information came to light way too late to be included in the USFWS public comment period.

In addition to the timing, the decision by the USFWS to support big money instead of true conservation was completely unexpected.

The second import permit was issued to Michael Luzich, and individual who should never even be allowed back in Namibia, after being responsible for the ‘accidental’ killing of a pregnant black rhino cow in Mangetti. He was a client of Thormӓhlen & Cochren, and the Professional Hunter involved, is Jan du Plessis of Sebra Hunt Safaris, also recently in the news for allegedly pre-selling a problem elephant permit without the elephant having been identified.

Luzich is supposed to pay $200k for his black rhino trophy.

The decision of the USF&WS flies in the face of their apparent concern for the elephants of Zimbabwe. They upheld a ban on the importation of trophy hunted Zimbabwean elephants, numbering tens of thousands. The USF&WS also recently applauded the Kenyan Government for burning a 15 ton ivory stockpile.

It is becoming increasingly problematic to take an institution such as USF&WS seriously as having the best interest of our wildlife at heart. Their decisions and support or condemnation of various conservation issues are just not consistent, and their disregard for the opinion of conservationists living and working with these animals is alarming to say the least.

In the meantime, our Rhino are dying, either being poached or trophy hunted, while institutions who do have the power to save them are pandering to their strategic allies.

CJ Carrington © Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation.

29 March 2015

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"The Future of Wildlife is in our Hands"

Saving Leila the captive Chimp

We have to help save this poor Chimp Leila. We need to raise funds to relocate her to a sanctuary where she can live in peace without being chained to a tree everyday. We will be coordinating efforts with John Groblar who found the little girl so that we can find a suitable home.

From John - "My efforts to rescue Leila the chimpanzee from her prison and put her into a sanctuary has run into some headwinds: the Jane Goodall Institute does not have funds available to remove her from present situation.

PASA also does not have a chapter in Angola, so that leaves me with only one small NGO in Luanda, run by Francisca Pires who takes care of stray and abandoned dogs. She works close with a veterinary in Luanda called Fatima, who is exactly the kind of person we need here to rescue Leila from that old zoo.
I do not have the funds myself either - we need to buy her out from captors, have her checked out and sedated and possibly moved by plane to Luanda to Fatima' and Francisca's care.

Her story by John Groblar: "Her name is Leila and she six or seven years old.
Some guy from Cabinda sold her to the Granja Por De Sol concessionnaire about three years ago.
He has since skipped town for Luanda, left lots of unpaid debts and is currently not answering his phone.
They kept her in a cage initially, but she broke everything until they figured she wanted to be close to people, which is why she is kept here next to the gate. She might also be a trained pick-pocket - she had her hand in my pocket at first opportunity. Very friendly and liked a good scratch from another strangely hairless ape: my hair was of great interest. She has learned to beg a drink from passers-by, either fetching a can for some Coke or a bottle for beer. And her incissors have been removed. One shudders to think how. I'm amazed she still trusts people, but clearly one that had been around humans all her life."

We are still working out how much money will be needed and to finalize a home for her, but have to make a start. Please help us help her be making a donation.. Thank you.

Ongoing help needed to supply our Baby Rhinos with desperately needed Milk

We need your help to make sure that everything is done to care for these victims of poaching.

Below is little Nandi. just one of the orphans we help so that eventually she can be released back into a safe haven in the Wild.

URGENTLY NEEDED! Birds of Prey Rehabilitation Enclosures. 

Sometimes, our persecuted Wildlife gets lucky. It doesn't happen often, but it happens occasionally, when passionate people decide to pour their heart and soul into #EthicalConservation.
In Johannesburg, South Africa, our Wildlife just got lucky.

The team at the Jhb Wildlife Veterinary Hospital is dedicated to treating and rehabilitating small to medium-sized urban wildlife.

A few weeks ago, Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation did a surprise #SupplyDrop for them, stocking them up on veterinary medicines and consumables numbering hundreds of items, to the value of over R20 000. This was a great start, but we have to do more! All the animals here are treated at no charge, and the aim is always successful re-wilding and release. We have to put the animals first, be their voice, and give them the best chance at survival.

*Anything worth doing, is worth doing well*
A substantial number of the patients are raptors, and they need specialist care. In the pictures you can see a selection of the beautiful birds of prey who have been treated here.

***Urgently Needed right now is 3 x Rehabilitation Enclosures for these winged wonders. Having the proper enclosures aid rehabilitation and improves the survival rate of rescues.
The enclosures are made out of a steel framework with gate, diamond-mesh covered and completely enclosed in shade-netting to minimize trauma and external stimuli. They are 5m in length, and 2.4m wide, so that a pre-flight test can easily be accommodated.

We have sourced the manufacturers, and just need that magical ingredient - your support - to make these life-saving enclosures a reality.

The cost is R25 000 (1,800 USD) for all three enclosures. The injured Birds of Prey really need this. Every single cent will help towards being the wind beneath their wings, and will help set them up for that sweet flight of freedom.
As always we will keep you updated on progress, from the building to the delivery and installation of these critically needed rooms.
Please help by donating to Support #RaptorRehab and help us build this for them! You can also donate directly at: paypal.me/wildheartwildlife

We cannot do it without you.
#WHWF
#EthicalConservation

Your Donations at Work

Help is needed for the treatment & welfare of orphaned Rhinos. Some of the items, equipment & general supplies needed listed below.

- High density foam mattresses for the treatment of larger Rhinos who have been rescued.

- Milton Disinfectant for sterilizing babies Milk bottles.
- Ringers: I.V. Drips for rhinos in need of critical care .
- Veterinary Tear gel to protect the rhino babies eyes.
- Basic Wound Care Kits (Kidney dishes, Suture kits & Forceps).

- Denkavit calf milk replacer: 25 kg per month
- Protexin premium or soluble: 1 bucket per week
- Calostrum Biomel-plus: 1 bucket per 2 weeks
- Oral electrolytes: to prepare 10 lts per day
- Antimicrobial spray for wounds: 1 can per month

- Virkon disinfectant: 1 bucket per 2 weeks
- Carmino+ sachets
- Omega oil
- Syringes: 1, 3, 5, 10, 50 ml

- lighting & surge protection
- Camera traps
- Food thermometer
- Linen for volunteers accommodation.

These are just a few of the items needed to help care for the Rhino orphans. They have already been through hell, so the least we can all do is to ensure they have a chance at a future.
 

You can donate via the donate button on the right of the page or via Bank transfer below.

First National Bank / Check Account
Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation
Account number - 62518554101
Branch Code - 250-655
Swift code for International - FIRNZAJJ 143

 What We Do!

Below are the brave Anti-Poaching Rangers we help supply with Uniforms and equipment to help protect our precious wildlife. Your help to keep them properly equipped is much appreciated.

Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation has to date supplied a significant portion of supplies to Rhino Orphanages in South Africa, including over 1000 Kilo's (2,200 lbs) of milk powder, specialized food and health supplies and critical care medical items as well as other desperately needed equipment such as shovels, spades, rakes and cleaning materials, Shade netting, Field fencing for the Wild Dogs, Anti-Poaching Ranger gear and camera traps to help protect the Lions in the Sanctuary - all required to keep the orphanages and sanctuary operational. 

  
 

Doing What We Say, and Showing What We Do!

Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation below, assisting with treatment of Rhinos in the field

 

We help Turn the Tragedy of Poaching into Hope for a better Future