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Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation in the strongest terms condemns the recent killing of a critically endangered Black Rhino in Namibia, by Mr. Corey Knowlton, for a hunting trophy.

 

The word ‘Conservation’ means the following:

1. The act or process of conserving.

2. Preservation or restoration from loss, damage, or neglect.

3. The protection, preservation, management, or restoration of
wildlife and of natural resources such as forests, soil, and water.

Conservation most certainly does not mean the exploitation and sensationalizing of the trophy hunting of a Black Rhino which people all over the world are desperately trying to protect and save from extinction.

Let’s look at some of the issues surrounding this controversy:

The rhino poaching in Namibia is completely out of control. With around 65 Rhino Carcasses of a limited population found in just the last few months, every rhino life is precious and should be treated as such. Most of the animals being poached here are Black Rhino. Namibia desperately needs an anti-poaching plan that can work. The exorbitant sum of money paid by Mr. Knowlton and the Dallas Safari Club could have been used to set up a decent anti-poaching program. Despite what we are being told, there is no guarantee that this will happen now.

 

Corey Knowlton pictured above on his way to kill the endangered Black Rhino.

It could also have been donated outright to for instance Black Rhino breeding programs or projects such as @Rhino Rescue Project (for horn infusion), but then Mr. Knowlton would not have the head on his wall in a few weeks.

Another option was that Mr. Knowlton could have done a ‘green hunt’, a process whereby by the animal is darted with sedatives in order to facilitate relocation. He could still have filmed it, taken his pictures to tell the tale, with the exception that one of these precious beings would still have been alive. These options had been presented to Mr. Knowlton and the DSC during the time of the auction by an organization called Live Trophy, who offered to refund Mr. Knowlton his money, and carry all costs of relocation. A suitable, safe site to move the Rhino to had been identified and secured. These talks had been shut down by Mr. Knowlton, because in actual fact, he just wanted the trophy, or in his own words “I want to intimately experience a Black Rhino”.

The Government of Botswana has joined the ranks of thousands of organizations outraged at the fact that no other options were entertained. Botswana indicated in an official statement that they would have been honoured to take the (live) rhino into their safekeeping.
In response to statements made that the rhino was a problem animal – these PAC (Problem Animal Control) permits need to be executed within two weeks of the verified complaint. Not fifteen months later.

As per the CNN televised footage, this area was frequented by only three rhino, of which two had been identified by the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism as possible targets to be shot. It now has two, and it is just not possible to be certain that this population will survive or expand. Often, the older, more dominant bulls carry the strongest genes, the same ones that nature selects to be carried over to their offspring. Now we will never know, and this specific population of black rhino might as well be officially declared extinct. It is very clear from the articles and footage of journalists attending the hunt, that this bull was still healthy and fit. After all, it took him more than 30 minutes to collapse and die after being shot.

 

 

Knowlton having shot and killed this precious endangered Black Rhino.

Mr. Knowlton had the gall to say that the hunting conditions were brutal. Actually, brutal is working for years, sleeping in tents, exposed to the elements, in constant danger of being killed by poachers, in constant hardship, under-equipped and under-valued, just to protect our remaining rhinos from being poached. Watching your fellow rangers being murdered, and the precious beings entrusted to your care being slaughtered mercilessly. Because this is the reality of what a ranger faces, every day. In fact, to earn the equivalent of what Corey Knowlton spent to kill the rhino, a ranger would have to work for more than fifty years. To put it bluntly, with this blood money, Corey Knowlton could have paid the salaries of around one hundred (100) rangers for a full year. Is it becoming more obvious where priorities should have been?

As it stands now, the USD350k has been swallowed up into the coffers of a notorious ‘Conservation’ fund which has not been forensically audited in years, and it is highly unlikely that transparency will be at the order of the day.

As for the meat being supplied to the villagers, suffice to say that it is probably the most expensive meat they will ever eat. Together with the live relocation and reimbursement option, offers were made to Mr. Knowlton to set up self-sustaining small farming practices for the villagers (including complete training and education), supplied with goats that could reproduce and crops that if correctly managed would have been able to feed them for the rest of their lives, not just for the fifteen minutes of that much-prostituted picture.

There were other options which would have made Corey Knowlton a hero in the eyes of every person on this planet who loves animals, and he was aware of those options.

The professional hunter, Mr. Hentie van Heerden, who accompanied Mr. Knowlton on this hunt, is no stranger to controversy. In 2008 it was Mr. Van Heerden who held the hunting permit for Voortrekker , iconic Desert Elephant and ‘founding father’ of all the present few individuals in small herds living in the Kunene and Damaraland regions of the Namib. This permit was bought out from him (saving Voortrekker’s life as a living trophy), and Van Heerden killed another elephant instead. It would be interesting to know how much Mr. Van Heerden has been paid for his services, as his public profile now implies ‘retirement’.

Fewer people are aware that a second permit has been issued by the Namibian MET, for the Hunting of another Black Rhino.
Michael Luzich paid USD200k for his permit. He also received permit approval for the importation of the trophy from USFWS. 'Luzich has close ties to the person who 'accidentally' shot a Pregnant Black Rhino cow in Mangetti, in a highly controversial blunder of epic proportions. Is he going to follow through, or dare we hope that he may have learnt something from the Knowlton fiasco?

The fact that the US Fish & Wildlife Services approved the trophy import permits despite having been flooded with thousands upon thousands of comments opposing, is quite puzzling. The public comment period was a pacifier, as no heed was paid to any comment opposing the permit. The involvement of the Save the Rhino Trust and the WWF in this controversy is quite alarming to say the least, as is the recent admission of the Dallas Safari Club into the IUCN. It certainly seems like every animal on this planet has its price, no matter how critically endangered. Everything can be bought with enough money and political clout.

Even the life of one of only a few thousand critically endangered Black Rhino left in the world!.

©WHWF
Photograph by Wild Heart

10-5-2015

Pretoria-. Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa says her department continues to make progress in the war against rhino poaching.

The minister held a media briefing on Sunday in which she said the department remained committed in providing accurate information in relation to the scourge of poaching.

She said the fight against rhino poaching needed to be waged by every one in society saying that government alone will not win the battle.

The minister said  that the department recorded a number of successes as its strategies to disrupt criminal syndicates were starting to bear fruit.

"Be that as it may, by the end of April 2015, the number of rhino we lost to poachers was 393 for the whole country, of these, 290 were poached in the Kruger National Park,” she said.

By last year this time, the number of rhino lost to poachers were 331 for the whole of the country and 212 for the Kruger National Park 

Minister Molewa said government was not losing the battle. “We are not losing the battle, we are soldiering on as you would have noticed that by the end of April this year, we’ve a total of 132 people were arrested for rhino-poaching related activities,” she said adding that 62 were arrested in the Kruger National Park as at the end of April this year,” she said.

However, losses continue to increase in the Kruger National Park, figures in the rest of the country show either a decrease or stabilisation compared to last year’s pattern.

“What is encouraging through is the increase in the number of arrests we’ve recorded this year. To assist in the fight against poaching, our security forces working with SANParks have upped their technological game,” she said.

Minister Molewa  said given the magnitude of the problem, as well as the fact that rhino poaching is inextricably linked to organised transnational crime, it requires an escalation of everyone efforts to achieve the objective.

National Commissioner, General Riah Phiyega said in recent years, the trend for poaching has accelerated due to the high value of ivory and rhino horn on the international black market especially in Asia.

“We are equally vigilant outside the Kruger National Park, between January and April this year, we’ve already arrested 64 people inside the Park, while we’ve arrested 66 outside the Park. Within the four months period recovered 16 firearms, 99 rounds of ammunition, nine vehicles, and 13 rounds of horns, 27 axes and knives.

“Between July and December 2014, we recovered 53 firearms, 228 ammunition, nine vehicles, 20 horns, 42 axes and knives,” she said.

Improved technology to curb poaching

Minister Molewa said to assist in the fight against poaching,  security forces working with SANParks have upped their technological game. "We received an initial grant funding of R254.8 million in 2014 to support anti-poaching operations in the Kruger National Park. This incorporated the establishment of ‘Air Mobility’ capacity’ and included the purchase of a first helicopter through the grant funding in September 2014."Subsequent to the initial grant funding, the Howard G Buffet Foundation granted SANParks an additional R37.7 million to purchase a second Airbus AS350 B3e helicopter to further increase the capacity of flight operations in the KNP.

In March this year, SANParks received this second new Airbus AS-350B3e helicopter with night flying capability. It has subsequently been commissioned and has been assisting in the fight against poaching. In addition to increasing current flight crew capability of flying at night, the helicopter is expected to improve response time in dealing with contacts and other incidents in the park. "Just recently, the helicopter assisted in a dramatic pre-dusk swoop inside the KNP that netted four suspected poachers as well as a range of poaching equipment.

The improved aerial support to the rangers of the ground, and the increasing capacity of the canine unit have assisted in improving the effectiveness of the anti-poaching operations in the Kruger National Park, with 28 arrests having been effected in the month of April of this year." The SANDF, SANParks and the CSIR are piloting and evaluating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as instruments in rhino protection efforts under a range of operational conditions. This is subject to finalisation of arrangements with the Department of Transport.

To further bolster the abilities of the rangers to conduct their work,  Minister Molewas said field rangers and law- enforcement personnel have undergone rapid skills assessment to determine their current skill levels and training requirements by the Southern African Wildlife College and the Kruger National Park. Further training in this regard is continuing.

Source -SAnews.gov.za

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