WHY ARE WE STILL HUNTING RHINO?
Why are foreign and native Africans still trophy hunting Rhinoceros for, when no amount of funding generated from these hunts has actively decreased poaching? Image credit: (Mrs Janice Hull, Limcroma South Africa).
Over five years ago I and a group of dangerous game hunters (DGH’s) were involved within a heated debate relating to the money allegedly generated from rhino hunting. The question I asked (and continue to ask) was: “Why are we still hunting rhino for when the money generated from these hunts doesn’t appear to be having any affect whatsoever on decreasing rhino poaching or increasing conservation efforts and security for African rhinos”? (Image above: Hunter – American Janice Hull).
The answer[s] I received were mixed opinions, abuse, and lies. I aimed this question at a number of professional hunters – (PH’s) working in South Africa, and Namibia most of which were American. While the vast majority of dangerous game hunters stated money raised from hunts was directed back into rhino conservation, I’m still after five years questioning where this money is actually going because rhino poaching is not decreasing whatsoever?
Image Credit: Trophy hunter Mr Loddie Naymola
Since 2008 poachers have slaughtered a staggering 5,940 Rhinoceros – most of which have been poached within South Africa’s flagship park identified as the Kruger National Park. From the year of 2007 rhino poaching figures began increasing rapidly. A total of 13 rhino were bludgeoned to death in 2007. Meanwhile in 2009 South Africa lost a further 122 rhinos (due to poaching).
However come 2011 we really began to see poaching figures rise, come the end of December 2011 a whopping 448 rhinos had been slaughtered by poachers to fuel the Asian demand for pseudo rhino horn medicine. Come 2013 figures shot through the roof resulting in some 1,003 rhinos poached stated the Department of Environmental Affairs come 2013 December end. Then the largest stats were reported back in 2014 of which South Africa lost some 1,215 Rhinoceros to poachers. Yet ‘hunting revenue is preserving our ionic species’?.
Unfortunately at some point from 2014-2016 the Department of Environmental Affairs Minster Honorable Edna Molewa placed a complete ban on the public reporting of any rhino poaching figures, there was no reason as to why this ban was implemented, of which to date still remains in place. Coincidentally (2015’s poaching statistics) had decreased somewhat – of which come December 2015 some 1,175 rhinos had ‘allegedly been poached’. Isn’t that coincidental, a blanket ban on poaching figures is ordered, then come the next year a decrease is seen!.
The SOUTH AFRICAN DEFENCE WEB stated back in January 2016 that a ‘lack of rhino poaching information was negatively affecting anti poaching’. However despite the governmental blackout on rhino poaching incidents numerous organisations such as ‘Stop Rhino Poaching and ‘Outraged South African Citizens against Poaching’ had reported via media, press and anti poaching reports a small rhino poaching decline.
However both of these organisations didn’t obtain their reports from the government, or did they?. So last years poaching stats could indeed be higher than what has been stated in the public domain. Furthermore both Facebook/Online groups/NGO’s share there statistics openly. So in all honesty there is no evidence whatsoever to prove a poaching decline from 2015 has occurred. Moreover and as explained – I myself find it awfully suspicious that since the 2015 poaching report blackout by the South African government – poaching stats just coincidentally decrease like that?.
Elise Daffue whom ‘allegedly runs some form of rhino intelligence group’ (on Facebook – identified as Stop Rhino Poaching), and not in the actual field, stated: “The drop in kills is testimony to the huge effort being made on the enforcement side. Environment Asset Protection strategies have been formulated and implemented over the past three years, guiding the strategic and operational plans nationally – from the ranger in the bush who detects the spoor to the prosecutor who fights that bail is denied. Keeping the numbers down depends entirely on good field work and reserve security, good investigations and good convictions”
While Elise Daffue has stated there was a drop in rhino poaching due to a “huge effort being made on the enforcement side” there remains no evidence whatsoever proving there has been a decline in rhino poaching from 2014-2015. Moreover if there is evidence where has this data come from?. Furthermore whenever we see hunters and ‘animal lovers mingling together’, regardless of what you state your organisation is and does – alarm bells begin ringing, especially coming close to the next CoP summit.
The Founder of Stop Rhino Poaching is friends with a hunter identified as Gustav Collins who runs the Mattaniah Game Reserve Furthermore Elise Daffue is also associated with the individual known as Simon James Naylor who is the Conservation Manager for Phinda Private Game Reserve of which has connections to various hunting organisations and the (WWF) that supports sustainable hunting of Rhinoceros within South Africa and Namibia. Finally (among many others) we have Mr Mark Lautenbach who works as a Specialist Freelance Guide at Ukuthula Lodge. Elise Daffue founder of Stop Rhino Poaching is also friends with a Department of Environmental Affairs worker, and numerous other governmental bodies, police and hunters.
While the above details may not seem overly important, when we’re trying to locate data on hunting statistics, money generated from these activities and more, suspicions are raised when we locate so called professional organisations that are connected to numerous hunting organisations; and institutions such as ‘petting farms’ I.e Ukutala Lodge that has connections with the canned hunting industry and, has featured in a (Blood Lion documentary).
So as one can see it all becomes rather confusing when all we want is upfront and honest answers, however when we ask questions and later find out there are numerous connections to the hunting and possibly ‘pseudo hunting trade’ will we even obtain a serious, straightforward and honest answer? When we’re lied to by hunters, how can we possibly trust Non-Governmental Organisations that are aligned to the very people whom are lying, and are hunting our rhinos while pretending to be so called conservationists? Moreover we (the organisation) do not believe there has been any decline whatsoever relating to rhino poaching. We do though believe that this so called ‘decline may be playing a role in this months CoP17 Summit’ relating to rhino horn legislation.
Image Credit: European trophy hunter, Mr Dennis Schemmel
Back in July 2016 it was reported that Rhinoceros poaching was finally without a doubt at ‘tipping point’. South Africa has seen the largest poaching rates recorded at some 72% from 2011-2015. Namibia recorded a loss of 10.8% from 2012-2015. Zimbabwe recorded a loss of 3.1% from 2012-2015. Kenya has recorded a loss of 4.4% from 2012-2015. Finally ‘other African range states mainly in Central Africa’ recorded a loss of 2.5% from 2012-2015.
While its been reported that some 25,000 Rhinoceros remain on the African continent – a depressing near six thousand have been poached all over the continent from 2012-2015. Yet hunting revenue from one of Africa’s most expensive game animals is allegedly reducing poaching? How is this possible, when we’ve lost so many rhinos, and reports from the Global Initiative have confirmed ‘rhinos are at tipping point’.? Furthermore how can the hunting community continue to state that revenue from rhino hunting is helping to secure the rhinos future when 1. It clearly isn’t due to poaching statistics increasing, and 2. The majority of hunters today are now supporting an international rhino horn trade ban lift?
The Global Initiative stated: “Dozens more rhino have been shot in so-called “pseudo-hunts”. Across Europe, castles and museums have been raided by criminal gangs in search of rhino horn trophies. And in the United States, businessmen, antique dealers – even a former rodeo star and a university professor – have been implicated in the illicit trade”. Driven by seemingly insatiable demand in Southeast Asia and China, rhino horn has become a black market commodity rivalling gold and platinum in value.
Image: Female rhino hunter, origin of hunter unknown and name. South Africa?
To date there has been very little forthcoming information in relation to revenue generated from African rhino hunts, and where exactly this hunting money is going. Furthermore with rhino poaching still increasing, and tipping points now recorded by ‘various trusted organisations’ the question must now be raised why are we still hunting Rhinoceros?
From the 1940’s tiger hunting was common among many international and local tourists in India. However so too was tiger poaching. It was alleged that revenue from tiger hunting was actually helping to preserve the tiger species and other mammals too. Unfortunately this turned out to be complete codswallop. Then in 1973, the Indian government finally under the orders of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi banned tiger hunting due to so many tigers being poached – and legally hunted at the same time. Had Prime Minister Indira Gandhi not instigated ‘Project Tiger’, the tiger would have gone extinct way back in the 1970’s.
In the last 50 years the tiger population in Asia has plummeted from 100,000 to about 5,000. The number of tigers is dangerously low, and the conservation of the world’s remaining tigers is of global concern. Now, in this volume, 40 world authorities on tigers from Asia, Europe, and North America have summarized and identified the management, conservation, and research needs for this endangered species. Before Project Tiger was implemented tiger populations were being hammered. The same identical hunting and poaching behavior before Project Tiger can now be witnessed in Africa – primarily in South Africa where rhinos are also being hammered both by hunters, poachers and pseudo hunters. Does that ring alarm bells among the many FAKE NGO’S out there?
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa undertook various searches relating to rhino hunting and revenue generated from these hunts within South Africa. What we found was from 2005-2015 a total of 330 ‘White Rhinoceros’ had been legally hunted from 2005-2015. The minimum hunting price was exactly $50,000(USD). While the maximum hunting price was exactly $150,000(USD). It was found that from 2005-2015 and based on the assumption these were (white rhino hunts only) and, taking into consideration the minimum price first. Revenue generated from rhino hunting at the price of $50,000(USD) resulted in an estimated total $181,500,000 million – that’s $181 million(USD) raised from hunting. Meanwhile, and taking into consideration the highest price (being $150,000(USD) a total of $554,500,000 million was generated.
While we cannot place these two equations together and provide a factual sum because we don’t know how many rhinos were legally hunted at each individual price, the sheer fact that millions of dollars has been generated from 2005-2015 should be enough to explain that something isn’t quite right here. Furthermore these figures are based on the assumption these were white rhino hunts,
MINIMUM HUNTING PRICE: 2005-2015 = $181,500,000 million(USD)
MAXIMUM HUNTING PRICE: 2005-2015 = $554,500,000 million(USD)
To date (and as you can see within the sourced links above) there still hasn’t been a single reliable report that confirms just how much money is being made from trophy hunting in South Africa. The only so called reliable report (which is about as reliable as a chocolate teapot) and, being the only report to surface thus far stated that $200 million(USD) was generated from the years of 2010-2011 (in regards to all South African trophy hunts)? Who number crunched these figures, who even dared to come up with such an absurd low revenue income? I would also like to remind hunting organisations, just because you don’t have to tell us what you’re making, we can contact other organisations/institutions, locate prices, we can phone and email. Eventually we’ll find the truth!
Now either our expert eyes and our mathematical friends are missing something here, or journalists media and the pro trade lobby are forgetting that despite hunting revenue being made pubic. Environmental Scientists can research CITES trophy hunting statistics, then locate the common maximum and minimum price, and the number of rhino trophy heads exported/imported. So as one can read above just from the years of (2005-2015 – millions was made just from Rhinoceros hunting). Moreover who ever came up with the 2010-2011 sum of $200 million USD clearly is missing a lot of money off here, and needs to undertake a mathematical course too?
Rhinoceros hunting is by far the biggest money maker within the hunting business (most of this money is made in South Africa which hosts the largest rhino populations on the planet). Furthermore it just seems too coincidental that from 2010-2011 literally every hunting organisation that’s promoting/advertising rhino hunts has mysteriously removed their prices.
Trophy hunting of rhino is strictly regulated. Every year a total of five (black rhino) can legally be hunted within each of Namibia and South Africa, which totals to a maximum of (ten) per year – five per country. Furthermore in South Africa and Namibia one white rhino can be hunted by one hunter per year – that’s one rhino per hunter every year. Unfortunately there remains no further hunting revenue and data from the years of 2014. Its been estimated by the National Geographic based on the United States Fish and Wildlife report that the United States imported a total of 328 white rhino trophies from South Africa from the years of 2005-2014. Meanwhile a total of 7 white rhino were hunted and subsequently imported to the United States from Namibia from the years of 2005-2014.
Image Credit: Rhino hunter Alexander Tseytlin
Black rhino hunts have provoked much controversy over the past five years mainly because black rhinos are actually listed as (critically endangered), hence why only five black rhinos can be hunted per year in South Africa and Namibia. Since 1996-2011 the species has been listed as near extinct on the International Union for the Conservation of Natures Red List. Fortunately due to ‘private farming conservation efforts (not wild efforts) the species has allegedly and gradually increased (primarily due to hunting?)’. Both private and wild populations are believed to be increasing within South Africa and Namibia placing the total species population count from 2010 at 4,880 black rhinos.
The only reports that we ourselves can offer in regards to black rhino trophy is that of media and press reports that have documented on large scale bidding for black rhino hunts. In January 2014, Corey Knowlton bid $350,000 for a permit to hunt and kill a black rhino in Namibia (Source: Corey Knowlton). Back in June 2016 Namibia offered up three of its black rhinos to trophy hunters. While the price has not been documented its most likely be in the region of just over $1 million(USD) for the three Black Rhinoceros (Source: Namibia black rhino hunt).
Meanwhile back in 1996 a game rancher named John Hume paid about $200,000 for three pairs of endangered black rhinos from the wildlife department of the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. Among them was a male who would come to be called “Number 65,” and whose death would play a central role in the debate about conservation.
When the black rhino bull arrived, Hume’s farm manager — a burly Zimbabwean named Geoff York whose typical mode of dress is army boots and a pair of purple shorts — tranquilized him, clipped two notches in his left ear and two in the right, and gave him a number: 65. Mr John Hume later picked Mr Peter Thormahlen to organize the killing of ‘number 65’. The price was set at a $25,000 deposit on a $150,000 fee for a seven-day hunt.
Most of that would go to John Hume – the very man that is today advocating for an international legalized trade in rhino horn and has connections to a wide number of organisations such as, WWF, IUCN, CITES, The Department of Environmental Affairs and numerous other figures. Then on July 23rd 2005 Thormahlen and his client with John Hume tagging along proceeded on foot. Suddenly the rhino noticed them and rose from the dirt. The client pulled the trigger, and the first bullet pierced Number 65’s skull. The rhino, still standing, turned. A second bullet hit, and the rhino dropped dead. (Source: John Hume Rhino Hunt).
As you can read there is a staggering amount of money parting hands to hunt both black and white rhino. Yet poaching is still skyrocketing? South Africa has lost from 2008 almost 6,000 rhinos to poachers. Back in 2014 Namibia lost a total of 24 rhinos to poaching, then come 2015 a whopping 60 rhinos were poached. (Source: Poaching stats Namibia).
So the question still remains just what exactly is all this money going towards, can each professional hunting organisation prove to me, my organisation and the public that the money generated from rhino hunting is indeed being used to fund anti poaching operations, security, conservation, education, awareness and horn poisoning? (Etc).
While I’ve been extremely silent on this issue too since 2011 I’m going to make it pubic now. I dislike the fact that a ‘prominent South African game hunter’ is involved with the Rhino Orphanage. Back in 2011 we (the organisation) were going to submit funding for scales and equipment, however when running a trace on whom ran the main website, down to a trace on that individuals Facebook page, and more we later discovered a ‘silent partner’ that is hunting many of the big five..
..So who do we trust when it comes to facts and figures? How can we trust anyone that is stating hunting is indeed increasing rhino numbers when literally every individual and organisation are in someway aligned to one another in South Africa and over the borders? Can the Rhino Orphanage and its ‘affiliate’s’ also prove that every single rhino that’s been saved has been released back into a reserve, and not hunted for sport that clearly from this entire document has proved – no amount of hunting whatsoever is increasing rhino populations!
Hunting operations are indeed expensive. While the price of a hunt may indeed seem high. One also has to take into consideration what the farmer and/or professional hunter has to pay for too. Upkeep of land, maintenance of vehicles and buildings, fuel, service charges for gas, electricity, water, and rent Etc, food and beverages for the visiting hunters, guest house uses, damages to guest houses, travel, firearms (among many other bills). Then of course comes anti poaching being the last bill. Some of this expense can be viewed below.
While we know that Rhinoceros trophy hunting is indeed expensive, poaching is unfortunately still increasing in various African countries, please do check the sourced links out above, and read that data carefully. The image above with source proves that no big five farmer is taking every single dollar or euro that’s advertises rhino hunting on their site or allows rhino hunting on their property.
So the question remains why are we still hunting rhino for? The question I’ve answered. Rhino hunting is nothing more than a overpaid sport that does nothing whatsoever for conservation and, is not under any circumstances whatsoever contributing to decreasing poaching. All these millions if not billions being made yet here we are still seeing rhinos poached. Finally, and the very best question of them all. If hunting revenue from rhino hunts is not decreasing poaching, how the hell is a so called sustainable rhino horn trade going to decrease poaching? Same money – same prices – going nowhere!
Thank you for reading.
Dr Jose C. Depre PhD. MEnvSc. BSc(Hons) Botany, PhD(NeuroSci) D.V.M.
Master of Environmental, Botanical & Human Science.
Environmental, Botanical and Human Scientist.
VINPEARL SAFARI | CONTROVERSY
FOR THE PEOPLE OF VIET NAM | FOR THE ANIMALS OF VINPEARL
Controversy has been brewing wildly around Viet Nam’s first ever safari, where a total of either “108 or 115 animals died over the course of 1-2 months on the premises”, with a further “135 monkeys escaping from the premises”. Biologists, Environmentalists, and Journalists have all tried in vain to obtain answers from Vinpearl, and Cites Viet Nam, unfortunately neither expert has actually received, or been sent paperwork that can place speculation, and allegations at rest. Down to investigating further as to why so many animals died on the premises.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa was first informed about Vinpearl back in early February of this year (2016). From the start of February 2016, we were emailed, phoned and sent various social media requests from many Vietnamese and foreign citizens asking us to investigate the Safari, and to look into other concerning allegations. International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa then contacted our Asian counterparts, and began painstakingly laying out all data for us to scrutinize. The following data that can be proven to some degree as (factual), is listed below for your immediate attention, and information.
- Vinpearl imported ‘we believe some 330 animals’ from South Africa, these animals ranged from giraffe, tigers, lions, monkeys, kudu, crocodiles, impala, and wildebeest Etc. The farm located in Capetown that supplied Vinpearl belongs to Mr Huong Que, who admitted back in 2014 to illegally de-horning and trafficking two rhino horns from South Africa into Viet Nam. Mr Huong Que, strangely, hasn’t been arrested for this offence. Furthermore a Viet Nam Cites officer identified as Mr Le Hoai Nam has been friends with Mr Huong Que on Facebook since (2014) when Mr Huong Que admitted to breaking South African and international law (2014). Based on Mr Le Hoai Nam and Mr Huong Que’s online communications, they seem to know each other very well.
- From the 12th February ‘it was alleged’ many ex-pats began leaving the island of Bai Dai, Ganh Dau Phu Quoc, Kiến Giang, Vietnam in disgust due to many animals dying, and escaping at the safari. Vinpearl Safari and the media stayed completely silent. Citizens of Viet Nam and abroad quoted as many as “4000” animals dying. However since media and press have documented on the case, Vinpearl have been forced to break their silence. Vinpearl then admitted (without showing evidence in the way of paperwork), that some “105 to 108 animals did die”, with a further “135 monkeys escaping”.
- Speculation then emerged that Mr Chu Dang Khoa, his ex-wife or (ex-girlfriend), and father Mr Huong Que were involved in the shipping of animals from South Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia into Vinpearl Safari. So far, to date we can prove that Mr Huong Que, and Mr Chu Dang Khoa’s ex-partner, were most certainly involved in the shipping of many animals from South Africa. We also know that Mr Chu Dang Khoa did once live on his fathers farm in South Africa, Capetown. However as explained Mr Chu Dang Khoa still doesn’t as such fit into the main picture. We do though find it somewhat coincidental that Mr Chu Dang Khoa’s ex-partner, and his father are involved in shipping animals into Vinpearl, many of which ‘we suspect’ have unfortunately died (that originated from the African continent).
- On the 24th February 2016, Vinpearl then stated the following within a press and media article, again showing no paperwork, or evidence to back this claim up: Total animals imported with permits is 2,236 individuals. As of Feb. 19, 2016 there are 2.2004 individuals living at the zoo, 12 individuals were born at the zoo upon their arrival. Then a total of 108 individuals died.
Image: Two aircraft are identified as shipping animals from South Africa.
Points 1-4 are areas within our own environmental investigation that contain missing pieces of the jigsaw so to say. Furthermore where there is evidence of admitting criminal activity directly under the noses of a Vietnamese Cites officer I.e Mr Le Hoai Nam, then we have cause of concern.
Below are questions that we require answering, of which we have already politely asked, however been refused answers, down to our own internet protocol address banned from emailing Vinpearl. The following questions are aimed at both Cites Viet Nam, and Vinpearl.
- CITES VIET NAM: We request that all permits relating to all 2,236 animals that were ‘allegedly imported’ to be made public, communicated to us via email, or letter (which will pay the charge), or made view-able to trusted press journalists and NGO’s?
- CITES VIET NAM: We request the full veterinary reports relating to each of the alleged “108 animals that died”, the cause of death, health reports, and data that can be examined in relation to all of the alleged 108 animals health ‘prior and before entering Vinpearl Safari”?
- CITES VIET NAM: What relation does the Vietnam Cites Officer identified as Mr Le Hoai Nam have in connection with Mr Huong Que? Is this relation professional, or are the two merely friends? Furthermore when Mr Huong Que admitted to illegally de-horning and trafficking two rhino horns (front and rear), back in 2014, why didn’t the Vietnamese Cites Officer who has been friends with Mr Huong Que since 2014 pick this up, and act upon it?
- CITES VIET NAM: Where did the alleged “14 rhino come from” that has been stated in press and media as being “exchanged” from another safari of which we have since located is nothing but a construction site, with major land clearance problems? Out of the 108 animals that died, were there any rhino deaths, and if so where are these rhino carcasses now, and the horns?
- VINPEARL: We request paperwork from My Quynh Safari/Vinpearl Safari that can categorically back the claims up from Vinpearl and Cites Viet Nam relating to the 14 rhino on Vinpearls Safari. If Vinpearl did take 14 rhino from My Quynh Safari, then that paperwork will be held by Vinpearl, My Quynh Safari and Cites Viet Nam. If no paperwork is shown then we can only but continue questioning?
- VINPEARL: We request paperwork that shows all animals imported from overseas went through the correct quarantine protocols, were inspected for disease, stress, and underlying medical conditions. Furthermore we also request the name[s] of who signed the animals off that have been reported as dead as “fit to be released into a newly built safari”?
Image: Someone begins demanding posts are removed about Vinpearls alleged corruption.
A recent press article released today stated that the Cites Vietnamese Management Authority inspected Vinpearl Safari grounds, and found that no illegal activities had occurred. The following points we’ve located regarding Vinpearl Safari and the only African supplier are listed below for ones immediate attention.
- While we can take on board that some animals may suffer ill health, a newly established safari, that is professionally run, hosts expert zoologists and is owned to a multi billionaire just doesn’t see 108 animals die.
- A professionally run safari and the breeders themselves simply don’t allow some 12 pregnant animals to be transported over 10,300 kms, for some 11.5 hours. Some of the animals that have since given birth originated from South Africa, and that flight would have caused unnecessary suffering. Furthermore the medications administered could have harmed the unborn young. So its safe to say that professional and adequate veterinary checks, and surveillance were not carried out accordingly.
- How was it even possible for some 135 macaques to escape from an allegedly ‘well secured safari’? The safari states the 135 macaques were placed into larger cages for bigger primates. This now raises the concern about the so called locally transported rhino, that are penned in with what appears to be strong chicken wire.
- We don’t buy the answer that claims 108 animals simply died due to the transportation and not being able to adjust to the environment in full. These animals wouldn’t have died had the relevant veterinary checks been conducted as explained prior to shipping, and on landing.
- When Vinpearl hit the headlines throughout Viet Nam unidentified individuals were asked to remove press, media and Facebook posts. We have examined all of them posts of which not a single post actually proves animal cruelty, trafficking or wildlife trade. What the posts actually touched up on was; Inhumane transportation, animal deaths, speculation about the safari, who the suppliers were, and why some zoologists had indeed left the safari due to many animals dying, suffering disease and virus.
- Why was both Cites Viet Nam, Vinpearl, Cites South Africa and the DEA doing business with Mr Huong Que, and Mr Chu Dang Khoa? Mr Huong Que admitted to de-horning and trafficking rhino horns, and Mr Chu Dang Khoa is known to the Department of Environmental Affairs (South Africa), for dealing in rhino horns and diamonds. The DEA ‘nicknamed him as Mr Rhino Horn Billionaire’.
Image: Mr Huong Que who supplied Vinpearl admits to violating wildlife law.
While we understand that a Vietnamese Cites Management Officer has indeed paid a visit to Vinpearl claiming that everything is all above board, we ourselves want to see proof as explained above. We believe that while the main breeder that is Mr Huong, has relations to Cites Viet Nam (see image below), then corruption could be at play here relating back to the so called visit this week stating all was okay at the safari.
Image: Cites Vietnamese Officer asks Mr Que when he’ll be back home?
This article will be updated as and when. We please ask that visitors to the site stay tuned for regular updates that will be dated and timed. The whole purpose of this article is to get to the bottom of why so many animals have died, why government agencies are doing business with known criminals, corruption, dishonesty, trafficking, wildlife trade, and more. We are not going to print data that cannot be proved. Finally this article cannot be censored by the Vietnamese Government.
The people of Vietnam have a duty to know just exactly what is going on here. Its clear although not proven that people in high places are also involved here to some degree. Who are the other dealers too? Where in Europe and America did other animals come from, did Mr Rhino Horn Billionaire and ex-partner, father and others supply the entire safari, and if so what relation do they have with Viet Nams most richest man?
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa has communicated our concerns to SAPs relating to wildlife trafficking regarding Mr Que’s de-horning of a rhino and illegally trafficking them horns back to Viet Nam. If anything this man needs to be questioned about his comment, the rhino carcass must be located (if there is one), and the farm that Mr Que owns must be investigated to satisfy our own concerns and wildlife agencies that further crimes haven’t been committed on this farm. The longer it goes ignored, the quicker evidence (if any), will be concealed. One doesn’t just admit to committing a serious wildlife crime as a joke.
Environmental Crimes Department.
ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE IS BOOMING
WARNING – THE FOLLOWING INVESTIGATIVE REPORT IS GRAPHIC
Investigative report written by: Dr Jose C. Depre.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa and her External Affairs Environmental Investigations Department commonly known as the (EAD), have for the past year been warning police agencies, and Interpol internationally and locally to tighten the grasp on the black market illegal wildlife traders, after a sudden spike was witnessed by us in trade emerging from Thailand and Vietnam (2013-2014)? IARFA’s External Affairs operations unit were somewhat suspicious as to why so many rhino and elephants were being poached, yet very little in the way of fresh animal parts I.e rhino horn and elephant tusk were being seen on the ground.
Back in 2014 the BBC reported that rhino horn and ivory in Viet Nam and China had heavily decreased (or was becoming more difficult to obtain), we disagree with the BBC’s 2014 documentary and have shown the evidence below to prove that trade is more than active in Viet Nam, with Thailand now the new rhino horn hub. We’re unsure as to what has caused this sudden increase of illegal trade and poaching in Africa and Asia, and the skyrocketing demand online, primarily on the United States social media platform identified as Facebook. What investigators located in the past year has shocked us, and has led to a multinational investigation spanning over 19 countries, resulting in IARFA’s biggest wildlife crimes investigation to date.
(NB: The following evidence depicted herein is of a graphic nature and viewer discretion is strictly advised).
A further concern was the sheer fact that rhino horn was becoming more difficult to locate on the streets of Viet Nam, which was also highlighted in the video below via the BBC (2014), yet rhinos are being slaughtered at some 5-7 a day on the African continent, primarily in South Africa. So we sent in our team of investigative officers to track down where we believed rhino horn and wildlife syndicates and traders were now in operation. The shocking evidence below proves what we believed all along. Thailand has become a hot bed for illegal rhino horn trade, and Facebook has yet again exploded with online illegal wildlife ‘profile shops’ and pet trade that criminals hide behind to peddle their trade on a grande scale.
Back in 2012 the External Affairs Department recruited a further twelve investigative volunteers due to worrying trade increases of mainly ivory, rhino horn and endangered tropical pets that were being sold at ground level, and on Facebook. Furthermore the (EAD) increased its online presence in relation to cyber crime projects run by Operation Trojan Horse founded in 2008 after it became apparent teenagers as young as 16 were illegally peddling animal parts and endangered tropical pets via their Facebook social media profiles.
While the (EAD) and her counterparts from the Operation Trojan Horse Online Surveillance Unit have been successful in locating and closing down illegal wildlife and pet traders (with arrests and seizures being made). Very little in the way of a decrease of demand and trade is being noted. Countless complaints to the United States Facebook platform with petition, hasn’t been successful either. Despite the fact illegal wildlife trade ranks as the worlds 4th largest illegal trade funding terrorism, narcotics, prostitution and child trafficking.
Over the past 365 days the External Affairs Department have been monitoring unusual peaks of the trade in rhino horn, ivory and tiger parts within Viet Nam, Thailand and Japan, with much online chatter from traders in Benin, Cameroon, South Africa and Namibia to Asian citizens peddling animal parts. Two individuals (pictured below) we’ve been wanting to catch up with now for over six months, after the duo skipped a meeting with two of our EAD officers in Thailand regarding the sale of rhino horn.
Its unsure if the two knew we were onto them, or they simply missed the meeting for unknown reasons. Either way and with a stroke of luck after data obtained from a bush meat trader in Cameroon we managed to catch up with our fiends again. This time the evidence we hold on them is so large it spans from Asia directly into Africa. From the 23rd December 2015 investigative officers from the EAD’s (Cyber Crime Unit) then moved into quickly obtain evidence to pass onto Interpol. From the 29th December 2015 (17:00hrs) we can now confirm the following evidence herein has prompted Interpol to now launch an ‘urgent investigation’ into serious wildlife crime spanning from Asia to Africa.
Had the meeting gone ahead back in June 2015 it would have led us ‘directly’ onto a more larger wildlife trading syndicate that we’ve been monitoring within Beijing, China since 2014, identified as Mr Ji Lu or Ken as he calls himself. Unfortunately the trail went dead, both the two young men and Mr Ji Lu vanished off the External Affairs radar. Then the EAD struck gold last week before Christmas after a random trace of a Cameroon bush meat poacher in Africa. We’ve long known that African bush meat poachers and traders communicate to Asian wildlife traders and syndicates either online in private chat forums, or via stolen cell phones. This time we had our men, more than enough evidence to launch a multinational investigation and further information that has led us onto newer more sophisticated traders.
“Thailand is the new hotbed for rhino horn trade”
However never did the EAD or ourselves believe we’d again come face to face with some of the most evil and sadistic animal parts traders we’ve ever encountered. If the images and evidence below is not enough to shock the Thai and Vietnamese Police into now acting, then we don’t know what is. The following evidence in image format below is shocking and may upset some of our readers.
However its no shock to us of which we have for the first time decided to show to over 7.8 million supporters exactly what we and other wildlife agencies are up against. Teenagers and young men and women from the ages of 16-20+ are trading anything from bear bile, real rhino horn, ivory, down to gorilla’s (all of which is strictly 100% illegal).
The two men above aged between 19-25 years of age we’re keen to catch up with again for their involvement in the brutal breeding and killing of innocent tigers for the bone wine trade. Furthermore the two individuals are also wanted for questioning for their involvement in the dealing and illegal possession of rhino horn and Elephant ivory. On conducting a random online trace the two men and possibly a female are believed to be using a pseudo Facebook profile that goes under the name of ‘White Tiger’ that has been set up as a female account. We believe we know whom the woman is, however as yet we haven’t 100% firm evidence to prove this is our woman from Japan.
(NB: Please note we cannot publish the identities of the two men and woman for legal reasons)
Its suspected that the woman’s name whom we believe is related to the two men above is Mme Phuong ***** whom possibly originates from Hanoi, Viet Nam, however we also believe that she goes under the name of Mme Chung. A further alias the female account uses on Facebook (not related to Mrs Chung) is identified as Cọp ******. The city that the two males and female accomplice frequents is identified as Phatthalung, Thailand. The home town of the Facebook account from which the female is ‘alleged to be residing within’ has been identified as Bang Kongra, Phatthalung, Thailand.
Furthermore a trace of the ‘accounts working address’ showed up as Bangkok ( กรุงเทพมหานคร ), which is a tourist company ferrying foreign and local tourists around Thailand. We have reason to believe that the female account possibly belongs to a Japanese woman that we have been following all over Australasia, who now runs an immigration agency on Facebook. However it must be noted that Mme Chung and Cop ***** are two different women. Confusing we know, we know though that both women and the men involved in this report are using 2-3 Facebook accounts and communicating in various chatter forums online!
The two men and one woman have for the past year been heavily dealing in rhino horn, ivory, and tigers that are brutally killed to produce an alleged medicinal wine (as seen above), rhino horn down to bear bile, narcotics (possibly heroin/hash (see image below)), and what appears to be counterfeit illegal cigarettes. The 1970/1990 and 2009 domestic and international rhino horn trade ban prohibits anyone from trading in rhino horn.
Meanwhile the 1989 ivory trade ban prohibits anyone from trading un-permitted ivory and ivory parts. Furthermore its a criminal offence (internationally and locally) to trade in anyone of the endangered species being that of pangolins and tigers. International Animal Rescue Foundation Asia successfully identified the many pangolin’s viewed for trade as the Manis culionensis or the (Philippine Pangolin). Hence why we had to move quickly to communicate all evidence to Interpol.
Back in June the External Affairs unit contacted the two men who’s names we’ve withheld in the hope to set up a deal to purchase rhino horn. Only one horn was available to purchase priced at $35,000 Vietnamese Dollars per/kilo. The horn had already been inspected by our Singapore counterpart that works closely within the trade circle.
The EAD officers then went ahead for the meeting of which as explained the two individuals didn’t turn up. Fortunately as explained we’ve managed to locate the two individuals again, this time though as you can see above and below, the two (possibly three individuals) have been rather busy since June 2015 (and way before they even cropped up on our radar). Some of the rhino horns can be viewed below along with ivory that is most certainly not permitted to be in the hands of these young men and women.
On locating further evidence that we required to instigate a multinational investigation we then again at 09:25am on the 23rd December 2015 and 29th December with a further communication on the 30th December 2015 communicated all (cyber evidence) and data to the Environmental Investigations Unit of Interpol via secure encryption. (Please note that are unable to provide all evidence onto this platform as it could/will impede on the investigation that is currently now ‘active’.
Ivory trade was officially banned internationally back in 1989, however it hasn’t stopped these two rather sadistic and ruthless criminals from going about their trade bringing in millions of Vietnamese and Thailand dollars, most of which is traded on the US Facebook social media platform.
Furthermore it explains now where the vast majority of ivory and rhino horn is being traded. Viet Nam was virtually declared a no-rhino horn country by the BBC and the WWF back in 2014 as explained above. Unfortunately had the two investigations units bothered to look a little closer they’d have not only noticed our own concerns (with evidence being shown), but also many private online forums (including Facebook) booming in animal parts trade.
Below are numerous pieces of ivory all of which are not permitted. Investigate officers casually asked within the online chat forum if the ivory below was permitted, the [unnamed trader/peddler] was very forthcoming with his reply stating; “No, none of the ivory here is permitted”, meaning its 100% illegal to own/trade.
On immediately being made aware that the ivory was not permitted we knew instantly that these three individuals were not your average wildlife traders or syndicates. Furthermore on tracing the individuals Facebook profiles we were yet again (as explained) made aware of a female ivory trader that has been visiting Australia and Japan for unknown reasons while trading ivory online. Mrs Chung as we know her we’ve already informed the Australian Federal Police and TRAFFIC about.
The images above are just a small handful of evidence shots obtained from both the Vietnamese and Thai traders that had no worries whatsoever on displaying these items either to our investigative officers, or trading online via secure trading chatter rooms. These chatter room’s are mainly frequented by medicine men and women, and general traders of antique and non-permitted animal parts, all of which anyone can enter on Google using a simple VPN tool.
While ivory trade is not necessarily a big secret within Thailand, the sheer fact that younger people are able to obtain ivory and rhino horn in such mass quantities is extremely concerning. We also have reason to believe that some of the ivory is deriving from passages via Benin and possibly Cameroon on the continent of Africa. Our enquirers in relation to the African trail of ivory into Asia began with Mr Chan**** ***** who states he works for the Homme D’Affaire International which we believe is a made up organisation.
Chan**** *** runs a bush meat shop within Cameroon selling anything from pangolins to endangered turtles, masks and cars, and coincidentally his shop is also operational on Facebook. Had Mr Chan**** *** not bragged about ivory making its way from Benin into Vietnam we’d never have caught up again with our Asian fiends. Some of the images from Ch**** *** bush meat shop of horrors can be viewed below.
E.A.D officers investigated the trade between the two African and Asiatic pangolins, above is that of an African pangolin which was the same species seen within the apartment of the Vietnamese citizen that offered our Singapore investigative officer rhino horn. So we’re 99% positive that all three Asian citizens have more than your normal ties to the African bush meat poacher whom we know is using a trade route from both Benin and Cameroon, onto Europe and into Asia. The African pangolin 1 of 3 identified in the apartment in Vietnam can be seen below.
African and Asian pangolins are fast becoming rare with the vast majority of Asiatic pangolins now nearing extinction. Pangolins are used within the Asian and African (TCM) Traditional Chinese Medicine trade. Furthermore the scales of the pangolins are used to make jewelry or coats. The meat of pangolins is considered a delicacy. Every year we loose more and more pangolins to poaching, and while the Asian pangolin continues to decrease in population size, the African pangolin will be placed more at risk furthermore.
Investigators were more shocked at the sheer fact that three young adults were able to obtain large quantities of illegal and legal wildlife products then freely trade them on the streets or upon their personal Facebook profile shop forums. The images below depicts large quantities of tiger teeth, bear paws, shark fin and what we believe to be tiger testicles.
The following images below are from tigers that our International Animal Rescue Foundation Asian unit have successfully identified as Sumatran tigers listed as critically endangered on the IUCN – International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List.
Please note you may find some of the images below disturbing and emotionally upsetting.
Investigative officers were told that tigers are bred within small enclosures within the family home. From there the young cubs are then killed with the adults soon after. There body parts are either stored in a freezer whole, or decapitated. On mentioning tiger skins the EAD officers were informed that some of the tigers are skinned of which their pelts can fetch anything in the region of $5,000 to $10,000 USD. Needless to say we were mortified and shocked at the traders openness and complete disregard to the fact tigers are nearing extinction within the wild.
The tiger pictured above was being kept as a pet in a dark barred cage in Thailand, Bangkok. We personally believe that the three traders we’ve been monitoring since June 2015 have traded more than nine tigers (if not more). Based on the number of tiger teeth and claws we’ve estimated a probable 20-30 tigers have unfortunately met a rather gruesome and barbaric death, the sheer number of skulls, pelts, teeth, claws and tiger male testicles shows these traders are more than professional. The following images below may be upsetting to some viewers.
Despite the best attempts of law enforcement around the globe, CITES and national NGO’s pushing for stronger laws internationally and locally very little in demand and trade is being seen relating to tigers. A six month investigation of illicit wildlife trade has shown to us that trade is becoming more widespread, younger people are more involved rather than the elder generation. Regardless of education and awareness in schools the E.A.D are now picking up on average a total of 3-4 teenage dealers weekly. Many of them have ties to African bush meat traders too.
As previously explained Asiatic pangolins are nearing extinction, yet despite the amount of seizures being made, little in the way of a decrease in trade is being witnessed. Furthermore as Asian pangolin populations decreases, African pangolins will be poached to continue the trade and demand of pangolin meat, scales and medicine. None of which has any medicinal value whatsoever.
The images below were what prompted E.A.D investigative officers to then look further afield, taking the team from Thailand and Viet Nam to Africa.
From 2010 the External Affairs Department have noticed a staggering increase of tiger teeth and claws on sale via the Social Media platform identified as Facebook. There are two different types of trade. 1. Counterfeit trade which is primarily wooden carved tiger teeth and claws and 2. Real tiger teeth and claws. Like all of the evidence above and below obtained by the EAD’s Operation Trojan Horse officers, every part of the tiger is used for illegal trade.
Tiger teeth and claw necklaces are worn in Asia in the belief that such animal parts will bring the wearer power, good-luck, and ferocity. Many of the traders that we investigate often tell us that they have either found tiger teeth and claws on the ground in forests, purchased antique tiger teeth and claws from dealers. Or in this case have illegally harvested the tiger teeth and claws from home-captive bred tigers seen in the images below. The images below form part of the evidence files on the three individuals spanning from Thailand to Viet Nam.
(Please be warned the following images may be upsetting to some viewers).
Below are step by step guides that the Vietnamese trader bragged to E.A.D officers on how to harvest tiger teeth and claws. The images are upsetting and also include the skinning of tigers.
E.A.D officers are (as explained) unsure on the exact number of tigers that these individuals in question are breeding and trading within the home and other premises. From the evidence obtained the number of teeth and claws points to at least 20-30 tigers bred, killed and processed in Thailand and Viet Nam. An unidentified trader who’s name we cannot make public proudly shows on their Facebook page how easy it is to skin a tiger (images seen below).
Tiger testicles are also used within the Traditional Chinese Medicine trade, however this is the first time we ourselves have actually come across such tiger testicle trade (normally one views tiger penis on sale real and counterfeit). The trader[s] we’ve been investigating boasted within an online forum how tiger testicles are now more popular than tiger penis itself.
The image below shows the trader boasting how large the male tiger testicles are before he then sets about to remove, bag and weigh up the testicles for sale. Its believed the testicles ‘may’ be transported illegally into China or onto wealthy Viet Nam/Chinese restaurants where the soup of tiger testicles is ‘allegedly’ known as a delicacy and (aphrodisiac soup). None of which holds any medicinal evidence whatsoever.
Back in 2013 the Humane Society of the United States stated a total of twenty seven countries had outlawed the sale and trade of shark-fin for the production of shark-fin soup. One would then be led to believe that since this mass outlawing and bans on trade, it would therefore heavily restrict shark poaching and trade of shark-fin soup. In Thailand and Viet Nam it appears not to be the case (both countries have no bans in place).
Unfortunately when E.A.D officers investigated the traders herein this article, we uncovered more than enough shark-fin trade to prove that neither laws or outlawing of the trade is having any real effect on stopping or restricting the trade of shark-fin. On speaking to the unnamed trader within a forum online for TCM trade, the individual boasted how easy it was to obtain shark fin, an transport that into Asian and North American countries. The images below show shark-fins drying at the traders apartment in Thailand and Vietnam.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa and two investigation units aligned with us; External Affairs Unit and Operation Trojan Horse (Cyber Crimes Division) have been tracking countless illegal wildlife traders all over the world since IARFA established the (Cyber Crimes Unit). While the evidence above may shock many, its little compared to what we locate every month. Investigative officers work under immense pressure, stress and must work fast to ensure that traders once located are reported to the relevant agencies.
On the 23rd December 2015 Interpol’s Environmental Crime Unit and the Cyber Crimes Serious Investigation Team were alerted to our findings, while we can state now that our investigation which we have decided to make public has shown much data on trade. The investigation is considered normal due to the size. The most shocking aspect of this investigation was the fact that our younger generation are more active now within this illicit trade. That in itself poses some rather large problems and concerns, and one that now needs addressing at both government and educational level.
As of today 29th December 2015 this investigation has since been increased to “extremely urgent”, and the need to locate these men and women is critical before any further animals die, in Asia and Africa. All three individuals have shown a complete disregard to the fact rhino’s, elephants and tiger populations are losing ground throughout the Asian and African continent. Sharks and pangolins are also nearing extinction too. Trade and demand as explained has skyrocketed online to worrying levels, yet slowly vanishing on the ground.
Thailand is the new hub for rhino horn trade and Facebook and other social media platforms are being exploited to trade just about anything wildlife, regardless of such products being illegal. Trade and demand on the ground has also changed from elder to younger individuals (as explained) which is very worrying. One of the largest trading countries that we are seeing to date, is that of Thailand, which would explain why the BBC back in 2014 couldn’t locate much in the way of rhino horn (in Viet Nam).
Since General Prayut Chan-o-cha took over running of Thailand back in 2014 wildlife trade has skyrocketed. While we cannot prove increasing trade has anything to do with General Prayut Chan-o-cha, it just seems too coincidental that a sudden spike of rhino horn, ivory and other wildlife products has shot through the roof.
Facebook was where this investigation ended prompting us to then send all evidence to Interpol. Facebook hosts some 1.32 billion users worldwide, 32% of which use cell phones to login into the United States platform, thus making it difficult to locate traders and dealers.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa have been lobbying Facebook since the start of the year, to implement new terms and conditions to heavily disrupt this trade and demand. A petition that has amassed over five thousand signatures can be signed here and shared. However we’re not holding our breath. Should the Facebook platform and its CEO Mark Zukerburger not implement new polices on trade and demand of illicit wildlife products we will unfortunately soon see many species of animals pushed into extinction. Ivory and rhino horn trade has exploded to worrying new levels. Rhinos, elephants and tigers are being poached moreover, and the internet as well as ground trade is awash with anything from drugs, firearms, child trafficking (most of which links back to illegal wildlife trade).
One of the men that is pictured above is responsible for the trade of wildlife parts above, he has since been reported to Interpol along with his partner and other associates whom we have been investigating since June-December 2015. The individual above is believed to be in Hanoi (Nguyen), or Ho Chi Minh City, possibly with an accomplice. His name and other accomplices we cannot make public as yet. The image is recent.
A more closer image of the individual and the female is located below. We believe based on evidence obtained that the male is using the females account on Facebook too.
May this be a stark warning to all wildlife traders out-there. International Animal Rescue Foundation, External Affairs and Operation Trojan Horse will eventually catch up with you. If we catch you trading in wildlife products we will monitor you on the ground and online. From there we will press for your arrest and detention.
Within the past year Interpol has been escalating their new project identified as OPERATION WORTHY II Operation Worthy is targeting many individuals involved in international and local serious crime.
Updates on this case will follow as and when we’re updated. Thank you for reading.
Chief Environmental Officer (CEO)
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Endangered Species Monday: Rhinoceros sondaicus
This Endangered Species Post (ESP) Monday I have decided to touch up on the current fate of the critically endangered Javan Rhinoceros of which scientists this month caught yet another rare glimpse of this rather elusive beast within their still natural habitat. (Pic Javan Rhinoceros)
The Javan Rhinoceros was identified back in 1822 by Dr Anselme Gaëtan Desmarest (March 6, 1784 – June 4, 1838) was a French zoologist and author. He was the son of Nicolas Desmarest and father of Anselme Sébastien Léon Desmarest. Desmarest was a disciple of Georges Cuvier and Alexandre Brongniart, and in 1815, he succeeded Pierre André Latreille to the professorship of zoology at the École nationale vétérinaire d’Alfort. In 1820 he was elected to the Académie Nationale de Médecine.
Unlike the African black and white rhino, you’d be very lucky to catch a glimpse of this stunning specimen of which is classified as a sub-species of the four extant Rhinoceros and, is nearing complete extinction within the wild. Furthermore the subspecies of the Javan Rhinoceros are all extinct too. Known as Rhinoceros sondaicus sondaicus, Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus, and Rhinoceros sondaicus inermis the three sub-species went extinct from 1930-2011. Below I have included the “documented dates” of extinctions for the three sub-species to the Javan Rhinoceros.
- Rhinoceros sondaicus sondaicus (extinction was formally documented from 1999, however this report needs to be backed up with further historical data to pinpoint an exact extinction and location).
- Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus (extinction was formally recorded in 2010, however reports state the very last male was located dead within Viet Nam back in 2011).
- Rhinoceros sondaicus inermis (extinction was formally recorded back in 1925).
Please note the Wikipedia article online has confused the (extanct) R. sondaicus with the (extinct) subspecies Rhinoceros sondaicus sondaicus.
From 1965 Rhinoceros sondaicus was considered ‘extremely rare’ within the wild, then from 1986 to 1994 the species was classified as (endangered). Unfortunately from 1996 the species was again re-classified as (critically endangered) and now no fewer than sixty individuals remain within the wild. The last sighting of ‘a’ Javan rhino was I believe on the 18th September 2015 at exactly 17:46 hrs within the Ujung Kulon National Park.
Javan rhino’s did cover quite an extensive area ranging from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Viet Nam, and probably southern China through peninsular Malaya to Sumatra and Java. Sadly the species is now thought to be inhabiting the Ujung Kulon National Park which is located within Indonesia. Further non-viable (all male) and elderly populations are also claimed to be inhabiting a very small area of Viet Nam.
To date the species is now endemic only to Indonesia, however there are said to be few individuals ‘possibly’ remaining within Viet Nam too. I must stress though that there has been no official camera trap sightings or actual eyeball sightings of the species in as many years within Viet Nam of which its likely the species “may have gone extinct”.
Regional extinctions of the current sub-species have occurred within the following countries; Bangladesh; Cambodia; China; India; Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia); Myanmar and Thailand. Reports from the 18th September 2015 have also confirmed that the species has taken some ‘fifty years’ to double in size from (50) to now (60) individuals remaining.
From the middle of the nineteenth century the species was practically eradicated due to over-hunting, unregulated hunting, poaching, disease and habitat destruction. The last records of the Javan Rhinoceros within locations not listed above were from 1920 in Myanmar, to 1932 in Malaysia, and 1959 on Sumatra (Indonesia). Up to date records have proven further sightings this year and last year within Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park. The last “known” poached Javan Rhino (sub-species) was said to be from 2010-2011 which was that of the Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus species of which “complete extinction” was formally documented in relation to this specific sub-species of the Rhinoceros sondaicus.
The exact number of individuals noted within the wild is said to be in between 40-60 individuals however due to such small “fragmented locations” its quite difficult at times to know just how many do actually remain, hence the need for increased conservation projects, funding and anti poaching operations to increase. On a good note we know the species is reproducing, unfortunately on a bad note 40-60 individuals is considered near extinct and drastic measures need to be implemented sooner rather than later to preserve the remaining wild specimens.
The second “alleged” location and I stress alleged of the Rhinoceros sondaicus occurs in and around the Cat Loc part (Dong Nai province) of the Cat Tien National Park in Viet Nam, with maybe as few as six individuals remaining. Please do remember not to confuse the extinction of the Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus within the same country (Viet Nam) with the Rhinoceros sondaicus that’s considered still extant although possibly believed to be extinct within (Viet Nam). (I will be providing an update in relation to the alleged Cat Tien Javan Rhino R. sondaicus) via my main Facebook site and will correct amend this document accordingly.
Something I do find rather peculiar is that there are currently no Javan Rhinoceros within protective captivity. Records have stated that some twenty two individuals have been recorded within protective captivity though. I do find this rather strange as we have in zoological gardens around the world just about every other species of Rhinoceros to protect its current future for reintroduction back into the wild at a later date – yet the Javan Rhinoceros has literally been left to its own demise. I’ve yet to locate any real reasonable explanation as to why from the mid 1980’s some individuals were not removed from the wild and bred within protective captivity.
Image: Javan Rhinoceros information graph.
The Javan Rhinoceros currently occurs in lowland tropical rainforest areas, especially in the vicinity of water. The species formerly occurred in more open mixed forest and grassland and on high mountains. Because of its rarity, little is known about its preferred habitat, but it is certainly not naturally restricted to dense tropical forest water. Little is known about the species’ biology and the habitats in which the two remaining populations are found may not be optimal.
The home range size of females is probably no more than 500 ha, while males wonder over larger areas, with likely limited dispersal distance. The species is generally solitary, except for mating pairs and mothers with young. Its life history characteristics are not well known, with longevity estimated at about 30-40 years, gestation length of approximately 16 months (as with other rhino species), and age at sexual maturity estimated at 5-7 years for females and 10 years for males. -IUCN.
Unlike their African relatives the Javan Rhinoceros has a rather small single black horn (typical of Asiatic rhinos). The black market for rhino horns varies with species and price of current horn however it must be noted that the “rarer” the species the more value the horn will provide to the seller. Your average African Rhinoceros horn fetches in the region of $60,000 to $80,000 per kilogram on the black market. However the Asiatic Rhinoceros horn[s] can fetch over or even double this should the species be considered extremely rare.
On a recent visit to Viet Nam I was viewing more Asiatic antique Rhinoceros horn on the black market still selling at higher prices than African rhino horns, however not once did I locate any fresh African horns (2014). So again the need to drastically increase conservation actions, funding and anti poaching patrols is greatly needed. In my own opinion there seems to be way too much funding and awareness pushed into Africa with little progress being seen. Whereas in relation to the Asian Rhinoceros, funding and awareness identical to whats being witnessed in Africa is not even a fraction seen within Asia.
The cause of population decline is mainly attributable to the excessive demand for rhino horn and other products for Chinese and allied medicine systems. The bulk of the remaining population occurs as a single population within a national park and the population size in Ujung Kulon National Park is probably limited to the effective carrying capacity of the area (around 50 animals). One possible threat to this population is disease. In addition, such a small population faces a constant threat from poachers, although there is evidence that current poaching levels are under control. The Cat Loc population may be too small to be viable, and no breeding has been observed for many years, and it is possible that the animals are too old to breed. The population is so small that all the animals could be of the same sex.
While we have in the past month witnessed new Javan sightings and evidence of reproduction the Javan Rhino is by far nowhere near from danger. As explained above disease could wipe the entire fifty to sixty remaining individuals out. Furthermore while poaching levels are currently under control – it will only take a single individual or group of poachers to gather intelligence on the remaining populations thus exterminating the entire wild populations indefinitely.
My name is Dr Jose C. Depre, thank you reading and please be most kind to share and make aware the current plight of our Asiatic Rhinoceros.
Dr Jose C. Depre
Environmental and Botanical Scientist.
NB: Please note that while there have been “reported sightings” of the R. sondaicus in Viet Nam there is no up to date data that proves this species is still endemic to the country of Viet Nam.
India: War on Poaching intensifies.
Since early May 2012 the Indian State, Maharashtra government provided all of its rangers a shoot to kill licence directly aimed at “poachers” regardless of age, sex or religion. The shoot to kill order was given of which rangers are immune from prosecution due to high levels of Rhino, Tiger, Lion and, Elephant poaching within the country.
When International Animal Rescue Foundation India became aware of Maharashtra government’s demands they watched and waited for results of which back then were little however, since 2013 rangers have been actively involved in over one hundred and forty nine legal killings with a further eleven so far to date (13th June 2015). The number is believed to be a lot higher. Furthermore as poaching is not just confined to “animals” but also the sacred sandalwood, forestry rangers have been actively engaging sandalwood poachers and smugglers too.
April 4th 2015 forestry rangers and Police came under heavy gunfire in two separate locations within Tamil Nadu, Chittoor. Police and forestry guards tried to apprehend some twenty sandalwood poachers/smugglers of which took off into the sandalwood forests in Andhra Pradesh. The first shoot out saw some saw some nine smugglers shot dead in one area of the sandalwood forest that is unknown to us while a second saw a further eleven smugglers shot dead in what was described as a “heavy exchange” of bullets from both sides within Chittoor in Southern Andhra Pradesh. While some people have stated this action unjust we please ask you to continue to reading (to the bottom) for you to fully understand why the Police and forestry services may have took such action.
2015 has been quite a busy year thus far for forestry rangers and Police. At the start of the year, 15th January 2015 three Rhino poachers that were directly ordered to lay down their weapons aimed them at forestry guards opening fire. The incident that took place in the Kaziranga National Park, in the remote state of Assam prompted forestry guards to act quickly and professionally to preserve the sacred One Horned Rhino of which they shot the three poachers dead instantly. Fortunately no forestry guards or the Rhino were injured this time.
March 2015 a further three ivory poachers that were caught red handed slaughtering an Indian Rhino of which the Indian Rhino lost its life and was left in a pitiful state were shot dead immediately. We’ve included the image of that Rhino below for your information and to grasp why we and India have now had enough of this slaughter and will take the relevant steps required to support our men and women to secure our fauna and flora.
Image: Rhino killed by ivory poachers – poachers shot dead on site.
While poaching continues so does “hunting the poachers too” and so it rightfully should. International Animal Rescue Foundation India supported by its sister Africans Environmental company, began paying five “unnamed” forestry units within the shoot to kill zones larger cash incentives to hunt and take down any mammal or sandalwood poachers. The organisation has come under some fierce criticism from mainly European and American citizens most of which are devout church goers or, believe poverty is the first step that needs to be dealt with.
International Animal Rescue Foundation’s Indian Chief Executive Officer Vasvi Kanal stated “On consulting the Chief Environmental Officer back in 2012 when we were made aware of Maharashtra’s stance we knew we had to do something to support our brave men and women. After a meeting in New Delhi that following summer it was decided we should support the shoot to kill policy to send a a direct message out to poachers that you’ll no longer simply walk into our forests and parks and take what’s not rightfully yours”. Kanal went onto state “The shoot to kill policy had to be endorsed one way or the other and, I thank the Chief Environmental Officer Dr Jose Depre for wiring the funds directly to us that are now placed into the hands of these brave men and women to seek and kill poachers”.
Image: Indian Rhino poacher shot dead on site.
Since the policy was enacted in 2012 in Maharashtra some seven states within India have since followed suite of Maharashtra’s firm stance and, since 2014 we’ve seen a staggering increase of poachers that have been caught trying to kill Rhino, Elephant, Tiger or illegally harvesting sandalwood shot dead on site. Furthermore many Indian press agencies have picked up the organisations support creating debate and stories on the subject that has encouraged more and more female and male citizens to come on board to protect and preserve our natural habitat and sacred heritage.
Soon after Maharashtra’s stance on “all animal and habitat poaching/destruction” took on a new positive twist, Nepal back in 2013 set their Anti Poaching Units into action – to hunt the – hunters. About 10 years ago, when the country was deeply mired in a civil war between government forces and Maoist rebels, there was hardly any focus on wildlife protection in one of Nepal’s most famous parks
The number of army monitoring posts in and around the park was reduced from 30 to seven as soldiers were shifted to anti-insurgency operations. In 2002, about 37 Rhinos were killed by poachers, triggering grave concern over the future of One-Horned Rhinos. Their numbers dropped from an estimated 612 in 2000 to less than 375 in 2005.
“According to our last rhino census in 2011 the number of Rhinos in the park has risen to more than 500,” said Kamal Jung Kunwar, a senior official at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.
As the chief of the Anti-Poaching Operation from 2003 to 2007, Mr Kunwar played a key role in the conservation of Rhinos in Chitwan National Park. Spread over an area of more than 930 sq km, the park consists mostly of Sal trees and grasslands. Its flat lowlands are home to a variety of endangered animals like Royal Bengal Tigers, Rhinos, Leopards and Gharial Crocodiles. Crucial re-deployment: The successful conservation effort is attributed to a variety of initiatives, including tough action against poachers, enhanced intelligence and involving villagers living around the park in conservation efforts.
Image: Rhino poacher shot dead.
Meanwhile, while India strides forwards in its tough Anti Poaching operations poachers are still targeting rangers and police leaving their seriously injured on in many cases themselves killed. Deaths continue on both sides and rarely do the press and media overseas bother to print on the bravery of these men and women or, their tragic deaths.
Back in January 2014 poachers killed a female Rhino and a home guard at the Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park, that Wednesday. Park officials said the home guard, Sushil, was killed during a gun battle with the poachers, who also managed to chop off the Rhino’s horn.
Rifles and ammunition were recovered from the spot. This is the second case of poaching at Orang which has about 100 Rhinos. The last Rhino was killed earlier in December, following which the park authorities announced a cash reward of Rs 50,000 for information on poacher Md Joynaluddin alias Junu. The authorities have also pasted Joynaluddin’s posters at several places in Darrang, Sonitpur, and Morigaon districts.
Back in 2014 a survey was undertaken on the number of rangers that are sadly murdered by poachers and killed by wild animals within the country according to the IBT. The results were shocking of which encouraged International Animal Rescue Foundation India to push more funding into local forestry units around Assam and the Ministry that supports guards financially. India loses more forest/Anti Poaching Guards than any other country on the planet.
Most of the Indian forest security men and women have been killed by poachers and wild animals, states the survey by non-profit organisation International Ranger Federation (IRF). In the past three years, as many as 72 forest rangers died in India, whereas in other countries in Asia, Africa and America, only less than 10 deaths of forest rangers have been reported, The Times of India reported, quoting the survey by IRF which strives to create awareness about forest rangers and security men.
It can be recalled that smugglers of red sanders killed several forest rangers in AP’s Tirumala forests in recent years. Notorious bandit Veerappan has also killed several forest officers and security men till a decade ago. The survey further stated that about 60 percent of the forest rangers’ killings, in the last three years, happened in Asia.
“We are extremely concerned that rangers continue to face high levels of violence and are being murdered at an alarming pace,” said IRF president Sean Willmore.
India lost 24 forest rangers in 2014, 14 in 2013 and 34 in 2012. India tops the list in the deaths of forest rangers during all three years. The report went onto state – That most rangers were killed by wild animals and poachers. Apart from animals and poachers, diseases such as dengue and malaria, forest fires and road accidents have also claimed the lives of rangers, the survey added.
In India, smugglers of wild animals and forest wealth like red sanders do not hesitate to kill rangers, if they are obstructed from committing the crime. In Seshachalam forest of Andhra Pradesh, about 200 smugglers attacked forest rangers and killed two officers in December 2013. The 200 smugglers first rained stones on the ranger sand then attacked them with batons. Rangers in India are often seen unarmed, making them vulnerable to the smugglers’ attacks.
The government of India has been dealing with wildlife poachers with an iron fist in the past one year with 30 poachers being gunned down in the Northeast alone. The number that figured in the data released by the environment ministry is the highest ever in the country. Most of the killings took place in the Kaziranga National Park, Assam. The KNP, Assam is the largest known “active poaching area” hence the largest amount of hits and is custodian to over 1000 endangered Indian one Horned Rhinos.
“The number shows our determination to eliminate wildlife traffickers and poachers. It is a big achievement of the Modi government,” environment minister Prakash Javadekar said recently.
Highly sophisticated arms were recovered from the poachers who killed Rhinos for horns smuggled to South-East Asia through porous Myanmar. Hunting down of poachers in Kharbi Anglong of Assam was undertaken by the Congress-led Assam government to save single-horn rhinos of Kaziranga and nearby areas.
Big cats at huge risk:
Wildlife in other parts of the country isn’t as lucky as the Rhinos. As many as 23 Tigers and 116 Leopards were poached in 2014 across India, with states like Uttarakhand, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh reporting a large number of cases.
“These are the cases that have been reported. There might have been cases where the poachers took the whole animal, without leaving a trace,” said Tito Joseph of the Wildlife Protection Society of India. Traffic, a non-government group monitoring wildlife trade, says that there has been no let down in illegal wildlife trade in India. It says the Northeast is turning into a hub of wildlife smuggling.
A report by the National Tiger Conservation Authority also indicates weak wildlife crime management in the country. It states that almost 40% of the forest guards do not have enough equipment to deal with highly organised wildlife crimes. “The states are not providing funds to modernize wildlife crime management,” a senior official said.
Despite some public criticism calling the organisation “dogs” and “disgusting” India’s tough stance on Anti Poaching must continue. International Animal Rescue Foundation India hopes to push a further $15,500 into the cash incentive jar to help equip rangers, police and forest guards. Furthermore the environmental company that has some one people working on the ground in New Delhi will be working with local communities in poverty stricken zones where poachers are known to originate from to help decrease poaching, improve poverty and hopefully decrease killing on both sides.
Lastly I wish to leave you with this video directed at those that believe Indian forestry guards and Anti Poaching Units are randomly picking off innocent people. Please watch the video to the end and undertake your own Google search on those brave men that sadly lost their lives fighting for animal and environmental freedom.
Thank you for reading.
Johan La Roux
Rhino Welfare Project Africa.
Rhino and elephant poaching on the African continent has again raged out of control this year, and as we near the end of 2014 statistical data shows that near to 1200 rhinoceros have been poached for fake medicine and thousands more elephants killed for meat and their ivory. Its expected by the end of 2014 we will have lost some 1400 rhino. Data models have also shown that by the end of 2015 we look set to loose a staggering 2,009 rhinos with thousands more elephants too.
The poaching pandemic within South Africa custodian to the worlds largest populations of Rhinoceros isn’t decreasing, nor are any forms of anti poaching actively working to at least stem the poaching rate. From 2010 we lost 333 rhinoceros of which some 165 people were arrested. 2011 poaching and arrest statistics increased again that saw some 448 rhino butchered and 282 poachers arrested. From 2012 poaching statistics shot up yet again seeing some 668 rhinoceros killed and 297 people suspected or known to have poached arrested. 2013 over 1004 rhino were slaughtered of which a further 298 people suspected of poaching were arrested.
Statistics for 2014 to date place arrest rates at some 344 with some 1100 rhinoceros bludgeoned to death to provide the Asian medicine market with fake medicinal cures and to show wealth among the rich within the countries of Viet Nam, Laos, China and Thailand.
India has had its fair share of poaching too although poachers do play Russian roulette when they wish to poach rhinos, tigers or elephants within the Indian national parks. Statistics show some 37 one horned rhinoceros poached since the start of the year which is a little over last years poaching records. Arrest rates are up that see some 45 people arrested. Deaths of poachers has increased from last years statistics that was 5 poachers killed compared to this years kill rate that stands at 27 poachers killed within the national parks of India.
Please note the Rhino poaching stats for 2014 are incorrect – to date over 30 Rhinos have since been poached.
While arrest rates are increasing within South Africa [see pic below] with regards to rhino poaching very few poachers are actually brought before the courts with many given bail just to commit the same offence again or flee back over the border from which they remain untouchable just to re-offend again.
Back in early December 2014 International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa and India launched a public debate focusing on [Shoot to Kill] – a method of wildlife preservation now active in the majority of wildlife parks in India that sends a clear and precise message to poachers – yet within South Africa is barely practiced as rangers and farm security either face red tape court and legal action or haven’t even the weapons to shoot to defend or kill poachers. Red tape or legal action is not seen within the states of India where a one shot to kill poachers has been authorized.
Kaziranga National Park hosts plenty of tigers being the worlds highest density and fleets of endangered one-horned rhinos. (More than two-thirds of the remaining population.) And, since 2010 a take-no-prisoners anti-poaching policy that allows rangers to shoot on sight. Welcome to the future of conservation.
Indian wildlife poacher Naren Pegu briefly became famous back in 2010 with regards to the Indian shoot to kill policy. Poacher Naren Pegu was shot dead on the morning of December 13th 2010 after anti poachers could take no more. Naren Pegu had decimated many rhino and tiger populations making thousands from animals parts and providing an illicit trade to South East Asia.
Time to Get Tough on Poaching;
The fall of India’s most notorious poacher.
Pegu was a member of the Mishing tribe, one of Assam’s many indigenous groups that, like their equivalents everywhere, have lost land and livelihoods. Mishing villages line the park boundary, their inhabitants pressed against it like kids at a candy-store window. If you can’t pay $50 for a jeep safari, you can’t get inside. Growing up here, Pegu learned to sneak past the border; he knew the park like his own backyard. He’d come and go undetected by the forest guards—India’s version of wildlife rangers. Poaching ran in Pegu’s family; his father was a poacher before him. In all due respects Pegu was “allegedly” poaching to provide a stable income for his family of which poachers within Africa of which some opportunistic poachers are merely doing the same. If countries such as Viet Nam, Laos and China were not using tiger, rhino and other animal parts for trade its most likely that Pegu and his family members would either have to resort to other violent crime to feed and provide income to family members or die from extreme poverty.
Most Mishing involved in the trade are content to serve as illegal guides for the bigger regional guns—sharpshooters and brokers from Nagaland—whom they lead in and out of the vast park, taking a small cut. But Naren Pegu was enterprising. He taught himself the rules of the trade, cutting deals in seedy hotels. Learned where to get black-market .303 rifles from the separatists who control the Nagaland hills. He thought big. Typically, poachers blow any money they come into, but not Pegu: he’d saved enough to invest in three vehicles, a big house, even a plot of land, where he was starting his own tea garden in some sort of psychological stab at legitimacy. While Pegu was bringing down more than $20,000 per year through poaching, his Mishing relations scrabbled to earn $200 a year in the rice paddies.
Pegu had every right to feel cocky as he and an accomplice slipped into Kaziranga on the evening of December 12, waiting out the night munching on rotis and precooked rice; a fire would have given them away. At dawn, rhinos scatter across Kaziranga to feed on the rich grasslands, and Pegu was ready. He came upon a mother rhino feeding with her calf. Got out his rifle. Shooting a rhino is like shooting a barn: when you take aim, they stop and stare, deciding whether to charge. Pegu shot the mother dead, hacked off her horn, and left the baby standing there. The park border, his village, and a payday in Nagaland were not far away.
Pegu should have been home free. He knew the landscape, and Kaziranga employs only about 500 forest guards to cover more than 300 square miles of tall grass and jungle—on foot. What were their chances of finding him? Yet, unbeknownst to Pegu, before he even fired his shot three forest guards had entered the area, searching for him. As soon as he fired, they closed on the spot. Unlike most guards in most parks in India, they were armed. And they had license to kill.
Pegu saw the guards first and opened fire. Missed. The guards took cover. As the shooting continued, one guard calmly raised his antique .303 Lee Enfield rifle to his shoulder, lined up Pegu in his sights, and blew his head off.
Pegu’s accomplice was shot in the hip by another guard. An hour later, he, too, had died “from his injuries,” according to the park’s report. Pictures from that day show the two men lying on the forest floor. The accomplice has dried black blood around his eyes, nose, and ears. Pegu’s head is split open like a watermelon.
The photography we have on Pegu and his accomplice is to graphic to include within this article however one can Google it by searching in the Punjabi language.
Licence to Kill – Smack in the Face to South Africans…
Indian rangers and forestry guards are paid an extra allowance should they locate and shoot dead poachers. While some may not believe this is actually helping to deter poachers – it actually is. India has the lowest rhino poaching rate compared with Africa of which to date over 1100 South African rhinos have been poached dead this year alone . 91.74% of voters agreed this year that a shoot to kill policy should be drawn up within South Africa. 6.46% of people stated a shoot to kill policy should not be given to rangers while 1.73% stated they were unsure. Either way this is desperate times and desperate times calls for some serious defensive measures. No mater what legislation the South African government is bringing in – its not working, This year alone as explained over one thousand rhinos have been bludgeoned to death. Something has to give and now we know poachers are feeling somewhat afraid to enter Indian National Parks the same sense of fear must apply to African poachers that wish to rid Africa of rhinos and other large fauna.
India is quite a poor country however they take wildlife crime as serious. Back in 2012 In addition, the government in Maharashtra reserved a fund of 5 million rupees ($90,000), to be used to reward people who can give information about alleged poachers. This year alone within rhino and tiger reserves alone we have seen an increase of poachers being shot dead and government handing out cash rewards. We must also reiterate that India has stated no legal action will be brought against those whom kill poachers. So why the same practice is not being adopted within South Africa is quite baffling. Are certain government ministers in on the poaching?
Indian forestry teams mostly now print on how they have shot dead poachers – rather than arrest them. Back in November 2014 yet another shoot out entailed the seventh for that month that left two rhino poachers dead and yet another message sent to the poaching community that wildlife crime will not be tolerated. Sadly since November to December we’ve lost a further seven rhinos however a four poachers out of them seven incidents were shot dead.
The two poachers were killed in an encounter with forest guards [picture below] in the Kaziranga National Park, famed for its one-horned rhinoceros. Acting on a tip-off, forest guards spotted the duo in a forest area between Diffloo and Borbhag camp in Burapahar range in Nagaon district and an encounter ensued in which the poachers were killed, a senior forest official said. The forest guards also recovered a .303 rifle, eight live cartridges, seven empty cartridges, some foodstuff and a mobile handset. The slain poachers have since been identified and their bodies have been sent for postmortem. A total of 14 poachers have been killed this year in Kaziranga National Park.
Poachers had arrived into the park in search of the endangered one horned Rhinoceros.
While some may agree hunting the poachers is extreme, its unfortunately the only [extreme] method of preserving our wildlife. Human Rights Organisations have yet to really speak out on the issue however are monitoring the increasing death rate of poachers within India. Their argument is poachers are trying to support their families financially.
Tiger and rhino populations within India are at their lowest though and while still extant their presence brings in revenue from tourism which helps to secure parks, pay wages, and decrease poverty within areas that border the main rhino and tiger parks. So in all the government is trying its hardest not only to protect its wildlife but also impoverished communities. Taking Indian wildlife poacher Naren Pegu case to hand too – while some journalists have stated he was only poaching to secure his families welfare, the vast majority of money was being used to fund his lavish lifestyle. While Naren Pegu was funding his own way of life, meanwhile on the border of Kruger National Park, South Africa “poachers that derive from poverty stricken Mozambique” are living the life of Riley. Poaching African rhino and living off the funding that is generated from the sales of the cut down horn. It truly is disgusting and a complete smack in the face to all Africans.
In Western Mozambique a now not so tiny nor impoverished village named as Kabok is now known as Mozambique’s millionaires rhino row. Poverty stricken individuals that are [untouchable] have for the past several years been wandering over the non-secure South African-Mozambique border taking down rhinoceros left right and center. While many face arrest and in some rare cases have been short dead [when a shoot out occurs] the village is growing and so too is its greed for Kruger’s Rhino horn and the wealth such horn trade brings in. Mansions and new vehicles can clearly be seen along the border to the disgust of anti poaching units and rangers alike.
In neighboring South Africa, these mansions would be called matchboxes. Most are flat-roofed, single-storeyed structures. Some look similar to RDP houses [public housing]. But what separates these homes from the usual reed houses in Kabok is that they are made from brick.
This part of Mozambique is dirt poor and the remnants of the civil war scar the landscape and the psyche of the people. War amputees wander the dirt roads. The new Kabok has been built on the horns of the hundreds of rhinos slaughtered just kilometres away in Kruger National Park. It is not alone – there are other towns spread along the border that lines Kruger National Park. They are the staging posts for rhino poachers.
There was a time when the bordering Corumane Dam supplied the community with its main source of income – fishing. Now, under the silvery full moon, fishermen ferry poachers across the lake, rowing them up the Sabie River and dropping them close to the Kruger fence. In South Africa Kabok has long had the reputation of being a haven for robbers and hijackers who take refuge across the border. Rhino economics filters through the town, the anti-poaching officer explains. Everyone gets a piece of the pie, builders are paid to construct those houses. Spaza shops have sprung up, some built with rhino money. The funeral industry, it appears, gets its cut too. Mozambique has in the past year acknowledged rhino poaching as being a crime and is actively helping to reduce communities along the border of the Kruger National Park. Sadly while the Mozambique government have acknowledged rhino poaching its still seen as a misdemeanor offence rather than a punishable offence. In all this is a smack in the face to all South Africans and our wildlife too.
Rules of Engagement – African Rangers can Face Legal Action;
Member of the SANDF Anti Poaching Unit patrolling the Kruger National Park
While the Indian Government has actively authorized in tiger and rhino reserves a shoot to kill policy of which forest guards are immune from legal action, in South Africa the rules of engagement are somewhat more cloudy of which there have been few cases where rangers and Anti Poaching Operatives have faced the wrath of their own government taking legal action against them for protecting their own wildlife. Animal rights activists must also remember when screaming and shouting at conservation units to shoot poachers – there are rules that must be obeyed at all times. These very rules are what International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa are now going to challenge in the wake of last months rhino poaching statistics and intelligence that has pinpointed South Africa as being the next country to be hit hard by elephant poachers. Activists must also remember that the vast majority of South African Anti Poaching Units are just that and not members of SANDF – South African National Defense Force that have the capability and authorization to take a shot at poachers and are 99.9% of the time armed while many Anti Poaching Units that consist of volunteers and/or rangers are lacking basic equipment or in some cases one unit only has one shooter. Least forgetting do not have the authorization to just kill poachers.
Unlike soldiers in combat, rangers pursue criminals, not enemy combatants. Rangers enforce national laws and work under specified rules, and in South Africa and elsewhere, they’re permitted to fire only in self-defense. That need for restraint can be stressful, states the now retired Major Jooste. “Here’s this [ranger], tracking poachers in 45 degrees [Celsius, or 113 degrees Fahrenheit] for many days. He gets a sighting, but he cannot shoot at the person. He must now stalk the person.” Yet the thick bush hinders tracking. When the ranger finally finds his quarry, “then he must challenge the poacher. Only when that person picks up his rifle may he defend himself. And that is taxing.”
According to Jooste, in 2013 SANParks rangers engaged in 65 firefights, but they recorded 108 sightings of poachers. “Because we’re law abiding, they get away. Because they run away into the bush, [the poachers] have the advantage.”
In addition, when a ranger in South Africa kills a poacher, the ensuing police investigation puts pressure on the ranger and his or her family—even if the case is dismissed. “You’re on the defensive all along,” Jooste says. “You know that when you sight them, in a split second you’ll have to make a decision whether to defend yourself, and there will be consequences.”
The consequences can range from legal action from the poachers themselves or from families against rangers of which is time consuming, taxing on the already impoverished country and sees rangers time taken up in courts rather than where they should be operating – in the fields.
Murder – Rangers risk their lives in the fields for pittance;
“Many who become game rangers go into it knowing that the position goes with many dangers of wild animals, dehydration, irritating insects, never mind the poachers—and most are the type of tough personality that can handle the rigors of the job,” says Kevin Bewick, head of the Anti-Poaching Intelligence Group of Southern Africa.
A recent ranger recruitment drive for Virunga yielded 1,800 applicants for 112 spots, despite the high death toll in the park during the past decade. For many, the attraction is the promise of a job, but that’s not the only, or even the main, factor.
Picture above – KWS monument in honor of Kenyan Wildlife Rangers killed on active duty.
“Being a ranger was not a choice but a calling,” says Stephen Midzi, whose base is Shangoni Post in Kruger. “I was born for this, so had to fulfill what has already been written in my book of life.” Zakouma’s Ndotoingar says simply, “I’m proud of my work.” “Not a single guy has quit,” SANParks’ Jooste notes, adding that without the rangers like Midzi, poaching statistics would be a lot worse. “Look what would happen if we weren’t here.”
Every four days in Africa and around the world a ranger or Anti Poaching Operative is killed in their line of work. Many either face a quick death, are killed by contract shooters or tortured to death. The risks are endless yet wildlife security forces still risk their lives despite pittance [very little monetary income].
As explained International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa is challenging the South African government on shooting to defend of which the organisation wants a clear and precise “shoot to kill” law introduced for wildlife rangers and Anti Poachers not just SANDF. Furthermore I.A.R.F.A. calls on the government to not only authorize rangers to adopt this method of conservation but implement a NO conviction No Legal action clause within contract. Training and more equipment to be supplied to rangers too and rangers with no firearms to be equipped without delay.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa doesn’t stand alone either when it comes to such licence to kill policy. Over 90% of South Africans questioned agreed that a shoot to kill policy must be enforced to send a clear and precise message to poachers and king-pins that poaching will not be tolerated within the country. Should the organisation win it could see rangers in other countries authorized a licence to kill. Kenya is one such country on the continent of which KWS – [Kenyan Wildlife Service rangers] not only face death from poachers but are also heavily outnumbered by poachers that are slaughtering rhino and elephants.
The Peoples Verdict – Licence to Kill;
Back in November International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa and India started a public debate with regards to the shoot to kill policy. The debate has thus far seen quite a prolific response from which can be read below. Quite astonishingly we counted a mere dozen or more responses that were against the shoot to kill policy, whereas over 2,000 responses based from our Indian and South African debates called for a shoot to kill policy to be implemented.
Below is a handful of extracted responses for you all to read. You can join the debate by logging onto Facebook and clicking the link below. Alternatively you vote via our poll that will be the second third poll this year of which we will collect all results and begin passing these on to the government and ministries throughout Africa.
Roxanne Cochran stated – I am from South Africa. I agree fully with this notion. If they’re willing to take a life, they should be prepared to be shot down dead too. It’s very sad to see that most rhinos here have had there horns cut down for protection. It’s not natural and it breaks my heart that we have to go to such extremes to protect these beautiful creatures.
Gavin Hastings stated – Hello all, I am a serving soldier of the SANDF; I am just back from my 3rd deployment of 6 months from the Kruger. The problem id like to address is not man power or resources, it is the government of the country of South Africa and Mozambique who are now collaborating in the elimination of the species of rhino thanks to the bureaucratic impasse given to poachers of rhinos. As a soldier I am now “arresting” poachers. It is very difficult to maintain success and morale if you capture a person and he is extradited to re-do his killing the next week. I ask the international community to pressure my government. We need legislation to properly take care of the species survival and give the killers their fair due.
George Chimbai stated – In my country Malawi rhinos were once extincted and were re-introduced in the 1990s with rhinos from South Africa, without that Malawi wouldn’t have been boasting of having the BIG FIVE in its national parks and game reserves. South Africa as a supplier of endangered species to countries where they’re facing extinction I welcome and support the SHOOT TO KILL POLICY of these poachers.
Leisa Cope stated– I agree with shoot to kill only because I don’t see any other option. The consequences of killing animals not only brutally but into extinction needs to be this intense to at least make poachers think twice about what they are doing. If poachers choose to risk their lives then this is their own decision. How sad it is when it comes to this form of action.
Berdine Helderberg stated – Definitely shoot to kill – although, a warning shot might be needed first? (Legal wise..) Poachers know what they are doing, they know it is wrong and because they know they are untouchable, they continue committing these horrible horrible crimes. They simply do not care about the intense suffering of the animals and sometimes the babies too. If you can do it to a defenseless, helpless animal, you will do it to a human being too. Lastly, they will shoot any person that comes in their way, not thinking twice.
Kerryn Hay stated – Shoot to kill definitely. I have no sympathy for poachers even if they are disadvantaged/uneducated and trying to put food on table as some of you have argued – they are making the decision to brutally murder helpless animals and every action has consequences. Kill these criminals! why are we even considering giving them rights when animals have none. If it’s working in India then we must try it because nothing South Africa has done has helped thus far and time is running out while we debate the rights of ruthless criminals! I would prefer to see them die as slowly and painfully as the animals that they murder but let’s shoot to kill and make an example of them!
Heather Smith stated – These poachers are killing innocent animals, so why shouldn’t they expect the same treatment. Rangers are shooting to save these animals lives, poachers are shooting purely for money. You have my support all the way. Shoot to kill!!! Just as the poachers do.
Debbie Olivier stated – South Africa wake up! Allow our rangers to shoot to kill – no questions asked. We have entrusted our wildlife to them – we need to trust them with this too as they are well trained.
Donny De Mars stated – Why shouldn’t there be a shoot to kill law? I mean what makes you think these poachers would not do the same for any unarmed ranger who tries to bring them in. They are no better than drug traffickers and deserve even more severe punishment! A life for a life.
Robert Cates stated – I think a shoot to kill policy/law should be enacted not only to stop dead the ones doing it now, but also to SHOW/deter others thinking about doing it. I don’t think it should be even controlled by the police department… I think it should be an open season sort of policy… that should really put the scare in them.
Whoozie Blue Marlene stated – If you were running away from a bank having stolen a rare pink diamond the. The police would shoot you down dead. Are our rhinos not rare enough, aren’t they our beautiful pink diamonds?. Telling a poacher to stop or else does not work and if it does they are back in business chop chop. If this was installed it would work simply because no one wants to die. God left these animals in our care, so far the care has not been good enough I’m afraid. Protect our Rhino please because enough is enough !!
James Kipterem stated – I agree! Because rangers too are being targeted by these evil minded poachers. Even poachers, they have the same thought of “shoot to kill” whenever they meet rangers. So shoot to kill is the only remedy to a poacher, because, why break the law which we were passing together? that, ‘it is illegal to kill wild animals’. Instead of defending the law you break it. That is very bad. Always law defenders are more than breakers.
Jannette Slabbert stated – Any bad behavior must have real and costly consequences or you will never change it prison is obviously not enough of a penalty so if loosing your life is the price then so be it. It has proven effective in India then I say put the policy in SA too.
Russell Gordon stated – Future generation will blame us for not doing enough to have prevented the total extinction of the Rhino. So to address this now to preserve the Rhino for our future generations poachers and their ring leaders need to feel pain and by that I mean the ultimate sentence, the death penalty.
Laurian Knop stated – I vote shoot to kill poachers in self defense. Poachers are always armed and chose to kill the helpless and innocent. How many rangers have lost their lives to poachers? Self defense is not murder. Protecting those unable to defend themselves is not a criminal offense. Poachers are a scourge that need to be wiped out as they facilitate a bigger epidemic of terrorism, trafficking of drugs and children and general corruption. Why is this even being second-guessed? Do those opposed have something to lose should it be implemented?
Chris Switzer stated – I believe the continuity of a species, far outweighs any issues that might be brought up with regard to a shoot to kill policy. Poaching an endangered species, many of which on the brink of extinction, should be punishable by death.
Annmarie Botelho stated – I think that south Africa should have shoot to kill laws… if it keeps going the way it is we are going to lose are elephants and rhino …. it’s such a cruel trade and there really isn’t any need for it.
Gillian Curley stated – I don’t like the shoot to kill as the poachers are just doing what they are told to do and feed their families BUT something has to be done and if we can’t get the leaders and the buyers then yes sadly I agree to shoot to kill.
Marisol Davila stated – A policy of shoot to kill poachers will be a deterrent for the poaching business. Due to lax policies wildlife numbers are in the brink of extinction. Many economies depend on the tourism that wildlife attracts. Therefore, a harsh policy against poachers and their customers is key if any country wants to strengthen it’s economic survival in the long run. The message need to be loud and clear zero tolerance to poaching, no bits or ifs allow.
To take part in the debate that International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa is running you can comment by clicking here alternatively you can also hit the poll button below and tell us what you want. Please be aware that the poll expires one week from the date of this article of which we will not run another poll.
BEFORE voting please view the video below.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa last year created data models that indicated their worst fears regarding wildlife poaching based on poaching deaths, natural deaths, gestation, deaths of unborn fetus, decreased populations of other larger fauna such as elephants and more. Model data has already shown that South Africa’s poaching rate will continue to increase and has provided very worrying numbers of final statistics supported by defense organisations working hard to stem the flow of poaching.
While none of us wants to see, read or hear of any living creature death – We must send a more stronger and decisive message into Asia and African poaching communities, and while tackling poaching is one thing we’ve also poverty to engage that will take the temptation away from individual opportunistic poachers that kill to fend for their families. Its these very communities that Asian traffickers and king-pins target as they know they are easy prey.
Look at it simply like this. If your living with no food, no electricity, no sanitation and require health support, are barely feeding your family or even yourself and living within a country that is doing little to decrease poverty then you will snap the chance up at anyone given moment to make money. Conservation organisations and leaders of Africa and world leaders must do more to decrease poverty around wildlife parks.
Failing this Data Models have shown that the white rhino will be verging near endangerment by 2017 of which the black rhino could be extinct in under five years within the wild [despite populations increasing]. Furthermore while the continent of Africa is still custodian to thousands of elephants, elephant populations are becoming more fragmented. Yesterday I.A.R.F.A reported a massive decline in South Sudan elephant populations that now stand at some 2,500. Giraffe populations are now at some 40,000 for the entire continent of Africa.
Bottom line is should Africa lose vast swathes of her wildlife then tourism will be affected too. Tourism brings in billions for the entire continent of Africa of which Africa’s wildlife is seen as the number one tourist attraction. A large number of countries depend on tourism for the economic growth. A recent study done for DFID concluded: “While poor countries only command a minority share of the international tourism market, tourism can make a significant contribution to their economies.
Eighty percent of the world’s poor (below US$1 a day) live in 12 countries. In 11 of these, tourism is significant and/or growing. Of the 100 or so poorest countries, tourism is significant (accounting for over 2% of GDP or 5% of exports) in almost half the low income countries and almost all the lower-middle income countries.” Using these same criteria and 1996 data, tourism is “significant” in an impressive number of African countries: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Senegal, Sao Tome & Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe. Zambia and Mali just missed the cutoff in 1996.
According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO), Africa as a whole attracts just fewer than 4% of total world tourists and accounted for 2.0% of international tourism receipts in 1997. Of the Sub-Saharan countries, only South Africa is listed in the top forty tourism destinations worldwide, where it was 26th in 1997. The WTO calculated  that Africa had just over 3% of world accommodation capacity (796,000 beds). The Africa region showed the strongest expansion in arrivals of any world region in 1997, up 8.1% over 1996. Furthermore, during the 1988-97 decade, Africa had an average annual growth of 7.2% in visitor arrivals, only slightly lower than East Asia/Pacific, which had the highest growth rate of all regions though from a much higher base than Africa. The average annual growth rate for tourist arrivals worldwide has averaged 5.0% for the past decade.
However – the number of tourists now arriving in SSA has grown over 300% since 1990, with 2012 marking a high of 33.8 million tourists who visited the region. Income generated from tourism has also climbed: Receipts from hotels, tours and other attractions in 2012 amounted to over US$36 billion and directly contributed just over 2.8% to the region’s GDP, according to the report issued by the World Bank back in 2013.
Wild animals are probably one of the first things people think of when asked about Africa. Seeing all the documentaries on television, we can only wonder and watch in awe as these mighty creatures roam the plains and jungles. Many are now protected in reserves and tourists can venture out on varying safaris to watch them in their nature habitats. What an incredible experience for both the amateur and professional photographer! Zambia holds the most natural of parks because the area is not accessible between November and March due to the waterways. Since the animals, plants, birds, and other natural elements are left alone, the area is truly spectacular when viewed each year after this rejuvenation period.
Safari rates as number four on many tour guide questionnaires when asking tourists why they wish to visit Africa. So in all if we continue to see such a vast decline in wildlife and lack of hard core enforcement we’ll most certainly see a copious decline in tourism revenue. I don’t need to explain what that will spell either.
International Animal Rescue Foundation has been challenged by only Humans Rights Christian Organisation of which stated we should not lobby or enforce a licence to kill poachers. All that can be said to the Human Rights players is that when there are no animals left, and revenue is seen as shrinking because of this then the Human Rights organisations can visit Africa and tackle more violent crime, lack of any employment, rape, murder, and more.
The time to act is now and not tomorrow. Stand by International Animal Rescue Foundation and help us enforce a shoot to kill policy within South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania.
Board of Directors for External Affairs – Ead
Chief Executive Officer of Environmental Projects Africa – Michael L. Rooste
Chief Environmental Officer & CEO Dr Jose C Depre
Chief Environmental Registrar Europa – J. F. Williamson
External Affairs and Lead Investigation Officer – Vincent Van der spuy
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