Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, 4 October


This video is called Global march for elephants and rhinos.

From Wildlife Extra:

The world stands up for rhinos and elephants

On Saturday 4th October, which is World Animal Day, the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos will take place and is set to be the biggest ever global movement on behalf of animals.

Thousands of people will take to the streets in 130 cities around the world to raise awareness of the plight faced by these critically endangered animals.

The Global March for Elephants and Rhinos will aim to achieve the implementation of tougher penalties for wildlife crime, a full worldwide ban on the trade of ivory and rhino horn, and the strengthening of law enforcement in consumer countries and range states. In addition, they will also make the demand that ivory and rhino shops and carving factories are shut down immediately.

A number of celebrities have supported the march with messages, including David Attenborough, Richard Branson, Jane Goodall, Stephen Fry, Damon Albarn, Bill Bailey, Twiggy, Joanna Lumley, and others.

The marches will take place in key cities across the US, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. In the UK there will be marches in Bristol, Birmingham, and Edinburgh as well as in London.

Maria Mossman from Action4Elephants is co-organising the London march. She says: “We’re just ordinary people who care about these extraordinary animals. It would be devastating and criminal if elephants and rhinos went extinct within 20 years, but that is the frightening reality. It could happen. It will happen, if something isn’t done. The Global March for Elephants and Rhinos is a way for people around the world to show that we’re not going to accept it.”

Care for the Wild International will be supporting the event. The charity’s CEO Philip Mansbridge commented on the marches taking place around the world: “By backing the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, we’re saying it’s not just our problem, it’s your problem. Everyone. Who among us wasn’t amazed the first time we saw a picture of an elephant or a rhino? But beyond the sentiment, these animals are vital to the planet, and it’s vital to us as a species that we save them, otherwise we’ve failed. So please take to the streets on October 4th to show that we all care.”

The London march starts at 1pm in Cavendish Square, and finishes at 3pm in Parliament Square.

For more information, see here and here.

Good tiger, rhino, elephant news from Nepal


This video says about itself:

Wildlife encounters on safari in Nepal at the … Bardia National Park. Wild elephants, one-horned rhinoceros, and amazing encounters and charges by the Royal Bengal Tiger.

From Wildlife Extra:

Nepal celebrates zero poaching year

March 2014: Celebrations are running high in Nepal because for the second time in recent years it has achieved a major milestone in conservation, a zero poaching of tigers, rhinos and elephants for the period February 2013-February 2014. (The last time was in 2011).

At a time when tigers and rhinos are being rampantly poached around the world, this success it is a great reward for the country’s work and commitment to combating wildlife crime, and resounds hope for wildlife.

“The success of achieving zero poaching throughout the year is a huge achievement and a result of prioritising a national need to curb wildlife crimes in the country,” says Megh Bahadur Pandey, Director General of Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. “A national level commitment is key to encouraging complementing efforts, right down to the grassroots level, in order to address this biggest threat to wildlife not just in Nepal but across the world.”

It is due to strengthened protection and enforcement efforts across the country, led by the government and supported by its conservation partners such as WWF and the National Trust for Nature Conservation. The newly developed Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and the establishment of its 16 district cells together with the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police has also helped create the needed balance between central and local level enforcement to curb wildlife crimes.

“It is a matter of great pride to mark the first World Wildlife Day with the announcement of a year of zero poaching in Nepal,” says Anil Manandhar, Country Representative of WWF Nepal. “We are committed to work with the government, conservation partners and the local communities to redouble efforts to sustain this success.”

“We congratulate Nepal on reducing poaching to zero within its borders,” says Yolanda Kakabadse, President of WWF International. “This achievement serves as a model for WWF’s goal for drastically reducing wildlife crime worldwide – with a combination of brave policy making, determined implementation and robust enforcement.”

To read Sue Watt’s trip report to Bardia National Park in Nepal when she went on the trail of the elusive Bengal tiger please click here.

Helping Nepal to deliver on its conservation targets: here.

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Javan rhinoceros news from Indonesia


This video is called Rare Javan Rhinos Filmed.

By Arlina Arshad today:

Indonesia builds sanctuary to save world’s rarest rhino

On a leaf-covered dirt path overlooking lush paddy fields in western Indonesia, the world’s rarest rhino had left a trail of hoofprints in the soft mud and bite marks on foliage.

For people seeking a glimpse of the Javan rhino—revered in local folklore as Abah Gede, or the Great Father—such small signs are likely to be the closest they get.

There are thought to be only around 50 of the animals left in existence, all living in the wild in Ujung Kulon National Park, an area of stunning natural beauty on the western tip of Indonesia’s main island of Java.

But now conservationists are hoping that the country’s first ever Javan rhino sanctuary, which will open in the park in the coming months, can pull the animal back from the brink of extinction.

The shy creature, whose folds of loose skin give it the appearance of wearing armour plating, once numbered in the thousands and roamed across Southeast Asia.

But, like other rhino species across the world, poaching and human encroachment on its habitat has led to a dramatic population decline, with the International Union for Conservation of Nature saying the animal is “making its last stand”.

The new sanctuary will encompass 5,100 hectares (12,600 acres) of lush rainforest, freshwater streams and mudholes in the park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

It is not due to open until March but park officials say that from hoofprints and bite marks, they believe nine rhinos have already wandered into new areas set aside for them.

“It means our scheme to turn this sanctuary into a comfortable home for them is working,” the park’s habitat manager Rusdianto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told AFP.

The rhinos were already living mainly in one corner of the park.

But the new sanctuary has expanded the area suitable for them and relocated farmers who were living there to reduce the chances of animal-human conflict.

An electric fence is also being constructed—the final piece of work that needs to be completed—to mark the boundary and prevent the rhinos from straying out of the sanctuary and humans from coming in.

Park officials, who are government employees, have also been planting suitable food for the rhinos. During a recent visit by AFP, workers were seen clearing palm trees from the area and replacing them with shrubs and small trees.

“We hope this sanctuary will hasten breeding and lead to more births of this treasured rare animal,” park chief Moh Haryono told AFP.

“In a more enclosed space, the male and female rhino will have more opportunities to frolic and mate freely.”

Rhinos around the world are under threat

Yet setting up the sanctuary, which is government-run but fully funded by US-based charity the International Rhino Foundation, has been no easy task.

It was originally due to open in 2011 but was held up due to red tape, a common problem in the sprawling Indonesian archipelago, which has a huge and often inefficient bureaucracy.

Work also stalled for a year due to protests from residents demanding compensation for farmland they had to give up, as well as from local animal activists who felt the use of heavy machinery to build the fence threatened the environment.

However all obstacles now seem to have been overcome and, barring any last-minute hold-ups, the sanctuary should officially open soon.

Nevertheless it is just a small step in an uphill battle to save the Javan rhino. Officials in Ujung Kulon believe there were 51 of the rhinos in 2012, including eight calves, basing their estimate on images captured by hidden cameras.

They hope the true figure may be in the 70s and will have a new estimate once data for 2013 has been collated.

The case of the Javan rhinoceros highlights the plight of rhinos across the world, with other species also deemed to be under threat and some subspecies already believed to have died out.

Poaching in particular represents a severe threat, with rhino horns used in traditional Asian medicine fetching ever higher prices on the black market despite a lack of scientific evidence showing horn has any medicinal value.

In Indonesia, fewer than 100 of the critically endangered Sumatran rhinos remain; in 2011 the IUCN declared a rhino subspecies in western Africa extinct; and the group has said the Central African northern white rhino is “possibly extinct”.

Asia has stepped up efforts to save the region’s dwindling rhino populations, with representatives from several countries in October attending a conference on the issue on the western Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Countries represented, including Indonesia, Nepal and India, pledged to take steps to grow their rhino populations by three percent annually.

For the Javan rhino, its population already decimated, the threat is no longer poaching but food scarcity, illness and the risk of natural disasters in an archipelago where earthquakes and landslides are common, according to WWF Indonesia.

Despite the myriad threats, wildlife officials are hopeful the new sanctuary is a step in the right direction.

They have also been heartened by strong support from the local community.

Any effort to save the Great Father is applauded in an area where centuries-old beliefs persist and intertwine with the vast majority’s Muslim faith.

“We must do all we can to prevent the Javan rhino from becoming extinct,” Suhaya, a 67-year-old farmer who goes by one name, told AFP.

“Locals here believe that Abah Gede must not vanish from the face of the Earth, or disaster will befall us.”

Explore further: Asian rhino conference hailed as major step forward.

See also here.

Good African black rhino news


This video is called Saving the Black Rhino.

From Fauna & Flora International:

East Africa’s largest black rhino population hits 100

Posted on: 28.11.13 (Last edited) 28th November 2013

The birth of Ol Pejeta Conservancy’s 100th black rhino offers new hope for a species on the brink.

On a continent where rhino populations have been plagued for decades by illegal wildlife trade, and where poaching is just as much a threat today as it was three decades ago, the birth of a new black rhino shows there is still hope for this Critically Endangered species.

October saw the arrival of Ol Pejeta Conservancy’s 100th black rhino, making the Kenyan sanctuary’s black rhino population the most important in East Africa for conservation.

The conservancy, located in Kenya’s Laikipia County, has steadily built up its black rhino population from 20 individuals in the 1990s to the 100 it protects today. Its internationally-recognised rhino conservation programme has received key financial and technical support from Fauna & Flora International (FFI) since 2006.

The new birth has led to Ol Pejeta’s black rhinos being designated as the first Key I population in East Africa – a rating given by the IUCN’s African Rhino Specialist Group to identify populations of continental importance and help guide donor funds towards the most effective conservation efforts.

FFI’s Africa Programme Director, Dr Rob Brett, said, “As the largest population of eastern black rhino and one of the seven largest black rhino populations in Africa, Ol Pejeta’s Key I population is now in the top ranking in terms of continental importance.”

Illegal poaching – a persistent beast in our midst

Black rhino populations in Africa have been decimated from approximately 100,000 to just 2,500 individuals as a result of poaching in the 1970s and 1980s. Kenya alone saw its black rhino numbers fall below 400 in the 1980s – less than 0.02% of the original population.

With rhino horn worth more than their weight in gold and the threat of poaching rising, even animals in the most secure sanctuaries aren’t exempt from this threat. So how can we ensure that this species survives extinction?

According to Dr Brett, the strategy is all in the numbers.

“Boosting population growth through good management is the best strategy to buffer the effects of illegal poaching,” he explains. “If you don’t allow populations to grow as fast as they can, you’re left with fewer rhinos than if you failed to protect them from poaching in the first place.”

Conservation game-changers

Kenyan conservancies like Ol Pejeta have helped change the game of black rhino conservation by setting up fenced, guarded sanctuaries that both protect and boost remaining populations. Today, Kenya is home to roughly 80% of Africa’s 800+ eastern black rhinos.

As Kenya’s Rhino Coordinator with the Kenya Wildlife Service in the early 1990s, Dr Brett was responsible for the original stocking of the Ol Pejeta rhino sanctuary with 20 black rhinos translocated from Nairobi National Park and Solio Ranch.

“It’s fantastic to see how the consistently high standards of protection and biological management maintained at Ol Pejeta Conservancy over two decades have resulted in this milestone for black rhinos in East Africa,” said Dr Brett. “We’re demonstrating that you can increase black rhino numbers against a background of serious threats.”

The new calf was first sighted on 1 October with its 12-year-old mother, Njeri, and is yet to be sexed or named. It’s the Conservancy’s 9th rhino birth this year.

Are we out of the woods?

Ol Pejeta’s eastern black rhinos belong to one of only three remaining subspecies of black rhino in Africa. A fourth subspecies, the western black rhino, was declared extinct by the IUCN in 2011.

Work by organisations such as Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service and FFI has helped to define a new narrative for black rhinos – one in which population growth overcomes losses from poaching. The key now will be ensuring that this trend continues to boost the species’ chances for survival.

Black rhinos are crucial components of East African savannah and woodland ecosystems, and hold enormous value for tourism industries like Kenya’s.

Although numbers have increased since the 1980s, there are still only around 5,500 black rhinos in the world. Ultimately, it is conservancies like Ol Pejeta – together with the conservationists, communities, tourists and donors who support them – that stand between this Critically Endangered species and extinction.

Written by Kristi Foster