Rhinoceros news update

This video says about itself:

Baby rhino calf finds friends in the wild after abandoned by mother- BBC wildlife

An abandoned rhinoceros calf finds an unlikely friend in a warthog when it is reared in an animal sanctuary. Wild animals in the African desert fight for survival.

From Wildlife Extra:

One year on from major rhino poaching incident, some hope with new calf

Anniversary of death of rhino bull after poaching and new rhino calf born

March 2013. In March 2012, three white rhinos were shot by poachers on Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. One of the rhinos died instantly, but two survived the initial attack.

A rush of support groups and fundraising initiatives emerged in order to help provide Thandi and Themba with funds for the best possible care and chance for survival. Wildlife veterinarian Dr William Fowlds and the Kariega staff did everything they could, working tirelessly to save the lives of Thandi and Themba. For more than three weeks both rhino showed an incredible will too survive. Tragically, on 25 March 2012 after 23 days of brave fighting Themba passed away.

Miraculously one of the rhinos survived, showing inspirational bravery and a strong will to live.

As fate would have it, almost exactly one year later Kariega welcomes a new rhino calf to their game reserve.

Lowest point

Themba’s life is being commemorated by the Kariega team, Dr Fowlds and other rhino conservation supporters. This comment made by Dr Fowlds on the day of Themba’s death last year is even more relevant today, “The past day’s events have taken me to the lowest point of my battle to help save a species. I know many others feel the same. What we do now is the true test of our resolve to overcome the evil that threatens to overwhelm the world’s remaining rhino. Our ability to act, to actually do something to make a difference, will be the measure of who we are.”

The birth of a rhino calf, one year after poaching incident

A new baby rhino, a girl, was born a year after three rhinos were brutally attacked on Kariega Game Reserve.

Although it is uncertain whether her horn will ever grow back, Thandi continued to go from strength to strength and one year on has made a full recovery. The serendipitous birth of a healthy white rhino calf almost exactly one year after the poaching incident has been cause for celebration at Kariega, as they remember and commemorate the lives and struggles of Thandi, Themba and the unnamed rhino bull.

Thandi and Themba’s story of hope has travelled and inspired people from across the globe – their fight for life translated into the fight of rhino across southern Africa for the right to life, and of those committed to ensuring the survival of the rhino species.

Graeme Rushmere, co-owner of Kariega Game Reserve comments: “The fight of Thandi and Themba is just one story representing the brutality being carried out against the rhino species. At Kariega, it is our hope that their struggle is not in vein and inspires all wildlife lovers to take up the cause so that our little ones can live to see a ripe old age. Although it may seem a small triumph in the grand scheme of rhino conservation, the birth of a new calf helps remind us that there is always hope.”

The realities of rhino poaching

Over the last few years rhino poaching has increased dramatically, causing a serious threat to the rhino species. In 2007 there were 13 rhino lost to poaching in South Africa, however in 2012 the figure soared to a shocking 668.

The onslaught against southern African rhino’s is a devastating blow to rhino conservation – at the beginning of the 20th century there were an estimated 50 white rhino which repopulated to around 17,000 by 2008. This success in conservation is now threatened by a growing demand in rhino horn, feeding the traditional Asian medicine market. If poaching continues to increase at its current rate, the rhino population could be wiped out in a few decades.

Although poaching is concentrated in southern Africa (which holds the majority of the world’s rhino population), various rhino species across the globe have also been targeted. In 2011 the Western Black Rhino of Africa was declared extinct, and currently the Javan Rhino of Asia and the Northern White Rhino of Africa teeter on the brink of extinction.

Surge in rhino horn seizures at Shanghai Airport: here.

March 2013. There seems to be no let up from rhino poaching around the world, as reports keep appearing of rhinos being killed and rhino horns being seized on different continets: here.

From Wildlife Extra:

Irish connection to major rhino horn thefts and smuggling ring

Two Irish brothers fined just 500 Euros for smuggling 8 rhino horns

March 2013. Two men from Ireland have been fined just €500 for smuggling 8 rhino horns worth almost €500,000 through Shannon Airport.

Brothers Jeremiah and Michael O’Brien were stopped in Shannon Airport after getting off a plane from Portugal. The defence told the court that the horns were antique, dating from the 1960s, and not from a freshly killed rhino. The brothers claimed that they acquired the horns from a Portuguese antique dealer named Hernandez, who entrusted the horns to the O’Briens ‘to mount them on a board’ before returning with them to Portugal.

Separate incident

In a separate incident, another man from Limerick has been extradited to the UK in connection with the robbery of a rhino horn from an antique dealer. Michael Kealy is accused of stealing a rhino horn from an antique dealer in a Macdonald’s car park.

Irish gang

In fact Europol have been investigating links between an Irish gang and rhino horn smuggling for at least 2 years. The investigation was launched after a spate of robberies around Europe where rhino horns were stolen from museums and antique dealers. The gang members are almost from the town Rathkeale, just south west of Limerick, in Ireland, which makes it all the more surprising that the O’Brien brothers, who also hail from Rathkeale, were find just 500 Euros for being in possession of 8 rhino horns.

Europol states “Significant players within this area of crime have been identified as an Irish and ethnically-Irish organised criminal group, who are known to use intimidation and violence to achieve their ends. To source and acquire rhino horns, the group has targeted antique dealers, auction houses, art galleries, museums, private collections and zoos, resorting to theft and aggravated burglary where necessary. To sell specimens, they have exploited international auction houses in the UK, France, USA and China. Elements of this group are also involved in a variety of other serious crimes across the European Union such as drugs trafficking, organised robbery, distribution of counterfeit products, tarmac fraud and money laundering. Outside the EU, they have been active in North and South America, South Africa, China and Australia.”

Arrested in Switzerland

Two members of the gang were also arrested in Switzerland in 2012 in possession of counterfeit cash totalling 120,000 Euros, and they are also thought to have been under investigation in the USA in connection with the smuggling of rhino horns.

For the first time, journalists from mainland China worked with African journalists on an undercover investigation into the Chinese connection with ivory and rhino horns market in South Africa and Mozambique: here.

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