A Kenya Wildlife Services ranger tries to cover the eyes of a two and a half year old Southern White Rhino to calm her after being shot with a tranquilizer dart shot from a helicopter The rhinos are undergoing ear notching for identification at Meru NP 350 Kilometers from Nairobi Kenya.
MERU, Kenya: Kenya started marking rhinos Thursday and aims to tag and identify 22 of them in two weeks at a cost of $600,000, senior government officials said on Thursday, as part of conserving their dwindling numbers.
The project comes just weeks after the world’s last male northern white rhino died in Kenya, leaving only two females of its kind alive in the world. Scientists still hope to save the subspecies from extinction using in vitro fertilization.
Kenya had 20,000 rhinos in the 1970s, falling to 400 in the 1990s. It now has 650, almost all of them black rhinos.
Kenya Wildlife Service and the Ministry of Tourism started marking the rhinos in Meru National Park, the area of which is being increased to 83 square km from 45 square km previously.
The numbers of rhinos in the park have risen to 104 from 90 previously. Of those, 72 are southern white rhinos and 32 are black.
“Ear notches are permanent markings and you can use them for the life of the animal,” Francis Gakuya, head of veterinary services at KWS, told Reuters.
“They are permanent. The horn transmitters that we usually put on animals have a shelf life of three years, then the battery goes down, so after that you are not able to track the animal unless immobilized and you do it again.”
Thousands of southern white rhinos still roam sub-Saharan Africa, but decades of rampant poaching have almost wiped out northern whites.
- System combines drones, thermal imaging, and AI to monitor animals at night
- In an early field trial in South Africa, it was used to detect elusive riverine rabbits
- The heat-sensitive drones could make it easier to track animals such as rhinos
- They could also help law enforcement agencies spot illegal poachers hunting under cover of darkness
Technology used by Nasa for studying faint stars and galaxies could be used to trap poachers in a rare collaboration between astronomers and ecologists.
The system combines flying drones, infra-red thermal imaging, and artificial intelligence to monitor animals at night when most poaching occurs.
In an early field trial in South Africa, it was used to detect elusive riverine rabbits, one of the most endangered mammals in the world.
Researchers hope in future the heat-sensitive drones will make it easier to track animals such as rhinos and spot poachers hunting them under cover of darkness.
Project scientist Dr Claire Burke, from Liverpool John Moores University, said: ‘With thermal infrared cameras, we can easily see animals as a result of their body heat, day or night, and even when they are camouflaged in their natural environment.
These incredible photographs, taken by ranger Jone at Kariega Game Reserve, capture a very intimate moment spent with rhino Thandi and her family. Thandi survived a brutal poaching on 2 March 2012. Both her horns were hacked off to be sold to people who incorrectly believe that rhino horn is medicine. Thandi miraculously survived and gave birth to a female calf on 13 January 2015 and male calf on 24 January 2017. Her female calf Thembi is now three years old and today we celebrate that Colin has been alive for 13 months.
Click on the below articles to find out more about the incredible story of rhino Thandi and her family. We need your help to spread awareness about the brutal killing of rhino for their horns and to get involved with us to support rhino conservation.
Incredible Sighting of Rhino Thandi & Family
These three special white rhinos were seen resting during the midday heat. Suddenly little Colin decided that he was thirsty. After making soft mewing noises and poking his mum in the tum with his horn, Thandi relented and lifted up her back leg to allow him to suckle.
Baby Rhino Suckle For Between Two and Four Years
Rhino will suckle for between two and four years depending on how tolerant their mother is and how many other calves are in the picture. In Thandi’s case, Thembi was still trying to suckle at three years old, but was ousted when Colin was born.
A rhino calf stays exclusively on milk for the first two months of life, at which time they start grazing on grass as well as suckling.
It was a real privilege to observe this maternal moment between Colin and Thandi.
The pack of hyenas encircles the mother and her offspring patiently circling while waiting for a chance to strike
The clip shows the mother blocking the hyena’s advances by placing herself between them and her baby
Eventually the mother is able to flee with her child running in front of her and the hyenas still chasing across the Savannah
Keepers Spent 24/7 Hand-Rearing Baby White RHINO That Couldn’t Walk – Feeding Her 70 PINTS Of Milk A Day
Belle the white rhino was born at Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens in October 2017 to parents Nancy and Monty, but her front right foot wouldn’t extend.
Staff separated the calf from its mum to look after the leg, but then the keepers had to take over feeding the 70kg tot.
Belle needed 40 litres of milk, roughly 70 pints, every DAY, and workers drew up a rota to feed her the mammoth amount in two-hour intervals.
Soon after birth, although Belle was standing fine, when she tried to walk, her right foreleg twisted, leaving the 70kg rhino baby standing on her carpus joint, similar to a wrist.
Staff hoped the leg would right itself, but In the morning, Belle couldn’t straighten out the joint. Experts were called an they made the difficult decision to separate the calf from her mom.
Belle would need round the clock care, as she still needed feeding every two hours.
Belle was cared for and monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the next three weeks.
It took 5 dedicated staff to care for the baby rhino. “We just sat with her, spoke to her if she was awake and anxious or stressed. She was being fed every two hours initially.
Now five-months-old, Belle has gained over 220kg.
She was slowly reintroduced to her mom.
“At the moment, she spends most of her day with her mother and we hope soon she will be with her 24 hours a day.
“There is still a long period of bottle feeding ahead of us but Nancy allows Belle to come to her keepers for her feeds and appears to be tolerating her belated new edition well.
“It is unclear if Nancy realizes this is her calf, but Rhinos can be amazingly gentle with calves and we hope whatever the situation, the pair form a strong bond.
“Over the next week and months, we will gradually introduce her to the rest of the herd until she is a fully fledged member of the crash.”
These images show delighted rhino guards at Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary after receiving a donation from Nike that was arranged by Baby Rhino Rescue
And here are the guards at Rhino Pride Foundation with their Nike gift
Five-month-old bloodhound Shakaria gambols through the long savannah grasses of Kenya’s Maasai Mara reserve, her playful mood swiftly turning to keen determination as she is ordered to track a human scent.
Straining at the leash, she pulls her handler along an invisible scent path laid down for her until she finds a ranger hiding in the grass, pretending to be one of the poachers she is training to sniff out.
Shakaria is top of her class of five puppies being trained by American experts to join a tracker dog unit, which has become pivotal in the fight against poaching in the Mara Triangle, part of the vast Maasai Mara ecosystem in southern Kenya that merges into Tanzania’s Serengeti.
Rangers used to struggle to chase or spot poachers across the flat, seemingly endless grasslands, so the Mara Triangle first introduced two tracker dogs in 2009.
The unit is now comprised of four tracker dogs and two more trained specifically to sniff out ivory and guns at the entrances to the park.
“They use their noses to see, not like us who use the eyes,” said Langas.
“So sometimes you are not able to see the footprint of the poachers… but when you suspect the poacher might have passed here you allow the dog to follow the scent… and you are able to retrieve that poacher at the end of the day.”
While the dog unit has greatly reduced daytime poaching, other technology such as the use of a thermal imaging camera, has helped track poachers at night.
Meanwhile, the use of community scouts and “private spies” has strangled local poaching gangs on the Kenyan side of the border, and Langas says the majority of poaching now occurs on the almost invisible border between Kenya and Tanzania.
A joint agreement between Kenya and Tanzania allows the rangers and their dogs to patrol deep into the Serengeti, with any poachers handed over to Tanzanian authorities.
“We are the first line of defence from Tanzania. We prevent poachers coming into the Mara and the Kenyan side,” said Asuka Takita, a Swahili-speaking Japanese vet, who helped start the canine unit.
“There is still a lot of work to do but we have caught over 4,000 poachers in the past 18 years,” she said.
The number of rhinos poached in South Africa in 2017 was lower than 2016’s, according toSouth African Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa. Last year, 1028 rhinos were killed compared to 1054 in 2016, a decrease of 26 animals (2.5%). But it’s the fifth year running that over 1000 rhinos were killed.
TRAFFIC the international wildlife trade monitoring group, states that 5476 rhinos were killed in South Africa over a five year period. This is from an estimated rhino populations at the end of 2010 of 18 796 white and 1916 black rhino in the country. South Africa has about 93% of the world’s white rhino population and 40% of its black rhinos.
Tom Milliken, TRAFFIC’s Rhino Programme Leader, said:
The marginally lower total in 2017 still remains unacceptably high and with close to three rhinos illegally killed in South Africa every single day…the crisis continues
Anti-poaching operations in the world famous Kruger National Park have achieved considerable success. But rhino poaching has soared in KwaZulu-Natal and several other provinces. The Kruger has increased patrols, the size and sophistication of anti-poaching units and worked with the South African army to secure the areas with the largest rhino populations, but smaller parks and reserves do not have the resources to do this.
The biggest danger is that poaching is changing focus by moving from concentration on the Kruger National Park to other provinces and reserves, which lack Kruger’s resources.
In particular, there are concerns about rhino killings in KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, Free State and North West.
Corruption and mismanagement
Milliken pointed to the dysfunctional National Prosecuting Authority and Crime Intelligence division of South Africa’s police.
Poachers are often caught but prosecutions are slow and sentences light.
Cathy Dean, CEO of the British based Save the Rhino NGO is particularly concerned about the KwaZulu-Natal poaching crisis and the failure of the justice system. The inability to do anything to speed up the prosecution of alleged poaching kingpins who have been charged with poaching but not come to court, like Hugo Ras, Dawie Groenewald, ‘Big Joe’ Nyalunga and Dumisani Gwala, whose trials have been repeatedly delayed by incompetence in the justice system or the seeming lack of enthusiasm of the law enforcement and prosecuting authorities to make it a priority is concerning.
Corruption and mismanagement in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal have been alleged and blamed for the failure to cope with the rise in poaching there, with under funding and staff morale major issues.
Poaching networks and the smuggling rings linked to them are flexible and feed off incompetence, mismanagement and corruption.
These problems are at the heart of politics, national and local government in South Africa. Until they are cracked, the killing will go on.
In Malaysian Borneo, officials at the Sabah Wildlife Department and nonprofit Borneo Rhino Alliance have been working around the clock for over a month to save the life of one of the rarest living creatures on planet Earth. Iman the Sumatran rhino began bleeding from a tumor in her uterus in mid-December at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Experts from around the world have been consulted on how to stop the bleeding and determined that the complex procedure, and use of anesthesia, was too risky. Instead, vets are using non-invasive means to treat her in her indoor night quarters. The solitary, mud wallow-loving Sumatran rhino is down to nine captive animals, with just two in Malaysia, and the other seven in neighboring Indonesia.
The nonprofit Borneo Rhino Alliance is partnered with the Malaysian government to care for the male and female pair of Sumatran rhinos in Malaysia. We’ve tried to provide updates on her condition each week, and Dr. John Payne of the organization just gave us fresh news. Dr. Payne said things are looking a bit brighter, after a recent sudden increase in blood loss that happened last Friday.
He said the senior vet who cares for her, Dr. Zainal Zahari Zainuddin, reported that Iman has spent a month straight in her night quarters now, the longest period for her to be sick since she was captured in the wild in 2014. The doctor noted that since that relapse of excessive bleeding January 12, Iman has been slowing improving. He reported that this week she has had both improved appetite and is vocalizing more, “which are good signs that we watch for”, he said.
Since starting her on a 200 gram daily diet of concentrates, Iman has been less lethargic and more alert. While she continues to bleed from the tumor in her uterus, the volume of blood is less, and it’s mixed with mucous. The critically endangered animal is hand fed 10-12 kilograms of browse from plants in her jungle enclosure, 6-7 kilograms of fruits like mangos, and 200 grams of horse pellets. She’s packed in mud three times a day to keep insects from biting her and to condition her skin. Poaching and habitat destruction have reduced the wild population of Sumatran rhinos to just a few dozen believed to live in the dense jungle of just one spot in the world: the Way Kambas National Park in Indonesia.
The Kruger National Park and Mozambican authorities are collaborating in a bid to clamp down on rhino poaching.
“Almost daily‚ we interact with our Mozambican colleagues on the ground and also at the higher levels. We meet on a regular basis and we have formed alliances so that we continue to develop alliance partnerships with our neighbours both on the west and south‚ private reserves as well as some communities in Mozambique‚” said Ken Maggs‚ San Parks’ head of ranger services.
He was speaking to TimesLIVE at Skukuza during a media tour of the Kruger National Park (KNP).
An estimated 90% of the rhino poached in the KNP are killed by insurgents entering the park through the over 400 kilometre-long border fence with Mozambique.
KNP’s section ranger in Enodile Bridge‚ Neels van Wyk‚ said this collaboration is of importance because poachers come through the border on a daily basis and use different tactics to mislead rangers when they try to track them down.
“If we follow a team and they jump into Mozambique‚ we’ll give these guys a track to follow and if anybody is arrested‚ the Mozambican law will deal with the process. We have about a 450 km fence line and you can imagine there’s open systems and [we] have got concession systems that are basically first areas for people to cross. But‚ yes‚ there’s a daily occurrence of people crossing‚” added Van Wyk.
Mozambique and Vietnam are currently the countries recognised by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species as the world’s worst offenders in illegal trade of rhino horn.
Tiaan Kleynhans of Dyke Advisory Group which looks out for any poachers crossing between Mozambique’s eastern fence line and the KNP‚ said the only challenge they face is a lack of resources to clamp down on more poachers.
“We have a lack of manpower. That’s our biggest problem at this stage. As you can see‚ we only brought three people for this interview simply because we don’t have enough people to withdraw from the field. So you’re looking at a total of 20 rangers to cover an area of forty-thousand hectares.” He added that it’s a huge task for them to police the border fence effectively and that more resources are needed to combat the growing poaching crisis.
According to the Department of Environmental Affairs’ statistics on rhino poaching released in July‚ a total of 359 alleged poachers and traffickers had been arrested nationally in the first six months of the year.. The number of arrests inside the KNP totalled 90 alleged poachers with 112 arrested adjacent to the KNP.
A total of 529 rhinos were poached in the first half of the year‚ compared to 542 in the same period for 2016‚ representing a decrease of 13 rhino nationally.
In the KNP‚ a total of 243 rhino carcases were found between January and the end of June 2017. This is compared to 354 in the same period in 2016. This represented a decrease of 34%.