Another rhinoceros subspecies gone forever: The IUCN has confirmed that the Western black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes) is indeed extinct.
Just like the recent extinction of the Vietnamese Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus), “lack of political will” is cited as a contributing factor.
The Diceros bicornis longipes page on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM notes the following:
Given the wildlife poaching taking place, lack of political will and conservation effort by Cameroon conservation authorities in the past, and increasing illegal demand for rhino horn and associated increased commercial rhino poaching in other range states, it is highly probable that this subspecies is now extinct.
Simon Stuart, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, explains that the tragedies like the Western black rhino could be prevented, if only those responsible would take sufficient action.
Human beings are stewards of the earth and we are responsible for protecting the species that share our environment.
In the case of both the Western Black Rhino and the Northern White Rhino the situation could have had very different results if the suggested conservation measures had been implemented. These measures must be strengthened now, specifically managing habitats in order to improve breeding performance, preventing other rhinos from fading into extinction.
Another rhino subspecies, the Northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni), is teetering at the edge of extinction, with just seven known individuals left on Earth.
Screenshot illustrating the grim assessment of Diceros bicornis longipes:
Three subspecies of black rhinoceros are still surviving.
- South-western black rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis)
- Eastern black rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli)
- South-central black rhino (Diceros bicornis minor)
Between 1970 and 1993, the demand for rhino horn decimated the black rhino population from around 65,000 to fewer than 2,500.
Thanks to conservation efforts and the ban on rhino horn trade, there are now around 4,860 black rhinos.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM classifies the black rhino as Critically Endangered.
Rhino killed in India
Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary was struck for the third time.
According to India’s IBN Live, a rhino killing gang shot a male rhino near the Jagtol forest camp, and escaped with his horn.
Prior to this year, there had not been a rhino killing incident in Pobitora since 2006.
Rhino horn stolen in Vienna
The Austrian Times reported that a rhino horn was stolen from a taxidermist in Margareten. Two men apparently grabbed the horn and ran while the shopkeeper was on the phone.
This was the second theft in Vienna, as another rhino horn was taken from an auction house just a few days earlier.
Rhinos in the sky
The WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Project has successfully moved a group of critically endangered black rhinos from the Eastern Cape to a new home in Limpopo Province.
The rhinos were anesthetized and transported by helicopter while they slept, dangling in midair as they were secured at the ankles.
Watch the amazing video of this modern translocation technique here:
Unfortunately, in sharp contrast to legitimate conservation efforts in South Africa, a spokesperson for the country’s Water and Environmental Affairs Ministry claimed that the Department is also looking at a “legal rhino horn trade” scheme.
Suspected accomplice awarded bail
Meanwhile, IOL News reports that South African game farmer and suspected rhino horn syndicate associate Marnus Steyl was granted R100,000 ($12,518 as of this writing) bail by the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court.
Steyl allegedly collaborated with Thai national Chumlong Lemtongthai in a rhino horn and lion bone laundering scheme, which also involved prostitutes.
At least Lemtongthai, who appeared in court with Steyl, will wait in jail for the next court appearance, set for June 2012.
South Africa’s Times Live stated recently that game farmers Sebastiaan Rothmann and Jacobus van der Westhuizen had also conducted lion bone business with Lemtongthai.
Nepal thwarts smuggling network
There is an encouraging update regarding the 17 people recently arrested in Nepal: This gang is a “complete chain” of rhino horn smugglers and traders, from the “grassroots to the international level”.
From the WWF announcement:
This arrest is being seen as a significant achievement since it has led to the complete breakdown of a network of poachers and smugglers right from the grassroots to the international level.
It also turns out that one of the people arrested, Tanjing Nima Lama, had been declared legally dead in 2003. His family submitted a false death certificate, presumably so he could operate his illegal wildlife trade network.
The suspects were handed over to Nepal’s forest department, which has a track record of administering tough penalties for rhino crimes.
In May 2010, Chitwan National Park officials handed out prison sentences to 16 rhino poachers. Three received ten years in jail, one received 14 years, and the remaining twelve will spend 15 years in prison.
A photo of the 17 rhino horn smuggling gang members has been posted by WWF – check it out here.