Rhino Crisis Round Up: Death Toll Soars to 467 in South Africa & More
The massacre of South Africa’s rhinos continues at a horrifying pace, with 467 killed this year as of October 22nd, according to the Department of Environmental Affairs.
Gareth Morgan, Shadow Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, is questioning the decision to withdraw “a dedicated group of police personnel” and a “dedicated helicopter used in anti-poaching operations” from Kruger National Park, where 281 of the 467 rhinos were slaughtered.
Apparently top management in the SAPS did not make an application for funds in the adjustment budget, and are now without funding for these specialised anti-poaching operations. The DA is deeply concerned by the proposed redeployment of these police personnel, and calls on the National Police Commissioner Riah Piyega and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to urgently intervene to stop the redeployment.
Morgan added that he would be publishing parliamentary questions to the Police Minister asking “why additional funds were not requested and what steps he is taking to ensure a continued police presence in South Africa’s premier conservation area.”
Suspected Militant Arrested
In India, a suspect identified as Lindok Rongpi by NDTV has confessed in court to killing six rhinos. Rongpi says that the killings were ordered by Songja Timumg — the “self-styled defence secretary” of an armed group in Karbi Anglong known as the Kuki National Liberation Front.
The arrest of Rongpi led authorities to the notorious wildlife trafficking hub of Dimapur in Nagaland, where a high-level Chinese trader known as “Ho-Chin” is based. Unfortunately, the trader managed to flee before the police arrived.
Militants in the area are believed to be funding their operations with illegal wildlife trading — particularly rhino horn. The situation is eerily similar to the bloodbath in Central Africa, where insurgent groups funded by ivory trafficking have gunned down hundreds of elephants in Cameroon and Chad this year. In addition to the elephants, seven people and at least 13 okapi were killed by a gang of armed ivory traffickers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Arrest in Museum Theft
A British woman suspected of involvement with a daylight rhino horn robbery was arrested this week in Spain. The Telegraph reports that she was part of a gang that stole rhino horns from Germany’s Offenburg museum; two of the members have already been sentenced to prison, while another spent just four weeks in a juvenile detention center.
Rhino Conservation Calendar
The International Rhino Keeper Association (IRKA) and the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) have announced that the 2013 rhino conservation calendars are now on sale! These calendars feature a beautiful collection of photos submitted by rhino supporters around the world, with baby Sumatran rhino “Andatu” starring on the cover.
Sumatran rhinos are listed as Critically Endangered, with fewer than 200 individuals surviving in fragmented habitat pockets in Indonesia and Malaysia.
The calendars are $26 each (including shipping) with all proceeds going towards covering the core costs of the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS), where Andatu was born.
If you are interested in purchasing a calendar to help support the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, please visit rhinokeeperassociation.org or email IRKACalendar [at] gmail [dot] com.
White rhino photo via Shutterstock