Rhino Crisis Round Up: 2012 Declared Year of the Rhino & More

This week, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia declared June 5th, 2012, as the beginning of the International Year of the Rhino.

Indonesia is home to Critically Endangered Javan and Sumatran rhinos.

Both species are teetering at the edge of extinction, with only around 40 Javan rhinos and fewer than 200 Sumatran rhinos still surviving.

Unfortunately, 2011 was a tragic year for rhinos, as two rhino subspecies were confirmed extinct: Africa’s Western black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes) and the Vietnamese Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus).

Dr. Susie Ellis, Executive Director of the International Rhino Foundation, applauds President Yudhoyono’s announcement, noting that “unprecedented threats” are pushing Javan and Sumatran rhinos ever closer to extinction.

Sumatran and Javan rhinos are among the most threatened species on Earth. Unprecedented threats such as habitat loss and poaching have pushed these species, which have walked the Earth for more than 50 million years, towards a very real probability of extinction within our lifetime. We applaud President Yudhoyono for this call to action which we hope will help to ensure the survival of these magnificent animals for future generations.

Learn more about the International Rhino Foundation’s work to protect all five rhino species at rhinos.org.

Help on the way

Rhinos in South Africa’s Kruger National Park now have added protection, thanks to a Bantam aircraft that will be used to patrol the two million hectare park.

In addition, the SANParks Honorary Rangers from various regions donated much-needed equipment to Kruger National Park — valued at more than a million rand (US $118,593) — including torches, night vision goggles, thermal binoculars and scope mounts.

Steyl syndicate update

After a dramatic start, the rhino horn syndicate case involving Thai prostitutes, safari operator/lion breeder Marnus Steyl, professional hunter Harry Claassens, and Thai nationals Chumlong Lemtongthai, Punpitak Chunchom and Tool Sriton could be postponed — again.

Earlier this week, Times Live reported that Lemtongthai’s lawyers would ask that the case against him and the other suspects be “thrown out of court”, however, as of this writing, there are no confirmed reports of the case actually being “thrown out”.

Rhino horn and organized crime

And speaking of rhino horn syndicates, check out this exclusive interview with investigative journalist Julian Rademeyer for a candid discussion about what’s going on inside South Africa’s rhino crisis:

The podcast of “Rhino Horn and Organized Crime” is also available on iTunes.

Photo courtesy & © Bill Konstant, International Rhino Foundation.

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