Rhino Crisis Round Up: 'Eco-Clubs' in Nepal, New Arrivals in India & Groenewald Makes a Deal in South Africa

This week’s Round Up takes a look at a couple of great initiatives in Nepal and Zimbabwe – plus, India welcomes some very special new arrivals!

In addition, the world is officially warned about escalating rhino horn robberies at museums, while South Africa’s (alleged) rhino horn syndicate kingpin Groenewald remains under the public’s microscope.

World warned about museum heists

A joint statement was issued this week by my organization Saving Rhinos LLC, along with the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation (LCCHP), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and Save the Rhino International to address the surge in museum heists which have targeted rhino horn.

Here is an excerpt from the statement:

Across Europe, thieves are targeting museums to steal antique rhino horns. These crimes obviously have grave implications for museum collections and visitors, as well as the Earth’s rhinos, who are being slaughtered to near extinction to fuel the demand for their horns on the black market. These thefts speak to the value of products derived from wildlife and the lengths to which people will go to profit from their illicit trade.

Rhino horns are still a prized traditional remedy in East Asia, despite repeated scientific studies proving that they have no medicinal benefit, and recent warnings that they may actually harm human health. With a great demand for such items, they are being pilfered at an alarming rate. Just last week, law enforcement agencies linked the thefts to an Irish organized crime group, which is also involved in drug trafficking, money laundering, and the piracy of counterfeit goods.

Read the joint statement in its entirety at Appetite for Illegal Rhino Horn Behind Museum Heists, including quotes from representatives of the participating organizations.

Groenewald’s latest deal

As readers may recall from last week, it became public knowledge that rhino horn cartel suspect Dawie Groenewald was back in the rhino business.

The news is indeed a disappointment to conservationists: Less than a year ago, Groenewald was arrested for dealing in rhino horn, and a mass grave of 20 de-horned rhinos was found on his property. Groenewald and his associates are facing charges of of assault, fraud, corruption, malicious damage to property, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, and contravention of the National Environmental Biodiversity Act.

Not only has Groenewald been issued a hunting permit to legally kill dozens of rhinos (see copies of the permit here), he has reportedly made a deal to sell nine rhinos to a South African game rancher with connections to a twice-arrested professional hunter.

It is interesting to note that the recipient of Groenewald’s rhinos was profiled in Bloomberg last year, and it appears he has hosted numerous rhino hunts on his property.

As of today, you can still see photos of the rhino “trophies” here. (Note: The photos are extremely disturbing.)

Learn more about how rhino horn is laundered for illegal markets via trophy hunts: Mules Hunting Rhinos? Sinister Scam Unfolds in South Africa.

Help rhinos in Zimbabwe

How would you like to help rhinos and other wildlife in Zimbabwe?

Check out the Chishakwe Volunteer Programme, a conservation project located in the vast and remote Save Valley Conservancy in the South East Lowveld of Zimbabwe. This project offers volunteers the opportunity to work with rhino scouts, as well as participate in other wildlife research and monitoring projects.

Visit the Chishwakwe website and Facebook® page to learn more about the project (accommodation and meals are provided!).

Kids helping rhinos in Nepal

Conservation-minded kids in Nepal are taking rhino conservation awareness by the horn with the creation of “Eco-Clubs” in schools located in the Chitwan National Park Buffer Zone.

Grassroots conservation groups Partnership for Rhino Conservation (PARC/Nepal) and the Chitwan National Park Buffer Zone Lothar User Committee helped create Eco-Clubs at three different schools.

The goal of the Eco-Clubs is two-fold: 1) Creating conservation awareness at the local level, and 2) Taking a stand against illegal activities.

Learn more about this cool project here.

Seven bundles of joy for India

Although still numbering fewer than 3,000 worldwide, the greater one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicorns) population has increased by seven (seven!), thanks to conservation efforts in India.

Six of the seven calves were born in Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary (West Bengal) and the seventh in Dudhwa National Park (Uttar Pradesh).

The new arrivals have brought Dudhwa’s rhino count to 31 and Jaldapara now has 161 of the rare pachyderms.

How to help

You can help make a difference by spreading the word about the rhino crisis – and you can start right now by sharing this article (and the ones below!).

“We must become the change we want to see in the world.” – Mohandas Gandhi

Image #1, #3 & #5 © iStockphoto.com; #2 Wikimedia Commons; #4 © PARC/Nepal & Saving Rhinos LLC

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