Author name: Rhishja Cota-Larson

Rhishja is the founder of Annamiticus, a nonprofit organization which provides educational information and news about wildlife crime and endangered species. Rhishja has journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. At CITES CoP16 in Bangkok, she joined colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species from economic exploitation. When Rhishja is not blogging about the illegal wildlife trade, she enjoys gardening, reading, designing, and rocking out to live music.

Rhino Crisis Round Up: Killing Spree Continues in South Africa and India

In less than a month, South Africa and India have lost a combined total of at least thirty-five rhinos to the illegal rhino horn trade. 32 rhinos were killed in South Africa as of January 24th and 13 suspects were arrested for rhino crimes, according to the Department of Environmental Affairs. The country’s rhino death

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: South Africa Death Toll At Least 618

The number of rhinos killed in South Africa in 2012 has reached a staggering 618, according to a December 10th update from the Department of Environmental Affairs. There have been 257 arrests for rhino crimes this year in South Africa. Earlier this week, the much-anticipated Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by South Africa’s Minister

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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

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: World Rhino Day is September 22 #worldrhinoday

It’s almost that time again — time to celebrate the five species of rhino on September 22: World Rhino Day! This year marks the third annual World Rhino Day, with a variety of events and celebrations planned in several countries. World Rhino Day events Here’s a sampling of events, listed in alphabetical order, by country:

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: U.S. Antiques Dealer Pleads Guilty & More

In the United States, antiques dealer David Hausman has pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and creating false records in relation to rhino horn trafficking. The Manhattan antiques dealer is one of the suspects arrested in February 2012 as part of “Operation Crash“. Hausman admitted in the plea agreement that he was engaging in criminal

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Game Farmers Allegedly Killing Their Own Rhinos & More

This week, the South African media reported that some game farmers and reserve owners have allegedly been killing their own rhinos and claiming the rhinos were “poached” — and then selling the horns on the black market. Of course, game farmer Dawie Groenewald was mentioned in the IOL/ Cape Times revelation, since the bodies of

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: S African Rhino Horn Dealer (Finally) Behind Bars & More

Nearly two years after being arrested with some 30 rhino horns in his possession, South African game farmer Jacques Els has finally landed in jail. Els began serving his eight-year sentence this week following a failed appeal, according to IOL. He was also ordered to pay R1 million (US $122,802) to the Green Scorpions. He

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Sumatran Rhino 'Ratu' Gives Birth in Indonesia (Videos!)

It’s a boy! Sumatran rhino Ratu gave birth on Saturday, June 23rd, to a healthy male calf at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia. The new baby has been named “Andatu” which means “Gift from God” in Bahasa, and is also a combination of his parents’ names, Andalas and Ratu. Andalas, the calf’s father, was

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Sumatran Rhino Pregnancy Watch & More

The International Rhino Foundation (IRF) is awaiting the historical birth of a critically endangered Sumatran rhino at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia’s Way Kambas National Park. Expectant mother Ratu is being monitored 24/7 by her primary veterinarian, as well as a team of rhino experts from several continents. Ratu’s baby is expected to be

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Steyl-Lemtongthai Case Postponed & More

South Africa’s rhino horn syndicate case involving game farmer Marnus Steyl, professional hunter Harry Claassens, and Thai nationals Chumlung Lemtongthai, Punpitak Chunchom, and Tool Sriton has been postponed. Although the alleged syndicate’s legal team had hoped to get the case thrown out, the suspects will make another court appearance on November 5th. Steyl and his

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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.

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Death Toll Soars to 220 in S. Africa & More

There seems to be no end in sight to the continuing slaughter of South Africa’s iconic rhinos, as the Department of Environmental Affairs stated this week that 220 rhinos have been killed so far this year. 146 suspects have been arrested, and the majority (207) of the killings are concentrated in Kruger National Park, and

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Rhino Killer Shot Dead in India & More

Kaziranga National Park’s greater one-horned rhinos are safer today, following an exchange of gunfire between authorities and armed rhino killers, which left one of the assailants dead. According to India Blooms news, the incident occurred near the Bagori range of the park. Police also recovered a .303 rifle and live ammunition. Less than a week

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: $6.8 Million in Assets Seized from 'Groenewald Gang' Suspects & More

The South African Police Service (SAPS) announced this week that a raid on the properties of rhino horn syndicate suspects Dawie Groenewald, Karel Toet and Manie du Plessis has resulted in the seizure of assets totaling approximately R55 million (US $6.8 million). A joint team comprised of the Hawks, SAPS, SANDF, the NPA, the Asset

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Death Toll Surges to 199 in South Africa & More

This week, South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs released the shocking figure of 199 rhinos slaughtered during the first four months of 2012. Most of the massacre has occurred in Kruger National Park, where 119 rhinos were killed. In addition, 122 people have been arrested in South Africa for rhino-related crimes. Last year, the body

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: 'Groenewald Gang' Case Postponed (Again) & More

For the fourth time since their arrest in September 2010, South Africa’s high-profile rhino horn syndicate case involving game farmer and safari operator Dawie Groenewald — along with professional hunters and wildlife veterinarians — has been postponed. The syndicate suspects (dubbed the “Groenewald gang”) are expected back in court on October 19th to face 1,872

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Death Toll Rises to 181 in South Africa & More

South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs has reportedly updated the number of rhinos killed in the country this year to 181. Investigative journalist Julian Rademeyer tweeted that 113 arrests have been made so far, and 111 of the 181 rhinos were killed in the flagship Kruger National Park. However, despite the massacre — and thanks

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Rhino Population Increase in India & More

Fantastic news this week from India: The greater one-horned rhino population has increased in Kaziranga National Park, Orang National Park, and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. The rhino population in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park soared to 2290, up from the 2009 census which counted 2048 rhinos. Orang National Park’s rhino population zoomed from 64 to 100, and

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: South Africa Death Toll at 150 & More

The latest figures released by the South African Government Department of Environmental Affairs are grim: 150 rhinos have been slaughtered since the beginning of 2012. According the statement, more than half (87) of the rhinos were killed in South Africa’s famed Kruger National Park, and 90 people have been arrested for rhino-related crimes during the

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Suspected Rhino Killer Commits Suicide & More

An alleged rhino killer has reportedly committed suicide after being confronted by police at his home. According to South Africa’s Jacaranda 94.2, Walter Nkuna was the manager of Atherstone Nature Reserve where five rhinos were recently shot. Nkuna apparently allowed three Mozambican men into the reserve, after telling “field rangers not to come to work

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: S Africa Death Toll Above 100 Rhinos & More

Here we are, not quite three months into 2012, and already more than 100 rhinos have been massacred in South Africa. The Independent Online says the 100-plus figure was verified by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). Earlier this week, South Africa National Parks (SANparks) announced that it would not be providing updates regarding the

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Rhino Killer Shot Dead in Kruger National Park & More

One suspected rhino killer was shot dead and another two wounded after they opened fire on Kruger National Park rangers, who acted in self-defense. A fourth member of the rhino-killing gang was arrested, and has admitted to slaughtering three rhinos last week in the park. The South African Police Service said that a rifle and

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: S African Death Toll Rises to 80 & More

It’s just 61 days into 2012 and at least 80 rhinos have already been killed in South Africa. South African National Parks (SANParks) released the grim tally earlier this week, along with the news that four Kruger National Park employees have been arrested for suspected involvement with rhino killings. Dr. David Mabunda, the Chief Executive

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: US Busts Rhino Horn Smuggling Ring & More

Great news! The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has cracked a major international rhino horn trafficking ring and arrested several people across a dozen states. The undercover investigation called “Operation Crash” also resulted in the seizure of more than 30 rhino horns, over $1 million in cash, and $1 million in Rolex watches, gold

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: 54 Rhinos Killed in 6 Weeks (S Africa) & More

South African National Parks (SANParks) has confirmed that at least 54 of the country’s rhinos have been killed since the start of 2012. Of these, 26 were massacred in the famed Kruger National Park. Although five arrests were reportedly made earlier this week and three people were jailed earlier this month, none of these suspects

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Four Arrested in Nepal, Sumatran Rhino Pregnancy & More

Photo © International Rhino Foundation This week, authorities in Nepal confiscated a rhino horn and arrested four people, including three policemen. The Himalayan Times identified the suspects as Constable Dambar Bahadur Tamang, Head Constable Bhupal Thapa, Constable Bishnu Subedi and Solti Gurung. It was noted that Thapa and Subedi had previous departmental violations. Deadly shootout

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Rhino Killers Sentenced to Jail in S Africa & More

The sentencing of three rhino killers to 25 years in prison is indeed welcome news from South Africa’s battle to protect its rhinos. Three Mozambicans identified by BuaNews as Aselmo Baloyi, Jawaki Nkuna and Ismael Baloyi each received 25 years in jail for killing rhinos in Kruger National Park back in 2010. The trio was

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Parliamentary #rhinohearing in South Africa & More

In a matter of hours, the highly anticipated Parliamentary discussion about South Africa’s horrific rhino situation will commence in Cape Town. Public hearings on potential solutions to the country’s rhino crisis are expected to begin Thursday at 9:30 AM SAST. The Department of Environmental Affairs (the Department), and other relevant government state holders will commence

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Rhino-Killing Attempt Thwarted at Zoo, & More

This week, a disturbing development emerged in India, and South Africa is beefing up security for its imperiled rhinos. Rhino killing attempt thwarted at zoo In India, a suspect identified as Chin Khansong was arrested for attempting to kill rhinos at the Assam State Zoo, where nine greater one-horned rhinos are kept. He had a

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Eight Rhinos Slaughtered in Kruger National Park & More

South Africa’s famed Kruger National Park was the scene of shocking discovery: The bodies of eight rhinos, all with their horns removed. A spokesperson for the country’s flagship tourist destination told the Times Live that three of the dead rhinos were found in Lower Sabie and the other five in the Pretoriuskop section. Rhino killings

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Hope for Asian Rhinos & More

The New Year seems to be starting off on a positive note for Asian rhinos, with encouraging news about greater one-horned, Javan, and Sumatran rhinos. Meanwhile, a new initiative in South Africa is launched to rehabilitate rhino calves orphaned by the continuing killing spree. ‘Missing’ rhino located A straying greater one-horned rhino was found after

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Asian Demand for Ivory Leads 'Unprecedented Assault' on African Elephants

Photo © Elizabeth John / TRAFFIC A record number of at least 13 large-scale ivory seizures in 2011, along with continued elephant killings in Africa, indicate that the illegal ivory trade is thriving — thanks to demand from Asia. In addition, records from “hundreds of smaller ivory seizures” are currently being compiled by the wildlife

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Four Ivory Smugglers Arrested with 44 Elephant Tusks in Cameroon

African elephants continue to fall victim to the Chinese demand for ivory, as 44 tusks were reportedly seized near LobΓ©kΓ© National Park in Southeast Cameroon. Four people, including a “businessman” who is believed to have arranged the deal, were arrested after the tusks were found in a truck transporting cocoa. WWF’s project manager in LobΓ©kΓ©,

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New Report Exposes Truth Behind Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) Greenwash Campaign

Paper giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), part of the Sinar Mas Group, has apparently been misleading consumers and investors with a massive PR campaign aimed at masking the truth behind its clear cutting operations in Indonesia. An investigative report released today by WWF and its NGO partners revealed that the Senepis Tiger Sanctuary is

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: South Africa's 2011 Death Toll Above 400, China's Endangered Species Auction & More

There is still no end in sight to the rhino massacre in South Africa, as this year’s body count has now exceeded 400, surpassing the 2010 death toll of 333. Although arrests for rhino crimes have also increased, South Africa’s conviction rate is abysmally low: Less than five percent. According to The Telegraph, 229 of

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Prominent South African Veterinarian Appears in Court, Arrests in Nepal & More

Another link between South Africa’s wildlife industry and the country’s rhino killing spree was revealed when South African veterinarian Dr. Douw Grobler appeared in the Pretoria North Magistrate’s Court last week. Although Grobler was not formally charged with a crime, his appearance was apparently part of an investigation into the activities of Hugo Ras, a

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