Archive for the ‘Rhinoceros’ Tag

Rhino horn declining in demand   1 comment



A story published by The Guardian states that rhino horn is in less demand. This news comes at a time when rhinos have reached the ‘tipping point’ – when rhino numbers are declining from poaching faster than rhino are reproducing.

“A poll conducted by Nielsen for the Humane Society International (HSI) and the Vietnam Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) found that Rhino horn demand in Vietnam dropped by more than a third in one year.”


Efforts to curb trade in rhino horn appear to be gaining traction

A year long public information campaign to try to deter people from buying and consuming rhino horn was conducted in Vietnam, a key market for the trade of rhino horn.

The public information campaign, done through business, university, school and women’s groups in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, focused on dispelling the myth that rhino horn has medicinal value.

Following the campaign, only 2.6% of people in Vietnam now continue to buy and use rhino horn, a decrease of 38%, the report stated.

And there has been a 25% decrease in the number of people who think rhino horn, which is made of the same material as fingernails and hair, has medicinal value. However, 38% of Vietnamese still think it can treat diseases such as cancer and rheumatism.


One Person Can Make a Difference

One woman, an Australian named Lynn Johnson, raised money to launch a series of advertisements in Vietnam that warn people rhino horn is harmful to them and is a bad choice as a status symbol.

Advertisements have appeared on buses and billboards, and an HSI book called I’m a Little Rhino has been distributed in schools.

Ms. Johnson is a business woman with no prior experience in conservation efforts. To that I say, well done. 

“The messaging has gone up significantly in Vietnam over the past year which is fantastic,” Ms. Johnson said. “Our campaign targets the users directly but overall the amount of information aimed at Vietnamese has increased markedly.”

Although there are a lot of questions still to be answered in how this data was obtained – for instance, how many people did they poll to come up with these statistics?; has the supply side of the poaching chain slowed down yet? – it’s a hopeful sign that in a  short period of time, through education, a focused campaign in the right areas, and the help of individuals like you and me, public perception can be changed.

Behavior then usually follows.

Yes, it appears things are finally heading in the right direction, but this doesn’t mean we can not afford to stop anti-poaching efforts. If anything, these findings only confirm that our efforts are working and that maybe there is a chance to halt demand for rhino horn and save the African Rhino after all.

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Calculated hot pursuit suggested as option to halt rhino poaching   3 comments

Calculated hot pursuit suggested as option to halt rhino poaching

Written by Kim Helfrich, Monday, 01 September 2014

With Parliament setting aside three hours tomorrow for a debate on rhino poaching and its impact on national heritage, the timing of a letter seeking Ministerial approval for “calculated hot pursuit” could not have been better.

The letter, penned by Randburg lawyer Christopher Bean, asks Environment Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa, to “extend the principle of hot pursuit to include capture and arrest of known poachers and middlemen residing in Mozambique”.

The use of hot pursuit as a deterrent to particularly rhino poachers operating in the Kruger National Park first came up a year ago when retired Army General Johan Jooste suggested it to SANParks management. Indications are it was discussed when a South African Department of Environmental Affairs delegation met their Mozambican counterparts for discussions on a conservation memorandum of understanding. This included counter-poaching.

At the time of the MOU signing it was said hot pursuit was not yet part of the agreement but there would be further discussions.

Last month National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega told a media briefing hot pursuit was happening.


Calculated hot pursuit agguested as counter poaching option


“Yes, we have a hot pursuit agreement meaning that when somebody crosses the border we do have an agreement with Mozambique to follow through,” she was quoted as saying.

This was subsequently expanded on by police spokesman, Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale, in response to a defenceWeb enquiry. He said hot pursuit was not confined to suspected rhino poachers but also to suspects of crimes such as stock and vehicle theft as well as drug and human trafficking.

The hot pursuit option was in accordance with a Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO) operational agreement.

He declined to provide details of specific rhino poaching hot pursuit incidents as did Jooste, who referred defenceWeb to the SA Police Service.

This public has to date had no response from the Department of Environment Affairs on its question as to whether it was aware of any SADC agreement regarding hot pursuit ahead of discussions with Mozambique on the conservation MOU.

One who is unhappy about the hot pursuit issue is Democratic Alliance shadow deputy environment minister Terri Stander. She questions its legality and extradition issues and will raise these points in Tuesday’s debate.

As far as legality is concerned Bean maintains “calculated hot pursuit” is in use worldwide and can be used to back rangers and soldiers crossing into Mozambique “armed with information/evidence as to the existence of known poachers and middlemen financing them”.

He terms it “a means of remedying a wrong committed on South African soil without having to go to war to rectify that wrong. In short, hot pursuit is a form of safety valve against war,” he states in his letter to Minister Molewa.

Environment Affairs has not yet issued a monthly update on rhino poaching statistics with the last information released on July 31. That indicated 618 rhinos killed national with Kruger accounting for by far the majority – 400.

How Wearable Technology Is Helping Save Rhinos from Poachers   7 comments


How Wearable Technology Is Helping Save Rhinos from Poachers

Conservationists in South Africa are using computerized bracelets powered by Intel Galileo technology to help regenerate the critically endangered rhino population.

Thin and light he is not. An adult male black rhinoceros can tip the scale — if you can coax him onto one — some measuring nearly 1.5 tons, or 1,350 kilograms.

Not only that, black rhino are the fastest kind of rhino, reaching  a top speed of 55 km per hour, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The WWF documents how “the Daily Mirror, in 1961, said that rhinos were doomed to disappear from the face of the earth due to man’s folly, greed, neglect.” Ever since, poachers have continued to push rhinos into the brink of extinction.

Today, people in southern Africa are trying to help save these critically endangered animals, including white rhinos, using Intel’s super-tiny Intel Quark system on a chip (SOC).


In 1981, only 10,000-15,000 black rhino remained, according to the WWF, which states that since 1980, the species has probably disappeared from Angola, Botswana, Chad, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan and Zambia.

When poachers kill rhinos, they typically hack off the rhinos’ prized horns, which often get ground into powder and sold for medicinal or aphrodisiac value. A single rhino horn can reportedly fetch as much as $3 million. The carcass is most often left to rot.

The WWF reports that after dipping to only 2,475 black rhinos recorded in 1993, conservation and anti-poaching efforts have helped the population grow to nearly 5,000.

In a unique pilot project now underway in South Africa, Intel is contributing a number of credit card-sized Intel Galileo motherboards — complete with processor, 3G communications and data storage — which are affixed to the big beasts.

The project is the outgrowth of a partnership between Intel South Africa and Dimension Data, a cloud services and data center company.

Organizing the work in the field is the Madikwe Conservation Project and i-Detect, a global software company that helps companies manage risk.

Attempting to affix technology to a rhino is risky. The rhino is not an easy customer. It hangs around in the baking hot African sun. It lounges in mud. It rolls in dirt. It stomps its massive 3-toed feet on stuff it doesn’t fancy. With a charge of 55 km per hour, it strikes a mighty blow.

The low-power Intel Galileo board is encased in an utterly rhino-proof, Kevlar-based ankle collar, which also features a durable solar panel to recharge the board’s battery.

What is the best way to attach a “wearable” to a rhino? Very carefully. And not until the huge animal is sedated.


Cellular provider Vodafone is contributing wireless connectivity. Each collared rhino’s geolocation and movement data is encrypted to ensure poachers cannot get to it, then sent to the cloud.

When the wild animals are sedated for their collar fitting, teams embed a tiny RFID chip in each animal’s horn. If the Galileo board detects a break in proximity between ankle and horn, anti-poaching teams can be alerted with helicopters, drones and ground-based vehicles to apprehend the poachers.

While the current pilot is focused on five animals, the technology is working and the cost is proving to be modest and appealing enough to expand to more rhinos.

The project’s next phase will monitor each rhino’s vital stats, such as heart rate. In this way, anti-poaching teams will be able to detect a stressed rhino and swoop in on criminal poachers before they do the deed.

“This incredible creature is in real threat of extinction if we cannot help stop the poaching.” said Gordon Graylish, Intel’s EMEA-based sales and marketing VP who recently checked out the rhino-saving project.

“The ease with which our local team could take our technology and apply it to a real world issue in a novel way was amazing. It also points to the way to even more work like this for us in the future,” he said.

“At Intel, we constantly strive to enable new possibilities, not just for the human race, but for all species of flora and fauna,” said Intel South Africa Country Manager Videsha Proothveerajh. “This project helps us holistically care for our planet.”

By Walden Kirsch, iQ Contributor & Intel Communications

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How Technology Is Decoding the Secret Language of Nature

Real-Time Sensor Networks Give a Voice to the Planet

Galileo: The New Tool That’s Changing the Maker Movement


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