Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Do Rhinos run for thunder?

Poachers Killed More Than 1,000 Rhinos for the Third Year in a Row. South African officials report that fewer of the animals were poached in 2015, but deaths rose in neighboring Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Poachers slaughtered more than 1,000 rhinos in South Africa for the third year in a row.

That’s a reason for optimism, the country’s environment minister, Edna Molewa, said during a press conference Thursday.

“For the first time in a decade, the poaching situation has stabilized,” she said. “Considering that this is despite escalating poaching pressure, and in the face of an increased and relentless rise of poaching activity into protected areas—this is very, very good news.”

Poachers killed 1,175 South African rhinos in 2015, forty fewer than the record 1,215 lost in 2014. Molewa credited ramped-up enforcement, which led to a record 317 arrests last year, for helping stem the poaching epidemic.

Conservationists, however, warn the decline in South African rhino deaths is no reason to celebrate. Rhino deaths in neighboring Namibia jumped from 24 in 2014 to 80 last year, and Zimbabwe reported that at least 50 rhinos were poached in 2015, up from 12 the previous year, according to wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC.

Continent-wide, more rhinos were poached in 2015 (1,305) than in 2014 (1,299).
(Graphic: World Wildlife Fund)

“The very slight decrease we’re seeing in South Africa really shows the poaching pressure is just shifting to regions with the least path of resistance,” said Leigh Henry, a World Wildlife Fund senior policy adviser. “Poachers will take rhinos where they can get them.”

Around 25,500 rhinos are left in Africa, including about 20,000 white rhinos and 5,000 endangered black rhinos, with 95 percent of the animals living in South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. Poachers killed roughly 14 percent of the rhino population over the past three years, just about matching the species’ reproduction rate. If poaching increases, the scales will tip toward a declining rhino population in Africa.

“As long as the demand exists for rhino horn in Vietnam and China and countries like Mozambique operate as a trade facilitator of the product, poaching isn’t going to go away,” Henry said.

Last year 70 percent of poaching occurred in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, which Molewa calls the “epicenter of the poaching crisis.” Most poachers enter the park from Mozambique to kill rhinos and chop off their horns before crossing back over the border. From there, rhino horns are smuggled to Asia, where per ounce they are worth more than gold.

But South Africa’s efforts to stem poaching could be short-lived. On Wednesday, a South African court upheld a ruling that ends a seven-year ban on trade in rhino horns. The judge held that government officials failed to adequately consult the public before implementing the ban.

The decision spells bad news for rhino conservation, said Cathy Dean of Save the Rhino International.

“There is no consumer market within South Africa for rhino horn,” Dean said. She noted that that smugglers could use the legal domestic trade to mask rhino horns destined for international markets. A domestic trade would also allow for the sale of rhino horn stockpiles—similar to the seized elephant ivory stockpiles sold legally in Hong Kong—and open a market for “sustainably” harvested horns from live rhinos.

An international ban on rhino horn trade has been in place since 1977. But South Africa is expected to propose that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species discuss revoking the ban at its September meeting.

“We can only assume that investors wish to buy up rhino horn in the event that CITES will eventually—whether this year or at a future meeting—legalize the international trade in rhino horn,” Dean said. “If CITES rejects a South African proposal, then what will these investors do with their newly acquired horns? Many conservationists suspect that there will be further ‘leakage’ of horns into the illegal trade.”

Stop Selling Elephant and Rhino Ivory on Yahoo.
Goal: Stop allowing ivory sales on Yahoo Japan that threaten the endangered elephant and rhino populations.
Internet company Yahoo is still a participant in the ivory trade that’s devastating populations of endangered animals, including elephants. While Google and Amazon have committed themselves against allowing any sale of ivory through their websites, Yahoo Japan is making millions from it. These sales increased from two million to seven million in the span of just four years.
The ivory market continues to thrive as the material becomes more rare and precious due to the shrinking populations of the animals that grow in on themselves. The western black rhino has been driven to extinction, and the white rhino only has three remaining individuals left, all in captivity. Due to poaching for ivory and habitat shrinkage, elephants could be extinct in just one or two decades.
The more Yahoo Japan fuels the ivory trade, the more they put the last remaining rhinos and elephants in danger. Multiple companies and governments have already been pressured to end their roles in this brutal and devastating market, and we can do the same with Yahoo. Sign our petition to the CEO of Yahoo to demand that she prohibits all sale of ivory through her website.
Dear Ms. Mayer,
Your company, Yahoo, is currently participating in a brutal market that’s responsible for the endangerment and extinction of multiple animal species, including the western black rhino and the African elephant. Yahoo Japan recently saw $7 million in ivory sales, up from $2 million just four years prior. This cannot be allowed to continue.
Poaching for ivory has caused the loss of so many magnificent animals, and participation in the trade of this material is what drives poachers to continue slaughtering them in incredible numbers. Experts estimate that African elephants could be extinct in as little as 10 years, largely due to this practice. The only way to stop poaching entirely is to eliminate the market for ivory. There is no other reason to poach elephants.
Companies like Google and Amazon have already committed themselves against the ivory trade. Consumers across the world are becoming more aware of the realities and consequences of this market and will not stand for your participation in the slaughter of rhinos and elephants. If you want to protect your already faltering profits, you must immediately prohibit all sale of ivory through Yahoo Japan and any affiliated sites.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Sponchia
Keep International Ban on Rhino Horn Trade.
Target: John Scanlon, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Secretary-General
Goal: Reject South Africa’s anticipated proposal to revoke the ban on rhino horn trade.
Experts anticipate that South Africa will propose revoking the international ban on trading rhino horns during the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting this year.  This proposal would come in the wake of a statistically insignificant decrease in the number of rhinos killed by poachers last year within the confines of South Africa. Continent wide, however, the number of rhinos killed by poachers increased during that same time period.
If CITES approves South Africa’s anticipated proposal to lift the ban on trading rhino horns, the number of rhinos slaughtered will increase dramatically. Rhino horns are highly prized in China and Southeast Asia. Lifting the rhino horn ban would allow investors to line their pockets at the expense of a magnificent species – one that is already considered critically endangered.
Tell CITES they must protect rhinos and deny the request to lift the international trade ban on their horns by signing this petition.
Dear Mr. Scanlon,
An important part of CITES’ strategic vision includes “significantly reducing the rate of biodiversity loss.” Wxperts indicate that South African leaders plan to use the small reduction of poaching within their borders to propose lifting this ban on rhino horn trade. Although South Africa’s poaching numbers slightly decreased last year, continent wide, rhino poaching has increased. Lifting the ban on rhino horn trade would only add to the number of rhino deaths and possibly lead to the extinction of this already critically endangered species.
We demand CITES protect the rhinos and prevent investors from lining their pockets with money from the rhino horn trade by keeping the international ban on trading rhino horns in place.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Efraimstochter
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© Who Is She? Music, Inc (BMI)
An asteroid crashed and nothing burned
it made me wonder:
Do tigers sleep in lily patches? 
Do rhinos run for thunder?
I got an ache in my left ear
I felt a twinge but I still could hear
Made me think I would not be burned
but rather give myself to science
I felt that I could help
To science, I felt that I can help
Paranoid the doctor ran
shouting his graphic translation
A fortnight of turmoil
gang wars and ails of riches
Spewing forth their color
he purposely waited till I was done
to knock on the lavatory door 
accusing me of ruining the fun
he knocked on it some more
The fun, He knocked on it some more
Alloyed suitors drawn inside
an apple or a grape
To put forth a cloud of mercury 
he was run over by a car
on a freeway in Los Angeles 
once the spraying has been done
'Cause there's more pain from necessity
you're a portrait of your past
There's a mummy in the cabinet
Are there no more arrows left?
What's that rubber bottle doing here? 
How's that napkin for a proof?
Ten cents to a dollar now 
for a shelf of pregnant eggs
Robert Palmer is implored to dance, to dance, to dance
It's so stupendous, living in this tube!