Horns Down

Wildlife experts in Africa say they have found it is safer to relocate the critically endangered black rhinoceros upside down, sedated and blindfolded by helicopter rather than by land.

It is sometimes necessary to move rhinos from local overcrowding and to make them less vulnerable to poaching. Their blood oxygen levels are higher when they are upside down, compared to lying on their side on a flatbed truck. Nearly 98% of black rhinos disappeared in the wild after the 1960s, when more than 100,000 roamed the deserts, shrublands and savannas from Kenya to Namibia.



The Last Goodbye

The Last Goodbye shows ranger Joseph Wachira comforting Sudan, the last male northern white rhino left on the planet, moments before he dies at Ol Pejeta Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya.

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The Amazon unravels into savanna

At the beginning of the 1990s, while observing the large trees of the Amazon ceding ground to the scrub-like vegetation of the Cerrado, in a process driven by human activity, Brazilian scientist Carlos Nobre conceived of the hypothesis that a process of savannization of the world’s greatest tropical forest was underway.

The results show a bleak scenario for some of the species that have evolved to thrive in forests, which may lose up to 50% of their range by the end of the 21st century. This is especially the case in the region known as the Arc of Deforestation, a zone of agricultural expansion in the south and southwest of the Brazilian Amazon, where the rainforest abuts the Cerrado shrubland.

The only refuge for these species would be the central area of the Amazon Basin, in areas closer to the Andes Cordillera, less vulnerable to climate change and to the impact of the agricultural frontier. The expectation is that there could be an influx of up to 60 species into these untouched regions, increasing competition with endemic wildlife for resources and bringing unpredictable ecological consequences.

Conversely, species native to the Cerrado, which are also losing habitat to farmland, would see a net increase in their distribution by up to 30%, as the savannization of the Amazon (and, to a lesser extent, the Atlantic Forest) open up new areas for them that would otherwise have remained unsuitable.


Rhino Poaching – Botswana

Thirteen rhinos have been poached in Botswana in the last two months, the tourism ministry said, as the government tries to crack down on hunting of the endangered species.

The country is home to just under 400 rhinos, according to Rhino Conservation Botswana, most of them roam the grassy plains of the northern Okavango Delta.

The number of rhinos poached since October 2018 now stands at 31. Twenty-three of those were white rhinoceros and eight were black rhinoceros, which are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


Rhino, calf and zebra electrocuted by collapsed power pylon

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A female rhino, her calf and two zebra were electrocuted when an Eskom electricity pylon collapsed at Tshwane’s Rietvlei Nature Reserve near Pretoria, South Africa. Scrap metal thieves have been targeting electricity pylons across Gauteng Province, removing structural members to sell as scrap metal to illicit dealers. It seems that this may have been the cause for the failure of one leg of the pylon.

Poachers killed in motor vehicle accident – South Africa

Eight people died in a head-on collision between a bakkie and car on the R531 road between Hoedspruit and Swadini, Limpopo Province, on Saturday. One of two injured people transported to hospital for treatment after the crash died later. The police endangered species unit was called to the scene after buckets containing snake skins, starfish, crabs and other dead sea creatures were found scattered about the crash site.


12 rare one-horned rhinos killed by floods in India

At least 12 one-horned rhinos, a threatened species, have died as a result of flooding in a national park in north-eastern India, park officials said on Sunday (July 21).

Eleven of them drowned while trying to escape floodwaters and one slipped into a ditch while trying to climb a highland, said an official at the Kaziranga National Park in India’s north-eastern Assam state.

The sprawling 430-square-kilometre park is a Unesco World Heritage site and home to two-thirds of the world’s population of the Rhinoceros Unicornis – more commonly known as the Indian rhinoceros. At the last count in 2015, the park had a population of 2,401 rhinos.

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7,000 species added to endangered ‘Red List’

Mankind’s destruction of nature is driving species to the brink of extinction at an “unprecedented” rate, the leading wildlife conservation body warned Thursday as it added more than 7,000 animals, fish and plants to its endangered “Red List”.

From the canopies of tropical forests to the ocean floor, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said iconic species of primates, rays, fish and trees were now classified as critically endangered.

The group has now assessed more than 105,000 species worldwide, around 28,000 of which risk extinction.

While each group of organisms face specific threats, human behaviour, including overfishing and deforestation, was the biggest driver of plummeting populations.

“Nature is declining at rates unprecedented in human history,” said IUCN acting director general, Grethel Aguilar. “We must wake up to the fact that conserving nature’s diversity is in our interest.”

Exhausted rhinos rest on dry land amidst India Floods

A telling picture of exhausted rhinos resting on patches of land at the Kaziranga National Park in the wake of the devastating floods in Assam has surfaced on the internet. Rising floodwater levels in the state posed a threat to the wild animals in Kaziranga, which has been entirely under water owing to incessant rains in the region.

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Extinction Looms for Sumatran Rhino

Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhino has died, leaving just one of the rhinos, a captive female, in the entire country, a region that was once replete with the two-horned beasts.

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Two rhinos die in Chad after being relocated from SA

Two of six critically endangered black rhinos have died of unknown causes five months after being flown from South Africa to Chad in a pioneering project to re-introduce the animals, officials said Sunday.

Rhinos in Chad were wiped out by poaching nearly 50 years ago, and the six rhinos were intended to establish a new population in the country after intensive anti-poaching measures were put in place to protect them.

The rhinos in Chad had been roaming free in Zakouma National Park since late August after a gradual acclimatisation process that saw them first released into small enclosures.

The carcasses of the cow and bull were discovered on October 15. It is uncertain whether they were poached. The surviving four rhinos are being closely monitored, the statement said.


8 Endangered Rhinos Died in Mission to Save Them

A mission meant to save critically endangered rhinoceroses by transferring them to a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya has ended in tragedy, with the deaths of eight of the odd-toed ungulates, according to Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism.

But the culprit wasn’t poaching. Rather, it was likely salty water, the ministry said.

Preliminary investigations showed that once the black rhinos (Diceros bicornis) arrived at the newly created sanctuary in Tsavo East National Park, they gulped down water with a high salt content. The more salty water the rhinos drank, the thirstier they became, leading to a vicious cycle ending in tragedy, the ministry reported on July 13.


‘Drunken’ Kangaroos

Veterinarians in Australia believe they know why an increasing number of eastern gray kangaroos have been observed staggering as if drunk and dying across Victoria’s rural landscape.

The experts from the University of Melbourne say the animals could be suffering from the effects of eating new shoots of phalaris grasses, also known as canary grass.

The imported strain has been popular with some farmers even though it can cause similar symptoms in livestock, especially sheep.

Vets say that since there is no cure, the kindest thing to do is to euthanize the suffering marsupials. One of the affected roos can be seen bounding almost uncontrollably across a field.


Poachers Tried to Kill Rhinos in South African Reserve. Instead, a Pride of Lions Killed Them.

A pride of hungry lions in a South African reserve just saved the day, at least for a herd of rhinos. The poachers, who had illegally entered that reserve with a gun and axe to kill those rhinos, were not so lucky.

The big cats mauled and killed at least two — possibly three — poachers, leaving behind just their bloodied and partly-eaten body parts, according to news reports.

The illegal entrance and subsequent mauling attack happened at the Sibuya Game Reserve sometime between Sunday night (July 1) and Monday morning (July 2), according to a statement by the reserve.


Where are South Africa’s rhinos going?

Hundreds of rhinos have been shipped from South Africa to disreputable zoos and breeding facilities across the world, despite losing more than 1000 rhinos a year to poaching.

Between 2006 and 2017, amid the onslaught of a national poaching crisis, South Africa shipped around 900 live white rhinos overseas. These animals are now destined to live out their lives in the zoos and breeding facilities of China, North Korea, Singapore, Bangladesh, the US, Mauritius, Russia and Vietnam.

According to the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) Draft Biodiversity Management Plan for White Rhinoceros, a receiving rhino facility abroad should only be deemed acceptable to acquire South African rhinos if it can show a high standard of husbandry and veterinary care.

The facility should also be able to maintain animal record systems, has written conservation action plans in place, contributes to scientific studies, promotes education and can demonstrate a risk management plan.

However, once an animal has been exported to a facility in Vietnam for example, there are no domestic laws that compel the importing facility to keep the animals on site and they can move or loan the rhinos to other zoos. One case of this occurring was seen in 2015 when 14 loaned rhinos ended up at a facility in Vietnam, allegedly responsible for mass animal deaths.

However, there is also a lack of transparency regarding how many rhinos have been exported from South Africa or where they have been sent, with a number of inconsistencies clearly visible in the Cites public trade data. For instance, import and export figures simply do not line up and there are irregularities in the purpose codes used with some live animals even listed as hunting trophies.620x349


Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, dies aged 45

When Sudan was born in 1973 in the wild in Shambe, South Sudan, there were about 700 of his kind left in existence.

At his death, there are only two females remaining alive and the hope that in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques will advance enough to preserve the sub-species.

Sudan, elderly by rhino standards, had been ailing for some time, suffering from age-related infections, according to his keepers at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

Sudan lived out his final years on a 90,000-acre (36,400-hectare) reserve of savannah and woodlands in central Kenya, along with the two remaining females, under armed guard to protect them from poachers.


Last Male Northern White Rhino — And He’s Sick

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Sudan, a 45-year-old rhino and the last male of his subspecies (Ceratotherium simum cottoni), is ailing in the wake of two infections on his back right leg, according to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the wildlife sanctuary in Kenya where the last three northern white rhinoceroses on the planet live. “At the advanced age of 45, his health has begun deteriorating, and his future is not looking bright,” according to Sudan’s caregivers.

Even before this health setback, the chances of Sudan fathering new northern white rhinoceroses in his lifetime were basically nil. This subspecies of rhinoceros used to roam across Uganda, Chad, Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but poaching and chaos from years of civil war in the region sent the population plummeting. The last time a was seen outside of captivity was 2007, and the subspecies is presumed extinct in the wild.

Flamingo Return

The population of Florida’s iconic pink flamingos is rebounding after the birds were virtually eliminated across the state by hunting in the late 1800s.

Since 1950, American flamingos have been seen in greater numbers and more often. But because there were so few of them during most of the 20th century, some had argued flamingos weren’t a native species.

New research finds that there were probably large flocks of the birds across the state before their colorful feathers and prized eggs led them to be hunted to near oblivion.


2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Brent Stirton was awarded the grand prize title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his story on the illegal rhino horn trade.

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One of Malaysia’s Last Sumatran Rhinos Dies

One of the last three Sumatran rhinoceroses in Malaysia has died, the Borneo Rhino Alliance has announced.

The rhino, named Puntung, was about 20 years old. Her keepers at Malaysia’s Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah euthanized her on June 4, eight days after discovering that the critically endangered animal had squamous cell cancer. The cancer had spread rapidly, and intensive treatment would have bought Puntung only a few more months of life penned in an indoor enclosure, the Borneo Rhino Alliance reported on its Facebook page.

Sumatran rhinoceroses (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) are the smallest of all rhino species. They’re also the most endangered, according to the International Rhino Foundation (IRF). With Puntung’s death, there are only two individuals left in Malaysia: Tam, a middle-age male; and Iman, a female. Both are kept at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve. The Sumatran rhino is now extinct in the wild in Malaysia. In Indonesia, fewer than 100 Sumatran rhinos survive in the wild. Poaching has sliced the population in half over the past 20 years, according to the IRF.

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