Since our post May 18th regarding the largest ivory bust in history in Thailand, we have become aware of additional and growing threats to rhino populations around the world and rhinos endangered over ivory. As world attention and pressure is put on nations and governments to better protect elephants and enforce anti-ivory laws, armed groups, traffickers and poachers are increasingly going after lesser protected rhinos to supply ivory to Chinese markets that have seen prices soar (making ivory ever more “valuable”).
See an important news update (11/2015) at: https://www.socialgoodinsurance.com/news-and-helpful-links/save-the-elephant/
Three current efforts helping to protect the rhino that you should know about:
1.) AirShepherd is using drones to patrol wide areas in Southern Africa, and to track rhinos from above, and from a distance. According to the World Wildlife Fund, nearly 1,300 rhinos were poached in Africa last year, up from 62 killed rhinos in 2007. They also report that one horn can be worth as much as $75,000 on the black market.
The drones use computer models to mark where rhinos eat, drink and mate in order to predict where they will be and where to look for poachers using infrared technology especially along high-risk roads. The AirShepherd Initiative can be found at http://airshepherd.org/ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AirShepherd. “Like” their page and tell a friend!
As of today, they are 81% towards their $500,000 goal with 30 days left.
Watch their video and read more on the technology here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/air-shepherd-drones-stop-elephant-rhino-poaching#/story and subscribe to their YouTube channel here.
2.) Rhinos without Borders is airlifting 100 rhinos from the highest poaching zones in South Africa, to the lowest poaching zones in the whole of Africa, Botswana, to save them from the poaching crisis. This is the largest airlift of its kind according to National Geographic. Like the movie ” Operation Dumbo Drop,” and weighing up to two and a half tons each, these rhinos aren’t easy to herd, or airlift using airplanes, which can be extremely dangerous.
There are only an estimated 4,000-5,000 black rhinos and 20,000 white rhinos left in Africa, with one killed by poachers every seven and a half hours, says Joubert, a National Geographic explorer-in-residence, who launched the nonprofit campaign, Rhinos Without Borders, last year in collaboration with tourism partners Great Plains Conservation and andBeyond.
According to their website, the team hopes to collect another 25 rhinos from South Africa by year’s end and move 65 more next year. The moves also help mix and resupply the gene pool as well as restock dwindling populations. Each move takes months and they can use your help. There is a “kickstarter-type” campaign at http://www.trevolta.com/trips/rhinos-without-borders-25972. You can also download an amazing wallpaper for your computer here: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/03/rhino-wars/img/02-airlifted-black-rhino_1600.jpg and subscribe to AndBeyond on YouTube here.
Another organization, noted by National Geographic, that is also involved in relocating and protecting the rhino is http://www.savetherhino.org/
3.) RhinoProtect uses controversial treatments to treat/poison the rhino’s horn making it inedible, and ruining the value/reason for traffic in the first place. Considered by some to be the best defense against poaching, RhinoProtect was started by Damian Vergnaud after he and his team developed and rolled out a horn treatment that doesn’t hurt rhinos at Inverdoorn Game Reserve in the Western Cape province of South Africa.
After the barium and dye-infused treatment is injected into the rhinos’ horn, they become coloured, X-ray detectable and unfit for human consumption as a result. The procedure takes a mere 40 minutes and does not affect the rhino’s behavior or alter the outward appearance of the horn, while the dye stains the inner core of the horn, making it useless for carving.
These are just three ways modern technology is being using to protect and conserve our precious wildlife and the noble rhino in the wild. Let us know what you think or if you hear of additional ways groups are using science and technology to aid in the fight against poaching and illegal trade!