Saturday, June 08, 2013

White Rhinos Under 24-hour Armed Guard

An at least 50-Million Year Old Rhino goes to extinction...

Last year the Javan rhinoceros, the rarest large mammal in the world, was declared extinct in Vietnam. The last one was killed in October in Cat Tien National Park, found with a bullet in its leg and its horn sawn off. 
As a species the rhino is at least 50 million years old, but if something is not done to curb the appetite for its horn, it may not last the century. The poaching trade in both rhino horn and ivory has moved to a new level and now operates in a way that is comparable to drug cartels or arms dealing. Penalties are often paltry in Africa, from where much of the horn originates, and poorly enforced in Asia, where it ends up. Some crime syndicates are expanding their existing operations into the ivory and horn trade – the risks are fewer and the profits can be greater. 
Technology has helped poachers enormously. From 2008 until mid 2011, 776 rhinos were killed in South Africa, where poachers are using GPS, helicopters and semi-automatic weapons. In east Africa the technology is not yet so sophisticated, but illegal arms are readily available from Somalia, and the perpetrators, driven by poverty, are inventive. Night-vision goggles have been stolen from the Kenyan army, and chancers have been known to jump over fences by the light of a full moon and kill rhinos using guns fitted with silencers made from bicycle pumps. And it’s not only rhinos: last year in southern Africa 14 armed poachers were killed in encounters with park rangers. And in Kenya last Christmas a ranger was shot dead in a revenge attack by poachers. 
The reason for all this slaughter is based on a deep-rooted, ancient belief that is nothing more than myth. Rhino horn is composed of keratin – gelatinous hair – with no beneficial medical properties; just hundreds of years of reputation and rumour. Chinese materia medica list it as a method of reducing fever and febrile convulsions. But even if it did work, one cannot help asking, when the rhino population of Africa has been reduced by 96 per cent in 50 years – why not take an aspirin? 
White rhinos are grazers, and indigenous to South Africa; black rhinos are browsers, and indigenous to east Africa. The names are misleading because their colour is the same. It is thought that white was a mistranslation of the Afrikaans word for 'wide’, denoting their big, square mouth. The slightly smaller black rhino has a prehensile or hooked lip for plucking fruit and leaves. They differ in character, too – the whites are more passive.

Oh I love this news! Yes, I agree...rare animals should be protected. People should make a move and help mother nature and every animal we share the world with.

I hope people are all like this...


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