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It was been raining on a daily basis in Serengeti which has made the wildebeest move very quickly towards the south. The smaller herds are around Central Seronera spread out between the Moru and Maasai Kopjes. The larger herds are already at Naabi around the Gol and Golini Kopjes. There is plenty of green pasture for the animals but also
great hunting opportunities for the predators!
Stone Holdings, a specialist security design and concept company, and wildlife monitoring organisation Wildlife ACT have been successful in obtaining licensing for U.S. Military radar technology to be used in the fight against rhino and other wildlife poaching. The group will be bringing it to South Africa this month.
Trials conducted at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, a private game reserve about two and a half hours drive from Cape Town, South Africa, have proved extremely successful in identifying intruders on foot, in vehicles and in the air in a game reserve or any other fenced-off area.
The principle of the system is that it will enable reserve managers and farmers to secure the perimeters of their respective properties and to identify poachers and trespassers before they are even able to enter the area. It will also ensure that intruders are not able to approach rhinos or other animals and in this way will help to minimise the huge losses we are currently experiencing.
Dr. Simon Morgan from Wildlife ACT was optimistic about the process of securing the perimeter of reserves using this technology. "We have to keep up with the rapid advances of the poachers and prevent them from even getting close to the animals, so investigating the use of the capabilities of this type of equipment is important in the efforts against these incursions," he said.
The system will use a three prong approach to the poaching issue, with a military spec radar anchoring the system. Further testing and fine tuning of the application is currently underway to ensure that all scenarios are covered and each installation will need to be custom designed, depending on the geographical layout of the land, and the level of detection that will be required.
"South Africa presents a whole new challenge to this system and various adaptations need to be done to ensure that all the challenges are met with positive outcomes," says Morgan.
The final product, produced by the unique partnership between Stone Holdings and Wildlife ACT, will be deployed in the near future and the group is excited about the prospect of eventually being able to have this special technology available to them to fight the war against the slaughter of our rich animal heritage.
33 rhino horns and a quantity of ivory seized in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Customs have seized 33 rhino horns, 758 ivory chopsticks and 127 ivory bracelets that were concealed inside a container shipped to Hong Kong from South Africa. This seizure may provide a unique opportunity to gain insights into the criminal syndicates trafficking wildlife goods between Africa and Asia, according to TRAFFIC.
TRAFFIC supports the South African Department of Environmental Affairs in requesting the authorities in Hong Kong to send DNA samples of the seized goods to the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pretoria in South Africa for examination. If the horn samples can be matched with records in the rhino DNA database it may be possible to identify the individual animals that were poached for their horns.
“Such an effort could yield major clues about who is behind this consignment,” said Tom Milliken, TRAFFIC’s rhino expert.
Destined for the Chinese market
This is the largest rhino horn seizure made in the current poaching crisis. Viet Nam is considered the pre-eminent contemporary market for rhino horn in Asia, and authorities in Viet Nam have previously seized rhino horn transported from Hong Kong by air, but the scale and method of transport suggest the shipment may have been destined elsewhere.
“The fact worked ivory was also present suggests the 33 rhino horns were likely destined for the greater Chinese market,” Milliken added.
“That’s a very worrying development given the scale of this seizure, and an important indication that the Chinese market is becoming an active phenomenon in rhino horn trafficking.”
No arrests have so far been made, although authorities in Hong Kong have confirmed the horns are genuine and say investigations are ongoing.
Under Hong Kong’s Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing unmanifested cargoes is liable to a maximum fine of HKD2 million (USD257,000) and imprisonment for seven years.
In addition, under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing endangered species for commercial purposes is liable to a maximum fine of HKD5 million (USD642,000) and imprisonment for two years.
“This case highlights the need for South African Port Authorities to invest in scanning equipment and up their game in terms of surveillance of the country’s export cargo,” says Markus Burgener of TRAFFIC’s fisheries programme. The port of Cape Town is also a major conduit for illegal shipments of abalone to Hong Kong.
We had a fabulous time in Unguja Lodge. The owners were not there but their stand in manager Martin was great. The accommodation was fabulous, the rear villas with the small pool are better, slightly larger and you have more monkeys and wild life visit you than the ones on the sea front.
The dive master Nick is great, very professional, great at leading the dives and is fun. The staff were all very friendly and very helpful. Not an awful lot to do around Kizimkazi but that is the beauty of the place.
Great place to stay. I will recommend the lodge to friends.
The Shamwari Game Reserve situated in the Eastern Cape of South Africa is deeply saddened to announce that in the early hours of this morning, it tragically lost an adult female rhino cow which was tranquillised and the horn gruesomely removed by poachers.
A 22 month old bull calf was also tranquillised and his horn also removed but he was found and taken to the Animal Rehabilitation Centre. His horn was removed with minor damage to his face and Dr Johan Joubert is hopeful that he will recover. The calf also suffered an injured back leg which is carefully being monitored.
States Joe Cloete - Group General Manager - Shamwari Group; “The investigation into the poaching incident commenced this morning with Cape Nature Conservation, Organised Crime and the SAPS being present. Rodney Visser, the Shamwari Group Security Manager, is heading up the investigation. The scene was secured in order for the forensic team to do their work without disturbance. At this stage there have been no arrests made but the investigation continues.”