"What’s cropped up in rural North Carolina is essentially a Venus Flytrap crime ring — with lackies, middle men, and a mysterious end buyer who’s perpetuating the market.
The Black Mambas are an all-female anti-poaching squad in South Africa. They patrol the borders of the Greater Kruger National Park, where wild rhinos live. The women in the squad come from the surrounding townships and patrol un-armed.
It was an unexpected end to an extraordinary chase. For 110 days and more than 10,000 nautical miles across two seas and three oceans, the Bob Barker and a companion ship, both operated by the environmental organization Sea Shepherd, had trailed the trawler, with the three captains close enough to watch one another’s cigarette breaks and on-deck workout routines. In an epic game of cat-and-mouse, the ships maneuvered through an obstacle course of giant ice floes, endured a cyclone-like storm, faced clashes between opposing crews and nearly collided in what became the longest pursuit of an illegal fishing vessel in history. (SLNYT)
I am appalled at what that means – that the survival skills that the bull has painstakingly learnt over half a century have been rendered useless by the poachers’ use of mass-produced Chinese goods; GPS smart-phones, cheap motorcycles and night vision goggles. I think the old bull knows that poachers want his tusks, and I hate that he knows. More than anything, I hate the thought that poachers are now closing in on one of the world’s most iconic elephants.The Guardian [more inside]
The Dead Zoo Gang "Over the last several years, millions of dollars worth of antique rhino horns have been stolen from natural history museum collections around the world. The only thing more unusual than the crimes is the theory about who is responsible: A handful of families from rural Ireland known as the Rathkeale Rovers." (Via)
Killing a Turtle Advocate
Each spring on Costa Rica’s desolate Caribbean coast, endangered leatherback sea turtles come ashore at night to lay and hide their eggs. Poachers steal them for cash, and as Matthew Power reports, they’re willing to kill anyone who gets in their way.[more inside]
DNA analysis has confirmed the death, by poaching, of the last Javan rhino in Vietnam. This marks the official extinction of the Vietnamese subspecies of Javan rhinoceros. The entire species is now represented by just 35 individuals from the Indonesian subspecies, all of whom reside in Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia.
"In March 2012, following the brutal attack of three rhinos by poachers seeking horn, Dr. William Fowlds, the wildlife veterinarian treating the rhinos, contacted WitmerLab for insight into the anatomical structure of the horn, skull, and nasal cavity of rhinos. The poachers had used machetes to hack off the horns, leaving deep wounds in the face and exposing the delicate mucous membranes of the paranasal air sinuses and nasal cavity." The result of this partnership was the Visible Interactive Rhino. For more rhinoceros anatomy, check out photos from a rhinoceros dissection from What's in John's Freezer? (previously). [more inside]
The Okapi Wildlife Reserve, a UN World Heritage Site, is home to approximately 5,000 of the estimated 30,000 okapi remaining in the wild. Last week, it was also home to a tragedy. [more inside]
"The sale of this next lot will be contingent on a satisfactory resolution of a court proceeding dealing with this matter."
On May 20th, the fossil remains of a Tarbosaurus (aka, Tyrannosaurus bataar) were sold for $1,052,500. The auction was carried out despite objections from the President of Mongolia and a court order. The problem? The remains may have been poached.
Agony and Ivory. "Highly emotional and completely guileless, elephants mourn their dead—and across Africa, they are grieving daily as demand from China’s 'suddenly wealthy' has driven the price of ivory to $700 a pound or more. With tens of thousands of elephants being slaughtered each year for their tusks, raising the specter of an 'extinction vortex,' Alex Shoumatoff travels from Kenya to Seattle to Guangzhou, China, to expose those who are guilty in the massacre—and recognize those who are determined to stop it."
Ever wondered what happens to an elephant's body after it dies in the wild? Now you know. [more inside]
A fascinating piece by Jeffrey Goldberg in the New Yorker investigates the anti-poaching activities of Mark and Delia Owens in Zambia's North Luangwa National Park. Goldberg's essay focuses on the uncertain circumstances surrounding the killing of an alleged poacher by an unidentified member of Mark Owens' team of park scouts that was broadcast on national television in 1996. [more inside]
Poaching – not pears, not birds, but plants. In the feed-me-Seymour vein of green and growing things, these are the plants that eat things – too bad they aren’t able to defend themselves from people and habitat loss. But wait! There’s help on the way. [more inside]
The Hope Diamond glows red when exposed to ultraviolet light. In itself, this is an interesting way to determine the provenance of a particular gem. [more inside]
Four endangered gorillas were found shot dead in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a conservation group announced today. For all the evil bastards that do this, there are many, many more good people fighting the good fight to help keep gorillas healthy. One, even has a blog.
GamerDad, a site which has been around since 2003 (and is a registered trademark), has been a source of amusement and reviews for parents who play games, and parents who want to know what their kids are playing. Microsoft decided that they liked the name so much, they would steal it. But at least they had the courtesy to admit they knew about GamerDad before they stole the name.
Follow the Rhinos Weblog tracking two white Rhinos as they travel next month to the Phoenix Zoo. Nice looking site (via CSS Vault). In related news, poachers have killed about half of the world's population of wild white rhinos in the last year (more here).