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Examiner
  • Lynn Youngblood: Cruel killing of a vanishing species

  • A few weeks ago, I wrote about rhinoceroses and elephants being poached out of existence. Since then, all of the endangered African rhinoceros in Mozambique have been wiped out.

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  • A few weeks ago, I wrote about rhinoceroses and elephants being poached out of existence. Since then, all of the endangered African rhinoceros in Mozambique have been wiped out.
    According to Stephen Messenger at www.Treehugger.com, “Conservationists say that the nation’s remaining 15 rhinos were found dead (in April), butchered by poachers and robbed of their horns.” Just a decade ago, on the same lands of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park where these 15 were killed, hundreds of rhinos roamed.
    The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park is no small park, at 8.65 million acres. So, how would poachers find 15 rhinos? It turns out that the very park rangers hired to protect this endangered species are the ones who aided the poachers. Thirty rangers are facing charges.
    The rangers are poorly paid, in a poor nation, and when rich marketers come to take the horns, money can be very persuasive. In a related article, by Aislinn Laing writes that poachers “target rhinoceroses for their horns which are prized in Asia for their reputed aphrodisiac and cancer-curing properties. The trade in rhino horn has seen the numbers of rhino killed spiral in recent years. Over the border in Kruger, the South African part of the Transfrontier Park, 180 have been killed so far this year, out of a national total of 249. Last year, 668 rhino were poached in South Africa, a 50 percent increase over the previous year.”
    Kelvin Alie of the International Fund for Animal Welfare commented on the park rangers. Working on the importance of conservation and preservation initiatives such as this “speaks volumes about the deadly intent of the wildlife trade. They will stop at nothing to get their quarry,” Alie said. “It is tragic beyond tears that we learn game rangers have now become the enemy in the fight to protect rhino from being poached for their horns.”
    A spokesman for South Africa’s environment minister, Albi Modise said she would meet her counterpart in Mozambique in the coming weeks. “Clearly the open fence agreement has become an open season for poachers,” Modise said. “Rangers in the Kruger National Park are engaged in daily battles with Mozambican poachers.”
    Killing a rhino in South Africa can actually bring stricter punishments that killing a person, whereas bringing down one of these giants simply for his horn in Mozambique might bring a fine, if anything at all.
    If you are able to read this, then you probably will be able to tell your children that you were alive when the world still had African rhinoceroses.
    It’s easy to become apathetic when reading a story such as this, but it’s not too late to take action. Choose one of these agencies you can support:
    • Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park: www.peaceparks.org
    • International Fund for Animal Welfare: www.ifaw.org
    Page 2 of 2 - • World Wide Fund for Nature: wwf.panda.org
    Lynn Youngblood, former manager of Burr Oak Woods Nature Center in Blue Springs, can be reached at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net.
     
     

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