U.S. Aid to protect Elephant and Rhino in the Congo

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Jul 12th, 2004, 10:08 AM
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U.S. Aid to protect Elephant and Rhino in the Congo

Thought some may be interested to see the U.S. Gov't funding some African conservation. I'm happy to see it but can't stand that we have a back log of endangered species that are not listed in the U.S. due to lack of funds - i.e. black-tailed prairie dogs as one very important one.

Norton Announces Emergency Grants to Stop
Elephant and Rhino Slaughter in Africa

(WASHINGTON) -- Interior Secretary Gale Norton today announced
$140,000 in emergency grants to stop the illegal slaughter of elephants and
rhinoceros in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo
along the country's border with Sudan.
The Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is awarding the
grants to the non-profit International Rhino Foundation, which is leading
the effort to stop poaching by Sudanese poachers, known as "the horsemen,"
who kill the elephants and rhinos to acquire ivory and horns for sale on
the black market.
"The Sudanese horseman have killed almost 1,000 elephants in the past
year and are on the verge of eliminating the last wild population of
northern white rhinos," Norton said. "The emergency grants will help train
and equip park rangers and allow aerial surveillance by anti-poaching
teams."
Garamba rangers have been overwhelmed by the heavily armed poachers,
and two rangers have been killed while defending the park.
"These poachers are unscrupulous and violent, motivated by greed,"
Norton said. "They have systematically destroyed wildlife populations
throughout the Central African savannas and now they are focusing on what's
left in the Garamba National Park."
In April, park rangers sighted a poacher on horseback, six armed men
on foot and approximately 25 donkeys with heavy packs. In their wake, the
rangers found 12 freshly-dead elephants and two rhinos with only ivory
tusks, and horns removed.
"If something isn't done immediately, the Northern White rhino will
probably be lost forever." said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director
Steve Williams. "We need to give the Garamba rangers the help they need to
protect these rare animals."
The grants are being issued through the Service's "Wildlife Without
Borders" program that administers funds appropriated by Congress for
conservation of wild animals and their natural habitats. A grant of $84,900
is being awarded under the African Elephant Conservation Fund; a second
grant in the amount of $55,400 is being awarded from the Rhinoceros and
Tiger Conservation Fund. These grants cannot be used to purchase firearms.
The Service expects international conservation organizations and
private donors to contribute as much as $150,000 in additional support. The
International Rhino Foundation is working in partnership with other
organizations such as Conservation International, the International
Elephant Foundation, Save the Rhino International, the Wildlife
Conservation Society, the Frankfurt Zoological Society, the World Wildlife
Fund, the Zoological Society of London, the World Bank and the United
Nations Foundation-UNESCO.
In 1980, Garamba National Park was established by the United Nations
as a "World Heritage Site." In 1996, it was listed as a "World Heritage
Site in Danger."

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Jul 12th, 2004, 04:42 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 618
Hi there, here is another one that I had saved from a little while back. I would really love it if we could send a GENERAL PATTON in there and clean those jerks from the EARTH! Along with the AID , lets send in the BIG-BOYS!
Wish something like that would have been done back in the late 70's, 80's an into the 90's! Looks like it won't stop.
Sorry, but this stuff has been under my skin since 1972! Being 11yrs old, seeing my first ele shot by poachers! It was being shown on a TV AD by a charity I can't remember which. POACHERS MUST DIE!
Following is the article.
Again sorry, David

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Poachers Threaten Last Wild Northern White Rhinos

Stefan Lovgren
for National Geographic News
May 7, 2004


It was Easter Sunday, and Kes Smith was in the radio room when she received the call: poachers had been spotted in a remote corner of Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, home to the world's last remaining northern white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum cottoni).
Smith and her husband Frasier, who have worked as conservationists in the park for over 20 years, immediately leapt into a small airplane and took off.

But they were too late. Flying along a river, they soon discovered two freshly killed rhinos and 12 dead elephants. No meat had been taken, only the rhino horns and elephant tusks.


Read the full story >>





Park wardens and conservationists warn that poaching by Sudanese militia fighters may wipe out the last wild population of northern white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Above: a captive white rhino.

Photograph by Gary M. Stolz, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.





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Farther north, the South African couple spotted a caravan of 25 heavily-laden pack donkeys moving toward neighboring Sudan. It was the first time they had witnessed such a supply train of poached ivory and rhino horns.

The Smiths knew it was an ominous sign. Sudanese poachers have already eliminated most of the wildlife in Central African Republic and Chad, using donkeys and horses to transport the loot back to Sudan. Rhino horns, which are treasured for medicinal purposes in some parts of the world, can fetch thousands of dollars on the black market.

Now, the Smiths and other conservationists worry that a similarly systematic poaching campaign could be underway in Garamba. Six rhino carcasses have been found in the last two months, and more rhinos could have been slaughtered.

Before the recent killings, the northern white rhino population was estimated to be only 30, despite four baby rhinos having been born in the last year. Unless urgent action is taken to combat the upsurge in poaching, conservationists say, the last wild population of northern white rhinos could be wiped out in six months.

"If this situation continues, it will be a disaster for the park," Paulin Tshikaya, the head warden of Garamba National Park, said in a telephone interview from Kinshasa, Congo. "At the moment we cannot protect the park from this poaching."

Wildlife Jewel

Established in 1938, Garamba is one of the oldest national parks in Africa. Located in the northeastern corner of Congo, it is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The park is mainly undulating grassland. It is home to 6,000 elephants and less than 100 Congo giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis congoensis), also the last remaining in the world. But its real calling card is the endangered northern white rhino, which has been exterminated in all of its former habitats in central Africa.

"From a conservation standpoint, it is one of the most important places in Africa," said Richard Ruggiero, the Africa Program Officer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "It's a jewel about to be plucked out of the crown."

Poaching is hardly a new problem in Garamba National Park. Only 15 rhinos remained in 1984, when the Smiths started their Garamba Project, which is currently supported by the International Rhino Foundation in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. That was down from as many as 500 in 1976. A vigilant anti-poaching campaign led to the doubling of the population by 1995. But more recently, the war that has crippled Sudan for much of the last 40 years has taken an increasing toll on the park's wildlife.

A few years ago, rebels from the Sudanese People Liberation Army (SPLA) moved into the park and began poaching commercially for bushmeat. Most of the larger wildlife has been eliminated in the northern two thirds of the park.

Horsemen

Since June, 2003, there has been a massive upsurge in poaching in the southern section of the park, and a switch from primarily meat poaching to ivory and rhino horn.

In flights over the park, Fraser and Kes Smith have found huge numbers of elephants killed for their tusks, at times with wounded and bewildered babies standing next to their slaughtered mothers. They say more than 1,000 elephants have been killed in the last year.

Some observers believe the confusion surrounding current peace talks in Sudan may be fueling the poaching trade.

"Things are getting far worse, possibly [because] everyone is trying to grab as much as they can before peace falls," said Kes Smith in an e-mail interview.

In April, park guards for the first time encountered northern Sudanese militia fighters?perhaps allied with the Sudanese government in Khartoum?who are using their trains and horses to transport ivory and rhino horn back to Sudan.

These Sudanese horsemen are "professional destroyers of nature," said Ruggiero. "Since they have poached out just about every other area, they are now focusing on of the last vestiges of wildlife and that is Garamba."

Exactly how many northern white rhinos have been killed is impossible to ascertain, but conservationists warn there may be as few as 20 left.

Military Solution

There are currently 150 park guards in Garamba, which is run by the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature and funded by a consortium of international donor organizations.

In the absence of any Congolese military presence, says Warden Tshikaya, the Sudanese factions are firmly entrenched in the park. His park guards lack the resources to combat the poachers.

Conservationists are urging international governments to confront both the Sudanese government and the rebels about the rampant poaching. While there is no evidence of direct involvement by the Sudanese government, experts believe there are individuals in the regime who may be buying rhino horns.

In the long run, conservationists say, a political solution is needed. In the short run, however, logistical and military support is needed to prevent an environmental disaster.

"We could very well see the extinction of the nothern white rhino in the next six months," said Mike Fay, a conservation fellow at the National Geographic Society. "This isn't an extremist alarm call. This is what's happening in Garamba."






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Related Websites
? Garamba National Park
? Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature
? National Geographic: Shattered Sudan
? Wildlife Conservation Society





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