Ratu, a female Sumatran rhino who resides at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia. PHOTO: Rhishja Cota-Larson / Annamiticus

Ratu, a female Sumatran rhino who resides at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia. PHOTO: Rhishja Cota-Larson / Annamiticus

Solidarity: The five Asian rhino range states of Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Nepal are standing firmly behind the international ban on rhino horn trade.

But first, a bit of historical perspective on Asian rhinos.

Asia is home to three of the five rhino species — the greater one-horned, Javan, and Sumatran rhino. The most ancient rhino species is in fact, the Sumatran rhino, who still sports a coarse coat of hair reminiscent of its prehistoric predecessor, the woolly rhinoceros. And with the combined population of Asian rhinos at less than 4,000, the region is all too familiar with the devastation wrought by rhino horn trade.

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A Vietnamese delegation is on a fact-finding mission about the illegal trade in rhino horn in South Africa. Photo by Lorraine R [CC-BY-SA-2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

A Vietnamese delegation is on a fact-finding mission about the illegal trade in rhino horn in South Africa. Photo by Lorraine R [CC-BY-SA-2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

A Vietnamese delegation — including a key National Assembly member, a well-known journalist, a national film celebrity and a senior Environmental Police officer — arrived this week in South Africa to investigate the illegal trade in rhino horn.

Following the ten-day fact-finding mission, the delegates will appear at a special press conference in Vietnam on Friday, September 20. Journalists are invited to hear them reflect on their South African experiences and celebrate the fourth annual World Rhino Day, which falls two days later on Sunday, September 22.

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South Africa's trophy hunt industry. Photo by Profberger via Wikimedia Commons

More woes for South Africa’s trophy hunt industry. Photo by Profberger via Wikimedia Commons

The July 2013 seizure of 24 rhino horns and arrest of 16 suspects in the Czech Republic points yet again to South Africa’s failure to properly monitor its own trophy hunt industry.

The “hunters” were said to have been hired by an “international criminal gang” to legally kill rhinos in South Africa. This is in order to use the CITES permit loophole which allows for the import of “legally” sourced rhino horns into the Czech Republic. Customs officials at Prague’s Václav Havel International Airport became suspicious and contacted the police, according to Radio Prague. Although no names were released due to the ongoing investigation, among those arrested were Czech as well as foreign nationals. The operation was conducted in conjunction with INTERPOL.

South Africa’s trophy hunt industry has been at the center of rhino horn trafficking for quite some time. The first Vietnamese “pseudo-hunt” apparently took place in 2003, and in November 2009, the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC warned in its report ahead of CITES CoP15 that these bogus hunts had already been taking place on “the same game ranches repeatedly”.

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Saving the Sumatran Rhino with Siblings

On July 31, 2013, in Rhinos, Sumatran Rhinos, by The Price
Andalas was born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2001, thanks to scientific breakthroughs by CREW. Photo © Annamiticus

Andalas was born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2001, thanks to scientific breakthroughs by CREW. Photo © Annamiticus

The Sumatran rhino population has declined over 50 percent in the last decade, leaving fewer than 100 individuals. In order to help save this species from completely disappearing, the Cincinnati Zoo will pair siblings Harapan and Suci in hopes of producing a calf.

The Cincinnati Zoo and the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia are the only two facilities in the world that have successfully bred Sumatran rhinos in more than 100 years. Both Harapan and Suci were born at the Cincinnati Zoo, thanks to CREW (Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife), the zoo’s state-of-the-art research facility dedicated to saving endangered plants and animals from extinction. Although the idea of inbreeding may seem strange, the Cincinnati Zoo explains that the alternative is to lose the Sumatran rhino.

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Wildlife trafficking, particularly ivory, is a serious risk to peace and security in Central Africa. Photo: Gary M. Stolz / USFWS

Wildlife trafficking, particularly ivory, is a serious risk to peace and security in Central Africa. Photo: Gary M. Stolz / USFWS

UN Secretary Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warns that wildlife trafficking, particularly the illicit ivory trade, “constitutes a grave menace to sustainable peace and security” in Central Africa.

In his report to the UN Security Council, the Secretary-General writes that ivory obtained from the massacre of elephants may be “an important source of funding for armed groups, including LRA” (Lord’s Resistance Army). In addition, “more and more sophisticated and powerful weapons” — possibly “originating from the fallout in Libya” — are being used to slaughter elephants. The situation is dire in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, and Gabon.

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Grim News: Fewer Than 100 Sumatran Rhinos Remain (via Annamiticus)

The Sumatran rhino crisis is worse than previously thought. The IUCN has released an updated population estimate of “less than 100 individuals”, essentially halving earlier estimates of 180. This devastating news was announced at the Sumatran Rhino…

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On June 16th, Coco Eco partnered with designer Calleen Cordero to host a benefit for the Price.

Coco Eco — the online eco-chic magazine — partnered with designer Calleen Cordero to host a benefit for ‘The Price’ on June 16th.

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Ivory Gang Murders 7 People, 13 Okapi at DRC Wildlife Reserve (via Annamiticus)

On June 24th, marauders armed with AK-47 rifles launched a vicious attack on the Okapi Wildlife Reserve Headquarters and Epulu Station in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and murdered seven people. 13 captive okapi were also killed in the raid, including some who had been “wildlife ambassadors…

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It’s a Boy! Sumatran Rhino ‘Ratu’ Gives Birth in Indonesia (via http://www.rhinoconservation.org)

History has been made at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia, where Ratu has reportedly given birth to a healthy male calf! Widodo Ramono from the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary told AFP that the baby was born on Saturday, June 23rd. Ratu gave birth a male baby at 12:45 a.m. on Saturday. Both the mother…

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Prince William Speaks Up for Rhinos [Video]

On June 21, 2012, in Rhinos, Videos, by The Price


Prince William Speaks Up for Rhinos [Video] (via http://www.rhinoconservation.org)

Rhinos have a royal friend in Prince William, who told BBC News that those who participate in the illegal rhino horn trade are “extremely ignorant, selfish, and utterly wrong”. Prince William is lending his support to a conservation initiative that has sent three captive-born black rhinos from…

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