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Unbelievable - "RHINO WARS" by Brent Stirton

Images of a Black Rhino Bull that has been shot 4 times by poachers and had the stump of its horn removed, Save' Valley Conservancy, Zimbabwe, April 23, 2011. This Rhino had already been de-horned by a vet in order to deincentivize poachers on the property but the poachers shot him anyway and brutally removed the stump of horn that remained. He was left for dead but was found wandering through the bush approximately 4 days after the incident, his face bleeding and screw-worm breeding in the wound. A decision was made to keep the animal alive rather than put him down and heavy doses of anti-biotics were administered. This Rhino died from his wounds one week after this photo was taken. Save' Valley Conservancy has lost a total of 66 Rhino to Poachers since 2002, including 10 in 2011. Rhino game ranchers in Zimbabwe speak of a number of issues when it comes to protecting their animals in Zimbabwe. There are issues of politics which affect the number of tourists that visit, this has been very low since 2000. Despite the fact that the Rhino actually belong to the state, private ranchers are asked to hire government Rangers from the State at considerable expense in order to protect them. This makes the economics of raising Rhino very difficult. Issues of security are difficult as it is hard to procure automatic weapons from a paranoid government and prosecution for the shooting of poachers can be very biased towards the locals. There is a perception on the part of government that training of Rangers is paramilitary and thus a threat. 
Image credit: Brent Stirton
Source: poyi.org

Images of a female rhino who 4 months ago survived a brutal dehorning by poachers who used a chainsaw to remove her horns and a large section of bone in this area of her skull, Natal, South Africa, November 9, 2010. The poachers surveyed the area by helicopter, mapped out the movements of the Rhino and the Guards and then darted the animal and hacked of the horn with a chainsaw. In an act of callous brutality they left the animal alive when they left with her horns. This Rhino was consequently found the next day wandering around in unimaginable pain. She also had a young 4 week old calf who was seperated in the incident and subsequently died of starvation and dehydration. The female adult miraculously survived the dehorning and with some supervision has gone on to join up with a male bull who accompanies her and helps her to survive. 
Image credit: Brent Stirton
Source: poyi.org

A White Rhino snared and killed for its horns 5 days before on Selati private game reserve in the Hoedspruit area of South Africa, April 9 2011. This animal was one of two to die this way in a two day period. Rhino killing has now become opportunistic in Africa with many poachers who previously would only snare smaller animals trying to take advantage of the Asian market for Rhino horn. The pursuit of rhino horn has moved beyond the realm of professional hunters into a much larger circle with links to organized crime. 
Image credit: Brent Stirton
Source: poyi.org

Images of a White Rhino mother and calf in the landscape of iMfolozi Game Reserve in Natal, South Africa, May 1, 2011. Hluwhluwe iMfolozi Game Reserve is the worlds largest repository of Rhino, with an estimated 2300 rhino in total, a majority of which are White with a large contingent of Black Rhino. This terrain is considered to be representative of how Rhino have lived on Earth for thousands of years. With over 400 Rhino killed for their horn in 2011 in South Africa alone, the species is racing towards extinction because of the insatiable appetite for medicinal Rhino horn amongst the new Asian elites. 
Image credit: Brent Stirton
Source: poyi.org

MESSINA, SOUTH AFRICA, MARCH 2011: A White Rhino skin is salted for curing after a morning hunt on Dawie Groenewald's hunting estate in Messina, South Africa, March 25 2011. South African hunting laws currently allow for an unlimited number of White Rhino hunts annually. The hunts cost an average of $50 to $70 000 but the horn of a large Rhino can sell for up to $300 000 thus there is a large loophole in the law for Asian hunters and horn traffickers to exploit. Groenewald along with his wife and 11 of his employees are currently accused of involvement in the illegal Rhino Horn trade. He is suspected of killing a number of rhino on his farm and de-horning them without permits for the conservation authority. Groenewald denies this but has become the posterboy for the Rhino poaching epedemic sweeping South Africa. He is free on bail and authorities have not confiscated his helicopter or his guns. He continues to conduct hunts on his property for a majority Vietnamese and Eastern European clientele. 
Image credit: Brent Stirton
Source: poyi.org

Accused Rhino farmer Dawie Groenewald, his wife and 11 hunter and vet employees attend a hearing on their case in the Messina Magistrates Court, South Africa, 11 April 2011. Groenwald is accused of transgressing the Endangered Species act after a large number of unaccounted for Rhino carcasses were found on his property, a game ranch and hunting facility in Messina in far North East South Africa. South Africa has lost more than 400 Rhino to poaching in 2011 and an untold number through legal hunting and a loophole in the hunting legal system which allows for unlimited White Rhino hunts at the rate of one per hunter. The horn trade is now so ferocious authorities fear extinction for Rhino within the next 10 to 15 years. Traffickers are gambling on this, with organized crime now firmly behind the trade.
Image credit: Brent Stirton
Source: poyi.org

Images of newly formed IAPF, The International Anti-Poaching Foundation, leading a Pro-bono training workshop for Rhino protection for Rangers who have come from all over Zimbabwe, April 5, 2011. Led by Australian Damien Mander, 31, a former Special Operations soldier in the Australian military, the IAPF is teaching anti-poaching techniques which include tracking, self-defence, observation positions, weapons training and patroling techniques including tracking, ambush and arrest techniques. The work is largely pro-bono and is supported by donations. Mander has used his own money to start the organization. Rangers in Zimbabwe have little access to automatic weapons and good training and are struggling to contain rampant Rhino horn poaching across the country. Zimbabwe has significant Black Rhino numbers, of which there are now less than 3500 left in the world today.
Image credit: Brent Stirton
Source: poyi.org

A White Rhino cow is de-horned as a precautionary anti-poaching measure on a game farm outside of Klerksdorp, South Africa, March 25 2011. The Vet's assistant is seen holding the horns for an identity picture while the Vet does a final check on the animal. Rhino Poaching has reached epedemic proportions in South Africa, with 334 killed in 2010 and over 400 killed in 2011. Many game farmers are increasingly turning to de-horning their animals as a protective measure against poaching. A 2 year study in Zimbabwe on the effects of de-horning has revealed no negative repercussions to the animal, and has seen less animals killed through fighting and horn damage. A large horn grows back after 5 years to its full size without trauma to the animal and is being debated as a renewable, sustainable resource for the Asian markets if legalized. At this time the only legal means to obtain a horn in South Africa is through a permitted hunt with a member of the conservation authority present. This means that the animal has to die before the horn is available. A standard 8 cms of stump is left behind, ensuring no actual tissue is ever damaged on the Rhino. The horns once taken are fitted with micro-chips, individually permitted and in most cases stored in bank vaults
Image credit: Brent Stirton
Source: poyi.org

A Black Rhino in transit after being captured for Security Translocation at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa, November 7, 2010. This park is famous for its translocation programs which saved the Southern White Rhino from extinction. WWF is involved in funding for security operations in the Park and tries to create new Black Rhino populations in an effort to replicate the success of the White Rhino translocation program. The Black Rhino remains critically endangered in Africa today, with less than 3500 surving now. Demand for Rhino horn has never been higher and relocation of these animals to secure locations is now an every day part of ensuring their survival.
Image credit: Brent Stirton
Source: poyi.org

A four man anti-poaching team permanently guards a Northern White Rhino on Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, 13 July 2011. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is an important “not-for-profit” wildlife conservancy in the Laikipia District of Kenya and the largest sanctuary for black rhinos in East Africa. It is also the home of 4 of the world's remaining 8 Northern White Rhino, the worlds most endangered animal. There has been an increase in poaching incidents on Ol Pejeta recently, in line with a massive worldwide increase in rhino poaching linked to the rise in the Asian middle class. Anti-poaching teams provide close protection to the rhino, with 24 hour observation over all rhino on Ol Pejeta and 24 hour armed guard protection over the 4 Northern White Rhino who are kept in their own Boma area. The team have developed extraordinary relationships with these Rhino, leaning on them, scratching them and displaying tremendous affection towards these most endangered of animals. Each of the men in these teams feels a genuine vocation towards the protection of these animals, something the rhino seem to sense, and this emerges on a daily basis as the men walk with the rhino through their day.
Image credit: Brent Stirton
Source: poyi.org

A wealthy Vietnamese woman sits and grinds Rhino horn for her personal consumption in a roadside café in Baoloc, Vietnam. The dealer who sold her the horn sits next to her. Rhino Horn is an illegal substance in Vietnam yet both the woman and her dealer have no fear of the police, grinding the horn in a café in full view of the street. The dealer states that he pays $1500 a month to the right people and they can carry on with impunity. The woman says that it has cured her Kidney Stones and now she takes it daily for her general health. Rhino horn is generally used as a fever reducing agent and for the removal of toxins across Vietnam, the biggest market for horn today. Rhino horn has even been held up as a cure for Cancer by a senior Minister in the Vietnamese government.
Image credit: Brent Stirton
Source: poyi.org

See also: Top 10 World's heaviest animals

Image credit: brentstirton.com
Source: poyi.org
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