The following article is so interesting that I “borrowed” it from the LONDOLOZI Blog which, if you are a lover of Wildlife and Nature in general, I wholeheartedly recommend as probably the best of it’s kind……… http://blog.londolozi.com
Written by Sam Shriver who is a visiting contributor to Londolozi.
Namibia’s Herero people believe that the pangolin has transformative powers. The story goes that if a pangolin is found, it should be taken to the chief who will throw it in a fire to be roasted alive, and that by eating the flesh one can attain great luck. But one pangolin is changing that. His name is Katiti, which means “little one” in the Herero language. He might actually be the luckiest pangolin yet.
One of my favourite encounters with one of these curious creatures was in Botswana’s Kwando Reserve, just south of Namibia’s Caprivi Strip. “Pangolin! Pangolin! Pangolin!” came the excited cry as our guide, Mark Tennant, gunned the safari vehicle towards a distant group of wild dogs that were bouncing up and down like pogo sticks in the long grass. As we got closer I counted five dogs, all atwitter as they danced about – in response to what, I could not see.
“Call me sceptical,” I muttered from the seat beside him, “but how do you know there’s a pangolin there?”
“That’s what wild dogs do when they find a pangolin!” came Mark’s breathless explanation. And sure enough, there it was, a Cape pangolin curled up in a perfect, armoured ball.
Realising they could do nothing with the pangolin in its protective mode, the wild dogs made off. But instead of following the dogs on their hunt, the group of 8 safari-goers aboard the vehicle agreed to spend time with the pangolin. Such is the allure of this elusive creature.
It took ten minutes of awed silence for the shy creature to uncurl itself and amble off in that strange floating hovercraft way, unhurried and seemingly unperturbed by his groupies and their whirring shutters. It was broad daylight and, although I am privileged to have seen many pangolins on this awesome continent I call home, this was one of my most memorable sightings. I am sure that pangolin lives on in those lucky people’s memories and photo albums.
But the hope is that they don’t only live in memory. The dominant news about Africa’s pangolins is that they are being harvested in great numbers to satisfy the veracious demand for Eastern food and medicinal cures. It’s not surprising that the Asian pangolin species are on the brink of extinction, and now the great Eastern tide is sweeping through Africa, hoovering up more and more of the little “scaled artichokes”.
A Cape pangolin was rescued from such a fate. She was wild caught and taken around a Namibian town in a box, no doubt to be sold on the black market. A shop owner felt sorry for the pangolin and bought her before passing her on to local wildlife organisation, Rare and Endangered Species Trust >(REST). The founder and director, Maria Diekmann, took it upon herself to rehabilitate the pangolin so it could be released into the wild.
As she was nursing it back to health, a strong bond formed between Maria and the pangolin she named ‘Roxy’. As hard as it was for Maria to watch her go, Roxy was destined to return to the wild, but not before leaving a precious gift: her son, Katiti. This gift has grown up and is now an invaluable source of data, for efforts to better understand pangolins, and to rehabilitate and return pangolins that fall victim to poaching, into the wild. Katiti is also a lucky charm.
Maria explained that after Roxy’s departure, Katiti’s condition deteriorated on his diet of ants and milk. After much experimentation and advice from Lisa Haywood of >Tikki Haywood Trust, the only other person known to have hand-reared a baby pangolin, Katiti’s health and diet started to improve and after a few months he was weaned off substitutes and foraging naturally.
He now sets his own daily routine and forages in the wild for about five hours a day, returning to the safety of REST for a well deserved rest. He even interacts with the wild pangolins he comes across while foraging. A GPS unit has been attached to the scales on his back and his every move is monitored, for extra security, and for the collection of valuable data. The plan is to return Katiti to the wild eventually, and work is in progress on a more sophisticated monitoring unit that will send back even more vital information.
Just as valuable is Katiti’s role as ‘comforter’ to recently rescued pangolins. This increases their chances of successful rehabilitation and release. Experience has taught Maria that immediately returning a confiscated pangolin back into the wild, without rehabilitation, often results in the death of the animal, as they have to negotiate past established pangolin territories and evade predators – a tough ask if they are injured, stressed or malnourished.
Apart from being a comfort to other pangolins, one of Katiti’s most important roles is educating people, and tugging the odd heart-string. Local Herero people have been thrilled to have their photo taken with Katiti. Importantly, some of those people are Herero chiefs who have returned to their communities telling them that their picture with the pangolin is bringing luck to the community, because a picture lasts longer than just the taste of meat. They are now motivating their communities to leave the pangolins where they belong, in the wild.
De-horning our family herd of rhino, in an attempt to keep them safe from being poached.
Some of you already know, that the reason this page initiated the Rhino Friday campaign two & a half years ago, is that we have a small game farm which includes a family herd of rhino.
Not wanting to bombard folk with ‘my cause’ I took advantage of my position as creator of this page to try and help the cause by posting rhino related information one day a week. I am keenly aware that my cause is not necessarily everyone elses, so I thank you for allowing me this space, each week.
PHOTO 1 of ten…
The night before the scheduled procedures, we wished we could call off the ‘event’, sleep eluded us….
From the minute wildlife vet DrWilliam Fowldsbriefed his teams that morning, the media and us as a family together with our staff, we felt somewhat reassured.
His calm presence and detailed explanations of what we can expect of the day, was enough to settle the butterflies and accept that we were indeed doing the right thing for our rhino….
Dr Will, already a Rhino Hero having saved Kariega’s rhino Thandi from a brutal poaching where her face was entirely hacked off by poachers, was again the hero of the day.
His last words to us before starting out were –
” We are not going to win this fight by dehorning rhino but by changing perceptions – continue creating awareness with every opportunity. We have got to be the best we can be for rhino today’’
PHOTO 2 of ten…
We absolutely know that this is not a 100% safety measure, but it’s just one more thing, besides ‘eyes on 24/7’ that we can do to give them a better chance of survival.
We absolutely hate to deface these magnificent behemoths in this way, but we feel have a sense that it is not a matter of ‘if’ but of ‘when’, the poaches will come….
This was not a decision taken lightly – It tookus months, as a family, to finally reach some sort of consensus …
Dehorning is not a suitable method of protection in most cases as a rhino’s horn is it’s ONLY form of defence against predators and even other wildlife like elephant and buffalo who have been known to clash with rhino. We have no predators or elephant in this park, our rhino live in relative safety from other wildlife, it’s the two legged ‘animals’ they only need to fear here.
With poaching increasing at an alarming rate ( 619 + this year so far – OSCAP ) 2014 looks to top by far the unbelievable figure of 1004 rhino poached in 2013. While the Kruger National Park, Limpopo & Mpumalanga provinces are hardest hit, all indications are that our Eastern Cape Province is being targeted more and more as anti poaching methods are having more success in the hard hit areas.
We, as private rhino owners receive zero assistance from the government nor from the multitude of NGO’s that receive millions of rands in donor funds to ‘save the rhino’. It would be so easy to simply sell our rhino and be done with it. Instead, we feel that we have a responsibility to take the very best care of the family herd of rhino on our property, to carry the costs and do what we have to, to keep them as safe as we possibly can from being brutally poached.
Here, the matriarch is darted with immobilising drugs, her two offspring, voicing their concern at this unusual activity with loud ‘and questioning ‘squeaks’
PHOTO 3 of ten…
As the rhino begins to show signs that the drugs are taking effect – star gazing and high stepping – Dr Will quietly approaches with blindfold in hand. As the drug is an immobilizer, not an anesthetic, being blindfolded and having it’s ears plugged helps reduce the possible stress due to our human proximity.
PHOTO 4 of ten
All hands on deck to roll rhino into a safe and comfortable position.
Being such heavy animals it is of vital importance to make sure the rhino is in a comfortable position and is able to breath with ease…
PHOTO 5 of ten
Dr Will was ably assisted on the day by hisVets Go Wildteams who carefully monitor the sedated rhino, calling out vitals to Dr Will as he works on the ‘sharp end’
PHOTO 6 of ten
Dr William Fowlds carefully measuring the safe point to cut into the horn.
Taking too much off would mean cutting into the live growth point which would be like cutting into flesh….
We stand in awe at this remarkable man.
Calm, organised, compassionate to both rhino and humans involved in the days events, accommodating and forever seeking to further the cause at every opportunity.
A big BRAVO and a massive heartfelt thank you to Dr Will and his fantastic team
PHOTO 7 of ten
Almost unbearable to witness, the gunning engine of the chainsaw, the rotating blades, the heavily puffing blindfolded rhino……
Hate having to deface our magnificent behemoths in this way…the ONLY consolation is that they stand a better chance of not being brutally hacked to death….
PHOTO 8 of ten
According to regulations, each horn removed immediately has a hole drilled and a microchip inserted.
Material is also collected and marked to be sent to Onderstepoort for DNA testing.
The RHODIS programme keeps a record of all these DNA kits which should assist in bringing poachers to book should these rhino be poached and their horns/stumps recovered.
The horns are then stored in a banks safety deposit box.
The Duke of Cambridge, President of United for Wildlife, together with David Beckham launched a new campaign #WhoseSideAreYouOn.
The campaign aims to harness the power of sport and social media to ask this generation whose side they are on: the side of illegal killing or the side of species preservation.
Prince William said the illegal wildlife trade thrives because it is hidden – which makes it easier for criminals to operate. United for Wildlife wants to find a way to show the world what is happening and to ask those who are alarmed by what they see to join our side.
The #WhoseSideAreYouOn campaign calls for people to highlight the conservation issue by watching or participating in United for Wildlife sports events.
United for Wildlife, was created by the Royal Foundation, led by The Duke of Cambridge, (Prince William ) to bring together the world’s leading wildlife charities under a common purpose; to scale up the response to conservation crises and to create a global movement for change.
The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William said;
“Around the world, the illegal wildlife trade is responsible for the slaughter of tens of thousands of animals a year, pushing some of our most beloved species to the brink of extinction. Our children should not live in a world without elephants, tigers, lions and rhinos. Enough is enough. It is time to choose between critically endangered species and the criminals who kill them for money.”
The aim of United for Wildlife is to raise the profile of conservation, and increase awareness of the choice they are asking people to make between critically endangered species and the criminals who kill them for money.
Following United for Wildlife on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ or by subscribing to the YouTube channel and registering for email updates, you can show your commitment and become part of the United for Wildlife community.
United For Wildlife facebook:https://www.facebook.com/UnitedForWildlife?fref=ts
United For Wildlife website:http://www.unitedforwildlife.org/
PHOTO 10 of ten
‘’ So warm…so soft…so alive…. ‘’
For the moment, we feel that our rhino are just a little bit safer from the threat of poaching than they have been for quite some time.
A while ago, in an email correspondence with the iconic Dr Ian Player, I asked him what more I could do to try help save our rhino ?
His words went something like this, ‘’ My girl, all you really can do is take the very best care of your rhino. Do whatever you can to keep them as safe as possible“
I was a bit disappointed at the time, I won’t lie, as I was kind of expecting him to give me a real action planBut on reflection, over time, I realise he was spot on.
All we really can do is do, is whatever is in our means to do – YOUR JOB starts now – you now need to continue to highlight the plight of our nations rhino starting with sharing our little story …. It is more important than ever to push past ‘rhino fatigue’ and continue to raise awareness around the world.
WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO
Identify reserves like ours, that carry rhino.
Spend time in these reserves – YOUR hard earned monies then go directly to the keepers of rhino, your presence in these reserves effectively makes you a part of their anti-poaching teams as it makes it that much harder for those who are up to no good to go about their dirty business undetected.