Rhino populations in Sumatra, Borneo should be combined to save Sumatran rhino from extinction
by MongaBay staff
A new study argues for treating endangered Sumatran populations in Borneo and Sumatra as “a single conservation unit”, lending academic support to a controversial proposal to move wild rhinos from Malaysia to Indonesia.
The paper, authored by an international team of rhino experts and published in the journal Oryx, says that genetic differences between the island populations are minimal. Given the dire straights of the species — the wild population is estimated at less than 100 individuals — the researchers argue that ensuring the Sumatran rhino’s survival takes precedence over preserving what little genetic diversity remains between populations…
Malaysia May Lend Rhinos to Indonesia to Save Species From Extinction
by Monga Bay staff
Conservationists and officials meeting last month at a rhino crisis summit in Singapore agreed to a radical plan to loan Sumatran rhinos between nations if it means saving the critically endangered species from extinction.
The proposal, which could still be thwarted by red tape and political opposition, could lead Malaysia to send some of its Sumatran rhinos to semi-captive breeding facilities in Indonesia.
“I will bring to my government for approval whatever I and other Sumatran rhino experts feel are the best recommendations for specific actions. If that involves a recommendation to loan rhinos between nations, so be it. This is our very last chance to save the species, and we must get it right this time,” said Laurentius Ambu, Sabah Wildlife Department, in a statement issued after the conclusion of the conference. “While doing that, we are at the same time maximising our efforts via parallel initiatives by collaborating with overseas reproductive experts on different options available to us since time is not with us.”…
To stop poaching, wildlife managers are taking desperate measures… poison.
So far this year, more than 200 rhinos have been killed by poachers in South Africa alone, according to the Guardian, and conservationists fear that number will climb to about 1,000 before the end of this year.
And it isn’t the rhinos themselves that are valuable — it’s their horns, Inquisitr.com reports. Though the horns are made of keratin (the same substance found in fingernails), they’re valued by some Asian cultures as an aphrodisiac and as medicine…
The first ever remote camera picture of a critically endangered Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), taken in the forest of Sabah in Malaysia. The WWF in Indonesia said it had found traces of the rhinos on Borneo, where the species was thought to have been extinct for some 20 years. The Sumatran rhino population has dropped 50% over the past two decades, and it is believed there are fewer than 200 left in the world.
This Miracle Baby Rhino Has the Best Birth Story Ever
The calf was born almost exactly a year after her father, nicknamed Hope, was brutally poached in South Africa.
by Joanna M. Foster
The birth of a baby rhino is always a miracle, and the pudgy new addition at Kariega Game Reserve family in South Africa is no exception. In fact, this little girl is downright wondrous. She was born almost exactly a year after her father was brutally poached. That bull rhino was nicknamed Hope for his heart-wrenching struggle to survive. Hope didn’t make it, but it appears he left behind more than just fond memories.
n March 2012, rangers at Kariega Game Reserve woke up after a seemingly tranquil moonlit night to discover three white rhinos huddled in tall grasses matted with blood. Two were still struggling to breathe, and one had already died in the night. Poachers had shot the gentle, prehistoric-looking giants and then sliced deep with their pangas to scrape out every fragment of horn.
Miraculously, the surviving bull and cow were able to limp off into the bushes with the help of a wildlife veterinary team. Over the course of the next month the grim determination of the surviving rhinos to carry on in spite of their life-threatening injuries earned them special nicknames, The bull was called Themba, which means Hope, and the cow was named Thandi, or Love…
TOP: ICE-AGE WOOLLY RHINO This artist’s reconstruction shows a woolly rhinoceros grazing in the plains of northern Thuringia in Germany 460,000 years ago
BOTTOM: PRE-ICE-AGE TIBETAN WOOLLY RHINO Artist’s reconstruction of the woolly rhinoceros whose 3.7 million year old skull was discovered in southwest Tibet _______________________________________
TIBETAN PLATEAU MAY HAVE BEEN A CRADLE FOR ICE AGE MEGA-FAUNA
Tibet may have been a cradle for the ancestors of some prehistoric ice age giants - those large, furry mammals that ruled the world from 2.6 million to about 12,000 years ago.
In the Zanda Basin, high on the Tibetan Plateau, paleontologists have uncovered the skull of a previously unknown species of ancient rhino, a woolly furred animal that came equipped with a built-in snow shovel on its face. [pictured above, bottom].
Xiaoming Wang and his colleagues uncovered a complete rhino skull and lower jaw, along with a neck vertebra, in southwestern Tibet. The 3-foot-long (1 meter) skull is 3.7 million years old. It would have belonged to an animal that weighed 1.2 to 1.4 tons (1,090 to 1,270 kilograms), Wang said. That’s close to the size of modern rhinoceroses and about 10 percent smaller than the woolly rhinos found a million years later during the Ice Age [pictured above, top].
The rhino’s flat, paddle-like horn would have allowed it to brush away snow and find vegetation beneath, suggesting that the woolly rhinoceros was well-adapted for a cold, icy life in the Himalayas about 1 million years before the Ice Age. The rhino had another feature that would have made it a master of winter weather. The teeth have high crowns, making them more durable and able to handle tough, high-altitude vegetation.
Those adaptations may have left the rhino perfectly poised to spread across Asia (a million years later) when global temperatures plummeted, ushering in the Ice Age.
The Zanda Basin is in a remote area of western Tibet - called Ngari - that was the site of the ancient Tibetan kingdom of Gu-ge. It is now home to China’s Zanda Earth Forest National Geopark. Mount Kailash is to its east.
Facing extinction, conservationists call emergency summit to save Sumatran rhinos
by Monga Bay staff
With the number of Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) now under 200 and declining rapidly, a group of conservationists have organized an emergency summit to discuss courses of action to save the world’s smallest remaining rhino from extinction.
The Sumatran Rhino Crisis Summit is being convened by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission from 31 March to 4 April, 2013 in Singapore. The meeting aims to come up with a plan and funds to prevent the rhino’s extinction.
Past efforts to protect the Sumatran Rhinoceros — including a disastrous captive breeding program — largely failed. The species, which clings to life in parts of peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, and Malaysian Borneo, is most immediately threatened by its low population density in the wild, poaching for their horns, and habitat loss…
Paraceratherium is probably the biggest land mammal that ever lived (an Indricothere Hyracodont from the Oligocene, 23 - 33 mya). These crazy looking things were around 16 feet tall at the shoulder! They were almost 30 feet long and probably weighed 18 tons. Whoa.
Camera trap Photos: Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)
Black rhinos are critically endangered. Native to southern eastern Africa, populations of the huge mammals were severely depleted by poaching in the 20th century. Their numbers dropped by as much as 90 percent over the course of about six decades, reaching record lows of just over 2,000 individuals in the early- to mid-nineties. Since then, their numbers have been slowly increasing.They are characteristically a curious species, and can be aggressive toward humans and other animals. However, these giant beasts are vegetarians, using their prehensile lips to feed on leaves and twigs.
Credit: Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Op-Ed: 3,000 Living, Breathing Reasons to Save the Black Rhino
The price of rhino horn is higher per ounce than gold.
by Ginger Thompson
In the undulating savannah a few hours north of Nairobi, Kenya, three black rhinos look to a row of trees on the horizon of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, a 62,000-acre sanctuary that’s home to 12 percent of the country’s black rhino population. The treeline provides good foraging and, more importantly, a safe haven from the bullets of poachers eager to rest a horn.
While the black rhino can be an aggressive sort, occasionally up-turning the passing SUV, they are generally quiet, at peace, foraging, bathing, drinking and meandering.
But, prized in eastern countries for their unsubstantiated medicinal properties, only 3,000 black rhinos remain in the wild. Outside protected areas, a rhino sighting is an experience of the past. Poaching has taken so many rhino lives that their longevity as a species is questionable—their narrowed gene pools are barely holding up and the cost of survival rises daily…
Is 10 Years in Jail Enough Hard Time for Murdering a Rhino?
In addition to a decade in prison, South Africa adds a $110,000 fine to convicted rhino killers.
by Maria Goodavage
Yesterday, January 29, South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs upped the penalties for rhino poaching to something beyond a slap on the wrist. The maximum fine will increase to about $110,000, with prison time of up to ten years—double what it had been.
The ruling was an attempt to stem the horrific tide of poaching in order to get a rhino’s coveted horns. “The price of rhino horn is increasing exponentially, but the penalty is not,” Mike Knight, chairman of the Southern African Development Community Rhino Management Group, said in a Times Live article.
But even the increased penalties aren’t enough for contributing to the demise of a critically endangered species. The monetary payoff for rhino horns is exorbitant, and the new penalties would not likely dissuade would-be poachers…
A Bizarre tandem-horned elasmothere rhino from the Late Miocene of northwestern China and origin of the true elasmothere 
Although the modern Indian and Javan rhinos have a single horn on their noses, the extinct one-horned rhino Elasmotherium was a source for the legendary unicorn, because the latter had a very long horn on its forehead and lived with the prehistoric human beings who drew its images on cave paintings. Elasmothere rhinos first appeared in South Asia in the Early Miocene, but the origin of Elasmotherium has been unclear.
All other elasmotheres have a weak or strong nasal horn, whereas Elasmotherium seems to lose the nasal horn of its ancestors and to get a huge frontal horn apparently abruptly. Here we report the first discovered skull of Sinotherium lagrelii from the Late Miocene red clays in the Linxia Basin, northwestern China. This skull has an enormous nasofrontal horn boss shifted posteriorly and a smaller frontal horn boss, which are connected to each other, indicating an intermediate stage for the single frontal horn of Elasmotherium.
Morphological and phylogenetic analyses confirm that Sinotherium is a transitional taxon between Elasmotherium and other elasmotheres, positioned near the root of the giant unicorn clade and originated in a subarid steppe. The posteriorly shifted nasal horn has a more substantial support and the arched structure of the nasofrontal area is an adaptation for a huge horn.
reference: Deng T, Wang S Q, Hou S K. Chin Sci Bull.
Rhino wars: documenting the poaching crisis in South Africa
by Jeremy Hance
In 2012 a record 668 rhinos were slaughtered by poachers in South Africa for the horns, which are used as scientifically-debunked medicine in Asia. Rhino poaching has hit record levels worldwide over the past few years, but no where is the carnage greater than South Africa, which houses well over half of the world’s rhinos. Thus it’s no surprise that when student filmmaker, Anne Goddard, arrived in South Africa to film zebra behavior, she quickly became enthralled by the dark and tragic drama surrounding the country’s rhinos.
The result of her trip is an intense short film on South Africa’s poaching crisis, dubbed Rhino Wars, that follows an anti-poaching team on the ground—and in the middle of the night—as they attempt to safeguard one of their country’s natural treasures.
Rhino Wars is making its New York City premiere Saturday, February 2 at the 3rd Annual New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival. Ahead of its premiere, Goddard answered some questions from Mongabay.com about the film and her career. As a student filmmaker, Goddard has already received a number of accolades: including best student film for Rhino Wars in the 3rd Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in Washington D.C…