People who have been to Africa may have heard of the words “African Five Five” or “Africa Big Five”.
These five tyrants are African elephants, African lions, rhinos, leopards and African buffalos.
However, these five animals were chosen as Big Five, not because they are large or have a high status in the food chain.
It is because in the relatively backward years, they belong to the field of small bombs, which are the most difficult animals to hunt.
Hunters are not only having a low success rate but also being killed when hunting these animals.
Yes, in addition to being a paradise for animals, Africa is also a paradise for hunters.
The story we are going to tell today begins with a photo taken near a puddle in the South African Lulululu National Park.
The rhinoceros in the photo was hunted by poachers with large-caliber bullets. According to speculation, they may be residents of nearby villages, carrying shotguns and hand saws equipped with muffler, and carefully avoiding anti-poachers. Inspections and illegal entry into national parks.
You can clearly see the huge scar on the head of the rhinoceros after being sawn off the corner.
The person who took this photo is a famous South African photographer named Brent Stirton, who has received numerous awards for photography.
Four or five hours after the poachers left, Brent Stirton came to the scene and saw the shocking scene. He pressed the shutter to record it. Before shooting this photo, Sterton had already visited no less than 30 crime scenes.
He said that every time I saw it, it was desperate.
This photo, at the Wildlife Photography Exhibition held by the British Museum of Natural History, won the best of all categories.
Beginning in 2011, Brent Stirton, together with National Geographic magazine, undercover and secretly investigated the poaching and smuggling of Rhino horn in South Africa, and the facts they discovered and revealed surprised many people.
Note: The following images are all works of Brent Stirton unless otherwise noted.
South Africa can be said to be the home of rhinos in the world. Of the less than 30,000 rhinos left in the world, 70% live on the plains of South Africa, including nearly 20,000 white rhinos and 5,000 blacks. rhinoceros.
Twenty thousand heads, it seems that it is not too small?
However, when the Europeans occupied the African continent in the 18th century, there were no fewer than tens of thousands of populations.
The reason for the sharp decline in the rhino population is the one or two large weapons that are born above the head.
In fact, China originally had rhinoceros. Indian rhinoceros, Sumen rhinoceros and Javanese rhinoceros have all thrived in mainland China.
During the Yin and Shang Dynasties, the distribution of Chinese rhinoceros was very wide. In the northern part of the Yin Ruins, the Wuhai Mountains in Inner Mongolia, through the Liupan Mountain to the east, through the Ziwuling, Zhongtiao Mountain, Taihang Mountain, and even the northern side of Mount Tai, there are traces of rhinoceros. In the Qing Dynasty, Yunnan became the last habitat of Chinese rhinoceros.
In 1922, the rhinoceros disappeared completely in China.
In Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, and South Korea, Rhinoceros horn is a rare and medicinal material. It is considered to be the best heat-clearing and cooling medicine. It has been used only by nobles and nobles since ancient times;
The Arab countries regard the rhinoceros horn as a symbol of social class;
In Yemen and Oman, the rhinoceros horn was used to make the dagger handle used in the ceremony.
Whether it is decorative or medicinal, rhinoceros horn is extremely valuable material. On the black market, the price of rhinoceros horns is less than 3,000 US dollars.
And if you really reach the seller, a rhinoceros horn may cost hundreds of thousands of yuan.
“Unconfirmed rumors spread like viruses. A politician in Hanoi was cured by a rhinoceros horn.
In 2011, I saw the desperate desperate cancer victims in the largest cancer hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.
These people from rural areas, even if they can’t afford children to go to school with pencils, have to spend more than they can see in a year. About 200 dollars to buy a small horn from a rhino horn businessman outside the hospital.
Usually this is not even a true horn. ”
Although the 1977 Washington Convention (CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Animals) uses all rhinoceros species as endangered wildlife, it ends the legal cross-border trade in rhinos in various countries.
But in the face of such huge profits, poachers and smugglers still coveted rhino horns. From 1981 to 1987, 95% of Tanzanian black rhinos fell under the guns of poachers, reducing the number from 3,000 to 100.
Even so, African governments still have no ban on hunting rhinoceros and rhino horns in the country.
Until 2009, the South African government suspended all rhino horn trades in the country, but it was followed by fierce poachers.
A survey by Brent Stirton and reporter Bryan Christy found that in 2007, before the ban was exercised, the number of rhinoceros being poached was 13, while in 2015, the number of rhinos killed by poaching increased rapidly to 1,175.
Since the rhinoceros is a very quiet animal, it does not scream after the injury. Poachers usually shoot the female rhinoceros first. Their quiet crying will only attract the frightened cub, and then the poacher The hand is cut off and the knife is inserted directly into the spine of the cub.
Because this saves a bullet.
If the rhinoceros is as fertile as a rabbit, then hunting is not a disaster for them. It is a rhinoceros itself, and it is an animal that takes too much time to breed.
At the time of the breeding season, a pair of rhinos must live together for 4 months, and then after 15-18 months of pregnancy, only one child will be born. After the birth of the little rhino, it will take 3 years for the mother to live independently.
In other words, the rhinoceros breeds once every 4-5 years, one at a time.
This slow speed is because the rhinoceros has few natural enemies as one of the “five hegemons of Africa”.
Of course, the human beings who take advantage of the AK47 are the biggest ones.
Brent Stirton went deep into South Africa, or to see a very important person, American Dawie Groenewald.
The identity of this person is a hunting ground. The hunting ground he runs is one of the largest in South Africa. It has complete procedures and complete facilities.
However, Groenewald has another nickname, “butcher of Prachtig” – the butcher of Prachtig.
In South Africa alone, he faced 1872 allegations related to rhinoceros horns, and the US government also wanted to extradite him to return to the country for seduce dozens of people involved in illegal hunting activities. Even the Czech government smuggled him with rhinoceros horns. The crime was linked.
It can be said that it is a celebrity in the rhino world.
What he can offer to the rhinoceros horns is a “fake hunting” feast that looks particularly legitimate.
Customers often contact a hunting supplier through a local intermediary to obtain a hunting license and a preparatory CITES license to legally export spoils from the provincial nature protection department.
Then the deal begins and the rhino is transferred to a hunting area where the customer pays the owner of the hunting ground.
After that, the customer will arrive in South Africa and go straight to the hunting area to complete the hunt.
The rhinoceros horn will then be registered by the officials of the Nature Protection Department. The hunting equipment supplier sent the rhinoceros and rhinoceros heads to the stripper to make a spear with a rhinoceros horn and signed an export permit.
In this process, from the customs, to the local police, all have personnel related to the smuggling of rhino horn.
The so-called “hunting” is actually a concerted performance of many people, legalizing the trading of the rhinoceros horn.
Most of Groenewald’s clients come from Vietnam, China, the Czech Republic, the United States, and even a US politician (he is particularly proud of it here).
Then you may ask, how did these rhinos enter the hunting ground?
Quite simply, Groenewald buys rhinos directly from the reserve in the name of breeding and conservation rhinoceros, which falls within his scope of conservation.
Even the rhinoceros that had been stolen from the rhino horn before being sent to the local institution appeared in his hunting ground.
What he said to reporters, in fact, is extremely fearful:
“The national park sells my rhinoceros. Do you know how to price?
According to the length of the corner – you tell me they don’t want these rhinos to be hunt? ”
So is there a breeding rhinoceros in Groenewald?
Of course, it is just to cover up the surface and get more profitable prey.
“This is my rhinoceros. The customer paid the money to hunt. My duties are completed. Who shot them, and what they are shooting for, it is not my business.” In the face of the accusation, he is clearly in the chest.
We look at the CITES report: in South Africa, only 13 rhinos were illegally killed in 2007.
However, such legal “hunting” may be the real problem. . .
Between 2003 and 2012, nine out of ten rhino horns “legally” left South Africa but were not reported to the Vietnamese airport customs, and export licenses were not banned, making them “legitimate”.
In June 2017, the Groenewald brothers were captured by Interpol and the US government applied for extradition.
Rhino horn’s “farm”
In South Africa, there is another important person, John Hume, who plays a major role in the trading of Rhinoceros. He is also the subject of unannounced visits by two reporters.
Unlike ivory, rhinoceros horn is not only male and female, but the other biggest feature is that it will grow all the time. Even if it is cut, it will slowly grow a new one.
John Hume, of course, will not do anything to kill chickens and take eggs. He is doing a huge long-term investment.
In the village of Kleksdorp, 160 km from Johannesburg, South Africa, there is John Hume’s rhino farm, which has about 1,300 rhinos and is guarded by a full-time security force hired by Hume for 24 hours.
Each rhinoceros that needs 1,000 acres to survive in the wild, on the farm of Hume, has only 7.5 acres of cattle habitat.
Hume is the world’s most cultivated rhinoceros. Every 20 months, he will give the rhinoceros a tranquilizer and cut the rhinoceros. He did this to prevent poachers, and he hoped that one day, he could realize the stock of more than 6 tons of rhinoceros stocks accumulated in 1995.
These rhinoceros horns are worth about $45 million.
Beginning in 2015, Hume and Groenewald formed an alliance. In addition to Groenewald’s sale to Hume’s hundreds of rhinos, they worked together to file a lawsuit requesting the overthrow of the South African government’s ban on the sale of rhino horns in 2009.
Hume himself said that legalizing the sale of rhino horn can better control the source and flow of rhino horn. The money earned can provide more funds for breeding and breeding rhinoceros, and most importantly, can prevent poachers. pace
– Is there a legal way to sneak?
The leader of the South African anti-poaching organization OSCAP says this:
“(The legalization of rhino horn trade), if implemented, is too difficult for our law enforcement agencies. In 2015, the government department arrested nearly 1,000 poachers, and only 61 people were convicted. If a lot of energy is to be given, control Legal transactions, reducing corruption, are almost impossible to accomplish.”
South Africa is not a place for consumption of rhino horns. If the territory is legally bought and sold, the international ban will remain, and eventually it will become a large number of smuggling exports.
The past few historical events seem to confirm the ban on liberation – even just the wind, it has made the dark clouds on the wild animals even heavier.
In 1997, the South African government tried to lift CITES’s international ban on rhino horn and was preparing to increase the intensity of law enforcement agencies to control legal transactions.
However, the news has just been released, the poaching incident began to escalate, beyond the control of the South African law enforcement agencies, and ultimately failed.
In 2007, CITES suspended the ban on exporting ivory to Japan and China, including Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. It will be implemented in 2017 and hopes to reduce poaching by official export.
Since 2007, the number of poached elephants has grown rapidly over the past decade, and the number of 30,000 heads per year is amazing enough.
Botswana, who has the most African elephants, even regrets and began to call for a resumption of the ivory ban.
Legitimate to expand the demand, and only 5 years to have a baby, 20 months to harvest a few pounds, but also need a lot of manpower and resources to raise the rhino horn, obviously not the same level of supply of amaranth, poaching seems to be the lowest cost option .
Despite numerous opponents marching and writing, in April this year, the South African court finally decided to open the rhinoceros market in South Africa again. People can sell rhino horns in the country and earn profits.
Hume couldn’t wait to start an online auction. Although it can only be sold to South African residents, his rhino horn auction site is still on the front page of Vietnamese and Chinese, in addition to English.
At this point, Brent’s story is over, and the future fate of the rhino population seems to be in the fog. . .
In this story, what impressed me the most is not the reporters who risked detailed and in-depth investigations, not just the survival problems faced by rhinos and other wild animals.
But Prachtig’s butcher, Groenewald’s interview, was a matter of course:
“Those people always call me because they need rhino horns, more, more rhino horns. If they can’t get them from me, they will get them from others.”
Whether it is rhinoceros, ivory, pangolin, etc., etc.
In fact, it is the most vulgar but most profound sentence:
There is no cruel killing without special needs.
This is the best control of any illegal animal product and the best protection for wildlife.
It is impossible to completely reject animal products. The silk of the silkworms of cattle and sheep is the most common thing in our family.
Even if all the artificial substitutes are used, the pollution caused by the manufacture of them is also harmful to the natural world.
So what we said is not such a kind of Madonian mentality.
But for any animal product, we may be able to establish such a conscious:
Use only traceable sources, legally farmed, and humanely acquired animal products;
Do not use materials that are unknown in source, cruel to the process, or from rare animals.