Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Naked skydiver raises cash for rhino

Naked skydiver raises cash for rhino
2012-11-21 07:23
The WWF has said that the demand for rhino horn drives poaching. (AFP)

The WWF has said that the demand for rhino horn drives poaching. (AFP)

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VIDEO: Naked skydiver
2012-11-21 07:18

Skydiver Steve Newman jumps naked to raise money for rhino protection in the YouTube video.WATCH
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Rhino killings barbaric - govt
549 rhino poached in SA this year
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Cape Town - A skydiver has raised more than R50 000 jumping naked to help save rhino from going extinct.

"Someone dared me to jump up in Rustenburg and I was like 'Actually I will.' Then I tried to make as big an effort as I can to raise as much money as I could," Steve Newman told News24 of how he decided to begin his unique brand of skydiving.

He raised R53 000 after his last jump and has received much TV and radio coverage for his determination to raise money to fight rhino poaching.

Newman said that he chose the rhino because of its unique status in SA.

"The rhino is one of our heritage animals: It's part of our big five; it's on our currency. There's so many different things that one can help and just saw this and I thought I can help out this way."


Over 500 rhino have been poached in SA this year and despite efforts by conservationists and officials, it is estimated that more than 600 will be killed before the end of 2012.

"It [poaching] will go to 600 - and probably over that because December is quite a happy month for poachers. A lot of the guards are off and so on," said Dr Morné du Plessis, CEO of the WWF.

Newman said that urban dwellers couldn't always relate to the plight of the rhino, saying that he wanted to raise awareness on the issue.

"The guys who deal with it are in the bush and they deal with everything that's happening on a daily basis, but here everyone doesn't necessarily know about it," he said.

White rhino were nearly wiped out early in the 20th century, numbering only between 30 to 50 animals, and through the then Natal Parks Board and other agencies, the species recovered to about 20 000 in Africa.

Conversely, black rhino numbers declined rapidly due to poaching from about 70 000 in 1970, to 2 500 in 1990.

Newman said that the myths around rhino horn were disturbing.

"The more I've got involved in it, the more ridiculous it actually is. Like the main use for the horn actually for the powder for common fever and a headache which a Disprin or Panado can do."


He also challenged celebrities to join him for his next jump. Newman called out radio DJ Ryan O' Connor and TV presenter Janez Vermeiren has shown interest.

"I want to do a celebrity jump; I've been speaking to Janez from Top Billing. I've been trying to plan a Top Billing jump and get some celebrities involved - that should be pretty cool.

"Ryan O' Connor said he would, but saying and doing are two different things," said Newman.

Newman insisted that protecting rhino was a South African issue, as the animals were a national heritage for all in the country.

"I'm not a colour, I'm just a person. I'm just one person wanting to try and make a difference. I want my voice to be heard as a South African."

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- News24

Read more on: wwf | rhino poaching


Andreas Späth
It’s not just about the rhinos
2012-11-19 15:33

Andreas Späth

The 21st Century is not a good time to be a rhino. After having been around for millions of years, the species might not survive humanity.

As of last Monday, the annual rhino poaching toll in South Africa, home to about 80% of the planet’s rhinos, stood at a sobering 549. That’s a grim new record, way up from 2011’s figure of 448, and it comes in a year when more than 200 people have already been arrested in connection with rhino poaching and one has been sentenced to a 40-year jail term.

The situation elsewhere is no better. In other African countries with much smaller rhino populations, ongoing poaching, even at far lower rates than ours, has a devastating impact. The Javan rhino, formerly distributed throughout much of South East Asia, has been decimated to a mere 35 confirmed individuals in Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park.

Much of the demand for rhino horn in recent years has come from Vietnam, the only country in the world where rhino horn grinding bowls are mass produced and where offering your dinner guests a supposedly detoxifying drink laced with rhino horn powder is the thing to do in affluent society.

The idea that rhino horn acts as an aphrodisiac appears to actually have been created largely by western media hype which, ironically, was embraced by the Vietnamese populous, as was the more recent myth that the substance has cancer-curing powers. With a more-expensive-than-gold street value of around $65 000 per kilogram, it’s easy to understand the pressure on the supply of rhino horn from South Africa’s national parks and game reserves.

But rhinos aren’t the only wildlife that’s under increasing threat from humans through poaching, deforestation, habitat destruction, pollution and climate change. North of the Limpopo, Africa’s elephant population is being decimated by well-armed syndicates who are not above butchering entire herds in one go.

There have been reports of a rise in the export of lion bones to practitioners of Asian traditional medicine. In India, it’s estimated that four leopards are poached for their body parts every week. Scientists believe that 95% of South East Asia’s and 75% of the Caribbean’s coral reefs are in danger of collapse and 25 of the world’s primate species are on the brink of extinction, as are one in eight bird, one in four mammal and one in three amphibian species.

Human activities are the main reason that extinctions now occur 1000 to 10 000 times more frequently than the expected natural rate.

So what would it take to reverse this depressing trend? About $81 billion a year, worldwide, according to a study published in Science in October. That’s the total needed to reduce the risk of extinction for threatened species and to establish and maintain the necessary protected areas.

Sounds like an impossibly large amount, doesn’t it? But, as the authors have pointed out, it’s less than half the money splurged on bankers’ bonuses in 2011 and not even 20% of what humans spend on soft drinks annually - just $11.42 per year for every man, woman and child.

And we’re not talking about a bleeding-heart handout to nature or a bunny-hugger tax here. Spending this money would be an economically sound investment in our own future.

You see, our activities on Earth are busy causing a very substantial loss in so-called ecosystem services every year. Those are the myriad of natural processes, from bees pollinating our crops to photosynthesising plants absorbing the CO2 we keep pumping into the atmosphere, without which we simply couldn’t survive.

And the monetary value of this loss in nature’s services to humans? A gob-smacking $2 to 6.6 trillion annually! So spending billions a year to halt the earth’s sixth great extinction, which we’re currently orchestrating, will save us trillions in the long run, and we’ll get a more liveable planet thrown in on the side. Sounds like a good deal to me...

- Andreas freelance writer with a PhD in geochemistry. Follow him on Twitter: @Andreas_Spath

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

- News24

Read more on: rhino

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