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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Video: Julian Rademeyer Featured in Documentary on Rhino Poaching

Killing for ProfitJulian Rademeyer, author of Killing for Profit: Exposing the Illegal Rhino Horn Trade, was recently featured in a Les Enquêtes documentary for Ushuaïa TV titled “Sur la piste du rhinocéros d’or” – On the Golden Rhino’s Trail – in which he spoke to French journalist and television presenter Christine Oberdorff about the “frightening reality” of poaching.

During the interview Rademeyer shares the startling statistics related to this environmental crisis and discusses the profile of the average rhino poacher, the leaked video of Chong Lon Lengton Thai (who was sentenced to 30 years in SA prison for poaching) and what can be done to save the “sizable rhino population” we have left.

“We are almost at the point where more rhinos are being killed than being born,” says Rademeyer.

Watch the video:

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Julian Rademeyer Investigates SANParks’ Claim of First Elephant Poaching in Ten Years at Kruger Park

Killing for ProfitJulian Rademeyer, author of Killing for Profit: Exposing the Illegal Rhino Horn Trade and editor of Africa Check, responded to a reader request to investigate SANPark’s recent statement that an elephant poaching in the Kruger National Park was the first confirmed incident of its kind “in well over ten years”.

Rademeyer writes that while South Africa’s elephants have mostly been left alone by poachers, things have been different on the rest of the continent with 25 000 to 35 000 elephants being poached every year for their tusks. He compared SANParks’ statement to the data collected on the park and found that in fact at least three other elephants were poached between 2007 and 2011.

Read the article to find out why SANParks says it didn’t take these incidents into account:

South Africa’s parks authority, SANParks, recently announced that the country’s Kruger National Park had suffered its “first confirmed elephant poaching incident…in well over ten years”.

News of the incident, which occurred in Pafuri in the northern part of the park, spread quickly. “South Africa loses first elephant,” read an article on the National Geographic website. South Africa’s News24 site took a similar line with the headline: “First Kruger elephant poached in ten years”. Bloomberg News was a little more circumspect, reporting: “South Africa says first Kruger elephant poached in ten years”.

So how true is the claim? A reader asked us to investigate.

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“It’s a Desperate Gamble”: Julian Rademeyer Discusses Legalising the Rhino Horn Trade

Killing for Profit“I often say that if I’d written this book as fiction, it would have been more believable because so many of the stories it contains are far stranger than any fiction I could have conceived,” Julian Rademeyer told Get It Joburg North about his book, Killing for Profit.

Rademeyer discussed the proposed legalisation of the trade in rhino horn, saying that he thinks “it’s a proposal born of desperation because nothing we’ve tried so far seems to be working…basically it’s a desperate gamble.”

Who’d ever choose to hang out with poachers, mercenaries and gunrunners? Well, local investigative journalist Julian Rademeyer for one. He had to, to write his shocking exposé about the secret trade in rhino horns.

It’s time for a reality check and we have no intention of softening the blow. At this rate, rhinos, which have roamed the earth for 50 million years, are going to become extinct on our watch. But that’s not the most shocking part. In Julian Rademeyer’s book Killing for Profit, he followed the bloody trail of the secret trade in rhino horns right into the underbelly of the black markets where he discovered a story that involved covert military operations, mercenaries, pimps, murderers, diplomats, gunrunners and international crime bosses.

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Join Tim Noakes for a Breakfast in Aid of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital

Challenging Beliefs: Memoirs of a CareerJoin Tim Noakes, author of Challenging Beliefs at the Vineyard Hotel & Spa on Saturday 13 July at 8 AM for 8:30 AM as he gives a talk titled “What if our current dietary advice is all wrong?”, alongside co-host, Nicholas Hops, cancer survivor, extreme athlete and past patient of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

Tickets cost R350 per person, including breakfast, and proceeds will go to the Children’s Hospital Trust, to benefit the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

Don’t miss it!

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Concern Over Link Between Trade in Lion Bones and the Illegal Rhino Horn Trade

Killing for ProfitThe South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance has written an article drawing attention to the link between the trade in rhino horns and lion bones. It is suspected that lion bones are being sold to the Chinese medicine market as a substitute for tiger bones, as there are now less than 4000 tigers left in the wild.

Julian Rademeyer’s investigation into the illegal rhino horn trade that implicated South African safari operator Marnus Steyl and Thai national Chumlong Lemtongthai, revealed that Steyl was also supplying lion bones to Lemtongthai’s employer, Xaysavang Export Import. Rademeyer’s exposé of the illegal wildlife trade is detailed in Killing for Profit.

The Lion Bone’s Connected to the … Rhino Horn?

International concern is growing around South African game industry insiders who are dabbling in illicit rhino horn and lion bone trade. Why lion bones? With fewer than 4,000 wild tigers left — some estimates place the wild population at a mere 3,200 — a sharp increase in the lion bone trade strongly suggests that lion bones are being substituted for tiger bones in the Chinese medicine market.

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Video: Julian Rademeyer Discusses Killing for Profit with Samm Marshall

Killing for ProfitJulian Rademeyer was on SABC2′s Morning Live to discuss his book, Killing for Profit: Exposing the Illegal Rhino Horn Trade, with Samm Marshall.

Marshall spoke about how the book exposes the involvement of many different parties in the illegal rhino horn trade, from government officials to syndicates, and called it a “sophisticated, well-told, no-holds barred” book.


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Julian Rademeyer’s Killing for Profit Exposes the Illegal Rhino Horn Trade

Killing for ProfitA terrifying true story of greed, corruption, depravity and ruthless criminal enterprise…

On the black markets of Southeast Asia, rhino horn is worth more than gold, cocaine and heroin. This is the chilling story of a two-year-long investigation into a dangerous criminal underworld and the merciless syndicates that will stop at nothing to obtain their prize. It is a tale of greed, folly and corruption, and of an increasingly desperate battle to save the rhino — which has survived for more than fifty million years — from extinction.

Killing for Profit is a compelling, meticulous and revelatory account of one of the world’s most secretive trades. It exposes the poachers, gangsters, con men, mercenaries, killers, gunrunners, diplomats, government officials and crime bosses behind the slaughter. And it follows the bloody trail from the front lines of the rhino wars in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to the medicine markets of Vietnam and the lair of a wildlife-trafficking kingpin on the banks of the Mekong River in Laos…

About the author

Julian Rademeyer is an award-winning investigative journalist who, for nearly 20 years, has written and worked for City Press, Beeld, Witness, Sunday Times, Pretoria News, Herald, Reuters, Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Associated Press (AAP). Until recently he was chief reporter for Media24 Investigations.

He has reported from a number of countries, including Somalia, Equatorial Guinea, Niger, Mozambique, Namibia, Belarus, India, Egypt and the Lebanon, where he covered the 2006 “Summer War”.

He has won a number of awards, notably the 2005 Vodacom Journalist of the Year award for print news and the 2009 Mondi Shanduka Newspaper Award for hard news. He has twice been a finalist for the Taco Kuiper Award, South Africa’s leading investigative journalism prize. His work has been published in two books: Troublemakers: The Best of South Africa’s Investigative Journalism and the BY Bedkassieboek, a compilation of the best of Afrikaans newspaper writing.

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Alan Root Reflects on His Life as a Wildlife Filmmaker in Ivory, Apes and Peacocks

Ivory, Apes & Peacocks is a breathtaking close-up look at Africa’s animals and natural wonders from one of our great wildlife pioneers:

Ivory, Apes and PeacocksAlan Root is one of Africa’s most bitten. In the course of his adventures he has been mauled by a leopard, a silverback gorilla and a hippo, and almost lost his life to a deadly puff adder, which claimed one of his fingers. Root’s unmatched experience of East African wildlife and his appetite for risk have made him a world-class naturalist and film-maker. He’s one of the great wildlife pioneers.

In Ivory, Apes & Peacocks, Alan tells the story of his life’s work, from his arrival in Kenya as a young boy (furious at having to leave behind Britain’s birds) to the making of his game changing films. Instead of sticking to the Big Five animals, these looked up close at whole ecosystems – baobab trees, termite mounds, natural springs – and involved firsts such as tracking the wildebeest migration from a balloon, then flying it over Kilimanjaro, filming inside a hornbill’s nest and diving with hippos and crocodiles.

Along the way we meet Sally the pet hippo and Emily the house-proud chimp, watch as Dian Fossey catches sight of her first mountain gorilla and have sundowners with George and Joy Adamson. And here, too, is Joan Root, Alan’s wife and collaborator for over thirty years, who was brutally murdered in retaliation for her environmental campaigning.

In this extraordinary memoir we look at Africa’s wonders through the eyes of a visionary, live through hair-raising adventure and personal sorrow, and also bear witness to a natural world now largely lost from view.

About the author

Alan Root was born in London in 1937 but moved to Kenya as a young boy. He dropped out of school at sixteen but soon found himself behind the camera. He married Joan Thorpe in 1961 and together they produced an array of award-winning wildlife films including Baobab: Portrait of a Tree, commissioned by David Attenborough, Safari by Balloon, The Year of the Wildebeest and Castles of Clay, which was nominated for an Oscar. Alan has won over sixty awards during his career, including an Emmy, three Lifetime Achievement Awards and the OBE. He now lives on the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya with his wife and two small sons.

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Nine Lives Becomes Ten: John Varty Describes How He Survived a Tiger Attack

Nine LivesJohn Varty, maverick film maker, conservationist and author of the memoir Nine Lives, has once again narrowly escaped death. Two weeks ago, Varty, who raises tigers in a reserve in the Free State as part of a conservation project, was attacked by one of his big cats. In the following piece Varty relates his near-death experience:

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Anatomy of an Aggressive Tiger

I have known Tiger Corbett from the moment he was born. I suspect he was born first in the litter from his mother, Shadow, and as his feet touched the ground he walked from the den into the 36 degrees centigrade heat outside. By chuffing him, I guided him back to his mother. In short, I had a conversation with Corbett within 10 minutes of his birth.

For the past ten years, I have been making films with Aquavision and whenever I go to Aquavision studios, Julie Brown always greets me with a big hug and a beautiful smile and makes me feel welcome at the offices. During my last trip to Aquavision, I suggested to her that she should come to see the tigers. I was delighted when she phoned me a few days later to tell me that she would be visiting the tigers with her parents. The decision would prove to be momentous for me.

It was a fine afternoon and once again I felt the enormous privilege of being in the presence of the peaceful, calm, intelligent tiger. It occurred to me how well things were going at Tiger Canyon and in what good condition the land and all the tigers were. Having finished the trial run, the crew got back into the jeeps for the return trip to the camp. I went to latch the gates to the boma. Adjacent to Tigress Julie’s boma, was Corbett and his sister Panna in their boma. As usual, Corbett had been paying attention to everything that was going on around him while Panna was nowhere to be seen. As I struggled to latch the gate, I kept looking behind me, as is my habit when at the gates. I noticed a tiger on a rock about 120 meters away and presumed it to be Corbett. In retrospect I realize that the tiger I saw on the rock was Panna while Corbett had been crouching in the grass not 15 m from where I stood, watching my every move. Finally, I managed to latch the gate securely and as I turned to go to the jeep parked about 15 meters away Corbett charged the fence from inside his boma.

All my gates at Tiger Canyon are made from steel bars – the exception is this gate in the holding boma, which has horizontal barbed and electrified wire strung horizontally across it. Somehow, Corbett managed to reach through the wire and with his massive paws hook me around the waist and drag me back against the gate. At this point, it flashed through my mind to use the stick or the hand gun I carry, but Corbett was too quick and his grip too powerful. In short, I was like a rag doll being ripped as he tried to drag me through the wire into his boma. It struck me that these were my last moments on planet Earth. From a distance I heard Julie Brown screaming and to my amazement, risking her life, she jumped off the jeep and grabbed me by my legs and was in a tug-of-war with Corbett. But no human can match a 450lb tiger for strength and power. Flashing through my mind was to try to protect my throat and head. For a moment I thought to sham dead. This was all futile in the grip of the powerful Corbett.

The film producer, Julie-Ann Reid, joined Julie Brown trying to wrest me away from Corbett, but the tiger wouldn’t let go. The incredible bravery of these two women gave cameraman Phumlani Mchunu time to grab an iron bar from the vehicle and smash Corbett over the head, forcing him to release me. For people who have never worked with tigers, to go up against a ferocious tiger armed only with a steel bar, is an incredible act of bravery. They saved my life. Thankfully I was able to stagger to my feet and get into the jeep despite extraordinary pain. Ricky Pretorius, my assistant drove brilliantly to Philippolis where the ambulance was waiting for us. This 30 minute drive was on of the most excruciating experiences of my life as the rutted road jolted my bruised and battered body. My good friend Dr Willie Marx had taken care of logistics at the Bloemfontein Mediclinic and from there things moved like clockwork. Dr Vivian Simmons and anesthetist, Dr Nico Steyn, were standing by and for 6 hours the dedicated doctors fought for my life – the operation ending at 04h45. I’d like to express my extreme gratitude for their skill and dedication in saving my life.

On waking me up the following morning, the three doctors were pale and drained. They told me it was one of the most difficult operations they had attempted. In short, Corbett had broken two of my ribs, splintered a piece of my spine, cut through the wall of my diaphragm and lacerated my body which took hours to clean and hundreds of stitches to repair. When the nursing sister looked at my blood tests she noticed that the testosterone levels were high and promptly ordered all the female nurses to move to the other wards and replaced them with male nurses! The doctors told me they had given me 2 units of blood and steroids to help me through. All of them promised not to report me to the Olympic doping committee as I’m hoping to enter the wrestling event in the London Olympics!

– John Varty, April 2012

About John Varty

He’s swum across crocodile-infested rivers. He’s hunted silently through dense bush alongside wild leopards. He’s been attacked by charging hippo bulls and hungry lionesses. He’s taught an orphaned lion cub how to hunt. He’s watched helplessly as the Mother Leopard, whose life he shared for twelve years, died after being mauled by lions.

John Varty’s love of the natural world was sparked at an early age when he accompanied his father on hunting trips in the bush. He soon gave up hunting to focus on conservation at the family game farm, Londolozi, which is renowned globally for its work with leopards. He co-owns Londolozi Productions and has made over forty documentaries and feature films. Recognised for his ground-breaking work with big cats, today he is best known for Tiger Canyons, a reserve in the Free State where he is raising tigers in the wild as part of a tiger-conservation project.

This is John Varty, maverick film maker and conservationist, Nine Lives is his story.

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Photo courtesy Wildphotos Safaris

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Random House Struik’s Top Books of 2011

Amanda van Rhyn, Deputy Manager: National Marketing at Random House Struik has compiled a list of the publishing house’s top books of 2011, chosen from across their five imprints – Struik Lifestyle, Struik Nature, Struik Travel and Heritage, Umuzi and Zebra Press. This list includes some exceptional South African titles that deserve a place under your Christmas tree:

ByleveldVictorSasol Birds of Southern Africa IVSavourSpringbok Kitchen

The Springboks and the Holy GrailDie verste uurBeen There, Done ThatThe Loss LibraryVictorByleveld

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