Rhinos Now Extinct In Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park

Rhinos are now extinct in Limpopo National ParkAn official from the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique made a sobering announcement this week when it was revealed that rhinos are now extinct inside the park. António Abacar, the park’s director, indicated that no rhinos have been spotted in Limpopo since January, which leads him to believe that poachers have killed the few animals that had remained. With rhinos now gone, he believes those same poachers have now turned their attention on the park’s elephant population, which is endangered as well.

Rhinos are hunted throughout Africa for their horns, which are then sold on the black market in certain Asian countries. The horns are highly valued for their use in traditional medicines throughout Asia, despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence that indicates they hold any kind of medicinal properties whatsoever. The mistaken belief that a rhino horn is capable of curing any number ailments has pushed the species to the brink of extinction across the entire continent.

The Limpopo National Park is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which includes Kruger National Park in South Africa and Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe. This large sanctuary was created in 2001, with the three countries agreeing to remove numerous fences between their lands so that the animals could continue to migrate freely across the region. At the time, more than 1000 elephants and 300 rhinos were relocated into Limpopo National Park to help bolster their populations there. At the start of this year, only about 15 of those rhinos were believed to still be living inside the park. Now it seems that those are gone as well.The poaching throughout the region has gotten so bad that South Africa has threatened to restore its fences along the border with Mozambique. According to the article linked to above, over the past five years South African law enforcement has killed 279 Mozambicans who were caught in the act of poaching, while arresting another 300. That would seem to indicate that much of South Africa’s poaching problems isn’t homegrown but instead comes from its neighbor.

It is incredibly sad to me to think that we on the edge of wiping out an entire species because some people erroneously believe that its horn can be used in medicines. The rhino is being pushed to the brink and it may soon be gone altogether.

[Photo Credit: Kraig Becker]

15,000 Crocodiles Escape Farm Into South African River

Nile crocodiles escape South African farmA South African crocodile farm is facing a large problem after 15,000 of the animals escaped from the site and made their way into the nearby Limpopo River. The crocs made their dash for freedom when massive floodwaters forced the farmers to open their gates in an effort to avoid those waters from crushing the walls of the enclosures. Most of the animals made their way to the wild bush along the river, which could serve as the perfect home for the massive predators.

A spokesperson for the farm says that they have managed to capture several thousand of the runaway crocs, but they estimated that about half of the escapees were still at large. The farm staff is rounding them up as quickly as they can, but considering the large number of animals that escaped, it is a challenging job.

The escaped crocs are all Nile crocodiles, the species that is most common in Africa. Capable of growing up to 18 feet in length and weighing as much as 1700 pounds, they are the largest freshwater crocs in the world. They are also known for being voracious predators, attacking nearly any other animals (including humans) that wander into or near the waters where they make their home.

The Limpopo River is one of the great waterways of southern Africa, meandering for more than 1000 miles across the region. The river flows into South Africa‘s northeast corner along the border of its famous Kruger National Park, a remote wilderness that would provide plenty of prey for the escaped crocs. The predators are not unknown to the Limpopo, but until now their numbers have been relatively small. That could change if these animals are not rounded up.

Thanks to our friends at Outside Online for sharing this story.

[Photo Credit: Sarah McCans]