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FLORA AND FAUNA
Renegade hippo captured in Cape Town
by Staff Writers
Cape Town, Western Cape (AFP) July 24, 2013


A roaming hippo which set up home in a Cape Town sewage plant last year has been nabbed and shipped to a game reserve, the city said Wednesday.

The young male had eluded capture after spending a few weeks in a suburban recreational lake, popping up in gardens and on roads, while on the run from its home reserve.

It then moved into the sewage treatment works, whose abundant water and lush grazing have made it a popular choice for the city's escapee hippos.

The operation to capture the hippo took 90 minutes, before it was transferred to a private game reserve, 380 kilometres (240 miles) east of Cape Town.

"He walked into a boma (enclosure) and then into a crate and then we closed the crate door, put the crate on a truck and drove him to Gondwana," said Julia Wood, the city's manager of biodiversity management.

The semi-aquatic animals are known to be extremely violent at times and can run faster than a human on land.

"We were very, very worried because obviously it's such a dangerous animal," Wood told AFP about it having settled in the suburban lake.

The hippo escaped a city-run nature reserve after part of a boundary fence was stolen, and took to an outer settling pond of the wastewater plant.

"They are dangerous animals but they aren't a risk as long as we can ensure that we can contain them," said Wood.

Over 500 rhinos poached in South Africa this year
Johannesburg, Gauteng (AFP) July 24, 2013 - More than 500 South African rhinos have been killed this year, official figures showed Wednesday, amid strong demand for horns on the Asian black market.

"As of yesterday (Tuesday), a total of 515 rhino have been killed so far this year," said the environment ministry's deputy director general Fundisile Mketeni.

The lucrative Asian black market for rhino horn has driven a boom in poaching in South Africa, which has the largest rhino population in the world.

Many of the killings are thought to be perpetrated by poachers from global syndicates.

On Tuesday Czech authorities charged 16 people from a gang that sent registered hunters to South Africa who returned with horns that were to be sent on to Asian countries.

Customs officers seized 24 rhino horns, worth an estimated 3.9 million euros ($5.1 million).

Last year, 668 rhinos were killed in South Africa, a record high that could be surpassed if the poaching continues at today's pace.

The army's deployment in the hardest-hit area, the Kruger National Park, has done little to stem the killings.

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FLORA AND FAUNA
Czech police crack rhinoceros horn smuggling ring
Prague (AFP) July 23, 2013
Czech authorities said Tuesday they had cracked an international gang smuggling horns of rare white rhinoceroses from South Africa to Asia, where they are prized in traditional medicine. The gang sent registered Czech game hunters to South Africa to trophy hunt and legally repatriate horns to the Czech Republic. From there, the horns were to be sent on to unspecified Asian countries. "Si ... read more


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