Suspected Rhino Poacher Killed By Elephant and Then ‘Devoured’ By Lions
The poaching of rhinos has emerged as a major problem in South Africa in recent years. Kruger National Park (KNP), which is home to the world's highest concentration of rhinos, is often a target. In 2015, more than 70 percent of the rhinos poached in the country were poached from the park, The Guardian reported.
Media Release: Kruger National Park rangers help family closure by recovering remains of a suspected poacher killed… https://t.co/OyBPETsJtj— SANParks (@SANParks)1554714726.0
"Entering Kruger National Park illegally and on foot is not wise, it holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that," KNP Managing Executive Glenn Phillips said in a statement. "It is very sad to see the daughters of the deceased mourning the loss of their father, and worse still, only being able to recover very little of his remains."
According to contrasting official reports in South Africa's Times Live, the man entered the park with a group of fellow poachers either April 1 or 2. Once the men were in the park, "suddenly an elephant attacked and killed one of them," Police Brigadier Leonard Hlathi told Times Live.
His accomplices brought his body to a roadside before leaving the park, then told one of his family members. KNP GM of Communications and Marketing Isaac Phaahla explained what happened next:
"The family then called Skukuza regional ranger Don English who, after assuring the family that he would do everything possible to recover the remains and bring them closure, arranged a search party.
"Rangers on foot, accompanied by members of the KNP Airwing flew over the area that was described by the family but due to failing light, could not locate the body.
"The team resumed the search on Thursday morning, with further information provided after four of the deceased's alleged accomplices, who had been arrested during the previous evening by the Komatipoort SAPS.
"During this search, which was boosted with a further complement of field rangers, the remains of a body were discovered.
"Indications found at the scene suggested that a pride of lions had devoured the remains leaving only a human skull and a pair of pants."
Three of the man's accomplices were taken into custody and appeared in court April 5. They were charged with possessing arms and munitions without a license, conspiracy to poach and trespassing, and are being held until April 12.
African rhinos are poached because their horns are believed by some practitioners of Eastern medicine to be an aphrodisiac, CNN explained. In some parts of the world, rhino horn is more valuable than cocaine. Black rhinos in particular are considered critically endangered. From 1970 to 1995, their numbers fell from 65,000 to 2,400. That number has climbed somewhat in the last 20 or so years to 5,000, most of which live in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
Rhino, Kruger National Park, South Africa #purpleliontours #plt #krugernationalpark #krüger #krugerphotos #rhino… https://t.co/QLFj3tZ21t— Purple Lion Tours (@Purple Lion Tours)1508163817.0
Poaching isn't only a problem at Kruger. In a 2018 interview with Deutsche Welle, Johnson Maoka, a manager at South Africa's Pilanesberg National Park, said poachers entered every few days to try and kill rhinos. However, he said many of the people who actually entered the park were preyed upon themselves by poaching syndicates, who target struggling or unemployed people and offer them 10,000 to 20,000 South African rand (approximately $700 to $1,400) to kill rhinos.
"You need to provide the poacher, the guy walking into the reserve with a gun, with an alternative source of income in order to minimize poaching," Maoka said.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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