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tv   Nightline  ABC  October 26, 2017 12:37am-1:07am EDT

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on the wildlife preserves of south africa, nothing is what it seems. where saving the rhino might look like this. and profiteer poachers might look like this. >> one single horn on the black market can buy as many as 1,000 ak-47 rifles. can keep 75 isis fighters in kit and armaments for 12 months. >> bob woodruff takes us to the south african savannah where a team is going airborne to fend off brutal criminals. but now are the hunters set thanksgiving sights on them? >> once they come into your country to kill, if you stand in their way they will come for you as well. >> with millions to gain, can some of the caring conservationists also have something else in mind? >> you've been storing them for ultimate sale? this is the gold and the diamonds of the modern world.
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>> tonight, the senseless war for a coveted commodity and the innocent lives hanging in the balance. >> the demand is so unbelievably high. if we don't do anything about it, we're losing these animals in our lifetime. >> this special edition of "nightline," "blood horns," will be right back.
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steve sweeney's negative headlines keep piling up. why are south jerseyans so angry at sweeney? sweeney repeatedly sided with chris christie to underfund south jersey schools, increase standardized testing like parcc, cut take-home pay for teachers, and broke his promise to fund the pensions of hundreds of thousands of new jerseyans- all while padding his own. steve sweeney says a lot of things. but the truth is, he's not on our side. this is a special edition of
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"nightline," "blood horns," bob woodruff reporting. >> reporter: this jarring scene is becoming more and more common throughout south africa. it may look like this animal is in distress. but farmers here claim this extreme measure may be the only way to save the rhino. what is clear -- is that national parks in south africa are under siege. all for this. worth over $300,000 on the black market. it's a brutal trade. poaching is a story we all know.
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but now, from this country in turmoil, reports of a more complicated story where the bad guys may be even worse than we thought. >> people kill for this. they do kill for this. >> reporter: where some say some of the good guys just might have ulterior motives. you've been storing them for sale? >> there's a lot of money here. it's a lot. >> this is the gold and diamonds of the modern world. >> it is. >> reporter: hanging like a cloud over everything, one photograph that may signal the involvement of the very last organization anyone needs here in south africa, isis. >> it's easy to operate in south africa. it's not a big problem for them to actually come in here and do what they want to. >> reporter: so we travel to the south african savannah to try to get to the bottom of it all. kruger national park is ground zero. here's a spot.
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i see some bones. this is nothing new to this forensics team. it's their third crime scene of the day and there is not much left to work with. what are you guys looking for with the detecter? bullets? >> reporter: once the poachers shoot the rhino, they move in quickly to hack off the horn. often the rhino is still alive while it's happening. >> if you look at the marks here, it was cut like this. >> with a machete? >> it's a sword. they used the sword to cut it out, to chop it off. >> reporter: government numbers show poaching stint are incidents are up by over 8,000%, from 13 in 2007, to 1,100 last year. on average three white rhinos killed every day. experts believe they could be wiped out in the next few years. trafficked rhino horns can be found throughout asia.
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like this illegal wildlife market in myanmar. or on the black market in vietnam. seen here in this undercover video. even though the horns are made of keratin, no different than human fingernails, they are coveted for supposed medicinal value. global criminal syndicates will stop at nothing to get to the very last horn. is kruger very dangerous to work in? >> it's quite a dangerous spot to work in. >> reporter: this officer spoke on condition we would blur his face and disguise his voice. he tells us there are eight to 12 poaching gangs inside kruger every single day. this is a disgusting scene. >> yeah. >> you see this a lot, huh? >> i've seen this about 1,500 times already. >> 15 hundred of these killed? >> yes. >> reporter: there might be some hope. this is a bell 407 gt, an updated version of the u.s. army's kiawa warrior used on the
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battlefield from vietnam to iraq. but this one has a different mission. this is rhino nip 11. rhino 911. a nonprofit cofounded by freed hees, owner of bbm munitions, a weapons company wailsed in nevada. >> if you travel across this country and see how vast the real estate is that you have to deal with here, and the rhino is spread so far, they hear shots fired at night. who's going torespond? righ no one except for rhino 911. >> reporter: along with his cofounder, south african farmer and pilot nikko jacobs, they're working around the clock to protect rhinos and other wildlife. >> despite the risk and factors, you can't stop do it. it's what we do. >> reporter: at times it looks like combat medicine. veterinarian gerard sheeper is darting rhinos from the air.
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he and his team must act quickly. operating on the wounded right then and there. >> that's the bullet entrance wound. all the way up here. like you see right there at the back side. >> reporter: once the rhinos are given medication to reverse the anesthesia, they need to be quick. >> get out of there, she will kill you if she turns around. >> it's frightening. >> reporter: rhino 911's advance state-of-the-art technology makes tracking people ask animals from 4,000 to 8,000 feet in the air a reality. giving them an advantage against poachers. but also putting themselves in the crosshairs. >> we were informed by people in the intel community that we should step lightly. because our names have been put on a list to be targeted. as i asked, targeted for what?
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they said, just be careful, remove yourself from facebook, remove your family pictures. >> once they come into the country to kill an animal, if you stand in the way, they will come for you as well. >> reporter: this former south african defense official was only willing to speak with us in shadow. but he had specific information about how rhino 911 might be targeted. >> the poachers sit out of meetings that i've heard, looking at bringing bigger and bigger weapons in for helicopters to shoot at them. and that was including rpg-7s. >> reporter: rpg, rocket-propelled grenade. capable of bringing down a helicopter. >> the poachers would like to shoot down a helicopter or aircraft. people that don't care about lives. and that is part of your organized crime. you'll also find that that will escalate to something bigger. >> during september of last year, one of the private security organizations were
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called out to a poaching incident. they arrested three poachers. they found an at4 rocket, anti-tank rocket, with one of the poachers. >> reporter: the rocket was troubling enough. but where it may have come from was shocking. >> we were able, through a confidential network, to take a look at the serial number of this rocket. and traced it back. that it was issued by the u.s. government to an army in mosul, iraq, prior to isis overruining mosul. once isis overran mosul, that rocket found its way from mosul, iraq, to south africa. >> reporter: isis has already made their mark in africa with brutal attacks in egypt, kenya, lib yeah now against u.s. troops in niger, killing four in an ambush. isis-captured arms in south africa? >> the way we look at it is one
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single horn on the black market can buy as many as 1,000 ak-47 rifles. one single horn can keep 75 isis fighters in kit and armaments for 12 months. >> isis has been very creative in their ability to generate revenue to fund their activities. they sold oil on the black market. they sold stolen antiquities. they have engaged in criminal activity. kidnapping and extortion. >> reporter: all of this comes at a very tense time for south africa. violent crime and unemployment are soaring. and south africa's president zuma is facing an escalating movement to remove him from office. >> their border control organizations and law enforcement organizations are overstretched. concerns about corruption in government. there's large areas of land that are essentially ungoverned. >> reporter: now isis fighters are on the run after losing their capital, raqqah, to government forces, possibly making south africa more
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appealing. >> for those reasons, law enforcement, counterterrorism, and intelligence authorities are concerned it would be an attractive safe haven for flighters fleeing syria and iraq. >> reporter: and that land owned by largely white farmers is now frequently under attack. farmers assaulted and animals poached. making farming in south africa a very dangerous occupation. nico jacobs, rhino 9 lefkow founder's farm, has been attacked four times. a fifth attempt while we were there. any idea why this happened? >> to ambush us. to take everything they can take. rape the women. it's an unfortunate area to be living. i grew up here. fy need to die here, i'll need to die here and i'll be part of the statistics. >> reporter: these threats have been a boon for security companies with skyrocketing sales of electric fences, sensors, cameras, and now possibly even helicopters.
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rhino 911 looking to expand its fleet and their duties. >> yes? okay, we're on our way, 100%. >> reporter: it's 3:00 a.m. and the team gears up. >> do we have the infrared light? >> yes. >> armed house invasion, we're quickly going to check it out. the police are in hot pursuit. >> we've got a quarter moon. so that should give us a measure. we'll get the coordinates and then report those to the ground assets and they'll have to deal with it. >> reporter: the night vision allows you to clearly read signs in pitch black. those are police cars on the side of the road. the thermal infrared cameras pick up heat from anything moving on the ground, including alleged home invaders. there they are. they have no idea they've been spotted. they pass the suspects'
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coordinates on to local police. fred tells us rhino 911's main mission is to stop poachers. but is this all just for an altruistic love of wild animals? when we come back, private farmers who some say are harvesting horns for future profit. >> we're seeing as part of the bigger picture that the rhino can be the goose that's going to lay its own golden egg. >> reporter: and a country divided over the river of money about to run through. ahhhh!!! they can fly... at the speed of light... ...and command the currents. they don't need another way to get around. or do they? [ engine revving ]
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as they've rewritten the future. and to all who seek their true potential, we say, let's get it, america. this special edition of "nightline," "blood horns," continues. >> reporter: this could become the new normal in south africa.
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herds of hornless rhino. >> we want our rhino to last for as many years as possible. we want to be able to harvest horns whenever we can, to meet the international demand. >> reporter: many farmers say it's a no-brainer. even owners like lynn mctavish, who once opposed dehorning, have had a change of heart. >> whether we like it or not, we have to dehorn these rhino. i fought that decision for about five years. and that cost us five rhino. and plunged us into the worst nightmare we've ever been in. and i will never get over it. >> critics would say the dehorning means you want to make money, you want to be rich, and this is against what they've been fighting for to save the lives of the rhinos. >> exactly. as i said, dehorning has been a last resort. we've got our backs up against a wall now. >> reporter: but dehorning entails a new threat.
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>> the risks are extremely high. the minute the horn comes off the animal, the risk is immediately on the owner. >> you have weapons, everything else here, for protection. >> yeah. so everyone is armed. >> reporter: a young calf is up first. they dart it right away. but the mother needs a second dose. nico comes in for the dart and off they go. the horns are cut and sanded, leaving behind only a couple of inches so it can regrow. >> only a year old, it breaks my heart that we have to dehorn him. but they will kill him for that much history, it's ridiculous. really sad. and they look so beautiful with the horns on. >> reporter: every single horn is collected, measured, and bagged in front of a nature conservation representative. >> 35 centimeter the circumference -- >> our intention is not to flag
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them off at all. it's to slowly supply the a demand. we can do that with a few horned rhino. >> reporter: again, rhino horn is basically just keratin, like fingernails. >> it's just shavings from the horn. it looks exactly the same as if you clip your nails. it's keratin with hair in it that forms the horn. >> reporter: the horn grows back, providing an inexhaustible supply of a commodity more valuable than gold. >> we're seeing the rhino can be the goose that's going to lay its own golden egg. >> reporter: the debate has reached a boiling point. on the potential lifting of the controversial ban that would make it legal to sell rhino horn internationally. >> it was incredibly encouraging to see a number of african ministers standing shoulder to shoulder, how dare you come to africa and try to prescribe to us our conservation policies and strategies? >> reporter: many private rhino owners in south africa believe
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that lifting the ban will curb poaching. but not everyone agrees. >> unfortunately what's happened is individuals are banking on extinction. so we've seen a shift. it's gone from health to wealth. the reason this animal is being killed now is speculating on extinction. >> reporter: this rhino owner allowed "nightline" into his vault after we promised we would not show his face. you've been storing hthem for ultimate sale? >> we have to put them away. >> who does want to buy them now? >> you export them. the only market is asia. so it's not here. >> how much do you think you can get for for that? >> it's a lot of money, yeah. it's a lot of money. >> this is the gold and the diamonds of the modern world. >> yes. >> reporter: millions of dollars worth waiting to be sold. but it's animals like this paying the price. >> you see here? they chopped him. look here. i can put my whole hand in here. >> reporter: with constant
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medical care, vet louis greeve has kept him alive. >> what would you do if you found this poacher? >> they're dead. i'd chop them to pieces, i promise you. i find the poacher again, a few times we shot them. but next time he's dead. dead, dead, dead. >> if we catch a poacher or kill a poacher, he's been replaced the next day. the demand is so unbelievably high. if we don't do anything about it, we're losing these animals in our lifetime. >> reporter: but with rhino horn demand at an all-time high, and criminal and terror groups profiting off the sale, rhinos not under loc and key are rapidly being poached into extinction. >> we're in a losing war. hopefully we'll be able to buy them some time for humanity to sort of reassess itself. >> reporter: who will ultimately determine how much time the rhinos have left? i'm bob woodruff for "nightline" in south africa.
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he's a husband, father, veteran... but most of all, he's a fighter. chris brown has never been afraid to take on the big fights.
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that's why he stood up to republicans and democrats alike to fight the north jersey casinos and the takeover of atlantic city. chris brown is fighting to protect jobs in our region... a true champion for the working men and women of atlantic county. on november 7th, let's keep him fighting for us. chris brown for state senate, he's on our side.
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we want to give our special thanks to bob woodruff and his team for that incredible reporting. and a special thanks to the e-60 team who coproduced the story with us. thanks for watching abc news. as always we're online at and our "nightline" facebook page. good night, america. >> whatever you had planned for the next 30 minutes, cancel it, because you're about to watch some folks play for the kind of money that changes lives. this is "who wants to be a millionaire." [dramatic music] ♪ hey, everybody, welcome to the show. are you guys ready to go today? [cheers and applause] good, 'cause we're in the middle of a good game. from las vegas, nevada, please
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welcome back daniel bruton. [cheers and applause] we're actually past the middle of your game. you're already at $20,000. you're just six questions away from $1 million. i know it surprises you every time we look at that bank, and there's money in it, but there is. there's $20,000 in there. have you thought about what you'd do with this kind of money? >> well, chris, i definitely think 20 grand is life-changing money. i don't have a car. i've been living in vegas for ten years, and i haven't had a car for about two years. >> it's 180 degrees. you can't--you can't survive without a car and air conditioning. >> it's hot, yeah. i take the bus to work, so to be able to have a car to go to work, with air conditioning, would be--that in itself would be life-changing. >> that's awesome. well, 20 grand's a nice car... >> yes, sir. >> but we have a chance to do even better today. you still have one lifeline, and we're gonna-- you're just two away from that $50,000 threshold. >> let's do it. >> let's get back to your game, and let's play "who wants to be a millionaire." [dramatic musical flourish] ♪ all right.


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