In July national parks in South Africa lost 26 white rhinos and one black rhino to poachers, bringing the total rhinos lost in South Africa to 84 this year alone.
The situation has led Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica to call for an integrative approach to the crisis.
“The minister and the MECs expressed their political support to provincial authorities, but also called for an integrated anti-rhino poaching strategy incorporating all rhino range provinces and the department of environmental affairs,” the ministry said in a statement
Critically Endangered black rhino in a sanctuary. Photo by: Rob Roy.
Authorities have so far arrested twenty-two people suspected of being involved in the poaching.
Thirty-three of the rhinos were poached in world famous Kruger National Park, many on the Mozambique side of the park. Poachers arrested for these crimes have all been Mozambican, according to David Mabunda, chief executive of South Africa National Parks.
The white rhino is considered Near Threatened by the IUCN. However, one of its subspecies the Northern White Rhino is thought to have gone extinct in 2006 in the wild and only two remain in zoos.
The black rhino is classified as Critically Endangered with around 4,000 in the wild. Before poaching in the twentieth century, this species was thought to be several hundred thousands strong.
Both rhinos are poached for their horns which are used in traditional medicines in China and as handles for ceremonial daggers in the Middle East.
(07/09/2009) Rhino poaching rates have hit a 15-year-high as a consequence of demand for horns for use in traditional medicine, according to new report published by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC. Asia-based criminal gangs run the illegal trade.
(10/03/2008) Fifteen critically-endangered black rhinos have been released at an undisclosed location in Kenya with hopes that this pioneer group will breed naturally, repopulating an area they once roamed abundantly. The release is the first time in 25 years that captive rhinos have been returned to the wild.
(06/06/2007) The illegal trade in rhino horn, used for dubious medicines in Asia and traditional dagger handles in the Middle East, is driving some African rhino populations toward extinction, reports environmental group WWF and wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.