Rhino poachers have killed 232 rhinos during 2013 so far in South Africa, reports Annamiticus, which averages out to 2.1 a day. The country has become a flashpoint for rhino poaching as it holds more rhinos than any other country on Earth. Rhinos are being slaughter for their horns, which are believed to be a curative in Chinese traditional medicine, although there is no evidence this is so.
Last year, South Africa lost 668 rhinos to poachers, according to the Department of Environmental Affairs. Most of the rhinos killed are white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum), which are currently listed by the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened. The other four rhino species are more endangered: the Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is listed as Vulnerable, while the black, Javan, and Sumatran are all listed as Critically Endangered. The Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is down to just 100 individuals, while the Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus) is down to about 60.
Although South Africa’s rhino crisis has been escalating in recent years, the country has not been able to successfully combat the poachers. Many point to corruption, lack of adequate law enforcement, and light penalties for poachers as exacerbating the problem.
Wildlife organizations have also called on Vietnam and China, where rhino horn consumption is fueling the trade, to do more to undercut the illegal trade. Scientific studies of rhino horn have shown it is almost entirely made of keratin, and thus consuming it is the equivalent of eating one’s fingernails.
One rhino sanctuary has turned to injecting its rhino’s horns with a non-lethal poison that will make anyone who consumes it sick.
White rhinos in Namibia. White rhinos are the world’s most populous, but suffer massive poaching rates. Photo by: Ikiwaner.
(04/11/2013) A game reserve in South Africa has taken the radical step of poisoning rhino horns so that people risk becoming ‘seriously ill’ if they consume them.
(04/08/2013) WWF-Indonesia had considered the impact of the publication of finding traces of Sumatran rhinos in Kalimantan. In the two-month period before it was published, WWF-Indonesia had coordinated with various parties, including the local government, the Forestry Ministry, rhino experts, local university and other related parties to set up strategies and to ensure commitment to full protection of the rhino.
(04/08/2013) Less than 100 Sumatran rhinos survive in the world today, according to a bleak new population estimate by experts. The last survey in 2008 estimated that around 250 Sumatran rhinos survived, but that estimate now appears optimistic and has been slashed by 60 percent. However conservationists are responding with a major new agreement between the Indonesian and Malaysian governments at a recent summit by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC).
(04/04/2013) WWF-Indonesia recently caught the attention of the global media with their announcement that the Sumatran rhinoceros still exists in Indonesian Borneo, some 40 years after being declared extinct there. This sounds like great news for biodiversity conservation. But is it really?
(04/02/2013) Conservationists working to save the Sumatran rhino—one of the world’s most imperiled mammals—heard good news this week as WWF-Indonesia has found evidence of at least one Sumatran rhino persisting in the Indonesian state of Kalimantan, located on the island of Borneo. Small populations of Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) survive on Sumatra and on Borneo (in the Malaysian state of Sabah), but this is the first time scientists have confirmed the presence of the notoriously shy animal in Kalimantan in over two decades.
(04/01/2013) Corruption among wildlife rangers is becoming a serious impediment in the fight against poaching, fuelled by soaring levels of cash offered by criminal poacher syndicates, senior conservation chiefs have admitted. Rangers in countries as diverse as Tanzania and Cambodia are being bribed by increasingly organised poaching gangs keen to supply ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts to meet huge consumer demand in Asia.
(03/17/2013) With the number of Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) now under 200 and declining rapidly, a group of conservationists have organized an emergency summit to discuss courses of action to save the world’s smallest remaining rhino from extinction.