790 rhinos have been poached in South Africa through October 25th this year, nearly a fifth higher than last year’s record toll, reports the Department of Environmental Affairs.
60 percent of rhinos poached have been killed in Kruger National Park, South Africa’s best-known protected areas. Outside Kruger, 87 rhinos have been killed in Limpopo, 65 in North West, 73 in KwaZulu-Natal, 68 in Mpumalanga, four in Gauteng, three in the Eastern Cape, and three in the Marakele National Park.
Rhinos are being poached for their horns, which are in high demand as a status symbol and for unproven “medicinal use” in Vietnam. A rhino’s horn may be worth tens of thousands of dollars to the end consumer, making poaching a lucrative trade for businessmen as well as poor rural residents.
The high price of rhino horn means poaching continues to skyrocket despite South Africa declaring the problem a “national security risk” in 2011. Some officials have argued the only way to break the cycle is to win an international exemption to auction off millions of kilos of seized rhino horn, swamping the market. But critics say the approach would only enlarge the market for rhino horn, driving future poaching.
All of the world’s five rhino species are considered endangered.
(10/02/2013) With its collapsed economy, entrenched poverty, and political tremors, one would not expect that a country like Zimbabwe would have the capacity to safeguard its rhinos against determined and well-funded poachers, especially as just across the border South Africa is currently losing over two rhinos a day on average. And indeed, without the Lowveld Rhino Trust (LRT), rhinos in Zimbabwe would probably be near local extinction. But the LRT, which is centrally involved in the protection of around 90 percent of the country’s rhinos in private reserves along with conservancy members, has proven tenacious and innovative in its battle to safeguard the nation’s rhinos from the poaching epidemic.