WARNING: graphic image below.
White rhino in South Africa. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
South Africa has surpassed last year’s grisly record for slaughtered rhinos—1,004—more than a month before the year ends. In an announcement on November 20th, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs said that 1,020 rhinos had been killed to date. Rhinos are butchered for their horns, which are consumed as curatives in countries like Vietnam and China despite any evidence that rhino horn has medicinal properties.
In its announcement, the Department of Environmental Affairs stressed the government’s new initiatives to combat the poaching scourge.
“South Africa’s multi-disciplinary response further includes the creation of an intensive protection zone within the Kruger National Park, the introduction and implementation of new technology, pro-active intelligence, improving national, regional and international collaboration, and translocating rhino to safe areas within South Africa, and in rhino range states,” the department said in a statement.
But none of these programs blunted the killing spree which has been rising rapidly since 2007 when just seven rhinos were killed in the country. Today, it takes less than three days on average for seven rhinos to meet their end in the country.
While rhino poaching is a problem across many countries in Africa and Asia, its epicenter remains in South Africa. This is, at least partly, because the country is home to the largest population of rhinos in the world. As of 2010, South Africa was home to over 18,000 white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum) and nearly 2,000 black rhinos (Diceros bicornis). In the case of white rhinos, South Africa has over 90 percent of the global population. But the country has also been criticized by some for not doing enough to protect its rhinos and supporting the creation of a legal trade in rhino horns.
Young rhino whose horn and part of its face cut off by poachers. The animal survived for several days before South African officials found it and put it down. Photo by: Frans Lombard, shared on Facebook.
(10/28/2014) Daily, we read or hear of more rhino being poached to satisfy the seemingly insatiable demand from Asia for rhino horn. With countless articles and papers having been published on the subject – and the Internet abuzz with forums, including heated debates concerning possible solutions – current approaches seem to be failing. Evidence is in the numbers. Known poaching deaths in South Africa have risen sharply over the past three years: 668 rhinos in 2012, 1,004 last year, and 899 through the first nine months of 2014. This toll includes only documented kills — the real number is higher.
(10/22/2014) A new poll finds that consumer demand for rhino horn in Vietnam has dropped precipitously following several advertising campaigns. According to the poll by the Humane Society International (HIS) and Vietnam CITES, demand has plunged 38 percent since last year.
(10/20/2014) Rhino conservation suffered another tragic setback this weekend with the sudden death of Suni, a male northern white rhinoceros at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Suni’s passing means there are only six northern white rhinos left in the world, and only one breeding male. ‘Consequently the species now stands at the brink of complete extinction, a sorry testament to the greed of the human race,’ wrote the Conservancy.
(10/06/2014) Late last month, armed guards escorted officials marching 60 kilograms (132 pounds) of rhino horns to a pyre for burning. The event, at the Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic, was the first public burning of rhino horns in Europe. The Czech Republic burned the horns, which came from a government stockpile as well as from past rhinos held at the zoo, in a bid to help conserve rhinos.
(07/14/2014) Poachers have butchered 558 rhinos in South Africa so far this year, approximately a hundred more animals than lost during the same time in 2013.
(07/03/2014) Two prominent NGOs U.S should sanction Mozambique for its role in elephant, rhino poaching, urges NGOsare petitioning the U.S government to slap Mozambique with trade sanctions due to the country’s role in regional poaching. The groups contend that Mozambique has done little to combat both its own poaching epidemic or stop its nationals from spilling over the border to kill rhinos and elephants in South Africa and Tanzania.