Rhino poaching has become a crisis in Southern Africa. This year (2010) in South Africa, 232 rhinos have been killed for their horns since the start of the year compared to 122 poached last year.
Due to rhinos being shot out across the rest of Africa and Asia, the market has turned its attention to South Africa and India as the demand from the Far East and the Middle East remains sickeningly high. Conservation efforts are now under siege again, and fresh impetus and cash are needed to head off the upward trend in deaths reported in 2010.
As a collective group of Conservationists, Governments and Joe public (that’s us), we might have won the first battle as it seemed that we had saved the Rhino from extinction. The war seems to be still going on, and for the first time in many years, the net Rhino numbers in SA are negative, which means that more Rhinos were killed than were born. The 2010 report card looks terrible, although the trend is blinding obvious.
South African Rhino Deaths
- 2007 – 13 killed
- 2008 – 83 Killed
- 2009 – 122 killed
- 2010 – 232 killed (as of Sept 2010)
A Changing Game
According to SANParks, 232 rhinos were slaughtered in 2010 throughout South Africa (104 of these in Kruger National Park). Of the 119 suspected poacher arrests, 45 were made in the park. We are losing 20 rhinos a month, so that means another 60 by the end of the year.
Poachers are no longer destitute villagers trying to earn a living by selling the odd horn here and there. They no longer run around in flip-flops carrying barb-wire snares and old, bolt-action rifles. They are part of well-organised syndicates with helicopters, GPS tracking, dart guns and chainsaws. Just recently two prominent veterinarians working in the game capture business were arrested with seven other poachers. Their trial continues. Most downed animals now either die by an overdose of sedatives or slowly bleed to death.
While researching for facts, I came across a good many websites and blogs that specialise in reporting on the horrendous topic of Rhino Poaching. Please support them in all their efforts whenever you can. I’ve looked at the photos on their sites, and I know that many may cause unease amongst people, and I hope they do. Just because it’s horrible doesn’t mean it isn’t happening
Best current population numbers (source: International Rhino Foundation )
White rhino: 17,500
Black rhino: 4,240
Greater One-horned rhino: 2,800-2,850
Sumatran Rhino: 200
Javan Rhino: 40-50
Rhino conservation sites that need your support
Rhino Conservation: Rhino Horn is NOT medicine
A small gallery of my Rhino photos from Kruger National Park + some updated Posts
UPDATE to the post
By the 19th of December 2011, 405 rhinos had already been killed in South Africa compared to the 333 poached in 2010. As you can see in the above chart, the rhino poaching has been increasing since 2008. Based on this current trend, we could have a disastrous 2012. We are clearly losing the battle against poaching, and the South African Government has a lot to answer for.
Is it a coincidence that the numbers started to rise around the time of the global economic crisis, possibly? Men will do desperate things when they are hungry, but these acts are no longer perpetrated by poverty-stricken men. It has become a profitable business for organised crime. The South African government and the National Park’s board has been too slow to increase funding and resources in the troubled areas. And so, the numbers continue to rise year on year.
Brave Rangers at the coalface
I’ve said it before. The valiant rangers on the ground are ill-equipped to deal with today’s organised criminals. Whether the solution is simply to bring in the army to assist in the high target areas, is up for debate. The fact remains simple, the horrific deaths will continue on an upward trend.
One of South Africa’s big tourism drawcards is the Big 5. People, who have never been to Africa, want to experience Lions, Leopard, Elephants, Buffalo’s and Rhinos on their safari’s. What would the effect on tourism be if one or two of these iconic species disappear? Elephants and Buffalo’s numbers are not critical in South Africa. Well, not compared to the other three anyway.
I hope that the people of the world will get behind many of the great conservation organisations that are trying to raise awareness of the plight of the Rhino. Failing to do this could see the extinction of a mastodonic creature within our lifetime.
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