Rhino poaching levels are not on the decline. By the 19th of December 2011, 443 rhinos had already been killed in South Africa compared to the 333 poached in 2010. As you can see in the above chart, the number has been increasing since 2008 and based on this current trend, we could have a disastrous 2012. We are losing the battle against poaching, and the South African Government has a lot to answer for these figures. It has failed and continues to do so.
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 National Park’s board has been far too slow to increase funding and resources in the troubled areas, hence the marked rise in numbers.
Tough fight on the ground
I have said it before; the valiant rangers on the ground are ill-equipped to deal with today’s organised criminals who are responsible for the increased levels of poaching. 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. Tourists 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 into the plight of the Rhino. Failing to get behind them could see the extinction of a mastodonic creature within our lifetime.
Rhino Conservation Charities:
Please see my previous blog post on Rhino conservation in South Africa
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