Rhino poaching in South Africa set to double this year
The last female rhino at Krugersdorp Nature Reserve in South Africa was killed by poachers on Wednesday. The poachers are suspected to have entered the game reserve – near South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg – by helicopter, where they then shot the white rhino cow with tranquilizers before cutting off her horn with a chainsaw.
This latest killing marks the 136th rhino in South Africa that has been murdered for its horn this year – already more than last year’s total of 129, suggesting that the number of killings this year will double.
The sophistication of the operation leaves conservationists at a loss about how to deal with the new breed of poachers.
From an article in the Telegraph:
Highly-trained operatives, possibly ex-soldiers, are then being flown into parks by helicopter, and armed with specialised veterinary drugs and darting guns, chainsaws and automatic weapons. Who is possibly resourced to deal with that?
–Cathy Dean, Save the Rhino International
Methods such as safely carving off rhino horns in order to make the animals less valuable to poachers are controversial because they leave the animals without their main means of self-defense.
Rhino horns are used in traditional Chinese medicine as well as in the handles of ornamental daggers in the Middle East. Soaring demand for rhino horn – particularly in China and Vietnam – is attributed to Asia’s recent economic growth.
From an article in the Observer:
The committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) warned yesterday that rhino poaching had reached an all-time high. The Cites conference in Geneva heard that Asia’s economic expansion had fuelled the market in rhino horns.
According to a report in The Star newspaper (South Africa) the slain white rhino in Krugersdorp Park left behind a young calf. The calf has since been captured and is awaiting transfer to another facility where it will be introduced to other rhinos.