Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

More than 1 000 rhinos killed in 2013

More than 1 000 rhinos were killed in South Africa last year at a record-breaking rate that could wipe out the country's entire population of white and black rhinos in a little over two decades. The environment ministry said 1 004 animals were killed in 2013, mostly in poaching hotspot Kruger national park, as the poaching crisis escalated.

The number is a big increase on the 668 killed in 2012, which was in itself a record year, up from just 13 in 2007. Appetite for rhino horn from Asia, in particular Vietnam, has driven the killing in South Africa, which ministers have warned in turn threatens the country's tourism sector. Demand is so high that a kilogram of rhino horn is now worth more than gold or cocaine.

The UK prime minister, David Cameron, is hosting a summit in London next month in a bid to tackle the trade, which has also seen tens of thousands of elephants killed in Africa annually in recent years. Conservationists said action must be taken now.

Tom Milliken, rhino expert at wildlife trade monitors Traffic, said: "South Africa and Mozambique [a transit hub for wildlife products leaving Africa] must decisively up their game if they hope to stop this blatant robbery of southern Africa's natural heritage. 2014 must mark the turning point where the world, collectively says 'enough is enough' and brings these criminal networks down." 

Damage to economy

Governments and NGOs have argued in recent years that the illegal wildlife trade has become a national security issue, rather than just an environmental one. The channelling of funds from poaching to terrorist groups has led the US intelligence community to begin tracking often heavily-armed poachers. "Rhino horn trafficking and consumption are not simply environmental issues, they represent threats to the very fabric of society," said Miliken. Dr Jo Shaw, rhino programme manager for WWF-South Africa, said: "These criminal networks are threatening our national security and damaging our economy by frightening away tourists."

South Africa said it increased the number of arrests of poachers from 267 in 2012, to 343 in 2013, though the number represents a decrease in the percentage of rhinos killed in total. The crisis shows little sign of stopping – the South African government said 37 rhino have already been poached in 2014. There are around 18 000 white and 4 000 black rhinos in the country.

© Guardian News and Media 2014

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

ANC members take legal action over council selection disputes

Nine ANC members in the North West’s Greater Taung Municipality have sent a letter to the national list committee threatening to go to court should the ANC not respond to their demands.

Court judgment about alien fish is about more than trout...

Judge finds that public participation in democratic processes is not the exclusive preserve of the privileged few who have access to the internet and can read English

More top stories

Municipal employees to get a 3.5% increase after wage deal

The South African Local Government Association said a three-year wage deal had been agreed on the remuneration of municipal employees

South Africans in Afrobrometer survey think corruption is ‘worsening’

Most of the 1 600 participants in the study believe the government is doing an inefficient job in combating corruption, according to Afrobarometer

Court judgment about alien fish is about more than trout...

Judge finds that public participation in democratic processes is not the exclusive preserve of the privileged few who have access to the internet and can read English

Matric exam timetable changes to accommodate elections

Moving the national senior certificate exams forward also allows matrics who are old enough to cast their ballots on 1 November
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×