Rhino poaching: Going straight to the source
The Wilderness Foundation's rhino horn demand reduction campaign brought 22 Vietnamese students to experience the SA wild and workshop campaign ideas.
Today is World Rhino Day, which celebrates all five species of rhino: Black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos. The stark reality is if poaching continues to increase at the current rate, rhinos will be extinct by 2026.
With demand for rhino horn increasing in Eastern Asian countries such as Vietnam, where it is used for medical purposes and seen as a status symbol, efforts to educate consumers and stop poachers in their tracks are increasingly urgent.
According to the latest statistics from the department of environmental affairs, more than 700 rhino were killed for their horn, as of August 2015. Of these, 544 were poached in the Kruger National Park.
In response to this escalated threat, the department has stepped up anti-poaching policing strategies through the use of K-9 dog units and increased land, air and night capability, among other measures.
The fight against wildlife crime has seen South Africa collaborate with other countries in an effort to preserve the rhinos against poachers. A memorandum of understanding has been signed between Cambodia and South Africa, which will see cooperation between the countries in the field of biodiversity conservation and protection.
Educational workshops in end user markets such as Vietnam and the China seek to bolster the fight through technology transfer and increase awareness of wildlife management and crime in South Africa, as well as the plight of the rhino and other wildlife species.
The total number of arrests inside Kruger National Park was 138 for this year compared to 81 arrests for the same period last year as of 27th August 2015. A good example of the outcome of increased efforts was during the month of July when 35 arrests were made in Kruger National Park alone.
The department of environmental affairs’ green scorpions, customs and border police are working together at the OR Tambo International Airport to monitor ports of entry and exist. This will go a long way in identifying and arresting the culprits behind distribution of horn.
For more content see our Special Report: Defending the horn