Friday, 14 December 2012

The Iconic Rhino Faces Extinction in South Africa

The South African plight of the rhino, a member of the infamous Big 5, is finally hitting the news shelves internationally. When VA32 director Mike took part in a networking conference earlier this year he presented our latest volunteer project - the Rhino Ambassador Stewardship Project (RASP) – which puts the onus and responsibility solidly onto the volunteer, to carry their practical experience and knowledge of the rhino, its environment and the dangers that it faces after leaving South Africa, and to engage in the sharing of information on how we can stop the eradication of the rhino species in Africa. Unfortunately at the time we presented the project Mike was told that the world wasn't aware of the plight of the rhino. It wouldn't sell. So this project has been quietly sitting on our website for months as the state of the rhino population in South Africa has been forced down by more and more poachers. This year alone 618 rhinos have died at the hands of poachers – as I worked on this article over the past week that number has risen at least twice. Now I think it’s time to educate, to push this cause and to call for action from our international community of volunteers, followers and subscribers. Something needs to be done to stop this and we need your help.

Rhino Poaching in South Africa – The Facts

·         Around 75% of the Worlds rhino population is in Africa.
·         In 2007 13 rhinos were killed for their horns, 2008 figures jumped radically to 83 and have steadily risen until in 2011 the figure sat at 314.
·         The predicted figure for 2012 was 515 – 618 rhinos have been killed so far this year but it is hard to track this figure precisely – a rhino is killed for its horn every 20 hours.
·         October was the worst month for the rhino in 2012 with 35 rhinos killed in total with the worst hit area being the world renowned Kruger National Park.
·         The rhinos are killed for their horn. Cultures in the East revere the rhino horn for its “magical” properties believing it to be capable of curing and preventing various human conditions and diseases from cancer to impotence. There is no scientific backing to verify these beliefs.
·         Poaching has increased radically over the past 5 years due to the rising worth of the horn. The black market price of rhino horn is now in the region of $65,000 (£40,000) per kg - more than gold (Figure taken from BBC article “Wildlife Crime Profound Threat to Nations, says report”).
·         The horn of the rhino is hacked off with a chainsaw as near to the base as possible - often when the rhino is awake. The rhino usually dies after this brutal procedure and many young rhino are left orphaned before they are old enough to survive on their own.
·       Poaching trends in 2012 are modern and use expensive equipment and tracking devices. This equipment coupled with the sheer expanse of land which must be monitored and skill level which needs to be available means that it is near impossible for policing organisations to know where poachers will hit next.

For now more rhinos are born in Africa then are killed which means the rhino population is still increasing. If however, poaching statistics continue to rise at the current rate of growth this will stop and the rhino population will decline rapidly.

Now is the time to do something about it.

Watch for our articles to follow in the coming month:
- Save the Rhino: what can be done and how you can do your bit
- VA32 Rhino Ambassador Stewardship Project (RASP) is launched


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