South Africa struggles to curb rhino poaching
Poachers have killed nearly 200 rhinoceroses so far this year. Last year, they killed a record 333 of the mulberry outlet animals, the third year in a row that poaching escalated in the country.
Many of the animals are found dead with their horns missing in Kruger National Park, famous as a safari destination due in part to its rhinoceros population.
“The reason for the upsurge in poaching has been due to the belief that rhino bone has medicinal properties capable of curing cancer,” said Joseph Okori, Head of the WWF’s African Rhino Program.
“It came up from Vietnam in 2007 and stimulated the market for rhino horn.”
In Vietnam and other Asian countries, rhino horns can fetch values that are many times higher than the fines mulberry outlet poachers may face.
Local manufacturers use the horns to make traditional medicines, often marketed as preventing or curing cancer.
The threats to South African rhinos could have big implications for the tourism industry and local residents who earn their livelihood from it, Okori told Deutsche Welle.
“Rhinos act as a flagship species, and by protecting them, you are also protecting a huge habitat range with a broad variety of plants and animals.”
When poachers are caught, penalties are often fairly lax with many individuals being released after paying a fine that amounts to less than 1,000 US dollars.
“I think the low ratio of convictions to arrests is due to a lack of investigative capabilities,” Okori told Deutsche Welle. “We haven’t built up our capacity to bring strong incriminating evidence against these people.”
The most serious offenders in South Africa have received jail sentences of up to ten years since new sentencing guidelines went into effect, but many poachers are able to make bail and flee before heading to trial.
Okori said that mulberry outlet too little focus on Asian demand for rhino products, and the illegal supply chain that supports it, was hampering efforts to tackle poaching.
“We keep hearing reports that government officials the elites in the country are also the primary consumers,” Milliken told Deutsche Welle. “And we’ve seen Vietnamese diplomats arrested in conjunction with the trade.”
“First, Asia in general has undergone increased capacity to purchase items based on its growing economy,” he explained. “Second, there’s an increased need to have cures for chronic ailments cancer is on the increase globally.”
Since rhinos were once plentiful in the wild in Asia, their horns have long been used in regional treatments, but no scientific studies have established that the horns are effective as medicine.
Tom Milliken has followed trends in rhino poaching and trade since the 1980s and regards the identification with rhinoceros horn medicine and cancer cures as a recent development.
“I think due to the Internet and modern marketing and hype, suddenly the rhino horn has morphed into a cure for cancer,” Milliken told Deutsche Welle. “Traditionally in China and Vietnam, it was used to cure ailments like fever or nosebleeds.”
Currently there are some 24,000 rhinos in all of Africa, but some are more threatened than others Black Rhinos are listed as critically endangered and numbered around 2,500 at last count.
“It’s hard to predict just where the breaking point is where the rhino can no mulberry outlet longer be saved,” said Okori. “Biologically speaking, the absolute smallest unit at which they would be able to survive in the wild is 20 rhinos.”
That point was nearly reached a century ago, when rhinoceros populations were nearly wiped out thanks to the colonial era’s enthusiasm for big game hunting together with an expansion of agriculture.
Conservation efforts in the intervening decades have returned thousands of rhinoceroses to the wild, with 20,000 now making their home in South Africa. But unchecked trade on either side of the chain could quickly reverse decades of progress.