Rhinos May be Extinct in South Africa by 2015

bdu/CC BY 2.0

In spite of some successes by conservation police last year, a record number of rhinos died at the hands of poachers. And so far this year, poachers show no signs of slowing.

Now, a renowned rhino activists has issued an estimate that, at current rates, the rhinoceros will be extinct in South Africa by 2015. Karen Trendler, a veterinary nurse who has been working with rhinos for nearly 20 years, believes the sharp increase in poaching activity is unsustainable. "You hate to sound alarmist, you hate to even consider that it could happen," she explained, "but if the poaching continues at the current rate we could eventually see rhino go extinct. There are predictions that by 2015 we could have no rhino."

Trendler points to the growing market for rhino horn in Asia and dealers who have been working to stockpile reserves, hedging against extinction. In addition to this, she says, there is corruption in government and among some organizations designed to protected endangered species obstructing genuine efforts.

"There are some incredibly good guys in the business who are doing amazing things and who would give their lives for those rhino," she said, "but unfortunately we do have an element of corruption. There have already been prosecutions and arrests, where government officials are complicit."

Currently, Trendler is building a rhino preserve to help deal with animals that have been injured or orphaned by poaching.

Tags: Animals | Conservation | Endangered Species | South Africa