Rhino Poaching at 15-Year High, Driven by High Demand for Rhino Horn in Asia


Photo: Wikipedia, CC
Something Must be Done
The total world Rhino population is estimated at around 24,500 individuals (more details at the International Rhino Foundation). Rhino poaching is mostly driven by demand for rhino horn, which is thought to have some medicinal properties in some countries (I can't wait until they figure out that it's just keratin, calcium, and melanin), and it has been getting worse in recent years in both Africa and Asia.

A new report by TRAFFIC, WWF, and IUCN concludes that the situation for Rhinos is "bleak":

For example, in South Africa and Zimbabwe alone, a minimum total of 162 rhinoceroses were illegally killed in 2008 and another 62 have been poached during the first six months of 2009. Both of these figures may increase as further information becomes available. Comparing the 224 confirmed illegal rhinoceros deaths for these two rhinoceros range States alone, with the total of 252 illegal rhinoceros deaths for all African range States for the period 2000-2005 (as reported in TRAFFIC’s report on rhino-related crimes in Africa to CoP14), it is clear that there has been a serious escalation in illegal off-take. In summary, between 2000-2005, 3.5 rhinoceroses were illegally killed each month in all of Africa, but currently in South Africa and Zimbabwe alone, 12.4 rhinoceroses are being poached each month or between two and three rhinoceroses every week.

Something must be done to help protect rhinos from poachers. The report suggests that what is needed it "an accurate and up-to-date picture of the status, conservation and trade in African and Asian rhinoceroses … so that firm international action can be taken to arrest this immediate threat to rhinoceros populations worldwide."

How about using forensics science to monitor and track down Rhinos and horns? You can find some examples of that kind of approach used to protect animals here, here and here.

Via CITES, The Guardian
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Tags: Africa | Animals | Conservation