2011 have proven to be a very bad year for the world's rhinos. The Javan rhinoceros was declared extinct in Vietnam and the Western black rhino was officially declared extinct in Africa. In South Africa alone more rhinos—at least 341 animals—have been killed by poachers; an all-time record.
There has been some good news amongst the bad, however. Five poachers were arrested in South Africa in early January, adding to the 162 poaching arrests in 2010. Such arrests send a powerful message: That authorities in rhino-range countries are willing to fight back against heavily-armed poaching rings financed by foreign traders. Such action, though, does not come without cost.
In light of this, the International Rhino Federation launched a fundraising campaign the the expressed goal of collecting money to be used in the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of poachers in South Africa. The drive began this week with an anonymous donor pitched in $25,000 towards the effort.
Money will be used to assemble basic crime scene kits containing cameras, fingerprinting materials, and evidence bags—and include training in the use of the new equipment.
IRF Director Susie Ellis commented that "it's a small project that we hope will have a big impact."
South Africa, of course, is only one of the many countries in which rhinos—and poachers focused on their horns—roam free. Some conservationists fear that as security efforts increase in South Africa—whose program is already the best funded of all rhino-range countries—poachers will move over the borders to work with less resistance.