Image credit: Mara 1/Flickr
The December 28 discovery of a 10-year-old female white rhino in Kenya that had been killed by poachers launched a nation-wide manhunt for the culprits. A week later, the search has ended with the arrest of a gang of poachers.
The suspects, some of which are thought to be buyers, were found with two rhino horns and $8,500.
A Bad Year for Rhino
The arrests come on the heels of recent reports from TRAFFIC and WWF showing poaching has reached a 15 year high. Most of this activity is located in Zimbabwe and South Africa where sophisticated technology and limited enforcement allows poachers to kill an average of 12 rhinos per month.
In Kenya, the situation is not as dire. Still, 12 black and six white rhinos were killed in the country in the last year.
Better Enforcement is Needed
With 610 black and 240 white rhinos, Kenya is home to the world's third largest population. The situation in other countries, however, is not even this good. This is especially the case in South Africa and Zimbabwe, where recent reports estimate 95% of rhino poaching in Africa occurs.
The activity is fueled by demand in Southeast Asia where horn is used in traditional medicine and valued at a price higher than gold.
The rare animals, however, are more valuable to world alive in the wild. In a press conference after the arrests were made, Julius Kipng'etich, chief of the Kenya Wildlife Service, explained: "If we lose one rhino, as Kenya, that's a lot."
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Read more about rhino:
Rhino Poaching Spikes, but there is Hope
Rhino Poaching at 15 Year High as Asian Demand Increases
Rhino Horn Now Worth More Than Gold - And You Wonder Why Poaching Continues...
25% of Zimbabwe's Rhinos Killed in Past Three Years by Gangster Poachers