Rhino Poaching Spikes, but there is Hope

rhino in the rain photo

Image credit: feverblue/Flickr

Rhinoceros poaching has been getting worse, spiking to reach a 15-year high. A recent study has found that in Zimbabwe and South Africa, where an estimated 12 rhinos are killed each month, enforcement measures have either been reduced to the point of uselessness or outpaced by more advanced poaching methods.

rhino eye photo

Image credit: catlovers/Flickr

Organized by TRAFFIC, a group that monitors the global trade of wildlife, the study found that 95% of all poaching occurs in South Africa and Zimbabwe. The report shows that the situation is most dire in Zimbabwe, where rhino populations are decreasing rapidly and only three percent of rhino poaching cases end in conviction.

Though several new anti-poaching measures have been introduced in South Africa, the study found, sophisticated poachers using "veterinary drugs, poison, cross bows and high caliber weapons," are outpacing those efforts.

The surge in poaching is due to an increasing demand for rhino horn in Southeast and East Asia. China and Vietnam were identified in the report as markets of concern. Researchers said that Vietnam was particularly problematic because of the demand there and the recent identification of Vietnamese nationals' involvement in African rhino poaching investigations.

It's Not All Bad News

The report also indicates that there are some reasons for optimism. Researchers have found that in many once-critical areas, rhino populations have started to slowly increase. Dr. Richard Emslie, a Scientific Officer for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), explained that, "where there is political will, dedicated conservation programs and good law enforcement, rhino numbers have increased in both Africa and Asia."

TRAFFIC and the partner organizations that authored the report will present their findings at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), held just before the COP 15.

Read more about rhino poaching:
Rhino Horn Now Worth More Than Gold - And You Wonder Why Poaching Continues...
Rhino Poaching at 15 Year High as Asian Demand Increases
Black Rhinos Killed by Dart Guns and Chinese Drugs, All For Their Horns

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