2010 Marks Highest Ever Rhino Killings in South Africa
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by in poachers, Wildlife


White rhinos, Kruger National Park., South African Republic

Poaching is already known to be a big threat to the survival of wild animals and it proved to be the biggest threat ever for Rhinos of South Africa in 2010 when at least 333 were killed by poachers. Of these 10 were critically endangered black Rhinos.

South Africa saw its highest ever Rhino loss in 2010 with the number of illegal killings rising to three times more than 2009 when 122 rhino were killed. The new year too has not begun in a happy note for the animals with 5 reported killed by poachers already in the first few weeks of January.

The worst hit place in South Africa was the Kruger National Park that reported 146 rhino deaths. It is home to both white and black rhinos and is also a location famous for the Big 5 sighting including Lions, Elephants, Leopards, Cape Buffalo and the Rhinos.

Conservation efforts over the past century had increased Rhino population in the country, but since 2008, the killings have only risen posing a definite threat to the future of the animals.  The South African authorities have intensified their law enforcement efforts though and made 146 arrests last year.

Dr. Morné du Plessis, CEO of WWF South Africa said“Many more successful convictions, backed up by appropriately daunting penalties will significantly demonstrate the South African government’s commitment to preventing the clouding of the country’s excellent rhino conservation track record that it has built up over the past several decades.

The conservationists though are fearful because the poachers are highly organized and use sophisticated technologies to kill. They have helicopters, night vision equipment, veterinary tranquilisers and silencers.

According to Dr. Joseph Okori, WWF African Rhino Programme Manager, “The criminal syndicates operating in South Africa are highly organised and use advanced technologies.  They are very well coordinated. This is not typical poaching.”

The killing is mostly done to meet the high demands for rhino horns for Asian medicine. Recently they have also been used to make cancer medicines though there is no medical evidence to prove its curative nature.

“Only a concerted international enforcement pincer movement, at both ends of the supply and demand chain, can hope to nip this rhino poaching crisis in the bud,” said Tom Milliken, Director of TRAFFIC’s East and Southern Africa programme

Rhino population is South Africa is approximately 21,000 which is highest in any country of the world. There were 1670 critically endangered black rhinos in 2009 according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the rest were the threatened white rhinos.

“The recovery of African white rhinos from less than 100 in the late 19th century to more than 20,000 today is a phenomenal conservation success story that can largely be attributed to the combined efforts of South Africa’s state and private conservation authorities.  Consumers of rhino horn across Asia, and in Vietnam in particular, are now seriously compromising this achievement by motivating criminal groups to kill rhinos.  In order to halt this massacre, substantial resources need to go into law enforcement, both in Africa and in Asian consumer countries where all trade in rhino horn is illegal,” said Dr. du Plessis.

TRAFFIC a joint programm of WWF and IUCN is now spearheading the talks between South Africa and Vietnam to discuss combined strategies and stop illegal rhino trade. – Atula, Staff Writer

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About the Author

Atula is a writer, traveler and a nature-lover. She is also mom to a boy who seems to have inherited all her creative genes. When Atula is not busy making up stories with her son, she writes for numerous magazines, websites and blogs. She is also working on her site on endangered species called indiasendangered.com.

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