18 October 2012 marked a sad day in South African history: we eclipsed our 2011 record for rhino poaching, with 455 rhinos massacred this year so far. Ironically, it also marks the day that Vietnam snubbed an anti-poaching agreement with South Africa. (Read more: Vietnam snubs SA)
South Africa is home to 70% of the world’s rhino population (and 90% of Africa’s population), turning it into a slaughterhouse for poachers from around the world. Very poor eyesight makes rhinos easy targets.
Our National Parks have been turned into butchering grounds. Our museums are being robbed. Our zoos have been targeted next… All in search of the precious horn, which sells for as much as cocaine.
What drives this horrific industry? Money and sex. Each kilogram is estimated at $50 000, promising men worldwide hours of endless passion. Rhinos are not the only animals used to solve such contemporary issues: lion teeth and shark fins have been on the black-market for centuries, with shark fins being ripped off live sharks, which are thrown back into the ocean to drown or be eaten by their counterparts.
Myths associated with rhino horn:
- It cures cancer.
- It rids you of HIV/ Aids
- It frightens away demons.
- It helps with impotency and libido
The use of veterinary drugs in rhino poaching has proven that high-skilled vets are also involved. In just seven minutes, the animal will be immobilized and the horn will be axed off (often while still alive) with an axe or chainsaw.
A maimed rhino will continue to breathe via a cavity in its nasal passage, between his eyes. The hunting industry is also rumoured in being involved in rhino poaching, working together with poaching syndicates in giving them access to guns, permits, aircrafts and vehicles.
Rhinos are extremely precious creatures, in that they have a long gestation period of 16 months and cannot really leave their mothers until the age of three. She will therefore only breed every three-four years, roaming around with her calf; making them easy targets for hunters.
Poachers are now targeting already dehorned rhinos, as a substantial amount is still left below the skin.
In April, Prince William was reportedly devastated, after a black rhino was killed in the same wildlife conservancy where he proposed to Kate Middleton.
South Africa has tried to combat poaching in various ways, but to little avail. An average of one to three rhinos are still killed daily, ensuring their extinction by 2015. Here are some of the ways the war on poaching has been implemented:
You can do your bit by visiting www.eishrhinos.co.za and purchasing a T-shirt to raise awareness and help support anti-poaching units. These units are constantly bullied, harassed, bribed or threatened for trying to save the rhino. Eishrhinos main theme of “Save the horn of Africa, save the rhino” is extremely popular.
You can also follow @helpingrhinos on Twitter, to keep up to date with the latest anti-poaching news.
Two rhinos were found mutilated last year. They miraculously survived. See how Thandi and Themba fought for survival at Kariega Game Reserve:
The Price is a feature-length documentary, examining what drives poachers to mutilate and kill. View the 5-minute trailer: The Price
The Rhino Wars, a documentary written, directed and produced by Melinda MacInnes, examines how rhino poaching has spiralled out of control, affecting all five species:
Prince William: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/prince-william/9340923/Duke-of-Cambridge-rhino-poachers-make-me-angry.html
Vietnam snubs agreement: http://mg.co.za/article/2012-10-18-vietnam-snubs-sa-on-key-rhino-poaching-agreement