On 25 April, the Dept of Environmental Affairs reported that 249 rhinos had been poached in South Africa since the beginning of the year. In its latest report, dated 30 April, the figure has soared to 273!
That’s another 24 rhinos killed for their horns in less than a week. According to Environmental Affairs, “The Kruger National Park continues to bear the brunt of rhino poaching, with the number of rhinos poached since last week increasing from 180 to 201.”
To better understand why there’s been such a dramatic increase in rhino poaching in South Africa, I’ve been reading various websites and papers on the topic. I’ve tried summarising this information in a new article on my website, Rhino Poaching Crisis in South Africa, that’s intended to provide a broad overview, with links to relevant sites for further reading.
I’ve also added a scrolling news ticker (example below) to that page with the latest rhino poaching statistics that I hope will create greater awareness of the devastation rhino poachers are inflicting on our populations of white and black rhinos.
These poignant scenes of a female elephant rescuing her baby after it became trapped in a waterhole were recorded by Mariana de Klerk in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
The mother, after entering the waterhole to push the calf to safety, then finds herself in difficulties and only after a number of attempts, and a final huge effort, manages to climb back on to land.
At this point other members of the herd move closer in support and shepherd both mother and baby away from the waterhole. If you listen closely at the end of the video, you can hear the elephants’ rumbling sounds as they communicate (not to be confused with the earlier sound of a passing vehicle!).
A haunting but disturbing video, titled Dying for Ivory, has been posted on YouTube by Kelly Probst of Elephant Advocacy.
Kelly emailed me requesting permission to use one of my photos of an elephant killed by poachers, explaining:
“I am not an organization and I don’t collect funds or use any photos or videos for commercial or personal gain. I am one voice dedicated to advocating on behalf of these majestic beings.”
You can watch the video below, and it’s also on YouTube where you can leave your comments. Kelly, and others like her that are fighting to save the African elephant, deserve as much support as possible.
Thirty-three rhino horns have been found in a container aboard a ship in Hong Kong. The vessel had earlier departed from Cape Town, suggesting the haul was from some of the rhinos killed this year in South Africa.
The discovery of the horns, hidden in a container carrying scrap plastic, is a significant blow to rhino poaching syndicates. With more than 300 of the animals slaughtered in South Africa this year for their horns, it means nearly 10% of poachers’ ill-gotten gains will not reach the market of eager buyers in China and Vietnam.
The rhino horns, together with ivory chopsticks and bracelets found in the container, are estimated to be worth HK$ 17.4 million (about R18.17m or US$2.27m).
While ordinary people worldwide, together with international conservation bodies, mark World Rhino Day today, there is little cause for celebration.
According to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), poachers have this year killed 287 rhinos in South Africa alone — more than one a day. These stark statistics are enough to cast a black cloud over any celebrations; instead, the universal call is for an end to rhino poaching.
Official delegations from Vietnam and China will visit South Africa later this month to discuss the growing demand for rhino horn in Asia, where it is used for traditional medicine.
Meanwhile, Dr. Morné du Plessis, CEO of WWF South Africa has called for governments in Asia and Africa to work together to disrupt trade chains and “bring wildlife criminals to justice”.
“Demand for rhino horn and elephant ivory is threatening to destroy a large part of Africa’s natural heritage. We want to see illegal markets for these products in Asia shut down for good,” he added.