Rhino poaching has hit record levels in South Africa with 1020 rhinoceros poached for their horn to date in 2014.
The latest statistics were announced by the Department of Environmental Affairs earlier today in their monthly report on poaching of rhino, arrests of poachers, couriers and members of poaching syndicates. So far this year 344 people have been arrested in connection with crimes related to rhino poaching.
The world famous Kruger National Park (K NP) has been the worst hit by poaching with 672 of its rhinos poached in the past 10 months.
“We are fast reaching the tipping point for the future viability of rhinoceros,” said Jason Bell, Director Southern Africa for IFAW.
“It is more necessary than ever that South Africa reaches out to the international community for help in combatting this appalling slaughter. Only by eliminating demand for rhino horn can we possible hope to slow the slaughter.
“IFAW believes South Africa should stand together with the international community in putting pressure on countries like Vietnam and China, which are consumers of rhino horn, elephant ivory and other wildlife, to do everything possible to eliminate demand,” said Bell.
Last month SA’s Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, announced a plan to rescue KNP rhino from poachers by selling them to private owners, as well as relocating some to other countries in Southern Africa.
The plan has disappointed IFAW which believes the SA Government is ignoring a host of biological, ecological and ethical values, emphasizing only the economic value of rhinos.
“The view that putting rhino back into the marketplace through legal means as part of a sustainable use approach is counter-intuitive. There is nothing sustainable about the current rhino crisis,” said Bell.
“The Government and SANParks should be applauded for the effort they have put into addressing the crisis on the ground, but they need to focus their attention on the criminal syndicates involved in the slaughter of South Africa’s rhinos and, to do that, they need to work with their international counterparts.”
The illegal wildlife trade generates an estimated US$19 billion per year. It ranks fourth on the list of the most lucrative global illegal activities closely behind drugs, all forms of counterfeiting and human trafficking.
Poaching of rhinoceros in South Africa has been on a rapid upward trajectory since 2010 when 333 rhino were killed for their horn, reaching 1004 in 2013 and now outstripping that figure with six weeks to go before the New Year begins.
Source: International Fund for Animal Welafre (IFAW)