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3 percent of the world's rhinos were poached in 2012 - Unsustainable

26/02/2013 14:58:53

Rhino poaching has reached unsustainable levels. Photo credit IUCN

African rhinos won't hold out for much longer, IUCN experts warn
February 2013. Nearly 2,400 rhinos have been poached across Africa since 2006, slowing the population growth of both African rhino species to some of the lowest levels since 1995, according to the latest facts revealed by IUCN experts.

3% of the world's rhinos poached in 2012
Rhino poaching increased by 43% between 2011 and 2012, representing a loss of almost 3% of the population in 2012, according to IUCN's Species Survival Commission's (SSC) African Rhino Specialist Group. Experts predict that if poaching continues to increase at this rate, rhino populations could start to decline in less than two years' time.

Crime syndicates
"Well-organized and well-funded crime syndicates are continuing to feed the growing black market with rhino horn," says Mike Knight, Chairman of the IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group, a group of rhino experts within IUCN's Species Survival Commission. "Over the past few years, consumer use of rhino horn has shifted from traditional Asian medicine practices to new uses, such as to convey status. High levels of consumption - especially the escalating demand in Viet Nam - threaten to soon reverse the considerable conservation gains achieved over the last two decades."

5000 Black rhinos and 20,000 White rhinos
There are currently 5,055 Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) and 20,405 White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) in Africa. Although these numbers have increased slightly over the last two years, there is no room for complacency. In 2012, at least 745 rhinos were poached throughout Africa - the highest number in two decades - with a record 668 rhinos killed in South Africa alone. In 2013, one rhino has been lost to poaching every 11 hours since the beginning of the year - a rate that is higher than the average for 2012.

Viet Nam & China
Illegal trade in rhino horn is coordinated by well-organised criminal syndicates which transport the horns primarily to Viet Nam and China. Mozambique has also been identified as a key driver of poaching activities, with poachers making cross-border raids into the South African Kruger National Park, home to the world's largest rhino population. Mozambique is also a major transit point for illegal horn to Asia.

IUCN experts call upon the international community - especially the key consumer and transit states such as Viet Nam, China and Mozambique - to urgently address the crisis by strengthening and enforcing regional and international trade laws, particularly in relation to rhino horn.

Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment

Another rhino horn / ivory solution

Do not sell ivory / rhino horn to these Asian countries, but rather TRADE IT BY WAY OF EXCHANGE. In other words, there are a million products African countries need (& many products they desperately need) & they could EXCHANGE ivory or rhino horn for commodities produced by these Asian countries. e.g. SA needs computers for school children so SA could exchange ... rhino horn for ... many computers. China is the world's biggest producer of rare earth elements which are necessary for computers, cell phones etc. to work so EXCHANGE rhino horn FOR THEIR RARE EARTH products. SA needs pens, pencils & writing books for their school children - exchange for rhino horn. SA needs building materials for their housing projects for their millions of people - exchange rhino horn for these products. SA needs medical supplies like syringes, EXCHANGE these for rhino horn etc. etc. The elephants in central Africa are being slaughtered so badly now, many to pay for/fund on-going wars (forest elephants suffering severely due to this). When one EXCHANGES instead of selling one removes the 'physical monetary value of rhino horn & ivory on the African side (thereby putting the poacher out of business) yet at the same time keeps its monetary value on the Asian side.' When one EXCHANGES one can then stipulate certain other conditions to the TRADE which the receiver of the rhino horn or ivory must comply with - for example, that all ivory or rhino horn products must then carry a simple, concise message regarding ivory & rhino horn that will impart some form of education regarding the elephant & rhino to the receiving trading partner. e.g. If I can produce a computer for R10 in China/Taiwan/Thailand etc. & exchange it for some ivory or rhino horn, why then would I pay R100 (a loss of/further cost of R90 to myself) to a poacher for the same amount of ivory or rhino horn?
African countries need educational items, clothing, medical supplies, fabrics, plastics, household items etc. etc., there are millions of products they need that these Asian countries produce - EXCHANGE these for ivory & rhino horn.
I also think that adults trying to educate adults is pretty much a waste of time - but children educating adults is not a waste of time. Parents usually take an interest in the interests of their children - so by educating children & getting them to spread the message regarding educating adults about rhino horn & ivory is a far better way of approaching the problem - there should be youth ambassadors from African countries that constantly visit Asian countries & go to schools to educte the children there regarding elephants & rhinos & the children will in turn educate their parents & other adults.

Posted by: Lindsay Rooken-Smith Jenions | 02 Mar 2013 09:53:04

Rhino poaching

I'm very surprised to hear "there are perfectly effective ways to solve the rhino poaching crisis" - oh, really!, one rhino now poached every 11 hours! I also live in SA & the rhino poaching is very close to my heart, but just wait a bit the elephant poaching is coming this way as well FOR SURE & how will SA cope then? As for a 'total ban' - well, that's what was done regarding the elephants & ivory & a lot of people 'in the know' were crowing that it would work, yet the elephant has suffered greatest since then & is also headed for extinction one of these days!, so fat lot of good that was! I quite agree that SA allowing rhino hunting permits MUST BE STOPPED, SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN IMPLEMENTED, this is totally contradictory & encourages poaching! The way I see it is that if Governments are going to sit on huge stockpiles for years on end the rhino & elephant will continue to be slaughtered - it's simple, if you won't let us buy it then we will continue to kill & steal to get it even if it means wiping out the animals to extinction, they couldn't care about extinction (don't think even half of them understand the word 'extinction'), they'll just move on to something else then. As for trying to educate 'Asians' that rhino horn has zero medicinal properties - you may as well talk to your foot, their beliefs are as great, old & deep-seated as a monumental religious following, you're not fighting a medicinal cure, you're fighting a belief system encouraged by their governments BASED ON THE INCREDIBLE POWER OF THE UNICORN HORN. 'Asians' that want ivory as a wealth status symbol, they couldn't care less either, 70% of them think elephants tusks are teeth that just fall out, get picked up by 'workers' & new teeth grow! What surprises me is how much money has been poured into/donated to wildlife conservation the last 50 years yet we are worse off now re elephant & rhino than ever before. WHY? Has President Zuma yet stood up & declared the rhino SACRED TO SA & to be protected at all costs? Does he ever wear endangered leopard skins? Seems to me the SA rhino poaching has increased dramatically since the 150 or so Rangers trained by SA Gov. were put into Kruger Park. HOW COME THE POACHERS ALWAYS KNOW WHERE THE RHINO ARE, yet we can't get there before they do & sometimes it takes days to find a poached rhino. There sure are one helleva lot of questions NOT BEING ANSWERED. So while the arguments continue ONE HELLEVA LOT OF RHINO ARE BEING MURDERED unnecessarily because their horns can safely be removed without DEATH to the rhino - how about all those involved get together, STOP being so STUBBORN, STOP the 'MY WAY OR NO WAY tunnel-vision thinking', STOP thinking THEY'LL 'BE THE ONE TO SAVE THE RHINO' & start working together & realise that selling rhino horn legally may be the ONLY way to save the rhino & at least buy time to increase populations in the meantime... what's the point of cutting off your nose to spite your face - or in this case, allowing the rhino to have their horns HACKED off THEIR FACES & die when starting to sell 30 years stockpiles could ease the dire plight of these magnificent animals. Why were African rhino not exported to US or Australia or suitable countries years ago to build their population & avoid extinction of the species & bring them back when required? WHY DOES SA EXPORT 121 RHINO TO CHINA, A COUNTRY WITHOUT ANIMAL RIGHTS LAWS, & 60 were seen in concrete pens, 61 missing & no answers to where or why? What about the young elephants exported from Zim, seen in concrete pens & some dead? I have A LOT OF QUESTIONS TO ASK THE PEOPLE 'IN THE KNOW' & WHO'VE BEEN FIGHTING THIS ALL THE YEARS - what is it that is being DONE WRONG for this situation to have escalated so dramatically - because the statistics clearly & strongly indicate that despite what has been done in the past & ALL THE OLD ARGUMENTS THAN JUST CARRY ON AND ON & ALL THE OLD WAYS & all the money being poured into this for 50 YEARS CLEARLY THE WAR ON TRYING TO SAVE AFRICA'S ELEPHANT AND RHINO IS NOT BEING WON - TIME TO ASK YOURSELVES IF CHANGING TACTICS MIGHT IN SOME WAY IMPROVE THE PRESENT PLIGHT OF THE RHINO - when the rhino ARE GONE will you really be able to say with utterly clear conscience "We tried EVERYTHING" or will you say, "We tried everything EXCEPT selling rhino horn despite having, in SA alone, 30 years stockpiles." Then what use will the rhino horn be to you - you have no rhino left to grow more horn - or will selling the horn THEN ONLY bring MORE MONEY than you'd get now? Greed is everywhere, so is corruption etc., we all know this - BUT AFRICAN RHINOS aren't everywhere. Selling horn now won't bring in the big money 'people are hoping for' otherwise the poachers will undercut the price & still kill - got to sell horn at a sensible price. Quite frankly, I'm tired of listening to all this old rhino argument stuff & HEARTBROKEN about the 2xday killings -seems to me no matter 'what's being done' our rhinos don't face a future - TIME TO START LOOKING AT YOURSELVES, that includes CITES and all the others.

Posted by: Lindsay Rooken-Smith Jenions | 01 Mar 2013 19:03:56


There are perfectly effective ways to solve the rhino poaching crisis but the South African (SA) Government is ignoring them and instead choosing to go the "rhino horn trade" route. South Africa's large and valuable stockpiles of rhino horn are a temptation and this has caused a conflict of interest with regard to how it handles the poaching crisis.
Under the guidance of the status quo (IUCN & CITES) THREE rhino species have become extinct in the wild over the past few years. Still, they insist on perpetuating trade as a solution.
Horn has been leaking from Africa to the Far East for centuries and the only solution that hasn't been tried yet is a total Suspension of Trade and the upliftment of the white rhino to Appendix I. This move to legalise rhino horn trade was devised over 20 years ago with changes to legislation regarding ownership of wildlife, plus the 1994 downlisting of the white rhino. Ultimately, the intention of pro-traders is the domestication of rhinos, and extinction in the wild. The reason? Not only to satisfy the Eastern lust for bogus medicines but because rhinoceros horn has been earmarked as an investment resource by consortiums.
Please remember the northern White, remember the western Black and remember the Javan rhino - already extinct in Vietnam. And talking of Vietnam - where rhino horn is consumed for reasons as frivilous as a hangover cure - the word is that it has been chosen to be SA's trading partner for rhino horn.
This is rich, considering that both SA and Vietnam are extremely NON-compliant to CITES regulations.
The current population figures that have been put out by IUCN are not accepted as accurate by many in SA, because they are estimations calculated on previous estimations. For instance, two-thirds of private rhino owners had not provided statistics to the central database held in Pretoria by August 2012, in defiance of internal regulations.
Local Africans have noticed the wealth of the wildlife fraternity in South Africa and so rhino poaching is their way of cashing in. Poaching is after all, only another form of trade.
The entire concept of selling rhino horn is ridiculous, it can more accurately be described as perverse. It is indicative of the inherent corruption permeating South African society these days. As a South African myself, I fully endorse Kenya's proposal at CITES for zero rhino trophies. We need to apply some kind of brake until SA can get its wildlife industry to be more compliant.

Posted by: Margot Stewart | 01 Mar 2013 16:35:52

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