Warning: this page contains some graphic images
The hunting and poaching of rhinos is nothing new – it has been going on for centuries. But the current level of poaching and dramatic increase in rhinos being lost to the poachers is leaving the species in very real danger of becoming extinct in the very near future.
In 2007 just 13 rhinos were lost to poachers in South Africa (that is still 13 too many), however by 2014 that number had risen to 1,215 – a 9,246% increase in just 7 years!
The rhino is poached for its horn which is used in Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM), with Vietnam and China being the main ‘destination’ countries of rhino horn. In more recent times, rhino horn is also being used as a status symbol by the middle class population, particularly in Vietnam. The horn is used for remedies outside of TAM, such as curing a hangover!
A rhino’s horn is made of keratin, the same substance that makes up human hair and finger nails. Despite numerous scientific tests over a number of years, NO MEDICINAL VALUE HAS EVER BEEN IDENTIFIED USING RHINO HORN!
On the black market, rhino horn is now worth more per kilogram than gold or cocaine. It is said to fetch up to $65,000 per kg, which can equate to up to $500,000 per rhino horn.
For many years conservationists have been working to engage the local communities in the protection of wildlife, often using the practice of convincing the communities that an animal is worth more alive to them than it is dead – mainly through the benefits of eco-tourism.
With the current price of rhino horn it is virtually impossible to succeed with this argument – so we must find new ways of engaging with the local communities and bringing them on board in the fight to save the rhino.
There are a number of theories as to the cause of the increase in poaching in since 2007. These include stories of a high ranking politician in Vietnam claiming he had been cured of cancer by taking rhino's horn, but perhaps the largest contributory factor is the increase in wealth in China and Vietnam. The percentage of these countries' populations that can now afford to purchase rhino horn is much larger than it was only a few years ago.
As mentioned previously, this has lead to the use of rhino horn as a status symbol, with many individuals showing off their wealth by openly using rhino horn for anything from a hangover cure to boosting ‘general health’.
Other issues threatening the global population of rhinos include:
In both Africa and Asia the natural habitat of the rhino is being eroded as land is claimed for human settlements and farm land. The harsh reality is that there are too many humans living on the planet and this is having a detrimental impact on our wildlife.
Rhino horn is used as the decorative handle of the jambiya – a traditional dagger used in the Middle East, mostly in Yemen
Many of the rhino's natural habitats have been and are being devastated by war. For example the northern white rhino which last existed in the wild in the Democratic Republic of Congo is now extinct in the wild
PLEASE HELP us to bring to an end the needless murder of the rhino. You can do this by sharing this information with your friends and family and helping us to spread the word and raise awareness around the world of the selfish and greedy crimes being committed which are having a catastrophic impact on the worlds population of this majestic creature.