Poaching could soon lead to decline in the Rhino population – warns International Rhino Foundation (IRF)
Poachers have killed more than 100 Rhinos in South Africa over the past four weeks, pushing the death toll so far this year towards 800, IRF officials say.
The latest figures have revealed a rapid increase in Rhino poaching and now conservationists are warning that the unnecessary deaths will exceed the number of Rhinos that are born each year – leading to an overall population decline.
Among the largest living land mammals, Rhinos have been hunted for centuries. Their horns are worth more than gold on the black markets and are seen as luxury commodities. Used often in traditional Chinese and Vietnamese medicine, the Rhino horn is believed to contain aphrodisiac and healing properties although there is no evidence to substantiate this claim.
Home to 80% of the world’s Rhino population, South Africa has formed a number of anti-poaching techniques in order to protect the wild life – from Park Rangers carrying out military style air and on-ground tactics to DNA sampling and tracking technology. Sadly, it still seems to be a losing battle with the illegal poachers.
Rhino hunting is highly restricted, yet laws are still poorly enforced in some areas. With poachers slipping across the border that Zimbabwe shares with Mozambique, executive director of the foundation, Suzie Ellis said “South Africa, which also borders Mozambique, shares the problem.”
“There’s a need for the international community to put pressure on Mozambique to help South Africa strengthen its borders,” she said. “The South African government has implemented so many promising measures, but until that influx of poachers sneaking back and forth from Mozambique can be stemmed, the problem promises to just keep getting worse.”
Program co-ordinator for the IRF, Raoul Du Toit also added that poaching can never be fully stopped.
“What we have to do is achieve appropriate management to give the Rhinos room to expand , let them do what they’re good at, which is breed,” he said.”