Poaching of Rhinos on The Rise

Illegal trade of Rhino horn on the Black market has aided in the escalation of the horrendous slaughtering of numerous Rhinos. One Game Lodge located in the historic town of Mafikeng in South Africa lost 6 Rhino in one gruesome hit that left the bloody Rhino carcasses as evidence of how truly bloodthirsty this trade has become.

In the 80’s and 90 the killings of elephants for ivory brought about a world wide awareness and bans on elephant ivory and valiantly assisted in a decrease in the senseless loss of a vast number of elephants. In 2013 it seems to be the Rhino’s turn.

On the 24th of June 2013 two more Rhino were killed and their horns cut off in Mafikeng, a town known for the beginning of the Boy Scout movement. Since the beginning of 2013 it is reported that 428 Rhino have been killed which so far approximates at 430 Rhino. ‘Poaching statistics reveal that 668 Rhino’s were killed in 2012.’ (Worldwidelife.org) which is an increase in nearly 50% from 2011 which recorded 448 Rhino killed.

Asia has been a major role player in the killings, as most of the Rhino horn has been tracked back to the sales attributed to various cultural beliefs contained in the Rhino horn.

Methods of poaching

A common way that has been reported in the poaching of Rhino is the use of helicopters to locate and assist in the roundup of the Rhino, this leads to the conclusion that some high stake players are involved as not every man on the street has access or the know-how to use helicopters. As also revealed in several highly publicized court cases, it has come to the attention of the authorities that there are syndicates involved of organized crime which puts a completely different spin on things as opposed to poaching to feed your family as was credited in previous decades. It is now a money making business involving millions. Peter Gwin for National Geographic also writes “Rivaling the price of gold on the black market, rhino horn is at the center of a bloody poaching battle.”

Another popular weapon of choice is the chain-saw which is used to cut off most of the Rhino’s horn as well as part of its skull and nose as to not leave any part of the horn behind. Alive, bloody animals have had to be put down because of the extreme loss of blood, infection and pain the animals had been suffering. It is a gruesome thing to watch a staggering Rhino gazing at the camera lens with soft brown eyes and know that death is imminent. A photograph by Brent Stirton for National Geographic revealed a Rhino bull that had been shot several times and its horn sawn off as he was wondering in Zimbabwe’s Save Conservancy, it was also euthanized.

Dehorning an answer?

There are several organizations trying to raise funds to protect the Rhino and aid in the hunt for poachers as well as ring leaders, however there is another option that has been looked into and that is the dehorning of the Rhino. According to savetherhino.org an organization involved in the conservation of endangered Rhino in Africa and Asia, in Namibia during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s dehorning Rhino vastly assisted in the reduction in the number of Rhino poached even so much as to say that not one Rhino in that period that had been dehorned had been poached.

As Rhino horn is made up of keratin as is human’s nails and hair, it also does grow back. Is the aesthetic beauty of these animals worth their lives? Although a Rhino is defined and classified by their horns, as rapid and as gruesome as the killings are taking place, something drastic needs to be done to make a change as these syndicates are getting more and more bloodthirsty by the day.

National Geographic Rhino Wars articles lend a more in depth albeit honestly gruesome truth to the plight of the Rhino today. The numbers are staggering and as these gorgeous creatures are being destroyed beneath our very noses, and the numbers are adding up, poaching one Rhino in a gruesome, bloody and heartless manner is killing one Rhino too many.