RHINO CONSERVATION - SOUTH AFRICA

White Rhino, The Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga, South Africa 

White Rhinos are the world’s second largest land mammal.  98.8% of the world’s Rhino population are found in only four countries, namely South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya. 

Black Rhinos are critically endangered as a result of uncontrolled hunting during the colonial era.  Since 2003 eight new Black Rhino populations have been created in South Africa, thanks to an intensive protection programme. Unfortunately the surge in poaching remains an ever present threat to the remaining 4000 Black Rhino. 

The White Rhino population decreased dramatically during the same historical colonial period for the same reasons.  The White Rhinos became protected as a result of their dwindling numbers.  The conservation of the white Rhino in South Africa was a spectacular success story.  However the current poaching crisis will shortly reverse all the previous conservation efforts. There are only an estimated 19500 white Rhinos left. 

2600 Rhinos have been ruthlessly killed since 2008.  Rhinos are being hunted, poached and killed for their horn.  The horn is sold and traded for enormous sums of money in Asian countries where the common belief is that the horn contains powerful medicinal properties and more recently it has become a status symbol for the wealthy in Vietnam. 

 

Mpumalanga, South Africa 

PROTECTING THE RHINO

The South African Government’s Department of Environmental Affairs, the South African National Parks Board with the assistance of various South African Military Services, the South African Police Services, specialist investigative organisations such as the Hawks and specialist anti-poaching units  are working together to fight this ongoing war. 

Nature conservationists, environmentalists, owners of private game farms and private game reserves and the local communities in the affected areas of South Africa have joined forces to gather information to infiltrate the international syndicates and the gangs of poachers. This combined knowledge and a multi-pronged strategy has led to the successful arrest of poachers. These organisations and concerned individuals are also all working together to offer security to the dwindling numbers of Rhino.

It is difficult to understand why this dire situation cannot be easily reversed. One only has to look at the magnitude and vulnerability of the South African borders. Mozambique, one of the poorest African countries, shares a 233 mile long border with the Kruger National Park, home to half of the South African Rhino population. The vast border is impossible to patrol affectively. Many of the poaching gangs originate in Mozambique and enter South Africa illegally crossing the border undetected.

The direct financial benefit for poor communities, situated close to the Rhino areas, as a result of the poaching activities is staggering. Poaching gangs are seen as heroes of their communities. Mozambique is at last preparing legislation to act against these criminals whose actions to date have been treated as minor misdemeanours and not felonies.  

Please click to enlarge.

Rhinos are darted or shot with game capture drugs in order to have their horns removed. The horns are removed in the most inhumane manner. Not all Rhino are killed and some are left critically in conditions with severe facial injuries, gunshot wounds or symptomatic problems caused by uncontrolled opiate sedation. In some cases Rhino calves witness the merciless poaching process of their parents and are left defenceless in the wild.

“It is our task, in our time and in our generation to hand down undiminished to those who come after us … the natural wealth and beauty which is ours” John F Kennedy

 Thandi - a survivor  of a vicious poaching

Whilst we focus all our attention on the abhorrent Rhino poaching crisis and how to end the war, a tragic direct result of this crisis is the alarming increase in the numbers of surviving mutilated, injured and orphaned Rhinos.

Until recently there has been very limited available expertise to save these casualties of this on-going war.  More importantly there has been  a lack of rapid response and a lack of a co-ordinated referral and support network in place to focus on saving the lives of these endangered animals.    

This has sadly, unnecessarily and inevitably led to further unnecessary traumatisation, to the prolonged suffering and ultimate death of these poaching casualties.

The current poaching crisis has resulted in an increased number of injured Rhino that survive a poaching attack with multiple injuries including gun shot wounds and facial mutilations. The poaching crisis has sadly resulted in many orphans.

Rhinos in Africa is a Non-Profit Organisation based in Cape Town, South Africa. We have spent the last few years investigating the many Rhino organisations and charities that have been established as a result of the current poaching crisis in South Africa.

It is our wish to support the organisations that are saving the surviving African Rhino and to educate the future generations so that there may be an end to this crisis.