By David Braun
Asian demand for horns is driving a surge in rhino poaching, especially in South Africa and Zimbabwe, according to data analyzed by TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
“The trade is made worse by increasingly sophisticated poachers, who now are using veterinary drugs, poison, cross bows and high caliber weapons to kill rhinos,” says a statement released today by the two conservation organizations.
IUCN’s Rhino Specialist Groups and TRAFFIC were mandated to produce the report by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Since 2006 95 percent of the poaching in Africa has occurred in Zimbabwe and South Africa, according to the report.
“These two nations collectively form the epicenter of an unrelenting poaching crisis in southern Africa,” said Tom Milliken of TRAFFIC, in a statement released by WWF. TRAFFIC is a joint program of IUCN and WWF.
The report, which was submitted to CITES ahead of its 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP15) in March, documents a decline in law enforcement effectiveness and an increase in poaching intensity in Africa.
“The situation is most serious in Zimbabwe where rhino numbers are now declining and the conviction rate for rhino crimes in Zimbabwe is only three percent. Despite the introduction of a number of new measures, poaching and illicit horn trade in South Africa has also increased,” today’s statement said. More....