London: Rhinoceros in the wild may be pushed to extinction by the end of this decade if their unrelenting poaching continues at the present rate, experts have warned.
The poaching of black and white rhinoceros has soared in the last six years. While as many as 13 rhinos were slaughtered in 2007, that number spiked to 1,004 last year, experts said.
"There are now just 20,000 white rhinoceros and 5,000 black rhinoceros left in the wild. If poaching carries on at the rate it is now for six more years it will devastate the numbers," Will
Travers, chief executive of the Born Free Foundation, said.
"There will probably be no free-living rhinoceros as the remaining numbers will be fenced off in military-style compounds which are alarmed and heavily guarded by armed patrols," Travers said, while speaking after attending a summit on wildlife crime in Pretoria, South Africa, recently.
Criminal gangs are making millions of pounds a year by hacking the animals to death for their horns, The 'Daily Express' reported.
These horns are used as traditional medicine in the Far East to treat ailments such as hangovers in powder form.
"Poaching is a low-penalty crime and that has to change. We need better intelligence gathering, more equipment, and manpower," Travers said after the conference.
Attended by 140 experts, the conference was organized in response to plans by the South African government to legalize the trade in rhinoceros horn so that the proceeds can be used for conservation, the report said.
Travers, however, said that charging a three pounds conservation tax from tourists would work far better.