Increasing demand in Asia for rhino horn and ivory from elephants is having a drastic effect on the species in East Africa. With a global population of fewer than thirty thousand rhinos, compared with the five hundred thousand that lived in Africa and Asia at the start of the 20th century, and with a depressing thirty thousand elephants slaughtered in Africa last year, the continent is facing a serious problem.
The demand is coming mainly from Vietnam, Thailand and especially China, where John Heminway, an American author and filmmaker, estimates that eighty per cent of middle class families have admitted to having purchased ivory.
Rhino horn reportedly sells for up to $30,000 per pound, with people in Asia willing to pay such high prices because it is regarded as a symbol for the wealthy and also because it is believed by some to contain medicinal properties. It is simply made of keratin (the material in our fingernails) however, and Western medicine has proved such claims to have no truth in them whatsoever.
The Kenyan Wildlife Service has reported that there are fewer than forty thousand elephants in the savannah compared with the 167,000 that inhabited it in 1979, and there are just 1,025 rhinos remaining in the country, so it is hard to disagree with The Christian Science Monitor’s claim that we are witnessing ‘an ecological catastrophe’. It is desperately sad to see such large numbers of these incredible animals wiped out, not only because of their beauty but because their presence boosts the tourism industry in East Africa massively, generating millions of dollars and many, many jobs. If the animals go, so will the tourists, and jobs will subsequently be lost and lives will be impoverished. More....