By Braam Malherbe
This year, 2013, may be the critical turning point for the survival of the remaining rhinos on earth. Rhino horn poaching is close to resulting in more deaths than calves being born. Have we reached a tipping point to their survival, what is the true situation and what are the solutions?
The official death toll for rhinos killed in poaching incidents in 2012 was 668, including an estimated 30 critically endangered black rhinos. This figure was up from 448 in 2011, of which 19 were black rhino. This equates to almost two rhinos killed every day for 365 days. By the 25th May 2013, the death toll had already reached 350, with most of the animals dying gruesome deaths.
Many solutions have been put forward to curb rhino poaching, but no single one has been successful. A more integrated approach needs to be adopted for such a multifaceted problem to be addressed. There are over 400 ‘help save the rhino’ initiatives globally - most are well intentioned, but many are fraudulent.
As an Honorary Ranger for SANParks, I have spent many years exploring the potential solutions to saving this iconic species from extinction. I have seen many butchered rhino carcasses, and watched as rhinos tried to stand, their faces hacked to pieces as the M99 drug used by the poachers, wore off.
This is war. From rangers euthanaising calves because there was no hope for them, to a bull lying drowned in a dam from his wounds, to a poacher pleading for his life.
Conservationists are at war too - lobbying their positions, competing between their different rhino conservation organizations and Governments. This divisiveness is undermining - We must unite in our efforts if we are going to win this war. More....