By Frank Versteegh
This weekend I spent a few days in the lowfeld near Phalaborwa.
As many other National parks in South Africa, the Kruger is also suffering from poaching.
Rhino poaching in specific.
When I entered the gate the rangers ask you two questions. Do you have alcohol? Do you have guns? They check the car booth but any criminal will be able to smuggle in fire arms. This way of checking for guns is definitely not effective.
I did not see a Rhino. During the 400 km’s through the Kruger National park I did not see one!
Only in the Kruger park in 2013 300 Rhinos have been shot for their horn. Poached.
Organized criminals use all means to kill this animal. Often with help (information) from locals. And as some people say, the horns sometimes leave the country in diplomatic mail. Poaching Rhino’s is big business. The horn is more valuable per ounce than gold. China and Vietnam are the biggest markets for Rhino horn as they believe the horn is an afrodisiac.
Rangers do anything to protect these animals but it is WAR. A full scale war between organised criminals with helicopters and rangers who try to defend the Rhino with their lives.
In 2014 already 40 people have been killed in the war against poaching.
How to protect?
Some private game parks have 24/7 guards following the Rhino in order to try to prevent these creatures from going extinct.
Others inject the horn with poison in order to make it useless for the consumers in the far-east.
Some nature conservationists believe in re-location of the Rhino to remote areas where they are safe. Others think concentrating Rhinos is helping the poachers.
In some game reserves the Rhino horn is injected with a chip, so that the poached horn can be traced by satellites.
A marketing campaign in China and Vietnam is also considered by some organizations. However , huge budgets are needed for campaigns like that.
At the turn of the 19th century there were more than 1.000.000 (million) Rhino’s.
In 2007 1 Rhino was poached every month.
As you can see at the attached pics the numbers of poached Rhino went up year by year.
In 2013 89 (Eighty nine) Rhino’s were poached each month.
When poaching continues in this rate, in my life time, we will not be able to see this creature anymore.
We, humans kill one of the last dinosaurs. Is there any hope for the Rhino?
Ten good reasons to save rhinos
- Rhinos are critically endangered
At the turn of the 19th century, there were approximately one million rhinos. In 1970, there were around 70,000. Today, there are only around 28,000 rhinos surviving in the wild.Three of the five species of rhino are “Critically Endangered” as defined by the IUCN (World Conservation Union). A taxon is classified as critically endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of a range of pre-determined criteria. It is therefore considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. The Southern subspecies of the white rhino is classified by the IUCN in the lesser category of being “Near Threatened”; and the Greater one-horned rhino is classified as “Vulnerable”; even this is considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. In 2014, some of us are lucky enough to be able to travel to Africa and Asia to see them in the wild. In 2024, when our children have grown up, will they still be able to see wild rhinos?
- Rhinos have been around for 40 million years
Rhinos have been an important part of a wide range of ecosystems for millions of years; we must not let them join the dodo in extinction.
- Humans have caused the drastic decline in numbers
Poachers kill rhinos for the price they can get for the horns (used for traditional Chinese medicine, for high-status gifts in Vietnam and for quack cures invented by criminal syndicates to drive up demand); land encroachment, illegal logging and pollution are destroying their habitat; and political conflicts adversely affect conservation programmes.
- Rhinos are an umbrella species
When protecting and managing a rhino population, rangers and scientists take in account all the other species interacting with rhinos and those sharing the same habitat. When rhinos are protected, many other species are too; not only mammals but also birds, reptiles, fish and insects as well as plants.
- Rhinos are charismatic mega-herbivores!
By focusing on a well-known animal such as a rhino (or, to use the jargon, a charismatic mega-herbivore), we can raise more money and consequently support more conservation programmes benefiting animal and plant species sharing their habitat
- Rhinos attract visitors and tourists
- In situ conservation programmes need our help
Protecting and managing a rhino population is a real challenge that costs energy and money. Rhino-range countries need our financial support, and benefit from shared expertise and exchange of ideas.
- Money funds effective conservation programmes that save rhinos
We know that conservation efforts save species. The Southern white rhino would not exist today if it were not for the work of a few determined people, who brought together the 200 or so individuals surviving, for a managed breeding and re-introduction programme. Today, there are some 20,405 (as at 31 Dec. 2012) Southern white rhinos.With more money, we can support more programmes, and not just save rhino populations, but increase numbers and develop populations. The Northern white rhino subspecies may just have become extinct, but it is not too late to save the rest.
- Many people don’t know that rhinos are critically endangered
Not just that, but how many people know that rhinos also live in Asia? Or that two species have just one horn? Or that the horn is not used as an aphrodisiac? We have even heard some people say that they are carnivores!
If people do not know about these amazing animals and the problems they are facing, how can we expect them to want to do something to help save rhinos?
- We all have an opportunity to get involved!
You can help us raise awareness of the plight of the rhino! The more we do all together, the more people will learn about rhinos and the more field projects we will be able to support. There are lots of fundraising ideas scattered in the ‘Support us’ section, as well as ways to donate directly to Save the Rhino.