Rhino populations are facing serious threats from illegal trade (primarily poaching for traditional Chinese medicine), habitat loss and political conflict.
Steve Baijnath's insight:
- Rhino horn has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. The steep rise in rhino poaching in recent years has been fuelled by the demand for TCM in Asia
- Illegal poaching is the most pressing cause of the decline in rhino populations, but habitat loss has also been a key factor
-In some locations, where normal law and order has broken down – particularly in war zones or where there is political instability – it has become much easier for the poachers to kill rhinos and other endangered species
-Back in the 1970s and 80s, horn from rhinos killed in East Africa tended to end up in the Yemen, where it could be made into ornamental handles for daggers (jambiyas)
-Rhino are being moved (translocated) away from unsafe areas where poachers are operating, to safe sanctuaries, and protection is being increased for rhino in existing conservation areas.
-Efforts are being made to stop the illegal international trade in rhino horn, and harsher penalties for people caught poaching and dealing in the rhino horn are being introduced.
-People are being persuaded to stop using rhino horn for medicines and cultural purposes.
-Human communities living in areas where rhino are found must be able to benefit from conservation efforts. For example, some of the money paid by tourists coming to see the rhino should be used to improve the local living conditions. This encourages the local people to protect the rhino.
-Efforts to save the black rhino can benefit the conservation of other species and the natural habitat which is essential for the rhino's survival.
But stopping poachers will not save Africa's wildlife on its own. Ultimately the local people must also want to save the rhino, and this means making rhino in particular and conservation in general relevant to people.
-To monitor and protect black rhinos WWF focuses on better-integrated intelligence gathering networks on rhino poaching and trade, more antipoaching patrols and better equipped conservation law enforcement officers.
- WWF works with Namibia’s wildlife services in Etosha to protect the country’s endangered black rhino population. This is being done through effective security monitoring, better biological management and wildlife-based tourism, with proceeds going directly back into conservation efforts.
-WWF is setting up an Africa-wide rhino database using rhino horn DNA analysis (RhoDIS), which contributes to forensic investigations at the scene of the crime and for court evidence to greatly strengthen prosecution cases.
-WWF launched an international effort to save wildlife in 1961, rescuing black rhinos—among many other species—from the brink of extinction. Conservation efforts have helped the total number of black rhinos grow from 2,410 in 1995 to 4,880 in 2010. We work to stop poaching, increase rhino populations, improve law enforcement and tackle illegal rhino trade.
-In October 2011, WWF helped to successfully establish a new black rhino population in a safer, more spacious location. Nineteen critically endangered black rhinos were transported via helicopter to a land vehicle. They spent less than 10 minutes in the air and the sedated animals woke up in a new home. Translocations reduce pressure on existing wildlife reserves and provide new territory where rhinos have a greater opportunity to increase in number. Creating more dispersed and better protected populations also helps keep rhinos safe from poachers. This work was done by the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP), a partnership between WWF-South Africa, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism.
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