Global wildlife monitoring network TRAFFIC warned Tuesday that 515 rhinos could perish by the end of the year if no action is taken to stem the illicit trade in rhino horns....
South Africa, home to about three quarters of Africa's 20,000 or so white rhinos and 4,800 critically endangered black rhinos, has in recent years witnessed an unprecedented spike in sophisticated, violent and organised rhino-related criminal activities.
Last year 448 rhinos were killed compared to 13 animals in 2007.
South Africa has lately scaled up its fight against illegal poaching and trade in rhinos horns, arresting 176 suspects so far this year, more than the 165 arrested in the 12 months of 2010....
But she warned that even with the successful stories of high-value arrests the criminal syndicates appeared generally to be a step ahead -- better equipped, well funded.
"As anti-poaching security levels are stepped up, the poaching gangs become more aggressive and increasingly sophisticated," she said.
The report named Vietnam as the worst offender fuelling the trade in the black market for rhino horns.
"The bottom line is that we are not close to ending this crisis yet, we are probably going to get record numbers this year," warned the report's co-author Tom Milliken, who is also an expert on rhinos at TRAFFIC.
The grounded horn, which is believed by some to cure cancers, has taken on a new use and is now being pushed as a recreational drug mixed with drinks at elite "rhino wine associations" parties in the belief that it cures hangover.
The report says the only way to end illegal rhino hunting is to cut off the demand, by pushing Vietnam to boldly show commitment and decisively enforce laws that prohibit trade in the horns....
Via Wildlife Margrit