[Ed. Note: Take action - Stop Rhino Poaching in South Africa.]
By Sharon Seltzer in Care2.com
In 2009, 129 rhinos were slaughtered for their horns and already in 2010, there have been 136 deaths.
On July 14,2010, the last female rhinoceros in the Krugersdorp Game Reserve near
Johannesburg bled to death after a gang of poachers cut off her horn. South
African wildlife officials say a record number of rhinos are being butchered for
their prized horns which are used in Asia to make medicine and in the Middle
East for ornaments. Conservationists are calling for quick action to protect the
Wildlife experts report that poachers are becoming more sophisticated in
their efforts to steal rhinoceros horns. According to the Globalpost, gangs of
poachers are being funded by organized crime syndicates that can get more than
$100,000 for one horn.
In 2009, 129 rhinos were slaughtered for their horns and already in 2010,
there have been 136 deaths.
The gang that killed the female rhino shot her with tranquillizer guns from a
helicopter, then moved to the ground where they stabbed her and cut off her
horn. The rhino’s nine-month old calf was by her side. Since the attack, the
calf was relocated to an area with two other orphaned rhinos.
Wanda Mkutshulwa, a spokeswoman for South Africa National Parks explained how the attacks occur in an interview with The Guardian. She said:
The exercise takes them very little time. They first fly over the park in the late afternoon to locate where the rhino is grazing. Then they return at night and dart the animal from the air. The tranquillizer takes less than seven minutes to act.”
They saw off the horns with a chainsaw. They do not even need to switch off the rotors of the helicopter. We do not hear anything because our houses are too far away. The animal dies either from an overdose of tranquillizer or bleeds to death.
Another recent attack in KwaZulu-Natal province was especially gruesome. In
their haste to finish the job quickly, poachers cut off the horn and nose of a
female white rhino. Her massive wounds should have killed her, but miraculously
she survived. The rhino had a one-month old calf that was frightened off by the
attack and couldn't be found for several days. Tragically the young calf died
from dehydration by the time wildlife officials found it.
The Wildlife Reserves in South Africa are not equipped to handle this type of
aggressive poaching. In several parts of the country police and organized crime
units are helping. And when they get their hands on poachers, the penalties are
tough. Two weeks ago a Vietnamese man was sentenced to 10 years for trying to
Some Wildlife Parks are turning to extreme measures to protect their rhinos
by surgically removing their horns. There are only 18,000 black and white rhinos
in Africa. In the 1970’s their population reached 65,000.