Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


500+ rhinos could die this year - group

21 August 2012, 13:53

Johannesburg - Global wildlife monitoring network Traffic warned on 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.

In its latest report, the agency said that with a total of 281 animals killed as of July, there was a "predicted loss of 515 by year end if current poaching rates continue".

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.

"It seems this year that efforts are beginning to pay off. We have seen a great increase in arrests. We are also beginning to see some significant sentencing," said Jo Shaw, co-author of the report.

Vietnam, worst offender

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 ground 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.

'Serious shortcomings'

It was revealed at the launch of the report that South Africa and Vietnam are set to sign a landmark deal to help stem rhino poaching and the illicit trade in rhino horns.

"I think the heat is clearly on Vietnam. I think we are going to see some changes. The good news today is that the MOU with South Africa is about to be signed," said Milliken.

The network did not give details of the memorandum of understanding, but it is believed to centre on law enforcement.

Vietnam's deputy foreign affairs minister Le Loung Minh was last week in South Africa where he held talks over illegal wildlife hunting, trade and trafficking with his counterpart Ebrahim Ebrahim.

There were some "serious shortcomings" and not so great co-ordination in South Africa's response to rhino crime, "but the will to do right is with us", said Mavuso Msimang, an expert on rhinos in South Africa's department of environmental affairs.

Rhino crimes are receiving heavier sentences and there is now a dedicated prosecutor to handle such crimes.

The report, titled The South African-Vietnam Rhino Trade Nexus, also pointed at a worrying development where game ranch operators and custodians of rhinos have been roped into the crime syndicates to become "rhino horn dealers of some description".



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
ODM MP chased down by angry Kibra...

Kibra MP Ken Okoth had a hard time in his constituency after angry youth pelted him with stones. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Prepare for DP Ruto fight in 2022...

An MP has warned that the Kalenjin Community will not stand back and watch as DP Ruto is duped ahead of the 2022 polls. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Be careful who you deal with, DP ...

Watch out for your political future, DP William Ruto has been warned. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Kikuyu 2022 vote will go to Peter...

The 2022 Kikuyu vote will go to Peter Kenneth, a Rift Valley Governor has warned DP William Ruto. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
CORD threatens to boycott 2017 po...

The CORD Coalition says that it will be forced to boycott the 2017 elections if there is no new voter register in place by the time. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Disgraced Jeptoo stripped of 2014...

Organizers of the Boston Marathon are stripping Kenyan runner Rita Jeptoo of her 2014 victory as part of the athlete's newly extended doping ban. Read more...