The future for rhinos is looking bleak with official figures released yesterday by South Africa confirming that last year was the worst on record for rhino poaching.
In 2014, a total of 1,215 were poached in South Africa alone, equating to an average of more than three animals a day. These numbers for South Africa only, do not account for the scale of poaching decimating rhino populations in other African countries as well.
Every year the number of deaths continues to rise; in 2013, we saw 1,004 rhino killed, compared to 2007 when only 13 rhinos were poached for the whole year. This highlights the massive increase in the demand for rhino horn which is mostly consumed in South East Asia to demonstrate status, and to support the spurious belief that it works as an aphrodisiac or can cure cancer.
Rhino horn is made from keratin, the same protein that makes up our hair and nails which have no medicinal benefits, so these killings are senseless.
The situation for Rhinos in Africa is dire, it will soon reach the point that wild populations cannot reproduce quickly enough to stay ahead of the killing.
Whilst conservation efforts and poaching patrols in Africa continue, the battle is ever-increasing with international trafficking big business for crime syndicates. We need to do more and educate as many people as we can that the horn has no medicinal properties.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is supporting the plight of the Rhino through financial assistance to the International Rhino Foundation who have conservation projects across Africa and Asia. But you can help wildlife by downloading the Zoos’ Wildlife Witness App and become the eyes and ears of efforts to stop the slaughter when travelling overseas: http://wildlifewitness.net/
Rhino supervisor, Jennifer Conaghan