Black Rhino Rescue Mission
The number of rhinos poached in South Africa has reached a record high, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said yesterday.
“Statistics from SA National Parks show that 341 animals have been lost to poaching so far in 2011, compared to a record total of 333 last year,” the fund said in a statement.
Three of the five rhino species globally were critically endangered.
The last reported poaching took place in the Free State on October 24.
The carcasses of an adult pregnant cow and another younger cow were found at the Sandveld nature reserve near Bloemhof.
This was followed by a WWF announcement in the same week that rhinos in Vietnam are extinct.
“The carcass of Vietnam’s last Javan rhino was found with a gunshot wound and without its horn.”
There were now fewer than 50 Javan rhinos left globally, all held in one national park in Indonesia.
In an effort to increase South African numbers, 19 black rhinos were successfully moved from the Eastern Cape to Limpopo on Wednesday as part of the WWF black rhino range expansion project.
The week-long transfer was completed on Wednesday. This was the seventh black rhino population established in the country by the WWF.
Close to 120 black rhino have been relocated to date.
“This was possible because of the far-sightedness of the Eastern Cape provincial government who were prepared to become partners in the project for the sake of black rhino conservation in South Africa,” the WWF’s project leader, Jacques Flamand, said in a statement.
During a meeting of the convention on international trade in endangered species (Cites) last year, the international community concluded that the increase in poaching was caused largely by demand for horn products in Vietnam.
“The unfounded rumour that rhino horn can cure cancer most likely sealed the fate of the last Javan rhino in Vietnam,” said WWF’s Asian rhino expert, Dr A Christy Williams.
“This same problem is now threatening other rhino populations across Africa and South Asia.”
South Africa has been the focal point of poaching because it has the largest population of rhinos in the world, the WWF said.
“Since armed protection for rhinos in SA national parks is strong, poaching syndicates are likely to shift to countries with weaker enforcement power, including possibly Asian countries that may be caught off guard,” the WWF’s Carlos Drews said.
Despite this, legal loopholes allowing the export of rhino hunting trophies were being exploited. In an attempt to restrict the trophy hunting, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa proposed amendments to the protocols governing the practice and submitted the suggested amendments for public comment on September 30.