“Every debate is important because it keeps the issue alive, and right now that is critical if rhino’s are to survive”
Dr Ian Player, Co-founder of The Wilderness Foundation
Every 8 hours, another rhino is killed in South Africa… and the number is growing
The rhino poaching crisis (as well as other wildlife crime) is of national and international significance and affects all levels of society. Wildlife crime is the fifth most profitable illicit trade in the world, estimated at up to $10 billion annually. The Wilderness Foundation recognizes this and is working in partnership with various organisations to address this issue.
Until 1970 rhino populations worldwide were relatively stable with minimal poaching incidents. Subsequently with the oil price soaring and per capita income in the Yemen increasing seven-fold, elaborately carved rhino-horn dagger handles became a prized symbol of status and wealth. Within a single decade, half the world’s rhino population had disappeared, and all of the rhino species were either threatened with extinction or endangered.
Since then, thanks to various conservation efforts and improved security measures, the black rhino and white rhino populations have increased. But these gains are in danger of being reversed by a resurgence of poaching. Now also peddled as a cancer cure, the demand for the horn is rising, along with the price. Contrary to widespread beliefs, the rhinoceros horn has no proven medicinal or aphrodisiac qualities. The horns consist of agglutinated hair or keratin, the same type of protein that makes up human hair and fingernails.
In 2007, South Africa only lost 13 rhino to poaching. This number increased to 83 in 2008, 122 in 2009 and more than doubled in 2010 to 333. In 2011 we lost 448 rhino and in 2012 we thought we reached the turning point at 668. But 2013 was the worst at 1004 rhino killed for their horns.
There are thousands of dedicated, passionate rangers in South Africa, Zimbabwe and other rhino range states, standing in between the rhinos and the poachers – but they need our help.
The Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative is one of the Wilderness Foundation’s programmes that was launched in May 2011 in response to the rhino poaching crisis. The initiative is concerned with maintaining populations of free ranging rhino within state and privately managed conservation areas.
The campaign supports conservation agencies and organized private game reserves in protecting their rhino as part of a functioning natural ecosystem. It also aims to focus the attention of politicians and decision-makers and encourage them to apply pressure both nationally and abroad to address the issue of illegal trade in rhino horn and other wildlife products.
You can help us to take the Forever Wild initiative to the next level by making a donation today.
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