Is the Rhino Population reaching tipping point where the number of rhino deaths exceeds the number of births?
In Pretoria in late January, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa stated at a media conference. “We cannot say we are winning the war on poaching,” she says. “The figures are worryingly high.” Molewa says losses would have been much higher had it not been for joint anti-poaching activities conducted by the SANDF, police and SANParks teams.
The statistics for last year reveal a 21 percent increase in the number of rhinos killed illegally over the previous year– 211 up on the 1 004 slaughtered in 2013. Of these, 827 were killed in the Kruger Park. One senior SANParks official,Dr Howard Hendricks,made a sobering statement: by the end of 2014, he said, the rhino population was essentially the same it had been 12 months previously.The implication is that the number of rhino deaths far exceeded the number of births.This is what rangers and scientists call the dreaded tipping point; where the rhino population goes into perhaps irrevocable decline.
Andrew Muir, CEO of Wilderness South Africa commented ”
“It is generally accepted that the rhino population grows by 6 percent to 8 percent each year based on the difference between birth and natural mortality figures,” says Muir.
The national herd should have shown a growth of between 1 140 and 1 520 animals, but this was almost cancelled out by the illegal hunters. Kruger’s numbers should have swelled by between 540 and 720; instead the park suffered a serious net reduction, with over 9 percent of its total population killed by poachers.”
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