Spotlight on the African Rhinoceros

This article originally appeared on AndresManuelOlivaresMiranda.org on Sep. 13, 2017.

Every year we find out in the news how, many animal species are slowly being driven towards extinction. A big factor behind this trend is poachers plying their trade by making money off animal products. These criminals will not stop at anything and will continue to do their criminal activities, as long as there is a market for animal products. One such example is the rhino horn, costing nearly $3000 an ounce, is worth more than gold on the black market.

After years and years of poaching, the numbers of the African rhinoceros have come down to roughly 25,000, a far cry compared to fifty years ago when their numbers exceeded a 70,000. For the uninitiated, the horn of the rhino is a prized item in traditional Asian medicine.

A few years back, the United Nations Convention, had brought to the world’s attention on this transnational crime. The idea was to bring to attention, through a series of photos, on the devastating effects of wildlife poaching. The country that has been worst hit by rhino poaching in recent years, is South Africa. 10 years ago, an estimated 13 rhinos were killed by poachers. A few years later the number jumped to over 1000.

A big reason for these jump in numbers is that poachers have become bolder. There was a time when they stuck to large National Parks, such as Kruger National Park. Now, they have started targeting rhinos at private game ranches, provincial reserves and even zoo’s!

This trend has become so bad in this country that the government has started to send the military to help park rangers. The United Nations Organization of Drugs and Crime, (UNODC), is doing their bit also, by giving support to governments who are trying to combat poaching on their soil. The organization is also trying to raise awareness on a global scale.

But there does seem to be a glimmer of hope in all this bad news about the African Rhino. In South Africa, the Department of Environmental Affairs, or the DEA, and not to be confused with the DEA in the US, is taking baby steps in the fight against illegal poaching.

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