SA rhino to approach population decline

2013-08-20 10:40
Wildlands Conservation Trust officials have darted and tagged seven rhino to prevent poaching in Kwa-Zulu Natal. (Luke Pallet, Wildlands Conservation Trust, file)

Wildlands Conservation Trust officials have darted and tagged seven rhino to prevent poaching in Kwa-Zulu Natal. (Luke Pallet, Wildlands Conservation Trust, file)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


Rhino action

2013-08-20 09:58

Dr Jo Shaw argues that supporting the fight against poachers is critical to saving the rhino in this YouTube video.WATCH

Cape Town - With over 500 rhino killed in South Africa this year, the point is nearing where the population will begin to decline, a conservation organisation has said.

"Things are looking pretty depressing right now, I think everyone would agree. We're also getting ever closer to the point where the numbers actually do start declining," Dr Jo Shaw, Rhino Co-ordinator for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-SA) told News24.

According to the department of environmental affairs (DEA), 553 rhino have been poached in SA so far this year. This is on course to nearly double the 668 total of 2012, which was also significantly higher than the 448 poached in 2011.

Nearly half, or 345 rhino, were poached in the Kruger National Park, according to the DEA.

Despite the public outcry and several military-style operations by rangers to arrest poachers, the impact has not resulted in a significant reduction in poaching.

Poaching chain

"I don't think there's any one simple solution, and I don't think there's any one simple problem," said Shaw.

The DEA said that 148 poachers have been arrested in 2013, compared to 267 last year, and 232 in 2011, but the WWF said that the focus should be pointed to Asia while continuing to target local poachers.

"I absolutely agree Asia is the root of the problem - obviously in South Africa we must do as much as we can to protect the rhino, but that's not going to solve the problem. I think that's a key point," Shaw argued.

She said that the criminals operating higher up the poaching chain needed to be targeted.

"I would like to be seeing more arrests higher up the trade chain in this country. We do need to see, even at a national level, more significant arrests further up. That is something that could make an impact in the shorter term."

Shaw echoed the sentiment that poaching syndicates had evolved into organised criminal gangs that operated across national borders.

"These are organised criminal syndicates who are involved in many black market products and they're not necessarily sitting in Vietnam - for example, there are known individuals in Thailand and elsewhere," she said.


According to Cites (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), poachers are heavily armed in their determination to kill rhino.

"AK47 assault rifles and 303 calibre rifles have been the most commonly used weapons but, recently, heavier calibre arms (eg .375s and .458s) are now being used," Cites said.

The reality of corruption was illustrated in Mozambique with allegations that rangers turned on the rhino they were meant to protect.

"It is tragic beyond tears that we learn game rangers have now become the enemy in the fight to protect rhino from being poached for their horns," said Kelvin Alie, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare's Wildlife Crime and Consumer Awareness programme.

Rhino are virtually extinct in Mozambique and it is likely that poachers will move to exploit South Africa's rhino as demand drives up the price of the horn, which is made of the same material as hair and fingernails.

Shaw said that anti-poaching should be focused on intermediaries who provide direct or indirect support to poachers.

"Yes, there are serious challenges in Vietnam around law enforcement and if you look along the trade chain, there are also serious challenges in transit countries like Mozambique."

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
- News24
Read more on:    wwf  |  cites  |  rhino poaching

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


3 sports games you have to watch this weekend

Whether it’s date night or a braai with buddies, plan around these three exciting sporting games!

How to maintain your mo, bro
Hottie of the day: Colette
Pro-skater Tony Hawk rides a hoverboard!
10 ways to drive her wild!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


There is a strong desire to be unique, self sufficient, right and in control today. Your mind is fast today and you may have more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.