Killing them won't stop rhino poachers

2011-09-21 22:38

Cape Town - Killing poachers will not solve the problem of rhino poaching alone, unless the market for rhino horn is also eliminated, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has said.

"If we don't deal with the demand side, we can threaten to kill as many poachers as we like, the extreme poverty driven situation in which poaching sometimes takes place means that there are 150 - 200 people ready to step into a dead man's boots," Dr Morné Du Plessis, CEO of WWF South Africa told News24.

He said that as the Asian economy was growing, people had more disposal income to buy rhino horn and this was fuelling the market.

The demand for rhino horn, particularly from Asia, has made it more expensive than gold, despite that fact that it is composed of keratin, the same material as human nails.


"Rhino horn is a classically expensive product to buy and more people are now in a position to afford it.

"There is no scientific evidence however underpinning the fact that there are medicinal properties associated with rhino horn. This is a fallacious belief and this is something that the WWF is working very hard at combating," said.

Thursday is World Rhino Day and the WWF hopes that the awareness created will contribute significantly to increased funding of rhino protection and education programmes.

"WWF started World Rhino Day in South Africa last year and raised a million rand in the process. This money has been spent on increased enforcement and anti-poaching activities, training of rangers, equipment and DNA sampling.

"The awareness component is something that's fundamentally important to World Rhino Day," said.

He said that the day was part of an ongoing campaign to protect rhinos, but would give South Africans an opportunity to focus their energies on the danger to South Africa's rhino population.

There are close to 20 000 white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) in the country, but the populations of black rhino (Diceros bicornis) are critically endangered, with about 4 000 animals in Southern Africa.

"A lot of money is necessary in order to prevent the increases in rhino poaching and through Rhino Day, it provides a focus for people to actually put their money where their hearts are," said.


He said that poisoning the horns as has been suggested may not be effective because the WWF was not interested in harming people.

Also, rhino horn is used to fashion ceremonial daggers called jambiyas which have traditionally been made in the Middle East.

"There are various suggestions about how one can go about limiting poaching: One of them is poisoning the horn. We do not have human beings in our cross-hairs.

"You can poison horns as much as you like and you're not going to stop that kind of ornamentation. Nothing is completely foolproof so you have to do things on multiple fronts," Du Plessis said.

In SA, a total of 333 rhinos were killed and dehorned countrywide in 2010 and 162 people linked to poaching were arrested.

Du Plessis insisted that the awareness created by Rhino Day be used to impact on the demand side for rhino horn.

"Most of all, we have to get to the root, and that's the market - the demand side of the problem."

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  • Ginseng - 2011-09-21 22:47

    There's only one solution. Dart and remove the horns of every Rhino that can not be fully protected. I would rather see a Rhino without a horn, then no Rhino at all. And there is always the zoo's if you want to see one with a horn. Unfortunately it has come to this. There is no end to mans greed.

      Gert - 2011-09-21 23:25

      The only real solution is to kill all rhino's, then there will be nothing to poach.

      Cliff - 2011-09-21 23:26

      Why must we have to do this?

      Banned - 2011-09-22 00:17

      Dehorning the rhino will impact negatively on mating process. The best protection for the rhinos and any wildlife is a man with a gun. Rhino days is cute and raises funds for the employees of WWF but does nothing for the rhinos. Shooting the poachers is still the best remedy and the only language they will understand.

      Dundermoose - 2011-09-22 01:02

      If for every poacher there are "200 people ready to step into a dead man's boots", then we need the guards to shoot all 201 of them, cuth tehir noses off, and send them back to their families!! - 2011-09-22 07:32

      Just shoot the "other 200" poachers as well. Problem solved.

      MeltdowN - 2011-09-22 07:36

      @Explore. I like your plan! Shoot the masses of poachers and use them to fertilize the land!! :) Win Win!

      Jason - 2011-09-22 07:52

      ur insane. read an interesting article last night, made me think, just how far humans have actually fell from Grace. Korean Mythology . 7biljoen ppl who is actually a disgrace to God, christians would be like, "ya well jesus died for my sins" what is actually BS, becoz the only one who can make a difference is u uself no one else... humans are disgusting, like animals, white/brown/black/chinese/american/europeans etc... APPLY that to every living thing, then there must be someone who slaughter all humans like they slaughter animals and plants..

      Konsoomer - 2011-09-22 08:22

      Solution ? How about de-horning the buggers they catch?

      pierreedge - 2011-09-22 14:28

      Killing humans to save animals??? are you raving mad? poaching should of course be prosecuted and poachers sanctionned, but killed???? let's not go overboard!

      anfield - 2011-09-22 19:25

      kill the bastards, then cut their horns off!

      Joy Thorpe - 2011-09-23 08:00

      you can only de-horn the white rhino! the black rhino cannot be de-horned, as it needs its horn for foraging.

      sectioneightsolutions - 2011-09-23 10:10

      They just killed a de-horned rhino, for that little bit left.

      Xavier - 2011-09-29 20:57

      @ginseng wake up and smell the roses...dehorning rhino's won't stop rhinos being poached: They will be killed just for that little stub left....

  • veld66 - 2011-09-21 22:56

    Foot soldiers are always gonna be there because very often these are poor exploited individuals, Licensed game hunting license holders, Chinese Mafia & all those at the top should targeted first to reduce this tragic trade

      St Shooter - 2011-09-21 23:07

      Agree 100%, we need to cut the demand not the suppliers, if the end person gets arrested and get jail time then that would slow down the demand and make the other KING PINS think twice

      Really - 2011-09-22 01:32

      There is only two options. 1. Shoot all poachers. It will do nothing for overpopulation. 2. Rid the earth of all people who's culture us sniffing hair. Immediate dip in overpopulation. Draughback, hell of a stench.

      Blip - 2011-09-22 02:15

      South Africans have absolutely zero jurisdiction or even moral influence in China. If the Chinese want to buy rhino horn, they're legally entitled to do it in China and that just won't change because South Africans are disgusted by it.

      Stoutgat - 2011-09-22 05:25

      I disagree with the WWF. The problem is on the demand side. Unless the owners start poisoning the horns, and a few filthy gooks in China and Vietnam deservedly die, nothing will change.

      Blip - 2011-09-22 08:56

      Horn-poisoning toxic enough to kill (or even make sick) a human using only a few grams of ground-up product will be potent enough to kill the rhino. That horn is porous and the toxin will leach down the horn and into the beast's body.

      pierreedge - 2011-09-22 14:36

      first you cant even read, how can you disagree with the WWF when they say exactly that: "If we don't deal with the demand side, we can threaten to kill as many poachers as we like, ....," Dr Morné Du Plessis, CEO of WWF Second, the lack of logic and interpretation skills are not surprising for racists who like to use derogatory terms like gook. A non racist person would call the buyers filthy immoral people, individuals, sickos or whatever without resorting to racial stereotypes and slurs!

  • crackerr - 2011-09-21 22:56

    If there are 200 to take the place of killed rhino poachers there shouldn't too much of a difficulty. Just keep it up. 200 isn't all that difficult to reach. In the meanwhile make arrangements that rhinos be send to safe havens somewhere else on the planet. One never knows what the situation will look like in a decade or two. Maybe bring the off-spring of the rhinos back.

      Banned - 2011-09-22 00:18

      One bullet one poacher! Problem solved.

  • Izak - 2011-09-21 23:02

    Kill them, kill them again and again and again... Then, also do all the other things that might help...

      pierreedge - 2011-09-22 14:38

      kill kill kill, thousand of years of supposed civilization and evolution yet the answer to problems from homo sapiens remains the same as it was in the stone age. depressing frankly

  • robinson.demarillac - 2011-09-21 23:06

    Daggers are hardly a problem anymore, so info is out of date. The problem in Yemen has largely been resolved. The chemical used is not a poison and wont kill anyone, just make them ill. With warnings in place, this shouldn't be a problem. Too many PC people around.

      EarthBound - 2011-09-21 23:50

      Poison them enough so that whats bothering them in the first place shrinks to a size -000000000. THAT should keep them away from rhino horns.

  • Dee Hunt - 2011-09-21 23:16

    1. Flood the market with massive shipments of lethally toxic poisoned horns. 2. Make 'snuff' type videos to go 'viaral' on YouTube of humans convulsing, frothing at the mouth and dying of rhino horn poisoning. Add Vietnamese / Thai etc sub-titles. END USERS ARE NOT MOVED BY MUTILATED, DEAD RHINO's - they may take heed with a few dead humans. The current value and crisis overrides 'human rights', ethics and civilised norms.

      Joy Thorpe - 2011-09-23 08:02

      hear hear ! agree with you 100%

  • Cliff - 2011-09-21 23:19

    What are the Army/Air Force/Navy doing sitting sitting on their fat asses pretending? Send them in and make them work for a living and protect our borders and valuable assets as they are supposed to do. Come on Government,Govern F F S !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Cliff - 2011-09-21 23:25

      This is raiding,raping and pillaging our Sovereign State!

      Blip - 2011-09-22 02:17

      The poachers are South Africans. They're raping their own sovereign state.

      Walter - 2011-09-22 06:26

      That's only part of the problem. There are internal syndicates earning huge amounts of money which includes so-called "hunters", game ranchers, vets and pilots. A moratorium on all rhino hunting, very severe mandatory gaol sentences and other harsh me measures must be taken. CITES restrictions must be re-visited and the controlled sale of horn which means de-horned rhino and animals which have died naturally. This will reveal the "traders" and others presently associated with this ghastly trade.

  • SeanK - 2011-09-21 23:23

    We need to simply keep emptying those shoes

      Cliff - 2011-09-21 23:31

      I would not like to agree with anyone that flies a Swastika but we need to protect our Wild Heritage!

      daaivark - 2011-09-22 08:34

      Ja, what's with that swastika then, mate?

  • Ederik - 2011-09-21 23:28

    Kill the poachers and their successors dead and poison all Rhino horns. The demand will dissappear and the killing will stop.

      Blip - 2011-09-22 02:23

      A poison injected in a living animal's horn in a strong enough concentration to make ill or kill a human who consumes only a few grams of the powdered residually-poisoned product years later is probably intense enough a dose to leach back down into the living rhino and kill it. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

      Chris Kemp - 2011-09-22 05:05

      I'm sure they would know the correct dosage to avoid that. I think they'd actually test appropriately first, not just grab a syringe and hope for the best.

      Blip - 2011-09-22 08:12

      Be sensible -- all poisons decay from the instant they're applied. It gets weaker and weaker every day. All the poachers/buyers have to do is store them and wait for a year and they're safe again. If you formulate a more toxic, longer-lasting toxin, it WILL penetrate into the beast and kill it as the horn is porous. Imagine taking a bath in undiluted fly-spray liquid -- you'll die, even if you don't drink or breathe it.

  • Boxxer - 2011-09-21 23:43

    You already sound like you not serious enough. Implement a shoot-to-kill policy as other African states do, let them know you mean business. Those 162 arrested shouldn't be breathing as we speak.

  • Stephen - 2011-09-21 23:56

    Why doesn't SA threaten to sever diplomatic ties with Vietnam unless they outlaw the sale of Rhino horns there with enforcement?

      Really - 2011-09-22 01:35

      We need them.

      Face - 2011-09-22 01:47

      And they need the Rhino horn powder to keep IT up.... No wonder! If our woman had been so darn ugly, we would have killed the Rhino for own use!

      Buffalo - 2011-09-22 07:39

      Oh yeah, that'll f**k 'em. I see them quivering in their banking halls - SA is going to sever ties with us! No! The world is at its end . . .

  • Ian - 2011-09-22 00:43

    and of course our corrupt stinking government sits and does f all, clearly the clowns are rolling in the kickbacks

  • AIK - 2011-09-22 00:44

    Just keep on shooting the poachers.They will get the message in the end.

      Ian - 2011-09-22 07:52

      @Aik, not too sure about that, basic woodwork failures etc DUH

  • Blip - 2011-09-22 02:10

    Dr du Plessis, at least the dead poachers won't ever be poaching ever again. Just as the pool of rhinos is being depleted by being shot, so too will the pool of poachers. Besides, you really can actively control the poachers whereas you have absolutely no control over the demand-side of the equation. You might as well accept this as a hard reality.

  • MyWereld - 2011-09-22 03:19

    Has anything changed in Asia the past 200 years about the "magical" properties of Rhino horn and the gall of bears? I dont think so. The publicity WWF has given has actually stimulated the trade. I have observed this for the past 50 years. The demand will never be eliminated.The ivory trade was to an extent successful because it was not traded for medicinal purposes.

  • Balfel - 2011-09-22 04:28

    Just carry on shooting them until a) you run out of ammunition or b) you run out of poachers; so that you don't c) run out of rhinos.

  • Mike77 - 2011-09-22 05:26

    make a stand, make war against the poachers. catch the next group of poachers show their faces to the world and then line them up and shoot them. so that a clear message can be sent.

  • roger.v.powell - 2011-09-22 05:47

    As has been clearly proven, no scientific evidence exists supporting the popular belief that Rhino horn does anything to improve libido or sexual performance.Somehow, this simple truth needs to be filtered through to the end users and perhaps they should be told that Viagra is much cheaper. In so far as using subsistence poaching as an excuse for this wanton slaughter of world heritage animals, I believe that programs are already in place to see that communities in close prximity to wild life reserves are duly compensated. It should also be impressed upon the local communities that tourists come a long way to see a Rhino and that as a result , jobs are created. Perhaps somebody should tell them the storey about the golden goose.

  • boerqwhaas - 2011-09-22 06:13

    Poison the horns! I'd like to see every consumer of rhino horn die!

  • boerqwhaas - 2011-09-22 06:15

    Du Plesis doesn't seem to be very interested, blaming the situation on poverty is getting old. Everything gets blamed on that. I don't think he is very good at his job.

      Blip - 2011-09-22 08:13

      Quite right. He has thrown up his hands in surrender.

  • kilo39 - 2011-09-22 06:19

    This is a war on Africa by the Asian consumer of rhino horn etc, and others. We need to send a clear message from Africa to those Asians that are the cause of the rape of our heritage, that we are 'deadly' serious about protecting it. To this end I am advocating a programme of name and shame, targeted economic sanctions against end users by the world community and as a last resort, violence against those guilty of buying rhino horn. They must know and understand that they must not @&%$ with us and that we will hunt them down and they will feel the terror. Southern Africa has a wealth of trained covert ops soldiers who will be willing to do the job. Just ask.

      Blip - 2011-09-22 08:17

      You're kidding. Africa is a beggar-continent. It's in no position to make even the smallest dent in the massive Chinese economy. SA's "covert ops" soldiers are all pot-bellied old white men now and the current regime won't touch them with a barge-pole. Be realistic.

  • lenyora - 2011-09-22 06:51

    ... Simple - do like they do in the cocaine trade ... flood the market with fake rhino horn powder contaminated with some skin irritant poison (make sure you sell it at the same price as the real rhino powder)and use the proceeds to fund proper designed hi-tech rhino breeding and protection reserves - in the beginning you will amass huge funds in feeding this disgusting frenzy while over time you will slowly kill the market with the fake powder which no one will trust eventually.

      Buffalo - 2011-09-22 07:41

      Stopped the cocaine trade then?

      lenyora - 2011-09-22 11:06

      ... those who sniff that cocaine stuff are actually sniffing a mixture of 15% cocaine and 75% who-knows-what-other-dangerous-chemicals (as each dealer adds his own fake chemicals to get more volume of the drug) so what you think is a cocaine trade is actually a trade in baking soda and drain cleaning detergents ... I think it's well known that the most effective way to kill a product's market is to flood the market with fake versions of that product - more so if the fakes are dangerous as well.

  • Maximillian Bajkay - 2011-09-22 06:55

    Make it so horrendous for people to poach these animals that it deters them.

  • Charles Kane - 2011-09-22 07:05

    People who buy rhino horn can die for all I care. Poison the horns.

      Blip - 2011-09-22 08:18

      You'll be poisoning the rhinos.

  • abgush - 2011-09-22 07:13

    "killing wont stop them"...I say we at least try.

  • Joe_Cool - 2011-09-22 07:19

    Kill them,hunt them down like animals, until there is no more poachers left.Deport all foreigh rubbish from our country, Start with all the nigerians first, then the lot of Zimbo's

      CVDL - 2011-09-22 08:15

      "Deport all foreigh rubbish from our country" Our rubbish government can never do that, even if they want to.

  • Nirvan - 2011-09-22 07:20

    True, killing the poachers wont make a difference. They are mere dispensible pawns. Killing some corrupt Oriental and African diplomats however will give this issue the much needed publicity it deserves.

  • Ryan Tunney - 2011-09-22 07:21

    Doesn't matter. Just keep killing the poachers anyway. Let someone else have a bit of fun with these cockraoches.

  • Shrek - 2011-09-22 07:23

    Killing them might not stop the poaching but it is a good start. Maybe we should de-horn the poachers with a machete and send them back to their communities

  • Piet - 2011-09-22 07:23

    Then we have to kill 200 more!!!

  • Sabellid - 2011-09-22 07:23

    Just shoot the 200 stepping into the dead man's shoes as well. Population control needs to happen at some point because at the current rate nature does not stand a chance. Where is the world's population going to be in 20 years time? 9 Billion?

  • Piet - 2011-09-22 07:23

    Then we have to kill 200 more!!!

  • Guido - 2011-09-22 07:27

    One should rather act instead of threaten, I am sure there are less poachers around then people who want to enjoy animals alive. Story of this country : we talk a lot but we act very little ! Proof is in the non existant prosecution rate.

  • Buffalo - 2011-09-22 07:35

    Dehorning the rhinos is unfortunately not a solution. The bastards that kill rhino for their horns are just too savage! In Zimbabwe, they specifically targeted the dehorned rhinos for execution, saying that it would ensure that they did not waste time trailing the same animal again, for no profit. The solution would be for game farmers to breed rhinos specifically for their horn in safe, secure environments. Rhino horn grows on the outside of the skin - compressed hair - and is easily removed, using a sharp knife, without the need for a drop of blood to be spilt. Then the market could be flooded with this cultivated horn, and the resulting low price would then reduce the attractiveness - take a chance with death for $100, but not for $10! They could also take all of that cultivated horn and poison it too! A double-edged sword: reduce rhino poaching and save a species; reduce the human population by a small margin. Also, once people start to die, no one is going to touch the stuff - no market.

      howard staunton - 2011-09-22 08:35

      great idea. But being cute rhinos, it will not be allowed. Same as for the culling of elephants. The emotional arguments dominate such a discussion, and all rational science just goes out the window.

  • stephen scott - 2011-09-22 07:40

    Why do people want rhino horns? Because they believe, for no good science or reason that they are an aphrodisiac, superstitions non sense, how do you stop people believing that? No more than you can stop people believing that Jesus is coming back; or that if they murder infidels, they'll get a special shag in heaven, conclusion: the Rhino is finished. stop wasting money trying to protect it.

  • Nogeen - 2011-09-22 07:42

    Dan dood jy die aanvraag - so eenvoudig soos dit?

  • Eastafrican - 2011-09-22 07:47

    I do not agree. Up to now the only country getting serious about protecting their rhinos is Zimbabwe. The laws in South Africa and East Africa is a joke. About a year ago a Chinese man got fined USD 500 in Kenya after being found guilty. He had 12 elephant tusks and more than 600 other pieces of game products. What a joke. And it is always the poachers that shoot first. They do not care even if you did not shoot back but just wanted to stop them from poaching. Corruption in the wildlife departments in East Africa is also bad. What does WWF want? That we just sit back and tell these poachers to go ahead they are free to kill animals and shoot anybody who tries to stop them? It is not just the rhinos. Many other animals such as sharks and tigers is also being wiped out to satisfy the Asian market. No one is going to stop the Chinese and other Asian markets. So now they just want us to sit back and allow the animals to be hunted to extinction. No WWF has it totally wrong as usual. Rather get the African governments to drastically improve laws and get the wildlife departments from the Southern and Eastern African states to start working together. Get rid of corrupted wildlife officials and spend more money on larger and better trained anti-poaching units.

  • Terminusest - 2011-09-22 07:51

    But killing poachers is such a pleasant way to eliminate undesirable elements form the shallow end of the gene pool.

      howard staunton - 2011-09-22 08:38

      if you were unemployed, you would easily be tempted to be a poacher too? I often see fishermen exceeding their quota, so they are poaching. Must we kill 200 of them for every rock-cod they killed? Why the hell not - is a rhino worth more than a rock-cod? the bible clearly says no. The whole kill all the natives argument is actually a bit depraved.

  • Herman - 2011-09-22 08:06

    Dehorn a view rhinos, poisen the hornsand send it to the Far East. If the endusers dies out there will be no demand. NO DEMAND = NO POACHING

      Blip - 2011-09-22 08:21

      Poisoning the horns potently enough to kill the users (who only use a few grams) will certainly be toxic enough to kill the rhino, or to make it very gravely ill.

  • anonymouse - 2011-09-22 08:14

    So lift the ban on horns and enable commercial rhino farming, and flood the market with horns too cheap to sustain the prices that drive poaching? Plus: rhinos not endangered any more.

  • Pelican-Fish - 2011-09-22 08:22

    Easier than that, stop buying anything from China!! Till they have no extra cash for rhino horn. And anyway there is no excuse for killing a rhino and not eating the rest of the animal, but taking the horn. THAT IS NOT POVERTY!

  • CH - 2011-09-22 08:22

    Afraid Dr Morné Du Plessis really needs a wake up call. Solving the demand issue is a VERY long term project. Stopping the killing is a VERY short term need. The WWF needs to start living in the real world where things are dirty - the way to win this war is by playing dirty and if that means putting "human beings in our cross-hairs" then lets do that. If poison works then use it. The people doing the killing and the buying certainly don't and won't respond to kid gloves.

  • Pelican-Fish - 2011-09-22 08:23

    Dart and remove the poachers!!

  • Pelican-Fish - 2011-09-22 08:23

    Dart and remove the people using the rhino horn.

  • Pelican-Fish - 2011-09-22 08:24

    Dart and remove China

  • howard staunton - 2011-09-22 08:27

    We have 20,000 white rhinos in SA. Last year they killed 333, or 1.6%. Why not just farm them. Stop freaking out that they are rhinos. We farm a whole range of wild and domesticated animals already, whats one more. You could allocate a quota of say 1,000 rhino p/year, and that would depress prices for the stuff. OK, now everybody is going to freak out becaquse rhinos are cute or whatever. Yes I know, I worked on them for a couple of years. As cute as any other wild animal really, but only remarkable for their size. But essentially they are still animals, with a quarter of the intelligience of for example a warthog. Lets be less emotional about this, and make rational decisions.

  • Lee - 2011-09-22 08:39

    I read this article and find it very negative considering many put forward ideas to protect the Rhino and yet the article still does not give a solution but has just brushed aside hope. You will never get rid of the market or demand if it is these peoples belief. Shoot the poachers until they get the message even if others step in their shoes, they too must be shot. How many times have we done awareness, it doesn't help. We need to be firm and make sure that they know we mean business protecting the Rhino.

  • Bra mos - 2011-09-22 08:40

    the idea of kiling the poachers isn't effectively been carried out, I say so because when a poacher takes a rhino horn; it's done in the most inhuman way, i prepose that we don't kill poachers but rather castrate them and leave them in the wild to be either mammed or left for dead by the South African government. Only the most inhuman form of punishment is fitting towards the crime commited.

  • Fred - 2011-09-22 11:33

    A good deal of the poachers arrested in SA have not been poor or destitute, they are diplomats, senior government officials, vets, business men helicopter pilots and game farm owners, shot down one or two helicopters with vets and professional hunters in them and you'll see a drastic drop in rhino poaching. The softly-softly approach will not work.

  • Fred - 2011-09-22 11:47

    There is a slightly more scientific way as well, we all now know the rhino horn is made of compacted hair, keratin I think they say, simple, put a specimen of rhino horn through an analyser, get the basic chemical make-up of rhino horn and make it up and flood the market with it. If you get the CSIR + Nature Conservationists + SAPS, team them up, all the material you'll need you could get for free from an abattoir, make up tons of the powder, you'd be able to sell it to other countries with rhino populations as well, costs to prepare would be minimal plus you could get some returns from selling it, the price will drop and the sophisticated methods we've seen in SA will become too expensive and a good deal of the poachers will be out of a job?