Poachers may wipe out rhino by 2050

2012-03-18 22:58

Mokopane - Rhino will be wiped out from South Africa's wildlife parks by 2050 if poaching continues at its current rate, a campaigner fighting to save the animals has warned.

And corruption among officials is contributing to the ongoing slaughter, said veterinary nurse Karen Trendler.

In a career spanning almost two decades, 50-year-old Trendler has raised 200 baby rhino orphans at a wildlife sanctuary in Pretoria, earning the nickname "Mama Rhino."

She is planning to open a special treatment centre for them, warning that the situation has become critical.

Poachers nabbed 448 rhino last year, and in the first three months of this year the toll stood at 109 - in other words, a kill-rate of more than one a day.

While the poachers target the adult rhino for their horns, baby rhino often die too, unable to survive alone.

The sharp increase in poaching has raised concerns among experts that the animals could disappear from the wild within the next four years, Trendler said.

"You hate to sound alarmist, you hate to even consider that it could happen. But if the poaching continues at the current rate we could eventually see rhino go extinct.

"There are predictions that by 2050 we could have no rhino."


The problem has been exacerbated by the fact that some people working in wildlife conservation and animal welfare have been implicated in the lucrative poaching industry, Trendler said.

"There are some incredibly good guys in the business who are doing amazing things and who would give their lives for those rhino.

"But unfortunately we do have an element of corruption. There have already been prosecutions and arrests, where government officials are complicit."

The booming market for rhino horn and increasingly sophisticated poaching methods help explain the devastating death-rate, Trendler said.

"There is a growing economy in Asia, so there is more disposable income to pay for Chinese traditional medicine.

"There is easier accessibility, poachers have better technology, so using cellphones and GPS they can move the horn that much quicker through the process.

"On top of that there's the sinister part of it where it's actually being stockpiled against extinction.

"So they just take up as much as they can get and it's held in stockpile for the time when the numbers drop and the value of the horn goes up," Trendler said.

Some private owners are even pushing to have the trade in rhino horns legalised, arguing that prohibition has done nothing to stop poaching, something that Trendler vehemently opposes.

She is busy building a rhino orphanage at a golf and leisure resort near Mokopane, in Limpopo.

Minimum human contact

Presented as South Africa's first non-commercial and non-tourist rhino orphanage, it will have an intensive care unit with incubators, drips and surveillance cameras.

A small team of carers will look after the baby rhino, and human contact will be kept to a minimum because the aim is to release them back into the wild.

Once they are strong enough to leave the unit, they will be introduced to their "surrogate parents", a pair of adult rhino who live in the resort's game park, Trendler said.

"We've had phenomenal success in the past with rhino who are naturally very nurturing or who have a lovely nature who'll take on calves and become a friend or a companion," she said.

"Given the characteristics of the two rhino that are here, we believe they are probably going to form bonds with the calves."

*The story was originally published saying rhino will be wiped out from South Africa's wildlife parks by 2015 if poaching continues at its current rate, a campaigner fighting to save the animals has warned. A correction has been issued changing 2015 to 2050.

  • phathuchicos - 2012-03-18 23:04

    How about we wipe poachers now, instead of watching the horror continuing...

      Fourhundredkg - 2012-03-18 23:34

      That is the easy part. You have to catch them first.

      TheJaydedKing - 2012-03-19 07:51

      No its not the easy part, once you catch em they get a slap on the wrist or bail or some pathetic fine. The Azanian is correct. Time to pop a cap in them and bill the cost of the bullet to the family.

      Arthur - 2012-03-19 07:56

      Cry my beloved country...

      Foc - 2012-03-19 08:37

      With ALL due the respect to the 'research' Karen Trendler is referring to, here are some facts. There are between 9000 and 12000 white rhino in the Kruger Park alone and in SA there are close to 20000. These numbers increase by between 3 and 6% annually. Please do the numbers yourself to see if poachers killing off say 500 per annum will make a dent in these numbers To make usch a claim that in 3 years time we might see extinction is nothing more than sensasionalism.... !! Please do not get me wrong I HATE what is going on at present with poaching but to make claims like this just plays on the public's heart strings and is attention seeking propaganda!

      TheJaydedKing - 2012-03-19 08:42

      Foc - Mathematically you are incorrect because your growth rate and poaching rate assume a constant state. If you extrapolate the increasing trend towards Rhino poaching in conjunction with a diminishing birth trend and classification of a healthy genetic pool, she is probably correct.

      Foc - 2012-03-19 08:47

      @King .... you contradicting yourself to say she is right ... if poaching and growth cancel each other out and the numbers stay constant ... how can she be right??? We will have the same numbers going forward....

      Briana - 2012-03-19 10:18

      @TheJaydedKing: You're either really bad at math or willfully ignorant. Even assuming a 100% increase in poaching per annum and ZERO rhino growth rate, rhino will not be extinct by 2015. What you'd have in terms of poaching is: 2011 448 -- Last years figure mentioned in the article =========== 2012 896 2014 1792 2015 3584 Total 6272 That means that even if poaching increased by 100% per year (not happening) and rhino's stopped reproducing altogether (not happening) and ALL the poaching happened in the Kruger Park alone, with its 9000 to 12000 white rhino population (also not happening), there would still be between 2200 and 5300 white rhino left in the KNP alone, never mind the rest of the country. If she had specified black rhino, I would have been inclined to believe her. I also hate rhino poaching, and I wish they'd cut off their noses and hang them all, but this woman is, put quite simply, lying. Fact is the white rhino population is growing between 3-6% per year and the black rhino population around 3% per year. Since 2007 rhino poaching has increased on average 85% per year, but this is slowing down, as last year it grew only 35%. In 2012, so far rhino have been poached at a rate of 50 per month, if it continues then 600 rhino will be killed, this is a 34% increase. Assuming this growth trend continues then rhino will go extinct sometime in 2021. With 3% population growth, sometime in 2022. The less rhino, the harder they are to find. So this will decrease.

      Sean - 2012-03-19 11:23

      Unfortunately the poachers are just the foot soldiers. Kill as many as you can catch and it will not help much. The syndicates need to be taken out from the top.

      chadcocking - 2012-03-19 11:37

      just hearn now that this was a misquote, and she said 2050, not 2015...makes more sense :)

  • Johan - 2012-03-19 02:09

    Ths is shocking and disturbing. why is our government not doing more to protect our wildlife... why is everyone not doing more?

      Koos - 2012-03-19 02:30

      What is government doing to protect the people from government? It will carry on until there is no more.

      Walter - 2012-03-19 06:58

      Simple answer, change this Government at the next elections so that we can get some competent administrators to put a stop to this slaughter. Viva the DA!

      spartanx93 - 2012-03-19 07:01

      @Johan - Sadly our government does not care. They only thing they are worried about is lining their pockets. Most of these officials I can bet you have never been to a wildlife reserve let alone seen a rhino.

      Retha van Niekerk - 2012-03-19 07:01

      The government won't do more because the biggest demand comes from China and guess which country our government has close ties with.… As for everyone else. Volunteer with the rangers in the national park.…

      Caryn - 2012-03-19 08:17

      personally i think they are too scared to confront China as it may affect our economy.

  • Renier - 2012-03-19 03:38

    Humans will go to WAR for oil however when it comes to these issues that matter most we seem to turn a blind eye. Its not just the South African goverment that needs to act, its a far bigger problem. Get rid of the demand then you will get rid of the problem.

  • jody.beggs - 2012-03-19 03:51

    cANCer eating away at the wildlife now too ! Damn the man.

  • brionyl.french - 2012-03-19 04:54

    we have to start looking into ways of poisoning the horn and making them useless

      TheJaydedKing - 2012-03-19 07:52

      Sadly it has no effect. The only way to stop the poaching is to get frikking hardcore but our constitution does not allow for it.

  • Prishalin Pillay - 2012-03-19 05:31

    I hate to critiscise anothers culture and traditions..but if it weren't for the Chinese and japs..the worlds whale/fish and other rare species would not be in such a dire situation...get with the times ffs.

      marijke.teirlinck - 2012-03-21 08:25

      Yes and they're supposed to be so intelligent. PFfffff. They can't even figure out it's just compressed hair! Absolute bloody savages.

  • braamc - 2012-03-19 06:16

    I have no doubt this government is part of the problem, then off course the greed and corruption, isn't that government?

  • Breinlekkasie - 2012-03-19 06:50

    Nice, then their is one thing less we humans can plunder!

  • Mark Milligan - 2012-03-19 06:58

    This is so sad. I really hope government steps in

  • Vic - 2012-03-19 07:23

    Part of the solution. Bring back the soldiers, who have no business being in other Countries, doing stuff-all,and spread them around our Country. After all, government is paying them, so they should be minding our business.

  • Hugh - 2012-03-19 07:25

    In the good old apartheid days when the laws was feared little poaching was sucessful. The border patrols and the electric fence protected the animals. It now seems young farmers have the same attitude to wild life as the criminals and the new breed of [just a job]wardens about as effective as a bucket with holes.

  • atomasicchio - 2012-03-19 07:40

    Please join rhino dogs initiative! They train dogs to sniff out the poachers. We can make a difference!!!

  • Arno - 2012-03-19 07:44

    I call for death penalty to rhino poachers. Its amazing how we all think alike, but when it comes to sentencing we are too afraid to do anything because people cannot stand up for what is right.

      TheJaydedKing - 2012-03-19 07:53

      I would second that. I think we should even forgo a trial. If you are found you get popped on the spot.

      elizabethann.auld - 2012-03-19 08:29

      I agree and I suspect that millions do too - We need to return to the death sentence and in the case of caught in the act poachers, simply execute on the spot!

  • Cathy - 2012-03-19 08:02

    Thank you for speaking out Dr Trendler - the work you do is absolutely invaluable. The number of Rhino's poached to date is now 122.

  • Andrew - 2012-03-19 08:07

    I wonder which high cops and ANC members are involved in thi scandal. I bet they are there somewhere!

  • sian.okeeffe - 2012-03-19 08:14

    Please sign our petition here :

  • johan.joostesnr - 2012-03-19 08:33

    Something needs to be done and fast. I support the idea of poisoning the horns - that might be the only way forward.

  • chadcocking - 2012-03-19 08:38

    All gone by 2015? that would require at least a 1000% increase in the rate of sorry, but that is a tad over-exaggerated... yes, it is alarming that the rate of rhino poaching is increasing at a rapid rate and there seems to be hardly any counter measures that are able to bring this rate down, but i personally believe that a solution will be found before rhino number get anywhere near 0 in south africa. i wish i knew how this would happen, but i dont...i do know that there are a lot of people working on the issue, and seeing so much great support for the cause will eventually help bring this problem under control.

      Gcwabe.KaMavovo - 2012-03-19 10:04

      Rather overstate the problem. It stops people from dithering in tackling it.

      chadcocking - 2012-03-19 10:57

      but its like the boy who cried wolf, if you keep saying they going to go exctinct and they dont, when they are in serious trouble, no one will ith global warming, although Al Gore made some extremely valid points, and there is man-induced change occuring, because it was such a doomsday prophecy that is not happening quick enough for the average person to see, his advice and comments are sometimes ridiculed? the rhino poaching problem is bad enough that one doesnt have to lie and make false claims to get the attention of a greater audience, but that is just my opinion?

      chadcocking - 2012-03-19 11:39

      okay, just been sent something by a friend of the Karen Trendler saying that she has been misquoted; she said 2050, not 2015...

  • Arlene - 2012-03-19 08:58

    And you know the sad thing.. People will still say - aaahhh we didnt know. The law needs to be assist and deal swiftly and harshly with this illegal activity and poachers

  • Amanda - 2012-03-19 09:02

    As per everything thing in South Africa we will have to start keeping them under "lock and key" I know this sounds ridiculous but why don't they create an area large enough in the Kruger Park for the rhino, which can hopefully be effectively monitored . I realise this can cause other logistical problems, Also easier to monitor and protect. When are they going to install radar system which got everybody so excited or is this a too good a deterrent that the corrupt ones are stalling installation so that they can make more money from rhino horns.

  • Caroline - 2012-03-19 09:56

    Ah shame, and when there are no rhinos left what are the Chinese going to use to enlarge their tiny little penises? Oh dear, maybe lions mane! Barbarians!

  • Jaco - 2012-03-19 11:45

    The blood of Rhino poachers cures HIV! spread the word

  • jomardl - 2012-03-19 23:04

    Humans: all that brains and we're still the dumbest animals on the planet.

  • Gmale - 2012-03-20 11:54

  • edson.zandamela - 2012-03-23 15:01


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