Two rhino killed each day

2012-04-05 17:32

Mbombela - Almost two rhino are being killed everyday in South Africa to meet surging Asian demand for the animal's horn, which has become more valuable than gold, platinum and cocaine.

Investigators in a remote corner of the Kruger National Park examined one of the latest victims of this crime wave on Tuesday, a white rhino felled by a heavy calibre .375 rifle shot.

Killed only days before, the corpse had been stripped almost bare by vultures and other scavengers, its ribs exposed and rotting.

The street value of rhino horn has soared to $65 000/kg as a belief takes hold among some in Southeast Asia that taking it can prevent, and even cure, cancer.

National Parks data shows that as of Wednesday, 159 rhino had been killed in South Africa in 2012. At this rate, more than 600 will be lost to poachers this year compared with 448 in 2011.


"Our poachers come in from Mozambique," said Ken Maggs, head of the National Parks environmental crime investigation unit, as his team swept the nearby bush with metal detectors.

Maggs’ team find a shell casing 30m from the corpse. They take a DNA sample from the dead animal which can be used as evidence if the animal's horn is found by police.

Journalists who were flown into the crime scene by helicopter, somewhere close to the Mozambique border, were asked not to give its precise location such is the fear that the rhino tramping grounds become widely known.

South Africa is the epicentre of rhino poaching in Africa, since virtually the total population of white rhino are found here and about 40%t of the continent's much rarer black rhino.

Ninety arrests related to rhino poaching have been made in South Africa so far this year.

While the trend is worrying, the animals are not immediately threatened with extinction, contrary to the claims of some wildlife groups. South Africa is home to about 90% of Africa's 18 000 white rhinos and despite their size, the animals reproduce at a robust rate.

Spike expected

Rhino horn has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine, where it is ground into a powder and often mixed with hot water to treat a variety of maladies including rheumatism, gout, high fever and even devil possession.

Killings are expected to spike in the coming days as the moon enters its full phase, making it easier for nocturnal poachers to navigate the bush and see their quarry.

"He who owns the night wins," said Maggs.

It is no easy task to keep tabs on poachers. The Kruger National Park is vast and its eastern border with Mozambique is porous. The fence is no longer electrified because of the risk to innocent people and is punctured with holes.

Legal trophy hunting is allowed in South Africa, usually on privately owned land. Environment Minister Edna Molewa said on Wednesday new regulations would be brought in to ensure horns procured this way did not wind up on the black market.

Hunters will only be allowed to kill one rhino a year and hunts will be supervised by government conservation officials, while proof of previous hunting experience will also be required.

All detached horns will also be required to have a microchip inserted to enable authorities to track them.

The environment department says it has received 43 applications for rhino hunts so far this year, 23 from Vietnam, whose nationals are heavily involved in the trade.

All those from Vietnam have been rejected and South Africa says none will be accepted from that country until it is satisfied Vietnam can ensure trophy horns are not traded.

  • Bongani - 2012-04-05 17:43

    No worries, plenty more left.

      veritas.odium.paret - 2012-04-05 17:59

      ''Bongs''. How many do you smoke per day?

      Karen - 2012-04-05 18:44

      WHAT do you not understand about statistics?

      Jack - 2012-04-05 18:57

      Typical response. Imagine a world with out these kind of people.

      Joanne - 2012-04-05 20:19

      If we really care, we'll ship 6 breeding pairs to breeding zoos and parks overseas where they can be kept safe and we can save the species. They can be bought back when we have the will to save our own resources and protect our country within and without.

      The.One.and.Only.Warren.Lewis - 2012-04-05 20:47


  • Shirley - 2012-04-05 17:52

    Sickening,sad and tragic-yet when the soldiers do their job the people get angry! Our grandchilren will have to be content with fibre glass ones and pictures. F@$K the asian demand!

  • Stanley - 2012-04-05 18:00

    It's a REALY REALY REALY REALY sad situation that we are facing...yet some people says that soldiers are stupid when they try their utmost best to make sure, that everyone who might be a rhino poacher, is questioned!!!...we have to realise that this epindemic is a reality and that we have to do EVERYTHING to try to avoid more poaching carrying on(including holding every person in custody that might be a possible rhino poacher).

      Shirley - 2012-04-05 18:05

      I agree 100%! Poachers dont have a neon sign on their head! They come in all shapes,sizes,colours,religions and each and every person found where they should not be must be detained! Tourists will have to learn to accept this as our wildlife-is afterall what they come to view!

  • Arthur - 2012-04-05 18:06

    I'd like to hunt some Chinese Folk and scalp them - I heard they make great doormats and if you crush the hair into a powder and drink it your nails will be nice and shiny. What a bunch of idiots. Why doesn't Zuma use his BRIC powers and get the Chinese government to clamp down hard on these syndicates.

  • cosmos.ndebele - 2012-04-05 18:09

    Legal Hunting should be banned too!!! Its proving to be a cover for Rhino poaching.

  • Karen - 2012-04-05 18:42

    WHEN are these Asians going to apply scientific testing to prove that NOTHING except surgery will enhance their little willies?????

  • veritas.odium.paret - 2012-04-05 18:47

    How come money always ends up in the hands of retards? I mean, 'cure cancer', COME ON!

  • Tanie - 2012-04-05 18:47

    ......And one big rhino is left in the cape roaming around calling people refugees.

      Azande - 2012-04-05 19:16


      Joanne - 2012-04-05 20:22

      ghost commentator

      sandy.langenstrass - 2012-04-06 10:02

      SO...SO uncalled for that comment. At least she not a Malema that chunks out insulting rubbish on a daily bases.Comment on the sad story of the Rhino's, I thought comments were deleted if you don't stick to the issue being discussed.

  • Chris - 2012-04-05 19:42

    \Fence is no longer electrified because of the risk to innocent people\ Innocent people in the bushes of kruger?? Wat a joke, Anywer im gettin sick of this rhinoz stories and their horns seriusly...

  • Chris - 2012-04-05 19:42

    \Fence is no longer electrified because of the risk to innocent people\ Innocent people in the bushes of kruger?? Wat a joke, Anywer im gettin sick of this rhinoz stories and their horns seriusly...

  • The.One.and.Only.Warren.Lewis - 2012-04-05 20:46


  • sandy.langenstrass - 2012-04-06 06:52

    There must surely be a solution to this huge problem......please let someone find it before we have no rhino left. True it is so difficult to monitor and trap these "animal murders" .... pray that there will be an answer soon.

  • kseyffert - 2012-04-06 08:56

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. Catch the sods and shoot them on site!!!

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