57 rhinos slaughtered for their horns in January alone!

John Moodey MPL

DA Gauteng Provincial Leader

I am extremely sad to read in The Star (1 February 2013) that in only one month into 2013, more than 57 rhinos have already been poached in South Africa. This is an average of 2 rhinos every single day, with the Kruger Park losing 42 rhinos in January. At this rate, South Africa will lose almost 700 rhinos this year alone!

Since the start of the poaching epidemic in 2008, South Africa has lost over 1 600 rhinos – a figure that, despite so much effort, has been increasing every year. The question is why are we still losing more rhino than ever? Sadly, few people realise the challenges facing those on the frontlines – thousands of kilometres to patrol with little to no idea of where the poachers plan to hit next. Unfortunately at this stage the poachers still seem to have the upper hand.

However I am pleased that there are four bits of good news that offer at least some hope in the on-going battle to slow and stop this national tragedy:

Firstly, last month Vietnam banned trade in rhinos as well as any products made from their horns. Rhino horn is a luxury product in Vietnam which is ground up for various medicinal purposes for use by the wealthy.

Secondly, South African National Parks (SANParks) has changed strategy from a conservation management system to placing a greater emphasis on law enforcement.

Thirdly, the number of poachers being arrested has increased. In January 18 poachers were arrested and 3 shot dead.

Fourthly, the Environmental Affairs Department has just gazetted a more scientific approach to saving the rhino, focussing on growing the animal’s population and spread across the country.

There are many organisations involved in this battle which you can support, by giving some of your time or money. WWW.STOPRHINOPOACHING.COM offers you various opportunities to help or you can contribute by buying the Save Our Rhinos CD by Johnny Clegg and various other SA musicians (WWW.RHINOCD.CO.ZA). If you have any information on poaching you can call the Hawks Rhino Hotline on 071 348 8630.

The Vietnam banning of trading in rhino products is a welcomed move at an attempt to stop the possible extinction of these pre-historic beasts but much more needs to be done. This is not only a South African problem but an international one and everyone can make a difference.

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