Our readers are mainly folks living out of Africa, so I’m going to ask you a strange question here – have you ever seen a rhinoceros in the wild? If you haven’t, may I suggest that you make a plan to do so in the near future, because these magnificent creatures are being poached out of existence. Having roamed the earth for close on fifty million years, they are being wiped out at an alarming rate by greedy crime syndicates supplying ignorant Asian consumers who believe that rhino horns possess medicinal properties.
Sadly, a number of vets, nature conservationists and security guards are amongst those guilty of this killing spree in South Africa, which begs the question – if the very people who are meant to be protecting them are succumbing to greed, what hope is there for these endangered animals?
The rhino population has declined by 90% in the last 40 years. In 2010 alone, more than 210 rhinos have been slaughtered in South Africa for their horns. The situation has become so bad that game reserve owners are now reluctant to invest in these expensive animals because they are at such a high risk of being killed. Game reserves are so vast, that rhinos don’t have a chance of being protected against poachers, armed with AK47’s, who come seeking them in helicopters. Having said that, though, the poachers are also brazen enough to get to rhinos that are brought into guarded areas near homesteads.
Rhino horns are made of keratin and weigh between 8 and 11 kilograms. They are fetching outrageous prices on the Asian black market which makes them an attractive proposition for poachers. Unlike elephants that breed prolifically and can make a comeback if killed for their ivory, rhinos are in short supply and cannot tolerate being wiped out at the current rate.
Poachers are able to dart the rhinos and simply remove the horns from the animals without harming them, but instead they are wantonly killing them, often quite brutally. It’s a shameful situation and one that needs addressing as a matter of urgency.
Is the rhino going to be the next animal that man, in his greed, removes from the planet? Start saving for your trip to Africa now to see them before it’s too late, or better still give a donation to an organization funding efforts to save rhinos. They, like the rhinos, desperately need all the help they can get to combat this dire situation. We’d love your comments on this subject – please let us know how you feel about it.