South Africa is home to 83% of Africa’s rhino population. Unfortunately, rhino poaching has increased dramatically over the last few years! Hundreds of rhinos were poached in 2013.
Why are rhinos the main target of poacher?
The main reason is that rhino horn is used for medicinal purposes. Although there is no scientific proof of its medicinal value, rhino horn is highly prized in traditional Asian medicine, where it is used as a treatment for a variety of illnesses such as nosebleeds, strokes, convulsions, and fevers.
It is also more and more commonly used as a status symbol to display someone’s success and wealth in Asian society. The scarcity of rhinos today drives the price higher and intensifies the pressure on the declining rhino population!
Killing an animal for fast and easy money is a huge temptation for someone with little or no income. At some point wages are so low that poaching becomes a survival issue. Animal conservation takes a backseat when hunger and poverty are real concerns.
In an attempt to deal with this extremely worrying trend, the South African government and other specialized organizations (such as Save the Rhino) have displayed a conservation plan to protect these endangered species from poachers. Save the Rhino works to conserve the endangered rhino population of Africa. This organization supports a number of ongoing rhino conservation programs by funding a range of activities, such as monitoring or anti-poaching.
The South African Department of Environmental Affairs has made several legislatives changes in response to the threat to rhinos: infiltrating the illegal market of rhino horn poaching, military patrols in the Kruger National Park in order to arrest poachers…
South African private owners of rhinos are also developing a range of increasingly innovative approaches to make rhinos less attractive to poachers, such as injecting poison into rhino horns and also infusing the horns with a brightly coloured dye. However, these methods have limited applicability and they are very expensive.
All these measures are implemented to protect black and white rhinos, which are both listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. We remain hopeful that these measures will prove to be successful so that we can continue to see these wonderful animals in their natural environment.
If you come to South Africa you can easily contribute to the protection of rhinos by choosing accommodation or a camp which is very involved in the protection of rhinos.
For example you could spend a few days at Desert Rhino Camp in Dramaraland in Namibia, which is one of the country’s most amazing regions. Indeed, Desert Rhino Camp hosts the largest free-ranging population of black Rhino in Africa. Therefore, the camp maintains a tight relationship with the Save the Rhino organization.
You could also visit the Inverdoorn game reserve, only 2hours north of Cape Town. The owner of this reserve is really involved against rhino poaching! Actually he is the one who had the idea of injecting poison into rhino horns. Inverdoorn also created another association called Rhino Protect.
It’s a win-win situation: On the one hand you will definitely enjoy your journey in these two incredible game reserves and on the other hand you will also contribute to the ongoing protection of Africa’s endangered rhino population!
By Capucine Motte
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