World Rhino Day – Breaking Records For All the Wrong Reasons

World Rhino Day – Breaking Records  For All the Wrong Reasons
Tuesday, 22 September, 2015
Cape Town, South Africa

As long as rhinos remain one of the globe’s most persecuted animal species, World Rhino Day is no cause for celebration, conservationists have warned.

“Rhino’s continue to break records for all the wrong reasons. Year on year poachers take the tally of rhinoceros killed and mutilated for their horns to record levels. It’s time it stopped,” said Jason Bell, Director IFAW Southern Africa.

According to the latest update by Edna Molewa, South Africa’s Minister for the Environment, by 27 August 749 rhino had so far been poached across South Africa in 2015, most of those – 544 - in the iconic Kruger National Park (KNP).

The Minister said anti-poaching teams in the KNP were making physical contact with heavily armed gangs up to three times a week, with over 1,600 positively identified poacher activities taking place in the first eight months of the year. KNP shares a 1,000 kilometre long border with Mozambique, from where most of the poachers are thought to enter.

Last year the killing of rhinos for their horns hit another year on year record with 1,215 individuals killed for their horns.

“We are fast reaching the tipping point for the future viability of rhinoceros,” said Jason Bell, Director Southern Africa for IFAW.

“It is more necessary than ever that South Africa reaches out to the international community for help in combatting this appalling slaughter. Only by eliminating demand for rhino horn in countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and China can we possibly hope to slow the killing.

“The Government and SANParks should be applauded for the effort they have put into addressing the crisis on the ground, but they must focus their attention on the criminal syndicates involved in the slaughter of South Africa’s rhinos and, to do that, they need to work with their international counterparts, the ngo community and the public.”

Azzedine Downes, IFAW President and CEO, raised concerns regarding current investigations by SA Government into the feasability, or not, of possible trade in rhino horn.

“Poaching of rhinos has increased alarmingly since 2007 in South Africa alone. With demand for rhino horn showing no signs of slowing, any talk of opening up trade in rhino horn can only be described as irrational. We urge governments and conservationists to stand with rhinos today and every day. We need to re-double on our efforts to stop the killing, stop the trafficking and stop the demand,” said Downes.

The illegal wildlife trade generates an estimated US$19 billion per year.  It ranks fourth on the list of the most lucrative global illegal activities closely behind drugs, all forms of counterfeiting and human trafficking.

Poaching of rhinoceros in South Africa has been on a rapid upward trajectory since 2010 when 333 rhino were killed for their horn, reaching 1004 in 2013 and outstripping that figure in 2014 when 1,215 were poached.

Editors:

Read IFAW’s report, Horn of Contention, about the economics of trade in endangered wildlife in general and on rhino horn in particular.

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos are available at www.ifawimages.com

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