Desperation to stem increasing rhino poaching leads to tragedy

We were saddened to learn of the death of a rhino named ‘Spencer’ yesterday during the attempted demonstration of a tactic that some groups believed would save rhinos from poachers. Spencer died from unknown causes.

The tactic, inserting a poison capsule into the Rhino’s horn, is designed to render the horn valueless to potential poachers looking to sell the item for carving, to collectors or for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

It is a sad fact that a total of 448 animals were poached in South Africa in 2011, an increase of 25% year over year. This year alone, 30 rhinos have already been killed by poachers.

There is no doubt this is a crisis situation that requires bold, sustained and integrated measures by non-governmental organizations and governments involved in reducing demand in nations that are consuming illegal wildlife products.

Together, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and governments are working to:

  • reduce consumer demand for these unnecessary products that can only be obtained cruelly through the slaughter of wildlife
  • equip and train rangers protecting these animals against poachers
  • support national and international law enforcement, catching poachers and smugglers at border crossing and in the markets around the world.

We can only protect rhinos, elephants and other wildlife threatened by poaching if those of us on the side of conservation work together in the same kind of international, integrated efforts all along the chain of wildlife product commerce – from the poachers in the wilderness to the consumers in the shops.

If we do not stop demand, these criminals will not stop until our wild places are empty of wild animals.

One step you can take right now is to sign our “Say NO! to Ivory” petition on Facebook to help protect elephants from poaching,

Taking this step for these majestic creatures moves the animal welfare movement closer to our ultimate goal of protecting all wildlife, including rhino.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Country Representative, Germany
Country Representative, Germany
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy