Requiem for two species of rhino

Hong Kong, SAR of China, Customs seized on Tuesday a total of 33 rhino horns, 758 ivory chopsticks and 127 ivory bracelets, worth about HK$17.4 million ($2.23 million), inside a container shipped from Cape Town, South Africa, according the a customs press release. Bobby Yip / ReutersSome days simply begin badly.  Today is one of those days. 

As I began reading updates on International Fund for Animal Welfare projects and our work in general, I came across the following shocking headlines:  “Africa's Western Black Rhino declared extinct, Java Rhino Probably Extinct in Vietnam.” 

A few months ago, in my blog on the theft of rhino horns from museums around the world, I asked the following; Could it possibly mean that protection of rhinos in the wild has become so good that thieves are forced to turn to easier pickings?  I speculated that it was doubtful but it is pretty clear now that poachers are still working full tilt and won't stop until every last animal is killed.  Poachers killed the last remaining Java Rhino in Vietnam in 2010.

The recent seizure of 33 rhino horns by Hong Kong SAR of China officials clearly indicates that the trafficking of wildlife and wildlife products is alive and well.  The Hong Kong seizure represents 2.3 million U.S. dollars on the black market.  The container hiding the rhino horns, along with other ivory products, was shipped from Cape Town, South Africa with its destination likely somewhere inside mainland China. 

South Africa has a much better grip on poaching and illegal transit of wildlife products than many other countries in Africa but their argument that South Africa has poaching under control and that they should, therefore, be allowed to legally trade in ivory and other wildlife products has suffered a serious blow with this seizure.

With more than one billion inhabitants, the appetite for wildlife products in China is larger than any other nation on earth, yet we continue to make progress in changing attitudes towards animals in that country  IFAW is increasing its efforts to educate consumers in China and to convince them that they must turn away from these products and that they have acceptable alternatives. We have focused our work on stopping poaching in the field and reducing demand for rhino horns and ivory in China.

Let's be clear. Stopping the senseless killing of rhinos for products that no one needs is an ethical decision.  Conservation practices based solely on population numbers have had their time in the sun and they have failed; their time has passed.  At IFAW, we focus on the welfare of individual animals as well as the health of populations; to us there is no acceptable argument for slaughtering rhinos and driving them to extinction for our vanity.  We believe this is cruel, eventually devastates the population, and the practice diminishes us as human beings.

-- AD

Comments: 8

6 years ago

Poachers should be disgusted with themselves!! I can't do that and still live with myself afterwards. I really hope they really feel pathetic! Everyone who works and supports IFAW I have an incredible amount of respect for you all. No one knows how much you all do for our planet! Thank you all! The world will appreciate all your work. Keep it up!

6 years ago

save da rhinos :P pochers please stop now if you kill them youre killing the world :(

6 years ago

When will they ever learn? Our world has suffered another blow below the belt.

6 years ago

"To us there is no acceptable argument for slaughtering rhinos and driving them to extinction for our vanity. We believe this is cruel, eventually devastates the population, and the practice diminishes us as human beings."
Simple beautiful ,I love that phrase.

Thank you!

6 years ago

Wow!, you definately have your hands full..< God Bless people like you>, without you, can you imagine what would happen???.....

6 years ago

There are times that I am angry and other times that I hate the human race for what they are doing to the animals in this world. I have no time for poachers and I believe they should be shot on sight. The animals in this world were put here for a purpose just like all of us and these poachers have no god given right to destroy either of them. Once more I say shoot these poachers if the opportunity arises and anyone else who has taken part in this underhandedness. This world was meant for numerous people and animals and it's not up to a handful of poachers to determine when either should live or die. From what I know of China has always had a finger in the pie in these kind of things and it is time to put an end to it before there is no animals left. I for one would like to see an end to poaching.

6 years ago

How devastating :( These horrid humans relentless greed has finally caused the extinction of yet another species :( A very sad time indeed.

6 years ago

I have always been an optimist but what has happened to wildlife and what man has
done to the envirnment, causing climate change has brought me often to depair.
I can only hope that something unexpected happens and wildlife/ animals-people
included are spared.
Thank you for your continued great work.
When I am employed again, I will give more than my fair share.

Mary Manhardt

Post a comment


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. Joseph Okori
Regional Director, Southern Africa and Program Director, Landscape Conservation
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
Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
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