Rhino poaching decrease in South AfricaJanuary 28, 2016
South Africa’s Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, recently announced the first decrease in rhino poaching in South Africa since 2007.
“We are pleased to announce that for the first time in a decade the poaching situation in South Africa has actually stabilised, and considering that this is in the face of a relentless rise of poaching activity in protected areas – this is good news.” – Edna Molewa
Despite this seemingly ‘good news’, expert conservationists agree that it is too soon to start celebrating. Although 2015 saw the rhino poaching death toll drop by 40 rhinos from the record 1,215 in the previous year, it is still far too high and is being offset by an increase in the number of rhinos killed in neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe and Namibia.
The fact that these figures come just days after the moratorium on domestic trade in rhino horn was lifted after the Environmental Affairs Department lost an appeal application in the High Court in Pretoria this week.
“The High Court ruling is a serious blow. There is no market for rhino horn in South Africa, so lifting the domestic moratorium can only encourage illegal activity, especially as it is likely to be misconstrued as a lifting of the current international trade ban.” – Edna Molewa
In order to suspend the operation and execution of the court’s decision to review and set aside the moratorium, Molewa said she will apply for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal in the rhino horn moratorium judgment. This will temporarily put a hold on the domestic rhino horn trade again.
A few facts about rhinos:
• Rhinos have been around for 40 million years and form an important part of a wide range of ecosystems for millions of years and also act as an umbrella species for other species sharing their habitat. When protecting and managing a rhino population, other species of both flora and fauna are protected too.
• Rhinos have notoriously bad eyesight and cannot see stationary objects more than a few metres away from them. This makes them easy targets for poachers. They make up for their bad eyesight with a very acute sense of hearing and well-developed sense of smell.
• At the current rate of poaching, it is a widely accepted estimate that rhinos will be extinct by the year 2025, just 9 years from now.
• Travelers are playing a big part in saving the rhinos. Wild rhinos attract tourists to national parks and local communities, which in turn fund effective conservation programs. Without these conservation programs, the Southern White Rhino would likely not exist today. The more money being put into these programs, the more they can do to not just save rhino populations, but also to increase and sustain rhino populations.
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