NFA is delighted to announce our new efforts to support South African wildlife, starting with our practical work to help rhinos affected by the brutal trade in rhino horn.

It is estimated that 20,000 of the world’s 29,000 rhinos live in South Africa. Although they are a big draw card for tourists and conservationists, sadly they also attract an increasing number of poachers who set out to steal their horns for profit.

Despite the South African government deploying the military and police to protect the animals, 400 rhinos were killed in 2011, more than 600 were killed in 2012 and the country could lose 812 rhinos to poachers this year. These gangs profit from the slaughter of defenceless animals and threaten the very existence of many species, rhinos being just one.

Rhino poaching gangs are highly organised and willing to use violence against people who work to thwart this criminal activity because of the high profit stakes on the black market. Poachers are armed with automatic weapons and their tactics range from tracking on foot to military style helicopter raids.

The two most common uses for rhino horns are ceremonial daggers for Yemeni men and for a variety of uses in Asian medicine. Scientists have tested the efficacy of rhino horn as a medical treatment and declared that there is no benefit at all. And yet, three adult rhinos are slaughtered every day in South Africa, often leaving behind deeply disturbed orphans who were dependent on their parents for survival.

Network for Animals has opened an office in Cape Town, South Africa, to take part in the international campaign against this activity. At present we are supporting a baby rhino who has been orphaned by the trade in rhino horn – such orphans are stretching South Africa’s only rhino orphanage to the limit because of their care requirements.

Our partner, The Rhino Orphanage, was opened in 2012 as a response to a massive increase in rhino poaching in South Africa. It is run by Karen Trendler, an internationally renowned expert on wildlife rehabilitation and it houses an intensive care unit, treatment rooms, rhino accommodation units and sleeping areas for staff.

Over the coming months we will be bringing our supporters updates about our efforts to protect South African wildlife through practical support and international campaigning. Please read more about our efforts to help one particular rhino, Beautiful Girl.