Rhinos have been around for more than 50 million years, yet humans seem hell-bent on wiping them off the face of the earth forever. Rhinos are being brutally murdered for their horns and are so endangered that they will soon be extinct.
Today, September 22, is World Rhino Day – a day we celebrate rhinos and generate awareness of their dreadful situation. The cruelty rhinos are up against is overwhelming. The white rhino is near threatened and the black rhino is critically endangered because of poaching.
South Africa is home to most remaining rhino and on average one rhino is killed every 15 hours. Most illegal activity occurs in the Kruger National Park, a protected area. At the root of the rhino crisis is the ridiculous belief that rhino horn contains healing power. It is this myth that is driving poaching.
Demand for rhino horn has skyrocketed in Vietnam where powdered horn is touted as both a hangover cure and a cancer treatment despite having absolutely no proven medicinal benefits. South Africa has been the focal point of poaching because it has the largest population of rhinos in the world.
While law enforcement efforts are growing, it’s still incredibly challenging to shield rhinos from poachers who are highly organized and use sophisticated methods. Reflecting over the last few years to where South Africa is today, some progress has been made but it is not nearly enough to save rhinos from being wiped out.
The number of rhinos poached in Africa has increased by almost 9,000% since 2017. High-level corruption, organized crime, apathy and indifference, inter-agency politics, lack of leadership, co-ordination, capacity, skills, or resources are just some of the bigger challenges facing those dedicated environmental crime investigators committed to disrupting and dismantling the poaching syndicates.
“We urge governments to improve international and local laws to stop the illegal flow of rhino horn trading, invest in more protection on the ground, and commit to protecting rhinos in the wild,” said David Barritt of Network for Animals (NFA).