Last year, 122 rhinos were killed in South Africa.
Predictions are that at the current poaching rate 180 to 200 will be
killed this year. A provisional 2009 estimate shows only 800 rhinos
remain in Zimbabwe and 18 553 white and 1 570 black rhinos in South
Africa. This is according to the Convention on International Trade
in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or CITES, which
maintains and monitors the ban on the trade of rhino horn.
According to South Africa’s National Environmental
Affairs Minister, Buyelwa Sonjica, "8 White Rhino were poached in
the Kruger National Park in January 2010, compared to 7 in January
2009", despite the deployment of high–tech equipment and 58
additional rangers to hot spots within the reserve. This brings the
total ranger compliment to 350 to various ‘hot spots’ within Kruger.
19 Motor cycles, night vision equipment for the crew of two SANParks
helicopters, an additional ultra light aircraft, as well as use of
the S.A. National Defense Force to patrol the parks’ international
borders have also been added to assist in tracking down
SANParks CEO David Mabunda said in a recent
statement that between the 1st and 22nd of January 2010, at least 14
rhino were poached between Kruger (7) and North West Parks (7). This
brings the total number of rhino slaughtered in the past 3 years to
93, with a total of only 48 arrests made during the same period.
relates that poachers recently killed 2 White Rhino just outside
Johannesburg in the Krugersdorp Game Reserve, a fact that he says
shows that the crime is extending to even relatively built-up areas
and becoming increasingly brazen. According to a reserve employee,
this horrific deed was carried out by thugs who darted and
anesthetised the rhino from the air using homemade darts. They then
landed, removed the horns and fled, leaving the animals to cruelly
bleed to death.
On the 2nd of February 2010, in a heavily guarded
zoological park just outside of Livingstone in Zambia, poachers shot
the last 2 remaining rhino in the country. One was killed and the
other wounded and has since received treatment. According to Maureen
Mwape, the Spokesperson for the Zambian Wildlife Authority, they
would be investigating the shooting but it appears that even under
"heavy guard", the dead female rhino’s horn was removed.
At the end of 2009, it was reported to the
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Natural Resources, Environment
and Tourism Zimbabwe, that approximately 200 rhino had been poached
during the last 3 years. It was estimated by experts that the
surviving rhino population in Zimbabwe was around 300 White and 500
Black Rhino. If accurate, this implies that around 25% of the total
population was lost during the past 3 years.
The Committee also heard from the Director of
National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Dr. Morris
Mutsambiwa, who stated that 86 suspected poachers had been arrested
in 2009. Of the 45 reported cases of poaching received, 33 involved
Zimbabweans either working alone or linked to international
syndicates. The others were from South Africa, Zambia and China.
Reports of government minister involvement have also been received
by authorities but attempts to follow these up were thwarted due to
the ‘disappearance’ of certain vital police dockets.
says that Wildlife Risk Solutions has recently received various
reports from Zimbabwe stating that ‘war veterans’ have settled in
the Chiredzi district and are using poison to poach rhino from a
nearby reserve. A community spokesperson for Humani Estates, Mr.
Nelson Maponga, said the perpetrators are leaving poisoned cabbages
for the rhino at waterholes and then tracking them after consumption
until they succumb to unconsciousness, at which stage they then
remove the horns. These apparently get sold to South African dealers
who have also flooded the Chiredzi area with firearms. Cattle
belonging to local communities, as well as other species of
wildlife, are using the same drinking holes and are consuming the
cabbages, obviously dying as well. Freimond contends that this is an
indication of the indiscriminate ruthlessness of these criminals.
As Freimond says, "New reports of poaching
incidents are being received daily and if this scourge continues,
what has taken superhuman effort by the likes of Dr. Ian Player and
Clive Walker in resurrecting the rhino populations of Southern
Africa will have been in vain as the populations of these
magnificent creatures will be decimated beyond resurrection."