The world’s 5 rhino species (white, black, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan) are facing a poaching crisis of alarming proportions and many fear that extinction looms for one of our planets most charismatic animals if effective action cannot be taken now.

Rhino numbers

The following population estimates speak to the precariousness of the rhino’s present situation: In Asia, 27-44 Javan rhino, 150-200 Sumatran rhino and 2,850 greater one-horned rhino and in Africa roughly 21,000 white rhino and perhaps 4,800 black rhino (down from 100,000 in 1960) are left in the wild.

Unprecedented levels of poaching

Most of Africa’s rhinos are found in South Africa and rates of poaching are escalating. Between 1990 and 2005 only 14 rhinos were poached each year on average. Despite having the continents best developed anti-poaching structure, in 2008 this jumped to 83, in 2009 it was 122, in 2010 it more than doubled to 333 and in 2011 448 rhinos were killed. With 394 rhino’s already killed this year, it is predicted that more than 530 and perhaps as many as 600 rhino’s will be poached this year.

Why the demand?

Despite the restrictions put in place by CITES related to rhino horn trade, poaching  is now a sophisticated and lucrative high stakes affair, fuelled by a seemingly insatiable illegal market based on traditional Asian medicine. This is especially the case in countries like China and Viet Nam where it is falsely believed that consuming rhino horn can boost sexual performance and combat diseases including cancer. Increasingly, some of Asia’s growing wealthy class are also buying rhino horn as an investment commodity and buyers are willing to pay more than £30,000 per Kg. Rhino horn is therefore worth more than its weight in gold.

What can be done?

The current poaching crisis in South Africa has provoked a huge debate about the best way to stop poaching and save rhino populations. In the short-term, greater investments are being made in law enforcement with mixed results due to the incentive for unscrupulous wildlife managers to get involved with the illegal trade. The legalization of trade in ivory horn is also being proposed as a means of raising additional funds to conserve wild rhino’s, but as Born Free CEO Will Travers explains, this is a flawed argument from a variety of perspectives:

Read Will Travers article in Africa Geographic

Follow further discussion on the Rhino horn trade debate

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“Please, watch the video below, then share with everyone you know…we must do everything we can to protect these magnificent animals!”

Published on 13 Jun 2012 by 

This movie was produced by UNTV in collaboration with the CITES Secretariat in an effort to raise public awareness of the current crisis faced by rhinoceros through illegal killing and international trade in rhino horn. The movie was be first shown on 18 June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro on the occasion of the Rio+20 Conference.

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Wills: Stop killing rhino | The Sun |News

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PRINCE William has slammed people involved in illegally trading rhino horn — saying: “My message to them is simply ‘Stop’.”

The Duke of Cambridge added they were “extremely ignorant, selfish and utterly wrong”.

Black rhinos are critically endangered in the wild because of the soaring price of their hornworth more than gold due to demand in some countries.

It is perceived to have medicinal properties and in some Asian countries is believed to hold a cure for cancer and act as an aphrodisiac.

Poaching has had a dramatic impact on all rhino populations in the wild and it is believed they could soon be extinct if they continue to be killed.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Wills, 29, said of people buying or poaching rhino horn: “I think they are extremely ignorant. I think they are selfish. I think they are wrong, totally and utterly wrong.

“It makes me very angry, it’s a waste.”

He added: “If we don’t do something about them it is going to be a tragic loss for everyone.

“My message to them is simply ’Stop’.

“It’s a message about educating people and understanding that when you buy that rhino horn, or when you buy that ivory, you are taking this from an animal that has been slaughtered for this decorative ornament you have on your mantelpiece and you have at home — is that really what you desire and what you feel is right in the world?”

via Wills: Stop killing rhino | The Sun |News.


Rhino Crisis Round Up: Three Rhino Killers Arrested in India & More

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A rhino-killing attempt has been thwarted in India’s Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary, thanks to a joint team of forest guards and police.

India’s Business Standard reports that a four-member gang accessed the Diplung forest range to kill rhinos in the wee morning hours, but three were nabbed following an exchange of gunfire with forest guards. adds that a .303 rifle and ammunition were recovered.

Rhinos killed in Tanzania

A mother rhino and her calf were slaughtered in Serengeti National Park, and apparently, the tragedy occurred nearly a month ago — but went unreported by park staff.

According to Reuters, four senior wildlife officials and 28 game wardens have now been suspended, including Serengeti’s chief warden and the acting director of the country’s national parks authority.

The female rhino was one of the five critically endangered Eastern black rhinos (Diceros bicornis michaeli) translocated to Tanzania from South Africa in May 2010, as part of the Serengeti Black Rhino Repatriation Project sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Wildlife Without Borders” program, along with international partners.

Only three of the five rhinos are still alive, as “George” was killed for his horns in December 2010.

A statement released by USFWS shortly after George’s murder said that plans to translocate another 27 black rhinos to Tanzania were being “re-assessed”

Arrests in Southern Africa

Meanwhile, Angola Press released the name of a Vietnamese national arrested in Mozambique with seven rhino horns.

Doan Minh was headed to Hanoi via Bankok on a Kenya Airways flight when he was apprehended at Maputo’s main airport.

At least two suspects were arrested this week in South Africa for dealing in rhino horns.

In South Africa, a suspect identified by IOL as Dennis Struis was arrested for attempting to sell a rhino horn and was released on R5000 bail. He is expected to appear in court on July 24th.

Another suspect, Johan Masakwani Mundhlovu, was arrested and his case postponed until July 7th. Police confiscated a rhino horn, copper cables, two butcher knives, an axe and a 9mm pistol with twelve rounds of ammunition.

In addition, a gang of four suspects arrested in 2011 and linked to six rhino killings at Thabazimbi, Pienaarsrivier, Mokopane and Naboomspruit appeared in court.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) says that Chico Malesa, Johannes Malesa (brothers), Innocent Matjakesa and Archford Moyo are in custody while they await another appearance scheduled for June 19th.

Finally, South African safari operator Marnus Steyl, professional hunter Harry Claassens, and their Thai accomplices will be in court on Monday, June 4th.

Steyl and three Thai nationals — Chumlong Lemtongthai, Punpitak Chunchom and Tool Sriton — were arrested last year for using prostitutes to pose as trophy hunters in an illegal rhino horn laundering scheme.

Claassens was arrested earlier this month, and Steyl has also been linked to South Africa’s lion bone trade.

At least 227 rhinos have been killed in South Africa since the beginning of the year.

One-horned rhinos of Asia

Although once widespread throughout Asia, from Pakistan to the Myanmar border and possibly into southern China, greater one-horned rhinos (Rhinoceros unicorns) now exist in just two countries: India and Nepal.

Thanks to the efforts of the International Rhino Foundation and their partners, the population of greater one-horned rhinos is on the rise.

IRF’s efforts to increase rhino numbers are also underway in Indonesia, home to the world’s only known population of Javan rhinos (Rhinoceros sondaicus) — which is close to just 40 individuals. Vietnam’s subspecies of Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus) was declared extinct in 2011.

At one time, Javan rhinos were found throughout Southeast and Southern Asia and southern China.

Learn more about IRF’s work with these two rhino species — and how you can help — in this exclusive interview with the Executive Director of IRF, Dr. Susie Ellis: The podcast of “Saving the One-Horned Rhinos of Asia” is also available on iTunes.

Podcast & Source: Planetsave (

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Poaching Has Devalued The Rhino

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A fruit and vegetable seller, a fitter, and a driving school instructor arrested while allegedly trying to sell a rhino horn to a police agent, are members of a syndicate trading in protected game in KwaZulu-Natal, according to evidence led in opposing the trio’s bail application.

The Durban Magistrate’s Court also heard on Thursday that poaching had been affecting the sale of rhinos at auctions, knocking R1.5 billion off the value of the national white rhino herd.

For Ref. Only

Judgment has been reserved.

Rajen Moodley, of Phoenix, Sthembiso Luthuli, of Rich-ards Bay, and Samkeliso Sibiya, of Mandeni, were arrested after trying to sell a 6.5kg, metre-long horn for R1.5 million, the court heard.

The horn has been valued at more than R3m. The trio face charges of dealing in and being in possession of a rhino horn.

Detective Warrant Officer Jean-Pierre van Zyl-Roux, in an affidavit, said the men were part of a group involved in dealing in specially protected game, particularly white rhino, in KwaZulu-Natal.

“That the accused have been arrested will not stop the other syndicate members from (pursuing) their criminal activities,” said Van Zyl-Roux. “If the accused were to be released, they would rejoin their colleagues and resume (their) serious criminal activities.”

The trio were arrested by police on March 18 in a sting at Durban’s Battery Beach.

Van Zyl-Roux said the men knew the identities and addresses of the State’s witnesses and could trace, intimidate or harm them. One of the State witnesses had received anonymous, threatening cellphone calls, the court heard.


“Rhino killing is on the increase in South Africa. The fact that criminals use violence to commit these crimes has the population living in fear of informing on these criminals,” Van Zyl-Roux said in his affidavit, which was read to the court by prosecutor Krishen Shah.

“Too often poachers fire on game guards or threaten to kill them. (They) have no respect for the lives of the innocent.” The incidence of rhino crimes had so increased that “we are fast approaching the state where extinction of all rhino in the world is a distinct possibility”.

The affidavit referred to the financial effect poaching had on the game industry, requiring the employment of guards and extra security measures.

Van Zyl-Roux said poaching had made owning rhino so unattractive that none of the white and black rhino up for auction in August 2010 had been sold.

“With an estimated 20 000- odd white rhino in South Africa, this decline in average sale value reflects a drop in asset value of the country’s white rhino of R1.5bn,” he said.

Van Zyl-Roux said no permits were issued for the possession or sale of the horn. “This can only mean the accused knew that the possession and sale of the horn were illegal.”

Shah also read out letters from a number of anti-poaching organisations written to the chief magistrate appealing for bail to be denied. Also submitted were petitions opposing bail, from online anti-poaching associations.

Shah said the men had met a police agent at a beachfront hotel and negotiated a price for the sale of the horn. The agent, he said, had asked to see the horn. The men took the agent to their vehicle opposite the old Natal Command site. The horn was on the back seat of the vehicle.

The court heard that Moodley, 44, lived in Redfern, Phoenix, and had a roadside stall in Westside in the suburb. His attorney, Rajendra Nathalal, asked the court not to be swayed by organisations opposed to the men’s being released on bail.

He said the State was not presenting factual evidence.

“Apart from the fact that all three men were arrested together, there is no other evidence to suggest they form part of a syndicate,” he said. He said Moodley, who had previous convictions for drunk driving and culpable homicide, could afford R20 000 for bail.

Luthuli, 34, is the breadwinner for his two children and fiancée. He has worked for Transnet as an electrical fitter for the past seven years.

Sibiya, 47, who supports four children and a fiancée, owns a driving school. He and Luthuli said they could afford R10 000 in bail.

All three men said they intended pleading not guilty. They assured the court they were not a flight risk and did not have relatives across the border.

Magistrate Anita Govender has reserved judgment until May 22.

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