The South African National Parks (SANParks) has requested help to stop rhino poaching.
South Africa is home to the largest rhinoceros populations in the world, including about 4,500 black rhinos, classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and about 20,000 southern white rhinos. White rhinos are classified as “near threatened” by the IUCN, which means they may face extinction in the near future.
According to the official statistics in 2010, 333 rhinos were hunted in 2011 the number was 448, while 668 were shot last year, mostly in the Kruger National Park, in the northeast of the country, but this year poachers have killed and 96 copies.
These data are more troubling when compared with previous data; between 1990 and 2007 rhino poaching averaged about 15 per year. The rhino poaching has also increased in Kenya, Zimbabwe and neighboring countries.
More than 90 percent of the horns of rhinos are sold in Asia, where you can buy a kilo for 40,000 Euros. In Asia there is a belief that rhino horn has aphrodisiac powers, but not only that, also used in traditional Chinese medicine and in the development of ceremonial daggers.
South African government has engaged the army to try to stop poachers also the South African National Parks have announced significant rewards to anyone with information that may be useful to make arrests and convictions.
The aim is to reduce rhino poaching between 10% and 18% each year for a period of five years, to protect the species and ensure the ecosystem and the environment.
But despite all these efforts by the government, experts agree that the only truly effective measure in the long term to deter poachers would curb demand for horns. This implies a strengthening of law enforcement in the importing countries, and especially education needs of consumers.