Rhino Killed in KwaZulu-Natal: Sixth in South Africa for 2011


Rhinos continue to fall victim to myths, greed, and corruption.

The continued use of illegal rhino horn in traditional Chinese medicine has claimed the life of another rhino in South Africa. The rhino was found near Ntambanana, in KwaZulu-Natal.

This killing is the sixth for the year in South Africa, which already lost 333 of the precious pachyderms in 2010.

Eight rhinos already killed worldwide in 16 days

Prior to the most recent incident in KwaZulu-Natal, two rhinos were murdered in Kruger National Park, a pregnant rhino was slaughtered in the Hoedspruit area, and another near Musina. Still another was killed in the Eastern Cape, at Kariega Game Reserve near Kenton-on-Sea.

One rhino has been killed in Nepal and another in India, bringing the worldwide death toll to eight in just sixteen days.

Continued use of illegal rhino horn in traditional ‘medicines’

Illegal rhino horn is in highly sought after for use in traditional medicines in China and Vietnam, despite the fact rhino horn has been extensively analyzed and contains no medicinal properties.

Research conducted by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC found that most rhino horns leaving Southern Africa are being smuggled to China and Vietnam.

Spreading Chinese footprint in Southern Africa

It has also been noted that the spreading Chinese footprint in Southern Africa has placed the demand for rhino horn perilously close to the supply, and counter poaching reports have linked the increase in rhino and elephant killings to a flood of Chinese weapons in the region.

Abuse of CITES research loopholes

There are further concerns that state-funded rhino horn use proposals from China served as one of several catalysts for the surge in rhino killings across Southern Africa.

Such proposals, which surfaced in 2008 and 2009, encourage the use of rhino horn, and strongly suggest the PRC government is attempting to circumvent CITES research provisions by blurring the lines between research and commercial trade in rhinos.

‘Insiders’ involved in illegal rhino horn trade

The continued killing on African soil points to “insiders” from within the South African conservation community, who are apparently operating with unrestrained greed and cruelty, hoping to cash in on the ignorance and myths surrounding the use of rhino horn.

There is an in-depth look at this disturbing topic at Are ‘Insiders’ Intentionally Fueling Demand for Illegal Rhino Horn?, which notes that nefarious business alliances, private stockpile leakage, dehorning scams, and legalized trade speculation are exacerbating South Africa’s rhino crisis.

Current system of ‘bail and release’ not a deterrent

It is also believed that the South African courts are a weak link in the battle to protect the country’s rhinos.

Despite diligent intelligence work and the subsequent arrests of at least 162 people in 2010, the South African courts have repeatedly granted affordable bail amounts as “punishment” for rhino-related crimes, rather than administer serious deterrents.

Source: K. Bewick, Anti-Poaching Intelligence Group, Southern Africa

Image: istockphoto.com

Rhishja Cota-Larson

I am the founder of Annamiticus, an educational nonprofit organization which provides news and information about wildlife crime and endangered species. I am the Editor of Rhino Horn is Not Medicine and Project Pangolin, author of the book Murder, Myths & Medicine, a writer for the environmental news blog Planetsave, the host of Behind the Schemes, and Producer for the upcoming documentary The Price. When I'm not blogging about the illegal wildlife trade, I enjoy gardening, reading, designing, and rocking out to live music.

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