Rhino Killed in Free State Province, South Africa

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The demand for rhino horn in Traditional Chinese Medicine has claimed another life.


A white rhino has been killed in the Willem Pretorius Game Reserve, near the town of Senekal, in South Africa’s Free State Province. Both of the rhino’s horns were missing.

At least seven rhinos have been brutally murdered in South Africa since the start of 2011. This incident marks the year’s first for the Province.

Rhino crisis continues

During 2010, 333 rhinos were slaughtered in South Africa. Three of those killings occurred in the Free State.

South Africa’s most recent killing occurred in KwaZulu-Natal. Prior to that, 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.

In addition, at least seven rhinos have been gunned down in Zimbabwe, one in India, and another in Nepal.

Continued use of illegal rhino horn in traditional ‘medicines’

At the root of the rhino crisis is the continued use of rhino horn in traditional Chinese medicine.

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 revealed that most rhino horns leaving Southern Africa are being smuggled to China and Vietnam.

In Vietnam, a wildlife trade researcher found that rhino horn could command USD $40, 000 per kilogram. Other sources, including a 2008 Chinese research publication, suggest that the price could be even higher in China, perhaps as high as USD $60, 000 per kilogram.1

Average weights for rhino horns are three kilograms for black rhinos, and five and half for white rhinos.

‘Insiders’ involved in illegal rhino horn trade

An alarming number of arrests for rhino horn crimes have involved “insiders” from within the South African conservation community, hoping to cash in on the ignorance and myths surrounding the use of rhino horn.

So far this month, a South African hunter and a veterinarian have been arrested in connection with rhino horn trafficking, in two separate incidents.

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, loophole abuse, private stockpile leakage, dehorning scams, and legalized trade speculation are exacerbating South Africa’s rhino crisis.


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

Photo courtesy of Pam Krzyza

Other references:

1. Yanyan, D., Qian, J. (2008). Proposal for Protection of the Rhinoceros and the Sustainable Use of Rhinoceros Horn. State Soft Sciences Project, Development Strategy for Traditional Chinese Medicine Research

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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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. LET’S SAVE OUR RHINO – together we can do it…..

    The time has come to take action fast
    Else the rhinos we know will be a thing of the past
    Let’s broadcast a message for the whole world to see
    On Facebook, in the paper, the news on TV
    We’ll broadcast it loud and we’ll broadcast it clear
    We will make sure that the whole world can hear

    “When you cut your nails, whatever you do
    Don’t chuck them away in the bin or the loo
    Save your nails in a jar, we can send them to China
    I really can’t think of a plan that is finer.
    They can have all our nails, they can have them for free
    They can eat them for supper, in soup, in their tea
    They can have them on toast, on noodles, in jam
    Goodness knows what, but they can have them with ham
    Put them on pizza, in bread or in cheese
    Grind them like pepper and sniff them and sneeze

    Whatever it takes, but let our rhino be
    They belong on this planet like you and like me
    Go away, pack your bags, leave our rhino alone
    They are where they belong, this is their home”

  2. So brutal, cruel, sad and unnecessary!!!!!
    :( :( :(

  3. Each ATROCITY towards the small Rhino population that is deminishing daily seems to be taken so lighly by the Governments involved. Firstly the charges brought against the criminal element who are caught in the act is minimal with cheap and easy bail money paid. The bail money is a pittance of what these MURDERERS earn shipping their illegal wares to China and Vietnam. Why will these countries not get it into their heads that the Rhino horn has NO MEDICINAL VALUE at all, why will they not beleive this??? Do they want every Rhino on this planet of ours to be OBLITERATED into EXTINCTION??? They unfortunately are making a jolly good job of it and are relentless with their vocation for bucks.
    Sadly The Rhino conservation keep coming against a stone wall, you all need gold medals with your continual work to save our beloved RHINO!! I pray it all stops!!!