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