STOP THE RHINO SLAUGHTER!


Since 2008 there has been a huge increase in the number of poached rhino in South Africa, especially in the Kruger National Park, Limpopo Provence and Kwazulu Natal. Several organizations such as STOP RHINO POACHING NOW! are doing everything they can to raise funds for and awareness about the the plight of rhino. Kameleon Adventures wants to do its bit by spreading the word and raising funds.

On the continent, it is only Southern Africa that has any rhino left, and South Africa has the biggest population of both white rhino (approx. 19,000) and black rhino (approx 1,800). Zimbabwe has almost lost their entire rhino population due to recent farm invasions and lack of law enforcement in the country!

The cause of the increased poaching

Speculations about the cause of the shocking increase are diverse. South Africa is now a bigger target for rhino poachers, as there are just no more rhino left in other African countries. The increased international relations between South Africa and China could possibly play a role. And lets not forget the recession; unemployment means poverty and that can cause a person to turn to criminal activities sooner. Poaching has become a quick and sometimes relatively easy way to make money.

The horn

The horns of poached rhino are smuggled to Asia (mainly Vietnam and China) where people believe that the horn has a medicinal value and can cure all sorts of illnesses, from fever to cancer. This is an absolute myth; the horn of a rhino is made of keratin , the same material of which hair and finger nails consists of. But try to explain this to people who are conviced of the horn's healing properies. Yemen also has a market for horns; traditionally, the handle of the ritual dagger is made of rhino horn.

Poaching methodes

Rhino's have a good sense of smell, but very poor eyesight. Poachers that approach into the wind can get very close to the rhino and this makes it an easy target. Often the poachers are poor, local people that enter the reserves on foot, armed with rifles to poach rhino. These poachers are often not very good marksmen and take random shots at the animal, often aiming at the legs to immobilise it. When the animal is down the horns are chopped off with an axe or panga (cleaver). The poachers make no exceptions for pregnant cows or mothers with calves. There is NO mercy.

The poachers

Even more shocking is the fact that lately some professionals are involved in poaching. Well placed shot wounds were found in rhino carcasses, which indicates a trained marksmen; ex-militaires and professional hunters. In other cases the rhino was darted with (an overdose of) an anaesthetic, and helicopters were used to locate and kill rhino and to transport the poachers with the horns.

Anti poaching

In September 2010 a syndicate was rounded up in South Africa, among the concerned parties were wildlife vets, pilots and professional hunters. The very persons who are supposed to protect these animals! This caused an outrage in South Africa!
The SAPS (South African Police Service), Nature Conservation, SANParks (South African National Parks), Private Nature Reserves, game rangers and security companies are now working together to put a stop to rhino poaching. SANDF (South African National Defence Force) is also involved. This is a massive task, as the reserves cover millions of hectares of land. However, poachers and couriers are being caught and convicted. Shootouts between anti poaching units and poachers happen regularly.

NUMBER OF RHINO POACHED


2005        13

2006        24

2007        17

2008        83

2009      122

2010      333

2011      448

2012      668

2013    1009

2014      496 (end June)

photo courtesy of S. de Deugd

Protection and prevention

Besides the regular anti poaching patrols done in the reserves, many are undertaking other preventative measures to save their rhino. Some reserves are trying to protect their rhino by de-horning them. Under supervision of a wildlife vet, part of the horn is sawed off, in order to make the rhino less attractive to poachers. This process is done under anaesthetic, it does not hurt the rhino, and the horn will grow back, just like hair. Unfortunatey, poachers might still kill these rhino, either to not get confused with tracks of the rhino that still do have their horn in tact, or just for the stump of horn.
Other reserves place a transmitter in the horn of their rhino (completely safe and painless for the animal) to be able to monitor it via satelilite tracking. The downside is the massive price tag of such a transmitter.
Some suggest the possibility of legalizing the trade in rhino horn. Hundreds of thousands of registered horns (of animals dying of natural causes) are stored, but they cannot be sold due to the ban on rhino and ivory products. The funds of sold rhino horn could contribute to nature conservation and anti poaching. The downside is that it may be easier to sell illegaly obtained horn on the open market.

There are no easy solutions, but at every level people are putting systems in place and working hard to both protect rhino and to bring poachers to justice. Looking at the numbers -approx 20,800 rhino left in South Africa, and around 500 poached rhino per year- the future is seriously uncertain for these amazing animals. This is not just South Africa's problem, this is a problem that should concern each and every one of us around the world.

Donations

We aim to create an awareness of the ongoing indiscriminate slaughter of the black and white rhino in South Africa. All funds raised by Kameleon Adventures will directly benefit organizations fighting against rhino poaching. These funds will be used to train guards and game rangers, and for equipment (radios, night vision equipment, etc), tracker dogs, anti poaching patrols and road block equipment, the availability and use of vehicles, helicopters, and research.

What can we do!

Show your support by registering and/or donating funds on WWW.STOPRHINOPOACHING.COM

If you are planning to visit a game reserve or National Park in Southern Africa, please report any suspicious activity to your lodge or staff at the reserve. Suspicious activities may include low flying helicopters: write down the aircraft identification number (if there is none visible one should be even more alert), or people just walking in the reserve. If you see a rhino, check their physical condition (is the animal in good health or are there any visible wounds).
From our own experience we know that it is not the first time that alert tourists have prevented a poaching incident!

Thank you for your attention!

Kameleon Adventures in conjunction with Amukela Game Lodge

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