WORLD RHINO DAY: Shocking 3000% poaching increase
WWF-Australia Conservation Director Gilly Llewellyn said that South African poaching rates had increased by more than 3000% since 20071 and that the illegal trade resulted in extremely cruel ways for animals to die.
“Poachers come with machetes, rifles and chainsaws leaving the animal dying behind,” Dr Llewellyn said.
“It can take ten minutes for the rhino’s horn to be hacked off. It then takes days for the rhino to die in agony.”
In early 2012, almost two rhinos were poached every day in South Africa for their horns2 which are made of keratin, the same type of protein that makes up hair and fingernails.
In some Asian countries the rhino horn is believed to have medicinal properties. In Vietnam, for example, demand for rhino horn is increasing due to recent unfounded claims it can cure cancer. It has also been peddled as a hangover cure.
“We cannot allow this beautiful animal to suffer like this and we need to stop the trade that kills the rhino while we still can,” Dr Llewellyn said.
In both Africa and Asia, WWF and global wildlife monitoring network TRAFFIC are working with field rangers, criminal investigators, prosecutors and customs authorities to help stop the poachers and traffickers on trade routes.
WWF's Black Rhino Range Expansion Project was established in 2003 to relocate rhinos to areas that increase breeding and population growth. Late last year a group of 19 critically endangered black rhinos were moved from South Africa's Eastern Cape to a new range in the Limpopo province.
Note to editors:
On World Rhino Day WWF urges all Australians to sign up to our new STOP the trade that kills campaign. Go to wwf.org.au/stop for more information. Images, videos available upon request
Daniel Rockett, Senior Media Officer, WWF-Australia, 0432 206 592, firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Source: South Africa National Parks (SANParks) figures. In 2007 13 poaching deaths were recorded increasing to 448 rhinos in 2011.
2 Source: TRAFFIC media release - http://www.wwf.org.au/?4881/TRAFFIC-Loose-horns-surging-demand-and-easy-money-create-perfect-storm-for-rhino-poaching