Poaching to Cause Fall in Rhino Population within Two Years

First Posted: Feb 27, 2013 06:33 AM EST

In January 2013, the National Press Club had called rhinos in South Africa as newsmaker of the year 2012 based on the account of impact, media attention, news value and social media the animals generated. And this announcement had faced criticism on a few fronts.  

The latest facts according to IUCN experts suggest that since 2006, nearly 2,400 rhinos have been poached in Africa, thereby declining the population growth of both African rhino species to the lowest level since 1995.

Rhino poaching soared between 2011 and 2012 by 43 percent, with a loss of 3 percent of the population in 2012.

The IUCN's Species Survival Commission's (SSC) African Rhino Specialist Group predicts that if poaching continues at such an alarming rate, the rhino population could drastically fall within two years' time.

"Well-organised and well-funded crime syndicates are continuing to feed the growing black market with rhino horn," Mike Knight, who heads the IUCN's African Rhino Specialist Group, said in a press statement. "Over the past few years, consumers' use of rhino horn has shifted from traditional Asian medicine practices to new uses, such as to convey status. High levels of consumption especially the growing demand in Viet Nam, threaten to reverse the considerable conservation gains achieved over the last two decades."

According to IUCN, there are 5,055 Black Rhinoceros and 20,405 White Rhinoceros in Africa. In 2012, nearly 754 rhinos were poached. They are being slaughtered because of the high demand for rhino horn in Asia's black market. Rhino horn is believed to have medicinal properties. The horn of a rhino fetches about $25,000 per pound.

Home to the world's largest rhino population is the South African Kruger National Park which is located near Mozambique, where major poaching activities take place. It is a major transit point for illegal horn smuggling to Asia.

The IUCN calls upon the international community to address the current crisis.

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