Friday, January 21, 2011

Black Rhino Poaching

The numbers are grim—rhino poaching in South Africa averaged nearly one a day in 2010. Of the 333 rhinos illegally killed last year, ten were critically endangered black rhinos, according to national park officials. This is the highest ever recorded in South Africa and nearly triple the number in 2009 when 122 rhinos were poached. Alarmingly, the new year began with another five rhinos lost to poaching.
“This is not typical poaching,” said Dr. Joseph Okori, WWF African Rhino Program Manager. “The criminal syndicates operating in South Africa are highly organized and use advanced technologies. They are very well coordinated.”
The current wave of poaching is being committed by sophisticated criminal networks using helicopters, night-vision equipment, veterinary tranquilizers and silencers to kill rhinos at night while attempting to avoid military and law enforcement patrols.
The recent rhino crime wave is largely attributed to the increased demand for rhino horn, which has long been prized as an ingredient in traditional Asian medicine. Its popularity increased in Vietnam after claims that rhino horn possesses cancer-curing properties, despite any medical evidence.

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