Friday, 18 November 2011

The killing fields

On Monday 14 November, Hong Kong customs officials discovered 33 rhinoceros horns stashed in a container that left Cape Town harbour marked “plastic scrap”. Now, for those that don’t know about the rhino poaching epidemic that is sweeping across Africa and Asia, let’s put this bust into perspective. Last year alone, some 333 rhino’s were killed in South Africa. This figure doesn't include the rest of southern or East Africa, where there are fewer rhino’s roaming the plains. In 2011, more than one rhino has been killed every day so far this year. The recent bust in Hong Kong represents 10% of the poached rhinos this year.

The problem is set to continue, as two species – the Western Black and the Javan rhino were recently declared extinct. The reason for their demise is that some Asian states have claimed that rhino horn offers a cure for a variety of ailments, including cancer. Medical studies have shown that the horns contain no medicinal qualities, but the senseless killing of these iconic species continues.

What can we do to stop the poaching?
We need to offer support to conservation agencies, lobby government to impose heavy sentences and fines on poachers and traffickers, and call on Asian nations to outlaw the sale and use of rhino horn. Most importantly, we need to educate those that may not realise the plight of these majestic creatures. Speak to friends and families and spread the word. It is only by killing the demand, that we’ll be able to quell the killing of one of Africa’s most prized species. 

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