Thanks to a financially-focused rhino story that dominated the news during the past few days, crime syndicates could be more motivated than ever to “source” rhino horn.
Unfortunately, there was no mention of recent rhino horn trade research showing a direct link between the rising “value” of antique rhino horn, increased museum robberies, and the massacre that South Africa is trying so hard to stop.
Also noticeably absent was any historical context regarding the source of the rhino horn cups.
The “record-breaking” episode is apparently going to air at a later date.
Perhaps PBS could include a public service announcement about the rhino crisis along with the upcoming episode, especially considering that the public seems blissfully unaware (so far) about the tragic details behind the value of these “treasures”.
Scamming and smiling
There’s another twist the rhino-killing Thai hooker saga involving South African safari operator Marnus Steyl.
Investigative reporter Julian Rademeyer revealed that one of the women claims she wept when asked to pose for a trophy photo next to a dead rhino, unaware of her “role” in the scam.
The two women said they were under the impression that they would “entertain” Thai tourists, for which they would get R5 000 and a free holiday.
However, photos have reportedly been obtained which show Steyl and the Thai “hunters” posing next to blood-soaked rhino carcasses and “smiling”.
The Mail & Guardian noted last week that the women involved in Ssteyl’s operation were “supplied” by a known human trafficker already wanted in Thailand, although the ladies interviewed for the article pointed out that “not all Thai women who come to work in South Africa are prostitutes or strippers”.
Voices of reason
Fortunately, something sensible has emerged in the midst of this madness.
South African voices are sounding the alarm over the connections between trophy hunting and the illegal rhino horn trade.
In a blog post entitled “End the Mockery Now“, Africa Geographic reporter Ian Michler tells it like it is.
Developments over the last week in South Africa’s rhino poaching crisis clearly indicate that trophy hunting is one of the largest contributing factors to the ongoing slaughter. This is the cue for the professional hunting bodies, both in this country and abroad, to play their part in attempting to solve this sorry saga. They need to call for an immediate moratorium on all hunting of rhino.
The call for a moratorium on trophy hunting of rhinos was also put out by the Anti-Poaching Group of Southern Africa (a private initiative that supplies intelligence to private and government anti-poaching units).
We do not believe white rhinos hunted for their horns and exported to Vietnam, China, Thailand and Singapore to be used in T.C.M. can be classed as “trophies”.
Read the entire statement and check out the list of trophy hunters arrested and/or otherwise implicated in the illegal rhino horn trade at South Africans Begin to Call for Moratorium on Trophy Hunting of Rhinos.
Learn more about the rhino crisis on Planetsave:
- Thai Prostitutes Hired to Kill Rhinos in South African Trophy Hunting Scam
- Rhino Crisis Round Up: ‘Eco-Clubs’ in Nepal, New Arrivals in India & Groenewald Makes a Deal in South Africa
- Mules Hunting Rhinos? Sinister Scam Unfolds in South Africa
Image #1 via YouTube; #2 & #3 © iStockphoto.com
Rhishja is the founder of Annamiticus, a nonprofit organization which provides educational information and news about wildlife crime and endangered species. She is the Editor of the blogs Annamiticus, Rhino Horn is Not Medicine, and Project Pangolin, a Producer for the upcoming documentary "The Price", author of the book "Murder, Myths & Medicine", and host of the "Behind the Schemes" podcast. When Rhishja is not blogging about the illegal wildlife trade, she enjoys rocking out to live music.