Animals Cute baby white rhino close up

Published on December 9th, 2011 | by Rhishja Cota-Larson

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: South Africa's 2011 Death Toll Above 400, China's Endangered Species Auction & More

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December 9th, 2011 by

There is still no end in sight to the rhino massacre in South Africa, as this year’s body count has now exceeded 400, surpassing the 2010 death toll of 333.

Although arrests for rhino crimes have also increased, South Africa’s conviction rate is abysmally low: Less than five percent.

According to The Telegraph, 229 of the 405 rhino killings occurred in the country’s premier tourist destination of Kruger National Park.

Park managers are concerned that the killers have used rhino-spotting maps and signposts (meant for tourists) to hunt down their victims, and so the park will no longer be providing rhino sighting information to park visitors.

At least six rhinos were found butchered in Kruger National Park during the last ten days.

Rhinos killed in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority reported that 23 rhinos have been killed in the country this year, with 37 people arrested for rhino crimes.

A spokesperson for the department said via allAfrica.com that there are approximately 700 rhinos left in Zimbabwe.

Guards gassed in museum heist

Earlier this week, rhino horn thieves used “stun gas” to overpower guards at a hunting museum in Paris.

MSNBC reported that during the past year, “at least 30″ rhino horn heists have occurred in Europe.

The rhino horn thefts have been linked to an Irish organized crime gang.

China’s endangered species auction

Meanwhile, China seems determined to continue its efforts to thwart international efforts to curb the demand for endangered species products.

The latest incident occurred at the Kunlun Hotel in Beijing, where auction house Googout held a sale of tiger bone, rhino horn, and pangolin products.

Reporter Jonathan Watts noted in The Guardian that “more than a dozen pages” of the auction catalog were devoted entirely to tiger bone wine and that China’s state television station advertised the auction. (Read the entire article here to find out what happened when he revealed himself as a reporter at the auction.)

Last month, a diverse group of participants met in Hong Kong to devise plans for stopping the illegal trade in tigers, rhinos, pangolins and other endangered species. The workshop singled out China and Vietnam as primary drivers of endangered species consumption.

To learn more about how China is fueling the illegal wildlife trade by catering to the demand for tiger products and rhino horn, see:

Rhinos need your help

The world’s remaining rhinos are edging closer to extinction.

This year, two rhino subspecies have been declared extinct: The Vietnamese Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus) and the Western black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes).

Here’s how you can help protect rhinos in Africa and Asia:

  • Operation: Stop Poaching Now is raising funds for crime scene investigation supplies to increase conviction rates for rhino crimes in South Africa and Zimbabwe
  • Operation Javan Rhino is raising funds to expand habitat for the world’s only remaining Javan rhinos to encourage breeding and increase the population. Only 50 Javan rhinos remain on Earth.

You can also make a difference by raising awareness: The first step is to share this article and let others know about the rhino crisis.

Photo #1: Cute baby rhino via Shutterstock. Photo #2: White rhinoceros close up via Shutterstock. Photo #3 by Dan Bennett via Wikimedia Commons. Photo # 4 White rhino with baby via Shutterstock.

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About the Author

Rhishja is the founder of Annamiticus, a nonprofit organization which provides educational information and news about wildlife crime and endangered species. Rhishja has journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. At CITES CoP16 in Bangkok, she joined colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species from economic exploitation. When Rhishja is not blogging about the illegal wildlife trade, she enjoys gardening, reading, designing, and rocking out to live music.



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