South Africa’s famed Kruger National Park was the scene of shocking discovery: The bodies of eight rhinos, all with their horns removed.
A spokesperson for the country’s flagship tourist destination told the Times Live that three of the dead rhinos were found in Lower Sabie and the other five in the Pretoriuskop section.
Rhino killings have spiked in recent years, a consequence of economic prosperity in countries such as China and Vietnam, where rhino horn is mistakenly believed to hold medicinal properties.
Number of rhinos killed in South Africa:
- 2008: 13
- 2010: 333
- 2011: 443 (at least)
Another deadly problem for rhinos is the spreading Asian footprint on the African continent.
Rhino horn and ivory trade expert Dr. Tom Milliken of TRAFFIC recently told The Guardian that this situation is leading an “unprecedented assault” on African wildlife.
We’ve reached a point in Africa’s history where there are more Asian nationals on the continent than ever before. They have contacts with the end-use market and now they are at the source in Africa.
This is all adding up to an unprecedented assault on elephants and other wildlife.
Despite the efforts of NGOs and the global conservation community to curb demand for rhino horn, South African wildlife authorities approved the export of more than 100 live rhinos to China since 2007, as part of a rhino farming scheme which encourages the use of rhino horn.
Rhino horn trader sentenced to 15 years
In Nepal, The Himalayan Times reports that notorious rhino horn trader Tenzing Gurung (aka Kalu Manange) has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Gurung fled the authorities in June 2010, but was captured less than a week ago by the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police.
He was convicted of poaching and trading in body parts of endangered wild animals under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act of 1973.
No rhinos killed in 2011
According to Nepal’s Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation, there were no rhinos killed in the country during 2011.
Diwakar Chapagain, of Wildlife Trade Control Division of WWF Nepal, told The Himalayan Times that the successful year was due to the combination of community involvement and political will.
It’s undoubtedly the result of cumulative efforts on the part of various stakeholders from grassroots to the highest level of the government. The profile of wild animals had never reached to such high level as it happened in the last two years.
Nepal is home to 534 of the world’s 2,949 greater one-horned rhinos, which are found only in a few protected areas in northeastern India and lowland Nepal.