February 16th, 2012 by Rhishja Cota-Larson
South African National Parks (SANParks) has confirmed that at least 54 of the country’s rhinos have been killed since the start of 2012.
Of these, 26 were massacred in the famed Kruger National Park.
Although five arrests were reportedly made earlier this week and three people were jailed earlier this month, none of these suspects appear to be the high-ranking members of rhino horn syndicates who continue to lurk within South Africa’s conservation community.
It is worth noting that these rhino horn profiteers – “game industry white guys” – have continued to evade proper punishment.
(Check out “Rhino Crimes: Are the Right People Going to Jail?” for a startling look at corruption within South Africa’s rhino ranching and hunting industry.)
Demonstration ends in death
A controversial plan to protect rhinos from being killed for their horns tragically went awry during a media demonstration.
A 22-year-old rhino named Spencer died while undergoing a treatment to inject a substance into his horns, which supporters say is toxic to humans if consumed.
Jason Bell, Country Director of the Southern African office of International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) explained via the IFAW website that conservationists are desperate to stop the bloodshed.
Sadly, this stunt to demonstrate alternative methods that might save rhinos went very wrong. It directed attention away from the real tragedy – which is that rhinos and elephants are dying every single day in an onslaught that will not stop until we take a consistent, cooperative approach to ending poaching, and thus the trade, once and for all.
He added that “the notion that a legal trade in rhino horn and ivory would reduce poaching and save animals ignored historical evidence that the approach did not work”.
Following up on the big news about Ratu last week (she’s pregnant!), I spoke with Bill Konstant, Program Officer at the International Rhino Foundation (IRF), about Sumatran rhinos.
Check out the informative interview, State of the Sumatran Rhino, below:
You can also read the interview transcript here.
Baby rhino born in Spain
The Terra Natura animal park in Benidorm welcomed a new baby rhino into the world!
This historic birth was the first time a greater one-horned rhino was born in Spain.
A photo of the mother and baby can be seen here.
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