Rhino Crisis Round Up: Death Toll Hits 250, Rhino Horn Smugglers Enjoy 'Drunken Orgies' in South Africa and More

There are now at least 250 fewer rhinos in South Africa than there were at the beginning of the year, thanks to the continuing menace of international rhino horn smuggling syndicates.

And if one counts the rhinos killed “legally” for “trophies”, that number could be much higher.

Death toll rises

While WWF praised the South African judiciary for handing out maximum prison sentences to two rhino horn traffickers from Vietnam, the NGO also reported that at least 250 rhinos have been massacred in the country this year.

Most of the killings have occurred in the country’s flagship tourist destination: Kruger National Park.

Another museum heist

Two rhino horns were stolen from a museum in Belgium this week, and authorities suspect this is yet another incident tied to an Irish rhino horn trafficking gang.

At least 20 rhino horn robberies have been reported in Europe during the last six months.

‘Drunken orgies’

Investigative journalist Julian Rademeyer uncovered disturbing new details about the Steyl syndicate, during an interview with whistleblower Johnny Olivier.

Matters finally came to a head between Olivier and Chumchom over the drunken orgies the syndicate members frequently held at the house they rented when the kingpin was out of town. Olivier, a teetotaler, describes them as a “bunch of drunkards”

South African Marnus Steyl and his Thai accomplice, Chumlong Lemtongthai, allegedly laundered rhino horn for the illegal market under the cover of Steyl’s safari hunting business.

The pair is said to have trafficked female “sex workers” from Thailand to pose as “rhino hunters” on Steyl’s property.

World Rhino Day

The Second Annual World Rhino Day is charging ahead!

On September 22nd, people all over the world will be holding events to celebrate rhinos and debunk the medicinal myths about rhino horn.

So far, celebrations are planned in Zimbabwe, Nepal, the US, South Africa, and Malaysia.

Participants include schools, NGOs, zoos, businesses and the public.

Find out more at Mark Your Calendar: World Rhino Day is September 22 {Videos}.

You can also download the World Rhino Day poster (above) from World Rhino Day 2011 Posters.

Image #1 & #2 © iStockphoto.com; #3 © Saving Rhinos LLC

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