Rhino Crisis Round Up: Death Toll Soars to 220 in S. Africa & More

There seems to be no end in sight to the continuing slaughter of South Africa’s iconic rhinos, as the Department of Environmental Affairs stated this week that 220 rhinos have been killed so far this year.

146 suspects have been arrested, and the majority (207) of the killings are concentrated in Kruger National Park, and the provinces of Limpopo, North West and KwaZulu-Natal.

Two rhinos killed in India

Tragedies also struck in the Indian state of Assam, where a female rhino was killed in Orang National Park — the first incident in more than a year.

Another rhino was gunned down in Manas National Park; sadly, this was one of the rhinos recently translocated as part of Indian Rhino Vision 2020.

Vietnam’s ‘Ferrari factor’

According to preliminary results of an ongoing investigation by Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV), rhino horn consumption is one of the ways that the country’s “new rich” flaunt their wealth.

Technical Advisor to ENV, Doug Hendrie suspects that Vietnam’s role in illegal rhino horn trafficking could be more closely linked to the desire to own “rare and exotic luxury goods” than to the cancer cure myth.

We call it the “Ferrari factor”. The new rich want luxury goods that are rare, exotic, and expensive as indicators of their success. These values, in addition to the fact that rhino horn is supposed to be good for you, may be driving the surge in Vietnam.

Hendrie refers to the “growing prevalence of expensive sports cars on the streets of Hanoi”.

ENV’s Wildlife Crime Unit has so far interviewed doctors, pharmacists, cancer patients, and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners as part of the investigation, with many more interviews to be conducted in the upcoming months.

Black rhino via Shutterstock.

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