Rhino Crisis Round Up: Massacre Continues in S Africa, Mixed Results for Rhinos at CITES & More

During the past six days, at least four more rhinos were murdered in South Africa because of the ridiculous myth that rhino horn has curative properties.

These brutalities came less than one week after the CITES meeting in Geneva, where pleas made to China and Vietnam to address rhino horn consumption fell on uncooperative ears.

Private reserves hit by killing spree

In a tragic repeat of last week’s Round Up, a mother rhino and her calf were reportedly killed on a private farm near Mokopane in Limpopo Province.

Just days before, three of Aquila Private Game Reserve‘s six resident rhinos were attacked by members of a rhino horn syndicate using veterinary drugs to overdose the animals while they sawed off the horns, leaving the rhinos to bleed to death.

One of the rhinos, who had been darted but still had her horns intact, survived the horrific ordeal.

Another rhino died the day of the attack, and the third rhino survived for a few days before succumbing to his injuries.


The killers escaped with a total of three rhino horns.

Mixed results at CITES

At last week’s 61st meeting of Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the outcome for rhino horn trade issues was mixed.

WWF stated in a media release that it was “disappointed that consumer states failed to respond to pleas from African and Asian rhino range countries to share the burden of curbing illegal rhino horn trade.”

The NGO noted that China “refused to engage on the issue of reducing demand for rhino horn.”

China’s reaction is hardly surprising. The country has been implicated in a multimillion dollar rhino farming scheme, which involves a “pharmaceutical breeding center” and over 100 rhinos obtained from South Africa.

(At the time of this writing, photos of the “pharmaceutical breeding center” can be seen here and also here.)

WWF expressed concern that this development could be similar to “past proposals to allow trade in medicines made from farmed tigers” and would therefore “encourage a parallel illegal trade” in rhino horn.

(Find out more about the tiger farming scheme at WikiLeaks Cable Reveals Chinese Tiger Farms Cater to Consumption, Not Conservation.)

The NGO also reported that a “working group” would be addressing the issue of rhino horn demand and consumption with Vietnam, as the country was “not required to respond” to rhino horn trade inquiries.

Strong response by UK

Although China and Vietnam would have preferred rhino horn trade talks to be swept under the rug, the UK instead took the matter by the horns.

UK Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman announced that Britain would be “leading global action to clamp down on this cruel and archaic trade, and to dispel the myths peddled to vulnerable people that drive demand for rhino products.”

(Debunking the rhino horn myth sounds like a great idea to me: Check out Rhino Horn = Medicine? NO! (New Campaign to Bust the Myth).

World Rhino Day preparations in Zimbabwe

Chishakwe Ranch in Zimbabwe is facilitating World Rhino Day activities for children in the nearby villages.

As part of Chishakwe’s educational outreach program, children in the Muvava and Uteke primary schools are learning about rhinos and creating posters for World Rhino Day.

World Rhino Day 2011 co-organizer Lisa-Jane Campbell of Chishakwe Ranch explains the importance of involving local communities in conservation efforts.

Once local people feel that wildlife resources are part of their heritage, and as such benefit them, they are much more inclined to join in efforts to protect them; rather than being part of the problem when it comes to poaching. This is particularly the case in key species such as Rhino.

Chishakwe has been actively involved in creating a culture of conservation in neighboring village areas for a number of years as part of its Mangwana (meaning “tomorrow” in Shona) project.

World Rhino Day 2011 details can be found at Mark Your Calendar: World Rhino Day is September 22 {Videos}.

Photo #2 courtesy of Lisa-Jane Campbell, Chishakwe Ranch, Zimbabwe; image #1 © iStockphoto.com

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