Black November – grim reality of poaching

A white rhino carcass we photographed in Kenya just a few weeks ago, shot at close range and its horn taken ten days earlier.

It’s official – the South African authorities have this week announced that the number of rhinos killed for their horn in 2012 so far has risen by more than 100 on the figure for last year – itself a record high for rhino poaching in the country.

What many feared and predicted would happen has been confirmed by these latest grim statistics with the government announcing that 549 rhinos (as of November 12, 2013) have been lost to poaching in 2012 compared to a total of 448 for the whole of 2011. What’s worse is the figures suggest rhino poaching has been increasing sharply in the last few months, with November shaping up to be a particularly black month.

These statistics are shocking in themselves, but we must not lose sight of the fact that each time a depressing new set is unveiled to the media, they represent much more than just numbers on a printed page or computer screen. The extra cost of protecting rhinos in this climate, and the sums spent dealing with the aftermath of each single poaching incident is extremely high for conservation bodies, already strapped for cash, while each rhino lost ultimately threatens the very wildlife tourism trade that helps sustain the viability of current populations.

Each carcass or injured, dying rhino is an individual member of a species which represents some 60 million years of evolution. We can’t stand by and allow the risk of all that being potentially wiped out once again. Let’s hope stiff sentences like the 40 year jail term handed out in South Africa last week to one rhino horn trader and smuggler can be made to stick and that fitting punishments finally become the norm for wildlife crime.

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One Comment on “Black November – grim reality of poaching”

  1. themasaidiary March 27, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    Reblogged this on The Maasai Diary and commented:
    I heard that in SA a rhino is killed every 11 minutes…and they STILL want to legalize trade in rhino horn?!

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