International trade is the second-largest threat to wildlife after habitat loss. On average, poachers in South Africa have killed more than one rhino each day in 2020, for a total of at least 394 butchered rhinos to feed the demand for ivory and rhino horn. But that doesn’t compare to this wave of killings from early December 2021.
Poachers are after the rhinos’ horns, which are used to show off one’s wealth and status, and are also used for traditional medicines. Rhinos are vulnerable animals, with their numbers having plummeted to around only 27,000 animals left – down from approximately 500,000 around 100 years ago.
And the number of these poor creatures continues to decrease so hunters can possess one of their body parts. If the market continues to drive poaching, it is estimated that rhinos could vanish from the wild as early as 2034, according to the NRDC.
A string of poaching massacres has broken out across South Africa, with poachers largely targeting rhinoceroses – murdering 24 animals and targeting even more in just 14 days.
This includes seven rhinos killed in Kruger National Park and one pregnant mama in the Western Cape. Two rhinos survived the string of massacres – despite being shot and one even enduring its horn hewn off its head, leaving an empty, bloody stub on its face.
This poor rhino experienced the pain of this severing while they were still alive, feeling every hack of the saw across their head.
Over the past 50 years, the relentless poaching of rhinos has resulted in an unsustainable population decline. Like elephant ivory, rhino horns can also be carved into an array of objects and other souvenir items.
South Africa holds the majority of the world’s rhinos and has been the country hit hardest by poaching criminals, according to Save The Rhino. It is clear that the rhino population is at its tipping point, and we cannot afford to lose any more. We must do everything possible to protect the remaining populations to help regain their numbers.
Authorities have already arrested 9 alleged poachers, but sadly, more are still out there putting these poor creatures at risk. We have to make sure the South African government gets all the resources they need to bring these animal murderers to justice.
Sign this petition to demand international cooperation to find these poachers!
This article by Holly Woodbury was first published by OneGReenPlanet on 14 April 2022. Lead Image Source : JONATHAN PLEDGER/shutterstock.
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