Most of the world’s rhinos are found in South Africa, but that might not be the case forever. Rhino horns are in high demand in parts of Asia for their supposed healing powers, making the poaching of rhinos for their horns an increasingly prevalent issue in South Africa.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), rhino poaching has dramatically increased in recent years. WWF estimates that in 2009, 122 South African rhinos were killed, but that number increased to 388 in 2012. It is also estimated that around 979 rhinos have been killed so far this year.
Rhino poachers make a great deal of money for their stolen goods, as rhino horns now sell for about $65,000 per kilogram, or $30,000 per pound, on black markets. The trade of the rhino horn is now worth about $9.7 billion annually.
The latest news of poaching in South Africa comes from Kruger National Park (KNP), one of South Africa’s most well known game reserves, where a ranger and two other employees have been accused of rhino poaching. These three KNP workers were found with a hunting rifle and ammunition in the park after a rhino was killed in the area. Of course, this is just one of many cases of rhino poaching every year in South Africa.
In response to the increase in rhino poaching, game park owners and South African officials have discussed legalizing the trade of rhino horns in the hopes of curbing the prevalence of rhino poaching. Many argue that this would force a decrease in the price of the horns and therefore reduce the incentive to poach. This discussion comes after years of attempting to stop the issue with more surveillance of rhinos on reserves.
In the meantime, WWF says that people can help stop rhino poaching by not buying rhino horn products, spreading the word about rhino poaching, and donating to their project to save the rhinos, where donations go to buying more anti-poaching supplies such as binoculars and rhino tracking.