JOHANNESBURG – In 2013, almost 1,000 Rhinos were killed in South Africa for their horns which are sold at the Asian black market.
The exact number stands at 946 but authorities fear the number will most likely rise as more and more rich Asians are willing to pay top dollar to get the rhino horn either as an ornamental piece or as a mixture in Asian medicine, which is believed to have aphrodisiac properties; a ‘rumor’ that is not supported by any certified medical association.
In 2007 only 13 rhinos were illegally killed in South Africa. In 2012 that number rose to 668. In 2013, the number of illegally killed rhinos by poachers may reach 1,000 before year’s end.
80 percent of the world’s rhino population lives in South Africa. An estimated 25,000 are remaining.
In 2013, more than 330 people have been arrested in connection with illegal poaching. Many of those arrested are part of international gangs in the business of trading illegal products including rhino horns and elephant tusks. The illegal trade of endangered species amounts to a multi-billion dollar business annually for these gangs.
Krugerpark in South Africa is hit hardest by poachers. 573 animals were killed in the reserve in 2013. At Kenia’s Masai Mara reserve 21 rhinos were slaughtered and their horns chopped off.
But the World Wildlife Fund (WNF) is fighting back with technology. Rhinos in Kenya get a chip implanted in their horn and their ears tags. This allows authorities to track the rhinos and makes the horn worthless to poachers.
In 2014 about 1,030 black and white rhinos in Kenya will be tagged and have chips implanted in their horns, according to Mohammed Awer of the WWF.
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