Even in South Africa, where one would imagine stringent control mechanisms are in place, the statistics are alarming to say the least. According to the last report, as many as 54 rhinos were killed in South Africa in the first 6 weeks of 2012.
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Conservationists say internationally organised criminal syndicates are targeting South Africa’s endangered rhinos for their horns. Illegal trade in rhino horn is driven by the misguided belief in some parts of Asia that it cures cancer when it is taken in ground form as a traditional medicine.
The government, wildlife organisations and anti-poaching movements are treating the status quo with emergency measures. The South African Defence Force will now also get involved with operations to curb the extent of poaching incidents, while a number of regional anti-poaching units have also been established at great cost.
Officials are concerned though, that heightened security measures won’t be the answer in the medium- to long-term. South Africa has done much to enhance awareness of the impact that poaching has on the environment and on our natural heritage. These education programmes need to be extended to those who may not be fully aware of the negative effect rhino horn trading can have, so that ultimately the demand for rhino horn may be eliminated.
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TAH’s Dr John Adam said in an official statement: “We unashamedly denounce these acts of cruelty as terrorism on our natural heritage. No poacher should escape the full force of the law. We encourage our communities to rally together, to support anti-poaching programmes in every way they can!”