Rhinoceros poaching has reached alarming proportions in southern Africa.
333 rhino were poached for their horn in South Africa last year. This year South Africa has lost more than 287 rhinos to date, including 16 critically endangered black rhinos. A majority of the poaching incidents have occurred in the Kruger National Park, but rhinos in private reserves have also been targeted by criminal syndicates.
Rhinos are brutally slaughtered for their horns, which are hacked off after the animal has been immobilised or killed. Mutilated rhinos are often left to die a painful death after these attacks.
The horns are bought and sold on the black market for either ornamental or (pseudo-scientific) medicinal purposes . The horns are made of keratin, the same type of protein that makes up hair and fingernails.
Another threat these magnificent creatures face is from trophy hunters. According to Africa Geographic (July 2011) “Since the beginning of 2010, for every two rhinos lost to poachers another has been shot by trophy hunters.” Sadly the article goes on to say that most of these hunts are under canned conditions, giving the animal no chance to escape. This is another way people are accessing rhino horn “legally”.