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On-The-Ground Fight Essential to Rhino’s Future

On-The-Ground Fight Essential to Rhino’s Future

NOTE: This is a guest post from our friends at African Wildlife Federation.

Rhinos are known for their horn, a striking characteristic on their bodies made of keratin, the same substance as human nails and hair. But because this keratin is worth more than gold, rhinos are being killed for their horn at unbelievable rates. To date, more than 235 rhinos have been killed in South Africa in 2012 alone, a rate that puts the projected year-end total at over 500 rhinos. Poachers are slaughtering almost two rhinos a day. With fewer than 25,000 remaining in Africa, the numbers arenít looking good.

Rangers in Africa are working tirelessly to protect existing rhino populations in Africa, but with poor funding and few resources, they have a hard time fighting against poachers who are both well-funded and well-equipped.

There are things that can (and must) be done. The poaching takes place on the ground, so we must provide support on the ground. That means providing surveillance equipment to track rhinos and their whereabouts: video surveillance equipment, camera traps, drones. Implanting microchips into horns or outfitting rhinos with foot collars would also help. The key to protecting rhinos is knowing exactly where they are, after all.

There is also an urgent need for more rangers and better training. In addition to manpower support, anti-poaching units need walkie-talkies for easier communication, night-vision goggles (because poachers often strike at night), more ammunition, even things we take for granted, like new, dry boots. Anything that would make the rangersí extremely difficult and dangerous job easier and safer is something we must provide.

Small investments can reap big rewards. At African Wildlife Foundation, for example, safeguarding Africa’s national treasures in the form of ranger support costs just $6 per day for one ranger.

Without a fight, we risk the chance that a species that has roamed Africa for millions of years could become extinct in our lifetimes. Poachers are backed by organized criminal syndicates. They are no amateurs and certainly possess the right tools and technologies to get their job done. We can’t expect rangers — and in turn, rhinos — to have a fighting chance if we donít level the playing field.

Related Stories:

We Must Stop Rhino Poaching

The Rhino Takes Flight

Western Black Rhino Declared Extinct

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87 comments

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5:41AM PDT on Jul 4, 2012

thanks for sharing :)

7:49AM PDT on Jun 30, 2012

Death penalty is definitely NOT the answer, Graham....but a severe jail sentence would be appreciated!

3:30AM PDT on Jun 30, 2012

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

"Die Größe eines Volkes und seine moralischen Fortschritte können daran gemessen werden, wie es seine Tiere behandelt."

Those who are cruel to animals cannot be righteous human beings.

Wer gegen Tiere grausam ist, kann kein guter Mensch sein.

3:45AM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

Hi im from the Uk and have a group who each week make posts to the media across the world re rhino poaching ! mostly poached at the Keruger park ,this has got to stop ,im sorry no one can trust any one working there although im sure a few do what they can ,i suggest the govenmet sack all managers out there and send in the troops to save what rhino are still there ,for gods sake shame on Africa letting this go on for so long ! you have people all over the world watching you ,the same people who visit your country to see the wild life in your care ! and you do nothing to protect it ,or not enough ! comments about dehorning rhino ,wont work ,trade wont work ,what the hells wrong with you all they were born this way ! if not for the greed of man china and vietnam who are the worlds worse users of rhino horn and all other animal parts ,we would not have a problem ! come on Safrica get tough on the poachers you do catch , the vets awaiting trial now Make an example of them all ! stiffer sentences needed to show them they can not keep getting away with this slaughter ! Why are you Not Doing Anything ! Shame on YOU !!!!

5:27PM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

It's such a shame that there aren't any billionaires who'd fund an organization to counter businesses with all this money behind them to poach and kill animals. That would certainly raise the stakes for these poor animals. But I guess there's no profit in such an organization, and we all know people who already have more than enough to spare, just want more and more.

5:20PM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

@ Ness W. in fact, at times they do cut off the rhinos who are under protection, or live in gated game parks, horns on occasion to protect them from being poached and killed.

2:52PM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

Hi Will R. You seem to forget that we try to stop everything you relate and there have been always people who tried to be good. But the world's rulers were and are no angels. Far from it. Only the want of power and money dictates their actions. And that will continue this way. But in the past and as far as in Ancient Greece there where always people who tried to protect animals and who where against the human folly. So no need to accuse EVERYONE in the past. How many have given their lives in history because they swam against the current. These are the ones who made it possible for you and me to be allowed to say aloud what we think.

2:52PM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

Hi Will R. You seem to forget that we try to stop everything you relate and there have been always people who tried to be good. But the world's rulers were and are no angels. Far from it. Only the want of power and money dictates their actions. And that will continue this way. But in the past and as far as in Ancient Greece there where always people who tried to protect animals and who where against the human folly. So no need to accuse EVERYONE in the past. How many have given their lives in history because they swam against the current. These are the ones who made it possible for you and me to be allowed to say aloud what we think.

11:41AM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

We should all do all we can to save rhinos, but not just for them. Nature is a symbyotic balance and everything depends on something else. Rhino's dung adds nitrogen to the soil, and turns bitter grass - which antelope cannot eat - into sweet grass, which they can. This means that where the Rhino goes the antelope goes and where there are antelopes there is food for lions.

Deplete one species and you deplete a lot of other ones as well.

Some Rhinos are having their horns removed legally for their own safety

8:48AM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

Can the rhinos be dehorned? And if so will it really truly affect their day to day lives apart from seeing off rivals, etc. What are they used for?
I understand they will bleed if cut deep and so on but surely there is something, like corn starch for dogs, when you trim their nails too short, that can stop bleeding.
I would much much rather have rhinos and elephants without horns and tusks but alive in the wild and pretty much left alone, than the animal in their natural state and then possibly slaughtered for some horn.
I also understand the animal would have to be darted possibly yearly in the case of rhino's but again, with an annual health check up can't the animals be better off this way?
I may be being naive here but I honestly don't know the answers to the questions I have asked

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