Britain has secured international agreement to clamp down on the illegal trade of rhino horn, which has become so sought-after it is now worth more than diamonds, gold, heroin and cocaine.
The UK will lead a global steering group to dispel the myths that rhino horn can cure cancer or help with strokes, myths which are creating such a demand for it in Asia that it is now worth around $50,000 a kilo.
International Group To Save Rhinos From Extinction
Britain will head the group, but countries and conservation groups across the world will also work together by sharing intelligence, policing tactics and public awareness campaigns against the illegal trade.
The agreement was reached at the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Geneva.
265 Rhinos Killed So Far This Year
From The Guardian, reporting on rhino poaching in South Africa:
Some 265 rhinos have been poached so far this year, according to government figures, an average of more than one per day. This puts 2011 on course to surpass last year’s record death toll of 333. In 2007, it was just 13.
Why? There is no mystery about it. Experts agree the carnage results from a false belief, widespread in the far east, that rhino horn can cure cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. There is now soaring demand from the newly moneyed consumers of China and Vietnam. Poaching gangs here are increasingly sophisticated, using helicopters, silent tranquillisers, body armour, night vision equipment and mercenaries experienced in rhino tracking.
Once a rhino’s horn has been hacked off, they leave the animal to bleed to death. The horn is then smuggled out of the country by an international syndicate.
In South Africa, Army Troops Protect The Rhino
As Care2′s Andreas S wrote here, the fight against rhino poaching in South Africa has taken on military proportions with the government sending in army troops to help protect the embattled species.
And now the international community has taken up the cause of rhino preservation. As first reported in The Guardian, British Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “Criminals trading in rhino horn have lined their pockets while bringing this magnificent animal to the brink of extinction, but their days are now numbered.”
“We will be leading global action to clamp down on this cruel and archaic trade, and to dispel the myths peddled to vulnerable people that drive demand for rhino products.”
Photo Credit: nicolaspied via Creative Commons