There are no more wild black rhinos in Western Africa according to an update of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. This publication is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of threatened biological species.
It also documented the northern white rhino in central Africa as being on the brink of extinction. If you have been following rhino developments, you are already aware the Javan rhino in Vietnam was recently declared extinct.
Demand for rhino horn coming from Asia has fueled more poaching by criminals, sometimes with technology on their side such as helicopters AK-47s and even night-vision goggles.
“You’ve got to imagine an animal walking around with a gold horn; that’s what you’re looking at, that’s the value and that’s why you need incredibly high security,” said an IUCN official. (Source: BBC)
In the last three years in South Africa about 800 rhinos have been killed illegally. Their horns can sell for $35,000 per kilogram, yet they have no medical benefit whatsoever. Traditional Chinese medicine has held the false belief rhino horn does have such benefits for a long time, but that view is merely superstition. The main material in rhino horn is just keratin, which is also found in human fingernails and toenails. So purchasers of rhino horn are not only contributing to the devastation of completely innocent wild rhinos, they are wasting their own money at the same time.
The rhino poaching situation in Africa is so dire in some places, legalization of rhino horn trade has been considered. Rhino horn stockpiles could be sold to raise money for rhino conservation, and poachers would no longer be the ones controlling the rhino horn trade. The World Wildlife Fund is against legalization saying it could lead to the extinction of all rhinos.
Image Credit: Yoky