We Must Stop Rhino Poaching

NOTE: This is a guest post by Craig R. Sholley, vice president for philanthropy and marketing at the African Wildlife Foundation.

The chronicles of rhino conservation consist of historic highs and devastating lows, and portray both the benevolent ingenuity and heartless brutality that humankind is capable of. The rhino population’s steady march away from the brink of extinction in the 1990s forcefully demonstrated that smart conservation can succeed… but deplorably, the species’ survival is again threatened by a flood of criminal activity that aims to cash in on an object worth more than gold: rhino horn.

2011 brought record rhino poaching, and to date, this year is even more alarming. So far in 2012, more than 227 rhinos have been poached in South Africa alone. To stop these despicable acts and curtail the illegal trafficking of rhino horn, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and Kenya Wildlife Service convened an Emergency Rhino Summit this spring at our headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. Attendees came from all over Africa and included wildlife authorities from key rhino range states, scientists, owners of private reserves, trade and security experts, and leading international conservation organizations. These stakeholders formulated a comprehensive action plan, the first of its kind that targets not only poachers, but also the markets and demand that they supply.

The comprehensive action plan proposes four tiers of activity:

1) assisting rhino surveillance and anti-poaching units on the ground;

2) strengthening law enforcement and its coordination at both local and national levels;

3) curbing rhino horn demand through strong public awareness campaigns; and

4) influencing policy makers, financiers, and government officials to create high-level policy change.

Already AWF has taken leadership on curbing demand, where we’ve — through a recent partnership with WildAid –begun to implement a multimedia public awareness campaign in China, a major market for rhino horn. We are also going to increase ongoing support for rangers, rhino monitoring technology, rhino sanctuaries and more.

Like AWF, other Summit attendees have begun taking action on the four tiers, and the effects are starting to show. For example, the South African government has arrested more than 148 poachers since the beginning of the year. This is without a doubt a good sign, but successful and severe prosecution will be the true mark of success. As long as the poachers remain untiring in their pursuit of rhino horn, we must be vigilant and determined to stop them and in turn destroy an illegal market that is poised to generate the extinction of Earth’s iconic rhino species.

Related Stories:

Poachers Have Already Killed Eleven African Rhinos in 2012

Rhino Ranches Take New Approach to Prevent Poaching

Western Black Rhino Declared Extinct

The Battle To Save The Rhino

Photo from ThinkStockPhotos


Carolanne Powell
C Powell4 years ago

It seems that a wildlife holocaust is currently taking place with barely a murmur from Earths citizens. There should be more coverage to let the world know & understand the importance of conserving Mother Earths creatures & causing so much injury to the planet. Rhinos are incredibly powerful creatures, however, their million year evolutionary effort to build up about three tons of muscle, bone & horn to defend itself mean nothing in our world of technology & lack of care.

Will Rogers
Will Rogers5 years ago

With the exception of the Yangtze River dolphin, there is one similarity in the extinction of these animals.......European expansion. It seems that we killed most of the animals,and while we are conservation minded now, we weren't when we needed to be, and now it's too late. We are doing the same things with elephants and other big game animals, we killed them in the millions and now want to blame the Chinese, when it was us who killed so many of them that it made their populations unsustainable.

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

Shoot poachers on sight and make the penalties for buying horn so horrendous no on would think of it!

ann paveletz
.5 years ago

Any poacher caught should due time. They should be viewed on public networks for the inhumane act and punished by a lengthy time behind bars. Ann

Knut Franckenstein
Knut F5 years ago

Death penalty for poacher? Hey? Poach the poachers, go hunt the hunters, everywhere!

Worldwide! Death to superfluous killers!!!! NOW !!!! Please kill the poachers, search them!

And get them all those scum bags!!! Including their stupid clients, fuckin Chinese!

Leticia Guizar
Leticia Guizar5 years ago

It's so discouraging to me this goes on . I so agree with the comment about about E .T coming home and saving our planet .

Sheri D.
Sheri D5 years ago

Poor rhinos.

Silvia van der Zande

Jee I am getting tired of this world we live in !!! I cannot believe we are still struggling with these same old problems !!! When will it ever stop ? Animal abuse, war, child abuse, poverty, corruption, violence etc etc. Please let the ET´s come soon and change this world of ours as we are making a great mess out of it and can´t seem the solve our problems !

Anita Wisch
Anita Wisch5 years ago

A large part of the demand is in the old Asian markets, that say Rhino Horn, Tiger Bone, Bear gallbladders are helpfull for 'Male impotence".

Viagra, anyone?

mari s.
Mari S5 years ago

Keep up your wonderful and glorious work until ALL POACHERS are extinct -- thank you for fighting for the rhinos and their right to live! Don't give up nor give in!