You are probably not alone in thinking "Really? After all these years the rhino is still in danger of becoming extinct from illegal trade?"
Unfortunately, yes. From the savage slaughter in the 1980s [where the black rhino population fell by 98%] rhino species in Africa made a spectacular comeback. White rhino numbers escalated from 200 to 20'700 but, conservation solutions do not last forever, someone somewhere will always be enticed to exploit wildlife. In 2008 poaching figures for all African and Asian species began to rise, 2014 saw more than three rhinos killed a day. Since 2007 rhino poaching has increased 9000%. It is particularly a problem in South Africa, where the Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa herself in 2015 commented that "figures remain worryingly high".
- HORN - Ground into a powder for Traditional Medicines, used as an Aphrodisiac, and as a Status Symbol.
- TROPHIES - Global hunters target this African species as one of 'the Big Five' but also used as a mask to transport horn overseas.
Demands change and trade fluctuates, with this comes a whole host of issues and conservation techniques aimed at stabilizing the rhino populations.
Including poisoning horns or inserting tracking devices to deter poachers, legalizing domestic (and now international﹡) trade, an idea largely supported by South African rhino farmers, and indiegogo campaigns by multiple companies producing synthetic horn to flood the market. Whatever proposed and exhaustively debated ideas, you can bet they all have one thing in common. Money. Who does (and how can every farmer, investor, smuggler and entrepreneur) profit the most from the hunting of these 2 tonne pachyderms?
﹡At this years Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species CoP17 in South Africa, consumer countries were hoping that a deal would be approved that would allow South Africa to sell rhino horn legally.
Fortunately, the proposal from Swaziland was overwhelmingly rejected.
What went down for rhinos at CITES CoP17 - Blog from the International Rhino Foundation.