People have heard about the poaching of rhinos and other animals in South Africa and other countries for decades, but when you dive deep into the everyday realities involved, it just becomes gut wrenching. The Rhino’s horn is valued for it purported medicinal purposes. It has not only become an environmental war, but a political one as well. Despite hundreds of South African National Defense Force troops and sophisticated drone technology being deployed to intercept poachers in South Africa’s parks, numbers continue to increase. A record 1215 were killed last year in 2014. Up from 1,004 from 2013 and 668 in 2012. The high prices paid on rhino horns in black markets in China and Vietnam are financing corruption and sophisticated Chinese criminal networks that are very difficult to defeat as we have seen on “The War On Drugs.”
It is one thing to read these statistics and to hear about these travesties, but when you visit with park rangers, you really get an understanding of just how deep this problem has become. The dangers that park rangers are now facing just to protect these rhinos on small game reserves has become a serious issue. They’re at a point where they have to practically get trained as if they’re in the military to prepare themselves for situations where they might run into some heavily armed poachers. They have begun to remove the rhino horns themselves in order to attempt to save the rhinos from poachers unfortunately. Even then, it still doesn’t stop a lot of the poachers who will kill the rhinos out of spite and anger.
Celebrities like Yao Ming and Jackie Chan have taken on the cause to bring awareness to the public over the last few years with ads and documentaries. Elephant poaching has been a problem for decades now, but the white rhino has become highly endangered as a species we may not have around one day if the poaching is able to continue with such rapid momentum. These majestic creatures need conservation and awareness now more than ever.