The South African Rhino population has experience a massive decline since 2008 due to aggressive Rhino poaching. The rate that the Rhino is been “exterminated” resembles one of an extremely cruel genocide. Our precious rhino are being killed primarily for their horn which is believed to hold medical properties, a misguided perception shared by many Asian rhino horn buyers. Poachers are mostly targeting white rhinos in the wild and in both private and national game reserves.

It was reported that 448 rhinos were poached in 2011, a shocking statistics considering that the figure only included rhinos killed in South Africa. The poaching methods have become much more sophisticated, rhino’s are being sedating by illegal veterinarians whom accompany these poachers allowing them to hack off the horn with minimal resistance. This does not mean that poachers have dropped their ruthless methodology for a much more “Human” approach, rhino carcasses are still being found mutilated in the blood soaked sands of private game reserves such as the Kruger National Park.

Images of these revered specimens have been flooding social networks. These animals can be seen with their horns being ripped off their lifeless bodies, exhibiting just how brutal poaching can be. Many organizations are seeking financial support to help save our endangered rhino, a few media campaigns such as “STOP RHINO POACHING” and “SAVE OUR RHINO” have been launched. Several South African music artist and celebrities have come together to campaign against rhino poaching, hosting various musical festivals and television shows.

South African Advertising Agencies have also stepped forward, publishing awareness advertisement in both digital and print platforms. One agency in particular has taken a much more aggressive approach by confronting the main source of rhino poaching, the Asian community, whom are believed to be the targeted market for rhino horns. They have digitally altered an image of a panda which is considered sacred in Asia and covered it’s snout with blood so it may appear mutilated. “What if it was your Panda” the Ad states, it aims to create an emotional link between rhino and panda poaching.

Nature Conservation experts and Wild-Life enthusiast have been working hard on spreading awareness urging the public to do their bid towards the protection of the rhino species, encouraging them to adopt a zero-tolerance approach. Suspicious behaviour such as low flying aircrafts or activities that can be linked to rhino poaching can be reported to the Hawks Rhino Hotline on 071 348 8630 or you can contact Endangered Species Investigator Capt. Daffue on 079 516 6110.

The Graph below shows just how shocking and progressively worse rhino poaching has become over the past 12 years. We are only 4 months into the years and already 135 have been in killed up to the 19th of March. The Kruger National Park has been the victim of excessive poaching with it accounting for over 50% of the reported rhino poaching incidents in South Africa last year. If you wanted see the rhino in it’s natural habitat, there are many day tours available, the best packages to take up with a operator are guided tours.

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George Wyngaardt

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