Recent statistics released in a statement by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs shows a drop in rhino poaching from 2015 to 2016.
The much-anticipated statement about the rhino poaching statistics came after the DEA had reportedly been ‘tight-lipped’ about the information. The DEA has not published rhino poaching statistics since September 2016. Founder of OSCAP (Outraged South African Citizens Against Rhino Poaching), Allison Thomson, suspects the DEA may be “stalling to let this whole Mahlobo issue die down a bit” (News24).
When the DEA eventually released the latest statistics, it indicated that there has been a drop in poaching from 2015-2016. But is was OSCAP who released the report saying that there was a decline from 2015 (1 175 rhino poached) to 2016 (1 105 rhino poached). This is also steadily improving on the all time high of rhinos killed in 2014: 1 215 (Citizen).
Not out of the woods yet
However, it is not good enough. The numbers of rhino being poached annually is still too high. There are around 29 000 rhinos left in the world, and 90% of them live in South Africa (One Green Planet). South Africa has also experienced a sharp increase of poaching of up to 9 000% since 2007. These magnificent mammals do not stand a chance of survival if the poachers keep picking them off at the rate they are doing.
According to a recent study, Black Rhino are on the brink of extinction. Due to excessive poaching, the gene pool has dropped by 69% (Times Live).
“We have found that there is a decline in genetic diversity with 44 of 64 genetic lineages no longer existing”‚ said Prof Antoinette Kotze‚ the Manager of the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa’s department of research and scientific services.
This puts a strain on the diversity of the species, which negatively impacts on the black rhinos’ chances of long term survival.
Shocking attack on rhino orphanage
In a dramatic turn of events, rhino orphanage Thula Thula was attacked in Kwazulu-Natal on 22 February. The working staff were tied up and two baby rhinos were poached. They released a report on Facebook saying:
“still trying to come to grips with the devastating attack on our team as well as the tragic loss of two of our beloved rhino orphans, Impi and Gugu.” – (News24)
The attackers were armed and assaulted the staff before removing the horns from the baby rhino. One died on the scene but the other one was euthanized the following morning.
South Africa needs to adapt a zero-tolerance outlook on the rhino poaching. The species is in sharp decline and they play a key role in the ecosystem.