Is enough being done to save the rhino?

So far this year (to 28 March 2014) over 230 rhino have been poached in South Africa and less than 55 poachers have been arrested (arrested, not convicted)…

That means that, on average, 1 poacher is apprehended for every 4 rhino killed.

Success? I don’t think so!

I am heading to South Africa this weekend (5th April) to find out more at a critical meeting of national and international experts hosted by Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching (

What’s to be done?

In my opinion, the South African government and certain business interests, have simply got to stop speculating on the establishment of a future legal trade in rhino horn. Yes, South Africa plans to ask the 180 delegates to the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) meeting, to be hosted in Cape Town in 2016, to approve a legitimate trade in rhino horn.

There also needs to be a far greater enforcement effort – and if South Africa needs money to train and deploy more rangers then why not add a R50 Conservation Contribution to all arriving international visitors who would surely be willing to pay a few dollars more to help ensure that endangered species like rhino, which many of them have travelled thousands of miles to see, are safe.

But rhinos are not just hitting the headlines in South Africa….

In Australia, just last week, a pair of rhino horn were sold for AU$92,500. Yes, of course, they were antique but their sale, in my view, simply confirmed once more the extraordinary price on every rhino’s head. We simply must stop all commercial sales. The buyer was from the Far East and suspect that’s where they will end up…

Australia also just announced that it was withdrawing an AU$3 million grant to Indonesia to help protect the highly endangered Sumatran rhino (only 200 left in the wild). Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, said that saving the endangered Sumatran rhinoceros should not be a priority of the Australian aid budget. The funding was going towards habitat protection, anti-poaching efforts and monitoring of the rhino horn trade. Now it’s not. Shame!

In January, rhino horns with a street value of more than $6 million were seized by customs officials in Thailand and Singapore, according to Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network. Almost 44 kilograms of rhino horn were discovered en route to Vietnam, where one kilogram of horn sells for about $120,000.

In Europe there have been more than 60 break-ins at natural history museums since 2010, with the thieves targeting rhino horns. Sometimes they are just snapped off the mounted heads of the stuffed animals.

Namibia announced that 3 Chinese nationals were arrested on 23rd March as they boarded an aircraft with 14 concealed rhino horns and leopard skins hidden in their luggage. They were about to board a flight to Johannesburg with a connection onto Hong Kong as their final destination.

Mozambique has  – just – avoided international sanctions by filing a report on its plans to tackle rhino poaching – 2 months late. However, critics remain highly sceptical claiming that the authorities simply don’t take the issue as seriously and don’t commit the resources to do anything about it. Anti-poaching laws in Mozambique are weak where rhino poaching is seen more as a misdemeanour.

So rhino are in the news – for all the wrong reasons. I hope that the OSCAP conference will change that and that there will be some good news to report – for a change! Watch this space!

Blogging off


9 Responses to “Is enough being done to save the rhino?”

  1. Annabelle Selleck Says:

    Hi Will
    Thanks for well written, relevant & depressing update.
    I have just returned from 5 weeks in SA, Botswana , Zimbawe, Uganda & Tanzania. My first trip to Africa from Australia. I was completely overwhelmed & overjoyed by the natural beauty & wildlife I saw. I lay on ground ( taking photos), 8 meters from 2 wild ( but semi- humanised) square lipped rhinos in Zimbawe & their grace, gentleness, strength & power bought me to tears. So did Andy’s (our guide) telling of the atrocities that happen during poaching. I am now reading ‘ killing for profit’ by Julian Rademeyer and am further horrified and angered by major organized crime & greed.
    You have a rhino friend in Australia now & I will be doing all I can think of to lobby the Aus government to help protect these magnificent creatures.
    We will beat these bastards!!!
    Thanks for your great work
    Kind regards , Annabelle

  2. Joy Doogan Says:

    Good luck! Hopeing for the best results for the rhinos

    Joy x

  3. Donna Mackenzie Says:

    It should be a criminal offence, with the highest possible penalty, for those who buy as well as sell rhino horn (and ivory or any wild animal parts).

    Given that rhino horn is basically keratin, the same as our finger and toe nails perhaps there’s a market for selling nail clippings! Same substance, same effect and wouldn’t involve the murder of innocent, endangered species either.

    Good luck at the Conference. Keeping everything crossed for good news.

  4. Gene Yakub Says:

    Getting down to the nitty-gritty of this situation, one has to take into account the fact that wildlife does not have a priority in the lives of people who live below poverty level. So however daunting a task it may be, villagers who live near the areas/parks where rhinos and elephants live have to be made part of the battle. Possibilities are: raising their income level, raising their awareness in such a way that poachers who take cover in their villagers are their enemies and will bring problems, (the surrounding villages are not being properly regularly combed), putting a price on poachers’ heads for the villagers. Or all of the foregoing.

  5. Angela Moore Says:

    I am naturally horrified at the fate of the Rhinos, and for what? just because superstisous Chinese believe in its properties. How about lobbying The Chinese and Viet Nam governments to educated their people and impress on them how stupid their ideas are and shame them into not using rhino horn.
    Wishing you all the best for the work you are doing

  6. Tamsin Okeefe Says:

    Whoeheartedly agree with all the above comments. Such a great pity that these beautiful creatures are still being slaughtered because ignorant people cannot find an alternative source to “feed” their outdated beliefs and customs.

    Wishing you every success with the campaign Will.

  7. Adhara Says:

    Good luck…hope you bring back success for the rhinos…

  8. Rhona Kennan Says:

    Good luck at the conference. Praying for the right outcome. Rhona x

  9. Steve Braham & Family Says:

    Good to meet up with Will Travers in JHB and has our full support along with many others in South Africa to fight these bandits RUINING THE HERITAGE OF OUR BEUATIFUL Country and many others for self greed and financial reward for barbaric cowardly murder of innocent creatures.
    Keep up the good work we with you all the way ….