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Rhinos

2015: A Critical Year for Saving the World’s Rhinos

Thandi and calf, photo by Adrian Steirn/Kariega Game Reserve

Whether Thandi and her new calf will be enduring symbols of survival or merely a blip of good news in the tragic war against brutal rhino poaching has yet to be seen. Despite hundreds of South African National Defence Force troops and sophisticated drone technology being deployed to intercept poachers in South Africa’s parks, numbers of dead rhino continue to increase. A record 1,215 rhinos were illegally killed in that country last year, up from 1,004 in 2013 and 668 in 2012. The high prices paid for rhino horn on black markets in China and Vietnam are financing corruption and sophisticated international criminal networks that are very difficult to defeat as we have in the “war on drugs.”

Record Number of Rhinos Killed in South Africa Last Year

Poachers killed a record number of rhinos in South Africa last year, according to government figures released Thursday (January 22). A total of 1,215 rhinos were poached in 2014 — ten times the number killed in 2009. During the first three weeks of 2015, 49 rhinos have already been poached in South Africa. 

Although rhinos were recovering in Africa since 1993, increasing demand across China and Vietnam in recent years is reversing that trend. Belief in its purported health benefits, including treatment for cancer, fever reduction and other health problems, remains relatively high in Vietnam, despite the fact that rhino horn is composed of compressed hair and keratin, the same protein found in fingernails. 

Thandi the Rhino Gives Birth

Thandi the Rhino

Good news! Thandi the rhino has given birth to a calf this morning at the Kariega Game Reserve near Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Thandi is a poaching survivor. She and two male rhinos were discovered by rangers in March of 2012, their horns brutally removed with machetes. The poachers had left them to die, but two years of medical care and surgery has led to an amazing recovery.

Maggie Q Joins WildAid’s “Say No” Campaign

PHOTOS FROM THE SHOOT

Maggie Q is joining fellow WildAid Ambassadors Yao Ming, Li Bing Bing, and Jackie Chan for the “Say No” campaign urging consumers not to buy ivory and rhino horn products. The star of Nikita filmed several public service announcements in New York City yesterday for the campaign launched in April in partnership with WildAid, African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), and Save the Elephants.

Yao Ming Says No to Ivory and Rhino Horn

WildAid and Yao Ming, along with Save the Elephants and African Wildlife Foundation, are targeting the consumption of ivory and rhino horn in China. In August 2012, Yao spent 12 days on a fact-finding mission in Kenya and South Africa filming a documentary to be aired in partnership with NHNZ later this year. Yao met wild elephants before encountering the bodies of five poached elephants in Kenya and a poached rhino in South Africa. He also visited local school children, whose education is funded through wildlife tourism revenue, and conservationists and government officials working to protect elephants and rhinos. Footage and stills from his trip were released together with a series of public service announcements informing consumers, "When the buying stops, the killing can too." WildAid thanks Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Virgin Atlantic for their support of Yao's Africa trip.

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