Official reports say poaching down from 769 in 2018 to 584 in 2019
For the fifth consecutive year, the South African government has reported fewer rhinos poached for their horns. In a statement issued earlier this week, the government attributed the decline in poaching to better technology, improved information collection and sharing amongst law enforcement authorities, better regional and national cooperation, and more meaningful involvement of the private sector, NGOs and donors.
“A decline in poaching for five consecutive years is a reflection of the diligent work of the men and women who put their lives on the line daily to combat rhino poaching, often coming into direct contact with ruthless poachers,” said the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy.
“The good news is that reported poaching is down and the price of horn in Asia is down by two-thirds,” said WildAid CEO Peter Knights. “However, part of the poaching decline may be the most accessible rhinos have gone and there are less left to poach. We commend South African efforts, but the courts need to be prosecuting traders more effectively because corruption in Kruger Park is still a problem. We also need increased prosecutions of smugglers in neighboring Mozambique, as well as of buyers in China and Vietnam, to make the rhinos safe.”
Demand reduction efforts have begun to take effect with higher levels of consumer awareness and a significant decline in rhino horn prices, from $65,000 per kilo to around $22,000 per kilo. In many places, rhino horn sales have been banned and more people are aware of the false claims about rhino horn’s medical efficacy.
Earlier this year, WildAid launched its “Buy 1, Get 15” campaign in Vietnam seeking to raise awareness of increased penalties for wildlife crimes, which came into effect on January 1, 2018. It’s true meaning is a not-so-subtle warning – buy 1 wildlife product, get 15 years in jail. Only half of those purchasing illicit wildlife products are aware of the (relatively) new regulations, according to USAID Saving Species Viet Nam. The campaign was timed for Tet, or Lunar New Year, which began on January 25, when millions of Vietnamese share gifts.
Primarily composed of keratin, the same protein found in human hair and fingernails, rhino horn has no unique medicinal properties. A 2016 survey conducted by WildAid, African Wildlife Foundation and CHANGE in Vietnam showed that the number of respondents who believe rhino horn has medicinal effects declined by 67% in two years, down to just 23% from 69% in 2014. Those who believe rhino horn can cure cancer declined by 73%, down to 9.4% from 34.5% in 2014.
In South Africa, WildAid launched its “Poaching Steals from Us All” campaign in 2016 to build support for rhino conservation efforts and urge the government to end the poaching crisis. Video ads and billboards feature well-known South African personalities such as DJ Fresh, Springbok rugby player Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira, comedian Marc Lottering, actress Masasa Mbangeni, DJ Poppy Ntshongwana, and Super Rugby players Scarra Ntubeni and Joe Pietersen. Leveraging pro bono media placement from global campaign partner JCDecaux, WildAid’s billboards were placed around South Africa’s main cities, airports, and shopping malls.
Academy-Award nominee Djimon Hounsou joined WildAid’s “Poaching Steal From Us All” campaign in South Africa earlier this year to encourage support for anti-poaching efforts. And in 2018, WildAid launched its Zimbabwe campaign with Black Panther star Danai Gurira in partnership with Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the Zambezi Society.
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WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect wildlife from illegal trade and other imminent threats. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $308 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too.
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