Several weeks ago I posted a blog about the poaching crisis with Africa’s rhinos. Except for the elephants rhinos were our biggest topic during my recent study trip in Africa so I thought it was time to return to the topic here.

According to the official numbers released by South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs 251 rhinos have been poached in South Africa alone as of June 20, 2012 (Department). This is roughly 1.5 rhinos per day, which is actually slower than it was when I posted the original blog about rhinos. Still, at this rate South Africa stands to lose over 500 rhinos this year possibly even as high as 600.

This decrease in poaching rates is thanks to the dedication of rangers, conservation officials, and the South African military. Before I arrived in South Africa I kept hearing about how nothing was being done to save the rhinos, your typical doom and gloom stories. However from my personal experiences over the last  month I can say without a doubt this is not true. During the trip we spent 2.5 days in the Kruger area. In this time we were stopped on three separate occasions by anti-poaching units. Twice in Kruger and once just a few miles outside of the park after we had left to continue our trip. One of the stops in the park involved members of the South African military who were standing by with machine guns and helicopters while the rangers checked us.

Yet people claim nothing is being done since Kruger has experienced the most poaching casualties. To this I must point out that Kruger is a large area. At 2.2 million hectares for the official park Kruger is roughly the size of the country of Israel. This is a huge area to patrol for so few people. Obviously many poachers are going to slip through the cracks. Again I must point out the valiant efforts of officials to save rhinos by stating that 170 arrests have been made so far this year in relation to rhino poaching or attempted rhino poaching (Department).

To finish out my update on rhinos and my time in Kruger I want to share a personal first for me. During one day of driving through Kruger we spotted the entire Big 5. But what made this great is that this included three separate rhino sightings, including the only black rhino I have ever seen. I have visited South Africa three times for a total of nearly 50 days in the field and two trips to Kruger. To date I have seen a little over 30 rhinos but to finally see a black rhino was huge. Unfortunately the only photo I could get was rather far away and is posted below. These are magnificent creatures and we must all work together to do whatever we can in order to protect them.

 

References:

  • Departement of Environmental Affairs, Republic of South Africa.      http://www.environment.gov.za/q=content/rhinopoaching_statistics_update_20june2012

 

Advertisements