Saturday, January 16, 2010

Animal Poaching is Still a Serious Problem in Africa As Rhinos Fight For Their Survival

By Lauren Potgieter

It is hard to believe that after so much effort has been made to conserve and protect the African wildlife from extinction due to brutal poaching, that these killings are at a 15 year high. Animal poaching is a serious problem that is hugely effecting the rhino population as well as other animals with horns including elephants.

Even with game rangers extensive security and organisations protective measures, individuals are still somehow making their way into private game reserves and poaching rhinos and other animals and selling their horns on the black market for a large sum of money.

The reason why the illegal act of animal poaching has reached such an escalated state is owing to the fact that for the first time ever, the value of a rhino horn has exceeded the actual value of gold. One kilogram of rhino horn is now worth somewhere in the range of 60,000 American dollars and this value is now higher than one kilogram of gold which stands at approximately 40,600 US dollars.

The amount of rhinos and other animal poaching incidents this year is astronomical. There are been more than 84 rhino killings this year alone and some of those have been within game reserves. Many tourists are now hesitant about attending Kruger park safaris and other tours owing to the fact that these brutal killings seems to be continuing. However, it is not only South Africa where animals are being poached for their horns. Zimbabwe has seen 300 of their rhinos being poached over a three year period which a frightening high amount, especially due to the fact that there are so little Rhinos left. Areas other than South Africa that have an animal poaching problem include Nepal and India.

Authorities believe that rhino poaching is still occurring around the world due to the lack of serious prison terms that are handed out to animal offenders. Animal horns are poached and used in ancient medicine and are believed to have healing powers. After extensive scientific research, it has been found that there is no proven evidence that these horns have any medicinal value.

There are five types of Rhino species and all of these species are endangered on various levels. Recently, the Black Rhino, previously the sixth species, was announced extinct due its death, mainly by the hands of cruel poachers greedy for money. It is unlikely that this animal poaching will stop as long as there are individuals willing to pay large amounts of money for these animals' horns.

However, this is a silver lining to the animal poaching epidemic. Many poachers are getting caught for their brutal acts of violence towards animals and recently, 70 individuals were arrested for poaching in the Selous Game Reserve. Police are beginning to crack down on offenders and we can only hope that these offenders will be shown no mercy in court.

Lauren Potgieter wrote this article for Outlook SGE and their Kruger Park Safaris

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