The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) said the country needed new strategies to protect its rhino population of approximately 19 500 - 22 000. Over the past four years, there had been an increase in the number of rhinos being poached for their horns in South Africa, with the amount standing on 330 for 2010. The EWT warned that this crime is increasing.
Chief Executive officer of the EWT, Yolan Friedman said that they have a few new strategies in place including working with international orginisations that were trying to unpack the trade routes, understanding the drivers in the recent increase of poaching, improving security of rhino's in private ownership, assisting in investigative work and working with a number of agencies operating at the borders and airports to improve personnel training and detection efforts in terms of wildlife.
She said that rhino poaching has become a syndication crime. "Any organisation who claims that what they are going to do is going to make a difference, I think is wrong and ourselves, we are not going to promise that at the end of the year we've also managed to half rhino poaching. We have to accept, unfortunately that rhino poaching is no longer just a wildlife crime it is a part of organised crime," Friedmann said.
She said one of the contributors to the increase was the use of horns for medicinal use in especially the Middle East.
"There are allegations of rhino horn being used for medicinal use in Vietnam as a cure for cancer and other ailments."
"And certainly if we see the amount of money that is going into poaching of rhino, there must be a much more desperate consumer market in the East. But those things still have to be proven and put into black and white - so there is a bit of speculation around it. We know it's a new market, we know it's a more affluent market and we know that there is definitely a new use out there and it very likely has a medicinal property. Whether it's a traditional or new one, I think still has to be proven," she said.
Chairperson of SA Gold Coin Exchange's Chairperson, Alan Demby hands over a check to Yolan Friedmann for the EWT.
Friedmann said that there a lot of investigations were underway in South Africa but that it was far too easy to export horns out of the country. She continued that the chances of curbing the number of poached rhinos by the end of the year was small considering that between 144 and 150 have already been killed this year alone.
She said that removing the horns might cause more harm for the rhino in SA, than in countries such as Namibia and Zimbabwe, where the living conditions were easier.
"The trust was training various officials at border posts on rhino horn detection. Less than 10 percent of poached rhino horns are being seized," Friedmann said.
Source: Jacaranda FM, South Africa