In 2007 it is estimated that 13 Rhino were poached in South Africa. In 2008 there were 83 fatal rhino poaching incidents, 122 in 2009, and in 2010 it was 333. In 2011 poaching continued to escalate and 448 rhino were illegally slaughtered. This year…it is likely to be over 550.
Scientists, activists, conservationists and rangers argue about the exact number of rhino living in the wild, there may be as many as 30,000 in total of the 5 remaining species (white, black, Sumatran, Javan and Indian); but there may be as few as 20,000. The Javan rhino is the rarest large mammal in the world, with possibly as few as 25 remaining. 90% of the world rhino population exists in South Africa so the biggest battle is fought here.
We are likely to witness the extinction of some, if not all of these species of rhino in our lifetime. The primary threat to rhino is poaching, the illegal slaughter of these animals for their horn; a commodity thought to have medicinal value in China. One horn is worth a million dollars on the black market, the horn is literally worth more than its weight in gold. There are going to be more poachers, with better equipment, willing to take higher risks to get this rhino horn over the coming years. Poachers are not always innocent farmers helping their families, this is a sophisticated criminal operation on a global scale, run by Chinese and Vietnamese mafia, using highly motivated and military trained poachers with AK47 assault rifles and high tech equipment; when they are intercepted they shoot to kill and won't bother to ask questions later.
SPOTS has put all its resources into rhino conservation at this time because they are the most threatened large mammal species in South Africa. Rhino are one of the most significant animals in the world, globally recognised they are a symbol of South Africa, a national and international treasure. We must not let the Rhino disappear, it simply must not be allowed to happen.
There are over two hundred organisations claiming to ‘Save the Rhino’ in South Africa. Many claim they fund conservation directly, some say they fund the good work of other organisations. Some organisations do tremendous work, but many simply sell beads and bangles, cuddly toys and books and vaguely say the money is used for awareness and education. It’s difficult to know whether your donation is going to be used effectively by the right people. So what do SPOTS do?
SPOTS hunt rhino poachers
Our team works with private reserves, sanctuaries and national parks. Using high tech equipment such a uav, thermal imagers, night vision and secure radio networks; combined with rather lower tech equipment like our trusted Land Rovers (or Landies).
We go into the bush, we track poachers, we intercept them and we bring them to justice. So when you donate to SPOTS, that’s what we’ll spend your money on and that’s why I joined the organization.
SPOTS was established by Peter Milton, Robi Beninca and Gavin Wilson to save species. I joined SPOTS because it is directly intervening to defend and conserve wildlife; we’re not simply discussing it or educating people about it – we’re going to the front line and making it stop. Please help us.
Executive Director, SPOTS International
(Photo courtesy of Peter Milton) - Rhino cow and her young calf