Extinct within the decade as 1 Rhino is poached every 18 hours. Since the start of the poaching epidemic in 2008 South Africa has lost over 1400 rhinos – a figure that, despite so much effort, increases daily.
Chinese and Vietnamese seem to be the highest bidders driving the price of a gram of powdered rhino horn up way past the price of gold paying some $400,000 US for one horn. Coupled to this alarming statistic is the fact that a calf’s chance of survival without it’s mother is 10% meaning that the effective number of Rhino killed stands much higher.
For at least 2,000 years, Asian medicine has prescribed rhino horn—ground into powder—to reduce fever and treat a range of ailments. Javan rhinos once proliferated in the Vietnamese forests and floodplains, but in 2010 poachers killed the nation’s last wild rhino. In South Africa several Vietnamese nationals, including diplomats, have been implicated in plots to smuggle horns out of the country.
Intelligence driven operations (knowing the when and the how) are the cornerstone to cracking the syndicates. Some funding is used towards investigations, informant networks, training and special equipment. 2012 has seen some significant arrests, with the courts being far less inclined to grant bail. Finally in 2013, South African Crime Intelligence and the South African National Prosecuting Authority together with Wild Life organisations are closing in on the bad guys.
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