With the steep rise of wealth in China and Vietnam, the perception of rhino horn benefits seems to have grown as well. Even though up to 2007 only about a dozen rhinos were killed yearly in South Africa, recent years have shown a dramatic increase in the greed for rhino horns. As a recent article in TIME magazine narrates, African game ranchers, safari guides and wildlife officials — precisely those who should be protecting the beasts — have been caught dabbling in the trade. At the same time, Asian criminals posing as big-game hunters are spending tens of thousands of dollars on licenses that allow them to legally shoot rhinos in South Africa, adding a respectable veneer to a nasty pursuit. A continent away, Chinese business interests are investing lavishly in a shadowy rhino-farming scheme that threatens to contravene international law. Taken together, these elements amount to “the most sophisticated organized crime that the convention has had to face in its history,” says John Sellar, head of the enforcement office for the CITES secretariat.
In 2010 South Africa 333 rhinos to poaching in 2010. Things are not looking up this year. According to WWF, nearly 200 rhinos have been killed in South Africa during the first half the year, as per statistics from the national parks department.
If you’re in the dark about the poaching crisis, you’ll find some need-to-know facts in our slick infographic (click to enlarge).
Earth-Touch also created a great animated video based on the infographic:
BREAKING NEWS: Seems like one of the biggest rhino poachers has just been caught: Times’ “Joint operation nets poaching ‘kingpin’”
Further: Read TIME magazine’s article ”Killing Fields: Africa’s Rhinos Under Threat“