Rhinos of South Africa are the unfortunate victims of the horn trafficking meeting the demand of the Asian market using horns in some traditional remedies. According to the last updated statistics, dated 17 July 2012 of the Department of Environmental Affairs, last year has resulted in the slaughter of 448 rhinos, which means 115 more that in 2010.
Has the extinction of the South African rhinos reach thepoint of no return yet?
This battle against rhino poaching counts at least three levels:
The first one is situated on the ground by fighting and trying to find solutions to protect and save the rhinos.
The second one is in courts to prosecute poachers.
The third one is in Asia, where the demand is based, to educate and dissuade people from using horn in traditional remedies.
What Inverdoorn Game Reserve did due to this emergency
Last December the pressure in the Western Cape was at its top as reserves were attacked: dehorned and even killed. Indeed, in a game reserve not so far from Inverdoorn Game Reserve, rhinos were found dreadfully dehorned. The same day into the night, it was the turn of Inverdoorn to be attacked. Thankfully the Inverdoorn anti-poaching unit did react in time and prevented the attack from the same three poachers that darted and dehorned the rhinos in the other game reserve earlier the same day.
According to the Department of Environmental Affairs of South Africa, the number of rhinos poached in the country since the beginning of this year now stands at 281.
To face the emergency and the pressure on his rhinos, Inverdoorn Game Reserve CEO Damian Vergnaud had to take initiatives and make innovative yet still debated decisions.
The solution to erase poaching does not exist yet. However, it is necessary to react now with alternative solutions to protect rhinos as much as possible. For that matter, Inverdoorn made news headlines with the drastic choice of poisoning the horns of the rhinos. In fact, the rhinos had holes drilled into their horns and poison was injected into them: a barium-laced non-lethal dye, effectively rendering them unpalatable to humans, with no risk to the health of the animal.
According to Lorinda Hern, a spokesperson for the Rhino Rescue Project using a similar horn poisoning treatment, this intervention represents a "long-lasting and cost-effective anti-poaching strategy" . With strong communication to inform people, including poachers, that the horns are poisoned, coloured and X-ray detectable so that they lost their value because unsalable. This measure was taken with the wish to deter poachers in the future and now that the game reserve stands by this solution, not one rhino has been attacked so far.
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A treatment opening new discussions about alternative solutions in the fight for the survival of the rhinos.
This new solution has opened new discussions about the way to protect rhinos against poaching. Extremely diverging opinions are proffered as to this subject. Indeed, contrary to Inverdoorn's opinion, there are some people who think the trade of horns should be legalised as South Africa already have stored a lot of horns in the past from farmers or trafficking and that would stop poaching activities . According to others, the best way to protect rhinos is to dehorn them before the poachers kill them to do it.
Inverdoorn Game Reserve believes in synergism of ideas. This is why RhinoProtect was created, to put heads together about this discussion in a hope to find sustainable solutions to this deadful reality.
Please remember that when we discuss which solution is better, rhinos are still dying within the country! Moreover, people are urged to report any incident of rhino poaching that could help to stop it and report butchers to 0800 205 005 and also to spread the RhinoProtect message for more visibility!