News / Africa

In S. Africa, World Rhino Day is Cause for Celebration, Sadness

A White Rhino and her calf walk in the dusk light in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa's North West Province, April 19, 2012.
A White Rhino and her calf walk in the dusk light in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa's North West Province, April 19, 2012.
Anita Powell
— The fourth annual World Rhino Day is Sunday, with events planned everywhere from Australia to Zimbabwe.  But in South Africa, the celebration is bittersweet.  This nation is home to 75 percent of the world’s rhino population -- estimated at about 25,000 --, but has seen more than 600 of these majestic beasts killed this year so far.  Wildlife group WWF says it fears things may get even worse. 

The rhinoceros faces constant danger from poachers in South Africa.  If the pace of rhino killings continues, South Africa’s death toll could surpass last year’s record slaughter of 668 animals.

A customs officer stands guard near seized rhino horns at the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department in Hong Kong, Nov. 15, 2011.A customs officer stands guard near seized rhino horns at the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department in Hong Kong, Nov. 15, 2011.
x
A customs officer stands guard near seized rhino horns at the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department in Hong Kong, Nov. 15, 2011.
A customs officer stands guard near seized rhino horns at the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department in Hong Kong, Nov. 15, 2011.
The threat is from increasingly sophisticated and heavily armed poachers and criminal syndicates who are feeding a growing appetite for rhino horn in Asia -- where it is widely believed to have medical benefits.

Those alleged benefits have been largely disproven by scientific research.  But that hasn’t stopped Asian consumers from snapping up the rare product at the whopping price of $65,000 a kilogram.

South African officials have put up a multi-front fight against poaching, but activists are increasingly dismayed that that it is having little effect on the illicit trade.

Jo Shaw is the rhino coordinator for the World Wildlife Fund South Africa.

“Well, we are sitting in a very concerning situation here in South Africa, which is home to three in four of all the rhinos alive today, but is losing more than two rhinos a day to poaching for their horns. It seems that we could even surpass the 2012 figure by the end of September, or even by World Rhino Day itself, and perhaps reach 900, or even 1,000 animals for 2013 in total,” said Shaw.

WWF is taking its fight to Twitter, asking for 1 million tweets tagged #Iam4rhinos.  That’s four, as in the number.  The conservation group hopes that the Twitter attention will bring global awareness to the plight of rhinos.

Kirsty Brebner, Rhino Project Manager for the South Africa-based Endangered Wildlife Trust, said that not only have rhinos been around longer than modern humans -- their fate improved our own.

“Well, for starters rhinos have been around for about 8 million years.  So they’ve survived all sorts of environmental catastrophes, which have wiped out other species. And it’s a real bad indictment on us if we lost them on our watch after that period of time.  They also play a very valuable ecological role in the environment in which they live, and they also, as one of the Big Five, they are a big source of tourism.  They’re a big attraction for tourists to come to South Africa, and of course that brings in revenue and that brings in jobs,” said Brebner.

Shaw urged everyone around the world to think of the plight of the rhino.

“I think in five or ten years’ time we’ll look back on 2013 as being a critical time for the future of rhinos globally, and September the 22nd to give everybody the opportunity to say, ‘I am for rhinos’ and to call for everyone around the world to support their future,” said Shaw.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Video Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid