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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs