Since 2008 rhino populations have seen a significant increase in poaching. In South Africa this reached a height of 1,215 rhinos poached in 2014, equating to more than three animals a day. Tactics to protect the rhino are strengthening: in 2017 1,028 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa.
The cause of these deaths stems from the demand for the rhinos’ horn, which is heavily sought after by communities in Vietnam and China. Used in Chinese medicine as a natural viagra and as a party drug to cure hangovers, it’s also carved into trinkets and displayed as a status symbol. This combination means there is almost no limit to the price price that people are willing to pay for their piece of rhino horn.
Manipulating corrupt channels in South Africa the black market for rhino horn thrives and it’s a near impossible task to stem demand. But wildlife conservationists are doing their best to disrupt the supply channels: increased security on wildlife reserves; educating communities; relocating rhino to regions where poaching is far less prevalent; and removing the rhino horn while the animals are sedated are all examples of the efforts being undertaken.
After a successfully protecting all their rhinos in 2017, Phinda Private Game Reserve in the Munyawana Conservancy in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa is working towards removing the horn regrowth from 30 of their rhinos this year and need all the help they can get.
Approximately AUD2,500 will fund the safe removal of one rhino’s horn by financing a vet, their equipment, a helicopter and support staff. Once the rhino has been sedated their eyes and ears are covered. A vet takes the time to complete health checks on the rhino and the horn is removed by chainsaw. The sedation is then reversed.
When a date has been set to dehorn a rhino, each further rhino dehorned on that day benefits from the same vet, helicopter and staff. The costs for all the rhinos after the first are far less than for the original rhino.