Deaths of rhi­nos at a tip­ping point

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - KERRY SHERI­DAN

WASH­ING­TON: Deaths of rhi­nos from poach­ing are fast ap­proach­ing a tip­ping point, with the num­ber of en­dan­gered crea­tures killed an­nu­ally nearly out­num­ber­ing births for the first time, in­ter­na­tional ex­perts warned yes­ter­day.

South Africa is the epi­cen­tre of the cri­sis, with a record 827 black and white rhi­nos killed so far this year, al­ready far sur­pass­ing last year’s record of 668, said the In­ter­na­tional Rhino Foun­da­tion.

“Th­ese poach­ing lev­els threaten to wipe out decades of con­ser­va­tion progress, and it is im­per­a­tive that we take ac­tion now,” said IRF ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Susie El­lis.

De­spite the heavy toll of poach­ing, birth rates by black rhi­nos – of which there are 5 000 left – con­tinue to slowly in­crease, said the IRF.

Mean­while, the white rhino pop­u­la­tion of about 20 400 is also slowly in­creas­ing.

“…the sit­u­a­tion is al­most cer­tainly un­sus­tain­able in the long term,” the IRF said in its State of the Rhino re­port.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the USbased foun­da­tion were meet­ing with con­ser­va­tion lead­ers from around the world in Tampa, Florida to dis­cuss new strate­gies to end the cri­sis.

“De­spite the cri­sis, there is hope for rhi­nos,” El­lis said.

“We be­lieve that the sit­u­a­tion can be turned around. The stick­ing point is whether rhino coun­tries like South Africa and con­sumer coun­tries like Viet­nam and China will en­force their laws and whether coun­tries like In­done­sia will take the bold ac­tions needed to save Su­ma­tran and Ja­van rhi­nos.”

As few as 100 Su­ma­tran rhi­nos are left, and there are around 44 Ja­van rhi­nos. Both are on the brink of ex­tinc­tion.

The re­port also warned of “re­cent in­creases in poach­ing in north­east­ern In­dia”, home to the greater one-horned rhino of which about 3 300 re­main in the world. There had been some pro­tec­tion suc­cesses in Botswana, Zim­babwe, In­dia and In­done­sia. – Sapa-AFP

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