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Saving Rhinos from Poaching

Posted on Dec, 10, 2014
Contributed to WCHV by Danielle
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A recent initiative in South Africa is focusing on saving Rhinos from poaching by moving them to safe areas away from poachers as reported by CNN recently.

At the Kruger National Park, South Africa, wildlife veterinary team is working with the government to move away rhinos from poaching hotspots along the Mozambique border, to a recently established “intensive protection zone” deeper into the park.

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The team’s members are no ordinary veterinarians according to CNN. The team quickly captures rhinos daily by using tranquilizers and park’s guards and then moves them to safer areas. They’ve already conducted more than 30 relocations since last month, and will conduct hundreds more. They are a key part of a protection plan which has taken on even greater urgency since the country’s environmental minister announced that a record 1,020 of South Africa’s rhinos have been poached this year as CNN reported.

The illegal trade in rhino horn is mostly fueled by an major demands in Asia, where it is prized as a sign of wealth and believed to have medicinal value with no scientific evidence to support healing properties.

Rhino horn is made of keratin, the same protein found in human fingernails, but it can still fetch as much as $5,550 an ounce on the black market — that’s more than the price of gold, more than the price of platinum — and roughly equivalent to the price of cocaine.

Kruger National Park, which is home to roughly 10,000 rhinos — a quarter of the world’s population — shares a 350-kilometer border with impoverished Mozambique, making it a massive target for poachers.

This past year, the use of the new equipment and technology has helped lead to a record number of poaching arrests but there is still so much more to be done. Last month alone, 600 poachers infiltrated the park from Mozambique as reported by CNN.

Rhinos are now being slaughtered for a horn that for millennia has been its first line of defense, conservationists are now counting on the rhino’s extreme adaptability to save it from extinction.

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