Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Global Fight Against Rhino Poaching Stepped Up

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A poster depicting a rhino poacher
It has been recently reported that Indonesia has announced an international rhino "emergency", and encouraged South Africa and all the other nations famous for having rhinos to join a global effort to prevent them from being pushed to extinction. At the urging of global conservation groups, Indonesian President Susilo Yudhoyono announced Monday to be the beginning of "International Year of the Rhino", strictly to guarantee the survival of two critically-endangered species of Asian rhinos: the Javan rhinoceros and the Sumatran rhinoceros. It is said that the total number of Javan rhinos has sunk to fewer than 50 animals, while only 200 Sumatran rhinos remain. In addition to his concern of ensuring the immediate survival of the Javan and Sumatran rhinos, President Yudhoyono further stated that he hopes all other rhino range states in Africa and Asia would establish a similar program to protect the animals worldwide from poaching by international crime syndicates. His message was praised by John Scanlon, secretary-general of CITES, who also hopes that this initiative will "serve as a catalyst for further high-level political support and commitments to protect the rhino in the wild across all states concerned."
The Javan rhinoceros (top) has diminished to fewer than 50 individuals, while the Sumatran rhinoceros (bottom) population consists of only 200 animals.

The announcement follows last week's killing of two white rhinos in the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal, increasing the death toll of South Africa's rhinos to well over 230 animals in the first five months this year. According to Yolan Friedman, head of Johannesburg's Endangered Wildlife Trust, the illegal wildlife trade is now the third-largest form of illicit activity next to drug and human trafficking. She further added that her organization was proud to be working with the organizations, which had called for the Year of the Rhino. Meanwhile, senior official of TRAFFIC Tom Milliken stated that the dramatic rise in rhino poaching was no longer due to the demand from traditional Chinese medicine. Instead, the demand is solely linked among wealthy elites and business people in Vietnam. He further added that the only way to win the war against rhino poaching would be if both Africa and Asia align against the crime syndicates behind the ongoing slaughter.
Up to 230 white rhinos have been killed this year.

I'm very proud of what Indonesia has done, in order to address the issue of rhino poaching affecting the world's wildlife. This article also gives an idea of what various other countries housing rhinos should do, in order to protect them from powerful criminal syndicates. In fact, I happen to agree with what Mr. Milliken stated if the world is to win against the ongoing massacre of rhinos. The continents of Africa and Asia should form a tight alliance, and work side-by-side in methods such as information-sharing as a way to keep track of these criminal organizations targeting rhinos and prosecuting them. Both Asia and Africa have each lost their local rhino subspecies to extinction separately: the Vietnamese Javan rhinoceros and the West African black rhinoceros. The reason for these losses is the work of these criminal syndicates, who would go through any lengths to completely annihilate the rhinoceros off the face of the earth. This is why it is crucial that other countries besides Indonesia should conduct a similar program like the International Year of the Rhino, which not only covers battling poaching and the wildlife trade but other methods as well. These include intensive breeding programs in zoos around the world and other international fund-raising efforts to improve education and law enforcement. This way, the global rhino population will be revived and would lead to an increase in populations, especially in the cases of South Africa's rhinos and the Javan and Sumatran rhinos. The clock is ticking.

View article here

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