While most endangered species are under threat from habitat loss due to encroaching human development, African rhinos face only one major threat: poaching, specifically for their horn. The IUCN (The International Union for Conservation of Nature), TRAFFIC, and Asian Rhino Specialist Groups have recognized Vietnam as “the principal end-use market” for rhino horn. Surprisingly, a study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund and TRAFFIC in 2013 discovered that “educated, successful and powerful individuals are the main market for horns.” Alarmingly, since a vast majority of rhino horn consumers are unaware of its unfounded medical advantages, the rise in demand brings the species closer to extinction. Sustainability in wildlife has been interfered by human beings regardless day- round protection of conservationists, leaving adverse effects on nature and individuals in Africa – home of the largest number of rhinos. Effective solutions are therefore extremely necessary to prevent the crisis of rhino poaching and to maintain other species of wildlife.
Rhinos are slowly becoming extinct due to human greed and rampant poaching. The species has been classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Surprisingly, Vietnam is the largest user country of rhino horns. Rhinos are poached and resold for an extremely big amount of cash by corrupt people to the black market. Illegal traders manage to sell the same horn in Asia for around $133 per gram and this price can range up to $300,000 per horn as the year of 2018 while that sort of profit margin is generally only feasible in drug or sex-trafficking. Rhinos were once abundant in Africa and Asia within approximated worldwide population of 500,000 in the early 20th century, however, in 2018, the International Rhino Organization reported that the number hovers around 29,500. Despite intensive conservation efforts, the excessive abuse and demand for rhinos horn has threatened the species towards extinction. South Africa is home to 80% of the rhino population, hence it is exceptionally crucial for the nation to preserve this species. The country experienced an exponential rise in rhino poaching from 2007- 2014 – a growth of over 9,000 percent (from 13 to 1,215). Most illegal activity occurs in Kruger National Park, a 19,485 km2 of protected area on South Africa’s north-eastern border with Mozambique. Kruger consistently suffered heavy poaching loses. Around 2013, the South African crisis spread to other countries in Africa. This poaching crime has led to severe consequences since more than 1,000 rhinos are killed each year between 2013 and 2017. Within a decade from 2007-2018, the total rhinos killed has increased to 7,100. Without immediate intervention, mortality rates are anticipated to exceed birth rates by 2026, resulting in a high danger of extinction for rhinoceros.
There are several reasons leading to the decrease in worldwide rhino population. First of all, the unequal wealth distribution and corruption is the trigger for illegal trading and international poaching criminals. The current poaching crisis actually began in Zimbabwe, where rhino poaching was facilitated by challenging socio-economic and political climate. Once the easy pickings were taken in Zimbabwe, poaching gangs turned their attention to neighboring South Africa, which in turn saw enormous rises in poaching from 2009-2014. As stated in a short document ‘Sides of a rhino horn’, African poachers are paid $3000 for per rhino horn, which is a sufficient amount of money to feed a family annual, but this is nothing compared to the real value of the horns once they are delivered to South East Asia countries, such as Vietnam and China where it is believed that rhino horn holds medical value in traditional medicine. Rhino horn has had a fake reputation for its ability to heal from cancer to malaria, while it is primarily composed of substances found in human hair and fingernails. The rhino horn is also regarded as an aphrodisiac and is particularly valued in Asian nations as a status symbol. This product’s demand is so high that one kilo of rhino horn in the black market could cost up to $100,000, even more costly than gold or platinum. There is absolutely no scientific basis to validate the medical purpose of this horn. Yet rhino poaching has become such a large issue over the year that it has been formally categorized as critically endangered by the species. Rhino horns are also used for artistic carving and daggle handles in Yemen, plus Oman to showcase authority and status. Moreover, the reality that Vietnam’s economy has grown quickly intertwined with improved living standards for people since the 1990s has considerably attributed to the problem of rhino hunting, whereas we should all have been informed and educated better to save ourselves and other species. Last but not least, it is bound up with traders ‘ and poachers ‘ morality and absence of consumer consciousness. If it wasn’t for misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about the actual value carried in a horn, poachers wouldn’t be able to create an insane thousand-dollar offer on rhino horns, demand would then reduce, and the species would be better preserved and protected.
The high price for rhino horn has attracted the involvement of ruthless criminals on rhinoceros, causing numerous drawbacks to nature and human beings themselves, especially in Africa. Today’s rhinos scarcity and rhino horn accessibility drives the price higher and intensifies the pressure on the declining rhino populations while elephants and rhinos are classified as part of the national heritage “Big Five”. Rhino poaching will quickly result in the species being eliminated. In other words, one of the heritages will have to be lost to Africa. In 2013, Vietnamese delegates including National Assembly Deputies, journalists, artists, environmental police officers and conservationists paid a 10-day visit and worked in South Africa on cross-country rhino horn trade issues. Delegates were directly witnessed the effects of transnational rhino horn trade on the survival of this species in South Africa. Vietnamese delegation and officials of Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV). While working in South Africa – where the main source of rhino horn is supplied to consumer markets around the world. The delegation also visited Kruger National Park. Here, the members of the delegation witnessed the aftermath of the transnational rhino horn trade. Congressman Vo Tuan Nhan said: “In Kruger National Park, we saw a terrible scene, the body of a rhino was shot dead for more than a week to get horns. South Africa was hunted for horns – and nearly two-thirds of them were killed right here in Kruger National Park.” Second, illegal rhino hunting leaves a negative effect on the environment because it can lead to loss of biodiversity. This will cause food chains to collapse as well as the extended drought that affects food and water resources. Sustainability is being messed up. People have made it more intricate for future generations without realizing the cumulative impacts. Third, ecotourism is negatively affected by rhino poaching. This can lead in job losses that have an adverse effect on the African economy. Tourists save up their money and come from all over the world to see them. Without the tourists African economy would decline. Plus, countless families in South Africa’s rural communities rely on wildlife tourism for their livelihood. The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is now concentrating exclusive on Africa as they believe that protecting Africa’s wildlife and wild landscapes is the key to its people’s future prosperity and have been committed to ensuring the survival of wildlife resources for over 50 years. In other words, poaching rhinos as well as other plants and animas are intensively damaging ecological sustainability, resulting in loss in economic growth, biodiversity and human well-being.
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Nowadays, there are only 5 remaining rhino species in the world even though rhinos have been in existence for over 55 million years ago: The Northern rhino, including Northern white rhino (2 females left) and southern white rhino (20,000 left); the black rhino (5,042 left), the greater one-horned or Indian rhino (3,500 left), Javan rhino (67 left- critically endangered) and the Sumatran rhino (80 left-critically endangered). On 19th of March 2018, the death of the last male northern white rhino Sudan effectively ends his species with him. This subspecies lived in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where wild populations were decimated by militant armies. By the time expert trackers determined that they were extinct in the wild, only a handful of zoo animals remained, and none were capable of breeding. Today, only two non-breeding females are living out their days in a reserve in Kenya.
There is never going to be a virtual reality fix for real and raw nature if no further action is taken. There are several strategies to prevent rhino poaching and to preserve wild species. First of all, imposing imprisonment for rhino horn trafficking in addition to heavy penalties is essential for the preservation. There should be prison syndicates for those who frighten poor people to do the poaching. The penalties will go towards promoting nationwide wildlife law enforcement and Africa’s attempts to conserve the rhinos and its habitat. Second, conservationists, patrols and the anti-poaching team should be provided with training, designated equipment, management to defend themselves and protect rhinos from poachers who are armed with guns and can threat the force anytime. Sudan died at the age of 45, which is equivalent to about 100 in human years. His life was only extended due to the caring and nurturing of the conservationists and the rangers who looked after him until his last breath. No life should risk the cruelty of others. Moreover, awareness campaigns, environmental education programs and wildlife summits can be arranged and sponsored to inform people about the importance of the rhinoceros as well as eliminate the idea of magical remedy held in the horn to educate and encourage many generations to raise their voice for wildlife species and to dismiss the taboo on rhino horns. Regarding technology development, tracking devices can be attached to the rhino to monitor its movement which will also tell us if it is still alive and whether action can be taken on time to rescue them. More than that, a Pro Tag device can also be implanted in the horn so that if the rhino is poached, it can be traced and the poachers arrested. These technolgies should be kept within the anti-poaching team so that poachers won’t be able to obstruct anti-team performance. Another innovative and advanced reproductive technologies, like in-vitro fertilization, can be attempted to bring more breeds and subspecies of rhino into existence to help recover its population. Furthermore, while more people were prosecuted than previous years, stopping corruption and speeding up prosecution processes continues to be critically important. Corruption and whino poaching are inetricably linked. Even though, significant efforts have been made by an anti-poaching team, including rangers, police, conservationists, however, “In far too many cases, rangers, police, government officials – even magistrates – are easily corrupted by powerful criminal forces with ready supplies of hard cash.” says Julian Rademeyer of Traffic, a group of which monitors the illegal trade in wildlife. Therefore, the government was committed to rooting out corruption. There is a need for a multi-faceted strategy including continuing anti-poaching and patrol surveillance, community conservation and environmental education schemes, captive breeding, translocations and demand reduction projects in Asia specifically and globally.
Concerning the problem of trade in wild animals, The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has also proposed leading transport enterprises such as Vietnam Airlines to announce not to transport endangered wildlife species from July 2017. Also, according to Deputy Minister Ha Cong Tuan, Vietnam has completed many legal documents in accordance with international conventions on wildlife protection, biodiversity and nature conservation, in which reported that rhino horn traffickers will be convicted to 5 to 10 years in jail if they commit poaching crime. More than that, Vietnam now has a campaign to request Vietnamese tourists and workers go to work in African countries like South Africa, Angola, Mozambique as well as foreign tourists coming to Vietnam to not support the trade and transport illegal products. All need to be done is to reinforce the execution on new cases to stop the issue completely.
Member countries of United Nations has also passed a resolution put forth by the US and Peru, encouraging “to make illicit trafficking in wild fauna and flora a serious crime” and to guarantee the prosecution of organized criminals groups.