Last night, the TV show “Rock Center with Brian Williams” on NBC aired a segment on rhino poaching in South Africa. Some of the shocking statistics highlighted that last year almost 450 rhinos were illegally killed in South Africa for their horns. And so far this year South Africa is losing a rhino a day – one poached every 18 hours!
The segment showed several ways people were trying to individually combat the war on illegal wildlife trade. Ranging from using a chainsaw to cut off the horn (which does not harm the animal) to darting and inserting a microchip for tracking the animal and would potentially track the horn if it were ever removed. DNA samples were collected while the rhinos were under sedation which is being stored in Pretoria. These DNA banks are being used to match confiscated horns with poached carcasses in order to make arrests.
Watch the “Rock Center” video segments:
The conservation of rhino in South Africa is at the root of The WILD Foundation’s long history. The founder and wilderness champion, Ian Player of South Africa, was the initiator and team leader of an innovative project ‘Operation Rhino’. In the 1960s, the program established breeding colonies of white rhinoceros at zoos and protected game reserves in order to assure the survival as a species. In addition he established a successful anti-poaching network in South African game reserves which resulted in an impressive reduction in poaching. Fifty years later, The WILD Foundation is still at the forefront of conservation efforts in Africa.
An ongoing project is the Rhino Informant Incentive Fund. Through a partnership with Safari Club International and the Magqubu Ntomebla Foundation, in 2010 we established an expert team of informants with experience in intelligence gathering, the law, and forensics. The goal of the informants is to collect information to reduce the threat to the rhinos by better deterring and detaining poachers. We had good success thus far.