The rhinoceros is one of nature’s most unique and beautiful beasts. It forms part of the so called ‘Big 5′ animals that are usually the main attraction in many Sub-Saharan Africa game reserves.
The beauty of the rhino is also its curse, the horn it carries is synonymous to a death sentence for the beasts.
The poaching watchdog website Stop Rhino Poaching reports that between 2008 to 17th July 2012 there have been 1 267 reported rhino poaching incidents in South Africa alone.
Humane Society International further reports that the African black rhino is critically endangered, with a population of less than 5000.
This means that if the Rhino population continues to decline at this staggering rate, in twenty years the rhino will only be a distant memory.
The most frustrating element behind rhino poaching is that it is driven by ignorance. In many cultures, it is believed that the rhino horn has medicinal benefits and aphrodisiac properties which enhance male arousal when consumed. Regardless of the numerous studies that have proven that there is no medicinal value in rhino horn.
Rhinos are essential to the ecosystem within which they exist.
Saving Rhinos explains that rhinos pave pathways through dense brush and forest, making way for other animals. Their dung enriches soil nutrition and structure, fortifying the soil’s productive capacity. They also dig to create wallows, making pools of water benefiting other species such as frogs and insects that need them to complete their lifecycles.
The importance of a healthy rhino population is essential for other animal species to continue flourishing, and it is also plays an important role in ensuring that the land is able to bring forth and maintain wild plant life.
The Government of South Africa is already taking serious measures to curb the scourge of poaching in South Africa. What is needed though are concerted regional efforts to confront the inhumane and senseless killing of rhinos.
Furthermore, the markets where rhino horn is sold need to come to the party. The Asian continent in particular has to co-operate with African governments in ensuring that dealing in rhino horn remains illegal and is suppressed with greater determination.