This morning I was stunned to read that 57 rhinos had been killed by poachers in South Africa in January 2013. Nearly all of the rhinos were killed in protected areas, too. I knew that poaching was a terrible problem, but I had no idea that it was this serious. At this rate, the rhinoceros will soon go extinct in the wild. It will be very difficult to keep the species alive in zoos.
We visited South Africa in January 2013 near the region where all of these rhinos were killed. We were lucky to see a rhino the very first day we were there, and now I am so saddened thinking about how this amazing animal may really die out, because of human greed and stupidity. We saw a male rhino spraying, as in the video above, as he moved here and there marking his territory. Soon there may be no rhinos in this territory. (The video was uploaded by “smshapiro” on YouTube.
Rhinos are one of the Big Five that people look for on safari. How long before you never see them? The Big Five Game list was coined by hunters in ranking the danger of hunting these animals on foot. At least hunting has been switched to sightings of these magnificent animals, although there are still big game hunts in some areas. (The Big Five are Elephants, Lions, Leopards, Rhinoceros and Cape Buffalo.)
The rhino is killed for its horn, because many people in Asia think the horn has medical properties, but it doesn’t. The horn is composed of keratin, which is similar to fingernails. Why don’t these idiots just chew on their own fingernails. It’ll be just as useful to their health.
Our guide told us that sometimes conservationists remove the horn so that the rhino is spared, because all that the poachers want is the horn. The horn acquires its pointed shape because the rhino sharpens it, otherwise it would be a big lump. I hope the rhinos sharpen their horns on more poachers. Even though I don’t literally believe in curses, people who use rhino horn as medicine should know it is cursed. It’s definitely very bad karma to kill a rhino and to buy rhino horn.
The game reserve we visited doesn’t list rhino sightings, because it doesn’t want to give a heads up to poachers. According to the Associated Press, “A record 668 rhinos were killed in South Africa in 2012, an increase of nearly 50 percent over the previous year. Demand is growing in Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia where rhino horn is believed to have medical benefits despite evidence to the contrary. The horn is made of keratin, a protein also found in human fingernails.”
Elephants are facing similar slaughter for their ivory. Don’t buy ivory, even if the seller claims it is from pre-ban ivory or is supposedly otherwise approved. Buying ivory just encourages the death of more elephants. More bad karma.
57 rhinos killed in South Africa so far this year; 18 suspected poachers arrested