Is Collaboration the Solution to Save the Rhino in 2013?

2012 marks highest rhino poaching numbers in history, around 650, with majority lost in the famous Kruger National Park in South Africa.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) there are about 16,000 black rhino and white rhino remaining in Africa, with approximately 90% found in South Africa. With poaching reaching alarming numbers over the past few years the threat of extinction in the next decade plus is frighteningly real.

Over the past couple of years many have rallied to save the rhino from the crime syndicates, with limited success. Poachers have gotten more sophisticated, better funded and equipped… being able to swoop in undetected, mainly at night, with high powered rifles and chain saws.

Reportedly within 48 hours a rhino horn can be brutally removed from a rhino and be for sale on the streets in Asia. One thing organized crime bosses are much more skilled at than the rest of us (up until now at least) is being ORGANIZED.

The illegal traders (including everyone along the hand off chain) work very systematically and know exactly what to do. They have one goal in mind… get the horn and move it through the network and into the hands of the end user as quickly as possible.

The rhino crisis has surfaced a multitude of “solutions” (some more feasible than others).   Some approaches have seen success on their own, and who knows how many more rhino would have been lost without the outspoken activists and committed rangers.   However, the biggest obstacle the “GOOD GUYS” face it seems, is not the lack of ideas and strategies, but bringing the best of these together in a coordinated fashion.

This fragmentation of energy, skill and expertise… Surely if these were harnessed and directed towards a targeted and focused goal much more could be accomplished towards curbing the poaching of rhino and other African wildlife.  If each “solution” knew how it fit into the big picture, if each knew where “it’s” place was, if each “solution” complimented and supported the next one to create an iron clad opposition against the “BAD GUYS” at all levels, in all situations, then we could collectively stop the poaching and wildlife trafficking.

Solutions to end the Rhino Poaching

(Many proposed solutions have surfaced. This may not be an exhaustive list. Some may be mutually exclusive, some illegal or otherwise not feasible. However, with some of these coming together in an organized fashion who knows what good could be done to stop the illegal trade.)

Root out corruption at borders and in the courts

Legalize the rhino horn trade

Treat the horn

Produce a fake horn

De-horn the rhino

Cast a spell on the horn

Protect the rhino in zoos and not game reserves

Kill the poachers

Spread awareness in Asia to stop the demand

More and better trained and equipped rangers on the ground

Unmanned aircraft for patrolling

Sniffer dogs to track down poachers and horns

DNA registry to track and identify smuggled horns

Local and international government intervention

Improved investigations, more arrests and stiffer sentences

At Nikela we are not experts in the matter of combatting wildlife trafficking, however, we trust that there are experts among those who care about ending the illegal trade, who are, and who can bring the best of these solutions together in some combination. Or, come up with a totally different solution all together. Either way, the solution it seems requires the collaboration of all who have a vested interest in saving the rhino and other endangered and threatened African species.

We are ready to work smarter by, for one, supporting Peter’s implementation of Air Rangers UAV. A drone designed and created specifically for apprehending poachers before they make a kill.

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