The rhino poaching crisis in South Africa is fed by demand in Vietnam for its horns, which are believed to be a sexual stimulant, cure hangovers and even cancer.
To date 341 rhino have been lost to poachers in South Africa this year (2012). These gentle giants are brutally attacked, their horns are savagely removed with a chain saw or machete and left to bleed to death.
The horns are then illegally trafficked from South Africa to Asia where they are ground into powder and used in Traditional Chinese Medicines. For centuries wildlife body parts of all kinds have been used for apparent medicinal purposes. However, no studies appear ever to have proven that these, in particular the rhino’s horn, have any healing properties what so ever.
In our conversations with experts on the ground in South Africa there are numerous obstacles that prevent the effective halting of this illegal trade:
- The privatization of wildlife in South Africa
- Internal corruption amongst officials and citizens at all levels in South Africa and Asia
- The escalation of the demand for rhino horn in Asia
- The increasing poverty in South Africa.
The solutions at first blush may appear simple, however with political and economic drivers they become very complex indeed.