Rhino poaching toll reaches new high
A majority of the rhino deaths, 425, occurred in Kruger National Park, South Africa’s premier safari destination. Poaching incidents in Kruger were up sharply from 252 in 2011.
Arrests of suspected poachers and smugglers also increased in 2012, with 267 people now facing rhino-related charges. In November, a Thai man was sentenced to a record 40 years in prison for conspiring to smuggle rhino horns to Asia.
A recent TRAFFIC report found that rhino horns are believed to have medicinal properties and are seen as highly desirable status symbols in some Asian countries, notably Viet Nam. The increased value of rhino horn has enticed well-organized, well-financed and highly-mobile criminal groups to become involved in rhino poaching.
In December, Viet Nam and South Africa signed an agreement aimed at bolstering law enforcement and tackling illegal wildlife trade including rhino horn trafficking. The agreement paves the way for improved intelligence information sharing and joint efforts by the two nations to crack down on the criminal syndicates behind the smuggling networks.
Both Mozambique and Viet Nam have been given failing grades by WWF’s Wildlife Crime Scorecard for failing to enforce laws meant to protect rhinos. The study also outlines important actions needed by South Africa, such as ensuring those arrested for rhino crimes are prosecuted and punished.
To tackle this threat, WWF launched a global campaign with partner TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network. Learn more about our illegal wildlife trade campaign here.
WWF Video- Demand for rhino horn in Asia fuels African poaching crisis: