Poachers Kill Last Female White Rhino in South African Reserve
by MATTHEW McDERMOTT
One more symbol of the rising global demand for rhino horn and its devastating effect on rhinoceroses in both Africa and Asia: The Guardian reports that the female white rhino in South Africa's Krugersdorp nature reserve has been killed by poachers--who used a tranquilizer gun, fired from a helicopter, to bring down the animal, prior to hacking off its horn, leaving it to bleed to death and orphaning its young calf in the process.A private airport near the 1500-hectare reserve may have been the launching point for the attack. Japie Mostert, chief game ranger at Krugersdorp:
The exercise takes them very little time. They first fly over the park in the late afternoon to locate where the rhino is grazing. Then they return at night and dart the animal from the air. The tranquilizer takes less than seven minutes to act. They saw off the horns with a chainsaw. They do not even need to switch off the rotors of the helicopter. We do not hear anything because our houses are too far away. The animal dies either from an overdoes of tranquilizer or bleeds to deathRhino Horn Worth More Than Gold
Rhino poaching is at a fifteen year high as demand for the horn--still used in Traditional Chinese Medicine despite being officially removed from the pharmacopeia--continues to rise. At the end of last year, rhino horn trades for about $1610 an ounce, more than gold.
The southern white rhino population is listed by the IUCN as near-threatened, and is the most abundant rhino population in the world. By contrast the northern white rhino is considered critically endangered or extinct in the wild, with well under 10 individuals left.
Total African rhino population--including the 3,000 or so black rhinos left in the wild--have been reduced from an estimated 65,000 animals in the 1970s to about 18,000 today.