Rhino horn is highly prized in Asia for its supposedly medicinal properties and the demand has created a thriving market for African poachers.
Rhino horn is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, but increasingly common is its use as a status symbol to display success and wealth. Poaching is now a threat in all rhino range states, however as South Africa is home to the majority of rhinos in the world, it is being heavily targeted. More than ever, field programmes are having to invest heavily in anti-poaching activities.
Poachers are now being supplied by international criminal gangs with sophisticated equipment to track and kill rhinos. Frequently a tranquiliser gun is used to bring the rhino down, before its horn is hacked off, leaving the rhino to wake up and bleed to death very painfully and slowly. Poachers are often armed with guns themselves, making them very dangerous for the anti-poaching teams who put their lives on the line to protect rhinos.
But rhinos aren’t only critters that roam the veldt in African game reserves.
At least two rhino poachers were eaten by lions on a South African game reserve, the owner of the lodge said on Thursday.
A ranger taking guests at the Sibuya Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape on a safari drive on Tuesday afternoon discovered human remains close to a pride of lions.
The rhinos will no doubt find some way to express their sincere appreciation to their leonine neighbors for the assist.
“We suspect two were killed, possibly three,” Sibuya owner Nick Fox said.
“We thought they must have been rhino poachers but the ax confirmed it,” Fox said. “They use the rifle to shoot the animal and the ax to remove the horn.”
Conservation and anti-poaching efforts have more than doubled the number of black rhinos in Africa to more than 5,000 over the last 25 years, but there are still precious few of them.