Drip, Drip, Drip... goes the water. But every drop in those drips adds up. For the endangered Rhino, every drip is another animal killed by poachers. Today, drips have turned into a flood of poaching. Until just this week, all of these drips have happened in the wilds of Africa, far away from any place that the average American or European would journey. But now, the latest drip was the demise of Vince, the White Rhino. What makes Vince special? He was killed by poachers just outside of Paris, France!
In the 1960's the White Rhino was near extinction, with perhaps just 40 left in the world. But environmentalists and animal conservationists got together to prevent poaching and to start up breeding programs. And it worked! The total number of White Rhino's throughout Africa rose to 20,000. That's an enormous victory for wildlife conservation. But then, a rumor got started in Vietnam that Rhino horn cures cancer. That rumor went viral, and now the price of Rhino horn is as much as $50,000 lbs, many times more than gold.
Illegal Rhino poaching is responsible for the deaths of 1,000 Rhino's every year. At this rate, Rhino's don't have much time left. Rhino horns, Elephant tusks, and similar rare wildlife contraband has replaced blood diamonds as the preferred currency for poachers, terrorists and paramilitary rebels. Poachers are becoming far more "professional", with better weapons and high-tech equipment like GPS and night vision glasses.
Today, poachers have the edge over the park rangers that protect endangered animals. With better equipment and support from the international criminal syndicates that traffic illegal wildlife, poachers have killed 1,000 rangers over the last 10 years. Violence against animals has turned into violence against humans. The killing of Vince the White Rhino shows how the growing reach of these criminal syndicates has grown far beyond Africa, and is entering Europe and may soon be in the US.
Illicit wildlife trafficking is a $20 billion a year industry. Some of the world's most violent gangs and organizations used to fund themselves off of blood diamonds, human trafficking and other trades in misery. Now, the value of endangered animals has become so high, that these groups regularly descend on Africa. Of course, the same airports that let these violent criminals fly around the world will allow them to fly to your hometown. In the US alone, over 90 zoos have Rhinos.
A rhinoceros often abbreviated to rhino, is one of any five extant species of odd-toed ungulates in the family Rhinocerotidae, as well as any of the numerous extinct species. Two of these extant species are native to Africa and three to Southern Asia. | Southern White Rhinoceros, Rhino, Animal, Horn, Endangered, Wild Animal, Poacher, Criminal, Zoo, Charging, Aggression, Power, Strength,
We shouldn't be so surprised that Vince was killed and most of his head was cut off with a chainsaw. There have been thefts of rhino horn from museums, auction houses, and private collections around the world. Still, it is a very clear indication that poaching, and the violence that comes with it, is spreading. If anyone had stumbled on the killing of Vince, it is highly likely that any witnesses would have been quickly killed, as the poachers harvested over half a million dollars of Rhino horn.
Is there any solution for this vicious cycle of animal slaughter? There might be. One group, the GES Africa Fund
, focuses on the preservation of Rhinos and is raising money to buy a helicopter to patrol the South Africa / Mozambique border, where many White Rhinos live. The helicopter would allow Park Rangers to patrol further, respond more rapidly poaching incidents, and better protect Park Rangers.
According to Karl Miller, the head of GESAF, "Wildlife protection is at a critical point. In the past, Rangers focused on discouraging poachers from entering the park or chasing them away. This helicopter will allow GESAF to: Extend our patrol range and deny poachers access to the park, arrest the poachers and ensure that they are tried in court, and capture the wildlife contraband, even if the animal has been killed." By meeting these three goals, more poachers are punished, fewer poachers are at liberty to poach again, and crime syndicates are disrupted when they are denied profits to fund the next poaching expedition.
The poachers are coming... They may already be among us! Remember Vince and donate to the Rhino fund of your choice (there are quite a few). You will not only save some magnificent animals, you may keep some very bad guys out of your neighborhood!