South Africa has reported that there has been a great decline in the number of rhinos that are killed by poachers. After research, it had been determined that the reason for the decline is due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, 394 rhinos were killed for their horns in the country. In 2019, 594 rhinos were recorded dead for their horns. This is a 33% decline in the numbers according to the environment ministry.
The lockdown had helped restrict the movements of poachers and rhino horn smugglers in the country. Despite the drastic decline in the poaching number, conservatives are still warning people that the rhino population is drastically declining. Poaching still seems to remain a big problem around the world.
However, since Monday, the lockdown restrictions have been eased in the country which might give poachers a more liberal chance of going back to hunting and illegal trade.
In South Africa, the African Rhino population is about 80%. Hundreds of rhinos are killed each year for their horns. The body parts, especially their horns are sent to Asia where the horn is used as an ingredient for medicines and herbal remedies. Rhinos horns contain Keratin, which is the same material present in human fingernails.
Most of the poaching takes place at the Kruger National Park where there has been a 70% decline in the number of rhinos over the last decade. According to the IUCN Red List, Rhinos are under the critically endangered category, meaning that they are closer to becoming extinct.
WWF officials are increasing the security around these animals in reserves. There is a marginal improvement as there is a decline in poaching but the pandemic is only a temporary stop. Rhino horns are in huge demand in Asian countries such as China and Vietnam where they are used in traditional medicines.
To stop rhino poaching, it is important to address the certain factors that enable wildlife trafficking syndicates to operate. WWF has also been talking about inserting chips to track the rhinos movements and save them from any further danger such as poaching.
By Meena Atmakuri