Rhino Conservation Efforts ‘Fail’ After 499 Rhinos Poached Across South Africa in 2023

Rhino poaching has become rampant across Africa over the past several decades. This illegal activity has led to the critical decline of the rhinoceros population in multiple countries across the continent, including Botswana and South Africa. The overwhelming threat to wild animals has also been met with increased conservation measures to protect the endangered wildlife and prevent them from succumbing to extinction.

Earlier this week, it was reported that rhino conservation efforts have “failed” in South Africa after hundreds of rhinos died from poaching in 2023, according to the government of South Africa. The majority of killed rhinos occurred in properties owned by the state, while the remaining happened on private properties. The data on poached rhinos from last year is higher relative to rhino poaching cases back in 2022.

The killing of rhinos is driven by the demand for their horns and is part of a wide-range network of illegal wildlife trade. According to reports, rhino poaching in South Africa involves local poachers with the help of international criminal syndicates. The same wildlife crime involves the poaching of elephants for their ivory, as well as other animals that are either illegally hunted or captured alive for their body parts.

Rhino Poaching Problem

Rhino Conservation Efforts 'Fail' After 499 Rhinos Poached Across South Africa in 2023
(Photo : Photo by Keith Markilie on Unsplash)

The South African Government, in its media statement on Tuesday, February 27, announced that the rhino poaching problem involved the deaths of 499 rhinos across South Africa. The killings include 406 on state properties and 93 on privately owned properties like farms, parks, or reserves. The province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) took incurred the greatest number of poaching. The government emphasized that this was an increase of 51 poached rhinos from 448 in 2022.

According to Barbara Creecy, from South Africa’s Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, the province’s Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park faced the brunt of the poaching cases, with a total of 307 rhino deaths nationwide. Amid the continued poaching, KZN authorities remain vigilant against poaching, which so far has led to the recorded arrests of 49 people and the seizure of 13 firearms, the government minister adds.

Also Read: Rhinos Down to 400 as Poaching Intensifies in Botswana

Rhino Conservation Efforts

Despite the reported “failure” of rhino conservation efforts in South Africa, work continues to preserve the declining rhino population in the country and across the continent as well. According to the group Rhino Conservation Experience, some game reserves in South Africa were able to improve local rhino populations through various programs, including horn trimming, skillful management, and security. Some rhinos are also relocated to other regions where they have been wiped out.

Since 2013, over 100 rhinos have been relocated from local game reserves in South Africa to Botswana, according to the group. The latter country is also situated in Africa where rhinos were hunted to the brink of extinction. Meanwhile, the continued efforts to protect rhinos are also met with a parallel increase in the illegal wildlife trade, where an underground black market for ivory and horns has already been established internationally, including in Asia.

Related Article: White Rhino Extinction Draws Near, South Africa Plans to Save Them

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