the war on rhino poaching
As long as there is a demand for rhino horn in China and Vietnam’s upper classes, poaching gangs and syndicates will continue to exploit regions with weak laws and corruptible officials, including Kruger national park in South Africa, which has been hit extremely hard in recent years.
South Africa is home to 79% of Africa’s rhino population. 6000 rhino have been killed in the last decade, with only 25,000 left in Africa, fraction of the tens of thousands that used to roam the continent some years ago. The population is split up into 25% black Rhino and 75% white Rhino.
Why the Kruger national park South Africa?
The population density surrounding Kruger and its border with Mozambique make the park an ideal site for poaching activity. With 2 million people living alongside the park, there are plenty of places for poachers to hide and many locals to corrupt. From 2006-2016, 5,460 rhinos were killed in South Africa, accounting for 84% of Africa’s total losses, with Kruger National Park responsible for 60% of that total loss.
Poachers easily hide in plain sight. Sometimes operating barefoot and often dressed in understated clothing, poachers will enter the park in under the cover of darkness in small groups of three or four carrying little more than a rifle (primarily the CZ 5500 assault rifle), a few phones, food and water. At any time in the Kruger there are usually between 5 and 15 groups of poachers searching for rhino. And in 2015, approximately 7,500 poachers entered the park.
A typical poacher can earn between USD $2000-20,000 for a horn, depending on your rank in the group. And in Vietnam, horn can fetch USD $500,000, twice its weight in gold. This incredible demand has resulted in a war between poachers and park security, with 120-200 poachers killed in the Kruger national park between 2010-2015.