World Rhino Day: It's not only about the rhinos | WWF South Africa

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World Rhino Day: It's not only about the rhinos

Rhino poaching continues at a rate which risks the future of rhinos globally and the reasons behind this run deep.

As we pause to commemorate the world’s rhino species on World Rhino Day (22 September 2019) and acknowledge the people around the world who dedicate their lives working towards rhino conservation, it’s important to highlight that the act of poaching is just the final outcome of far bigger, more complex challenges which lead us to this sad scenario.

Rhino poaching is being driven by organised crime traffickingnetworks with linkages to a range of illegal activities that move products, many from endangered species, around the globe. Consumers buy these products for various reasons, be they based on traditional beliefs or modern status fads, and in doing so usually break the law without reprisal.

Here in Africa, these criminal networks prey on young unemployed men without alternatives who become drawn into rhino poaching and other crimes for lack of opportunities. So, the sad image of a poached rhino carcass epitomises these deeper drivers of embedded global organised crime networks, generally enabled by corruption at each step of the chain.

We believe complex challenges such as these require equally complex responses that reach far beyond the conservation realm – for empowered effective law enforcement agencies and strategically located courts to work together across sectors and regions from source to consumer, and for social and economic development priorities to work in parallel with protected area strategies.

WWF South Africa has a number of programmes working in wildlife conservation, from growing black rhino numbers through the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project to supporting rangers and the judiciary in South Africa and Mozambique, working with communities to prevent crime and bring benefits around critical wildlife areas and research to understand the legal and illegal wildlife economics. A significant area of work is the Khetha Program, funded by USAID, which aims to reduce the impact of wildlife trafficking of rhinos and elephants in the South African and Mozambican parts of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area.

Dr Jo Shaw, Senior Manager Wildlife Programme with WWF South Africa, commented: “Only by acknowledging the complex web of organised crime and corruption behind each dead rhino and acting together for the long-term benefit of people can we stop the rising tide of losses. These issues threaten far more than our rhinos and wild places. Good governance is foundational for human wellbeing too.”

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