WWF makes new plan to save SA rhinos
The World Wildlife Fund SA (WWF-SA) announced has a new national programme to strengthen and support rhino conservation efforts.
"Our planned projects and interventions are based on a new five-point strategic framework to help protect and increase our rhino populations," said WWF-SA rhino co-ordinator Jo Shaw.
"Within these five key areas, a range of inter-related activities have been identified, with either immediate effects or working towards a long-term solution," she told reporters in Pretoria ahead of World Rhino Day on September 22.
Shaw said that by the end of 2009, 122 rhinos had been poached, compared to the end of 2010, when 333 rhinos had been poached.
"Something changed. Something was different."
She said that, so far in 2012, 388 rhinos had been poached and that if things continued at the same rate, almost 550 could be killed by the end of the year.
The primary threat to rhino conservation remained the demand for and illegal trade in rhino horn.
"Rhino horn has long formed a component of traditional medicine in Asia, where it was historically prescribed to reduce fever."
However, new markets in Vietnam and new demands, such as cures for cancer and hangovers, had emerged, she said.
This formed the basis of WWF-SA's plan.
It consisted of creating a resilient rhino population and ensuring growth in numbers by, for example, relocating some of the animals to new and safer locations.
It included educating communities which lived next to rhino populations to support investigations and prosecutions, and to increase bilateral co-operation and joint efforts between the countries involved.
It also required understanding the trade and demand better by knowing who the consumers were and how much they paid for the product.
"We believe we need to get to the root of the market," Shaw said.
She called on all South Africans to revere the rhino and to support World Rhino Day.
"South Africa must continue to build on its [conservation] successes of the past."