2015 On Track To Be The Worst Year Ever For Rhinos
In the first four months of 2015, a whopping 393 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa - the equivalent of about three rhinos slaughtered each day. This grim tally marks an 18 percent increase over that same period in 2014, a year that went down in history as the deadliest on record for the imperiled species with a total of 1,215 rhinos lost.
Demand for rhino horn is the primary driver of these needless deaths. Although horns are composed of keratin (like human fingernails), they are sold as traditional medicine in the black markets of Asia where they're valued more per ounce than gold.
Since 2007, when only 13 rhinos were poached in South Africa, the death rate has risen unabatedly to new record-highs each year. Sadly, given current trends, 2015 will be no different.
If it weren't for the efforts of conservation groups and South Africa's anti-poaching taskforce, the number of rhino deaths would likely be much higher. But given that poaching rates have yet to fall, the work has only begun, environment minister Edna Molewa said at a press conference:
"We are soldiering on, we do think that this fight will have to be won and we will win it."