Last year was officially South Africa's worst year for rhino poaching, after a total of 1,004 animals were taken or the equivalent of 3 each day. The African Department of Environmental Affairs released the numbers this week, marking a disturbing new record and nearly doubling last year's numbers.
"South Africa and Mozambique must decisively up their game if they hope to stop this blatant robbery of southern Africa's natural heritage," Tom Milliken, a rhino expert with TRAFFIC, said in a statement. "2014 must mark the turning point where the world, collectively says ‘enough is enough' and brings these criminal networks down.
While both white and black rhinos live in South Africa, the majority of those poached were white rhinos, because there are significantly more of them. According to the IUCN Red List, black rhinos are listed as Critically Endangered, white rhinos are listed as Near Threatened.
Rhino horn is incredibly valuable on the black market, especially for its use as a ground-up ingredient in traditional Asian medicines.
Action Guide: Wildlife Trafficking
Every year, wildlife traders reap a collective $10 billion to $20 billion in profits from poaching and trading products like rhino horn, ivory, alligator skin, tiger paws, eggs, bushmeat, live animals used as pets, and much more -- not to mention illegal live animal sales. HSI has developed this guide to help avoid buying products made from this illicit trade. Born Free USA has this helpful state-by-state guide on which animals are illegal to own (many because they are illegally obtained). For more information, or to become more involved in this issue: WWF's anti-trafficking campaigns, Save The Rhino, and Traffic.