Rhinos have few predators other than man.
True! Because of their size, tough hide and fierce defenses, adults are largely left alone. Just as for baby elephants, though, crocodiles, tigers and hyenas are a danger to little rhinos.
Rhinos are fast.
True! Don't be deceived by their big bodies and short legs: Rhinos can zip by you at 25-30 mph, but that's not much of a defense if a hunter sneaks up with a rifle.
Today, commercial poachers use helicopters to spot rhinos and then high-powered rifles and tranquilizer darts to bring them down. The killers land, run in with chainsaws to quickly hack off the horns, and then fly away, leaving the animals to die a slow, painful death from hemorrhage, infection and scavenging.
This process takes poachers less than 10 minutes, so you can imagine how many rhinos can be killed in a single day. Rhino poaching is increasing every year and in 2014 more than 1200 rhinos will lose their lives for their horns. In 10 years there will be no more rhinos if poaching isn't stopped now.
Rhinos might be the most endangered animal on earth.
True! Since 1980, 95% of the world's rhinos have been killed by poachers.The remaining Javan, Sumatran and Northern white rhinos are so few and so scattered, that only sanctuaries, captive breeding and a complete halt to poaching will save them.
The profits from rhino horns benefit poor Africans.
False! Other than the pittance paid to local poachers hired by cartels, the only money that stays in Africa are the bribes given customs officials, dirty rangers and politicians. The rest goes out of the country in the form of poached horns that are sold to distributors who then sell the horns all over Asia.
The money returns to Africa in the form of corruption, guns, drugs and loss of national heritage-which further impoverishes people struggling to survive.
If anyone needs a reason to save rhinos other than for the sake of themselves and our planet, they simply have to look at the results of poaching: wars, terrorism and drug addiction are devastating much of Africa. It's a vicious cycle- poaching kills local economies making people more desperate people for work, which results in an endless army of poachers. Catch 10 and 20 more will take their place.
That's why successful conservation projects educate the local people about the value of living wild animals to their economy and also give them an alternative way to make money-animals to raise for meat, eggs and milk, and local products they can make for sale outside of Africa.
Organizations like Big Life hire former poachers and then train and arm them to catch new poachers in outposts in Kenya and Tanzania.
Rhinos are being relocated by air to safer areas of Africa.
True! Rangers in places like Krueger Park in South Africa are launching plans to pick up black rhinos and move them. Even though this puts the animals at risk of harm during darting, capture and transport that's how desperate conservationists have become. Of course, this is a stop-gap measure as poachers will soon be on their heels, but at this point no alternative seems too drastic.