Despite intense counter poaching efforts, rhinos continue to be poached at unprecedented levels throughout South Africa and are in midst of a real crisis. While Rhino horn can not be legally sold on the international market due to ban in 1976 at CITES, the black market is flourishing.
South Africa has by far the largest population of rhinos in the world and is an incredibly important country for rhino conservation. Kruger National Park holds the most rhino, approximately 7-8,000 rhino. From 2007-2014, the country experienced an exponential rise in rhino poaching – a growth of over 9,000%. In 2016, figures show a slight dip in poaching in South Africa for the second year in a row, indicating that increased protection efforts are paying off. However, the losses are still extremely high. 1,054 rhinos were killed in South Africa alone during 2016 — nearly three rhinos being killed every day.
The biggest stumbling block for a united action of this crisis is the polarity of decision makers. Some believe legalization of trade in rhino horn will curb poaching by flooding the market and curb demand for the illegal trade while others believe non-trade will diminish demand. In addition, the game farm industry – where thousands of animals are captured, sold, translocated and auctioned for hunting – is the fastest growing industry in South Africa. In Limpopo alone there are 6,000 privately owned game farms. While the debate continues, private organizations such as SanWild are taking action with their own solutions.
SanWild is a registered wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facility and sanctuary in a country with no regulation or protocols for wildlife rehabilitation. It is located on a 12,000 acre protected wildlife reserve in Limpopo Province that it owns and uses as a release site for rescued and rehabilitated wildlife. SanWild has active campaigns to rescue rhino from trophy hunting website and commercial rhino farms.
The Bodhi Tree Foundation is proud to support SanWild in its most urgent project: an Intensive Protection Zone for Rhinos (IPZ). SanWild is creating the first private IPZ in a secret location in South Africa for white rhino. This hands-on project is already up and running, but still in its infancy. Our support directly aids the construction of a high tech secure perimeter fencing, an extremely effective barrier against poachers.