There is a catastrophe occurring as you read this concerning the population of rhinos in Africa and in this instance I want to write about Botswana where it is predicted that the rhino population will be reduced to zero within two years because of a surge in poaching.
The Okavango Delta which is known as Africa’s “last Eden”, is an area where there are about 400 rhinos. Several have been killed close to a heavily guarded private sanctuary, Mombo Camp, where tourists pay £2000 a night.
Rhino numbers have been severely reduced in neighbouring South Africa where more than 7000 have been killed in the past decade. Some of these rhinos have been relocated from South Africa to Botswana. These were endangered black and white rhinos taking to Botswana for safekeeping. Two of them have been killed in five days last month for their horns which can fetch up to US$50,000 per kilo in Asia. The horns are coveted as a traditional medicine ingredient.
In 2019 Botswana lost an average of one rhino a month. Attacks on rhinos have escalated. Nine had been killed since April.
Mr Rueben, from the country’s wildlife department said that if poaching continues at the current rate there will be none left in Botswana in a year or two.
The problem is been put down to a slackness in conservation in Botswana. There’s been an increase in rhino deaths since the disarmament of the wildlife department’s anti-poaching unit under the new president who was sworn in 18 months ago. And under his predecessor there was an unofficial shoot-to-kill policy.
In Africa, many countries have lost their rhino populations altogether. This is partly due to habitat loss. These countries include Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Chad, Pakistan, Vietnam and Thailand.
A wildlife crime analyst, Ross Harvey, is unsurprised by the increase in poaching of Botswana’s rhinos. He believes that it was only a matter of time before this happened.
Comment: it seems inevitable to me that unless there’s a dramatic change in policy and attitude in Africa and abroad regarding rhino conservation, this majestic creature will be extinct in the wild in due course, perhaps sooner than we think.
Serious politicians in countries in Asia such as China can make the first move by banning traditional medicine containing rhino horn. It is an absolute disgrace that the Chinese government do nothing about this and about ivory importation. It is shameful and President Trump and other world leaders do nothing to pressure on China to change their attitude to wildlife conservation.
The Chinese simply want to plunder Africa as they are now all over the African continent commercialising it and exploiting it. Russia will move in next. Africa is ripe for exploitation by Western businesses and governments. Wait and see. There’s no longer a place for wildlife on this continent, a continent that was once synonymous with majestic wildlife.
Source: The Times hard copy.