Park News

Rhino Horn: A battlefield in black and white

July 2, 2010

June in the Kruger National Park saw nature and man at odds with each other, with both sides taking their own losses…

An official SANParks press release on 2010-06-15 detailed an encounter between Kruger National Park field rangers and a suspected rhino poacher, in the Northern Vlakteplaas region of the park.

During a routine patrol of the park on the morning of Sunday the 13th, the rangers uncovered  what appeared to be a single set of human footprints, and set off immediately in the direction in which they led. Leading up to the following morning, Monday the 14th, the trackers lay waiting in an ambush which they sprang on the now red-handed criminal Рthe suspect had just returned from removing the precious horn from an animal when the rangers shot and apprehended him.

The carcasses of two shot female rhinos were collected from the scene.

A further two bodies in the Kruger National Park were uncovered during the week of the 21st, reported Independent Online news, totalling the number of endangered rhinos killed in South African reserves over the course of 2010 to 115 – just short of 2009’s year total of 120 recorded deaths.

Black and white rhinos are classified endangered and near threatened species, respectively. The removal of their horns is typically associated with medicinal demand, or use in decoration, such as jewelry, knife handles, and finishings. Despite an international ban on the trade of rhino horn, the surfacing of an underground rhino horn black market and skyrocketing fetching prices on horn (as with ivory), most moves to quell the tracking and dealing in this commodity have proved this to be largely ineffectual.

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  • Reply vanessa smith July 9, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    the sentances are not strong enough.five years in jail should mean five years,not one year suspended,and these people should be named and shamed.these animals are the heritage for our children.its all to depressing.

  • Reply Cheryl Barrie July 15, 2010 at 8:15 am

    I agree the sentances are just too lenient.
    An eye for an eye would be more appropriate to these people.
    Perhaps the prospect of possible death would serve as better deterent.
    These animals are at our mercy, they rely on us to act on their behalf,that is why the Good Father put us in charge – and if this continues there will be no heritage for the next generation.

    • Reply duncan August 23, 2010 at 7:52 am

      A big problem is the ground that the park rangers have to cross in order to find these criminals – the Kruger is one of the largest reserves on the continent, at about 20 000 square kilometres (, which means there’s so much of it to check and keep under a watchful eye.

      It is scary to imagine a world without these beautiful creatures, and we’d like to wish the KNP park rangers all the best in the world in apprehending the people responsible for threatening their place in one of the most beautiful parks in the world.

  • Reply Ursula Trentham March 27, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    The Kruger National Park is a wonderful place to go to. The wide variety of animals that we saw seemed to like to be near the road to show off their magnificence to the tourist like me. I shall never forget the elegant giraffes looking intently at me through the towering tree foliage, as I did at the. The two rhino browsing nearby seemed oblivious of our presence and were totally content to let the motorists to photograph them. We came across a herd of elephant who put on a show of water spraying just for us. The majestic matriarch gave us a flap of her fanning ears then gently nudged her baby and the family onwards as they quietly disappeared like ghosts into the bush.
    I am an artist and intend on giving a donation from every wild life painting I do to the Rhino foundation. Please contact me through my FB site if you would like to help support our rhino’s future. Can anyone give me advice as to what rhino foundation I can donate to, please? Thank you!

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