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Extinction of the rhino is not inevitable

Extinction of the rhino is not inevitable

Extinction of the rhino is not inevitable
Mana Meadows

Zimbabwe has lost more rhinos proportionate to its total population than any other country in Africa in the last few years. Against this sobering backgound, the country commemorated its second World Rhino Day on the 22 September. Worldwide, eleven countries participated in World Rhino Day celebrations this year.

Zimbabwe lost 35 rhinos in 2011 – 95 % of those deaths due to poaching. Between January and June 2012, 17 were killed. Speaking at the World Rhino Day commemorations in Unity Square in Harare, Parks and Wildlife Board chairman George Pangeti said that as of 30 June 2012, the country’s rhino population stood at 425 black rhinos and 292 white rhinos.

With the demand for rhino horn growing in China and Vietnam, where the horn is falsely believed to purify blood and cure various diseases, it is clear that committed cooperation between African and Asian governments is needed to tackle the deep-rooted market demands for rhino horn.
Speaking at the commemorations, Lowveld Rhino Trust director Raoul du Toit said that the burden of protection is increasingly falling on the private sector in Zimbabwe where about 85% of rhinos are on private land.
“The big challenge is now to find ways to make these rhinos more relevant to local communities. Without the local community support and awareness, [rhinos] are not going to win,” said du Toit.

Guest speaker, Environment and Natural Resources Management Minister, Francis Nhema, said that the government, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and local communities should join hands in order to increase the rhino population.
The Parks and Wildlife Act Chapter 20:14 classifies both black and white rhino as specially protected animals, which gives both species the highest legal protection in the country.

Sub-species of white and black rhino in Africa are already extinct. Asian Javan rhinos number less than 60. But there is still hope; extinction is a real possibility but not inevitable. Du Toit pointed to the success of the Indian rhino, whose population has been built up steadily to around 3,270 – a considerable increase from around a decade ago.

“They’re being looked after in India, despite the population pressures of that country, and in Nepal, despite the fact that that country has had internal civil war,” said du Toit.

Lining up for World Rhino Day

Zimbabwe National Parks, together with the Tikki Hywood Foundation, Environment Africa, Mid West Rhinos, Chishakwe, Mukuvusi Woodlands, Lowveld Rhino Trust and Imire co-ordinated a parade starting at Town House and ending at Africa Unity Square in Harare. The event formed part of a weekend of organised events to commemorate World Rhino Day – including a soccer and netball tournament at Imire Game Park, a six-sport coaching clinic facilitated by the Mid West Rhinos cricket team, and a fun run organised by Rooney’s, Environment Africa and Harare Athletics Club.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 11, Dec 2012)

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