The illegal rhino horn trade has claimed the lives of at least 232 rhinos in South Africa during the first 107 days of 2013, according to the Department of Environmental Affairs.
While recent arrests and jail sentences have been praised by the Department, research done by fact-checking website Africa Check revealed that the prosecution rate for rhino crimes in South Africa is abysmally low.
Between January 2010 and July 2012, for instance, 573 people were arrested for rhino related crimes. Yet, in 2012, only 28 accused were convicted in 20 cases.
In fact, the majority of people who are in jail for rhino crimes in South Africa are low-level “poachers” and Vietnamese couriers, says Julian Rademeyer, author of Killing for Profit: Exposing the Illegal Rhino Horn Trade. Rademeyer spoke at length about the involvement of “game industry insiders” on our podcast, South Africa’s Rhino Horn Dealers.
Although there is no doubt that the demand for rhino horn is mainly from Vietnam and China, the repeated involvement of South Africa’s game industry insiders continues to evade public scrutiny.
Meanwhile, Hanoi-based Education for Nature-Vietnam has launched an innovative campaign to make it socially unacceptable to use rhino horn in Vietnam.