The number of rhinos illegally killed in South Africa during the first 134 days of 2013 has reached a staggering 313 — just 20 less than 2010′s death toll of 333.
So far this year, 98 suspects have been arrested in South Africa for rhino crimes. However, the majority of people who actually end up in jail for rhino crimes 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.
Research done by fact-checking website Africa Check further 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.
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.
(For an interesting and in-depth read on South Africa’s rhino situation, check out the blog post “Rhino poaching in South Africa — a recipe with homegrown ingredients” by Dr. Pieter Kat.)
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by Rhishja Cota-Larson