rhinos poached in Hluhluwe-uMfolozi Park
Photo: Sara Wilson

On April 1 the number of rhinos poached in Hluhluwe-uMfolozi Park, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), since the 1st of January was 60. It’s just one month later, and that already horrific number has shockingly jumped to 94 (actually 95, as of yesterday). Imagine how many rhinos will now not be born because of those that have been killed in Hluhluwe-uMfolozi just this year! Every rhino counts.

According to the Council of Contributors (CoC), 34 rhinos were killed in April.

“This figure does not take into account pregnant females or young calves not found/rescued,” says CoC. “The state-led park managed by Ezemvelo, on average, is losing one rhino every 24 hours. This is a train smash of heartbreaking and dumbfounding proportions.”

The US-based CoC, which leverages the power of the collective to raise funds for rhino orphanages and anti-poaching teams, says the high poaching indicates that poaching rings are inside the park “virtually all the time and evidently, feel there is little risk or consequence“.

The non-profit organisation asks: “Have there been any arrests? As the death toll climbs it raises more questions about accountability, political will and leadership. When will resources and tactics be implemented towards prioritization of protection for rhinos?

“The conservation community must step up together to stand between the rhinos and the enemy. To the people, NGOs and organisations in a position to motivate action at HiP … there is still time, please do something.”

To everyone else, the CoC says: “Please keep sharing news about KZN rhino poaching. More awareness = more pressure = change.”

The poaching in KZN has escalated in the past two years as anti-poaching efforts in the Kruger National Park have been bolstered. With stocks depleted in the Kruger, and the risk of arrests increased with sophisticated surveillance methods, poaching crime syndicates have turned their attention to KwaZulu-Natal.

In early April – when the official poaching stats for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife parks stood at 61 – the Democratic Alliance (DA) in KZN warned that “the statistics make for a horrifying scenario of ongoing bloodshed in our province and all indications are that this years’ figures will far outstrip the 97 rhino poached in 2021.” Sadly, as of 3 May 2022, the official figure stands at 95… just two less than were killed in the entire year last year.

rhinos poached in Hluhluwe-uMfolozi Park
Photo: Sara Wilson / Council of Contributors

Why are rhinos poached in South Africa?

South Africa’s precious rhino are tragically and often brutally killed for their horns which are shipped to Asia, where some gullible people in China and Vietnam have been led to believe that the horn has mystical medical properties; and some shallow people have been led to believe it is a status symbol… when in reality, all a horn from a dead rhino shows is that an animal was murdered for their fragile ego.

There is a glimmer of hope though. After pressure from the DA and several other parties, embattled Ezemvelo is finally considering proposals to curb rhino poaching. The proposals include increasing field ranger capacity, adopting crime fighting and anti-rhino poaching techniques, and forming a multi-disciplinary anti-poaching task team.

Last week four black rhino were translocated to a safer location as part of a conservation programme to help the expansion of the species. There are people saving the rhino. Please support them, join them, help them.