Despite efforts to tackle illegal hunting of rhinoceros, 1,215 of these mammals were killed without permit in 2014, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
It’s a 21 percent increase from 2013 where 1004 beasts were killed and a 9,300% increase from the 13 killed in 2007 in South Africa.
“We are fast reaching the tipping point for the future viability of rhinoceros,” said Jason Bell, Southern Africa director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
He believes that South Africa should reach out for international help, especially to China and Vietnam, in order to decrease demand. It is believed that rhino horns are a panacea for many diseases, CBS reports. CNN even shows that the rhino horns trade is very lucrative, as it’s worth more ($5,500 per ounce) than gold ($1,400), silver ($18) and even cocaine ($4,800).
“While there is a growing global momentum to tackle wildlife crime, these record rhino poaching numbers underline just how urgently much more needs to be done,” says Dr. Jo Shaw with WWF-South Africa.
And considering that South Africa boasts about 80 percent of the world’s 20,000 rhinos, the organization will include rhino poaching as an important subject of the Conference on the Illegal Trade in Wildlife next March in Botswana.
This will not be an easy task as modern poachers use much more sophisticated technology and have have more substantial financial means, according to the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa.
As a result, fewer poachers are arrested compared to the number of rhinos killed. WESSA suggests that authorities target people higher up in the hierarchy rather than the “foot soldiers,” which are in almost unlimited numbers.
They should also be mindful of their own employees. In 2012, four national park employees were caught red-handed helping poachers, according to South Africa-based Wilderness Foundation.
One solution to protect the animal is to move it to more secure locations, including other countries. “Through this method we aim to create rhino strongholds, areas where rhino can be cost-effectively produced,” South Africa’s environment minister Edna Molewa told the BBC.