Last year nearly 450 rhinos were killed for their horns in South Africa, which has become the epicenter for the global rhino poaching epidemic. Rhinos are dying to feed rising demand for rhino horn in Asia, which is ground up and sold as traditional Chinese medicine, even though scientific studies have shown that rhino horn has no medicinal benefit. Now, two organizations, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and Wildaid have announced a partnership to move beyond anti-poaching efforts and target rhino horn consumption in China.
“While real efforts are being made on the ground to halt the poaching, we also need to reach out to those who buy the horn and show them the damaging effects of their actions. This partnership leverages African Wildlife Foundation’s expertise around rhino conservation and WildAid’s network and experience operating in Asia to put an end to the demand for rhino horn,” Patrick Bergin, head of AWF, said in a press release.
AWF and Wildaid are planning a set of public service announcements with well-known Chinese figures in order to raise awareness about the rhino poaching crisis and link it directly to the booming illegal trade in rhino horn in the country. The campaign also plans to reach out to Chinese living and working in Africa.
All of the world’s five rhino species are considered threatened, with three of the five listed by the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered. But the illegal rhino horn trade has not only decimated rhino populations, but comes with a human toll as well. Poachers have been killed in the act, while wildlife rangers have lost their lives protecting rhinos.