Rhino Poaching Crisis
Case study courtesy of Professor Donald King:
These ancient animals are facing extinction at the hands of the illicit and deadly black market animal traders. Ambush, helicopters and automatic assault weapons are being deployed against brave rangers, lives are being lost, both human and animal and there is no solution in sight. Or is there?
Join African Quiver on an eye-opening tour to southern Africa to learn about the dynamics of this scourge. From applying military to economic strategies learn about the pros and cons of each and stand a chance to be a part of the solution.
The educational programme takes you into the heart of the matter and places you in front of those dedicated to the survival of this magnificent species. Your classroom will be in the wild in various game reserves or ranches. Much of what you will discover will shock your mind and expose you to the realities of conservation in the modern world. Wild animals are struggling to find relevance in the face of food shortages and economic diversities.
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Vacation Style Holiday TypeAcademic Travel, Alumni & Group, Conservation, Faculty Led, Special Interest, Study Abroad Programmes, Tailor Made Academic, Wildlife
Activity Level Leisurely
Group Size Medium Group
Case study courtesy of Professor Donald King:
There’s a health crisis occurring in the Southern African continent. Initially, one might think I’m referring to the hunting of large African game—lions and elephant, etc. And, to some extent this is true. However, for the purpose of this case study we are going to solely focus on the unfortunate plight of the White Rhino.
The White Rhinoceros, indigenous to the Southern African continent is tragically close to extermination and ultimate extinction for the second time, due to the excessive value of their horns for supposed medicinal purposes in many Asian cultures. The horn, valued at approximately $60,000 per kilogram (1 kg = 2.2 pounds), yields about 6 pounds of horn for a total market value of approximately $150, 000 per horn.
Initially, 30 African nation states maintained resident populations of white rhinos; today it is down to ten. It is estimated that 3-4 white rhinos are being killed everyday in the nation of South Africa alone, where over 1000 rhino were slaughtered in 2014. This was the tipping point year in that the total population numbers are so low that the number of animal being poached now exceed the number being born each year. Without a tangible remedy or intervention, this species will cease to exist in a very short period of time.
This issue has not gone unnoticed or without attention, as many African nations have instituted laws and penalties banning the hunting, exporting, and sale of these animals or their horns. In addition, some airlines (through the influence of environmental and animal rights organizations) have instituted policies against the transport of rhino horns. At first glance one might believe these efforts to be appropriate and even perhaps effective in helping to control the killing of the White Rhino. Unfortunately, the reality of the issue has proved otherwise.
Given the principle/law of supply and demand, the ban on hunting has subsequently worked to increase the demand for rhino horn, thus driving up its cost to the point that it far outweighs any potential risks and consequences associated with being caught. So, in effect, although the laws on hunting bans had good intentions, the reality is that it actually worked in opposite, and has had an increased negative affect on this issue, thus actually causing the killing of even more white rhinos by means of poaching. So, no longer are white rhinos being simply hunted, but now they are being “poached” on both private and publicly secured lands. Rhino’s within game parks and animal reserves are also at risk, and now these establishments maintain high security over these animals. In some cases rhinos have been moved to other more secure locations. The notion of moving them to other nations for production purposes is being explored.
To decrease the risk of being caught, poachers have improved upon their “guerilla” tactics through the use of both improved technology and clandestine hunting practices. So valuable is rhino horn that little expense is being spared. Infrared night vision optics are used, along with helicopters for expedient entry and exit strategies. Tranquilizer guns are also common in that they emit a more quiet report (sound) than a traditional rifle. Once tranquilized the animals collapse. At that time speed is the key. Because every fragment of horn is worth so much money, no amount is left behind. In order to secure the entire horn with as much speed as possible, chain saws are now used to rapidly remove the horn from the sedated animal. Poachers now will now use these saws to cut away the entire top of the rhino nose, taking skull with it. With their booty in hand they make a quick escape, and later separate the horn from the skull. When the animals awaken they suffer a tragic death.
1) Why are current laws and efforts not effective in controlling the destruction of the rhino population?
2) How might one maintain the species and meet the increasing market demand for rhino horn?
3) Is it possible to change or alter the Asian market demand for rhino horn?
4) Are there alternative products available for rhino horn? If so, can they be massed produced?
1) SWAT Analysis
2) Ethical Principles
3) 4 P’s – product, price, placement, promotion
4) Audience identification – UG, Graduate
5) Subject areas and disciplines to benefit from this case study
1) Remove horn? Still tracked and killed
2) Farming enterprises
3) Poison or genetically disfigure the horn
4) Genetically, through selective breeding, instill breeding practices to create a “polled” white rhino breed.
5) Utilizing technology, insert a micro tracking chip in the horn for tracking (?)
- All accommodation
- All meals as listed
- All activities as listed
- All transfers within the tour
- All gratuities
- Refreshments on transfers
- International Flights
- Curios and purchases of a personal nature
- Administration relating to visas, if applicable
- Medical insurance
Arrive in Johannesburg
Welcome and Orientation Evening at the Hotel
Drive to Kingdom of Swaziland
Via Ngwenya Glass and craft market for lunch. Proceed to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary where we will be based for the next 4 days and meet with Big Game Parks officials.
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
Today we gain an understanding of the origins of formal conservation in Swaziland, from its birth at Mlilwane. We tour the Museum and information centre.
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary - Rhino Summit
We meet with the BGP officials to learn about the plight of Rhinos, their rise and fall and subsequent rise again. We discuss the imminent threat to their existence. We discuss conservation policies, the polarised community and explore economic solutions.
Field Trip into Swaziland's Lowveld
Today is about going to see the rhinos in their natural habitat and develop a genuine appreciation and personal connection to this animal.
Mkhaya Game Reserve
Today is about understanding the eco-system of the Lowveld and the big animals it sustains. We learn about some of the management principles facing this particular region of southern Africa and appreciate the complexities involved – ranging from being politically ostracized, death threats, human wildlife conflicts at the expense of the wildlife estate.
We head up towards the Kruger National Park via the famed Panorama Route. This section overlooks the Blyde River Canyon, offering spectacular views
Hoedspuit via Moholoholo
We are now in the immediate vicinity of the Kruger National Park and all the sights are geared towards the iconic wildlife of Africa. This includes wildlife veterinarians, wildlife colleges and wildlife rehabilitation centres. Our trip includes a visit to Moholoholo where we have a chance to witness wild animals in captivity, kept there as animals unable to be reintroduced into their wild habitat