Poaching is a huge issue in Africa.
Poachers hunt many endangered species for specific parts of their bodies – like tusks or horns – and then leave them to die. Game reserve rangers try hard to patrol the grounds and protect the animals, but they can’t always address the issue on their own.
Therefore, a few years ago, they got help from a pack of lions, when they attacked and killed a group of rhino poachers.
Back in 2018, three rhino poachers snuck onto the Sibuya game reserve in South Africa one late Sunday night. They were looking for the big rhino horns to sell in Asia, where it is believed the horns have medicinal properties. This, clearly, is far from the truth: The horns from the rhino are made of the same material as human fingernails.
However, their mission was interrupted when they unexpectedly ran into a pride of lions. The lions were ruthless to these bad visitors, leaving only a few limbs, shoes, and horn-cutting gear behind.
The incident wasn’t discovered until the following Tuesday afternoon when rangers came to the scene. They tranquilized some of the lions to look over the remains. It was concluded that there were at least three rhino poachers because three pairs of shoes were found.
The area was continuously patrolled by the police, in search of any escaped poachers, although there was a tiny possibility, based on the fate of the three recovered at the scene.
Rhino poaching in Africa has been a very serious problem for a long time, having a devastating impact on the rhino population. What gives hope is the fact that according to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), in 2019, poaching was declining. This was all a result of the actions by governments, communities, non-profit organizations, and other helpers. There is hope as 2020 was in fact the first time in 21 years that no case of rhino poaching was registered in Kenya. One small battle won.
For the first time in twenty-one years, KWS made headway in the fight against poaching! In-spite of the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, we reported zero rhino poaching in 2020!#WildlifeKe
Photo Credit: Alissa
📍Nairobi National Park pic.twitter.com/AsmNOP0QpB
— KWS (@kwskenya) February 8, 2021
Sadly, the rhino population remains still highly threatened. Between organized crime syndicates and the shrinking size of land available for them to live on, we must work hard to save this important animal species.
“Law enforcement efforts alone cannot address the complex social and economic drivers behind the long-term threats to our rhinos,” Dr. Jo Shaw, senior manager of the wildlife program at WWF-South Africa, stated. “What is required is a commitment to a holistic approach which considers the attitudes, opportunities, and safety of people living around protected areas. The role of corruption, inevitably associated with organized crime syndicates, must also be addressed.”
One of their most difficult problems to solve is the desire for rhino horn in Vietnam and China. It is crucial to raise awareness that rhino horn is no special or “magical” item. The poaching will only stop with the end of this market.