Extinction fears are raised as poachers kill their 139th rhino of 2017 in KwaZulu-Natal

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SWAZILAND – SEPTEMBER 08: Rhinos at Mkhaya Game Reserve on September 08, 2016 in Swaziland. Swaziland held the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES) to discuss the possibilities of lifting the 40-year-old ban on rhino horns sale to overseas markets. (Photo by Gallo Images / Rapport / Conrad Bornman)

The brutal assault took place on Sunday night, at KwaZulu-Natal’s flagship Hluhluwe-Imfolozi reserve. A total of 11 gunshots were heard before the discovery of the rhinos was made.

All six had their horns crudely hacked off by the poachers whilst they slept. Really f****** brave move, guys. When you do eventually get gored by one of these animals, you’ll have no sympathy from us.

A hundred years ago, less than 100 Southern White Rhinos were in existence. A conservation plan which spread them across African reserves restored that number to 20,000.

However, thanks to a barbaric spree of poaching, a century of hard work could be destroyed – Around 6,000 rhinos have been mercilessly slaughtered in the last decade. That’s 30% of the total population and it’s disgusting.

The shocking statistics of poaching:

. In KZN alone, 139 rhinos have been killed in 2017. We are only just halfway through the calendar year.

. The final death toll is predicted to reach 260 by 2018

. For the last four years, the national killing rate of rhinos has exceeded 1,000 a year. This equates to roughly three rhinos a day being slaughtered for their horn.

KwaZulu-Natal is currently the poaching hotspot of SA, after Kruger National Park ramped up their security to protect the animals. The reserves in the North East are under constant attack and are struggling to cope with the situation.

Earlier in the year, an Eastern Cape judge freed the notorious Ndlovu gang on bail after being caught with R1.2 million worth of rhino horn and hunting gear. This was a move that enraged the Chair of the Private Rhino Owners Association, Pelham Jones:

“To learn that a hardened criminal group of this calibre has been allowed bail and released from custody is unacceptable. We have in the past called similar situations to the National Prosecution Authority (NPA), and we find it bizarre and extremely alarming that, with the risk profile these individuals have, and the ability to perpetrate further crimes, are given bail.”

Stronger deterrents and punishments are needed for poachers. If the actions of a criminal minority can endanger a species, it becomes just as poor a reflection of our lawmakers as it does the poachers themselves.