Published on Friday, April 6, 2012 by Common Dreams
'Mass Murder': Rhinos Being Poached at Record Rates
- Common Dreams staff
Rhinos are being poached "at record rates" for their horns, which could lead to the species' extinction in less than fifteen years.
The number of illegally hunted rhinos this year may reach over 600, surpassing last year's record high of 448. Conservationists estimate that the world rhino population has plummeted 90% since 1970.
"We've certainly reached a tipping point in rhino populations. There is no way that our national populations can sustain the level of poaching," Pelham Jones, chairman of the South Africa Private Rhino Owners Association, told Reuters on the sidelines of a conservation summit in Nairobi.
Selling the horns is a lucrative business; one horn can be worth $60,000 per kilogram, which is more than the price of gold. The horns are sold on the Asian market as a cure for various ailments including cancer, a claim scientists have dismissed.
In the video here, NBC correspondent Rohit Kachroo describes the killing and decimating of the rhino population as "mass murder."
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The world's rhino population has declined 90 percent since 1970, conservationists estimate. On the African continent, there are some 20,150 white rhinos that are near threatened and 4,840 black rhinos that are critically endangered.
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The Global Post: Rhino poaching: More rhinos are dying than are being born
Yet the endangered animals are being killed in record numbers. More rhinos are dying than are being born.
A record 448 rhinos were killed in 2011, despite a barrage of efforts to stop the poaching. The number has increased steadily since 2008, when 83 of the animals were killed.
Heavily-armed poachers are cashing in on a high-stakes trade, fuelled by the belief among increasingly rich Chinese and Vietnamese that rhino horn can cure cancer, among other maladies.
Rhino horn fetches up to $65,000 a kilogram in
Conservationists are shocked the problem has become so grave.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs