South Africa’s rhino dehorning project tackles poaching

South Africa has dehorned dozens of rhinos in 3 game parks. Hopefully, this decisive action will stop poachers taking advantage of the COVID-19-lockdown drop in tourism to slaughter them for their horns. The project in Pilanesburg National Park and the Mafikeng and Botsalano game reserves – all northwest of Johannesburg – leaves the rhinos with horn stumps too small to attract poachers, Nico Jacobs, helicopter pilot and founding member of non-profit Rhino 911 told Reuters. According to the International Rhino Foundation, rhinos have been in existence for 30 million years, but years of hunting and habitat loss have slashed their numbers to just 27,000 today. A spike in poaching has decimated thousands in the last 3 years. “In order to … give the population a chance to grow again, we need to relieve the pressure on them … (by) dehorning,” explained Pieter Nel, acting head of conservation of the North West Parks board.

The demand for rhino horn stems from East Asia, where the powder is traditionally used in medicinal concoctions to treat a range of conditions from cancer to gout. Unsuccessfully. Not surprising, as the horns are made up mostly of keratin, the main ingredient in human fingernails and hair.

It’s tragic that we are losing one of the noblest species on earth because of false, superstitious beliefs. Well done to South Africa’s parks for tackling this issue head-on! Find out more at

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