According to a new report released by TRAFFIC, a global non-profit dedicated to monitoring the Illegal wildlife trade, Between 2010 and 2016, it is estimated that at least 31 tonnes of rhino horn entered the illegal market.
That number could be worth almost US$234 million, based on the price of raw rhino horn on the black market. TRAFFIC spoke with about 70 incarcerated poachers in 25 of South Africa’s prisons of which 49 used to go after rhino horns while others targeted abalone and cycads. For most of the poaching was a pathway out of poverty.
TRAFFIC said, “The illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products globally is estimated to be worth more than $72 billion annually, ranking alongside the illegal trafficking of narcotics, arms, and humans.”
The majority of poachers had low education levels, were unemployed or informally employed, and came from marginalized communities adjacent to public or private parks or reserves which housed populations of rhino in South Africa or Mozambique. Offenders admitted that they volunteered to become involved in rhino poaching after they saw others reaping the economic benefits.
South Africa, on the other hand, is home to two-thirds of Africa’s rhinos while nearly half of the adult population lives in poverty.
After poaching and harvesting, the horns are filtered through a string of intermediaries, including processors, transporters, and packagers, at each stage becoming more valuable, before ultimately arriving in markets, largely in East Asia.
With poaching being socially acceptable and poachers making more money than police protecting the animals, the killings will continue unless law enforcement is adequately funded, authorities take wildlife crimes, corruption, insufficient accountability seriously, the NGO suggested.