Rhino horn consists of compressed hair known as keratin, calcium and melanin. Rhinoceros, often abbreviated as rhino, is a group of five extant species of odd-toed ungulates in the family Rhinocerotidae. Two of these species are native to Africa and three to Southern Asia.
In Africa we are currently seeing the methodical and calculated reduction of rhino numbers in their natural habitat. The number of poached numbers has been escalating year-on-year over the past 5 years.
It is true that we have experienced severe poaching pressure before, and defeated it. However today, because of the insanely inflated price being paid for rhino horn, the poachers are now employing a diversity of methods which no longer fall within the traditional poaching mould. Banked-rolled by substantial finances, the modern day poacher can now afford the latest technology and buy the services of skilled people and influential officials.
The demand for rhino horn emanates from a few Asian countries (east and south East Asia ). There are many apparent reasons for the need for rhino horn, but it is used mainly as an ingredient in traditional medicines and not as an aphrodisiac as is often widely reported. In more recent times it is being marketed to cure non-traditional conditions such as cancer.
Rhino horn is valuable because of the simple economics of the situation – demand far exceeds supply.
South Africa has the largest rhino population in the world of both white and black rhino. We have traditionally been seen as a difficult environment within which poachers could operate. As the easier targets (i.e. other countries) have lost all their rhino, so the demand has shifted to South Africa . We also know that crime of all types is rampant in this country and rhino poaching is an extension of this.