A small rhino walking along
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Posted by Linda

The recent story about the website that set to give over the names of key people involved in the poaching of rhinos in Kenya got us thinking more about the human threats to these ancient animals.

The website which revealed the identities of members of poaching gangs is called PoachersExposed.com and was built by members of a wildlife protection campaign group, who number about 25.

Apparently, at the time of writing, since the beginning of 2013, in Kenya alone 35 rhinos have been shot for their ivory. In 2012 29 rhinos were killed, so this increase in number, in a shorter amount of time is really concerning. In addition about 100 elephants are also killed by poachers each year, also for their valuable ivory.

These are depressing numbers, but the campaigners hope that the website will help reduce this recent uplift in rhino killings.

We remember seeing another story about a rhino which had been killed in Kenya back in August 2013. This one was a white rhino. 

It is reported that  the rhino horns, which are made up of the same materials as our fingernails, are headed for traditional medicine stores in South East Asian markets. Our nails and rhino horns contain keratin (which also makes up our hair). 

Rhino horns are crushed to a powder and taken in various ways to cure illness. This is because they are believed to have incredible curative properties, but this is not backed up by scientific evidence. Vietnam is apparently has the largest market share in the sales and demand for rhino horns.

As well as this African ivory is increasing in popularity in Asia where it is also being used for decorative items. 

As trade in ivory was made illegal in 1989 by the Kenyan government, all ivory that finds its way out of Kenya is all done with exchanges on the black market.

We were surprised to learn that rhino horn goes for about the same price as gold in this underground trade. In Vietnam a normal sized horn can sell for over £160,000 pounds.

Some initiatives to protect rhinos include such drastic measures as to put the rhinos to sleep with tranquillisers and actually removing their horns so they are no longer attractive to poachers.

In addition, rangers who protect the parks are armed and carry out surveillance to locate and stop poachers. Sometimes they even have to shoot and kill poachers when they are detected. This is because these criminals can be very dangerous and are obviously also armed too, as they carry weapons to shoot the rhinos. 

Wider than the country of Kenya, which as we said above, has seen 35 rhinos killed this year, in the whole of South Africa there was a shocking 448 rhinos killed for their horns.

Wildlife charities the WWF (with their rhino adoptions) and the Aspinall Foundation (also adoptions, listed under Hoofstock) both offer ways you can help rhinos and lots of other endangered species, including helping elephants.

PS - did you also know that there are not just species of rhino in Africa - there are also Indian, Javan and Sumatran rhinoceroses too.

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