JOHANNESBURG — Efforts to save the rhinoceros in South Africa are failing, according to a report by an independent expert.
The report to the government calls for radical solutions: drones to track rhino poachers, de-horning all South African rhinos, rhino farms and legal trade in stockpiled and farmed rhino horn that could be auctioned or traded through a South African-based bourse.
Since the beginning of the year, 515 rhinos in the country have been killed, compared with 668 for all of 2012. That leaves about 20,000 rhinos in South Africa, which account for 90 percent of the continent’s rhinos.
The poaching statistics tell the story of an accelerating rampage, with killings climbing steadily each year, from 13 in 2007. The toll so far this year suggests that the number of rhinos illegally killed in 2013 could top 900.
In his report to the government, Mavuso Msimang, who was appointed rhino issue manager last year to research solutions to the crisis, called for an end to the ban on rhino horn trade and farming, arguing that the attempt to quell demand in Asian markets had failed.
“As long as there is demand for rhino horn, effective means of supplying it must be developed that would have the effect of saving the wild rhino as a species,” the report says. “The data suggest that the banning of legal open trade in rhino horn has not resulted in reduced demand for the horn and has thus not helped the objective of saving the rhino from imminent extinction. Escalation in the slaughter of rhino is proof of this. Consumers simply do not believe that rhino horn has no medicinal value.”