In 2011 alone there have been 23 black and white Rhinos killed due to poaching in both Zimbabwe’s National Parks and private reserves. In response to this there have been 37 arrests of suspected poachers and illegal ivory dealers. With the lucrative Asian and Middle Eastern market present it’s no surprise that poaching still exists in Zimbabwe. With poverty at its highest level in Zimbabwe people living on the outskirts of National Parks and animal reserves have the temptation to poach a Rhino and sell the ivory on to a dealer to make some quick money for himself and his family. There are very few job opportunities in Zimbabwe so in many cases it’s a ‘needs, must’ scenario.
Efforts are being made by the wildlife authorities in Zimbabwe by devising new ways to tackle this on going problem. A solution to the problem lies in the Rhino’s horn, so horn removal projects have been implemented across the country in aid of saving the Rhinos. By removing these magnificent creatures horns, poachers will have no value in taking a Rhino’s life and may therefore leave them alone. The ivory will then stay with the authorities who will keep it under lock and key away from the poachers. Another method being implemented is poisoning the horn of the Rhino, not in an attempt to harm the animal but to poison the poacher and the ivory dealers once they get their hands on the tusk. Both these methods could prove to be a resounding success as it will make life a lot trickier for both the poachers and the ivory dealers.
In other African nations, poaching is still an issue but not to the extent of Zimbabwe. Many other countries including Kenya and Tanzania have employed more fully trained rangers to patrol National Parks in search of poachers, laying traps and snares to catch them. Kenya also hopes to purchase another 14 light aircraft to patrol National Parks and suspected poaching sites which will enable them to respond much more swiftly than they would be able to on foot. Ultimately to quell this problem there needs to be a more forceful ban imposed in Asia and the Middle East to cut off the buyers. As long as there is demand for the ivory I’m afraid there will always be people trying to supply them whatever the cost. Until that day comes the only thing authorities in Africa can do is to be vigilant and keep coming up with new ideas on how to catch poachers and ivory dealers.