Rhino horns now more expensive than gold, platinum

JOHANNESBURG A record number of rhinos were poached this year in South Africa, home to the greatest number of the animals, as demands surged in Asia for their horns. At least 443 rhinos have been killed in South Africa in 2011, up from 333 or 33% increase over last year, according to National Geographic News Watch.

Rhino hunted for their horns

Asia, an emerging region whose economic growth fueled a new generation of wealthier population, is now paying USD$65,000 a kilogram (street value) for rhino horns, more than the value of gold (USD$50,440/kg) Rhino horn is a valued ingredient used in traditional Chinese medicines for centuries as a remedy for everything from fevers and headaches to cancer, and the demands from China is so intense that the Chinese markets are willing to pay up to USD$92,500 per kilogram (black market), nearly twice the value of gold.

While majority of the demands came from China in the past, recently it has taken on the reputation for being an aphrodisiac and have gained popularity among the newly rich in Vietnam and Thailand, further pushing demands to new highs. South Africa, home to 90 percent of rhinos in Africa, experienced dramatic increase in poaching since 2007 as a growing affluent class in places such as Vietnam and Thailand began spending more on rhino horn for traditional medicine. In 2007, only 13 rhinos were poached, this has rocketed to 333 in 2010 and 443 in 2011.

Rhino horns now more valuable than gold

South Africa grants licenses for legal rhino hunts, with a growing number of the horns then mounted as trophies, shipped to Asia and sold on the black market, according to police and customs officials. The South African government has banned the sale of rhino products in an attempt to stop poaching, but with little success.

South African investigators said many poachers were actually trained by Mozambique’s military or police and are now living in squalor in the border region next to Kruger National Park, South Africa, where about half of the poaching took place. Their cut of the rhino money is relatively small compared to other players in the international trade but is considered a fortune at poor Mozambique.

Rhino horns demand is surging in Asia

Chief executive of South African National Parks, Dr David Mabunda, wants co-operation with Mozambiques police and military because he says that more often than not, more than 95 per cent of poaching incidents in the Park involve Mozambicans.

“In 95 per cent of the cases no, even more Mozambicans are involved in the poaching. Many return in body bags. We dont boast about killing people. Our purpose is to arrest them, also to gather information. They should know the risk by now, but still they keep coming and the gangs keep multiplying,” Mabunda said.

“The answer should come through joint operations between the South African and Mozambican security forces. Their Limpopo National Park (which forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park with Kruger National Park) is supposed to serve as a buffer. It isnt, and we need to talk to them about it,” he added.

South Africa accused corrupted element inside neighboring Mozambique’s police and military of training poachers to hunt for rhino horns.

Campaigners in South Africa are urging President Jacob Zuma to uphold a 1993 treaty on international trade in endangered species and to engage with China, Vietnam and Thailand with a view to ending the trade in rhino horn and other animal parts.

In September the country’s Department of Water and Environmental Affairs signed a memorandum of understanding with Vietnam which it hoped would lead to an agreement to help curb rhino poaching in South Africa. China and Thailand have yet to sign any agreement.

oh no…y so stupid…so pity to see the rhino hve been hunted n leave jz like tat…stupid…