THE BLOG
10/06/2013 08:38 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Insatiable Demand for African Rhino Horn Spell Extinction

In January (2013) I penned an extremely disturbing account of 'The War Against Nature' - in particular rhino poaching. Since then, the African rhino-slaughtering rampage has reached a record level.

By September 30, 2013 seven hundred and four South African rhinos were poached, eclipsing 2012s record of 688. My colleagues now predict that over 1,000 majestic rhinos will be butchered for their horns next year (2014). At this crazed rate: Rhinos will be extinct by 2022.

Over the past 113 years the human population has soared from 1.6 to 7.1 billion. Rhino numbers, on the other hand, have plummeted from 500,000 to 29,000, a 95 percent decrease. And worse, since 2007 poaching rhinos have increased by five thousand percent.

These creatures are doomed.

I strongly encourage you to take 10 minutes and read about these marvelous, gentle giants.

The fact that the Mafia, Syndicate, Cartel and Triad's are involved heavily in killing rhinos, elephants, tigers and lions as the demand for rhino horns, elephant ivory, fur and animals parts skyrockets means these incredible beasts have no chance whatsoever to continue to live on planet Earth.

What kind of a world are we leaving for our children?

The destruction of nature with illegally trafficking of animal parts is valued at $300 billion annually, it now rivals that of drugs, arms and human trafficking, combined. No wonder organized crime is running this lucrative life-ending business.

The pictures of these magnificent beasts dehorned while still alive in Kruger National Park, South Africa, are enough to make a grown healthy man fall to his knees and weep. These atrocities are crimes against humanity.

Organized gangs, often from neighboring Mozambique, of four to six men are well-armed and carrying devices facilitating constant communications. They infiltrate communities, buy information on rhino whereabouts and then devise two escape routes - while at the same time familiarizing themselves with security structures and movements of park rangers. It's cold, calculated, ruthless murder!

These depraved poachers shoot the rhinos in their knees, slice their Achilles tendon's and spine's thereby immobilizing them whilst sawing and hacking off horns weighing 15.4 pounds with a street value of $462,000. These colossal creatures are left to bleed to death, slowly.

These heartless thugs organize pick-ups, which hide horns and weapons for collection later on. They quickly change into fresh clothes and shoes - as boot prints can link them to the crime scene, when inspected at follow-up roadblocks. Large sums of cash are immediately paid to poachers upon delivery of rhino horns.

Organized crime has established and structured nefarious business models, which operate locally and like the wide base of a pyramid it moves upward from regional to national couriers, buyers and exporters to their international counterparts, supplying international buyers who sell to international nouvelle riche consumers at the top.

The price of the rhino horn varies from $65,000 to $100,000 a kilogram (2.2 pounds). At the top end of this range rhino horn is about two and a half times more valuable than 24K gold ($42,311 a kilogram).

This voracious demand for rhino horn is coming from Vietnam, China and Thailand. In 2010 a rumor began circulating that a Vietnamese minister's relative was cured by rhino horn powder. In addition, Chinese medicine routinely uses rhino horn powder to purportedly cure a range of ailments from rheumatism to ridding the soul of the devil.

The number of Oriental nouvelle riche is burgeoning. In Vietnam alone, since 2008 the number of millionaires has increased by 150 percent. At the same time, Vietnamese cancer rates are spiking by 30 percent annually - in large part due to epic environmental degradation.

Sadly, rhino horn is now seen in the Orient as a status symbol and it has become a magnet for the nouvelle riche. Ground-up rhino horn powder is being touted as a cure for hangovers, common colds and it's even being used as a party drug.

In fact, scientists have irrefutably shown that rhino horn, which is comprised of keratin, is about as effective at curing cancer, common colds, or hangovers - as eating a human finger nail (which is also made up of keratin). There is nil medicinal value in rhino horn.

'The War Against Nature' has escalated into a prolonged global looting spree. Our oceans and lands are under full-scale siege.

It's time now that all political leaders acknowledge this and act together to protect Earth's remaining wildlife and our biosphere because without nature there is no worldwide economy.

There is no time left to dither - extinction means forever!

Please support Stop Rhino Poaching, Save the Rhino, Saving Rhinos and the International Rhino Foundation they are helping to save Earth's regal rhinos.

Earth Dr Reese Halter is a broadcaster, biologist, educator and co-author of Life. The Wonder of It All.