The illegal trafficking of protected African wildlife species can take various gory forms across the continent. Wildlife management authorities and investigators often discover concealed elephant tusks still dripping with blood or even pieces of flesh and hides, but they are also likely to find crocodile eggs or pangolin scales. The contraband counts as evidence, as do the tools and weapons found at the crime scene, which can range from handmade bows and arrows to AK47s.
An insatiable demand for wildlife products.
Poaching of many of Africa’s iconic species has reached an all time high. With an estimated 35,000 elephants poached in Africa in 2014 and 1,215 rhinos poached in 2014, in South Africa alone, demand is growing at unsustainable levels. Consumption, in addition to existing on-the-ground efforts, needed to be addressed.
More than 75% of the world’s rhino population lives in South Africa.
Black rhinos are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, with the western black rhinoceros declared officially extinct by the IUCN in 2011. Habitat loss and human encroachment only account for a fraction of the decline in rhino population. Instead, poaching remains the biggest threat to the continued survival of this charismatic species.
Wildlife trafficking keeps the poaching industry alive.
Motivated by a lucrative illegal wildlife trade, poachers target Africa’s iconic species like the elephant and rhino through well-funded, highly trained, and increasingly sophisticated criminal syndicates. The poaching of rhinos has increased nearly 3,000 percent since 2007 as growing markets seek out rhino horn for its fabled medicinal properties. Although demand for ivory is sometimes limited by international embargoes, it still reaches consumers through the black market.
Rhinos face extinction in Zambia.
Zambia once had a healthy population of white rhinos, but by 2010, there was only one still alive. Poaching had decimated local populations. If action wasn’t taken, rhinos were likely to disappear entirely from the region.
Zimbabwe’s rhinos are disappearing fast.
Zimbabwe’s current population of rhinos is estimated at approximately 430 black rhinos and 290 white rhinos. In the past five years, an estimated 300 rhinos have been lost to poaching.
Black rhinos in danger of extinction.
The black rhino population in Kenya’s Tsavo ecosystem was estimated at 6,000 to 8,000 in the 1970s. By 1989, there were no more than 20 remaining. Of all of Africa’s endangered species, the black rhino is unique because almost 100% of its decline can be attributed not to habitat loss or human-wildlife conflict but to outright poaching.
Balancing Mozambique’s natural beauty and natural resources.
Located on the southeast coast of Africa, the Republic of Mozambique is divided into two regions by the Zambezi River. The north features a narrow coastline, low plateaus, and rugged highlands and the south has broad lowlands. The savannah and dry woodland habitats near the border of South Africa's Kruger National Park are home to elephants, impala, duiker, springbok, kudu, and ostrich.