Rhino poaching has officially reached the crisis point, with the killings reaching record highs in the last 5 years. These killings are now not just limited to wild rhinos, but also rhinos in zoos and even babies who have lost their own mothers to poaching. Earlier this month in South Africa, 2 baby orphan rhinos, less than 2 years old, were brutally murdered for their horns at the South African Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage, a wildlife refuge and rehabilitation center for rhinos and other animals who have lost their families to poaching. Only a few days later in Paris, the beloved 4 year old white rhino Vince was brutally killed inside his enclosure at a zoo outside Paris for his horn.

The mass killing of these gentle giants began to escalate just over a decade ago when Chinese and Vietnamese markets created a demand for their horns, which are made of keratin – the same type of protein that makes up human hair and fingernails. For Asian buyers, the highly-coveted rhino horn is not only a status symbol, but also is entirely falsely believed and marketed to be a cancer-curing miracle drug and aphrodisiac. Sadly, rhino horns are now worth more than their weight in gold, and are as valuable as cocaine. According to Reuters, as little as a kilo of rhino horn was worth about $54,000 on the black market in 2015.

South Africa by far has the largest population of wild rhinos in the world, however, rhino poaching levels have dramatically escalated in South Africa over recent years and South Africa is moving forward with legalizing the killing of rhinos and the sale their horns.

The country’s top court has rejected a government appeal to preserve a 2009 ban on the domestic trade in rhino horn, and has made it possible for legal trade within the borders of South Africa.

We can’t see any positive conservation benefits from this court ruling, specially at a time when rhino poaching figures are at record high and we are therefore calling on South African President Jacob Zuma and the South African government to appeal this judgment, to desist from any further efforts to legalize the rhino horn trade, and also work more closely to support local anti-poaching and conservation groups to protect the very few remaining wild rhinos before it is too late.

Sign petition now: https://www.change.org/p/jacob-zuma-end-rhino-horn-trade

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