Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

A new research report in an international conservation journal has called for conservative harvesting of rhino horn to break the grip of poaching that is squeezing the life out of SA’s rhinos.

Published in Cambridge University Press’s conservation journal Oryx‚ the report suggests that shaving a small portion of horn from free-ranging rhino could be explored as an alternative to intensive ranching and full dehorning.

The report‚ by Rhodes-educated researcher Oliver Wright and co-authors Georgina Cundill and Duan Biggs‚ focuses on the issue of legal trade and the perceptions of rhino owners and managers on private land in the Eastern Cape’s Cacadu district.

Sketching the background‚ the report – "Stakeholder perceptions of legal trade in rhinoceros horn and implications for private reserve management in the Eastern Cape‚ South Africa" – notes that poaching in SA peaked in 2014 with 1,215 rhino poached‚ compared with 13 in 2007 when the upswing began.

A further 1,175 rhino were killed last year and the environment department said in its last official release in May that 363 rhino had been killed by poachers this year.

In the Eastern Cape’s worst year yet‚ 20 rhinos have been killed this year‚ from 14 last year.

"Rhino population growth is expected to become negative if current poaching levels continue‚" the report said.

This article appeared in The Herald

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