by Editor on July 27, 2009

The illegal hunting of endangered rhinos is on the increase. Photo:USFWS

The illegal hunting of endangered rhinos is increasing. Photo:USFWS

Conservationists were once hopeful the invention of Viagra would end rhino poaching. But demand for rhinoceros horn, used in Asian folk medicines, has taken an alarming upswing recently . . .

Top 10 Endangered Species News

In, fact, says the international wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC, the upswing in endangered rhinoceros poaching is not about aphrodisiacs at all. According to the group, it is a misconception that powdered rhino horn is sought for “natural male enhancement” in the Asian black market; rather, folk healers seek it for the more mundane purpose of curing fevers.

Unfortunately, the rhinoceros–every species of which belongs at the top of all international top ten endangered species lists–is being pushed ever closer to extinction regardless of the reason its horn is in demand.

Of the approximately 18,000 black and white rhinos remaining in Africa, 12 are killed by poachers each month in Zimbabwe and South Africa alone, up from about 3 per month between 2000 and 2005.

Meanwhile, according to TRAFFIC, the Indian rhinoceros is also being hit hard by poaching. The group reports that just since January, out of a total population of 2,400, 10 rhinos have been poached in India, and 7 in Nepal.

According to TRAFFIC, the problem of increased demand for illegal rhino horn is being compounded by inadequate or lax law enforcement and a lack of zeal for prosecuting poachers on the part of courts in the African nations to which rhinos are native.

Read the full TRAFFIC rhino report here. —Paul Guernsey

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