African conservationists agreed on measures including paramilitary training for rangers to stop rhino poaching in a bid to save the species from extinction.
The “emergency plan of action” was agreed during a meeting of national wildlife authorities, scientists, owners of private rhino reserves and security experts in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, for implementation over the next six to nine months, according to a statement signed by participants at the meeting and distributed to reporters today.
“We need to use technology and expertise to fight this tsunami of rhino poaching,” Pelham Jones, chairman of the Private Rhino Owners Association of South Africa, told a conference organized by African Wildlife Foundation and Kenya Wildlife Service in Nairobi.
More than 900 rhinos have been killed for their horns by poachers on the continent over the last three years, a record number, according to the statement. At the current rate of slaughter, rhinos in the wild face extinction by 2025 in Africa, where South Africa has about 90 percent of the 25,000 animals remaining.
The spike in poaching has been fueled by criminal syndicates that deal in the illegal trade of rhino horns, which by weight can sell at higher prices than gold, according to the statement. Kenya, Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi, Angola, and Uganda have populations of the animals.
Demand is driven from nations including China, Vietnam and Thailand for use in cultural practices and as an ingredient in traditional remedies. In East Asia, rhino horn is used as a medicine to purportedly cure cancer, the groups said.
The recommendations also include wider use of security technologies such as night-vision goggles and thermal imaging, tougher criminal penalties for poaching, and the appointment of a United Nations special envoy for rhino conservation to boost public awareness, the participants said in the statement.
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