Good news from South Africa at least with a drop in the numbers of rhinos being poached in 2018 in comparison to previous years. Although a note of caution should be sounded. The decrease is good news but the overall cumulative impact of the poaching crisis over the years is horrendous. The most famous of all game parks in South Africa,the Kruger National Park (KNP) has lost 50% of its rhino population in just a few short years since 2010. There are also many reasons why we need to keep on protecting these ancient and important creatures. Some of the challenges facing conservationists at the moment include:
There is also the danger of compassion fatigue. And also as fashions change on social media and new projects come online, more traditional conservation projects can become neglected despite their urgency. Conservationists therefore need to come up with new and innovative ideas to match these and to attract future fundraisers and investment.
Collateral and cumulative damage
For each female rhino poached this affects all the future rhino calves that will no longer be born and the loss of many generations - it is easy to forget the cumulative effect of the loss of each rhino. This also has a wider collateral damaging effect of the surrounding biodiversity and the greater eco-system in which the rhinos exist, so the loss of rhinos has a far-reaching ripple effect. Biodiversity conservation is as important as that of individual species. Education plays a large part in this.
The three-yearly Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is taking place in Sri Lanka from May 23 to June 3 2019 and will set the agenda for rhino management for the next three years. We will wait and see what kind of international agreements to protect rhinos across the world are created.
So although the statistics show a move in the right direction for South African rhino conservation there is still an awfully long way to go before species return to healthy numbers.
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