September 21st, 2010
09:33 AM ET

Rhino poaching ring busted

A total of 204 rhinos have reportedly been killed in South Africa this year.

Nine suspects in a major South African rhino poaching ring are due in court Wednesday after arrests Monday that targeted the leaders of a syndicate that sent the horns of the animals to the international black market, media reports said.

Among those arrested were two veterinarians who were believed to be the masterminds of the ring, according to a report from South Africa's Eyewitness News.

A game farmer and a dehorning specialist were also arrested Monday. Further arrests are expected, police said. "The arrest is a huge breakthrough. It came at the time when we are experiencing a huge outcry by our communities ... about rhino poaching," national police spokesman Vishnu Naidoo told the South African Broadcasting Corp.

A total of 204 rhinos have been killed in South Africa this year, SABC reported, including five in the past week.

That compares to 122 rhinos killed in all of 2009. According to South Africa's Kruger National Park, there were an estimated 19,409 white rhinos and 1,678 black rhinos in the entire country at the end of 2009.

Rhinos are sought for their horns, which are ground into powder and used in traditional Asian medicine, with China, Taiwan and South Korea being the major markets, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Full horns are also prized as dagger handles in Yemen.

The suspects' court appearances Wednesday will coincide World Rhino Day, sponsored by the WWF and allied organizations to bring attention to the plight of the rhinoceros. The group is seeking monetary donations and asking people around the world to blow their vuvuzelas at 1 p.m. Wednesday to show their support for the animals and for law enforcement agencies and park rangers trying to protect rhinos from poaching.

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Filed under: Africa
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. JFairweather

    True story: In the 1980's Kenyan MPs were debating the issue of rhino poaching. Since they were killed for their horns, one MP suggested that they remove the horns. Another said that this would hurt tourism. Another said that they could replace the real horns with fake ones. Then another MP said that the poachers would poach anyway because they would think the horns were real.

    That's about as far as the discussion went.

    September 21, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. PAW

    I think we should do what they did to the rhino's- cut off their horns. Or in lieu thereof anything that sticks off the front of their body's. Works for me!!!

    September 21, 2010 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mike H.

    Paul Harvey used to say "it's not one world." The Asian people are unusually cruel to our wildlife. From rhino poaching to whale hunting to cutting fins off sharks and then letting them's barbaric. But we won't do anything about it. We like buying cheap plastic Chinese crap at Walmart and wearing Nike shoes too much. We Americans are gutless.

    September 22, 2010 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Rhino lover

      Not only the Americans – look what SA Vets do to our wildlife!! They supposed to CARE for animals.

      October 1, 2010 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jason Glugla

    Once the Rhinos are gone, Americans can take a big part of the credit because it will have been their money along with American jobs which went to China to pay for the Rhino horns and Shark fins.

    September 22, 2010 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
  5. Wendy

    These are educated people and they work in the very environment they are supposed to protect. They, of all people, should know better so they deserve suffer whilst out on bail. They should be tried in an international court as they have broken international laws. Please let them "pay" BIGTIME!!!! not financially, but in remourse and mental suffering.

    September 22, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Angelore

    Only blood can cancel our pain. It is a time to cull the poachers. There needs to be an equalizer

    September 25, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. greg hunt

    Its like every this in south africa. We have to have a crisis for us to react. Namely our police, metro, crime, influx of foreigners. Pot holed roads, to name but just a few. Greg

    November 16, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. DJA

    I think it's a good thing that we caught them, victory for the rhinos.

    November 18, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sky6709

    Harvest the horns and body parts and have them irradiated so that anyone that comes in contact with them experiences devastating physical effects or death.

    December 5, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
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