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EWT in ongoing battle for SA’s rhinos

- By Refilwe Mabula

The South African rhino is still endangered, despite vigorous awareness campaigns and intensive conservation efforts to save and preserve the almost extinct animal.

Rhino poaching is surging in South Africa with an eminent crisis of over 120 poaching incidents during the last three months alone.

These alarming facts were discussed by Kirsty Brebner, Wits alumnus and Project Manager for the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), who was the keynote speaker at an Eco-Breakfast hosted by the Wits Property Infrastructure Management Division.

The title of the talk was Rhino’s in distress: the battle continues as we fight to save SA’s rhino’s.

Brebner spoke extensively on the issue of rhino poaching and provided an overall history of rhinos in South Africa.

“Rhinos are ancient iconic creatures and as such their possible extinction should send global waves of horror. The biggest threat to rhinos is humans,” said Brebner.

The increasing numbers of organised crime is one of the major problems facing rhino poaching. The rhino horn, which Brebner describes as “nothing more of what is made up of our own hair or nails”, has become an attractive commodity in crime syndicates with a high demand and low risk of association.

The EWT is in a continuous battle to save the South African Rhino, however Brebner expressed that as there is no single solution to save the rhino, they have initiated a number of projects to address the various problems facing the preservation of rhinos.

One initiative by the EWT is the placement of anti-poaching dogs at OR Tambo International Airport detecting rifles and other weapons used during the poaching process, as well as horns poached from rhinos.

“In a society characterised by corruption, anti-poaching dogs are an effective measure in saving the distressed rhino. They cannot be bribed and they do not lie,” said Brebner.

Brebner’s talk was followed by a question and answer session. An audience member posed a question on whether “dehorning” is a possible measure to prevent the escalation of the poaching crisis in South Africa. “Dehorning is a viable option for small populations which are highly secured, but not effective in curbing the crisis of rhino poaching as the horn grows back,” she said.

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