In an attempt to thwart the efforts of illegal rhino poachers in South Africa, wildlife officials at Kruger National Park have announced that they will no longer employ the use of signs that indicated where the animals can be found. Previously, safari guides and camp leaders used maps and colored pins to mark the location of recently spotted animals so that tourists could get the opportunity to see the endangered creatures in the wild. Officials now believe that those same signs were being used by poachers to track the animals as well.
As we’ve mentioned before on Gadling, rhinos are becoming increasingly rare throughout Africa, and have been recently declared extinct in some parts of the continent. Poachers seek out the animals to obtain their distinct horns, which are then sold on the black market in Asia, where they are used in traditional medicines. Because of their demand in that part of the world, rhino horns can now be valued at as much as $100,000, which has spurred a string of robberies from museums in Europe recently as well.
South Africa has done its best to crack down on the poachers by imposing stiffer jail sentences and sending more anti-poaching units into the field. Despite those efforts however, the problem continues to get worse. As of last week, 405 rhinos had been killed in the country this year alone, up from 333 last year. Of those, 229 were killed in Kruger, which is amongst the top safari destinations in all of Africa.
Without the signs to guide the way, tourists will just have to keep their eyes peeled in order to spot a rhino, which can be rather elusive in their natural habitat. Still, I don’t think anyone will argue against doing away with the signs if it means we can make the poacher’s job just a little bit more challenging.
[Photo Credit: Ikiwaner via WikiMedia]