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HORNS OF A DILEMMA

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Barry Lok grimaced as he gazed at the rotting carcass of his rhino bull, Kruger, lying under a tree on his farm northwest of Johannesburg. His heart had been pierced by a poacher's bullet and his horn, worth its weight in gold, sawn off to be sent to Asia. Kruger's slaying spells more than the loss of a beast Lok loved for its "prehistoric beauty".
Lok, like private rhino owners including Nicky Oppenheimer, the richest South African, must now either pay heavily for more security or sell livestock and contribute to the species' demise.
  • Rhino poachers in South Africa, home to about 90 per cent of the world's population of the endangered animals, are increasingly targeting private game owners as the level of rhino killing rises towards a record.
  • Demand is rising in China and Vietnam, where rhino horn powder is believed to cure cancer. Last year 125 rhinos were poached from private farms in South Africa, a 52 per cent increase from 2010.
  • "If we're going to keep them here we're going to have to protect them," Lok, the 54-year old founder of chip-board company William Tell Holdings, said in an interview at his 5,000-acre farm. "Bluntly, you would have to sell the rhinos to pay for it. That is not sustainable."
The farmers need rhinos to run their hunting and game-viewing businesses, which can charge a premium if their properties boast the so-called big five: rhinos, elephants, buffaloes, lions and leopards. Some, such as Lok, breed the animals for sale to ranchers. By targeting the rhinos, poachers are endangering conservation efforts while also threatening South Africa's billion-dollar wildlife ranching industry.
Source: PHYS.ORG
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