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Photo credit: Center for Biological Diversity

In response to recent scientific consensus on giraffes' vulnerability to extinction, five wildlife protection groups today petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect Earth's tallest land animal under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The legal petition, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society International, The Humane Society of the United States, International Fund for Animal Welfare and Natural Resources Defense Council, seeks "endangered" status for the species. Facing mounting threats from habitat loss, hunting for meat and the international trade in bone carvings and trophies, Africa's giraffe population has plunged almost 40 percent in the past 30 years and now stands at just more than 97,000 individuals.

"Giraffes have been dying off silently for decades, and now we have to act quickly before they disappear forever," said Tanya Sanerib, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. "There are now fewer giraffes than elephants in Africa. It's time for the United States to step up and protect these extraordinary creatures."

New research recently prompted the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to elevate the threat level of giraffes from "least concern" to "vulnerable" on its "Red List of Threatened Species." Yet giraffes have no protection under U.S. law. Species designated as "endangered" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act receive strict protections, including a ban on most imports and sales. The U.S. plays a major role in the giraffe trade, importing more than 21,400 bone carvings, 3,000 skin pieces and 3,700 hunting trophies over the past decade. Limiting U.S. import and trade will give giraffes important protections.

"Previously, the public was largely unaware that trophy hunters were targeting these majestic animals for trophies and selfies. In the past few years, several gruesome images of trophy hunters next to slain giraffe bodies have caused outrage, bringing this senseless killing to light," said Masha Kalinina, international trade policy specialist with the wildlife department of Humane Society International.

"Currently, no U.S. or international law protects giraffes against overexploitation for trade. It is clearly time to change this. As the largest importer of trophies in the world, the role of the United States in the decline of this species is undeniable, and we must do our part to protect these animals."

Known for their six-foot-long necks, distinctive patterning and long eyelashes, giraffes have captured the human imagination for centuries. New research recently revealed that they live in complex societies, much like elephants, and have unique physiological traits, including the highest blood pressure of any land mammal.

"I was lucky enough to study giraffes in the wild in Kenya many years ago. Back then, they seemed plentiful, and we all just assumed that it would stay that way," said Jeff Flocken, North American regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

"Giraffes are facing a crisis. We cannot let these amazing, regal and unique creatures go extinct—it would be a dramatic loss of diversity and beauty for our planet. This listing petition is rallying the world to help save the giraffe."

The IUCN currently recognizes one species of giraffes and nine subspecies: West African, Kordofan, Nubian, reticulated, Masai, Thornicroft's, Rothchild's, Angolan and South African. Today's petition seeks an endangered listing for the whole species.

"I can't—and won't—imagine Africa's landscape without giraffes," said Elly Pepper, deputy director of NRDC's wildlife trade initiative.

"Losing one of the continent's iconic species would be an absolute travesty. Giving giraffes Endangered Species Act protections would be a giant step in the fight to save them from extinction."

The Fish and Wildlife Service has 90 days to review and respond to the petition and determine whether a listing may be warranted.

A passerby looks at a picture that is part of a campaign to save the rhino in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo credit: Michael Tatarski / Mongabay

By Michael Tatarski

Throughout the month of March, a unique graffiti campaign popped up on the walls of several streets in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, the hyperactive commercial capital of Vietnam. The works differed from the usual tags and designs that adorn urban areas around the world. The graffiti pieces, 17 in all, carry a simple message: "Save the rhinos" or "Cứu tê giác" in Vietnamese.

Vietnam is home to one of the largest African rhino horn consumer bases in the world, in addition to being a key transit point for shipments to China. Users of rhino horn believe it can cure various illnesses, in addition to a number of other supposed health benefits. There is no scientific basis to back these beliefs up.

The graffiti in Ho Chi Minh City aims to educate locals on the importance of this issue. According to Nhi Thoi, program manager at the Center of Hands-on Actions and Networking for Growth and Environment (CHANGE), the street art is part of an awareness-raising campaign to inform people on the topic that began in 2013. The group specializes in initiating and developing environment and "climate change movements in Vietnam," according to their website.

"We've been running the 'stop using rhino horn campaign' for several years," Nhi said at CHANGE's office in suburban Ho Chi Minh City recently. "We produce a lot of PSAs (public service announcements) and we've invited a lot of celebrities."

A graffiti picture that is part of a campaign to save the rhino in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Michael Tatarski / Mongabay

One of these PSAs aired on television screens located next to elevators at some of the city's apartment buildings that normally show product advertisements. In the video, national celebrities explained the need to save the world's remaining rhinos, while graphic images of poached animals with their horns sheared off drove the message home.

Nhi explained that the aim is to create social pressure in order to persuade rhino horn users to change their ways.

"It's really hard to tackle the end-users, for example businessmen and high-ranking government officials, so we need to go around and talk to many other people," she said. The graffiti project began as a low-cost way to further this public conversation. "When I drove around the city I saw a lot of empty spaces, like dirty walls, and sometimes they had been vandalized. I asked myself, 'Why don't we paint our message on the walls?'"

Suby One, a French graffiti artist based in Ho Chi Minh City. Michael Tatarski / Mongabay

Suby One, a prominent French graffiti artist based in Ho Chi Minh City, has collaborated with CHANGE for three years and played a prominent role in bringing the rhino art campaign to life. "They contacted me and told me they want to change the audience," he said.

Instead of communicating through TV ads, CHANGE would bring its message to the streets in hopes of reaching the general public.

"They had celebrities before and now they want to reach the real people so that they know the rhino issue," Suby said. "They wanted it so that we could paint and people would come and talk to us while we were working."

Suby and CHANGE, in partnership with global conservation organization WildAid, invited 11 local and international artists to create designs featuring rhinos. It took months for Nhi and her team to obtain local government approval.

A graffiti picture that is part of a campaign to save the rhino in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Michael Tatarski / Mongabay

"From the beginning, I wanted our message to be very aggressive, so I wanted the artists to draw something about a dead rhino or something stunning," she said. "But since we're doing this in public, we needed approval from the authorities and they didn't want something negative."

CHANGE finally got the green light in early March and their team jumped into action, with an aim to complete the artwork in one month. The pieces, spread across a number of streets in Ho Chi Minh City's central District 1, are striking. Each portrayal is unique, but all carry the same plea: Save the rhino.

A graffiti picture that is part of a campaign to save the rhino in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Michael Tatarski / Mongabay

"I want to create love for rhinos," Nhi said. "In some images we had differences, like the rhino's horn exploding or the shadows of other rhinos that weren't actually there. We wanted to convey the message that the rhino is close to extinction and needs protection."

According to the conservation organization Save the Rhino, at the end of 2015 there were an estimated 30,000 rhinos remaining in the wild in Africa and Asia. At the start of the 20th century millions of rhinos lived in these regions. Vietnam in particular continues to be a major player in the illicit international rhino horn trade. According to TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, in March 2017 alone there were two seizures—one in Bangkok and one in Hanoi—totaling 67 rhino horns. The Bangkok case involved a Vietnamese national, while no suspects were named in the other.

TRAFFIC used the opportunity to call on the Vietnamese government to honor its commitment to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and prosecute wildlife crimes more vigorously. According to the organization, less than 1 percent of criminals involved in such activity in the country are successfully prosecuted.

The graffiti campaign has been a bright spot, though and garnered extensive attention from the public and the media.

A graffiti picture that is part of a campaign to save the rhino in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Michael Tatarski / Mongabay

"In the beginning they [people in the neighborhoods] didn't really support us, but when they saw us clean the walls and draw beautiful pictures they warmed up and were really supportive," Nhi said. "They brought us water and cake and brought their kids to play with us and talk about rhinos."

Suby believes there has been an outpouring of support because of the role art can play in activism.

"I think graffiti is something new here and people are getting interested in it," he said. "You can reach more people with art—especially on the streets … I think touching the people and the neighbors, that's the strength of street art."

Philip Genochio, a British expat based in Ho Chi Minh City, was also involved in the campaign as an artist.

A graffiti picture that is part of a campaign to save the rhino in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Michael Tatarski / Mongabay

"For me, it goes beyond rhinos specifically," he wrote via email. "It's part of a much bigger problem of wildlife of all descriptions being killed in the name of vanity and ignorance."

His design in the campaign features the outlines of many small rhinos forming the shape of a large rhino. "I wanted something that had impact; something that would at least get people's attention," he said. "Also, I liked the idea of using vivid colors to represent happiness, joy and well-being … we should have these thoughts in our minds when thinking about wildlife."

Genochio added that he wishes to see the campaign spread an appreciation for art as well.

"On a lighter note, I hope people see the benefit that graffiti and street art brings to a city and its neighborhoods," he said. "It's uplifting, it's characterful, it's inspiring … why wouldn't you want to see this around the city?"

Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.


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Thanks to a swift response by the Mexican government, a potentially dangerous confrontation by hostile fisherman towards Sea Shepherd was averted on March 30.

A temporary restraining order issued against the fisherman on March 28 by the Attorney General's office was ratified by a judge on April 5.

Protesting fishermen, led by one of San Felipe's fishing cooperative leaders, held a demonstration on March 26 where they threatened to burn Sea Shepherd ships if they were still in the Gulf by, March 30 at 14:00 hours.

Sea Shepherd is currently in the Gulf, also known as the Sea of Cortez, for Operation Milagro III to protect the near extinct vaquita porpoise and the endangered totoaba bass. The campaign is in partnership with the government of Mexico.

At the demonstration, the fisherman and their leader took a small local fishing boat, known as a "panga," painted Sea Shepherd's name on it and burned it in the streets of San Felipe. The act served as a warning that they would do the same with the anti-poaching organization's ships, the M/Y Sam Simon and M/V Farley Mowat, if they did not exit Mexican waters. The demonstration ended with the leader promising to attack the Sea Shepherd crew with 200 pangas on March 30.

When that date arrived, Mexican Navy vessels acted as escorts for the Sam Simon and the Farley Mowat in case a clash occurred. Meanwhile, on shore police screened fishing boats before allowing them to launch in to the sea.

However, no more than 60 pangas managed to assemble in the harbor and none set sail towards Sea Shepherd. No one was hurt on either side and no property damage occurred.

Restraining Orders Placed on Fishermen

On April 5, a Mexican judge ratified a restraining order to the fisherman and their group leader, forbidding them to speak, threaten and harass campaign leader and Sam Simon Captain Oona Layolle and the Sea Shepherd crew aboard the Sam Simon and the Farley Mowat. The fisherman have been ordered not come near the ships and land base.

"Sea Shepherd very much appreciated the effective measures taken by the Mexican government to quell what was potentially a very explosive and violent situation," said Captain Paul Watson.

Illegal poachers who set the banned gillnets that trap the vaquita, totoaba and other marine animals—are angry that Sea Shepherd is working with their government to remove these nets and remove the animals caught in them, be they dead or alive. The totoaba bladders fetch $20,000 a kilo in China, a price that has attracted individuals tied to organized crime and drug smuggling to the trade.

This illegal fishing has caused the vaquita numbers to dwindle down to less than 30, leaving the world's tiniest porpoise on the brink of extinction. In March, Sea Shepherd found several dead vaquita floating in the Gulf.

The poachers' animosity toward Sea Shepherd is further intensified because the conservation society uses drones to locate the illegal fisherman and the promptly notifies the Mexican authorities of their coordinates, which has led to arrests.

"Sea Shepherd is not in the area to oppose legal fishing activities," said Captain Layolle. "Sea Shepherd's actions are focused on illegal fishing and the only fishermen who have any reason to be angry with the Sea Shepherd ships are those whose illegal activities are being disrupted and shut down by Sea Shepherd crews."


As a result of South Africa's highest court rejecting a bid by the government to keep a ban on the sale of rhinoceros horn, it will soon be legal to buy and sell the land mammals' horns in the country.

This news comes just weeks after poachers broke into a rhino orphanage in South Africa, killing two baby rhinos for their prematurely developed horns. The development also follows the news that 16 rhino carcasses were been found in Kruger National Park in South Africa since the beginning of March.

According to National Geographic, the moratorium on the domestic trade has been lifted as a result of a lengthy legal battle between rhino owners, who farm rhinos like livestock and desire to sell their horns on the market and the government's Department of Environmental Affairs. Though the trade of rhinoceros horn was internationally banned in 1977, the Department of Environmental Affairs restricted domestic tradition in 2009 after a jump in poaching.

John Hume is one of the individuals who fought hard against the government's moratorium. The owner of the world's largest rhino farm (with more than 1,000 rhinos he's bred), he sued the government in 2009 to overturn the policy. Hume claims the only way to protect the rhinos he raises is to sell the horns they grow, that way enough funds will be procured to protect them.

Now that it is legal to domestically trade rhino horn, people in South Africa can get a permit to sell the item that is responsible for driving poaching. Foreigners will be allowed to export a maximum of two horns for "personal purposes."

Rhino horn is worth more than its weight in gold, as The Dodo pointed out, despite it being made of keratin—the same material as one's fingernails. Already, organized crime groups profit from the illegal trafficking of the horn into Asia, where it is believed to have medicinal properties.

According to Susie Watts of WildAid's Africa Program, allowing domestic trade in South Africa to resume will undoubtedly result in the horn being trafficked to Asia. She said:

"Legalizing domestic rhino horn trade in South Africa opens the door to further illegal exports of rhino horn. There is no domestic demand for rhino horn products and, as the pro-trade lobby very well knows, the reason why the moratorium was implemented in the first place was to prevent domestic trade from being used as a cover for smuggling.

"There is no realistic way to maintain chain of custody over rhino horns and prevent them from being trafficked abroad. There should be no legal horn market so long as rhino poaching, illegal trade and consumer demand are out of control."

Now that the moratorium has been lifted, conservationists and activists fear that poaching will increase exponentially in South Africa. This is because the country is home to 70 percent of the world's 29,500 rhinos—all of which are in the midst of a poaching crisis. Clearly, there is a reason for concern, as poaching has skyrocketed in the past decade. In 2016, for example, 1,054 rhinos were poached in South Africa.

"If these regs are promulgated, we will see a significant rise in poaching, as poachers use the significant loopholes to cater to the increased demand for horn in the Far East," Morgan Griffiths of the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa said.

Reposted with permission from our media associate True Activist.

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Photo credit: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

With the near-extinct vaquita porpoise now numbering less than 30, conservation was dealt a blow on March 12, when Sea Shepherd found a dead newborn vaquita on the beach just 33 km south of San Felipe, in the Northern area of the Gulf of California.

The non-profit marine conservation society's anti-poaching ships, the M/V Farley Mowat and M/Y Sam Simon, have been patrolling the upper Gulf since last fall as part of Operation Milagro III to save the vaquita and the endangered totoaba bass.

The body of a second, adult vaquita was reported to the crew not far from where the neonate was found, but after several days of searching by the crew, it has yet to be located. However, the locals who spotted it took pictures and gave them to Sea Shepherd in hopes that its body would still be found.

Sea Shepherd handed over the baby vaquita corpse to the Mexican authorities and a necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of death. The most common cause in the Gulf of California for the vaquita is getting caught in one of the numerous illegal gillnets hidden underwater, set up to trap the totoaba bass. Both the vaquita and the totoaba are similar in size and once the vaquita becomes entangled in the net, it is unable to reach the surface of the water to breathe, causing it to drown.

A dead newborn vaquita.Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

"Under the stress of fighting for its life, a mother could have discharged the calf," hypothesized Operation Milagro campaign leader Captain Oona Layolle.

A female vaquita gives birth to a calf approximately once every two years. It is not known if the adult vaquita body spotted by locals was the newborn's mother or not.

Unprecedented Number of Dead Totoaba in One Net

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

The marine life devastation in the Gulf of California continued March 14, when the M/V Farley Mowat found and retrieved a net containing 66 dead totoaba. A 67 one was found alive and set free.

Illegal fisherman and the Mexican criminal cartels target the totoaba just to export its swim bladder for sale on the black market in China and Hong Kong for unsubstantiated medicinal properties. There it can fetch more than $20,000 per kilo. Due to this high street value, the totoaba bladder is frequently referred to as "aquatic cocaine" and is the only reason these animals are being killed.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

"We never found as many dead totoaba in one net," said Captain Layolle, who was on hand to witness their destruction by the Federal Agency of the Environmental Protection after the carcasses were handed over to the Mexican government organization. "It was heartbreaking and disgusting to see so many animals die to feed the Chinese demand for swim bladders. The trafficking of their swim bladder is destroying the entire ecosystem of the Gulf of California."

"The illegal fishing activity has never been so dramatic here in the Gulf of California," Captain Layolle continued. "We have been witnessing poacher's activity day and night. High season for totoaba poaching is now hitting hard. It is having a huge impact on the biodiversity of this place; this is our last chance to save the species from extinction. But it seems that human ignorance and greed won't stop."

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson added: "We are on the threshold of the doorways to extermination of many marine species. If we lose the vaquita, what next? Sea Shepherd needs all the help we can get to prevent the extinction of the world's smallest and most endangered porpoise."

Photo credit: Parc Zoologique de Thoiry

A young white rhino was killed after being shot in the head three times by poachers who broke into the Thoiry Zoo in Paris Monday night. Poachers de-horned the 4-year-old rhino, named Vince, and left alive two other white rhinos, 37-year-old Gracie and 5-year-old Bruno. They left part of Vince's second horn, leading local police to believe they were ill-equipped or interrupted. The poachers are still at large.

"It is extremely shocking what just happened," Zoo Director Thierry Duguet said. "An act of such violence, never before seen in Europe."

White rhinos at the Parc Zoologique de Thoiry.Parc Zoologique de Thoiry / Facebook

Vince was discovered by his caretaker Tuesday morning. According to reports, the poachers forced open a gate and two doors to enter the rhinoceros building. They likely used a chainsaw to remove Vince's horns.

A trend of rhino horn thefts from private collections and museums in the past several years has led to increased concern among conservationists for captive rhinos, The Washington Post explained. These bold new attacks are a sign that "zoological facilities need to take serious measures to keep their rhinos safe," said Susie Ellis, executive director of International Rhino Foundation.

Crawford Allan, Senior Director of TRAFFIC North America, encourages zoos to immediately assess and increase their security and specifically recommended thermal imaging cameras and an increase in the number of security guards.

In other disturbing news, armed poachers in February 2017 attacked the staff of the Thula Rhino Orphanage in South Africa and killed two baby rhinos for their horns.

Rhinos at the Thula Thula Rhino OrphanageThula Thula Rhino Orphanage / Facebook

In 2016, 1,054 rhino killings were reported in South Africa. While this represents a modest decline from 1,175 in 2015, it is the fourth year in a row that more than 1,000 rhinos have been poached in South Africa.

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Forest elephant in Gabon. Photo credit: Rhett Butler

By Mike Gaworecki

New research shows that more than 25,000 forest elephants were killed for their ivory in Gabon's Minkébé National Park, one of the largest and most important wildlife preserves in Central Africa, between 2004 and 2014.

That's a decline of somewhere between 78 and 81 percent in the park's forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) population over the span of just one decade, and it was largely driven by poachers who crossed the border into Gabon from its neighbor to the north, Cameroon, according to a the study led by researchers with Duke University and published in the journal Current Biology in February.

"With nearly half of Central Africa's estimated 100,000 forest elephants thought to live in Gabon, the loss of 25,000 elephants from this key sanctuary is a considerable setback for the preservation of the species," John Poulsen, assistant professor of tropical ecology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment and the lead author of the study, said.

This is a small group of forest elephants in Gabon's Minkébé National Park. Poaching for the illegal ivory trade has reduced their numbers by 80 percent, according to a new study.John Poulsen, Duke University

Thanks to booming consumer demand, particularly in Asia, wildlife trafficking operations are so militarized today that poachers are frequently armed with enough weaponry and other equipment to outgun local park rangers. The most dangerous poachers in Africa are often employed by professional wildlife trafficking rings and have access to resources well beyond what was available to poachers during earlier crises, from financial support to military-grade equipment such as armored vehicles, helicopters, and machine guns.

Poulsen and his colleagues arrived at their estimate of forest elephant population losses in Minkébé National Park by comparing the results of two large-scale elephant dung surveys. The researchers identified two distinct "fronts" of poaching pressure after analyzing the surveys' data on abundance and distribution of elephant dung in the park.

"Elephant numbers in the south of the park, which is 58 kilometers from the nearest major Gabonese road, have been somewhat reduced," Poulsen said. "By comparison, the central and northern parts of the park—which, at one point, are just 6.1 kilometers from Cameroon's national road—have been emptied."

The fact that Cameroon's national road is so close to the park makes it relatively easy for poachers to slip into the park, make their illegal kills, and then transport elephant tusks back to Cameroon's largest city, Douala, which has become a major hub of the international ivory trade.

This is a lone forest elephant in Gabon's Minkébé National Park. From 2004 to 2014, an estimated 25,000 elephants in the park were killed for the illegal ivory trade.John Poulsen, Duke University

Poached ivory makes its way into the illegal market very quickly. A September 2016 study found that as much as 90 percent of the elephant tusks seized in Africa comes from elephants killed within the past three years, as opposed to the illegal trade being fueled by older ivory leaking into the market, as was previously believed to be the case.

Poulsen notes that the Gabonese government has made several major moves intended to rein in poaching in Minkébé National Park, such as elevating forest elephants' to "fully protected" status, creating a National Park Police force, doubling the national park agency's budget, and burning all of the ivory it has seized from illegal traders (becoming the first African nation to do so).

While these initiatives are commendable and may have helped reduce poaching activities that originate from within Gabon, according to Poulsen, he says that his team's research demonstrates that the illegal cross-border trafficking of poached ivory has not been curbed and that new approaches to protecting elephants may be called for.

"To save Central Africa's forest elephants, we need to create new multinational protected areas and coordinate international law enforcement to ensure the prosecution of foreign nationals who commit or encourage wildlife crimes in other countries," Poulsen added.

"Studies showing sharp declines in forest elephant populations are nothing new, but a 78 to 81 percent loss in a single decade from one of the largest, most remote protected areas in Central Africa is a startling warning that no place is safe from poaching."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.

Photo credit: World Wildlife Fund / South Africa

South African rhino poaching numbers for the last year show a decline for the second consecutive year due to concerted conservation efforts. However, there is still a long road ahead as Africa continues to lose an average of three rhinos a day to the ongoing poaching crisis.

In 2016 alone, 1,054 rhinos were reported killed in South Africa. This is a slight decline from 1,175 in 2015 and 1,215 in 2014. The 2016 figures represent a loss in rhinos of approximately 6 percent in South Africa, which is close to the birth rate, meaning the population remains perilously close to the tipping point.

Rhino poaching figures over time graph—South Africa. World Wildlife Fund / South Africa

"The continued assault on Africa's rhinos year after year shows the need to redouble efforts across the rhino horn trade chain," Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation at World Wildlife Fund, said. "Two straight years of modest improvement in South Africa indicate that enhanced anti-poaching efforts are having some positive impact. However only when all involved countries take serious action will the rampant killing of rhinos end."

Criminals kill rhinos for their horns, which are mistakenly believed to cure a variety of ailments from fevers to blood disorders to hangovers.

Other major rhino range states in Africa have reported declines, with 61 rhinos reported killed in Namibia, down from 91 in 2015. South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe are home to nearly 95 percent of all remaining African rhinos.

South Africa's Kruger National Park, home to the world's largest white rhino population, successfully achieved a decline in the number of poached rhinos last year, despite an increase in the number of reported illegal entries into the 4.8 million acre park.

These latest figures highlight the impacts of poaching sweeping across South Africa as criminal syndicates shift their focus in response to law enforcement actions. Key populations in the South African province KwaZulu-Natal bore the brunt of the poaching, with 161 rhinos killed in 2016—an increase of 38 percent from the previous year.

"Governments and law enforcement officials must do more to reverse the low-risk, high-reward nature of rhino horn trade and other wildlife crime," Hemley continued. "Stronger enforcement and tougher penalties for offenders at every level, including poachers, buyers and transnational trafficking syndicates, is required to disrupt this devastating black market trade.

"Vietnam in particular must step up and do its part to stem the unchecked flow of rhino horn into its markets. If it fails to do so, the international community must follow through on its commitment to hold the country accountable through wildlife trade sanctions."

We Need to Act Now

Wildlife crime is the most immediate threat to wild rhinos, elephants and tigers. Demand for rhino horns—along with elephant ivory and tiger products—runs rampant in parts of the world, particularly in Asia.

The World Wildlife Fund works to stop rhino poaching and emphasizes the need for not just law enforcement response, but also involvement of local communities around protected areas.

Together, we need to commit to long-term demand reduction efforts to protect rhinos.

Take action to stop wildlife crime.

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