Target: Edna Molewa, South African Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs
Goal: Stop rhinoceros poaching
For the last few years the number of South African rhinoceros killed has been rising at a staggering pace. More rhinos were killed in the country this year than in any other year. The beasts are killed for their horns, which are reputed to have medicinal qualities and sell at a higher price per ounce than gold.
Asian countries are the primary importers of rhinoceros horn. Shot in the head by poachers, the animals are left to die after their horns are hacked off, suffering in the hot sub-Saharan sun until nature runs its course or someone who can offer them a merciful death finds them.
This year alone 455 rhinos have already been illegally killed. 448 rhinos were killed in 2011, and 333 the year before that. The supposed health benefits of rhino horn have been largely debunked, but that has not helped to deter the wealthy in many Asian countries from paying upwards of $65,000 for a kilogram of horn. To attribute the poaching only to market demand is a serious oversimplification because government complicity, poverty, and nefarious organized crime interests all fuel the poaching.
If something is not done soon to curb the rampant poaching of the rhinoceros, then extinction is inevitable. Rhinoceros’ the world over are critically endangered, with some species numbering only in the single digits. The ongoing poaching and illegal killing of the species cannot be tolerated. The fact that they are being killed for something as silly as their supposedly magical horns is even worse. The poaching of the South African rhinoceros must be put to an abrupt end immediately.
Dear Minister Molewa,
South Africa is home to many of the world’s remaining rhinoceros. These marvelous animals were once abundant, but have been forced to the brink of extinction in recent decades. In the past few years, the driving force behind this has been poaching. Unfortunately, as you certainly know, your nation has been one of the hotspots for the illegal harvesting of rhino horn, with nearly five hundred rhinos already illegally taken this year.
This blight is not solely the fault of South Africa; the trade of rhino horn has tangible ties to Asian organized crime groups, particularly in Vietnam. Rumors of the health benefits and medicinal properties of rhino horn abound, especially in Asia where the demand for the substance is highest. There, those who can afford it will pay exorbitant amounts of money for rhino horn, regardless of its origins.
As recently as 2005 only 14 rhinos were illegally killed every year in your country. Over the past couple years the numbers have increased well into the hundreds, and show no signs of slowing down. It is absolutely necessary that measures are taken to protect the rhinoceros.
Removing the elements of organized crime would be a start, as would the creation of a stronger game warden and ranger presence in rhino habitats. Whatever means are taken they will be an improvement on the current trend—leaving the animals slowly bleeding out under the sun, their horns brutally hacked off, waiting for the final coup de grace.
It is of great necessity that South Africa takes proactive means to protect the remaining rhinos. The problem of poaching them is not your nation’s fault, but the duty of policing poaching falls upon your shoulders.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Quasic via flickr