Last week the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) updated their Red List to reveal that the Western Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes) is now considered to be completely extinct. In addition, the Northern White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) is on the brink of extinction and is probably extinct in the wild while the Vietnamese Javan Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus) is also probably extinct.
Despite the disappearance of these iconic animals, the Southern White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum) is still legally hunted. Present in South Africa, and to a smaller degree in Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe there are thought to be approximately 20,000 present in the wild.
The Southern White Rhino is listed as near threatened and yet the Humane Society International (HSI) has reported that 143 rhino trophy hunting permits were granted in South Africa in 2011.
Rhinos have been exploited for their horns for decades, used in many Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM), and according to the South Africa National Parks, 341 rhinos have been illegally poached.
The trade in rhino horns is regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). And while it is illegal to trade the horns for medicines I find it astounding that the export of rhino horns as hunting trophies is permitted.
Surely it is clear that legal trophy hunting is being used by people to facilitate the illegal trade in rhino horns? Recent reports have shown that rhino horns are frequently mounted as trophies only to be exported to the Far East where they enter the illegal trade in TCM.
Calls for a moratorium on rhino trophy hunting have come from a number of conservation organisations and it is clear that something urgently has to be done before we lose all the rhino species.
Read more about our trophy hunting campaign and let us know if you know of a UK company advertising rhino trophy hunting holidays.