The South African government reports 373 rhinos have been killed for their horns so far this year. If this poaching rate of 1.5 rhinos killed per day for the first eight months of 2012 continues, South Africa could lose over 550 rhinos in 2012 — a 25 percent jump from 2011’s record rhino death toll of 448. However, the yearly figure could be even higher.
According to the recent report released by the wildlife trade monitoring organization TRAFFIC, entitled The South Africa – Viet Nam Rhino Horn Trade Nexus, “the period from October through December consistently shows the highest rate of poaching in each year.”

In addition, discovery of many fakes in the Asian market signal an exponential increase in demand for rhino horn. Other signs that demand for rhino horn is increasing exponentially. Articles in Germany’s Der Spiegel and Africa Geographic on Into the Asian Underworld details a recent investigation by Karl Ammann, a Swiss conservationist, who had 20 items of supposed rhinoceros horn from Vietnamese and Laotian markets analyzed at the University of Pretoria’s Veterinary Genetics Laboratory.  South African scientists found that only three of the samples contained real rhino horn. In commenting on the results, lab director Cindy Harper said, “They indicate that the demand for rhinoceros-horn material is much higher than we believed.”

For a round up of the rhino crisis, see Planetsave.