World Rhino Day 2023: Poaching of rhinos. Illegal rhino horn trade. Low population density

The 13th annual World Rhino Day takes place on Friday 22nd September with this year’s theme being Poaching of rhinos. Illegal rhino horn trade. Low population density. While the latest poaching figures released by the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment show a slight decrease in total rhinos poached countrywide, alarmingly in the first six months, there has been an increase in poaching in KwaZulu-Natal.

There were 143 rhinos killed in KZN from January to June this year, an increase from 133 in the first half of 2022. Organised criminal networks have shifted away from the Kruger National Park, likely due to declines in the Park’s rhino population following years of drought and intense poaching, combined with innovative rhino protection efforts.

Dr. Guy Fyvie, Veterinary Affairs Manager at Hill’s Pet Nutrition, says we all need to play our part in protecting our natural heritage. It’s with this sentiment in mind that Hill’s created their Making CONTACT campaign; a five-part mini-series celebrating and profiling anti-poaching K9 units in South Africa’s nature reserves, with the focus predominantly on the Kruger National Park and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in KZN. The series shines a light on the amazing role that dogs are playing as well as the incredible handlers who are making a real difference in the fight against poaching.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in KZN, is often referred to as the ‘birthplace of rhino’ as it was this area where the southern white rhino was saved from the brink of extinction, over half a century ago. Under threat from poaching, the park must continuously adopt and adapt methods to protect the species and ensure this crucial population is conserved into the future.

The Hluhluwe iMfolozi K9 Unit was revamped in 2020. “The K9 unit has an incredible success rate and the deterrent factor of having such a unit on site can never be underestimated,” says Dennis Kelly, Makhamisa Section Ranger, Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

“Helping to protect and conserve our planet and wildlife is of global importance for Hill’s Pet Nutrition. The wild areas and their inhabitants are where we go to keep our spirit alive and need to be conserved for generations to come,” concludes Dr. Fyvie.