Some startling figures about poaching in Southern Africa were given by former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano recently.
Speaking in Maputo he said armed rangers in Kruger [National Park] have killed nearly 500 mostly young Mozambicans for poaching activities over the past five years. Two years ago Chissano said Mozambicans were responsible for 70% of the national rhino kill in South Africa. His statement was supported by Department of Environment Affairs statistics which then showed 68% of arrests in connection with rhino poaching were Mozambicans.
Minister Edna Molewa’s department has never released information on poachers and suspected poachers killed, either by SANParks rangers or police. Until the beginning of this year figures on rhino kills and arrests were released monthly but this has been stopped with information, to date, only made available three times in the first nine months of 2015.
Poaching gangs are usually heavily armed and rangers in Kruger, which shares a porous, 350km border with Mozambique, are allowed to open fire if threatened with lethal force.
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Chissano, whose foundation is involved in conservation, said 82 Mozambican poachers had been killed in Kruger so far this year, compared with 106 during the whole of 2014 without citing the source for the figures.
There's more at the link.
That's averaging almost 100 poachers killed by park rangers every year . . . and they still keep coming, and the rhino and elephant still keep falling to them. A full-auto AK-47 military assault rifle and a magazine of 30 rounds of ammunition could be bought on the black market in Southern Africa for $50-$100 when I was there, and I'm sure the price isn't much higher today - Africa's awash with AK's. A few poachers can buy two or three of them, walk across the border, riddle a rhino with up to 100 bullets, cut off its horn, and make a profit of some 5,000% by selling the horn to smugglers lined up waiting for it back in Mozambique. By the time it reaches consumers in the Far East, it'll sell for up to $27,000 per pound.
That's why there will always be more smugglers. With ignorant consumers, convinced that rhino horn is one of Nature's ultimate aphrodisiacs, willing to pay that much, the market demand is irresistible to poor African tribesmen at the other end of the supply line - even if many of them die trying to supply it.