From just 13 animals poached in 2007 the number of Rhinos killed has increased to a total of 1004 in 2013. One of the worst affected places was the Kruger national park in South Africa.
These criminal networks are threatening our national security and damaging our economy by frightening away tourists, said Dr Jo Shaw, Rhino Programme Manager for WWF-South Africa. "Rhino poaching and rhino horn trafficking are not simply environmental issues, they represent threats to the very fabric of our society."
Growing demand from Asia is based on popular assumptions of the medicinal benefits horn powder can bring (despite there being no medical evidence to support this) and for the ongoing trade in ivory carvings and trinkets. The killing of rhinos is being conducted by well armed criminal gangs, who then smuggle the ivory illegally into countries such as Vietnam.
In late December 2012, South Africa signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Viet Nam to tackle the problem of wildlife trafficking, whilst a joint rhino action plan was developed. Further agreements between South Africa and other Asian countries are currently underway.
In February David Cameron will convene a conference in London on illegal wildlife trade which will be attended by TRH the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge. Heads of state and foreign ministers from around 50 countries are expected to attend.