Chinese Paochers Suspected of Killing Rhinos

HARARE – Chinese poachers have been accused of killing six rhinos at a game sanctuary near Harare as incidents linking the spreading Chinese footprint in Africa to both rhino and elephant killings escalated.

The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said at least six rhinos were poached at the Nyamaneche Game Sanctuary this month, forcing the owners to move the three remaining rhinos to a safer location.

ZCTF chairman Johnny Rodrigues suspects that a Chinese firm mining chrome in the area was behind the attack.

“There were nine rhinos at the sanctuary, six have been poached and they can’t find the other three,” Rodrigues told The Zimbabwean On Sunday.

“We believe it is the Chinese …they have some concessions here to build hotels and for hunting,” he said. The Zimbabwean on Sunday was unable to get comment on the matter from either the Chinese embassy in Harare of the firm accused of poaching rhinos.

Zimbabwe’s population of black and white rhinos was put at 3 000 in the 1980s but it has since been revised to about 700.

Decades of rhino conservation are at serious risk of being undermined by crime syndicates funded by the demand for illegal rhino horn, which is still used in traditional Chinese medicines.

Last year the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC found that Zimbabwe lost over 25 percent of its rhino population between 2006 and 2009 to illegal killing.

This troubling figure includes 89 percent of all black rhinos killed on the continent.

Incidents linking the spreading Chinese footprint in Africa to both rhino and elephant killings have been escalating in recent years.

Last week, a critically endangered black rhino was killed in the world-famous Serengeti National Park amid growing concerns that Tanzania’s warm relationship with China could lead to further problems with its precious pachyderms.

In Southern Africa, there are increased reports of rhino killings in areas where Chinese newcomers are working and settling.

The rhino killings appear to be concentrated along the Mozambique-South Africa border, the eastern border of South Africa’s Kruger National Park, down to KwaZulu-Natal, and into Zimbabwe.

Illegal rhino horn is in highly sought after for use in traditional medicines in China and Vietnam, despite the fact rhino horn has been extensively analyzed and contains no medicinal properties.

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