An expert in the art of rhino conservation says that if you’re not careful, the rhino may soon be gone from your neighbourhood.
Dr. Peter Stebbins is the director of the Rhino Project at the University of Queensland.
He says that rhino poaching is becoming increasingly difficult and is causing a crisis of confidence.
“People in Australia are starting to realise that poaching is a very, very, serious problem,” Dr. Stebbin said.
He adds that there is a real risk of rhinos being wiped out and that is putting them at risk of extinction.
“There is a big, huge risk to our rhinos,” he said.
In recent years, there have been some good signs for the survival of rhinoceros populations.
The animals were recently released from captivity in South Africa.
There is also a resurgence in poaching in South America.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says that the population has recovered in South East Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
And there are signs that it is doing well in Australia.
“Rhinoceros numbers are still declining in Australia, and in many parts of Australia, they are at the lowest levels we have seen in a long time,” Dr Stebbu says.
“Australia is a major market for rhino horn.
And they are a very important export for us.”
Dr. Martin from the Queensland Institute of Marine Science agrees that Australia is one of the top export markets for rhinoplastons.
“We do see an increase in the demand for rhinos horn,” he says.
He also says that in Australia there is no shortage of people wanting to have a rhino tattoo.
And it’s not just a one-off.
“It is a trend,” he adds.
The demand for the horn is increasing.
“The demand for horn has increased in Australia over the last year, and we have now reached the point where we can see a significant increase in demand,” Dr Martin says.
Dr Stubbs point out that the demand is driven by the desire to own a rhinobat.
He said that the desire is driven primarily by the demand from tourists.
“Tourists are very keen to own these animals.
They want to have them tattooed on their body and then have them in their backyards,” Dr Triggs says.
The number of tourists in Australia has increased since 2011, and the demand has been growing as well.
“You can see in the tourism figures that we have more people travelling to Australia to have these horns on their bodies,” Dr Tredegar says.
A few of these tourists are getting rhinolabs.
A rhino with a rhinic horn on its back.
The horns are attached to the body of a rhinos female.
Source: Australian Rhino Foundation, Queensland Museum, Queensland Department of Conservation, Wildlife Conservation Society.
But is this all good news?
“Yes,” Dr Peter Stubbins says.
According to Dr Stembs, the number of rhins on the streets is going down.
“They are coming off the street to have the horns removed,” he explains.
“That is really great news.”
Dr Stubs analysis of the numbers shows that the increase in tourism has actually led to an increase of rhinelabels.
“This is really a very positive thing,” Dr John Triggs adds.
He points out that tourism is one part of the solution to the rhinotransient population.
But he warns that the horn industry is not doing it in a way that is sustainable.
“If they continue to do it, it will be very difficult to find alternative markets,” he warns.
He goes on to say that the Australian Government has not responded to his concerns, and that he is concerned that the Government may not be doing enough to address the problem.
Dr Triggers also says he believes that there are too many people who have horns and have no intention of giving them up.
“I would be very surprised if it was just a small group of people, and if they are doing it to raise money for the art, to keep the tradition alive,” he comments.
Dr Peter Trediggers thoughts on the rhinos horns.
“A lot of people have horns that they think are not their own, and have had a bad experience with them.
But the reality is that they are actually being used to produce horn for the rhini,” he concludes.
He believes that the problem is a lack of education about rhinology and conservation, and a lack the funds to educate people on the topic.
“In terms of funding, the government does not seem to be spending enough to educate the public,” he added.
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