Zimbabwe faces expulsion from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) unless it quickly gains control of rhino poaching within its borders. Twenty-six percent of its rhino population, or 160 rhinos, have disappeared in fewer than three years according to the African Rhino Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This includes 89 percent of Africa’s illegally killed and critically endangered black rhinos. The Group, predicting a further 14 percent decrease in Zimbabwe’s rhinos if poaching continues unchecked, identifies Zimbabwe and South Africa at the heart of Africa’s rhino poaching crisis as demand for rhino horn from Asia skyrockets.
Uncontrolled poaching, including by so-called “farm invaders” who moved into designated sanctuaries with President Robert Mugabe’s approval, reported collusion and poaching by government officials, and an abysmal prosecution conviction rate of below 3 percent, are leading to the animals’ demise.