News from the Natural World: The Indonesian Government has introduced the death penalty for poaching, trafficking, selling and buying rhino horn.
The ban is an effort to save the last remaining Javan and Sumatran rhinos. It will apply to all levels of the rhino horn supply chain as well as including any poachers, traffickers, sellers or buyers. If you are in any way involved with rhino horns then you will be found guilty under the “Sort it Don’t Snort it – Conservation Act”.
Indonesia Government to reintroduce the death penalty
The ruling has been introduced to curb the rampant ivory trade in Indonesia. The ivory trade is decimating rhino numbers in Sumatra & Java. The Sumatran rhinoceros, also known as the hairy rhinoceros, is the worlds smallest rhino as well as one of the rarest. Their range once covered a vast expanse of land across India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia as well as China. According to the World Wildlife Fund, their numbers are at an all time low of less than 100.
Similarly the Javan Rhino was also once the most widespread of Asian rhinoceroses. There is now only one population left in the wild. It is quite possibly the rarest large mammal on earth. There are as few as 58 in Ujung Kulon National Park. Its deliberate extermination is a result of poaching for horns. These horns are highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine because they can fetch as much as US$30,000 per kg on the black market. As numbers have continued to plummet the world stands ready to lose both species of rhinos.
Uncontrolled trophy hunting decimated rhino populations in the colonial era. But they now face the threat of ending up as an ornament on a mantlepiece in China or Vietnam. Or even as a herbal medicine for some misguided physician. The Indonesian Government argued that despite all previous conservation efforts absolutely nothing has worked. Some critics have argued against the extremity of the death penalty. But the simple fact is that nothing humans has done has helped to save the rhinos. Despite the efforts of charities, conservation projects and public awareness campaigns both species of rhinos will go extinct.