Southern Africa is the last bastion for the remaining populations of African rhino. Rhino poaching and trafficking of rhino horn has received unprecedented media coverage since 2009. Poaching has subsequently increased by over 9000% and the species has reached the tipping point for it’s survival.
Numerous television documentaries have been produced highlighting the supply side of this massacre - the poaching and the players behind the supply chain that plays out daily in Africa.
Phil Hattingh, the cameraman and co-producer, is a resident of South Africa and has unprecedented access to developments around the supply side of the poaching pandemic. What's been missing in these films to date is the exposure of what drives the demand for rhino horn in SE Asia. As westerners it was impossible to gain access to the trafficking syndicates and the transnational organised crime networks handling the trafficking and distribution in SE Asia. By using local operatives , posing as dealers, the producers were able to infiltrate some of the networks to record previously unseen material to the screen.
Since the outright ban of trade in rhino horn in 1993, more than 100,000 rhino have been lost to poaching. Clearly prohibition has failed. As long as there is demand, there will be supply and as long as the demand characteristics are not understood any attempts to mitigate the ongoing slaughter will fail.
So what drives the market? This is the driving force behind the exposé