Independent Reporter and Documentary Photographer Salym Fayad is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. These images are from his project ‘Protecting The Horn -Rhino Poaching In South Africa’. To see Salym’s body of work click on any image.
Over 6,000 rhinos have been poached in South Africa since 2009. In 2016 alone, 1,054 were killed for their horn, to meet the demand of the black market in South East Asia, where it has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Rhino horn is composed of keratin, the same substance as hair and fingernails. In recent years it has become a symbol of status in China and Vietnam –it is now more valuable by weight than gold or cocaine–, where in some circles it is believed to cure impotence, hangovers and cancer.
South Africa is home to 80 percent of the world’s rhino population, many of which are owned by private breeders. Rhino owners have turned to different methods to tackle poaching, including poisoning the horn, hiring private security companies to patrol the farms and de-horning the rhinos. The surgical removal of the horn intends to deter poachers, while farmers are storing the horns and advocating for the legalization of rhino horn trade.
At Kruger National Park, where hundreds of rhinos have been poached, rangers and investigators carry out post-mortem examinations on crime scenes, hoping that they will lead to arrests and eventually the dismantling of international environmental crime syndicates.
By Salym Fayad