Keeping the Horn on the Rhino: A Study of Balule Nature Reserve

  • Elisa Reuter
  • Lieselot Bisschop
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Green Criminology book series (PSGC)


Wildlife trafficking, as a form of transnational environmental crime, is a lucrative illicit endeavor that is rivaled only by trafficking in arms, humans, and drugs. The illegal trade in wildlife, timber, and fish is worth approximately 10–15 billion US dollars annually (Braun 2012). Poaching of animals is a threat to the livelihood of local communities, which depend on wildlife tourism. In 2012, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, labeled poaching a national security threat (rather than a mere conservation issue) and advocated for more law enforcement training and expertise to stem the surge of poaching (Braun 2012; Rhino Mercy 2013). Undercover investigations have shown that the proceeds of wildlife poaching are currently financing terrorist organizations (e.g., Lord’s Resistance Army, Al Shabaab, see Kalron and Crosta 2013; Christy and Stinton 2015). Calls for integrated anti-poaching and wildlife trafficking approaches have led to the emergence of multi-stakeholder initiatives and public–private partnerships (Johannesen and Skonhoft 2004; Poudyal et al. 2009; Hauck and Sweijd 1999). Despite these initiatives, the poaching of rhinos in South Africa continues unabated and is occurring through the use of increasingly sophisticated methods. In fact, poaching numbers have increased from a few per year to three a day.


Environmental Crime Routine Activity Theory Potential Offender Situational Crime Prevention Kruger National Park 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Ammann, K. (2013, November 29). Of tiger and lion bones and the legalizing of the rhino horn trade. National Geographic.Google Scholar
  2. Animal Rights Africa. (2009). Under siege: Rhinoceroses in South Africa. Retrieved from
  3. Artz, M. (2014). The Rhodesian bush war. Retrieved from
  4. Baral, A. N. (2013). Impacts of wildlife tourism on poaching of Greater One-horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros Unicornis) in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. Lincoln University, New Zealand. Retrieved from
  5. Beirne, P. (2013). Animal rights, animal abuse and green criminology. In P. Beirne & N. South (Eds.), Issues in green criminology (pp. 55–86). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Beirne, P., & South, N. (2007). Issues in Green Criminology. In Confronting harms against environments, humanity and other animals. Portland: Willan.Google Scholar
  7. Biggs, D., Courchamp, F., Martin, R., & Possingham, H. (2013). Legal trade of Africa’s rhino horns. Science, 340, 1038-1039. Retrieved from
  8. Brand South Africa. (2012). South Africa’s tourism industry. Retrieved from
  9. Bracken, M. & Barkas, V. (2013, March 4). Vincent and Tumi of ProTrack discussing Rhino Poaching [Video file]. Retrieved from
  10. Brassett, B. (2014, February 28). Green Kidz learn about the bush. Kruger2Canyon News. Retrieved from
  11. Braun, D. (2012, November 8). U.S. pursues global strategy to end trafficking in wildlife. National Geographic. Retrieved from
  12. Christy, B. & Stinton, B. (2015, September). Warlords of Ivory. National Geographic Magazine, 25–59.Google Scholar
  13. Clarke, R. (1997). Situational crime prevention: Successful case studies (2nd ed.). Guilderland, NY: Harrow and Heston.Google Scholar
  14. Clarke, R. (2000). Situational prevention, criminology and social values. In A. Von Hirsch, D. Garland, & A. Wakefield (Eds.), Ethical and social perspectives on situational crime prevention (pp. 97–112). Oxford: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
  15. Clarke, R., & De By, R. (2013). Poaching, habitat loss and the decline of neotropical parrots: A comparative spatial analysis. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 9, 333–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Corruption Watch South Africa. (2014). Who can help? Retrieved from
  17. Cohen, L., & Felson, M. (1979). Social change and crime rate trends: A routine activity approach. American Sociological Review, 44(4), 588–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Conway-Smith, E. (2014, April 27). 20 Years since Apartheid: What’s changed in South Africa and what hasn’t. Global Post.Google Scholar
  19. Cornish, D. (1994). The procedural analysis of offending and its relevance for situational prevention. In R. V. Clarke (Ed.), Crime prevention studies (pp. 151–196). Monsey, NY: Criminal Justice Press.Google Scholar
  20. Cornish, D., & Clarke, R. (1985). Modeling offenders’ decisions: A framework for research and policy. Crime and Justice, 6, 147–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Cornish, D., & Clarke, R. (1986). The reasoning criminal: Rational choice perspectives on offending. New York: Springer Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Cornish, D., & Clarke, R. (1987). Understanding crime displacement: An application of rational choice theory. Criminology, 25(4), 933–947.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Cornish, D., & Clarke, R. (2003). Opportunities, precipitators and criminal decisions: A reply to Wortley’s critique of situational crime prevention. Crime Prevention Studies, 16, 41–96.Google Scholar
  24. DeFranza, D. (2010, August 18). The problem with “shoot to kill” conservation. Treehugger. Retrieved from
  25. DeWalt, K. M., & DeWalt, B. R. (2010). Participant observation: A guide for fieldworkers. Rowman Altamira.Google Scholar
  26. Endangered Wildlife Trust. (2013). Position statement on legalizing the international trade in rhino horn. Retrieved from
  27. Faure, M.G., 2009). Environmental Crimes. In N. Garoupa (Ed), Criminal Law and Economics, (vol. 3, pp. 320–345). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  28. Financial Transparency Coalition. (2013). How the Groenewald Gang made millions off illicit wildlife trafficking. Retrieved from
  29. Foley, J. (2013). Elephant and rhino poaching increasingly linked to terrorist groups. Nature World News. Retrieved from
  30. Gibbs, C., Gore, M., McGarrell, E., & Rivers III, L. (2009, July 16). Introducing conservation criminology—Towards interdisciplinary scholarship on environmental crimes and risks. British Journal of Criminology, 1, 1–21.Google Scholar
  31. Gosling, M. (2006, April 17). Future of SA’s green court in the balance. IOL News. Retrieved from
  32. Hauck, M., & Sweijd, N. (1999). A case study of abalone poaching in South Africa and its impact on fisheries management. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 56, 1024–1032.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Herbig, F. & Warchol, G. (2011). South African Conservation Crime and Routine Activities Theory: A Casual Nexus? Acta Criminologica, 24(2), 1–16.Google Scholar
  34. Huisman, W., & Van Erp, J. (2013). Opportunities for environmental crime: A test of Situational Crime Prevention Theory. British Journal of Criminology, 53, 1178–1200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Interpol. (2010). Environmental Crime. Retrieved from
  36. Johannesen, A. B. & Skonhoft, A. (2004). Tourism, poaching and wildlife conservation: What can integrated conservation and development projects accomplish? (Norwegian University of Science and Technology—Department of Economics). Retrieved from Norwegian University of Science and Technology Working Papers Website:
  37. K2C (2013, June 21). Environmental Monitor project creates jobs and improves conservation actions. Kruger 2 Canyon News.
  38. Kalron, N. & Crosta, A. (2011). Africa’s White Gold of Jihad. Elephant Action League, 2011–2012.
  39. Kalron, N. & Crosta, M. (2015). Africa’s White Gold of Jihad: al-Shabaab and Conflict Ivory. Elephant Action League. Retrieved from
  40. Kvinta, P. (2014). The madness of modern-day poaching Retrieved from
  41. Kuhumbu, P. & Hallida, A. (2014). The trade in rhino horn: asset stripping on an apocalyptic scale. The Guardian, April 17,
  42. Leader-Williams, N., & Milner-Gulland, E. (1993). Policies for the enforcement of wildlife laws: The balance between detection and penalties in Luangwa Valley, Zambia. Conservation Biology, 7(3), 611–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lynch, M., & Stretesky, P. (2003). The meaning of green: Contrasting criminological perspectives. Theoretical Criminology, 7(2), 217–238.Google Scholar
  44. Matsueda, R., Kreager, D., & Huizinga, D. (2006). Deterring delinquents: A rational choice model of theft and violence. American Sociological Review, 71, 95–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Messer, K. (2000). The poacher’s dilemma: The economics of poaching and enforcement. Endangered Species Update, 17(3), 50–56.Google Scholar
  46. Messer, K. (2010). Protecting endangered species: When are shoot-on-sight policies the only viable option to stop poaching? Ecological Economics, 69(12), 2334–2340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Munusamy, R. (2013, March 1). Rhino poaching: It’s war! Daily Maverick. Retrieved from
  48. Oskamp, S. (2000). A sustainable future for humanity?—How can Psychology help? American Psychologist, 55(5), 496–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Petrossian, G. (2012). The decision to engage in illegal fishing: An examination of situational factors in 54 countries. Rutgers University-Graduate School-Newark.Google Scholar
  50. Petrossian, G. (2014). Preventing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing: A situational approach. Biological Conservation (online first).Google Scholar
  51. Pires, S., & Clarke, R. (2012). Are parrots CRAVED? An analysis of parrot poaching in Mexico. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 49(1), 122–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pires, S., & Moreto, W. (2011). Preventing wildlife crime: Solutions that can overcome the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’. European Journal of Criminal Policy Research, 17, 101–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Poudyal, M., Rothley, K., & Knowler, D. (2009). Ecological and economic analysis of poaching of the greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) in Nepal. Ecological Applications, 19(7), 1693–1707.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pro Track. (2011). Pro track anti-poaching unit. Retrieved from
  55. Rademeyer, J. (2012a). Killing for profit: Exposing the illegal rhino horn trade. Cape Town: Zebra Press.Google Scholar
  56. Rademeyer, J. (2012b). Rhino butchers caught on film at North West Game Farm. Mail & Guardian Online. Retrieved from
  57. Rademeyer, J. (2012c). Killing for profit: exposing the illegal rhino horn trade. (Chapter: “The Boeremafia”) Random House Struik.Google Scholar
  58. Rettet das Nashorn. (2014). Shaya. Retrieved from
  59. Rhino Mercy. (2013). US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton keynote speech on wildlife trafficking [Video file]. Retrieved from–photo-gallery.html.
  60. Rhino Rescue Project. (2012). Retrieved from
  61. Rhinomercy. (2014). Why the rhino? Retrieved from
  62. Save the Rhino. (2015). RIP Dr. Ian Player. Retrieved from
  63. Sharife, K. (2013). Is it time to legalise rhino horn trade? Le Monde Diplomatique. Retrieved from
  64. Sills, J. (2013). Letters to the editor—Rhino poaching: Supply and demand uncertain [Entire issue]. Science, 340, 1167.Google Scholar
  65. Sollund, R. (2013). Animal abuse, animal rights and species justice. Paper presented at the American Society of Criminology, Atlanta, GA. Retrieved from
  66. South African Department of Environmental Affairs. (2014). Strategic issues: Job creation. Retrieved from
  67. South, N., Brisman, A., & Beirne, P. (2013). A guide to a green criminology. In N. South & A. Brisman (Eds.), Routledge international handbook of green criminology (pp. 27–42). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  68. The International Rhino Foundation. (2014). How long can a rhino’s horn grow? Retrieved from
  69. The Law Library. (2014). Wildlife trafficking and poaching: South Africa. Retrieved from
  70. TRAFFIC. (2013). Rhino horn consumers, who are they? Retrieved fromGoogle Scholar
  71. Warchol, G. L. (2004). The transnational illegal wildlife trade. Criminal Justice Studies: A Critical Journal of Crime, Law and Society, 17(1), 57–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. White, R. (2011). Transnational environmental crime—Toward an eco-global criminology. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  73. World Wildlife Fund. (n.d.). Black rhino range expansion project. Retrieved from
  74. Wyatt, T. (2009). Exploring the organization of Russia far east’s illegal wildlife trade: Two case studies of the illegal fur and illegal falcon trades. Global Crime, 10(1-2), 144–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Yes! Media. (2012). The local government handbook—Maruleng local municipality. Retrieved from
  76. Yin, R. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisa Reuter
    • 1
  • Lieselot Bisschop
    • 2
  1. 1.International Organization for MigrationMakati CityPhilippines
  2. 2.Department of Criminology, Criminal Law and Social LawGhent UniversityGentBelgium

Personalised recommendations