Mathematicians to save the Rhino?

A most interesting study group is taking place at WITS University this week. Mathematicians will attempt to find a solution to the problem of Rhino poaching.

International mathematicians and graduate students will converge at Wits University next week to help solve various industry problems during the 2013 Mathematics in Industry Study Group (MISGSA) Workshop.

With more than 600 rhinos poached in 2012, mathematicians will work with industry to come up with mathematical solutions to the increasing threat to South Africa’s rhino population, focusing on white rhinos.

I am sure that you are all aware of the fact that poaching is a major problem in Africa even though you may not be a resident here. It makes the news so often that one almost becomes desensitised (new word alert) to the horrors of poaching. Rhino horn is particularly popular and this is due to the fact that the product is in high demand in Asian Countries. It proves to be a very popular ingredient in Chinese traditional medicine  and is especially used for fever and convulsions.

In recent years there have been numerous drives to try and stop the poaching of Rhinos in South Africa and there are currently more campaigns underway to try and stem the tide.  The current way to show support is to attach a red plastic rhino horn to your vehicle and 75% of the funds are then used in various ways to assist in the fight against poaching.

The fact remains however that Rhino poaching continues and that the numbers are getting higher year on year. Even sadder is that the arrest rate has dropped year on year according to the official stats on the website of Environmental Affairs:

2010 – 333 (Arrests: 246)

2011 – 448 (Arrests: 232)

2012 – 588 (Arrests: 165)

Perhaps these math gurus will be able to turn the numbers around. It certainly will be a refreshing change. Even though I do well at math I must admit that I never imagined that it could be used so creatively in tackling every day real-world situations. Let us hope that they come up with a great strategy to save all Rhino-kind. Mathematicians for the win!


Image credit: tinyfroglet

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Xe'nedra is a pre-teen free thinker who can often be found with her nose in a book. She is an expert at rolling her eyes and making her parents sigh in exasperation. Skateboarding and golf is on her list of sporting activities and she would love to study Forensics or Medicine (which is better than being Gwen Stefani which was her aspiration at age 3). She also blogs as "The Sceptic Kid"

1 Comment

  1. January 20, 2013 at 1:35 pm —

    I have heard that Mathematics develops the left side of the brain: logical and analytical side. So if anyone can find an effective solution it would be them 🙂 Let’s hope that they do! Great piece of writing, X! Your absence has been noticed 😛

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