More SA rhi­nos poached for horns

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

JOHANNESBURG — The num­ber of rhi­nos killed by poach­ers in South Africa con­tin­ued to climb this year, with de­mand for rhino horn in Asia push­ing the slaugh­ter ever higher, the gov­ern­ment said Sun­day.

As of Au­gust 27, the num­ber of rhi­nos lost to poach­ers was 749 for the whole coun­try, said En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Edna Molewa.

“Of these, 544 were poached in the Kruger Na­tional Park. By last year this time the num­ber of rhi­nos lost to poach­ers were 716 for the whole of the coun­try and 459 for the KNP.”

South Africa’s rhi­nos have been un­der siege for years. The horn is worth as much as gold in Asian mar­kets, be­cause of its per­ceived medic­i­nal prop­er­ties.

It is com­posed mainly of ker­atin, the same com­po­nent as in hu­man nails.

There was some good news on the an­tipoach­ing front how­ever, with Molewa re­port­ing that 138 poach­ers had been ar­rested in Kruger Na­tional Park this year, up from 81 in the same pe­riod in 2014.

“The poach­ing fig­ures are not cause for de­spon­dency,” she said. “Were it not for the in­ter­ven­tions I have out­lined, they could un­for­tu­nately be far worse.

“Of course we have to do far more if we are to stop the slaugh­ter of these an­i­mals.”

Rangers in Kruger park have no­tably been equipped with in­fra-red binoc­u­lars to try and catch the poach­ers who op­er­ate at night.

Over the past eight years, the num­ber of rhi­nos killed has reached new records an­nu­ally.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial fig­ures, 1,215 of the an­i­mals were slaugh­tered in 2014 com­pared to 1,004 in 2013, 668 in 2012, 448 in 2011, 333 in 2010, 122 in 2009, 83 in 2008 and just 13 in 2007.

Some ex­perts be­lieve the real fig­ures are even higher as some of the car­casses are never re­cov­ered.

Only some 20,000 rhi­nos re­main in South Africa, about 80 per­cent of the world to­tal.

— AFP

ABOUT 749 rhi­nos have been killed so far in sa.

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