Poachers are killing more rhinos in South Africa to meet Asian demand

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Aug 1 (Reuters) – South Africa recorded a rise in the number of rhinos illegally killed for their horns in the first half of 2022 as poachers turned to hunting in private parks, the environment ministry said on Monday. from the country.

Ten more rhinos were poached nationwide than in the first half of last year, bringing the total to 259. Poaching in South Africa had already increased last year after a drop in 2020 linked to restrictions linked to COVID-19.

South Africa accounts for around half of the total endangered black rhino population on the African continent and is also home to the world’s largest population of white rhinos, whose status is “near threatened” rather than endangered. of disappearance.

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Conservation efforts and vigilance have increased in the famous Kruger National Park, leading poachers to turn to hunting in private parks and KwaZulu-Natal province, according to ministry data.

Rhinos seen at the Buffalo Dream Ranch, the continent’s largest private rhino sanctuary, in Klerksdorp, South Africa’s North West Province, September 6, 2021. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

“Recent rhino poaching trends show a shift away from Kruger Park towards private reserves and KwaZulu-Natal, where the majority of rhinos have been killed this year,” Environment Minister Barbara Creecy said in a statement.

South African-born cricket star and Rhino defender Kevin Pietersen told Reuters it was “catastrophic” to see the drop in numbers.

The former captain of the England national cricket team founded the charity SORAI or Save our Rhino Africa/India, which helps abandoned, injured or orphaned rhinos.

Rhino poaching often involves both local poachers and international criminal syndicates, who smuggle the horns across borders. The ministry said demand is particularly high in Asia.

“We are witnessing the extinction of one of Africa’s big five if we don’t suspend this serious situation in one way or another,” Pietersen said, referring to the five best-known African species in the world. tourists, including elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard.

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Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Barbara Lewis and David Holmes

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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