146 rhino killed in South Africa since 2014

Johannesburg, Feb 27: A total of 146 rhino have been killed so far this year in South Africa, with 95 poached in the Kruger National Park bordering Mozambique, said the South African National Parks (SANP) Wednesday.

“The Kruger National Park remains hardest hit by rhino poaching, having lost 95 rhino since Jan 1,” Xinhua quoted SANP spokesperson Albi Modise as saying.

This mainly resulted from the park’s open border with Mozambique. Poachers have killed all the rhino on that side, and are safe from South African forces when they cross the border, according to Modise.

Fourteen rhino were poached in the North West province, 14 in Limpopo, 10 in KwaZulu-Natal and 6 in Mpumalanga.

These figures came after 1,004 rhino were killed in 2013, and meant more than two killed by poachers each day during the first two months in 2014. In 2012, the number of poached rhino is 668.

Forty-four rhino poachers have been arrested in the country since January.

South Africa has about 80 percent of the world’s rhino population. In the country, a kg of rhino horn can reach up to $60,000 in the black market, driven by the general belief that it has curative effect to cancer. The great value has also made it a sign of wealth.

The acceleration of poaching leads to fears that the species could be wiped out within the next decade. Their population is still growing at the moment, but deaths could soon exceed births in the country.

South Africa has already mobilised and started a battle in the Kruger Park, with drones and soldiers being deployed to fight poachers every day. Meanwhile, the World Wildlife Fund has called for the harshest possible sentences to be meted out on rhino poachers.

IANS