Rhino poaching dips slightly in South Africa

"A total of 529 rhino have been poached since January 2017, compared to 542 in the same period for 2016, representing a decrease of 13 rhinos," Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said

By: AFP | Johannesburg | Published: July 24, 2017 4:53 pm
 South Africa, South Africa Rhino Poaching, Rhino Poaching In South Africa, Rhino Poaching, South Africa, World News, Latest World News, Indian Express, Indian Express News In this October 1, 2016, file photo, rhinos graze in the bush on the edge of Kruger National Park in South Africa. South Africa’s government said Monday July 24, 2017, is moving ahead with draft regulations for a domestic trade in rhino horn, despite critics’ concerns that a legal market will spur rhino poaching. (AP Photo)

The number of rhinos killed for their horns by poachers in South Africa dipped slightly in the first half of this year, but more than 500 were still slaughtered, the government announced today. South Africa is battling a scourge of rhino poaching fuelled by insatiable demand for their horn in Asia.

Most of the demand emanates from China and Vietnam, where the horn is coveted as a traditional medicine, an aphrodisiac or as a status symbol. “A total of 529 rhino have been poached since January 2017, compared to 542 in the same period for 2016, representing a decrease of 13 rhinos,” Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa told reporters.

“These declining numbers do not mean we can proclaim victory (but) the downward trend is being established, which is cause for cautious optimism.” The famed Kruger National Park, which has suffered the brunt of the slaughter, has so far this year seen a 34 per cent drop in numbers of rhinos killed.

But the poaching has shifted elsewhere with the minister reporting that the “number of rhino poached unfortunately increased in some other provinces”. The number of rhinos killed climbed steeply in the past decade from just 13 in 2007 reaching a peak of 1,215 in 2014, according to the TRAFFIC wildlife trade monitoring group.

In the last eight years alone, roughly a quarter of the world population of rhinos has been killed in South Africa, home to 80 per cent of the remaining animals. Rhino horn is composed mainly of keratin, the same substance as in human nails. It is normally sold in powdered form as a supposed cure for cancer and other diseases.

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