More than 1000 rhinos were
poached for their horns in South Africa in 2013, a record number and an
increase of over 50% from the previous year, the country's department of
environmental affairs said on Friday.
Rhino hunting is driven by
soaring demand in newly affluent Asian countries such as Vietnam and China,
where the animal's horns are prized as a key ingredient in traditional
More valuable than gold
Rhino horn has a street
value of more than $65 000 a kg in Asia, conservation groups say, making it
more valuable than platinum, gold or cocaine.
The data is sure to ring
conservation alarm bells about a downward population spiral in a country that
is home to almost all of Africa and the world's rhinos, and it may bring renewed
pressure on the government to do something to halt the slayings.
the black rhino to save the black rhino
Kruger National Park
In 2013, 1004 of the
massive animals were illegally killed in South Africa, compared with 668 the
previous year and 448 in 2011.
Most of the killings are
taking place in South Africa's flagship Kruger National Park, which lost 606
rhinos last year and 425 in 2012.
The park service has been
turning its rangers into soldiers, using drones to patrol airspace and sending
out crack units by helicopter when suspected poachers are sighted.
The Kruger borders
impoverished Mozambique, where most of the poachers are believed to be drawn
from. Criminal syndicates promise cash to poor and unemployed rural villagers
willing to take the risk of hunting down the animals.
poached to extinction in Vietnam
"A total of 37 rhino
have been poached since the start of 2014," the department of
environmental affairs said.
South Africa's rhino
population totals around 20 000.
Elsewhere in Africa,
elephants are being poached at an alarming rate for their ivory, which is used
for carvings and has been valued for millennia for its colour and texture.
The surging demand for
ivory also mostly comes from rapidly growing Asian economies.
More ways to save rhinos
181 Rhinos killed in SA in 2012
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