Growing numbers of rhinos poached for horns in South Africa: minister

A rhino looks through the bars of a holding pen at the Kruger National Park on March 2, 2015
A rhino looks through the bars of a holding pen at the Kruger National Park on March 2, 2015

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 lost to 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 anti-poaching 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 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.


Explore further

South Africa rhino poaching at new record levels

© 2015 AFP

Citation: Growing numbers of rhinos poached for horns in South Africa: minister (2015, August 30) retrieved 19 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-08-rhinos-poached-horns-south-africa.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
40 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Aug 30, 2015
The only way to save the rhino is to farm them and raise them for harvestable horns WHICH GROW BACK! That means if we raise them for that specific purpose we'd reach a point where there were enough constantly filling the demand for rhino horns and the slaughter would cease.

As it is now the ban on the trade creates an artificial demand for dead rhinos, because the poachers do NOT participate in the actual trade of horns. They get paid for dead rhinos.

Environmentalism is the last bastion the idiocy of a bogus noble idea that capitalism is incompatible with saving wildlife.

Capitalism in the form of a well managed farm program to raise rhinos to harvest their horns instead of killing them for it could save them all. It would also create far more jobs than the current efforts that make most locals consider the rhino a rich man's passion but a poor man's pain in the ass.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more