South African rhinos under threat as poaching spikesOctober 2nd, 2008 - 12:07 am ICT by IANS
Johannesburg, Oct 1 (DPA) South Africa’s rhinoceros population is under threat from poachers, who are killing the leathery quadripeds in growing numbers for their valuable horns, according to a report released Wednesday.The Witness daily in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal reported that 12 white rhinos had been killed in game reserves in the province so far this year. Their horns were harvested and the carcasses left to rot.
A spokesman for the provincial wildlife authority, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, confirmed the killings, which marks a steep increase on previous years.
Another KZN Wildlife official told the paper the loss was a huge compared to previous years. The number of rhinos poached from the province’s reserves usually does not exceed two or three a year.
The most recent reported rhino killings in the area took place at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in September, one of South Africa’s most famous game parks, northeast of the port city of Durban.
Rangers patrolling the park found the decomposing carcasses of four rhinos, including two adult females, that had been shot with high-calibre rifles.
“The horns of all four animals had been cleanly removed with a sharp instrument, indicating that someone with considerable experience had been at work,” Jeff Gaisford, KZN Wildlife spokesman, told the Witness.
The police organised crime unit is investigating the killings, which are believed to be linked to a flourishing black-market trade in rhino horns.
The horn is highly sought after in Asia, particularly China, where it is considered to have medicinal and aphrodisiacal qualities.
South Africa’s biggest game reserve, Kruger National Park, last year also reported a slow and steady increase in rhino killings - at least 70 over six years.
Zimbabwe, where an economic crisis has distracted the government from wildlife management, is another prime target for rhino poachers. The country has lost thousands of rhinos - one of the Big Five game animals alongside the lion, leopard, buffalo and elephant - to poaching since the 1980s.
- 220 rhinos killed in South Africa this year - May 23, 2012
- Rhino mother, baby killed in South Africa - Feb 11, 2012
- Nearly 300 rhinos killed in South Africa this year - Jul 19, 2012
- Rhino killed in South Africa - Mar 03, 2012
- Poachers kill the last female rhino in the South African National Park - Jul 20, 2010
- Rhino horn more expensive than gold in South Africa - Jan 17, 2011
- 18 rhino carcasses found in South Africa - Nov 19, 2010
- One-horned rhino killed in Assam - May 23, 2012
- South African game park officials arrested for rhino poaching - Mar 01, 2012
- Last Female Rhino In South African Park Killed For Its Valued Horns By Hardhearted Poachers - Jul 24, 2010
- South Africa sets up team to tackle wildlife poaching - Apr 18, 2010
- Alert officials foil rhino poaching in Assam - Jan 23, 2012
- Wildlife Officials Call For Urgent Action as Poachers Kill Park's Last Female Rhino - Jul 20, 2010
- Last Female Rhino Killed In South African Park - Jul 24, 2010
- Baby Rhino Killed By Poachers In South Africa - Jul 20, 2010