Rhino poaching on rise in South Africa

May 9th, 2012 - 10:41 am ICT by IANS  

Cape Town, May 9 (IANS) As many as 210 rhinos have been poached in South Africa since the beginning of this year despite mounting efforts to stop the scourge, the government has said.

According to the Department of Environmental Affairs said in the latest update on rhino poaching statistics, the country’s Kruger National Park continues to bear the brunt, losing a “disturbing” total of 127 rhinos since January 2012, Xinhua reported.

A total of 128 people have been arrested this year, of which as many as 67 have been held in the Kruger National Park only, the department said.

“The government views the poaching of this national treasure in a very serious light and continues to prioritise our fight against this crime through coordinated, joint efforts,” it said.

The South African government has appealed to the public to assist in fighting rhino poaching as the number of illegally killed rhinos keeps rising.

A hotline has been set up for public to report incidents of rhino poaching or any tip-offs that could lead to arrests and prevention of illegal killings.

Growing demand for rhino horns in Asia, particularly in Vietnam, has been blamed for the recent upsurge in rhino poaching in South Africa. The rhino horn is seen in Vietnam as a luxury item, used as a post-partying cleanser and a purported cancer cure.

Last year, a record 448 rhinos were killed in South Africa, including 19 black rhinos, a critically endangered species of which fewer than 5,000 remain in the wild.

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