Business Standard

Rhino poaching continues unabated in South Africa

IANS  |  Pretoria 

South Africa has lost 393 rhinos this year, despite intensified efforts to protect the endangered animal from poaching, according to official data.

The Kruger National Park (KNP), one of Africa's biggest game reserves in north-eastern South Africa, continued to bear the brunt of rhino poaching, losing 293 rhinos during this period, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said at a press briefing here.

More rhinos were lost in the first four months this year, compared with the same period last year when a total of 331 rhinos were poached nationally, with 212 poached at the KNP, Xinhua reported, citing the data released on Sunday.

But Molewa said the government is continuing its war against poaching.

By the end of April this year, a total of 132 people were arrested for rhino poaching-related activities, compared with 96 people who were arrested during the same period last year, the minister said.

The KNP saw 62 people arrested by the end of April this year, a more than 50 percent increase over the same period last year, Molewa said.

Molewa also said South Africa is strengthening cooperation with Vietnam in efforts to curb rhino poaching.

"As part of our collaboration, South Africa provided Vietnamese authorities with forensic kits to facilitate the collection of DNA sampling from confiscated horns and we expect the Vietnamese team to collect the samples in May," she said.

"We will be there with our security forces and working hand in hand with them."

Vietnam sent a delegation to South Africa in September last year on a fact-finding mission amid growing signs that more and more rhino poaching activities were linked with Vietnamese citizens.

South Africa's rhino population will be close to extinction by 2026 if no effective measures were taken, Molewa had warned earlier.

South Africa is home to about 80 percent of the world's rhino population.

Crime syndicates are believed to be behind the growing menace, fuelled by demand for rhino horns which are said to cure all diseases, notably cancer, although there is no scientific evidence to prove this.

First Published: Mon, May 11 2015. 02:54 IST